Title: Chuck vs. The LifeTime Original Movie.
Author: Lopaka Tanu
Disclaimer: I do not own Chuck or Superman Returns.
Characters: Chuck, Shaw/Superman, Lois, Ellie
Prompt: Destitute after Stanford, Chuck is on the streets of Metropolis.
Fandom: Chuck/Superman Returns
Pairing: Chuck/Shaw (Clark-Superman)
Warnings: Language, Mentions of Sex, Violence, Bitchy Lois, Gay!Chuck.
Summary: Three days in Metropolis is a lifetime for Chuck. Especially when he finds himself caught up in a real life Damsel-in-Distress situation.
Author's Note: Pre-Chuck/Pre-Superman Returns. Surprise twist epilogue!
"Ever had to wash your clothes in a bus station men's room sink?" Awkward grin plastered on, Chuck felt the skin above his collar start to heat up. It soon grew unpleasant and turned in to a grimace. "Yeah, it's not something I recommend."
The clerk stared at him over the top of her glasses. Her bored expression bordered on irritated. Safely ensconced behind her desk, she seemed to loom over the entire cubicle. "Would you like me to include that in your file?"
"What?" Chuck leaned forward a little. Then he frowned and shook his head. "Oh, no. No. That's just a little humor."
"I see." She began to type without looking at the screen. "Any other eccentricities you possess we should be informed about?"
This prick to his ego made Chuck deflate a little. Slumping down in his chair, he looked to his feet. "No. I..." he trailed off with a shake of his head. Admitting to being nervous would probably get him another black mark. One was more than he could afford.
He shook his head again just in case she missed it the first time. Not that she probably did. The harpy with the acrylic nails probably had eyes in the back of her head too. It was no wonder she was isolated behind wooden walls.
The Minotaur had needed a maze too.
As if she sensed his thoughts, the clerk cocked an eyebrow. She finished typing with a punctuated thump. "Where is your current residence?"
"Uh, the Tenth Street Shelter?" Chuck wasn't really sure because it wasn't a sure thing at the moment. He had tickets for two weeks, but that might change in a second. "That's kinda why I am here. I really, really need this job. You have no idea how much."
She cut him off with a flash of her eyes. "Very well." Her demeanor became even more bland. "You will report here every morning at six. All assignments go out by seven. If you are late, you go to the bottom of my list." Her tone implied only death awaited those at the bottom.
And Chuck believed her. She seemed the spiteful type to him. So, he nodded and accepted the papers she handed to him.
Grabbing a pamphlet off her desk, she held it out to him. On the cover was a smiling man with the backdrop of the city behind him.
Reaching for it, he swallowed. The world suddenly grew dark, or may be it was just Chuck's imagination playing with him.
Even as he grabbed it, she held on. Her eyes narrowed as her lips thinned in to a line. "This is a listing of groups and organizations that help youths in your situation."
She released the pamphlet with a smile. "Welcome to Metropolis."
Tugging his sleeves down, Chuck shifted the bag higher up his shoulder. Even with the sun out overhead, the streets were quite cold. Metropolis was the furthest north he had ever been. Heck, it was the furthest he had ever been any where.
A few feet to his right, the street teamed with afternoon traffic. It was dangerous to cross, yet, people seemed oblivious to this. He watched in amazement as a woman with a stroller just strolled out in the middle of traffic and didn't even check for oncoming cars.
Shaking his heads, he turned up the volume on his mp3 player. The earbuds drowned out the noise of the world around him. With his hoodie and baggy jeans, he blended in seamlessly. Well, there was one difference between him and the denizens.
No one else was looking around like a tourist.
Ducking his head a little, he started down towards the corner. He timed his footsteps perfectly to match the shifting of the light. Unlike his fellow pedestrians, he didn't have a death wish.
A strong breeze tugged at the top of his hood, but otherwise left him untouched. Still, he shivered deep in his clothes. He had never in his life been this cold. How people could live in this type of weather year round was beyond him. Hell, why he was even here was starting to come in to question.
Oh, yeah. Because at the time this seemed like the perfect place to get away from it all. Metropolis was supposed to be the city of tomorrow, a place of wonder. It was a city so special the world's only alien called it home.
Looking up, he scanned the skies. The only thing he wondered about was if he had finally lost his mind. A wave of homesickness hit him so hard that he nearly moaned.
Tears stung his eyes as he focused on the sidewalk ahead of him again. May be he should call his sister. He knew she would have heard by now. If there as one thing he could depend upon, it was Morgan's lack of a spine when it came to Ellie.
Sighing, he checked his watch, then picked up speed. The soup kitchen on Meridian was about to close. If he hurried, he could get a cup of dregs and a slice of bread with butter. That would hold him over until dinner.
Watching a flock of pigeons fly over the Metropolis Expressway made Chuck smile. Their flight was usually something to envy on speed and distance in a large city. To get where you are going so fast was just a fantasy to most people.
Well, all except one. Chuck grinned to himself.
If he was going to be in Metropolis with a little free time on his hand, he might as well take in the sights. He had already seen the Mayor's office, Metropolis Park, the Century City Opera House, and the Morgan Towers - formerly the Luthor Building. There was only one place left on his brochure.
Eyes to the skyline, he headed towards the great globe. He watched the bronze icon slowly spin with a smile of wonder. Everyone in the world knew that building. Ever since he was a teen, he had wanted to see it, and now he was here.
Chuck Bartowski had finally made it to Metropolis to see the Daily Planet.
Strong arms suddenly slipped around Chuck from behind as if to hug. "Give me your fuckin bag, or I'll rip from stem to stern." A sharp blade accompanied the command, freezing the young man in place. It pressed in to his stomach enough to get the point across. The man pressed his lips against Chuck's ear in a false appearance of intimacy.
Eyes wide, Chuck felt his arms go limp. He whimpered as the smell of rotten tomatoes ghosted across his cheek.
