Author's Note: Another day, another update. I didn't really get a chance to thoroughly beta this, so if you see any glaring mistakes, my apologies a head of time. I've been a bit busy for the last few days. Hope you like it. Also, if anyone is interested, I'm almost finished with a one-shot I've been writing that puts Sarah's POV in the first person and deals with Sarah having a relationship with Chuck prior to the events of the Pilot episode. Hopefully, I'll have it up in a couple of weeks.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of this.
Chapter 5: Fight or Flight
After a successful evening thwarting what they eventually discovered was an assassination attempt against General Stanfield and saving countless people from a bomb, the new team headed back to Castle for their debriefing. After all was said and done, Sarah left the room with Casey and Chuck not far behind.
"Don't go there, Chuck," Casey warned.
Chuck could already tell he wasn't going to like what his friend was going to say. Anytime he called him by his first name generally brings about red flags.
"I saw how you were looking at Walker during our mission tonight. Don't let your lady-feelings get in the way. It's a distraction."
The look Casey gave him brooked no argument but he was not one to follow orders that do not make sense.
"She's new to the team. I was just-"
"Ogling her. Yeah, I noticed."
"I respect her as an agent and this whole conversation is totally unwarranted. She doesn't even think that way about me. We're colleagues. Don't forget that we barely even known each other."
"Just keep your mind on the mission, Bartowski."
Oh, so it's Bartowski now.
"There will always be a mission, Casey," he says, feeling irate. "And so what if by some miracle she considers me datable, I'm not her asset or her subordinate. We're equals."
Casey's reply to that was to narrow his eyes and leave with a growl.
"Welcome to Casa de Bartowski." Chuck gestured around his home, which from Sarah's view was only the living room and an open kitchen separated by a bar counter. "The spare bedroom is down the hallway to your first right." He took her bags and placed them behind the couch. "Feel free to use anything you need."
Sarah was still trying to process everything she just learned during the first day of officially being apart of Chuck's team. The most unprecedented discovery was his name, which quite frankly just about trumped disarming a bomb using porn (which was impressive, BTW) . Turns out, in reality Charles Carmichael was really Charles Irving Bartowski. The former being his alias on the field and the latter used for his regular day-to-day life. She had initially thought it was another alias until Casey continuously addressed him by Bartowski a few times just prior to leaving for their mission to save General Stanfield.
The second surprise of the day was Chuck's insistence that she just room with him at his residence when he discovered she was currently being housed at a hotel 10 miles away. He thought it was a waste of tax-payer dollars and that his home had more than enough space for the two of them. Being just above modestly wealthy, he had explained that he renovated his unit to have an additional bathroom and that his spare bedroom was currently unused. She was at first resistant but the thought of getting to know Chuck more in his surroundings as well as the added benefit of a faster travel time to Castle was too good to pass up.
Now she was afraid of what living together would entail between the two of them.
Moving around his apartment, Sarah picked up a framed photo. "Who's this?"
Chuck made his way to her and glanced at the picture frame in her hand. "Oh, that's Ellie. My sister. She's a doctor at West Medical with her boyfriend. She actually lives across from us."
"Does she know what you do for a living?"
"Beyond the Buymore. No. I've tried to convince our bosses to let her in on the secret since she specializes in neuroscience but no luck so far. They are open to going over that option in the future though. I mean, right now, with Fulcrum's influence growing, they don't want to involve anyone with the Intersect project unless absolutely necessary."
"So how would you like to explain to her about some random woman moving into your spare bedroom?"
Chuck's eyes practically sparkled. "I say we brainstorm. You need a notepad?"
"I think I can keep up."
She sat on the lazy boy chair while Chuck plopped right on the sofa looking like a patient preparing to be cross-examined by a therapist.
"Okay. Since we've actually met a couple times before, I think it'll be easier not to stray too far from the truth."
"I agree." Sounded practical enough. "So we met in Miami."
