Disclaimer: Chuck is not mine. I'm simply having a little fun. I can assure you there has been no profit.

A/N: Okay so this took way too long to write and it's about twice as long as I wanted. It's too long for this story, but I still think it's kind of cute. I wanted it out a week ago, but well, you know it's twice as long as it's supposed to be! One last reminder that there has been no beta work here, so proceed at your own risk.

Chapter 3

"I want to open my stocking!"

"After breakfast."

"I wanna do it right now!"

"Sweetie, it's a long day, you can open your stocking after breakfast," Sarah assured her.

"But Santa brought it!"

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Yes and he'll still have brought it after breakfast."

"But, but, but…" Casey's eyes started to fill with tears.

"Enough!" Sarah exclaimed. "I have to finish breakfast and start dinner. I'm not going to argue with you, go color or play with your dolls until breakfast is ready."

"I don't want breakfast!" Casey yelled.

"Don't yell at your Mother," Chuck interjected.

"Way to jump in there, Chuck," Sarah grumbled.

Chuck looked between his wife and daughter. He put down the knife he was using to cut up fruit.

"Come on, Squirt, let's talk," Chuck said. He picked up his daughter and walked her into the play room.

"Okay, Casey, you heard Mom, we're waiting for Uncle John before we open any presents or have breakfast. He'll be here soon.

"But I don't want to wait," Casey argued.

"Well sometimes we have to do things we don't want to, even on big days like Christmas. I thought you were excited to see Uncle John."

Casey just shrugged.

"You like Uncle John."

Chuck sat his daughter on the couch and tried to make eye contact, but she looked down at the floor.

"What's going on?"

Casey let loose a big sigh. "I don't want a little brother."

Chuck's eyebrows went up. "Why not?"

"Boys are smelly."

"Aren't you a little young to think boys are smelly?"

"Ben says girls are smelly, but they're not, boys are smelly," Casey insisted.

"Yes well, here's a secret. Whether they are boys or girls sometimes babies can be smelly. Bust most of the time they smell okay."

"But why do you need another baby?" Casey asked.

Chuck smiled. "I don't know that we need another baby. But we're really happy that we get to have another Baby. And Aunt Ellie is going to come and stay with us for three weeks!"

"Yeah, but Ben is coming too," Casey said dejectedly.

"Well, yes, he's coming too."

"He calls me stupid facey Casey."

"That's not very nice."

"There's already Roman and Ben why are we getting a boy? It would be better if Mommy had a girl."

Chuck laughed. "Well we don't get any say. Maybe the next one will be a girl."

"We're going to have more?" Casey asked in outrage.

Chuck laughed. "Maybe, but we'll love you just the same."

"Chuck!" Sarah shouted.

"Uh oh, I gotta go," Chuck said. "Tell you what, you can watch one episode of Winky Watkins, while we finish breakfast, Okay?"

"Okay," Casey said without much enthusiasm.

"CHUCK!" Sarah shouted.

"Coming!" Chuck called. "I gotta go, do me a favor and listen for the door okay? Uncle John should be here soon."

Chuck jogged back into the kitchen. Sarah was seated at the table in the dining room.

"What's up?" Chuck asked.

"Labor," Sarah said.

"Are you sure," Chuck asked. Sarah just glared at him.

"It could be Braxton-Hicks," Chuck offered.

Sarah shook her head. "I've been feeling something since I woke up this morning, They're getting stronger, right at ten minutes."

"Should we call Dr. Anthony?"

"It'll be the on call guy." Sarah grimaced.

"Always is, unless it's a C-Section."

Sarah nodded. "Let's call. Warn them at least."

"Who's going to take Casey? Mindy is—"

"In Florida," Sarah nodded. "It was Christmas, we knew that could happen."

"Yeah, but we didn't find a backup."

Sarah shrugged. "We aren't due for two more weeks. We could call the service."

"On Christmas?" Chuck asked. "Never get someone good."

"I'm open to suggestions," Sarah said shortly. Then she winced.

"Breathe, Honey," Chuck prompted.

"Oh good idea," Sarah grumbled. "Why didn't I…" Sarah stopped talking as she clutched the side of her belly."