"Just keep calm and quiet, precious, and you'll get out of this one intact." Snorting, the guy dragged his hands up Chuck's chest. The blade was hidden up his sleeve, but clearly visible to it's intended target.
Closing his eyes, Chuck stood stock still. As the hands gripped the straps of his bag, he leaned forward to make it easier to slide off.
Taking the bag, the man pulled it free and then backed away. "Thanks, sweet heart." Then he was gone.
Chuck stood there trembling. He was physically unable to turn around at that moment to even catch a glimpse of who it was. Sniffling, he began to whimper.
Swallowing around the mass in his throat, Chuck gripped the phone cord in one hand. He kept the receiver pressed to his ear in a vain attempt to hear better. The crackling over the line made it near impossible, though.
The line rang for the third time. Yet, there was still no response.
Biting his lip, Chuck lowered his chin to his chest. He took a shuddering breath and closed his eyes. "Please, please pick up."
There was a fourth ring. This was followed by a click.
"You have reached the residence of Devon and Ellie, leave an awesome message and we'll get back to you!"
The machine beeped.
Sobbing, Chuck clenched his hand around the receiver. "Ellie, it's me." Sucking in a quick breath, he tried to get his thoughts in order. "I, um, I've been robbed. How's that for proving everybody right? Not even a full day in the city and already lost everything. Well, not everything, he got my bag with most of stuff, though."
He tried to laugh it off, but it ended with another sob. Whimpering, he shook his head. Chuck realized he had to get a hold of himself. This wasn't going to get him any where.
"I got a job. I start tomorrow with a temp agency. May be that will..." He trailed off with a sigh as the machine beeped. "I'll call you later." Feeling weak, he dropped the phone in the cradle.
Chuck nearly jumped out of his skin when a solid hand landed on his back. Blinking wide eyes, he looked back to the man and gave him a half smile. "You scared me."
The old officer shook his head. "You've nothing to fear here, son. We keep the bad guys under control here."
Looking out over the near empty station house, Chuck shivered. "Yeah, but what about out there?"
The priest came walking through the rows of bunks, ringing his bell as he went. It's dull metal reflected the light while it rocked back and forth.
Chuck watched the gentle motions from the safety of his cot. Bundled in a scratchy blanket, he shivered from more than just the cold. It was to be his first night in the shelter and he was alone.
He hadn't realized how true those words were until the police station. For the first hour after it had happened, he had sat there near catatonic. There were just no words for how horrifying it had been.
The attack had come and gone in under a minute. Granted, he was still intact, but physical didn't count. Psychologically, he was all over the map. He was a loud noise away from curling up in a corner and weeping.
Men in mismatched clothes came staggering in. Most looked too drunk to walk. The smell confirmed this and so much more.
Burying his nose in the blanket, Chuck fought off a chill. His eyes remained above the hem to watch them. He didn't trust them as far as Morgan could throw them. That was why he had chosen a cot against the wall. It was safer, at least on one side.
Then again, if he wanted true safety, he wouldn't have even come to Metropolis.
"Lights out!" The old priest's voice carried throughout the converted warehouse.
A second later, the hum of the florescent lights cut out as they were turned off. Small lights in the eves gave just enough light to make out shadows. Then, there was only silence.
Blinking, Chuck strained his hearing to the very edges. He could hear heavy breathing all around him. It was punctuated by the occasional cough. A minute later, snores began. First, in one place, then in several. The old hands, he realized, those who felt comfortable enough in a shelter to ignore the potential risks and sleep.
Chuck shivered as he clenched his eyes shut.
Steam rose up from the sewers. In his mind, Chuck saw the beginnings of a Volcano. He knew the reality of it was much more mundane. His interpretation was better, though.
Blowing in to his hands, he crossed the street at the walk. Even after last night, he still didn't feel reckless enough to throw caution to the wind. At least he wasn't looking around and gawking. Not after yesterday.
Hunkering down in his hoodie, he glared at the world around him. The magic and wonder of the city had warn off during the night. Now, he saw it for the dirty and soulless pit that Metropolis really was. A collection of murderers and thieves hid in every corner.
Even the jerks in their expensive suits were petty criminals. He glared at a passing man talking on a headset. Okay, he corrected himself, they were probably the worst of the bunch. At least a thug with a knife only wanted his bag.
Everyone here was out to take something from him.
Coming around another corner, he saw the entrance to the temp agency. It's bright blue sign was still lit despite the sun having risen a hour ago. Not that he had seen it. The buildings of downtown Metropolis pretty much blocked most of the direct rays.
What in hell had he been thinking when he decided to come to this hell hole?
Staring at the yellow postit note, Chuck frowned. The exaggerated swirls made it difficult to read the numbers correctly. At least the words were legible...he thought.
Fifteen, fifteen East Star Parkway.
While he was getting a change of clothes from his duffle at the bus terminal lockers, it was a easy to locate the street on the route map. Yes, very simple considering it was all the way across the city and in the hills. That also explained the name.
An hour's ride away from the city had gotten him to a small business park. There were about two dozen buildings involved. Only one of them had the large numbers on the postal box out front.
Staring up, for it was a tall building, Chuck took in the entire structure. It was at least four stories and solid white. Domed on top, he was pretty sure he knew what the building was used for.
The only question he had was why here? There wasn't anything in his skillset that made him qualified to work in an observatory. At least, not that he could think of. He didn't even particularly care for the stars, to be truthful.
Shrugging, he headed up the brick walk. What was the worst that could happen?
Thirty minutes in to his new job and Chuck wished he could just die already. Would it be so painful? He didn't really care any more. A mugger could come in from the street and blow him away. All he would do was probably yawn and ask the guy to make sure the shot counted.
While he was staring at his reflection in the computer monitor, the phone rang. Sighing, he clicked the answer button and moved his mouse. The computer came back from the screen saver and he began to type. "Metropolis Saturn Observatory, how may I direct your call?"