"Ah huh." He nodded. "A couple of years ago. Gone on a few dates, maybe." He was on a roll now. "Stayed in contact every once in a while. I also brought you Casablanca lilies on our first date."
Sarah raised her eyebrows at that. "That's very... detailed. Why Casablanca lilies?"
"Because it means celebration, and what better to celebrate a first date with than that."
His answer was quick and remarkably well-answered. How long had he been thinking about this?
"You're a romantic?"
"Hey. My sister raised a gentleman," he defends but not looking the least bit offended.
Sarah couldn't look away.
She liked that about him too.
Moving in with him didn't seem like a good idea now.
"Chuck, what is the matter with you?"
Sarah's patience was reaching its limits. She wanted to understand her partner and one of the best ways to do that was to spar with him. Surprisingly, he didn't often get down and dirty in the field. As it happens, Chuck was a natural strategist. His quick thinking and even quicker execution of a plan on the spot is nothing less than astonishing given the amount of pressure and adrenaline that normally accompanies their missions. So she wanted to see what he was really like one on one. No distractions. Just two seasoned agents taking each other on. How he moved and reacted, generally, the way he fought could tell her a lot about a person in the field and perhaps maybe even off it.
So far though, he only moved.
But he doesn't react, which was disconcerting. On top of that, she hadn't been able to connect a blow and that was really annoying.
"Nothing," he said, fists raised but unused since they started.
"Chuck, this isn't the kind of sparring I'm used to. If I wanted a prop, I would've stuck to the punching bag."
"Don't get your panties in a twist, Walker," Casey said, watching them merrily off in one area. She knew the NSA Agent was enjoying the sight of her trying to hit Chuck and failing. "Chuck's a good fighter as any. He just doesn't hit girls."
If her eyes could bulge out of her sockets, it would.
Chuck shrugged, unapologetic.
"How have you survived in the field this long?"
Chuck lowered his hands and looked every bit the offended male that he was. "I've survived quite well, actually."
Hell, she's up for a challenge.
"Fine. We'll see about that."
They'd barely restarted their session when the scent of popcorn drifted in the room. She and Chuck both turned sideways to find Morgan sitting beside Casey, sharing a bowl.
Casey said nothing, apparently content to simply wait until the fight started while Morgan munched away, clearly excited.
"I… uh…" She shook off her frustration and refocused on Chuck. "Let's just get this over with."
Chuck looked positively dejected. "Do we have too?"
He readied his stance anyway, adjusting his foot placement and raising both fist in front of him to guard his face.
Before there was another strange interruption, she sent a front and snap kick following it with a roundhouse to the head but Chuck had blocked and dodged accordingly, his concentration as focused as hers but never advancing to return the attack.
Jab. Cross. Hook. Knee. And different variations in between.
It went on for about five minutes.
Both their adrenaline was pumping, feet bouncing lightly on the mat to let the blood flow.
Sarah noted Chuck's avoidance abilities impressively, but that wasn't endearing him to her in the least. She sent another set of combos and just when she thought she was starting to get the upper hand, Chuck surprised her by locking her elbow, ducking underneath her arm and kicking her left ankle forward, causing her to lose balance and dropping her ass on the mat with her back in front of Chuck's, who at the same time went down on one knee with him pinning her arms behind her.
Morgan clapped while Casey sent her a smug grin.
"Just because he won't hit a girl, doesn't mean the boy doesn't know how to do submissive holds."
"Yeah," Morgan Grimes says preparing to add his two-cents. "His entire method of dealing with opposing aggression is tiring them out and then frustrating them."
"Can we stop now?" Chuck pleaded, releasing her arms.
Not only was she annoyed with the unwanted commentary, she went about getting rid of it by getting up, grabbing Chuck's arm and throwing him over her hip, his body creating a loud thud on the mat.
"Yes," she breathed, more relaxed now. "We can stop now."
Chuck wisely stayed on the floor until she left the dojo.
The hotel room was a mess.
