Casey made his way over to Big Mike's office. If there was one thing he could count on besides being poorly paid and being surrounded by morons, it was Big Mike's quarterly review.
"Sit down, John," the big man said as he entered. As he did so Big Mike folded his hands and leaned forward on his desk. "It's time for you to start thinking about your future."
Casey blinked. This wasn't how Big Mike's quarterly review speech normally went. Two years in and he had known the speech by heart.
"Besides forcing me to do all this extra paper work," he continued on as he shifted through employee reviews, "They have gotten on at me about our sales in big appliances again."
Casey narrowed his eyes. Big Mike better not be complaining about his performance in that area. "And?"
"They gave me permission to add a new manager to the appliance department. Since you're our top seller, I've chosen you."
"Thank you, but no."
Big Mike gaped. "But it comes with a fifty percent raise and working the floor less!"
Casey grunted with approval. As much as he'd want that, he had to remember this wasn't his real job, no matter what it felt like after two and a half years. "I'll take the raise, but not the position."
"You can't expect-"
"And I suggest Veronica. She is right under me in sales."
"That is not all she is under," Big Mike muttered under his breath.
Casey smirked. Veronica used her sex appeal to 'butter her bread' the way he used intimidation. She had the fiery sultry redhead act down to a tee and both men and women fell all over her for it. After a few weeks, she had sold more big sale items than most green shirts did in a whole quarter. Casey at first questioned what a woman like that was doing in a place like this, but after a background check he found that she was just a girl ,who liked to party hard and was between sugar daddies at the moment.
"Can I do anything to change your mind?" Mike asked with a sigh a few seconds later.
"Nope," he shrugged, "But if not Veronica, there is always Grimes."
Big Mike grimaced. "Veronica it is. Now for your review."
Casey's mouth tightened at the tone in his voice.
"Another part of the reason I was hoping you'd take the position was that you've been distracted of late. At first, I thought it was boredom, but after watching you-" Big Mike paused as if not wanting to say what was coming next, "I believe your crush on Bartowski has started to effect your job."
Casey's eyes bulged. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. If it was that obvious to someone like Big Mike then the whole store had to know, even if it was filled with a bunch of morons.
Big Mike lowered his voice, leaned forward and darted his eyes around as though someone was listening. "Look, I'm not one to judge. Buy More would be sued down to it's undies if I did. And what man hasn't had that…"
His eyes narrowed and darkened as if he were remembering something. Casey cringed and resisted the urge to run to the door and claw his way out.
Big Mike coughed. "My point is… love is love and I'm not going to judge that, but try to keep it out of the work place."
Casey wondered if he should deny it, then realized he was just better off not doing so. He just nodded and looked abashed. "Anything else?"
"No, besides that everything's fine. You sure you don't want the position?"
"Alright, Veronica it is."
Casey got up and started to head towards the door. After opening it, he turned, "Oh and my fifty percent raise?"
"You can't expect a raise without the work!"
Casey quirked an eyebrow. "There is always Large Mart."
Big Mike cursed under his breath. "Quarter raise. You know I can't get away with anymore."
"On the other hand" he said lost in a fond thought, "We can send Grimes off to Large Mart and give you his pay."
"You could never do that."
"And why's that?"
Casey jerks his head to the side and gave a half smile. "You need to keep Chuck entertained."
Big Mike's nodded in agreement. "True."
Casey went to go.
"Oh and John?" Big Mike said, stopping him again. Casey turned to see the man with a sad expression on his face. "Even with the blonde around, I think you have a shot."
Casey blinked and huffed in disbelief. He gave the man a firm nod and headed out the door. He didn't believe it, but as he left, he had to fight hard to not outright grin. He failed. In that moment, he felt strangely good. A raise, plus keeping Chuck happy? All in a days work. And then he found it amusing that Big Mike was in his 'corner'.
The moment he left the office he glanced around. He always did this, his eyes settling on their target within seconds. Chuck. Safe, sound and behind the Nerd Herders with one Anna Woo. The two had their heads put together and were looking at some magazine.
As he approached, he noticed Chuck jumped and shoved his hand and the magazine along with it behind his back. Bouncing up and down on his heals, he nervously said, "Hey Casey."
Casey narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "What are you two up too?"
"Nothing. Just talking."
Casey grunted and continued to stare. Anna had a mischievous look in her eyes. Chuck, on the other hand, was acting like he was waiting for he blow to come.
"So…" Anna drew out, getting Casey attention. "You got yet another raise?"
Casey quirked an eyebrow.
"Please," she rolled her eyes. "Any Nerd Herder could get into the payroll within seconds."
