9.15.2011

Lazy Summer Serial: Curtain Call #11

Maximus here. So it's not exactly two-a-week, but here's an update to everyone's favorite story about a computer nerd pretending to be a bodyguard with a crush on a Hollywood actress that might possibly be masquerading as an international superspy (or is it the other way around?). Because, you know, there's so many of those around.

- mxpw (and Frea)



Chuck ducked. He should have weaved. Or did he weave when he should have ducked? With the room spinning all around and his eyes spinning in his head, it hardly seemed to matter. He’d gotten hit. Again. End of story.

End of story? Ha. It was rapidly becoming the story of his freaking life.

Fortunately, Casey decided to take pity on him. “Not bad, Bartowski,” he said from somewhere over Chuck. “Getting better.”

The least Casey could do, Chuck thought as the ceiling finally swam into focus above him, was sound even a little bit winded. This was getting ridiculous.

Slowly, feeling geriatric despite the fact that he was positive he was still under thirty, Chuck pushed himself up and back onto his feet. It took ages longer than it should have, he was positive. “Thanks,” he said, but it came out all garbled. He spat out his mouth-guard. “Doesn’t feel like it.”

Casey scooped up a towel from the floor. “This isn’t like your girlfriend’s movies. You just can’t wave a magic wand and expect to instantly know Kung-fu.”

Chuck personally felt that the ability would be cooler than Casey’s dubious tone seemed to indicate. At least this time he managed to keep from pointing out that Sarah hadn’t even been in the Matrix movies. Protests like that tended to fall on deaf ears, he’d discovered. Yet another story of his life. “Well,” he said instead, “there’s a difference between ‘instantly’ and ‘two months of everyday rigorous training.’”

“These things happen on their own time,” Casey said with uncharacteristic (for him) patience.

Since they were apparently taking a rest anyway, Chuck hid his scowl as he slung his own towel around his neck and rubbed at his hair. Things could happen on their own time all they liked, as far as he was concerned. The problem was, he had Sarah Walker to protect, and he needed things to happen faster. He’d gotten lucky at the department store on his second night with Sarah. If another attack like that happened again, his luck wouldn’t hold.

So he needed to be better. And he needed to be better now.

He also needed to figure out who was gunning for Sarah. And who the Cat was. Also, if Sarah was the Cat. It was a ridiculous theory—he’d been shadowing the woman for two months, playing the boyfriend for the paparazzi (who were starting to suspect that things might be strange, as Chuck and Sarah never did anything more than hold hands). He knew her schedule better than anyone, and for Sarah to be a notoriously ambiguous espionage agent was just ridiculous.

But Sanderson’s phone call still sat uneasily at the back of his mind, even two months later. And worse, the other man staunchly refused to return Chuck’s calls, deepening the mystery.

Casey, in the process of reaching for his water bottle, let out a sigh that made Chuck look over. “Can you think a little quieter, please?”

Chuck bit his tongue over the snarky reply about damaging Casey’s calm. It wasn’t fair to Casey. He might not be the most patient trainer in the world, but the other man had more than stepped up to help Chuck out.

“Sorry, Casey,” he said. “Didn’t realize I was thinking so loud.”

“No problem. I’ll just hit you harder next time.”

“Because it’s harder to think with a migraine?”

“I was thinking brain-dead.” Casey took a slug of water, tossed the bottle to the side. Chuck hid his wince; Sarah had said he and Casey were fine using ‘the home gym’ (still indistinguishable from every other part of the house, as every room only seemed to contain boxes of things Sarah had picked up at the rummage sales she now took extreme glee in dragging Chuck to). Even if the house was still in its half-assembled shambles, Chuck really didn’t like treating it badly.

Of course, he usually had to get over that by the third or fourth time Casey dropped him in the first hour, but the principle of the matter stuck.

“Oh, come on, that sort of thing usually gets a laugh,” Casey said, sounding exasperated now. “What’s your malfunction today, Bartowski? Don’t tell me you’re mooning over Blondie.”

“I am not ‘mooning,’” Chuck said, making finger quotes. “And she’ll kick your ass if she hears you call her ‘Blondie.’”

Casey snorted...but not quickly enough. Chuck’s head shot up.