"Yes, I am from the Mindy Academy. We have a fieldtrip scheduled for next week." She sounded prim even over the nineties era phone headset.
"Yes, ma'am, I have it on my screen right now." Fingers flying over the keyboard, he waited for her next words. His hand hovered over the delete command. It wouldn't be the first time this morning.
"Is Doctor Lihkey going to be available?"
"No, ma'am. The rumors are true, I'm afraid." And damn the man to the blackest pit of hell! Who decided to suddenly quit after twenty years at the same job? Hell, the man had tenor with Metropolis U. That was what any academic wanted.
"Well, all right then."
On to the next order of business. "Shall I cancel your reservations?" He tried to make his voice pleasant. A little irritation might have slipped out.
"No, but we will be scaling back the visit. I'm sure you'll understand."
"Of course, ma'am. I'll transfer you to the main office." Hitting the switch key, he sighed with relief. Eight hours of this was going to kill him.
Letting his mind go blank, he stared off in to space. It was a time honed practice from all those stupid sports-lite courses he had been forced to take. Who came up with the stupid idea of making college students have a well rounded education? He had been at that school to learn, not exercise!
Groaning, he tried to lower his chin to his chest. He was almost there when the phone screeched at him. Eyes going wide, he turned to the phone controls. He hit the answer button. "Metropolis Saturn Observatory, how may I direct your call?"
Eye lids drooping, Chuck staggered to the coffee pot. It wasn't exactly a long walk, yet, he still had a hard time making it. By the time he reached it, he was nearly sleep. He had been at it for nearly two hours and was already exhausted.
He had time to wonder if it was the boredom or the lack of good sleep the night before. In fact, that was all he had was time. Chuck was beginning to see why he got stuck with this assignment. Still, it beat the hell out of being out on the street, begging.
Keeping his mind focused on the task of answering the phone was increasingly difficult, though. There were only so many ways he could do the same thing over and over again before he went cross-eyed. Just thinking about it made him yawn.
To delay going back to his desk, Chuck leaned against the wall next to the coffee pot while he yawned. Stretching his arms above his head, he moaned softly. It wouldn't do to let people know he was slacking off instead of doing his job.
"Monday morning blues?" It was quiet voice, with enough tenor to be firm. The man wouldn't have a hard time being heard even in a crowded room.
As it was, he had the effect of a sudden jolt of caffeine on Chuck's heart. Jumping away from the wall, Chuck spun to face the man. He put a hand to his heart to make sure it didn't beat out of his chest.
Dark eyes crinkled with humor at the corners. Staring at Chuck, the man projected warmth and friendliness. Even the set of his broad shoulders was harmless and disarming for his size.
And he was big, Chuck noticed. Feeling a little intimidated, he shrunk back a bit. "I...I was just getting some coffee." He pointed at it with an underhanded gesture. "I'll just be doing that and going back to my desk."
The man suddenly seemed alarmed. Putting up his large hands, he stepped to block Chuck's potential path. "Oh, no. There's no need. You're not in trouble, I swear! Cross my heart!" He crossed his heart with an index finger.
It was a complete gesture, Chuck knew this because he had tracked it with due diligence. He stood there staring at the large chest for a full minute in disbelief. It was just so shocking. "You actually crossed your heart." The words sounded stupid to him, yet he couldn't help it. He was still stunned.
"Yeah, I did." Looking down, the man reached up to rub at the back of his dark brown hair. His cheeks even pinked a little. Then he glanced up from under his lowered brow to smile shyly at Chuck. "If you promise not to tell anyone, I'll get you some of the good stuff."
Chuck blinked in confusion.
The man smiled brightly as his posture straightened out again. "Coffee. There's some dry roast in the break room in the lab." He pointed a thumb over his shoulder. "We don't have it out here because this is the visitor's lounge."
"So, why are you out here instead of, you know, back there?" Okay, Chuck realized, he was definitely running low on sleep. This was turning him in to a complete and utter moron. "You know what, just forget I even asked that. I'm tired from lack of sleep and I have almost no control over my brain this morning."
Smiling again, the man shook his head. "All right. We'll forget this ever happened." He took a hesitant step towards Chuck. "If you'll let me get you some of that coffee."
Alarm bells and whistles went off in Chuck's head. He was too tired to figure out what they were trying to warn him about. So, he went with his gut instinct. Smiling warmly back, he nodded. "Sure." Turning to head back out to his desk, he nodded. "I'd appreciate that."
Walking away, Chuck could swear he felt the other man's eyes on his back the whole way. Well, not his back. May be a little lower, if there was a god. A pleasant feeling started in his stomach. By the time he reached his desk, he was feeling much more alert.
By the time noon rolled around, Chuck was feeling extremely bitter. He kept glancing at the clock on his computer screen and giving it death glares. The coffee promised two hours ago had never arrived. Yet, the phone calls had continued to be plentiful.
This was not a good first day. In fact, it was one of the worst by far. Only yesterday, last Friday, and two days after his sixteenth birthday, and that time when he was eleven...
Groaning, Chuck dropped his head to the desk. The microphone on his headset clacked when it impacted against the wood. Not that he cared. This whole place could be crushed by a comet for all that it mattered to him.
"Cheer up, Chuck, it can't be that bad."
Chuck's eyes popped open. That voice. It was the most reviled, hated voice he knew of at that moment. Raising his head, he leveled his best death glare at the man in his blue smock. Well, it wasn't a death glare when compared to others, more like a narrow-eyed constipation. Still, it was his death glare. "What do you want?"
Standing off to the edge of the desk, the man had been smiling. He now frowned in confusion. "I was trying to be friendly."
"Yeah, well, your friendship only extends to conversations." Chuck raised a finger and pointed it at the man. It was a seriously bad idea when said man could get him fired. Not that he cared, this was just a temp job anyways.
'Huh,' he thought, 'look at that. Four hours and I already sound like a temp.'