Casey jerked his head in concession, a small smirk on his lips. Even he could do that, but not for the first time, he thought, the girl would make a half decent spy. She liked being nosy, was good at it and could kick some ass when she wanted to.
She smiled back, before seemingly having an idea dawn on her. She grabbed the magazine from Chuck's hand and shoved it towards him.
"What do you think?" she demanded. "Do you think Morgan would like it?"
Casey looked down to see a glossy ad. In it, a rather buxom brunette was laid out seductively, wearing a 'fuck me now' red garter belt set. Red and white hearts rained down on her.
He leered. "The getup or the girl?"
Anna sighed dramatically, "Either."
Casey frowned in confusion.
She looked up sheepishly. "I went on Morgan's computer and sort of stumbled across his user history… by mistake. Besides the sites he--- guys normally go to, he's been visiting these ga-"
All eyes shot towards Chuck, who was flailing about and grimacing, before noticing that he was making a scene. He ducked his head in embarrassment.
"Anyway, as I was saying-"
From the corner of his eye, Casey saw Chuck frantically shaking his head and jerking it in his direction. Anna getting in message went quiet, but looked at Chuck darkly. Then smiling, she turned her eyes back towards Casey. "So you think he'll like it?" she asked lightly.
"Certain," he said somewhat strained, eyeing the ad again. While he was indeed certain the bearded geek would, he wanted to grab the other geek and shake him, until he was admitted to whatever he was hiding.
"What are you getting Sarah?" Anna asked Chuck.
"Um… haven't really thought about it."
Anna quirked an eyebrow and held up the magazine. "Want to take a look? It's only a week and a half away."
Chuck shook his head as if totally horrified at the thought,
"What's only a week away?" Casey asked.
He huffed. "Never took you as the sort," he admitted.
She shrugged, "Neither did I, but it sure gets Morgan going and…" She turned back to Chuck. "You sure?" she asked, holding the catalog up between two fingers and dancing it in Chuck's direction. "If you get something too, I can get half any bra. Those things aren't cheep."
"Er, sorry but, na… I'll figure something else out." He sighed.
"Alright, but if you change your mind." She left the catalog on the counter. "Got extras."
She started walking away, before stopping and pointing at Chuck, "You and me are talking later though."
Chuck waved at her and smiled through gritted teeth. "I'm so not looking forward to that." he muttered at Casey.
"Well you're going to be not looking forward to this more. Tell me what the hell that was about. Now!" He pushed himself into Chuck's personal space making his demand clear.
"Nothing is private from me. I know everything from your brand of underwear to the fact you got a B in English on your third grade report card."
Chuck flinched. "Thank you for reminding me that everything in my life ends up in some government file." He paused, before pouting and pointing his finger at Casey. "And I'll have you know I only got a B because Morgan lost my book report on Charlotte's Web, while trying to copy it. I bet that wasn't in your file."
"I'd say I sympathize, but I don't. We are doing this for your own good."
Chuck sighed sadly and gave him his best puppy dog eyes. "Not this. Please."
It was enough to make Casey waver, but he was still about to tell him there wasn't a choice, when they got interrupted.
"John!" Casey turned to see Veronica walking by. She leaned across the desk, flicking her hair back and smiling at him. "Thanks for the recommendation, but you do know that now that means I'm your boss."
"Yes," Casey smiled with fake sincerity.
"Well, I look forward to having you under me." She winked and walked away.
Casey grimaced and shuttered. "Now I feel dirty. Even worse. Now I think I've created a mon…ster." He had turned to find Chuck with his back to him. He was leaning over the counter, looking at the catalog. Casey looked over his shoulder and sneered at what he saw. Chuck was looking down at another ad in that catalog. This time it was a blonde laid out, in something white and lacey, on a big white canopy bed. The whole thing screamed 'wedding night'.
He grunted. "You would like that, wouldn't you?"
Chuck glanced back over his shoulder. "She's pretty." He looked back at the magazine with a look which is a little too intense and somewhat worried. Casey wondered what the hell had happened to the Buy More staff today. They were all acting weirder then normal.
Chuck threw the catalog aside and thumped his head down onto the desk. He sighed loudly. "Valentine's Day was a disaster last year. Why did it have to come again?"
Casey fought the nauseous feeling that was fast creeping up on him. "I think it has something to do with the turning of the earth and humans being a bunch of idiots."
"Any chance that I can hide out at your place?"
Casey sneered, "Sure, I'll break out the candles and wine."
Chuck lifted his head and looked at him with tired, sad eyes. "Maybe Jeff or Lester will be free."