"That didn't seem like ten minutes."

Sarah glanced at her watch. "Eight minutes."

"That's a big jump."

Sarah just shrugged and closed her eyes again. The kitchen timer went off.

Sarah blew out a breath. "Get the rolls, please."

"Yeah, sure."

Chuck went in and rescued the breakfast rolls and found a plate of sausages blackening on the stove. He took those off. He decided a couple of them might be able to be rescued, but most were too far gone for human consumption.

He put the rolls on the cooling rack and turned the coffee maker to heat only. He ran Sarah a glass of water and headed back to the dining room.

"You know, John will be here soon."

"Yes, I know."

"He could probably watch Casey for a while."

Sarah laughed then winced. "You want to ask General John Casey to watch our three year old daughter, by himself?"

"Hey they get along great."

"He's afraid of children!" Sarah muttered.

"He's not afraid of Casey," Chuck argued.

"Only because he's wrapped around her finger."

"He's commanded troops in battle on four continents."

"She'll over run him before the battle even begins."

"He knows how to watch his flank!"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Sorry," Chuck shrugged. "We were arguing using battle terms. Honestly, I think it's our best option."

Further discussion was eliminated by the ringing of the door. "Uncle John!" Casey shouted running in from the other room.

"Wait!" Chuck called.

But Casey had already thrown the door open and was hugging General John Casey. Chuck was a little surprised to see he was wearing his dress uniform.

"You're supposed to wait to identify who is at the door and then tell Mom or Dad before opening it!" Chuck said in exasperation as he followed Casey out onto their front porch. "Merry Christmas, John."

"Have I told you, that I hate that you stole my name and gave it to a short stack?"

"I think every time I've seen you since she was born, except the first time at the hospital when you cried after we told you."

John growled. "I did not cry, Bartowski. I told you, the hospital was extremely dusty."

"As hospitals are known for being very dusty places," Chuck agreed.

"Shut it, Bartowski!" The full sized Casey reached down and picked up the giggling little Casey. "Well, grunt, what have you been eating? You weigh a ton!"

"I'm getting big!" Casey giggled proudly.

"You'll always be a grunt," John assured her.

"Daddy says I can be whatever I want."

"Not true."

"Why not?" Casey asked.

"Can't be ugly, can you?"

"Yes I can!" Casey insisted and made a face.

"Nope," John shook his head. "Still cute, like a derringer."

Chuck rolled his eyes. "Please don't compare my daughter to firearms."

"Why not? She's a pistol." Casey smirked.

"Ha, Ha," Chuck laughed derisively. "Go help your Mom get breakfast ready, I need to talk to Uncle Casey for a minute."

"But I want to open presents!"

Chuck laughed. "I know, after breakfast okay."

Casey ran off and Chuck pulled the door most of the way shut behind her.

"What's up?" John asked.

"Well," Chuck said. "Sarah's in labor."

"Oh." Casey smiled. "You need me to get lost?"

"Actually, we're hoping you can watch Casey."

John laughed. "That's a good one, Bartowski."

"It's just until tomorrow, with the holiday the service won't have anyone available that we'd trust Casey with and were still a few weeks from the due date. Sarah's Boss and his wife, well mostly his wife was going to watch her, but they went to Florida for Christmas. So we're really hoping you can spend the afternoon with her and put her to bed. We shouldn't have to leave for the hospital for a while, so it'd probably only be a few hours."

"She finished potty training?"

"Yes." Chuck nodded. "She's doing really well. She can put on her own pajamas. You just need to feed her dinner read a couple stories, maybe watch Rudolph."

John shrugged. "I can do that."

Chuck smiled and slapped John on the shoulder affectionately. "Thanks, you're a life saver."

"Don't think you don't owe me for this," John grumbled.

"I named my first born after you!" Chuck argued.

"No, you already used that one."

"All right I'll owe you one."

"Right, just so I know what to collect, what is it you do again?"

Chuck laughed and headed into the house. "Merry Christmas, John."

