This is kind of a follow-up to "Conversations on a Saturday," a two-parter I wrote a while back. This kind of picks up where that left off- It's post-Ring, and Intersect 2.0 Chuck has finally earned the grudging respect of Casey. As a result, they've been spending a lot of time together. Sarah has been somewhat left out, due to some leftover awkwardness between her and Chuck. She's found an unlikely sympathetic ear in Chuck's bro-in-law, Devon. And Morgan has been struggling to survive his Hawaii experience. All of which is about to come to a boil.
I don't own Chuck, but I have "owned" some awkward social engagements.
Awkward Social Engagements on a Sunday
1. The Set-up
Normally, Ellie Bartowski Woodcomb loved working in the kitchen. It allowed her to be busy without the frenzied life-and-death stakes she faced while working at the hospital. She could be creative, which was something generally frowned upon in the medical profession. And it allowed her to do something nice for the people she loved.
Morgan Grimes was not one of those people. Which was why she hadn't been overly excited about cooking a welcome home dinner for him. But Chuck had insisted, and at least Morgan was easy to cook for. So she shoved the chicken in the oven, and figured the rest of the afternoon would be spent relaxing on the couch with her favorite magazine.
The distant sound of a conversation interrupted her reverie. She looked outside the kitchen window, and noticed her husband standing outside. He was talking to Chuck's girlfriend Sarah. She was glad to see this, because Sarah had always seemed slightly uneasy around her and her husband, even though she had been dating Chuck for nearly two years. So, she didn't really feel too guilty when she craned her neck in an effort to hear what they were saying.
"You know we can't tell her about this," Ellie heard Sarah say.
"I know, I know," Devon responded. "I just hate lying to her. I feel like I'm betraying her."
"I understand. And I know we never intended for this to happen, but what's done is done."
Ellie mulled over the shocking words she had just heard. It didn't make sense. She must have somehow misunderstand them. She pushed away from the window, in the process knocking a pot into the sink. Devon and Sarah looked up quickly, and walked away towards the parking lot.
Ellie spent the next hour frenziedly scrubbing dishes. She tried not to dwell on the conversation she'd overheard. In her heart, she knew that Devon wouldn't cheat on her. And Sarah, as strange as her relationship with Chuck sometimes seemed to be, well she couldn't cheat on him, could she? She looked down to see that she had nearly scratched a whole in her frying pan.
She glanced at her watch. Chuck should be back any time now. Not that she would tell him about what she'd heard. He had always been insecure, and would be bound to jump to conclusions.
The sound of the door interrupted her thoughts. "Honey?" she heard Devon call.
"In the kitchen."
"Hey, babe. Got the wine," Devon presented a bottle on the counter. "Chuck here yet?"
"Not yet. Haven't seen Sarah either," Ellie gave her husband a searching glance as she said this.
"Me neither," Devon looked down as he said this, twirling the wine bottle on the counter. "I'm sure he's at the airport, picking up Morgan."
"Yeah, maybe. You never can tell with him these days. At least he's more responsible, now that he's working with John." Chuck and John Casey had recently opened a business together. Chuck had tried to explain it to her once, but the computer jargon was over her head. But at least he was applying himself.
"You know, we should do something nice for John."
Devon looked up. "What do you mean?"
"Well, he and Chuck have been spending time together, and it seems to have rubbed off. Chuck finally seems to be thinking about his future."
"Oh." Devon thought about it. "What do you have in mind?"
"Well, you know Kelly, the new nurse at the hospital?"
"Uh, yeah. Wait, you want to fix her up with John Casey?"
"Why, do you think it's a bad idea?"
"Well, I…" Devon paused. "I'm not sure he's her type."
"What do you mean? He's a nice guy, and he's single. Is there something you know that you're not telling me?"
"No, no. I just don't know if he'd appreciate it that much." Devon studied his wife for a moment. "You already invited her, didn't you?"
"Well, I guess we'll see how it goes."
"It should at least make tonight a little more grown up, anyway."
"Hmm." Devon put a hand on her shoulder. "Not too excited about tonight, are you? Not happy our old friend Morgan's back?"
"I'm worried Chuck's old friend Morgan might bring some bad habits back with him."
"I don't think you give Chuck enough credit."
"Oh, I'm very proud of him now. He almost seems like he's become a different person these last few months. Starting almost exactly when Morgan flew off to Hawaii."
"Hmm, maybe I should check Morgan's plate for untraceable poisons before he digs in. But I don't think that Morgan was quite as bad an influence as you think. Chuck's more of a go-getter than you realize."
Ellie studied her husband for a moment. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, um, well, I mean he was always a leader among those Buy More dudes, right? That must mean something." Devon looked somewhat flustered. It wasn't the first time Ellie had seen him act like this recently. It seemed like he was hiding something. Or maybe he felt guilty about something, and felt the need to defend Chuck's reputation.
Instead of expressing her concerns, Ellie said, "Maybe. It's just that Chuck's been doing so well lately, I hate to think it's going to be all-day video sessions again. And things between him and Sarah seem to have been going well."
