A/N:

I hadn't intended to continue on with this story after "The Predator," because I couldn't think of a way to float a plausible alternate explanation for Casey's behavior after "The Broken Heart." But "The Ring" was just so fabulous that as Casey said, "Chuck me--" there was suddenly tons of fodder for the rest of Casey's thoughts on the season and that "To Be Continued."

Hope you enjoy.


Casey versus the Future

This damned room is pure white but for that nerd computer 1.0 in the midst of the room—and Larkin's blood on the floor, the poor bastard. At least he went down fighting. I never want to be in here while this thing is flashing—seeing Chuck flash is more than enough for me, thanks very much. Well, enough except for the part where me and Walker and Chuck are surrounded by five guys with guns all around us—then there's just this life flashing before my eyes thing.

The problem is I've seen my life pass before my eyes so many times that now I'm just on fast-forward. As we stand in this damned Intersect chamber with Larkin dead for the third time all that flashes is the last few unbelievable weeks. Discovering Orion. Losing Orion. Chuck's acquiring the plans for the Intersect. The General's having her own files of Chuck and Walker despite the edited ones I gave her—and boy did she ream me out at the same time she tried to replace Walker. Of course Walker didn't trust me as far as Morgan could throw me.

That pesky little unimportant thing, discovering Chuck's dad, that he's batty, that he's Orion, and that he went MIA because he worked for a batty Fulcrum evil genius. Losing Chuck's dad to said evil genius, then barely getting him back and oh, yeah, that fighter jets and just getting out of there in time thing. Mere details.

And let's see, what else? Walker understandably not believing I'd keep my word and get Chuck out of this in one piece and not ship him off to a bunker. My not believing she'd keep hers, and debating whether or not I actually should send him to the bunker. Poor Chuck completely caught in the middle and not knowing what the hell to do, so no wonder he went with the one of us who came right out and said "hey, let's go get your dad."

But all that Team Bartowski distrust stuff all worked itself out with the kid dragging us along behind him, Walker with him and me following them when before this I would have thrown my hands up in the air. Save his dad, and who cares if he gets killed in the process. Of course I lied my ass off to the General, but hey—that's what teamwork's all about, right? Walker could have just shot me—twice, once at the motel and once at my place, but she didn't. Figured I could save her ass since that AWOL shit was kind of my fault in the first place. A little well-placed "hey, psst, Walker, you bring him back here and we'll hightail it for Ulan Batur" up in the parking lot might have changed things a bit.

I swear, if it weren't my life I'd swear it was some over-the-top action tv show, complete with thrilling but improbable storylines and lovable characters.

But never mind that, because fast forward even further, and the kid's calling me a friend and meaning it and then calls me back in for help because his fingers were legitimately on fire what with Roark showing up. I knew I should have made them account for his dentals. That's what I get for relying on another service branch-- never do that again if I live through this. I hate goddamned loose ends—but crashing through that skylight was sure as hell fun, and I'd never gotten to shoot up a wedding reception before. That cake shot down easy as pie. Heh. And then the sweet, brave, patriotic bastard blows two years of duty pay on his sister's wedding when it's the government's damned fault it got screwed up in the first place. Note to self—if I make it out of here alive, make sure they bank that pay for him again, I'm a Colonel now, I can probably light a fire under someone's ass.

It's all especially bitter because I hate loose ends that were staring me right in my goddamned face—one of my own men was less loyal to me than Bartowski and Walker and killed his own brothers in arms. He'd have killed me too—or left me there so he could come back and finish the job after dealing with Larkin and Intersect 3.0 if Walker and Chuck hadn't come back to get me—and if Chuck hadn't gone all in after he was already out-- none of us would have blamed him if he'd just stood there and waved as he said "Good luck storming the Castle!" There was no way we would have made it in as far as we did up to here without the kid.

And then, life's about over and they're ready to kill us all after the big reveal that there's a whole new villain we've known nothing about and Bartowksi—goddamned brave, stupid Bartowski—flashes. The stupid nerd bastard uploaded version 3.0 into himself when he could have destroyed it, let it all die with Larkin, and now there's five guys with guns all trained on him.

If I live to be a hundred, I don't know that I'll ever see such a thing of beauty ever again, even a new rocket launcher or an airstrike gone perfectly. Because whatever the hell Intersect 3.0 is, Bartowski's kicking, punching, striking, ducking and rolling like nothing I've seen short of my sensei. Hell, whatever battle computer he loaded himself up with might even be better than me. He takes down five guys with guns when I've seen him punch someone maybe a dozen times max, and it's just perfect. Totally perfect-- and that last claw hand and side kick? Poetry in lethal nerd motion.

And then the life that was peskily flashing before my eyes grinds to a halt as Chuck relaxes out of a perfect stance and looks around completely confused. The kid's had the code in his brain rewritten twice in three days and the first thing he says is "Hey guys, I know kung fu."

I wonder what else Bartowski's uploaded in there, if he wants to go to the shooting range, and if he'll smoke a cigar if I give him one. As I watch Chuck process the way things just changed, hell, as I process the way things just changed and sign myself back up to Team Bartowski Full Implementation, all I can think is something I've heard lots of times but never quite grasped-- until now.

This is going to be Awesome.


On old fashioned merry-go-rounds, there were brass rings that the "riders" tried to chase and catch in order to get points and win prizes. The "Ring" here has to be this "bigger-than-Fulcrum" organization, but I just loved the look on his face when Chuck was kung fu fighting, and I felt like he'd finally caught the meaning of Awesome, not just a clue that this Ring group existed.