Casey gave him a look that screamed 'Maybe?' before breaking. He started to open his lips to say 'sure', when Chuck broke in with "I got to go."
He kept walking, only acknowledging him as much as to wave him off with the flick of the hand. Casey watched him disappear into the back room. Somehow, he felt as though he had seriously fucked up. He was fuming over this fact, when a sudden and weak "Excuse me" caught his attention.
Turning, he glared at the meek man standing in front of him. "What?" he snapped.
The customer held up a cell phone, his hand shaking. "I…. I…. never mind."
The man scampered off. Glancing around him, Casey realized he was behind the Nerd Herders desk, the last place he belonged. Not caring if anyone else was there, he went off, abandoning the station.
It was only two hours later that Casey approached the employee's area, his shift being over and it being time to go home. He didn't know why, but he stopped dead at the door. A moment later, he heard Chuck speaking in hushed tones. "Look Morgan I appreciate everything, but-."
"You like it?" he said hopefully. "I saw it when I was looking for a little something for me and Anna.. You know to set the mood and I saw this and thought of you."
Chuck sighed, "You really shouldn't have… Really. Really shouldn't have."
"I know. Good right?" That was a pause. "That's what you're into right?"
Casey peeked inside to see Chuck holding a paper bag, close to his chest. He then opened the bag slightly, cringed and throw the bag into his locker.
"I don't have a clue," Chuck said in clear frustration. His face was red and he looked dazed. "You need to be careful or someone is going to find out and when they do-"
"I'll be careful. But really man, I don't care what they think and neither should you. Screw them, I say."
"You should care…. we need to talk."
"Alright," Morgan replied like some a wounded and very worried puppy.
Chuck placed his arm around Morgan's shoulder. "I got plans with Sarah tonight, but ah… have some free time. Pizza?"
Chuck nodded slammed his locker shut. A moment later, the duo headed in the direction of the door. Casey pressed himself against the wall. As the door swung open, Casey hid behind it. As they walked past him, he was relieved to see that neither had noticed him, but wanting to strangle Chuck on his lack of spy skills.
Once they were out of sight, Casey bolted into the employees' area and over to Chuck's locker.
Going into his pocket, he grabbed his lock picking case and dropped down on his knees to get a better look at the lock. Fidgeting with it, he cursed as, of course, it didn't open. He hated picking locks. It burned a little knowing that if this had been Walker, she would have opened already.
Turning his head quickly, he saw Anna standing there with a huge smile on her face.
Thinking fast, he said, "Er… I wanted another look at that magazine." He gave her a bashful smile.
She laughed, "Really? I thought you would have moved up to the big boy stuff by now."
Casey shrugged in amusement. "Reminds me of when I was young."
"And that was a long, long time ago."
"Might say that." He put on a thick 'good old boy' accent, "Back in the day, my ma had them mail order catalogs. I'd look at the pretty pictures and wasn't it something? Ladies in stockins?" Blowing out a breath, he gave his best 'overcome' expression. "Was pretty special." He shot her a shit eating grin.
Hands on hips and her own smug smirk on her lips, she shot out, "I like you."
"So where's Chuck?"
"He left." He paused, before adding, "Are you going to tell him I was in his locker?"
"Now, I'm not. He was supposed to have his little ass here for a chat." She brandished her hands out as though displaying the empty room.
"So any idea were Schmuck is?"
"Pizza, with Morgan."
With that Anna, headed out the door. By the time the sound of her footsteps had disappeared, Casey was in Chuck's locker. He didn't feel so bad for selling Chuck out, given the fact that he was hiding stuff from him. Right now, he was just determined to figure out what was going on.
Pulling out a brown bag, he peeked inside and saw that it was a couple DVDs. Probably some geek movie, he figured. But as he slipped them out of the bag, his eyes went wide. It was porn… gay porn. On them were very naked men and a sticker that said 'Half off, to get you off'.
Nice. Not only was Grimes buying his friend porn, he was buying him cheap porn.
Casey's shock deepened into a frown. Why would Morgan be getting Chuck gay porn… and better yet, why would gay porn make Grimes think of Chuck?
Gapping slightly, Casey sat down as it hit him. Chuck had taken as interest in men and somehow Morgan knew this. He eyed the DVDs. Not only did he know this, he thought that Chuck had a type, if the muscled testosterone filled… leather clad monkeys on the covers were any indication.
Chuck liked men. Was interested in men. Wanted to have sex with men.
Casey did the best to squash the ray of hope that had formed. Yes, he told himself, Chuck might like the boys, but he wasn't one of them. But now, he got it in his mind to be.
Note: If thing go as planned they should be together within two chapters. Finally, I know!! LOL.