"Of course. Wait," Devon gave his wife a concerned look, "what do you mean seems like?"
Before she could answer, the house phone rang and Devon went to pick it up. "Hello. You are? And he's not? Alright." He hung up.
"Morgan's at the airport and Chuck isn't there. I'm going to go pick him up."
"Chuck? Where are you? Call me back." Ellie disconnected after leaving the message. It wasn't like him to forget about Morgan, even if he had been in Hawaii for the last few months. She shook her head. Feeling bad for Morgan wasn't something she was used to.
The chime of the doorbell echoed through the house. Ellie hurried to the door and opened it.
"Sarah!" Ellie pushed the thought of the overheard conversation from her head. "Come in."
"I know I'm a bit early, but I just figured I'd meet Chuck here."
"He's not here, Sarah."
Ellie was surprised by the concern on Sarah's face. "I'm sure he's fine. He's probably at work or something."
"On a Sunday?"
"He's been working a lot of irregular hours lately. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that."
Sarah grimaced. "No, I know. But I didn't think he was supposed to be working today." She looked around at the kitchen. "Can I help with anything while I'm here?"
"Uh, sure. You could slice the bread. The knife is over there."
As Sarah walked over to the knife block, Ellie heard the chirp of her cell phone. She took it out of the charger, and glanced at the message.
"Out w KC. B bak soon."
"It's Chuck," Ellie told her. "He's with Casey. He'll be here soon."
Sarah frowned slightly as she began slicing the bread. "I see. I guess he was at work."
Ellie looked at her. "Well, I guess when you start a business together, it's only to be expected. It is really great that he's finally applying himself."
"I suppose," Sarah said as she quickly sliced through the bread. Ellie marveled at her skill with the knife. Apparently, all the fruit slicing at the yogurt store had paid off.
"You and Chuck aren't having any problems, are you?" Ellie asked Sarah.
"What? No, of course not." Ellie gave her a steady look. "I know he's been spending a lot of time with Ca… John because of work, and I accept that."
"Just make sure he doesn't start hanging out with Morgan again. We can't have that."
Sarah smiled briefly. "No, we can't have that. At least I'm being stood up for work and not video games."
"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I've invited a friend to tonight's dinner. I think she might hit it off with John."
To Ellie's surprise, Sarah burst out laughing. "You're setting up John Casey?"
"Oh, uh, he just doesn't seem like the setting-up type."
Ellie couldn't understand how both Devon and Sarah had reacted to the idea of fixing up Casey. Did they know something she didn't?
A moment later, Ellie heard the sound of the door, and turned to see Devon and Morgan walk in. She walked over and gave the returning man an awkward hug. "Welcome back, Morgan."
"Thank you, thank you, it's good to be back." He nodded to Sarah. "So where's Chuck?"
"He'll be back soon, Morgan," Sarah smiled. "He's working."
"Ah yes, this mysterious new venture. I'd hate to think he's gone and grown up on me while I was away."
Ellie decided not to respond to this. Instead, she said, "So I hope you like chicken. Dinner should be ready fairly shortly."
"Oh hey, I'll eat anything you cook, Ellie. Just as long as there are no pineapples involved. That place just doesn't understand fine cuisine."
"So, Morgan, what happened with the whole hibachi chef plans?"
Morgan shrugged. "I guess I just didn't have the stuff. I should have known. Can you imagine me making a living using a knife?"
"Well, we're glad you're back, buddy," Devon clapped on the back. "And I know the Chuckster is excited to see you." Ellie noticed him giving Sarah a curious glance. She decided to ignore it for the time being.
Ellie returned to the kitchen and continued working on dinner, while Devon and Sarah talked with Morgan. Occasionally she snuck a peek to see what was going on. Neither Devon nor Sarah seemed to be acting unusually. Still, she wished that Chuck would arrive.
She was just finishing setting the table when she finally got her wish. The door opened, and Chuck wandered in. He was dressed in a t-shirt and sweat pants. "Hey sis," he shouted before stopping short.
"Hey, bud, long time no see?"
Chuck looked around between Morgan, Ellie, and Sarah before he finally groaned. "Oh God, this is the 19th! I'm so sorry, buddy, I was supposed to pick you up at the airport, wasn't I?"
"You forgot?" Ellie said incredulously.
Sarah went up to him, and put her hand on his shoulder. "Is everything ok?" Ellie heard her say quietly.
"Yeah, everything's normal. I was with Casey. Nothing to worry about."
Before Sarah could respond, Morgan said, "Casey? You were with John Casey?"
"Uh, yeah, I must have lost track of time. Now, I think I should probably jump into the shower real quick."
"Hurry up!" Ellie called after him. "Dinner's about ready!" Her eyes returned to the living room, to see that neither Sarah nor Morgan looked particularly pleased. She sighed. It didn't look like this was going to be a pleasant dinner.
In Chapter 2, the fur starts to fly. Please, review and let me know if this premise shows promise, and thanks for reading!