“Wait a second,” he said. “Casey, you’re not afraid of Sarah, are you?”

“I’m not,” Casey said, rolling his eyes. “Your girlfriend couldn’t take me in a fight, unless I was blind or lame. You, on the other hand...”

“Thanks,” Chuck said sourly.

Casey rolled his eyes a second time. “Relax, Bartowski. I’m trying to bring some humor into the situation.” He crossed over to his gym bag and knelt down to zipper it open. “You know, I have to respect your girlfriend.”

“Sarah. Her name is Sarah. And she’s not my girlfriend.”

“After all, it’s thanks to her that I’m now the world’s best dad.”

Chuck felt some of his annoyance drain. Alex McHugh had been the missing puzzle piece in everything. First, Chuck had uncovered her identity for Casey awhile back, but she’d also been the bridge to introduce Sarah to Casey, and the idea of a second bodyguard. After what had happened between Kellerman and Sarah, Chuck had been hesitant to bring anybody espionage-related into Sarah’s orbit, but the fact of the matter was, Chuck wasn’t able to protect Sarah all by himself and look into finding out who was gunning for her. In the end, it had been Casey who’d proposed the original introduction: Alex was a fan of Sydney Dunham. After that, all it took was a five minute conversation with Sarah and Chuck had arranged for Alex to have a set visit, meet Sarah, and a promise of tickets to Call of Midnight’s world premiere.

While Alex was shown around set, Chuck introduced Sarah to Casey. It had gone much better than expected. Casey had been respectful and kept his usual caustic attitude to himself—Chuck wasn’t sure if it was because Sarah had made his daughter happy or he was as impressed by Sarah as Chuck was. And in the end, Chuck needn’t have worried: Sarah had been more open to the idea of letting another person join their team than Chuck had expected.

And three others after that, which was why Chuck and Casey were now in Sarah’s home gym, beating on each other. Well, Chuck corrected somewhat ruefully, Casey was doing the beating. Chuck was just receiving it.

“Let’s go another round and call it a day,” Casey said now, closing his gym bag.

Chuck nearly groaned, but as that would have been an invitation for a thorough beatdown, he managed to keep quiet. He was far too tired for this. He didn’t understand it. He no longer was solely responsible for Sarah’s safety and yet he still felt weary after every day had passed. Being the agent in charge of a team in the field was a lot of work. He didn’t know how people like Casey did it.

The worst part of it all was the waiting. Things had been quiet. As Casey had put it, too quiet. And things usually happened in clumps, Chuck had discovered. Somebody had attempted to break into Sarah’s house the day after she and Casey met. Thanks to his upgrade of her security system, they hadn’t made it into the actual house, but both he and Sarah had been pretty shaken up. To make matters worse, somebody had graffiti’d a cat’s paw on the side of the studio the day after that. Two days after that, somebody had thrown a brick through the window of Chuck’s rental car. The latter could have been just the dangers of living in Los Angeles, but the timing felt too coincidental for that.

And since then: nothing.

Still, the lack of activity hadn’t meant slouching off. After the attack on Sarah’s home, Chuck and Casey had decided they needed more team members. Casey had proved invaluable there: one phone call and three of his old Marine buddies were on the way, approved through Bullworth’s office as new members of Chuck’s team.

He had a team now.

And he was still getting pounded into the mat by John friggin’ Casey.

Speaking of which...Chuck stuffed his mouth-guard back into his mouth and raised his arms into a defensive posture.

Casey feinted left but jabbed right. Chuck had learned enough to read body language, so he was prepared for the oncoming punch. He blocked it smoothly, and was about to throw his own punch when his phone echoed throughout the training room.

Fortunately, Casey had better control than Chuck did, and was able to stop himself from landing a haymaker to Chuck’s jaw during the momentary distraction. Chuck gave Casey a sheepish look and scurried to pick up the phone. It took some careful maneuvering with his gloves still on.

“Go ahead, Harrison.”

“Hey, Chuck, Betty finished early, so we’re gonna go ahead and meet up with Vicki a little sooner than expected.”

