slybrunette: (chuck. c/s. like fire around the brim)
[personal profile] slybrunette
title: you're failing all your cues
fandom: chuck
character/pairings: casey/sarah; allusions to chuck/sarah.
rating: r
word count: 896
author's note: written for [livejournal.com profile] gigglemonster for the non-canon ficathon. unbeta'd.
summary: post s4. you can breathe now, you can breathe now, but the air is running out; they don't write fairytale endings for girls like her.




Casey changes the locks.

“Who are you trying to keep out exactly?”

She tries for playful, gets inquisitive, and the smile doesn’t reach his lips much less his eyes. Hers hurts to hold and she shoves the key that no longer works into her clutch –

(smooth metal clasp and carefully beaded fabric that cuts into her skin, the leftovers from tonight’s mission, an art gallery and a Marchesa dress that was too tight in the bust and too loose in the hips and now hangs in a bag in her closet to be handed over tomorrow; she’s still wearing that scrap of a white lace thong, she’s still holding tight to that handbag, Cinderella hasn’t given up the glass slipper yet.)

It isn’t her.

She drops her eyes, swallows. “Right.”










Sarah was never the kind of woman you brought home to mom.

But, then, the word traitor clung tightly to Mary Bartowski’s name, her very being, in places that mattered more than file folders and government databases, and that meant Sarah won out on the race for Chuck’s heart on a technicality, simply because once she walked into his life she never walked back out.

A handful of years isn’t a lifetime, isn’t a childhood, but there was a time where Chuck had access to whole worlds in his mind, limitless information at his beck and call, and it’s not hard to see where a person might mistake that for the ability to see the future as well.










The wedding was an exercise in unavoidable bad timing.

“Nice dress,” Casey had said, from the doorway.

The line of her shoulders had shuddered on an inhale. She wasn’t cold and this time, when her eyes shone, it wasn’t from the sort of whimsical joy that the child within her had taken and run with.

(You don’t come that close to the brink of death without consequences, you don’t just snap back, and she put one foot in front of the other down that aisle, said her vows and smiled with tears in the corners of her eyes, and she meant it, but five years later you could ask her what color the bridesmaid’s dresses were or, god forbid, what it felt like on that long journey down, and she couldn’t tell you the former without a photo album and the latter at all, and these are the things that you’re supposed to remember, this is one of those iconic moments that you’re only supposed to have once, but it’s like looking through a fogged up mirror for her.)











She loses her clothes to him, both figuratively and literally.

There’s still a shirt that hasn’t seen the light of day since she pulled it over her head three weeks ago, finding a home under his bed or thrown careless in a hamper and, later, a drawer, she doesn’t know and she wouldn’t care except it wasn’t hers to lose.

(Casey gets his fingers in between her skin and that scrap of lace and pulls; the rip of fabric follows.

She gasps.)










Chuck waits up.

It’s supposed to be charming. That book cradled on his knees, the bright smile that he always greets her with. The way her side of the bed is still made up.

There’s always a split second where she can’t meet his eyes.










He never asks where she is.

There are nights where stakeouts run too long and information is withheld. Missions go on without him and there is always that one thing she forgot at Casey’s, a file, a knife, a dress. Intentional warning signals mixed with the rapidly weakening effort she puts into crafting her lies and he never calls her out on it, stupidly, like a child holding onto the last vestiges of a dream, a fantasy.

When it all comes down, piecemeal, she will blame him. She will yell and scream and blame him and it will be herself that she won’t be able to look at.











Her hands slide over and under soft cotton and her ring catches on a loose thread.

She stills.

Casey taps a few keys and the grid of his apartment turns green on the monitor.

(Secure. Safe. You can breathe now.

It doesn’t work that way when the thing you’re trying to keep out is already on the inside.)

Sarah can’t remember what she was going to say when she slipped from between the sheets to curl her arms around his neck. She thinks it might have been come to bed. Her throat feels dry and, with her ring still snagged in the collar of his shirt, she’s afraid to move.

His hand finds hers on his shoulder and something in the movement dislodges her, frees her, an accidental reprieve; she drops her forehead to where their hands are joined and breathes.








“Long night?”

She’s bare beneath her pencil skirt, all dressed up as someone else again, and she tries to remember to keep her legs crossed. Her ponytail keeps falling out of place.

“It’s called picking up the slack, Bartowski,” Casey says, “you should try it some time.”

Chuck grimaces and she reaches across the table for him, reassurance to soften the blows Casey’s intentionally doling out, his way of detracting the attention from her. Of protecting Chuck. Of protecting her and holding them all together.

It’s the saddest thing she’s ever seen.









fin.



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