It didn't take long for Casey to figure out something was wrong. In fact it was only until Sarah just had water for breakfast that she knew something was up. She didn't quite understand the distressed looks on Mom's face, but she was definitely suspicious.

"We are opening presents now?" Casey asked.

"Let us clear the dishes. Then we'll go open presents," Chuck agreed.

Casey managed to tear through her stocking and her presents in about 12 minutes. Chuck was taking pictures and Sarah was trying to be a good sport but obviously uncomfortable. She didn't really open her presents or take much note of what was going on. Chuck was holding the camera trying to take a few pictures.

When Casey settled down to play with her new toys Chuck quietly went and packed their go bags into the car.

He grabbed a few more things from around the house and then installed the baby car seat in the car. He found Sarah in their bedroom when he came back in the house.

"How long?" Chuck asked.

"We're getting close I think. About seven minutes apart. Did you call the hospital?"

"Yeah they said their slammed, we should wait as long as we can."

Sarah whimpered slightly and Chuck pulled her into a hug. "It's okay, you can do this, you've done it before."

Sarah put her arms around his neck and took several deep breaths. "It seems different this time."

"How so?"

"I don't know, it's hard to explain, I don't remember that much about laboring last time. Everything's kind of fuzzy until the delivery. But the contractions seem twitchier?" Sarah asked in more of a question than an explanation.

"Is that bad?" Chuck asked.

Sarah nodded. "I keep anticipating these twitches during the contractions. It's hard."

"Does it feel like something's wrong?" Chuck asked.

"I'm in labor, so yeah. Not really how I normally feel."

"It's going to be okay, Sarah."

"I know, I just wish…why Christmas?"

"Well, we'll never forget his birthday," Chuck laughed gently.

"Don't make me laugh," Sarah groaned.

"Should we go tell Casey?"

"Just a couple minutes another one is due here soon."


So Chuck held her until she started to moan. She leaned against him heavily for a few minutes. She gave one last deep breath and then said. "Okay let's go tell her."

Chuck held Sarah's hand as they went back into the living room under the tree, where John was helping Casey with a LEGO tower.

"Hey, Casey, we have some to tell you."

Casey's head and looked towards them. "I'm just building this tower."

"Yes, yes you are."

"Uncle John is helping me."

"That's good, Sweetie, can you listen for a minute?"

Casey stood up and turned around and faced them looking up with expectant eyes. "What?"

"Your brother is coming," Chuck announced.

"Right now?" Casey asked

"Yep," Chuck nodded. "He won't be here for a little bit, but he's on his way."

"Oh, okay." Casey turned and went back to her LEGOs.

Chuck and Sarah exchanged a glance. "Hey, Casey, Mom and I are going to have to go the hospital for a couple of days.

Casey didn't get up, but she did turn around. "Why?"

"That's where your brother is coming."

"Can I come?" she asked.

"No, not this time, but you can come visit tomorrow."

"You're going away all night?" Casey asked.

"Yep." Chuck nodded.

"But, I don't want you to go," Casey whined.

"Sorry, Pumpkin, we have to go, but Uncle Casey's going to stay with you."

At this news Casey brightened considerably. "Uncle Casey's gunna watch me?"


"Can we watch a movie?" Casey asked excitedly.

"Probably," Chuck agreed.

"Star Wars?" Casey asked

John groaned.

"Probably not," Chuck snickered.


"But there is one more present to open before we go."

"Where?" Casey demanded.

"It's from Uncle John."

"It's by my car," John told her.

"Can I open it?" Casey asked.

"Sure," John agreed. "Sort of."

Casey would have dragged the larger Casey out the door except for their size difference.

She screamed when she walked around the corner of the garage. "It's a bike!"

"Yep, you're very own two wheeler." Technically it had two training wheels as well and it was tiny. But it was her first bike.

"Can I ride it?" She asked.

"Only one way to find out," John replied.

"One second," Chuck said. He ducked into the garage and pulled out a bright pink bike helmet.

John helped her put on the helmet and get situated on the bike. She managed to pedal it slowly up the street. She wasn't a speed demon, they could all keep up at the slow pace that Sarah could manage. They watched her ride around for a while and finally Sarah tugged on Chuck's hand and nodded.