Raising his hands and eyebrows, the man put on his best non-threatening expression.
Heck, Chuck had to admit it was pretty effective. For a large, looming guy, he was a master of the 'not going to hurt you' vibe.
"I don't know what I did to make you so bitter, but I will just be backing away." To emphasize his point, the man took a step back.
"Oh, no. No!" Standing up, Chuck jerked the headset cord with him. "You don't get to play sane one to my crazy. You promised me coffee, like, two hours ago. I waited for it. After thirty minutes, I was thinking it had better be damn good coffee." He pointed to the clock above the entrance. "Two hours, it's no longer worth the wait."
The man paused. He seemed to consider this, then he smiled. "You're right, Chuck, and I'm sorry. When I went back there, I got distracted. It's entirely my fault." This gave him the audacity to be bold and he took the step forwards again. "Let me make it up to you."
"No. I don't want your promises of coffee. Promises, which I might add, will never be fulfilled." Checking the time, Chuck pulled off his headset. Tossing it to the desk, he glared at it. "It's my lunch break and I'm getting out of here."
Having been staring at Chuck the whole time, the man's cheeks twitched. Then a smile bloomed over his face. Suddenly, he was a engulfed in a full body laugh.
Face burning, Chuck narrowed his eyes and straightened his back. He may not have been the most eloquent of speakers just then, but he was deadly serious. Storming around the edge of his desk, he marched past the man and headed for the door.
The laughter suddenly stopped.
By the time Chuck was halfway there, he heard rushing footsteps behind him. He put on an extra burst of speed. Yet, when he reached it, there were inquiring fingers on his lower back. He glanced over his shoulder and found the man standing there with a look of concern.
"You were serious?" At the shorter man's glare, he sighed. His cheeks colored a little and he looked down. "I'm sorry, I didn't know. You were just so upset over a little cup of coffee, I thought it was an act."
Chuck stared at him for a minute longer. When the man's shoulders actually slumped, he felt something in his chest clench. Looking up to the ceiling, a sinking feeling started in his gut. "It wasn't just about the coffee."
"Obviously." Raising his head a little, the man looked to Chuck with large eyes. He studied the younger man for a moment. Apparently making a decision, he stepped closer. "How long have you been in the city?"
"Two days. Today makes two." Chuck raised his fingers to indicate this. Feeling deflated, he slumped a little himself. "I got robbed my first day. And I'm about to get fired my second." The fingers on his back turned in to a strong, supporting hand.
"I'm sorry to hear about your misfortune, Chuck." Leaning in closer, the man lowered his voice. "If you would let me make that and my earlier forgetfulness up to you, I would gladly pay for lunch."
The action was so unexpected, Chuck could only nod. He was too stunned to do anything else.
From the man's smile, one would have thought he won the lottery. "Good. I know the right place to go." Reaching out with his other hand, he pushed open the door. Some how, in the move to head out, his right drew Chuck closer to him. "I hope you like Chinese."
Chuck nodded his agreement. Not that he would complain about free food.
Dazzling smile a mile wide, the man stared Chuck directly in the eyes. "My name is Daniel, by the way."
Blinded, Chuck once again nodded. This was going to be a short lunch if he couldn't manage a simple word.
"So, there I was and this guy wraps his arms around me." Gesturing with a Frenchfry, Chuck used the ketchup covered end to point back towards Metropolis. From the front of the McBurger, he could see the city below them. Who knew there were large hills surrounding Metropolis?
By now, Chuck was feeling infinitely more comfortable in his own skin. "He grabs me and puts a blade to my stomach. He tells me he will cut me from stem to stern if I cry out. Who does that? I mean, what kind of bad guy was he?" Popping the fry in his mouth, he chewed it heartily.
Looking mildly embarrassed for him, the Daniel winced with sympathy. "How much did he get away with?"
"Everything in my bag. Thankfully, I only had my relaxing clothes, some books, and all my money in it." Stuffing two fries in his mouth, Chuck washed them down with the shake. "Oh, and my digital camera. And I was just getting ready to take it out so I could take a picture of the Daily Planet." That made him sigh. He picked up two more fries.
Daniel froze with his burger halfway to his mouth. Frowning, he lowered it back to the table. "You were outside the Planet and were mugged?"
"Yeah, if you can believe that." Snorting, Chuck didn't notice his companion's reaction for dipping the fries. "The papers make Metropolis sound like the greatest city in the world, and I get robbed my first day here."
"Didn't anyone see you?" A look from Chuck made Daniel glance away. "Right. I hadn't realized things were so bad."
"Hey, it's not your fault. The police and everyone else I met were very friendly." He suddenly grinned. "Heck, even the guy who robbed me did it in a friendly manner. Not that I cared for all that slice and dice talk, then running off with my bag."
"That's a terrible thing. When I first came to the city, there was a lot of crime." Daniel raised his eyebrows over his own words. "A lot more than there is now. My first meeting with the bad guys wasn't as pleasant, though."
Sucking down more of his shake left Chuck feeling better. He sighed with some contentment. "But you made it out okay, right."
Pausing in thought, Daniel ruminated for a bit before nodding. He spread out an arm over the back of his booth. "Yeah, but things were different for me. I..." He caught himself with a shrug. "I guess the thing is that we both made it out alive. It could have ended so much worse."
"That's for sure. We could be famous and ended up on some tabloid cover, or worse, the Daily Planet." Hearing the other man choke, Chuck looked over in alarm. "Are you okay?"
Coughing, Daniel turned a little red around his collar. "Fine." He sucked in a painful breath and waved off Chuck's reaching out hands. "I'm fine. Just swallowed something down the wrong pipe."
"If you're sure." Chuck knew he didn't look like he believed the man, but there was nothing he could do if Daniel insisted. Besides, he was breathing properly on his own now.
Letting the world around him phase out of existence, Chuck rubbed at his forehead. It was nearing four and he was almost done for the day. Just another fifteen minutes until he could hand over the receptionist headset to the night girl and leave.
