The Buy More Locker
Summary: Alex doesn't care about the money. She cares about the things that are his. Even his smelly shirt. Missing moments for Chuck Versus the Subway and Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II.
A/N: Just finished binge-watching Chuck and falling in love with it. Especially Casey because I apparently have a thing for the stoic grumpy guys with the hearts of gold. And his daughter I love pretty much by association. So here's my first Chuck fanfic focusing on those two and their relationship, hopefully the first of more to come.
The thing is, she doesn't care about the money. It's the most surprising thing about that locker, sure. It's the first thing that Morgan guy notices once he opens the secret locker in back, the thing he comments on, the thing he hands her automatically. And she knows his reaction is the normal one. Of course the money should be the most interesting, exciting thing to her.
But her world's been turned upside down from the moment her customer John Casey kidnapped her, from the moment he said I'm your father, from the moment she believed him. She can't be expected to react normally to any of this at all.
All her life she's felt like she's been missing a part of herself, an ache she felt more keenly every time she looked at some of the few old photos her mother had of him. The way her mother talked about him always left Alex with a burning inside that hurt. He would have loved you, Alex. And from the time she was a kid, she always wore his name like a badge of honor. Not Alexandra, never changed or added a single syllable, and when she was in kindergarten she pushed a girl in her class that said she had a "dumb boy's name."
Because that was all she could do for him.
She always felt bad that she couldn't love him the way she loved her mother. How do you love someone, how do you miss someone you've never met? She'd learned to live without that feeling and tried to make up for it with pride. You could be proud of someone you never met, after all. He was a war hero and he would have loved her. That's all she knew. But now...
Your father died a hero becomes your father didn't die becomes your father might die now. Why else would he give her all his things at this time? She's read enough books and watched enough movies to know that's how it goes – you give away your things when you're not expecting to make it back.
The part of her mind that can get past the "this is all so surreal feeling" hates him for that. She hates him for coming back into her life just in time to be snatched away. She hates him for all these complications, for all these things, and they don't even know each other. Hours ago she thought he was trying to kill her. And now she's faced with the contents of his locker, these things he left just for her and she may have to grieve for him very soon. This locker of his things is all she'll ever have.
The money means a lot – it could be an investment for her future, less money worries for her mother, financial security for some time. But she doesn't care about it at all, not in comparison to all these things that are his, specifically his. The things that teach her a little bit about him, all the things she never knew but always wanted to.
His shirt smells like sweat and it's not pleasant but she clings to the fabric anyway. She's always had an active imagination, especially when it comes to her father and now it hits her automatically. She would have been a little girl and maybe he was a sloppy dad and left his dirty shirts around and she'd cringe her nose at them and he'd tease her about it. Then Mom would reprimand him and tell him to clean up after himself but throw his clothes in the laundry for him anyway. She can see it like a real memory even though it never happened, even though she can only pretend it did.
There's a picture of Ronald Reagan taped inside his locker and she wishes she could call up more facts about this particular president off the top of her head. She should have paid more attention in history class. At the very least it'd give her an idea of who he respects, and that could tell her so much about him.
She notices that all his magazines are for artillery, for weapons, and she catalogs that information away too. He likes guns and why wouldn't he? He was a military man, and now a—a spy? He lives a dangerous life and she wonders if he would have taught her about guns too. Wonders if he would have taken her shooting as a teen. The self-defense class would have been his idea. No, wait, he'd teach her himself. Way more than her instructor could, too.
It's in the back of the locker that she finds it, behind the passports that tell stories of adventure and danger but without his real name. It's a single, old worn photo of a familiar face. Her mother, much younger, much softer. Before grief. Before raising a child on her own. A single picture that makes her believe he's loved her mother all this time too.
And then tucked in the back right next to that, her hand touches a single slip of paper, a familiar texture that shouldn't be sentimental at all. But she pulls it out and holds it up to read and this is what brings the tears to her eyes. A receipt from the Pie Shack, and though the date on it held no significance for her at the time, she knows it's from the very first day he came in. The first day they met, the first day they'd spoken, the day he gave her the most generous tip she'd ever gotten.
And she's crying now in a Buy More locker room because this can't be it, this can't be all she gets to know about him firsthand. He can't be gone again just after she got him back. She waits there a long time, crying and hoping that Morgan would return. She needs answers, needs a friend, and she trusts him. He had kind eyes, she thinks, and if she wasn't such a mess right now she'd probably think him cute as well.
But she is a mess and she can't stay here crying all day. Her father – her father, still so weird to think - told her to run. She has to go home, grab her mother, find a way to convince her that they have to leave. She has no idea how she'll do that, but she has to try.
She goes home and can't think of the words to say. She can't think of anything at all, and she knows he'd be disappointed. She froze up, was indecisive, couldn't find a way to ensure their safety even though that's all he seemed to want. But no one else comes for them, and there's nothing to distract her from thinking solely of the danger he's in. John Casey. Alex Coburn. Her father.
The phone call comes in what feels like lifetimes later, and she'd been watching the news and in a shocked grief to hear that the Burbank Buy More had blown up. She could only assume he'd been right in the heart of the action. She could only assume the worst, but then comes the call. She doesn't know how he got her number but doesn't care; she's just glad he did. His gruff voice in her ear, and in such a short time she's come to associate it with warmth and caring. "Alex, I'm safe now." he tells her. "And you and your mother are too. You don't have to worry anymore."
The word explodes from her, that one name she never got to use as a kid but always wished she could. "Dad. I—I want to talk to you. I want to see you." Her voice is desperate and she hopes he can hear it. If he truly loves her, he won't deny her this.
There's a pause on his side of the line, and then, "You will. Soon. I have work to do still, but then I'll call and we can meet, okay, Alex?"
"Do you promise you'll call?"
She doesn't know how she's even holding up a conversation like this with her recently not-dead father, but she's found some of her bravery, the type she has to believe came from him. "Are you the type of dad that keeps his promises or breaks them?" she asks softly.
"I'll keep this one," he tells her, and Alex can only cling to the hope that he will.
And he did.