The legs of the only table in the room were snapped in half and have no chance of recovery.
One mirror shattered into pieces.
Sarah was not looking forward to the seven years of bad luck that would bring and the call she'd have to make to clean and replace it all up. She was also fairly sure that Chuck had homeowner's insurance so perhaps she didn't have to make a call to the CIA at all.
"Why is it every time you come to visit me, we end up bruised, battered and bleeding on the floor?"
"Probably because outside of the job, you're a boring person."
Sarah sighed. "Carina. What are you doing here?"
"What? I can't visit a friend?"
Carina folds first.
"Okay. Fine. A birdie told me that you're Chuck's cover girl. That true, Walker?"
"Cover girl?" She repeated, disliking the label. "Birdie? Carina, what are you going on about? And who exactly told you about me and Chuck?"
"So it is true."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Hardly. It's just a cover. Chuck and I aren't any kind of anything. We're colleagues. Partners. And it's just a job."
"Sure," Carina said, clearly unconvinced.
"It's late and I'm tired."
Sarah lazily got off the floor and started brushing off random pieces of broken debris off her person and then headed to the bathroom.
"Oh, we are so not done yet." Carina said, following her. "You can't possibly think that I believe you wouldn't tapped that. If I were in your position, I totally would. You're living with the man!"
"Don't be crass, Carina." And just to point out, "We have separate bedrooms."
Knowing Carina though, Sarah didn't doubt that except her friend couldn't be farther from the truth. Three weeks working together and she still didn't know if Chuck was interested or not. He was polite and generous, endlessly so. A complete gentleman but he wasn't overt. He never tried to force intimacy or even take advantage when they were acting the part. They haven't even gotten passed chaste kisses.
Most of all, he was content to let her take the lead.
In one word.
And it doesn't help that tonight, he showed another facet of himself in an arena she always prided herself to be the best at. He's great defensively but he's a reluctant fighter. On top of that, there were other moments he'd do something so unexpected, whether on a mission or having dinner with friends or his family, that she would have the out-of-character urge to jump him.
It was becoming ridiculous.
And very unprofessional.
Bryce had been her longest relationship to date but she was by no means inexperienced. She's aware that she's attractive. Beautiful even. There were more than a few times where she even had to take advantage of that aspect of herself to help aid in a mission. Of course she's not as sexually promiscuous as Carina, but the situation at work was becoming more problematic every day.
"So you're not going to sleep with him."
"Wow, you've got a one-track mind. Why would you think I would? And besides, Chuck doesn't strike me as a guy who'd sleep with every attractive female that throws themselves at him." She points to Carina. "Case in point."
Carina responded by childishly giving her the tongue.
"And I will not throw myself at him," she added as an afterthought.
Carina's eyes turned positively mischievous.
"So you do like him."
Before Sarah could deny it, there was a knock on the door and she settled for glaring at Carina just before she opened the door.
She knew she should have installed a peep hole or at least some kind of video camera on the outside.
"Chuck. What's going on?"
Chuck was dressed to the nines, minus a dress tie. What remained consistent since the day she met him were the top buttons of his dress shirt. They were unfastened.
"What's the occasion?"
"Dinner," he replied. Oh, she had forgotten about that after their sparring session tonight. "Tonight we're going out with Ellie." He held a bouquet, and her heart nearly leaped out of her chest at the sight. Casablanca lilies. "I changed before heading home. It's for our cover," he added, looking at her curiously. Other than the sudden spike in her heart rate, Chuck was probably wondering why she looked disheveled, sweaty and all around not looking good. "Uh... should I ask what happened because last I recall, you left Castle perfectly in tact."
She was about to reply when the obnoxious sound of her friend's voice permeated the room like a sonic boom.
Like before, Carina threw herself at Chuck and Sarah had to hand it to him, he took it all in stride.
"Carina," he said, laughing. "Ah, let me guess. Sarah came home and had an unexpected guest break in and a fight to the death ensued?"