At least, he assumed it was a girl. Typically, women did the job he was doing. It was sexist, sure, but, he didn't care.
After eight hours of sitting on his ass listening to people bitch when he explained about the services, he was done. What did he care about some freaking scientist who decided private sector opportunities were better? They actually made money in that.
He looked around the white walls of the entrance hall. They looked like that had been the most renovating this place had seen in fifty years. That was probably because it had been. It was a publicly funded observatory, that meant cheap.
"Hey there!" Daniel's voice broke through the mental cloud barrier. "You look like you're about to kill over. Has it really been that rough for a first day."
If he had Superman's abilities right then, when he opened his eyes, Chuck would have killed Daniel. Well, not kill, but he definitely would have singed the man's coat. Yeah, he could definitely have gone for laser eyesight about now.
Snorting as if he could read Chuck's thoughts, Daniel reached out and patted the sitting man on the shoulder. He sat back against the desk, putting one hip on the edge. This turned him so he could face Chuck from an angle.
Chuck noticed he was close enough that if he moved a finger, he could run it over Daniel's blue smock. Under that edge of the smock was a very large, very muscular leg. Yeah, he noticed that too. "You must have a lot of time on your hands."
Daniel chuckled as if this was a funny injoke. "Not really. I keep pretty busy." Crossing his arms, stared down at the shorter man. "I came by to see if you had plans tonight."
There was that thickness in his chest again. It moved up his throat and made Chuck have to swallow. This very nearly left him breathless. "Wha...what did you have in mind?"
Leaning in a little closer, Daniel lower his voice. "Well, since your first tour of the city ended in such a spectacularly bad way, I figured it was upon me to show you a good time."
Chuck couldn't help it. Gods above and below, he had so little control that he looked. His eyes found the jeans stretched over Daniel's crotch and stayed there. Mouth dry, he desperately tried to tear his gaze away. Every time he managed to make them move, though, it wasn't far and he was soon drawn back in.
Clearing his throat, Daniel put a hand over his crotch. He curled a finger and pointed upwards. "Never thought I would have to say this to anyone, again, but, my face is up here."
"Yeah, I know that, but..." he trailed off with a swallow. His mouth was so dry right now. "You do realize that..."
"Chuck." Reaching out, he put a curled finger under Chuck's chin, and made him look up physically. When he had the smaller man's attention, he smiled brightly. "Focus on the sound of my voice."
That made Chuck's cheeks burn and he looked away. Leaning back, he forced himself to meet Daniel's eyes. Well, he tried. Daniel wasn't looking at his face. Eyes going wide, he closed his legs and put his hands over his lap. "Eyes!"
Daniel sighed with a shrug of his shoulder. "I only thought it fair. After all, you were quite taken with mine." When he looked up, he grinned at Chuck. "Would you like to see the city, with me, tonight?"
Standing up slowly, Chuck took a deep breath to calm himself. He allowed the smile to take over his face. Back straight and shoulders up, he nodded. "Yes. I would like that a lot."
The small restaurant was quiet, which was perfect for Chuck. He needed it after the afternoon and evening they had. They had been so busy walking around the city. Even after a half hour of sitting there, his feet were aching.
He smiled around a mouth full of pizza. It wasn't an unpleasant ache in his body. There was so much more to the city than he had read about. Only one who had lived here would know all the spots Daniel had shown him. Speaking of the man, he looked over across the table to the larger man.
Daniel was taking a large bite out of a burger. The ketchup dribbled a little on his lips and he quickly licked it away.
Chuck found himself following that tongue with more than a little interest. He vision narrowed down to Daniel's mouth and he moaned softly. "Oh, god." Face burning, he looked down at the table.
"I agree, it really is that good." Eyebrows raised, Daniel set his burger down. He stared at it for a second before sitting back. "You aren't typical of the people I meet."
"What kind of person do you typically meet?" With a disarming smile, Chuck looked up from his food. It was almost gone anyways. What he saw when he looked at Daniel made him pause. His grin slipped a little in confusion. "What?"
Staring back, Daniel had a funny look on his face. His features were a little wrinkled from thought. "I like you, Chuck." He clenched his jaw and frowned as if hadn't meant to say the words. "You have a different way to facing life than most people. It's very..."
Warm bubbles tickled inside Chuck's chest. A shiver of heat made him look down to his food again. "Familiar?"
With another smile, Daniel nodded. Leaning forward, he placed his large hands on the table.
Eyes wandering, Chuck let them take in the older man's appearance. "I know what you mean." Heat touched at his cheeks and he swallowed. Clearing his throat, he took a shuddering breath. "I like you too."
Slowly, Daniel reached out to grasp Chuck's hand in his own. The calluses of hard work made his palm rough. Yet, there was a softness that caressed.
A tiny shiver ran through the smaller man. He looked up in to dark eyes and he found himself unable to breathe. Daniel was so close to him that Chuck could feel his breath ghost across his cheeks. The desire to bridge the gap was so strong he had to close his eyes.
"Open your eyes, Chuck. Let me see you." The words were a haggared whisper, Daniel's voice was so choked with emotion.
The command worked. Chuck opened his eyes and saw that Daniel had done what he couldn't. They were leaning in close enough to touch, so he did.
Daniel's lips were soft at first, hot and moist. When he kissed Chuck it was gentle and hesitant. He watched the other man for his reaction. Seeing stunned disbelief, he drew back a little and licked his lips. "Do you want this?"
"Oh, you have no idea." Before Chuck could giggle nervously, the other man was kissing him again. A part of his mind screamed this was a mistake, but he didn't care. It felt too good to stop.
Raising his chin, Chuck tried to take a deep breath. The hot lips currently sucking on his neck made that impossible. He gasped as Daniel's hand slid over his ass and he bucked forwards. "Oh god."