"Time to go?" He asked.

"I think so."

They said a goodbye in the driveway. Chuck didn't expect Sarah to start crying and that set Casey off as well. "Sorry about that," Chuck apologized as he handed a clingy and crying Casey over to John. "Enjoy yourself and have some fun! Good form on the bike sweetie, we'll see you in a couple days."

John let Casey bike around the neighborhood one more time, before declaring it too cold to spend more time outside. It was a mild winter for D.C., but it wasn't that mild. He helped her park her new bike in the garage and shepherded her inside.

"What do you want to do?" John asked

"I'm hungry," Casey declared.

"Hmm, I'm not much of a cook, but I can do PB&J."

"I like peanut butter and honey."

"Finicky, probably don't have any jam in this house anyway." John dug through the cupboards and found enough supplies to make the sandwiches. Casey got her milk in a real glass because he declared. "Sippy cups are for babies, gunts drink from flasks or real cups." Casey immediately snapped to and drank from her real glass.

"Well that wasn't too bad, but I don't think I'm up for Christmas dinner. Why don't you go watch a movie and I'll see if I can't rustle us up some grub."

"Star Wars?" Casey asked hopefully.

"No, something with cartoons," John insisted.

"They have Star Wars cartoons," Casey tried hopefully.

"What did Chuck do to you?" John asked, shaking his head.

"Um, tickled me?" Casey guessed.

"Well, I can do that." John declared. They he proceeded to prove it as he chased her into the family room.

"There that one looks like it has princesses or some such." John nodded as he watched the opening minute of the movie.

"I don't like princesses," Casey protested. "I like esplosions."

John smiled. "Keep it up that attitude and I might have to promote you, Grunt! I'm going to go make a phone call, you keep surveillance on those princesses, I expect a full report when I return."

"Yes, sir!" Casey replied.

"That's, yes sir, General Sir, to you." John ruffled her hair.

Casey stepped out into the dining room and placed a call.

"Hello?" the person answered.

"Hi, Ginger, this is General John Casey."

"Oh hello, General."

"You can call me John," John said.

"Then say it's John calling, not General John," Ginger replied.

"It's John,"

"Hi, John, Merry Christmas," Ginger replied.

"Yeah, Merry Christmas."

"Uh…How are you?" John asked awkwardly.

"I'm very well, thanks," said Ginger. "Are you enjoying your Christmas?"

"Yes, uh, I am."

"Good, I'm glad to hear that."

There was nothing but silence on phone for a full seven seconds before Ginger asked. "Was that it? Or did you call for something else?"

"Uh…" Casey cleared his throat. "I was wondering…" he trailed off.

"Yes, John?" Ginger prompted.

Casey put his hand over the phone and muttered several epitaphs. "Pull it together, man! You are a General in the United States Army and you are not afraid of some woman!"

Casey put the phone backup to his mouth. "Yes, I was wondering if I could change my response to your party invitation. I know its very last minute, but I've had a change of plans and was wondering if you still have room.

"Hmm, it is very last minute, John, the party starts in just three and a half hours."

"I know, I wouldn't normally ask, but…"

"I'm sure I could find room for you, if you wanted to come, John. There might even be room at my table."

"Oh, uh that'd be great," John said brightly.

"I just need to get my date a dress."

"What?" Ginger asked.

"My date, I need to find her a dress. It's formal right?"

"You're bringing a date to my party, John?" Ginger asked her voice full of danger.

"Oh…er yeah…"

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, No, you see I've got this friend—"

"Of course, I can't believe it," Ginger interrupted. "I thought… God. Glad I could do you a favor, General, If you'll excuse me, I've got a lot of work to do before the party."

"No, no, you don't…"

"Good-bye, General."

"Wait!" John stared at the phone, she'd already hung up. "What was that about?" John wondered.

John wandered back into the family room. "Good news, I found us some grub for tonight."

"Some grub?" Casey asked.


"I'm not hungry," Casey replied and went back to the movie.

"Not now, tonight, you'll have to wear a fancy dress though. Do you have a fancy dress?"