Chuck grinned at Sarah’s nickname. It had been Gil’s idea—he was a fan of the Golden Age of Hollywood—and it made Sarah roll her eyes every time she heard it. She claimed it made her seem like she had delusions of grandeur, but Chuck thought the name was fitting, in more ways than one, and it had stuck. Gil and Harrison almost never referred to her by her own name anymore.

“Thanks, Harrison. Casey and I are almost finished here. Tell Sarah I’ll meet her at the house later tonight.”

“Will do, Chuck.” And he hung up.

Chuck faced Casey, who had his arms folded and his best unimpressed look in place. Chuck couldn’t work up remorse over their session ending early. “Sarah wrapped early, so we’re gonna have to cut this short. She’s probably going to want to leave right away.”

Casey grunted. Chuck took that as assent and started to strip his gear off. Tonight, he knew, was a big night.

Perhaps Casey should add mind-reading to his impressive array of talents, for he fixed Chuck with a no-nonsense stare as he stripped out of his own gloves. “You think telling her the truth is really a good idea?”

“I’m pretty sure she already knows,” Chuck said with a shrug. “The other week she asked me if I’d ever been to Quantico. It’s like you once said, I’m not exactly the world’s greatest spy.”

“Suspecting and knowing are two very different things, Bartowski.”

Chuck was pretty sure that Sarah knew he wasn’t really a bodyguard; or at least not one with any kind of private security company. She hadn’t come right out and asked him, but after meeting his sister, she had wondered aloud on the way to her house about why he was lying to Ellie. The best answer he’d been able to give her was that it was complicated. And it was, but Chuck didn’t consider that a very good excuse.

“She trusts me, Casey. She deserves to know.”

Casey had already stripped his gear off and was rummaging inside of a bag. “Yeah, well, so do you,” he said and straightened up.

Before Chuck knew exactly what was happening, a file folder was flying through the air. To his surprise, he caught it easily. “What’s this?”

“If you want honesty, then you should ask her questions of your own. It took a while, but one of my NSA contacts finally got back to me.”

Oh. Right. That. Chuck opened the folder tentatively, as though he were afraid it would explode. And maybe that wasn’t far from the truth. Ever since talking to Sanderson, he’d been struggling with whether or not he should dig into Sarah’s past. He’d felt insanely guilty about even contemplating doing so, but if Sarah really was the Cat, he should probably know. Of course, if she really was the Cat, he had no idea why she’d even need a bodyguard. Some of the things he’d heard she was capable of… They’d given him nightmares.

Chuck finally opened the folder fully and looked at what Casey had found. There was a relatively thick stack of papers inside, but as Chuck sifted through them, all he could see was black. He looked up in surprise. “The entire thing has been redacted.”

“Not the whole thing. Flip to the back.”

Chuck did so and quickly skimmed the several pages of actual readable text. He looked up at Casey with wide eyes when he finished. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. Really?”

Previous

33 comments:

  1. Anonymous15.9.11

    WHAT?! WHAT'S IN THE FILE. I need to know!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ayefah15.9.11

    *claps hands in glee* Yay! More Curtain Call!

    A bit less yay, perhaps, to Chuck being punched in the face, but hey, it is for his own good this time. :P I guess this is the "hurry up and wait" part of proceedings? How long until another curiously un-spy-like attack?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Its like a slow death when you see the scroll bar getting closer to the end of the page and you know something is coming and it could be big and the to have it....

    That.....That was some diabolical cruelty to end it there!

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  4. Anonymous15.9.11

    Ok, that's just mean. I know serials mostly end on the cliff, but really?

    Otherwise nice to see Chuck working to get his skills, and a nice shout out to the 2.0 there.

    Chuck from tech ops to agent in charge of a team in just a couple of months. He ought to be frazzled.

    Great job.

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  5. Definitely a great start to my friday. Chuck's desire to deserve his job title, if for no other reason than to feel more 'honest' in Sarah's eyes, is a nice touch. And, the addition of Casey to the mix gives an added depth as Chuck now has an additional source of intel. Looking forward to the next chapter and the reveal of what was on that last page. Sarah is actually a north korean agent who defected to Sweden and after the surgery now enjoys life as a smoking hot chick? No, now I'm stuck with that stupid idea. Help! JT

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  6. Anonymous16.9.11

    Great to have Curtain Call back. But I agree...you HAD to end it right there with that cliff hanger? And we didn't have ANY Sarah. Oh well, I'll take whatever Curtain Call I can get. Thank you!