Kissing his way up the pale neck, Daniel nipped the skin. He groaned against Chuck's throat. "You feel so good." He bodily pressed the shorter man against the doorway, pinning him in place with his hips. "I want you so badly."
"Me too!" Eyes clenched shut, Chuck ran his right hand through the Daniel's hair. He let his fingers tangle in the dark mass and sighed with pleasure. His leg came up of its own volition to wrap around the other's waist.
This made Daniel snort in amusement. Biting along Chuck's jaw, he opened his eyes long enough to see the door. He quickly reached out and turned the handle to push it open. "The apartment's right here, Chuck."
Gasping, Chuck threw his head back in the now free space. "I know."
Hips thrusting his erection against the smaller man's crotch, Daniel sighed with barely restrained lust. His groan was so deep that it vibrated his chest. "Last chance to back out."
Chuck's eyes bugged out as he felt the size of the erection against his hip. Still, he would not be frightened easily! "I'm not leaving until I get that good time." He could hardly believe that had been his voice. Since when did he turn in to a slut? The world suddenly shifted when Daniel raised him up by his hips. Wrapping his limbs about the larger man, he was carried across the threshold.
Daniel kicked the door shut with his left foot. "Good." He was breathless from their kissing. "I was hoping you would say that. Also, I should warn you, this might hurt some. I've been told I can get a little over enthusiastic."
"Okay, thanks for the warning, buddy, but I think I can handle this one." He wasn't as confident as he sounded. Well too bad, he was doing this!
Chuck became aware of the pain in his lower back long before he awoke. It was a deep seeded throbbing that made his entire lower half ache. The pain made it hard to get comfortable no matter how he turned.
Curling on his side, he groaned in pain. A twinge at his hip made him wince. At the moment, he couldn't remember how it had started. He only knew that it was a good thing.
He smiled with a softer moan this time. He felt really good despite the pain. That was always a wonderful thing. His hips and thighs protested being left in one position for too long, but he didn't care. Chuck knew this feeling, it happened so rarely.
He had sex last night!
The urge to shout it from the roof tops made him practically giddy. His bladder aching made him sigh. It looked like he wasn't going to get back to sleep no matter how much he wanted to. Growling, he threw his arms over his head and stretched out his legs in the opposite direction.
His growl of pleasure echoed in the bedroom. Blinking awake, he searched for his lover. Even if he never saw their face again, he wanted to remember them. Post sex morning after was the true image of the person.
The first thing he saw were white walls. They were generic, nothing special from a million other walls in the world. Nothing adorned them, no paper lined their borders. This was almost a disappointment to him.
Chuck shrugged. So his one night stand wasn't in to decorations. At least that was one thing he knew about the guy. Well, that and it had been a guy. A big one he knew from the ache in his ass.
Carefully, he sat up. His entire lower body cramped and he clenched his teeth. Loverboy obviously liked to get rough.
That's when it all came back to him.
A tiny, smug smile spread across his lips. He had finally bagged one of those big guys who always had the girls swooning over them. Daniel was one of the hot nerds, the variety that peppered the more racier science magazines. Morgan would be so proud of him.
Yep, all it had taken was losing everything he had, moving across the country, taking up a crap job, and giving up all sense of self respect. The grin slipped from Chuck's face. Put like that, all the pleasure was sucked right out the window.
Chuck's cheeks burned. Now that he thought about it, what the hell had he been thinking? The things he had let that man do to him, it made his brain and his ass hurt. His eyes went wide as his heart started racing. His ass!
Jerking around, Chuck searched for a trash can, a wrapper, any kind of sign that there had been condoms involved. Condoms, because what had happened last night had happened several times. A different heat flushed his cheeks, upper and lower.
"Now is not the time." Panic gripped his chest, making it hurt from worry. What the hell had he been thinking last night? Daniel hadn't used a single condom. He remembered clearly now. The man had barely taken the time to break open a bottle of lube!
Slapping a hand to his forehead, Chuck felt breathless at the stupidity. There were so many bad things floating around out there. People were dying every day from some of that shit!
He clenched his fists in the top hem of the sheets. This had been a big mistake, a huge mistake! Rage at the other man made him toss the sheets away. He needed to find Daniel and get this sorted out, now!
Twisting his body, he turned to put his feet on the floor. This sent a warning flare up his lower back, but he ignored it. Chuck pushed up off the bed with a pained grunt and that was as far as he got.
The muscles in his thighs and ass suddenly cramped so bad they locked up. It was so excruciating that it sucked his breath away. Mouth agape, he put his hands between his legs and cupped at his groin. Their feeble attempts at relieving the pain only made his hands hurt too.
Pretty soon, tears were running down his face. Why was this happening to him? He was a pretty decent guy. Right? Everyone liked him. Well, not everyone, only a few people actually, but that wasn't because he was some ass. They just didn't know him. What did he do to deserve this crap life?
By some miracle, he fell to his knees and was able to sit back on his heels. This relieved a lot of tension on his legs and ass. The relief was so palpable that he could breathe again. The first thing he did as whimper and whine softly.
The sounds he made were loud enough for someone in the next room to hear. Daniel should have come running. Yet, there were no indications he heard it, or worse, that he was even there.
Putting a hand to his face, Chuck rubbed at his cheeks and eyes. This cleared the tear tracks, but left him with something else behind. His cheeks now smelled like well fucked ass.
Grimacing, he shook his head to clear the smell. That didn't help. "Oh, that's so gross." He was definitely never going to do this again, ever. Using the back of his hand now, he rubbed at his eyes again.
"Change of plans." He was going to get out of there, sure. But first, he had to get a shower. Chuck figured he might as well take advantage of the facilities while he was here. Besides, he did not want to get on an elevator smelling like some other guy's morning after!
With a wince, he pushed off the floor. This time, he went more slowly, mindful of his body's aches and limitations. "Ow. Ow. Not good, so very not good!"