"Mommy bought me a dress for Christmas."

"That will probably do."

John knocked a little nervously on the door.

"Yes?" said a woman as she opened door halfway. It was still 35 minutes before the party was due to start. Her red hair was starting to fade a little with, age, but still maintained some of its youthful fire. Today it was pulled back and held by a clip in the back. She was wearing a long green gown with a flowing skirt. John's mouth got slightly dry as he took her in. He'd met her many times, but she was usually in a suit.

"Hello," John said.

"Oh, it's you," Ginger said. Her name was actually Celia Catherine Covington and she had gone by CeeCee until college when she decided it wasn't formal enough for an attorney. During her first year out of college one of the partners at Braxton, Higgs and Martin nicknamed her Ginger and she'd never been able to shake it. She'd long since stopped trying.

"Yeah, hi, I was hoping you could help me."

"Where's your date, General?"

"Right here." John cocked his head to the right.

Ginger's eyes trailed over and she opened the door a little wider and looked, her eyes finally trailing down to Casey.

Ginger smirked. "A little young for you, isn't she John?"

"You didn't really let me explain on the phone."

"I supposed I didn't."

"Can we come in?"

"You're early, the party doesn't officially start for a half hour. It doesn't really start for an hour."

"Yeah," John rubbed the short hairs on the back of his neck and held up a bag. "I was having some problems with getting her dress and tights and everything on. And I've no idea how to do her hair."

Ginger rolled her eyes at him. "Hi," she said to Casey.

Casey clutched John's leg and said. "Hi."

"My name is Ginger, what's yours?"

"Casey." Casey replied.

"How old are you, Casey?"

"I'm three years old."

"Wow, nice, did you get to have a party."

Casey nodded her head. "We went to the Zoo. They have pandas."

"Nice, was that your favorite?" Ginger asked.

Casey nodded excitedly. "They aren't ninjas though."

Ginger laughed. "No, not the one's at the zoo, anyway. Why don't you too come inside? It's warm today, but not that warm.

She opened the door wider.

"Is this your house?" Casey asked. "It's very big."

"It is very big, but no, this house belongs to my father."

"You live with your father too?" Casey asked.

Ginger laughed. "No, he mostly lives in Italy, now. I don't live here, but I do use it to host parties sometimes."

"Does it have a bathroom?"

"It does, it has five of them."

"That's a lot, my house only has two."

Ginger shrugged. "My house only has one, that's why I have the parties here. Do you need to use the bathroom?"

Casey nodded.

John was following a step behind the two of them.

Ginger showed Casey into the bathroom. "Let us know if you need help," Ginger told her and closed the door most of the way shut. Then she pulled John a short ways away from the bathroom.

"You brought a three year old to a formal Christmas ball?"

"Uh, yes?"

"John, there aren't going to be any kids here. This is an event mostly for singles power players that either couldn't go home or don't have anywhere to go. If they have kids they'll be at home with their kids!" Ginger whispered

"She'll be fine; I promise. She's so smart."

"Where did she even come from? I didn't know you had kids, and Casey Casey? Really John?"

John laughed. "She's not mine, she's named after me. Her parents were in a pinch and they asked me to watch her today, but I don't cook and I wanted to come to your party."

"She's going to be miserable."

"Casey Bartowski? You said there will be dancing. She'll have a ball. I mean literally because you're throwing one."

Ginger shook her head. "Bad idea, John, bad idea."

"I'm done," Casey said from the doorway. "Are you mad at Uncle John?"

Ginger smiled. "No, dearie just surprised. So where's this dress, the General was having so much trouble with?"

It turned out John was correct.

Casey managed to charm the entire table. Ginger had to change the seating arrangements at the last minute as she had put John and his "date" at the table by the kitchen seated entirely with known Democratic doves.

But they ended up sitting at Ginger's table. Casey had spent most of dinner talking in Polish to a diplomat from the Polish embassy, who had to work in the morning. Ginger had to run off and deal with hostess duties several times during dinner, but Casey managed to keep the table entertained with amusing responses to questions in three languages. It turned out that two of the people at the table spoke French. When they learned Casey was tri-lingual they spent most of dinner peppering her with questions in different languages. She almost always remembered to answer in the language the question was asked in, but not every time. She got flustered when she forgot, so Diana a friend of Ginger that worked at the State Department kept switching between French and English every other question.

