Casey clenches his jaw as General Beckman says the words, but he's already resigned himself to the situation. Chuck will be wearing the tuxedo as Charles Carmichael, and he'll be mixing the drinks. At least he'll get tips—the waiter/chauffeur/bodyguard gigs rarely come through.
It's not that Chuck looks bad in a tux. He's actually kind of handsome, when he settles down for a couple of seconds, which isn't often unless he's tired. Casey likes Chuck better when he's tired, or with a gag in his mouth, which amounts to pretty much the same thing.
Say what you will about plants—they'll never talk you to death. Talk should be minimal and right to the point, one of so many reasons Casey likes the military mindset. It's too bad the rest of the world is so damn chatterbox-loud and random. The Buy More is like a microcosm of everything that's wrong with society, and at the end of the day Casey really looks forward to locking himself in his apartment and cleaning his guns.
Tonight will not be one of those nights. Tonight will be a gun-down-the-pants, backup-gun-under-the-counter, smiling-at-customers-until-his-face-hurts-while-surreptitiously-watching-Chuck kind of evening, and those go on pretty much forever (or until someone gets sent to the hospital, which is just another definition of forever).
Chuck and Sarah leave to go home and change their clothes, and Casey locks the door behind them. He eyes his bonsai trees wistfully, but resolutely. Tonight, it is simply not meant to be.
He makes a turkey sandwich and eats it sitting at the counter, all the while wondering whether he should log onto bargods.com and see if there are any new mixed drinks listed there. The thought of spending the next several hours with a cocktail shaker and a wet bar cloth in his hands is so depressing that he breaks into a pint of Ben And Jerry's and is halfway through it before he stops, spoon in hand, and realizes what he's doing. Bad enough that he bought hippie ice cream again (he's sworn off it many times before with little success—if only the flavors weren't so good), but the loss of self-control is a return to his childhood and the binge-eating little fat kid he refuses to ever be again. With a growl, he slams the top onto the container and shoves it back into the freezer.
He brushes his teeth and starts getting dressed. First the extra weapons holsters around the ankles, then the black dress socks and crisp-ironed pants. Next, he puts on the white shirt and the red uniform vest, and takes the black bowtie off the tie rack and drapes and loops and pulls until it's in place. He looks good, for a bartender—professional. John Casey is nothing if not professional.
The doorbell rings, and he goes downstairs to answer it. It's Chuck, of course, already stuttering through the small talk as he steps over the threshold. Casey closes the door behind him, and takes in Chuck's appearance. Not bad, except for—
"What the hell is that on your neck?" he asks.
"What, this? My tie?"
"It's a cover-compromising piece of clip-on crap. Where's the real tie?"
"Oh." Chuck shifts under Casey's scrutiny, his eyes dropping as he looks over toward the safety of the living room. "It's in my apartment. I still don't know how to tie it, and I have this clip-on from back in high-school." Chuck's gaze wanders back to him. "You're growling."
So he is. He stops. "Go get it."
Funny thing is, Chuck rarely moves that fast.
It seems like only seconds before Chuck comes back, panting slightly as he holds out the wilted tie like a peace offering. "So now what?"
"Come over to the mirror."
Casey follows Chuck to the fireplace mantel and positions himself behind him, plucking off the offending pseudo-tie and threading the real one under Chuck's collar. He drops the left over the right, loops over, folds one side and then other, then brings it through behind. "Like this, and you pull it in nice and even." He leans around Chuck's shoulder to check the tightness against the collar, and suddenly notices an unusual sensation.
Chuck is trembling. Right up against him.
Casey darts a glance at the mirror, at the sight of Chuck's face turned slightly toward his own, eyes closed and lips parted. It's too much—Casey slides one hand down around Chuck's waist, and the other cradles the side of Chuck's face as Casey nuzzles, licks, kisses Chuck's neck and feels a moan fluttering up through the skin under his lips.
Casey's own eyes drift shut as he kisses up along Chuck's jaw. There's a slight reshuffling inside his arms, and then suddenly Chuck's mouth is squarely on his.
Ambushed, engaged, and conquered in a matter of seconds. Just how a civilian like Chuck Bartowski so easily defeated the NSA's finest is a question Casey isn't prepared to solve just yet.
Chuck kisses like he wants to lose himself in Casey, and god—it's been so long since Casey's done this just because he wants to. He'd forgotten how different the whole thing feels when it's real and mutual, when the person likes you for who you are (or in spite of it) instead of whatever cover you're running for the occasion.
Casey licks Chuck's upper lip teasingly with the tip of his tongue, then jolts up against him as Chuck sucks his tongue inside his mouth and twists and sweeps across it in unhurried exploration.
As a kid, Casey was never the lucky type, not with family or friends or anything else. The lure of the military was half blowing things up and half having well-defined rules for making decisions. Over time, Casey found that luck wasn't nearly as effective as being capable enough to handle almost anything.
Chuck's hands are stroking his face, and he kisses Casey with a combination of passion, sweetness and sincerity that is everything like Chuck himself. Casey wants this suddenly, and he doesn't know why—it's like the appeal of chasing innocence, and that's everything Casey is not.
The doorbell rings—has to be Sarah—and Chuck pulls back, looking startled. Casey just smiles at him, straightening the bowtie and smoothing the lines of Chuck's jacket.
Chuck smiles back, embarrassed but still interested.
Casey thinks his luck might finally be changing for the better.
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