Author's Note: Still stuck on the first story, but this one found its way out. Didn't take that long, but, just maybe, it'll be a good read. Also, didn't really edit it, so I hope it doesn't have a bunch of mistakes.
So: Don't own Chuck. Not even a little bit.
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, California
August 21, 2016
"Long time no see," spoke a gruff voice.
"Yeah, well. I've been busy. You know how it is," was the reply.
"Hmmm. So, why now? Why make it so easy?" started the tall slightly graying man. "You know, we had no idea where to even start looking until a few hours ago. And, after all this time, I know you're not that sloppy."
"Aw! Casey, is that a compliment?" asked the joking voice of Chuck Bartowski.
"Can it. I've been chasing you for eight years. The one time I get close to bringing you in, I end up in a grimy San Lorenzo hospital and with my leg in cast for four months. Now you're out in the open, just taking in the view like you don't have a care in the world. What gives?"
"I am sorry about the leg, you know. I hope I didn't cause any permanent damage," Chuck said eying Casey's left leg. "But I was kinda mad at that point; what with the whole trying to kill me thing and what not-Oh, you probably don't know this, but you missed me in Bangkok by five minutes. I even saw you go into the hotel," he said offering a satisfied smile.
"Seems to me like you got lucky; at least you learned a thing or two," countered Casey. "The last time we had anything on you was three years ago. We knew you were somewhere in Russia, just couldn't figure out where. You got real good at hiding your tracks."
"The Intersect helped. Finally the damned thing worked to my advantage," he said as he rested his arms on the pier railing and placed a foot on the lowest horizontal steel bar. Looking out into the ocean, he continued, "For the first year I was scared out of my mind. Expecting that any minute a team would show up and grab me."
"You're not the only one. We expected to find you on the first day you ran." Casey was still clearly annoyed that things hadn't worked out that way. "Still have no idea how you managed to escape so efficiently."
"Like you said: I learned a thing or two," his face turned serious. "Do you remember when we thought the Beta Intersect was coming online?" Casey's eye twitched. "Yeah, well. I thought the worst thing about that mess was that I was still the only Intersect and my relationship with Sarah was back to square one. But that wasn't it was it?" He saw Casey become uncomfortable. "Don't worry, water under the bridge. But I did find out about your orders shortly after. That was a wake up call."
"How'd you find out?"
"Doesn't matter; what matters is that if it happened once, there was nothing stopping it from happening again. So I began to plan, just in case." Chuck let out a long breath and continued, "Well, what do you know. One day, Sarah comes in telling me you guys have my dad at Castle and she's taking me to see him; only to then turn around and tell me that it's a trap to get me into a bunker and we had to run." Casey's just looking at him now. "I believed her when she told me about my dad. I thought I had him back. But after she told me the truth, I saw how easily and believably Sarah could lie to me. There was no way I was going to trust her after that. I told her I had to go to my locker to get the engagement ring I got back from Jill so we could sell it. She told me to hurry, and well, you know the rest."
"Urgh. That explains it. Walker never did know how to keep it in her pants when it came to the guys she worked with," he grumbled.
Chuck snickered. "That doesn't apply to me, Casey. She made it quite clear there was nothing between us. I think she just felt sorry for lil' ol' me."
"When did you get so cynical Bartowski?"
"Eight years, Casey. Things change."
"Walker certainly did. She became reckless after you left. Hell, she even uploaded a new version of the Intersect the tech geeks came up with, the 2.0 they called it." Surprise showed on Chuck's face. "Yeah; it was meant for Larkin, but the idiot went and got himself killed before he could upload it, so Walker decided to make its new home in her head. Stupidest idea she ever had." Casey shook his head with a scowl.
"What happened to her?" Chuck asked with concern. He didn't trust her, but he didn't want any harm to come to her either.