Terry who was a lobbyist for Dickson and Hunt tried to teach her a little Japanese. She managed to learn three or four words before the conversation shifted to favorite events at the upcoming winter Olympics. They were all surprised to learn that Casey could ice skate. John was not, he after all had seen her more or less master two wheeling in a few hours earlier that day.

After dinner, the band started playing and John took Casey out for a few dances. Ginger, John and Casey all danced a few songs together. Ginger look like she wanted him to ask her to dance, but he didn't want to just leave Casey on the sidelines. He did finally decide to have her sit for a moment, while he asked Ginger to dance one song.

"Finally, she teased as she slipped into arms. I thought you weren't going to ask."

John grunted and then cleared his throat. It wasn't polite to grunt in front of such a pretty woman. "I wanted to, but I don't want to just leave Casey by herself."

"It looks like she's doing okay."

John looked over a noticed she was dancing with the Polish diplomat. "I might have to head that off before she causes an international incident."

Ginger laughed. "You're were right, she's doing fine. And she seems to be having a good time."

"She's a Bartowski, they fit in nowhere and everyone likes them."

Ginger laughed again. "I hope I get to meet her parents sometime."

"Really?" John asked.

"Yes, I've been waiting for you to ask me out for months now. I suppose you didn't notice."

John grimaced. "I thought maybe you might want to, but I wasn't sure how much work would get in the way."

"I don't see why it should."

"Some of the intel I gave you, if people find out where it came from…"

"I'll protect you," Ginger said evenly.

"It's not that, there could be a scandal…"

"You're here now." Ginger pointed out.

"A lot of people are."

"They aren't dancing with me."

"You're sure you want to risk it?"

"I think it could be worth it. We don't have to publish it in the society pages."

"That's the problem, with your Dad… it will be on the front page soon enough."

Ginger laughed. "Probably not, they care about who my Dad is seen with, not usually me."

"Okay, you want to go out next week?" John asked.

"I'd love to," Ginger replied. The music switched to a slower song and she stepped in and held John closer. "Thanks for coming, even if you brought a date."

"Couldn't say no to you."

Ginger just smiled. About halfway through the song John's phone buzzed. He grimaced as he pulled it out of his pocket. "Sorry. I'm never really off duty." He checked the number quickly. "Crap."


"Worse, Casey's parents, that idiot has the worst timing."

Ginger laughed. "Go talk to him. You want me to watch Casey?"

"Do you mind?"

"Of course not. You can call him back upstairs. Just go out that door, then down the hall."

John took his phone and went upstairs, he actually went up to the third floor before the music from the band died down enough to really hear well. "Hey, Chuck, it's Casey."

"Where are you guys?" Chuck asked.

"At a party?"

"Seriously?" Chuck asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"I just… nevermind…we're home."

"What? Already, what happened?" Casey asked. "I thought you were calling to tell me about the new one."

"The labor stopped."

"Is that an option?" Casey asked.

"I don't know, they didn't think it was that big of deal. It happened not too long after we got to the Hospital. They kept us there for a while, but since Sarah's not due for a couple more weeks and her water didn't break and her vitals are all good, we're home."

"You want me to bring her home" John asked.

"You guys having fun?"


"Then when you're ready is fine. Don't keep her out too late, but Sarah's exhausted she crashed as soon as she got home. So Casey isn't missing anything here."

"Okay, we won't be long. Is Sarah okay?"

"Stressed out, exhausted, and disappointed. A little concerned that something might be wrong. Her doctor thinks it's okay. We go back in to see him during office hours tomorrow. It'll all work out."

"Take care of her, I'll get Casey home."

"Sure, John, thanks again."

John headed back to the party and found Casey dancing a rapid swing with Ginger. She was giggling as Ginger twirled her back and forth and moved her around the dance floor. She lost her feet a couple of times, but Ginger displayed fantastic reflexes managing to catch her before she could really fall. Ginger dancing with the only child at the party had attracted a lot of attention. John felt himself getting rather disgruntled at the attention the men were paying her.