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  7. Nervert16.9.11

    "You just can’t wave a magic wand and expect to instantly know Kung-fu."

    No kidding. What a preposterous idea.

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  8. Anonymous16.9.11

    WHAT. IS. IN. THE. FILE!!!

    Oh God! I just found this story 4 days ago and I've been reading ever since. I feel like I am addicted and I always need my fix.

    Deep breaths…

    Alright…

    Anyway, great chapter amazing story. I love the Casey/Chuck interactions in here.
    Also this Sarah is so much fun.

    So I’ll go back to work (and by work read check Castle Inanity 20 times a day for updates.)

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  9. I can't wait to see what's in the file. Great update :)

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  10. I really have been enjoying this story and was checking everyday to see when it was going to be updated but I have to be honest this chapter not so much. My least favorite of the story so far. Kind of felt a little too much like a filler chapter after the anticipation. But I am still looking forward to the next one.

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  11. Nice chapter!

    I particularly liked the snarky jab at Intersect 2.0.

    Since I can't keep the backstories from all of the different AU's coherent, and since I think how Sarah reacts to "the truth" has a bit to do with that, I won't speculate on how the evening's events will turn out. Hopefully, there'll be some identification, maybe even a little curiosity.

    Looking forward to the next one!

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  12. Anonymous16.9.11

    More...more...more...now!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ooooo. A redacted file. Those are cool.

    When is Sarah going to get her house fixed up? And what, exactly, does she buy at all these rummage sales?

    Great update and can't wait to find out what's in the file.

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  14. No need for a magic wand, Casey. Sunglasses work just fine.

    Poor Sanderson. Who got to him?

    "‘the home gym’ (still indistinguishable from every other part of the house...)"
    I'm not sure why, but I just love that.

    It's been two months already. Interesting. And Casey's hilarious. Can we see Sarah and Casey interact next time? Please? :)

    "Some of the things he’d heard she was capable of… They’d given him nightmares."
    Who is that damn Cat person?!

    Chuck just saw Sarah's high school picture in the file, right? We were all pretty shocked too. :D

    Thank you both for the update! :)

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  15. Anonymous16.9.11

    Wow -- that is a BRUTAL cliffhanger. Well Done!

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  16. I LOVED THIS and wouldnt EXPECT ANYTHING LESS!!!!!

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  17. Brutal cliffhanger is brutal. Nicely done though, mxpw (and Frea).

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  18. Anonymous16.9.11

    I don't know what it is but my eyes always gloss over when it's just Chuck and Casey. I guess that is why I don't read Chasey fics. Was disapointed Sarah was not in this chapter. Probably my least favorite but that is not saying much because this is a great story.

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  19. ladycat71317.9.11

    Evil place to end.Evil, I say!

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  20. Anonymous17.9.11

    I too, glaze over when Sarah and Chuck don't interact. I love Casey, and I like Morgan, but they are best used as foils that either push Chuck and Sarah towards one another or accidentally complicate things. Getting this amount of Chuck/Casey time without any Chuck/Sarah payoff in the chapter is, I think, what makes it feel a little bit like a filler. If this were the first half of a chapter, and the second half featured Chuck/Sarah, I doubt anyone would be complaining at all. Still...really, really well written. Update soon, please!

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  21. Anonymous18.9.11

    You can't have sarah/chuck in every chapter! (How ever much we wish for it :D)
    Nice chapter can't wait #12.

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  22. Can't have Chuck/Sarah every chapter?! Blasphemy!!! This chapter, while good, felt only half done.

    And the cliffy, just mean. Very, very, mean.

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  23. I know I don't do this very often, but it's Monday morning and I'm exhausted from a (VERY AWESOME roadtrip) but to all of those people who are complaining that Sarah's not in one measly chapter...

    *facepalm*

    Seriously.

    That is all. Thank you, everybody, for the feedback and for the comments, but geesh, this fandom sometimes...Casey really is Team Bartowski's unwanted fat kid.

    ReplyDelete
  24. It's your own fault, Frea. If you didn't write Sarah so delightfully awesome, maybe we wouldn't need our 'Sarah fix' so much.