"She was fine the first three months. She was incredibly successful as an Intersect. This one actually gave her abilities on top of intelligence information. No one could touch her. We took Fulcrum down easily enough. She used it to try to find you. That's how we figured out San Lorenzo. She didn't tell us, to protect you, but we followed her and made our move before she did." Remembering his old partner was not fun for Casey. "But, shortly after that, she began to have problems with the flashes. The strain was becoming too much for her brain to handle and her motor functions began to deteriorate. By the time the geeks figured out a way to get it out, too much damage had been done." At Chuck's widening eyes, Casey growled, "Don't worry, moron. She was fine... for a civilian, but she was done as an agent. The Agency fired her, and that was the last I heard of her."
Chuck nodded his head. "I'm glad she was okay."
"Don't tell me, I don't care about what you're feeling. Enough about old times," he said curtly. "Why are you here? You had to know we would be coming. Beckman isn't going to let you go so easily, not with that thing still in your head, not while she can still use you."
Chuck smiled wide. "See, here's the thing about that. I know all that, and like you said, I'm not that sloppy. Truth is: I missed home. I missed Ellie and Devon, and Morgan. I've never even held my niece. It was time I came back."
"Ellie and Devon? C'mon! They think you're dead! You gotta do better than that, Bartowski," protested Casey.
"Wanna know a little secret?" he asked with a little twinkle in his eye. "You only think they think I'm dead. I've been in touch with Ellie all this time. They know I'm alive and well. Hell, I've even gotten pictures of my niece over the years. How did you think I even knew I had one?"
"Impossible. We've monitored all their communications. We've never come across anything linking them to you," argued Casey.
"Electrical Engineering degree from Stanford plus Intersect, remember?" He said, tapping his head with his index finger. "Difficult, but not impossible. Which brings me to my next point: I don't care what Beckman wants. She can't use me anymore." Casey raised an eyebrow in question. "The Intersect's gone, out of my head. It took me years to figure out a way, but I did it."
"Oh, yeah? What's-"
"To stop you guys from forcing another one on me?" Chuck finished for him. "That's the reason it took years. Simply taking out the Intersect was relatively easy. Finding a way to keep one from being put back in, that was the tricky part. But as of last month, I'm read-only, baby." He pointed to his head again, "This brain is closed for business. Under lock and key, and I threw away the only key."
Casey growled. "I don't believe you."
"I don't care what you believe. The truth is no one can use me anymore," he said with a smirk. "Oh, and tell Beckman I wouldn't bother trying to take me against my will. I've taken other precautions. It won't end well for her or anyone else. She won't believe you, of course; but she'll have a sample of the proof tomorrow. I don't think she'll be bothering with me after that."
"Well played, Chuck."
"Thank you, Casey." He inhaled the ocean breeze deeply. "Now, I think I'm going return to my life and family and finally move forward. I still have time to make something of myself, don't you think? Maybe I'll look up Sarah and see how that goes. Don't be a stranger, John. Come visit sometime. We've been through too much together, and I've let go of all the resentment. I understand you were just following orders. You did save my life on multiple occasions. There's no one else either of us can talk to about our experiences, and it does help to talk."
"Ha ha ha! That's what I thought you'd say. But I meant what I said. Whether you want to admit it or not, we're friends. Take care of yourself Colonel John Casey. I expect to be seeing you around." Chuck offered his hand.
As Casey took it to shake, Chuck pulled him into a one armed hug, bumping his shoulder. "Damn it, Chuck!"
"What can I say? Couldn't resist." A wide smile on his face as he shrugged.
"Ugh... I'll see you around, moron." The Colonel turned around and started to walk away.
"I knew you liked me!" Casey abruptly stopped, mumbled something under his breath and resumed his stride.
Chuck looked out to the setting sun and for the first time in almost ten years, he felt free. Emotion overwhelmed him, and tears of pure, unadulterated joy made their way down his cheeks. Tomorrow, he would start his life anew. Today, he would revel in the fact that he'd finally made it out, alive.
Author's Note: Any good? Yeah? No? Meh? By the way, never been to San Lorenzo. Don't know the state of its hospitals; call that artistic liberty and not fact.