Walking in yesterday's clothes, Chuck tried not to feel too grossed out. At least he wasn't wearing the same underwear. He wasn't too sure where those had gotten off to. Daniel wasn't anywhere around to ask.
As he headed for the door, he wondered what the time was. It wasn't immediately obvious because the rest of the apartment was like the bedroom. Aside from a chair or two, a flimsy folding table, and the probably pre-furnished appliances, the apartment was empty. The time couldn't have been too late, the sun had only come up while he was in the bath.
He didn't even bother with the kitchen. Even if he had the nerve to snoop for food, he was certain there wasn't any. Thinking about it, he realized, this was probably the guy's back-up pad. How many other people had woken up here and did the walk of shame?
It wouldn't surprise him if the number were in the low hundreds. Daniel had known pretty much what he was doing from the start.
Opening the door, Chuck winced and prepared for stares. He had been played from the first moment. Some of the lines the man had used on him were so old that his parents had probably laughed at them for being tired.
Chuck forced himself to stop thinking about this. It seriously wasn't helping his shame any more. Cheeks burning, he stepped out in to the hall. Much to his relief, he was alone.
Thanking the stars above for small favors, he closed the door behind him and headed for the stairs. This building was so cheap it didn't even have an elevator. Lucky him.
Thanks to a fully functioning rail system, he made it to the Temp Agency only a few seconds late. Another tip to his favor had been the fact that his handler, the harpy with the blank stare, was too busy making her coffee to notice. He wasn't the only one happy about that as a few others snuck in behind him.
Chuck glanced up and down the line of other twenty-somethings. Few looked younger than him. There were about fifteen of them in all, he really wasn't paying attention. All he wanted was to get his next assignment and get to his work.
'Man,' he thought, 'I sound just like Morgan.' He finally understood his friend's hatred of all things Temp.
Eventually, the staff overseer finished making her coffee. After tasting it, she raised an eyebrow in approval and turned to face her waiting subjects. Her bored gaze set them all on edge. "There are no new placements today. Those of you who worked yesterday have repeats. The rest, come back at noon." With that pronouncement, she turned and stalked back to her cubicle.
Chuck didn't bother to hold back his groan. The Wicked Witch of the East had cast her spell. Now her flying monkeys were off.
Feeling pissy, he stalked out of the office. If he rushed to the bus station, he could change his clothes before his connection to the observatory left.
Arriving at the observatory, Chuck already felt like an old hand. He staggered through the main entrance, already sliding off his messenger bag. Thankfully, it had still been with his duffle.
This was going to be another long, boring day. He could feel it in his bones.
As if to compound things, the observatory's head honcho was waiting by his desk. Well, head honcho was a bit of a stretch. The woman was one of three people who now worked here, thanks to Lihkey's sudden defection.
Chuck smiled for her prettily in hopes of helping his cause. "Doctor Heinz, how can I be of service today?" While he approached, she held out a slip of paper to him. On it were three lines of information.
She gave him a curt nod. "Daniel Shaw quit last night. We are expecting several applicants to fill his position. We may be a small observatory, but this is a competitive field." Foisting the paper to him, she ignored his stunned expression. "These are three questions you will ask all who call inquiring about the position. Write down their responses and send them to my email account."
Too surprised to do much else, Chuck nodded his acceptance.
"You will be expected to make coffee in the visitor's lounge for walk-ins. Get some of the fresh stuff from the observatory lounge in back." Without waiting for his response, she turned and headed for the observatory stairs. "Don't bother me, I'll be in the lab all day."
"All right, ma'am." He had to raise his voice as he spoke to be heard. Another bombshell. Chuck wasn't certain he could take much more.
Chuck's head was killing him. Never in his life had hated science so much.
Glaring at his computer, he debated deleting the email he had just filled out. It would serve that arrogant prick right. Who the hell did he think he was? Oh yeah, Richard Jonas Crowley the third! "Make sure you get the third," he mimicked in a snooty voice.
Spoiled little rich bastard, that's what he was. He expected everyone to fall all over him because his daddy had lots of money.
Well, Chuck wasn't everyone. He was just the prick with a temp job and a grudge against people who felt entitled to whatever they desired. Before he knew it, the email was gone. It took him a full minute to realize he had sent it instead of deleting it like he wanted to.
Regret burned in his gut.
Setting his phone to voice mail, Chuck pulled the headset off and tossed it to the desk. He stood up with a pained groan. The shower that morning may have eased a lot of the ache from his muscles, but there was still a dull throbbing. Didn't matter though, he was getting up.
He staggered slowly back towards the visitor's lounge. It had been hell getting the special brew, but it was so worth it. He had had three cups of it himself so far. Four cups would perk him up a little more.
Feeling good, he used the wall to guide him back. It relieved some of the pressure and he was happy about that. At least the pain was good for one thing, keeping his mind off the baby elephant's trunk in the room. He snickered for a moment, but it trailed off rather quickly.
By the time he reached the lounge he was back to being annoyed. At least relief was only a few feet away now. Then he was there and all was right in the world again.
He grabbed a paper cup off the counter and added two sugars. While he was pouring in the coffee, an electronic doorbell went off over head. Whimpering, he felt like slamming his head against the counter top. Instead, he grabbed a second cup with two sugar and creamer packets.
Taking the whole lot back with him, he carefully made his way back to the front desk. It was a little faster going this time, but it also hurt more. If he ever found one Daniel Shaw again, he was going to cut the man's dick off.
Sobering up, he sighed. No, he wouldn't. He'd probably jump the man first, but afterwards, he would slap the hell out of him. As it was, he had an appointment at the free clinic after work. His blood didn't need to be tested, he had a perfectly good fluid sample. The sheets had been disgustingly stained in several places.
Coming around the corner in to the main entrance hall, he plastered on a fake smile. "Be right with you in just a second. I was just getting some coffee and brought some with me. I also have sugar and creamer packets if you want them." He ignored the woman standing in front of his desk to walk behind it and set the cups down.