They hadn't even gone on a date yet and already he felt possessive. It was a ridiculous thought. It was very unlikely they had a future. If his life was anything, it was at least a long detailed manual on how not to have relationships with women. John had truly been in love four times in his life. One he left in service of his country. One left him in service to her country. Another had been doomed by his first assignment after getting a star. The other had taken a bullet meant for him in Budapest. John had figured he best be done with women and then he'd met Ginger.

The song ended and Ginger spotted him standing on the edge of the crowd. The two of them made their way over. John grunted. This was a bad idea.

"Pretty fancy moves," John said when they got close enough to hear him.

"I've picked up a few things here and there." Ginger winked at him. "So was it good news?"

"Depends on your perspective."

"Oh?" Ginger asked glancing between Casey and John. "How so?"

"You're still an only child." John said.

Casey beamed. "I'm not having a little brother?"

"Not today," Casey agreed. "But you're still getting one, so you better adapt. A good soldier always adapts to new circumstances."

Casey stuck out her lip.

"You don't want a brother?" Ginger asked.

"No…boys are smelly."

"Not all of them, your Uncle smells very nice."

Casey huffed. "He doesn't count he's not a boy, he's a General."

"I certainly hope he's a boy," Ginger smirked. "I'd be very disappointed if he wasn't."

Casey examined her for a minute. "Why? Are you going to marry Uncle Casey?"

John's eyes nearly bugged out of his head. He tried to suppress it, but he growled ever so slightly at Casey. Ginger looked between Casey and John and then she laughed. She picked up Casey and just kept laughing. "I like you," she said to the girl. "Let's go see if Dad has any grape soda."

"Really?" Casey squealed. "Mom, never lets me have soda, it's only for grownups."

"Well this will just be our little secret then," Ginger said conspiratorially. They went around the corner and John groaned and followed them. This woman was going to trouble.

Casey was still on a sugar high and still giggling when Casey dropped her off. Chuck looked at his daughter dressed up in her Christmas finest and John in his dress uniform. "Clearly there's a story here."

Casey shook his head. "Nope."

"Uncle John has a girlfriend!" Casey blurted.

"Casey!" John growled. "Need to know!"

"He kissed her." Casey betrayed him again and then started giggling.

"I told you that information was need to know and your Dad doesn't need to know."

"We went to a party," Casey added. John just growled louder.

"Wow, sounds fun." Chuck nodded. "Did you have a good time?"

"It was the best Christmas ever!"

Chuck laughed. "Don't let your Mom here you say that."

"She can't keep a secret," John interjected. "Sarah's going to find out apparently."

"But I want her to know. I danced and I had grape soda!" Casey gushed.

John groaned. "Don't ever be a spy kid, don't ever be a spy."

"Why not?" Casey asked.

"Because you absolutely cannot keep a secret, you're just like your father."

Casey looked entirely too proud of that assessment. John decided it was time to take his leave. "I should get going. Have a good night. Tell Sarah, I hope she pops soon."

"Pops?" Casey asked.

"Goodnight, Darlin," John ruffled Casey hair. He reached down and gave her a hug. Casey gave him a tight hug back.

"Go get ready for bed," Chuck told Casey. "I'll be in, to read to you in a minute."

"Okay, can I sleep in my dress?"

"No. Pajamas, please."

"All right," Casey mumbled. "Good night Uncle John."


Casey ran off to her room and John turned to leave. "Hey, John?"

"Yeah?" John turned halfway back.

"Thanks a million for watching her today. It means a lot."

"No problem." John turned to leave again.


"Yeah?" John turned back again. "Lady feelings on Christmas? Really?"

"Oh, shut it, Bartowski, you're the biggest girl I know when it comes to Christmas." John huffed and turned to leave.

"John?" Chuck said again.

The hairs on the back of John's neck stood up. Why was this man so annoying? "What?" John snapped.

"Merry Christmas," Chuck said.

"Oh, yeah, same to you, Bartowski."