Hi all! I promise I'm still working on Ties That Bind, but this idea just popped into my head and wrote itself pretty quickly. PLEASE review! Thanks!

"Ow! Watch where you throw things!"

Startled, Chuck jumped back (okay, he yelped a little too). "Carina!" he yelled, staring, aghast, at the sleepy, lingerie-clad spy in his bed. "Watch where you sleep! You know this is my room, right? Not Morgan's?" he snarked, finally recovered. Morgan hadn't been able to stop a total shit-eating grin for a month after Carina's last visit. It had made Chuck physically ill.

"Of course, Chucky," she mumbled, pushing a sleep mask up her forehead. "There are plenty of suckers-in-love photos in case I was confused. Cute place, by the way. Very domestic."

Ignoring her taunts, he said, "Why are you sleeping in my bed? Why are you sleeping in my bed at three p.m. in no clothes?"

"You've seen me in less," she retorted, standing up and running her fingers through her hair. Okay, yes, but not much less. The silky black nightie she had on was cut dangerously low on top and impossibly high on the bottom. "And I'm here for a mission. You and Sarah and John are going to help me. I just got in and felt like a nap."

"And yet, we still haven't answered the biggest question: Why are you in my bed?"

She lifted one shoulder carelessly, elegantly. "I always stay with Sarah when I'm visiting. It's our tradition." An overstuffed brown leather suitcase in the corner finally caught his eye. She really wasn't kidding.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes at her roundabout, indirect reasoning, he sighed, "OK. Why don't you get dressed, and when Sarah gets back we'll figure this out."

"Figure what out?" Sarah asked from behind him. Of course. He turned to see her unwinding iPod earphones from around her neck. She'd been on a run, clad only in an extremely sweaty turquoise sports bra and black spandex capris.

"Hey honey," he said, turning to peck her on the lips but careful to avoid getting sweat on his clothes. "Look who dropped by!"

"Carina! Oh my god," Sarah said, stepping forward and hugging her friend gingerly to avoid transferring sweat. "How've you been? And why are you in pajamas?" Chuck snorted at that description.

"I just got in from Tokyo; I'm a little jet-lagged," Carina pouted. "Chuck has requested that I get dressed, though."

"How unreasonable of him," Sarah remarked sardonically, but her smile gave her true feelings away — she was thrilled to see Carina. "Alright, why don't you get dressed, and I'll take a shower, and Chuck, why don't you see if Casey's home and if Carina can stay in his extra room because yes, sweetie, I love you but you're not staying in here."

"If the two of you aren't going to be any fun, I figured I could take Martin's room. Please don't make me go stay with John Casey," Carina pouted and, as usual, Chuck couldn't tell if she was serious or not.

Exchanging oh-my-god raised eyebrows with Chuck, Sarah bit her lip before saying, "Yeah, Morgan is dating Casey's daughter. So I think that would be a bad idea on a lot of levels."

Carina appeared mildly surprised for a second, but then recovered. "I guess we have a lot to catch up on," she finally said. "Chucky, when you're checking in with Johnny, pick up a bottle of wine too. Pinot."

Recognizing that it was better not to argue — and that they already had several bottles of pinot, as it was Sarah's favorite as well — Chuck kissed Sarah again before heading over to Casey's.

Not totally surprisingly, Alex answered the door. "Hey, Alex," he smiled. "How's the LSAT studying coming?"

"Not bad, but I'll be very happy when it's over," she laughed. "Hey, Dad, Chuck's here."

Casey was at the dining room table, going over mission reports. Alex sat across from him, flash cards and study guides spread on her half of the table. "Yeah, Bartowski? What's up?"

He sighed. "Well, when Sarah and I were both out this afternoon, guess which one of our … lovable old friends slash wild-child prodigal-daughter coworkers broke into our house and decided to sleep in our bed and eat our porridge?"

Alex's brow crinkled. "Was that a Goldilocks joke? Because it was really bad."

"Carina's back in town?" Casey's eyebrows shot up.

"Yep. Apparently we're supposed to help her with … something."

"Lovely," Casey grunted. "This gossip couldn't wait till the boss lady brought it up on Monday?"

"See, because Carina 'always stays with Sarah' when she drops in, she didn't get a hotel. But our place is full so …"

"No. Absolutely not. Stick her on your couch. She's very flexible."

"Casey, come on. Prague was years ago. Please?"

"What happened in Prague?" Alex asked with a smirk.

"Nothing happened in Prague. Ever," Casey said firmly. "Sorry Chuck, can't. Alex is staying over tonight. Darn." He snapped his fingers.

"No, John, I'm staying at Morgan's tonight," Alex said in a practiced tone. "This coworker can use the extra room here. Sleeping on a couch sucks." The incredible, absurd awkwardness of the moment finally sank in for Chuck, and he stared at his feet, grinning, and wondered whether Casey would actually explain the entire situation to his daughter.