Sarah refused to dignify his fairly accurate guess with an answer. Carina of course had other plans.
"I'm also here to get the 4-1-1 on you and Sarah."
He looked to her with a bemused smile on his face.
"And what have you discovered?" he continued to ask Carina but his eyes stayed on her.
To her mortification, she squirmed just a tad bit by his gaze.
"She's in denial."
At this point, Sarah had to clear her throat.
"I'm standing right here."
Carina ignored her as usual. "I hadn't noticed."
She rolled her eyes.
"I'm sorry about Carina."
Chuck didn't look bothered at all. "It's no problem. She can be a handful."
"You're a brave man to be able to work with her all these years."
Chuck shrugged. "It's cool. She's really not as difficult as Casey makes her out to be. And besides, it's only every once in a while." He took off his dinner jacket and draped it over her. "Here, you look like you're getting cold."
She was touched. His kindness and his complete lack of pretense continued to make her head spin.
Dinner had been fun. It actually almost always is around Chuck and his family, and it's made even better with the endless amount of stories Ellie had of her brother growing up. Even the embarrassing ones. Chuck hadn't been the only one to be ridiculed though, and returned the favor with a few stories about his sister as well. Between both siblings, they had countless stories to tell.
They were walking in comfortable silence for a couple more minutes when they ran into Lou. The Sandwich girl.
Sarah knew the tell-tale signs of a girl with a crush, but being the gentleman that her partner was; he remained polite and open but not once indicating that he was interested in being more than just acquaintances. When the interaction ended, Sarah had to ask.
"Do you really not notice it or are you just oblivious?"
Chuck looked like a deer caught in the headlights by the question.
"Lou's been eying you for weeks."
"Oh, that." He pointed to Lou's retreating back. "No. No. I… uh… was she really?" Chuck looked back, and she can practically see the gears shifting in his head.
She chuckled and delved further.
"Don't take this the wrong way but… are you gay?"
Chuck then seemed speechless and it actually felt nice to surprise him for a change.
"Um… no, I'm not." Then his eyes widened. "Am I giving off that vibe?"
"Honestly. No. You're just very difficult to read sometimes."
"I don't really do casual and with all the missions lately, I've kind of put the whole 'meeting girls' during off hours on the back burner."
"Why? It's not exactly a rule that you can't have a girlfriend." Sarah had to admit that it is often not recommended for field agents, or if one decides to be with a foreigner but with Chuck operating where he both lives and works, his situation could be an exception to the rule.
"That would just be awkward for us," he said, his face quivering. "I can see it now. I'll be out on a date with a girl when I tell her my cover-girlfriend needs me to accompany her to a black-tie shindig in Paris in the morning."
Sarah laughed. "Okay, I could see it would be a problem now."
"I'm in no hurry, Sarah. Besides, maybe I'm just waiting for the one."
"You mean, true love? I don't believe in that."
"Come on, there's got to be a bleeding heart of a romantic in there somewhere."
"Sounds messy," she describes with a sour expression.
Chuck grinned. "Doesn't have to be."
"I've got too much baggage to even consider settling down, or something close to it anyway."
"If that's a problem, you can always turn to me. I'll be your own personal baggage handler."
Cue uncomfortable silence.
"That actually sounded better in my head," he confessed.
"As far as pick-up lines go, I'd rate that in the high 10s." Not wanting to figure out the puzzle that is Chuck anymore, she figured she had nothing but her pride to lose and says, "I'm going to ask you out on a date."
Chuck stilled, and looked a bit flabbergasted.
"For our cover?" he replied slowly.
"No. I'm actually going to ask you out."
"You seem upset over that."
"You were kind of taking too long."
"I'm sorry," he says, embarrassed.
"Good." Chuck said and then a huge smile broke out on his face. "So... when exactly will you be asking me out? On a date, I mean."
Sarah smiled, finding the situation both ridiculous yet amazing.
To be Continued...