Once he had them down without spilling a drop, he sighed with relief. Then he dusted off his hands and finally looked up to her. "How may I help you today?"
The woman was shorter than him by almost a full head, yet, she had enough attitude to fill the room. Stepping forward, she pulled a picture from out of nowhere and slapped it on the desk. "I'm looking for this man, have you seen him?"
Chuck stared at her for a moment, then reluctantly down at the photo. What he saw made him frown. "That's Superman, everyone's seen him." He looked back up at her to see if she was joking.
Her deadpan expression put an end to that speculation. "Don't play cute with me, princess. I want to know if you've seen him." She magically withdrew another picture from thin air to place it on his desk. This one was a face shot. "He's going by the name of Daniel Shaw. Papers indicate he works here. Now, I ask you again, have you seen him?"
Spine going straight, Chuck winced at the pain. It gave him the strength to keep from freaking out. He bit back enough to look at her with a blank expression of his own. "I am sorry, ma'am, but I am not allowed to either acknowledge or deny the names of people who may or may not be employed here."
That was the wrong response. Looming larger, she took the final step to the desk. Placing her hands on either side of the photos, she leaned over to get in his face. "Where is he, you little shit?"
Placing his own hands on the desk, Chuck stood up to his full height. He glared down at her and set his jaw. "I am sorry, ma'am, but I am going to have to ask you to leave."
She huffed. Standing back, she crossed her arms and threw her hair over her shoulder. "Do you know who I am? I'm Lois Lane and I won't be leaving until I get what I came for."
Chuck's eyes narrowed. "Wrong answer, lady." With that, he reached down and picked up the phone. At her smirk, he hit the 'one' button to dial out. Then he hit 'nine-one-one'.
Her cockiness level went down a peg, but she remained firm.
So, this was how it was going to be. She wanted a show down, he was willing to play ball.
Sitting on his little bench, Chuck tucked his hands under his arms. He quietly fumed in between glares through the bars of his cell. It should have been that bitch Lois whatever in here. Arrested for abusing the city's emergency services, of all the stupid things he had ever heard of.
Since when was calling to have a threatening trespasser removed an abuse of the system?
He growled to himself. This was just so unfair. He hadn't done anything wrong. She was the one who had threatened him. But did they even stop to listen? No!
So, he was stuck in here until his lawyer got him out. That is, if the one they had assigned him would ever show up. He had been sitting in here for the past six hours and so far, nothing.
Footsteps echoing off the cement floor drew him from his brooding. When Chuck looked up, he saw a portly officer at his cell door with his keys out.
The uniformed man put a key in the slot and turned it three times until the lock snicked. When it was done, he pulled the door open and gestured for Chuck to come out. "You get one call, sweetheart."
Chuck blanched at the term, but let it slide. It wasn't the right voice. Sighing, he stood up. The pain was but a distant memory now and he was grateful for it.
Walking out of the cell, he was careful not to move too fast. He didn't need any more bruises today. The ones on his hips, lower back, ass, thighs, and surprisingly, around his ears were enough. He didn't even want to think about those last ones. Thankfully, his hair blocked them from view.
At least he now knew how he had gotten them all. Bastard!
The officer grabbed his arm and guided him back the way he had come. At the end of the hall was a payphone, which seemed to be their destination. It proved correct when the man stopped there and pulled out two quarters. He held them out for Chuck to see, then slipped them in the slot. "You got three minutes."
He nodded his acceptance. "Thanks." Still bitter, Chuck reached for the receiver and put it to his ear. There was only one number he wanted to call. The ten digits were easy to remember, he knew them by heart after all this time.
It was picked up in the middle of the first ring. "Chuck?"
"Ellie, thank god!" Sagging with relief, Chuck leaned against the phone for support. His sigh was heavy, weighted down by so many emotions. "I've been..."
"So help me, Chuck, if you say something other than okay, I'm going to start bawling." Her voice shook with barely suppressed emotions. "Are you okay?"
Sniffing, Chuck looked back down the hall towards the cells. He had to clear his throat three times before he could speak. "No, Ellie, I'm not. I'm so far from okay at the moment."
She audibly bit back a sob. "It's all right, baby, Devon and I are on our way to come get you." She sniffed hard. "He's out now getting the tickets and a few other things."
"Thank you!" He hadn't meant to scream it, but it just came out. "Sorry. Sorry. It's just been a miserable week."
"It's okay, Chuck, we'll be there soon." Her voice had a stronger edge to it now. "We'll talk about everything when we get you home."
A shiver ran through Chuck as he swallowed hard. "Everything?"
He was seriously going to kill Morgan when he got home. His mind supplied him with all the horrible things his former best friend had probably told his sister. Before she got her chance at killing him, Morgan was definitely going down. "Great. I can't wait to see you." Chuck shivered. "By the way, bring bail money. I'm being arraigned in the morning. Bye."
He hung the phone up before she could respond.
Head down in the toilet, Chuck fought against the roiling in his gut. Whatever bug he had caught was slowly killing him. Already, he had lost two pounds from all the throwing up. Well, may be. He hadn't been able to stand up long enough to test his weight. Every time he tried, he got dizzy and threw up again.
His hands and knees were killing him. Crawling around surely hadn't hurt this much when he was a kid.
When his stomach settled down enough, he turned on his side and rest against the tile wall of their bathroom. He had been back for two weeks and had been miserable for almost every day of it. The start had been Ellie's mothering, alternating between caring big sister and she-bitch from hell.
One thing was for certain, he was never going back to Metropolis. If he ever saw the flying jerk in blue again, he was going to look for kryptonite himself! All the stories had been lies. No one ever warned him Superman was a player. That little factoid should have been in the tabloids at least!
Hand to his gut, Chuck burped from a sudden bubble of gas. When he could walk again, he was going out and stocking up on pepto.
Feeling another wave of nausea coming on, Chuck's cheeks started to burn hot. With a groan, he stuck his face in the toilet again.