"You can't ask Ellie?" Casey said.

"Ellie and Carina? Will hate each other." Casey grunted in acknowledgment.

"John, really, I'm staying at Morgan's tonight. We're going out to dinner at seven and then I'm not coming back. Besides, it'd be rude not to let her stay here," Alex insisted, with a hint of a smirk.

Casey was literally speechless. Seeing his opportunity, Chuck said, "Great, great, I'll send her over in a bit," before darting out.

That was close.

Carina and Sarah were both in the kitchen when he returned, both thankfully dressed (well, he was thankful Carina was clothed); Carina apparently explaining her latest mission — gunrunners in Thailand, apparently — to Sarah. It involved a motorcycle shoot-out through the streets of Taipai and some underaged prostitutes.

"Hey Chuck," Sarah said. "We were just about to mix up some mojitos, you want?"

"I'm good but you might as well make a batch; Alex is coming over later tonight." Alex adored mojitos.

"Alex is John's daughter?" Carina asked. "This sounds so amusing. I want to see his parenting in action."

"Yeah, about that," Chuck said nervously. "Casey's still having a few new-daddy nerves, and Morgan and Alex haven't been dating that long, and so if you could be … yourself, but less … you when you meet her, that'd be really helpful."

"Whatever do you mean, Chucky?" she asked innocently.

"It means it's probably better if you don't mention that you've slept with both Morgan and Casey in front of Alex," Sarah said, grinding the mint.

Carina looked mildly affronted again. "Fine, I'll behave as long as I get to meet her."

"Don't worry, she'll probably be at brunch tomorrow," Chuck said.

"Brunch?" Carina asked, not even trying to hide her disdainful skepticism.
"We all do brunch together on Sundays," he replied. "It's a tradition."

The girls traded a look, with Sarah finally saying, "OK, go ahead. Say it."

"You're hopeless, Walker," Carina sighed. "Just for that, we're having a girls' night tonight, just like back in college. You still remember what going out is, right?"

"Whoa, back up, college?" Chuck asked.

"What, you think Sarah just puts up with me because we're both agents?" Carina turned to him. "Please, that gets you two, maybe three, favors tops. It's the holding each other's hair after frat parties that counts."

"I'll note that I did most of the holding back then," Sarah retorted, pouring Chuck a mojito despite his earlier demurral. At Chuck's look, she said, "What? I haven't told you how Carina and I met?"

"No, I think I've missed this particular origin story." She'd only ever mentioned that the CIA at introduced the two of them.

"We were roommates. All four years of Harvard," Carina said, biting hard into a lime. Chuck choked on his drink. "What? Women can be smart, Chuck."

"I'm dating Sarah, you don't think I know that? But you … went to class, studied, hit the bars on Thursday?" He tried picturing Carina in sweatpants and Uggs, dozing through a math lecture. He failed, but it was damn funny to try.

"Carina was hitting them Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays too," Sarah laughed. "But yes — we were both pre-tapped agents, so we lived together."

"I'm just trying to picture you two karate-chopping handsy frat boys," Chuck said, grinning.

"Weren't you one of those handsy frat boys?" Sarah shook her head.

"No, no, not handsy. Completely respectful. All the time," Chuck spluttered.

"Please. Like you knew where to put those hands."

"Believe me, he does," Sarah replied in her sweetest voice, which was actually completely scary and fake-sounding. Chuck choked on his mojito again and she thwacked him on the back.

"Even though Sarah was a fuddy-duddy and actually did her schoolwork, we managed to have some fun," Carina said, thankfully ending that train of conversation. "Never would have guessed that less than ten years later you'd be a suburban housewife, though, Walker." She smiled wryly, and Sarah rolled her eyes.

"We keep guns in the sofa, I don't think we're quite there yet," Sarah said, though she was wiping down the counter as she said that (which Chuck appreciated).

"The things you learn about people," Chuck murmured.

"We can just all go to a movie or something low-key tonight," Sarah said, looking directly at him over her glass. "We've had a long week, Carina," she explained.

"No, you two should go out and catch up. I'll just hang out with Awesome and watch … soccer or something. I might even do some of that "paperwork" you keep mentioning, though I'm still not sure on the concept."

"Are you sure?" Sarah asked, but there was an undeniable sparkle in her eye.

"Come on, sweetie. You haven't had a night out in months, and sounds like we're going to get a big mish soon."

"Not the word 'mish' again, please," she laughed, kissing him lightly. "I thought we retired that."

"Nope. So, Carina, what will we be working on with you this week?"

"Finally," Carina huffed. "Alright, this is what we've got …"