    She's like our nicotine, and this chapter was like waving a pack of cigarettes in our face, but saying we can't have any. Kind of harsh. Now we're all down and cranky because you didn't gives us our fix.

    Seriously, though, the story is awesome. And I need to know what is in that file!!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous19.9.11

    From last Thursday's newspaper:

    KIDNAPPED MAN RETURNED UNHARMED

    It what can only be described as a miracle, a missing Chuck fan (CaptMediocre) was returned to his family unharmed after being abducted last Tuesday.

    In a brief statement to the press, Mr. Mediocre stated that while physically he was fine, the mental anguish of being forced to watch only episodes of Chuck with the character Daniel Shaw would haunt him for weeks to come. But with the help of friends and some truly awesome fanfiction he would make it through.

    The Capt went on to thank the anonymous dog owner that paid the kidnappers ransom and allowed for his safe return prior to the new fall TV shows starting.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous19.9.11

    So is Mr Mediocre recovering at home with his family and asking that his privacy be respected during this time? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous19.9.11

    Yes.

    I missed that, it was on the other side of the page.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Speedhoven20.9.11

    What better way to distract my mind from tomorrow's english matriculation exam and celebrate my birthday than to drown myself in fanfiction (Okay, I can think of better ways to celebrate turning 18, but none of them involve me being up and ready for the exam tomorrow morning)?

    So I started with the best.

    Now, where do I begin? Hmm...okay, the obvious lack of Sarah...



    ...just messing with ya :P

    Sarah/Yvonne might be the main reason I still love the series despite the lack of quality in the writing and a drop in interest. But because your writing is so awesome, its merely one of the reasons I love these stories(albeit a big reason). For example, I love how you write Casey. I can almost hear Baldwin's voice inside my head during his lines and. Then there's the fact that the story keeps on getting more and more exciting and all the little details that you notice on the second read through.

    Try not to take some of the reviews too seriously, it's your story and you can do whatever you want with it. But I can't blame the reviewers either; when I first got into reading fanfic it was pretty much Charah or nothing. But nowadays, thanks to stories like this, I prefer to read more than mindless fluff.

    PS, when I mean "you" it's both of you, off course ;)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Loved the chapter, great Casey/Chuck interaction. You’ll find me patiently waiting for the next update.
    Thank you both for taking the time to indulge us all with great stories. (Sorry for taking so long to review, I really am a lurker by nature.)
    (And thanks again for the fic recs last Wednesday, the ones I read so far where great) :D
    Cookie (1 and 2)

    Cookie I and II

    ReplyDelete
  30. so ya, no Sarah at all in this chapter, huh?

    Don't get me wrong, I like Casey as much as any of the others and I thoroughly enjoy having Chuck and Casey interact. A Chuck fic would be remiss without some Chuck and Casey interaction. But no Sarah at all?

    Being a huge fan of the Charah fluff, I'll be honest is that it is what I enjoy the most and look forward to the most, but still a great chapter. This story is a lot of fun. That cliff hanger was pretty evil, though.

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  31. Anonymous27.9.11

    I don't get how people are saying there is no Sarah in this chapter. She may not have dialogue, but her presence is felt through the entire thing. We learned a lot about her (ie that she likes dragging Chuck to normal things like garage sales and trusts him enough to let him pick a handful of more people to invade her privacy). We also learned more about what others think of her (ie Casey respecting her). She didn't need lines to command part of the story.

    Published books often have whole sections or entire chapters that don't mention a main character at all. This mentioned Sarah over and over again. And regardless, it some very telling, very nice interaction between Chuck and Casey.

    When Chuck read the file I immediately thought of Sarah's old con past that was hinted at in CC9, but both mxpx and Frea manage to catch me off guard at every turn in their stories so I'm excited to see what's really reveled there!

    Thank you for taking the time and energy to create this story for us. Can't wait for more!

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  32. Shelby19.1.12

    When are we getting more?! A 4 month hiatus off a cliff hanger is rough man....papapapapapapapplease give us more! :((((((

    ReplyDelete
  33. Will there be any new updates on curtain call? I know that you are all busy but I am curious if you have forgotten this little gem.

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