Disclaimer- none of it not even the venue be mine :0)
Chuck sighed as he glanced around him again. They’d been in Cleveland chasing down a man he’d flashed on when he was dropping Ellie and Captain Awesome off at the airport. He’d been looking forward to two whole weeks of not having to lie to his sister.
Of course nothing in his life went that smoothly anymore. Instead he’d been unceremoniously dragged onto the next plane to Cleveland and spending over four hours sat next to a glowering Casey wasn’t his idea of fun. He didn’t even have Sarah to keep him company, which if he was honest made him a little nervous. The other man had had an odd look in his eye whenever he looked at him for the last few days.
So now here he was standing on an empty street after dark. He wasn’t lost he just didn’t know 100% where he was. They’d tracked the man down to this area and just like that, with a quick ‘don’t move’ yelled over his shoulder, Casey had run off after the suspect.
Chuck turned and started back the way he thought they’d come. Finally he spotted someone turning a corner onto his street. He hesitated briefly, maybe some of Casey’s paranoia was rubbing off but when it came down to it he really, really wanted to get out of here. Before he had a chance to call out he got a look at the man’s face under a streetlight.
The flash stopped him in his tracks as a number of images ran through his brain that played out more like a horror movie than the usual spy and terrorism stuff. The one eyed man seemed to be a good guy as far as he could tell but was definitely considered a person of interest.
Chuck was abruptly dragged back to the present as one of the figures from the more unpleasant images he’d just seen, grabbed him round the throat. Scrabbling frantically at the hands that were steadily cutting off his air supply, he found his head pushed to the side and the thing buried its face in his neck followed by a sharp pain.
Suddenly he collapsed to the ground with a fine sprinkling of dust showering down on him.
“Hey buddy, you alright?” The dark haired brown eyed man bent down to look at him one hand tucked behind his back.
“What?” Chuck tried to shake off his confusion wincing at the ache in his neck. He reached his hand up and finding dampness pulled it forward into the light. “He bit me!”
“Er, no?” Xander looked around frantically. “The um, mugger, fell into you when I hit him. He must have had a fork or something.”
“A fork.” Chuck stared in disbelief. “That has to be one of the worst lies I’ve ever heard Harris.”
The other man’s face suddenly went blank and he started to edge away. “You’d better go get yourself checked out. Good luck and good bye.”
“Wait. I can explain!” Chuck cursed himself for that slip. He was still lost and now mildly injured. He didn’t do well on his own, time had shown that over and over again. “Please I’m not what you think. I’m just a guy in way over his head.” Harris stopped and then he had to resist the urge to squirm as the man *really* looked at him.
“You know what? I think never a truer word was said.” Xander broke out into a grin. “And having some experience in the field of floundering out of your depth,” His face fell as his attention shifted to a point over Chuck’s shoulder, “I’m going to say run!” Xander grabbed Chuck’s arm and gave him a yank to get moving.
As they started running down the street Chuck took one quick look behind him. There had to be at least 10 of them this time. He refocused his attention ahead of him and concentrated not losing his saviour.
Xander ran up to the front of a derelict store. “Don’t we need to get the hell out of here?” Chuck’s attention was split between the approaching monsters and the man who was meant to be leading them to safety.
“Name?” Chuck suppressed a wince. It was remarkable how like Casey the young man sounded in that moment still at least it meant he answered automatically.
“Chuck, Chuck Bartowski.”
“I grant you sanctuary Chuck.” Xander gave him a shove toward the grubby doorway and suddenly he was inside a huge, weird looking store.
“What? Where?” Chuck looked around in puzzlement. Surely it couldn’t be this big. “Thanks I mean but what just happened?”
“This is a place of safety from gang bangers?” Xander replied hopefully.
“Riiiight, okay.” So back to the lies again Chuck thought to himself. He took a breath and started taking a better look around him. “Holy crap.”
Chuck moved over mesmerised by the wall of weapons. Almost exclusively edged but here was some firepower up their too. “Casey would love this.”
“Don’t suppose she’s super strong by any chance?” Xander desperately hoped he could find a way out of this without introducing another innocent into his world.
“*He* is pretty strong.” He answered absently as his eyes travelled around the room. It was kind of old fashioned, with an apothecary section and a large open space covered in rings which frankly defied explanation.
“Oh sorry.” Xander sighed, he never was very good with the cover up spy stuff. He was broke out of his musings but the other man’s moan.
“Aw man, Casey’s going to kill me.”
“Well this is a sanctuary I can pretty much guarantee he won’t find you here.” Xander proffered helpfully.
“Thanks but if I want to keep my life and not be locked in an NSA cell somewhere so secret they’ve probably killed and maimed the people that built it, I’d better call my babysitter.” Chuck reluctantly pulled out his cell phone. “Where exactly am I?”
“Ah, that’s er, complicated. That won’t work in here and they wouldn’t be able to find you anyway.” Xander answered.
“Oh god, you’re going to try and kill me for information aren’t you?” Chuck backed up nervously, glancing toward the door and weighing up who he’d rather face.
“Um, no?” Xander was starting to get confused and slightly worried by his visitor. “Listen Chuck, it was Chuck right?” Xander wandered over to the counter. He reached underneath and pulled out a bottle of JD and two glasses. Pouring he continued with a generalised wave of his hand.
“This is my store Dust in the Night. It caters to a very specific clientele and as such is very well protected. If you need help or protection from whatever governmental agency appears to have it in for you, all you gotta do is ask. I have connections, we can protect you.” All trace of humour had fallen away from the one eyed man. Xander offered a glass and a smile to the other man. Chuck reached out and took it. “If on the other hand you want to walk out of here and back to your Casey there’s the door although I would recommend waiting until the sun’s up before leaving on your own.”
Chuck remained silent for a while longer. Finally he took a large swallow from the glass coughing as it hit the back of his throat
“Good stuff.” Chuck ran a hand through his hair. “Thank you, it’s been a while since I actually felt like I had a choice.” He leaned back against the counter. “But strangely as messed up as my life has become I’m not sure I could go back.” He felt better at the other man’s nod of understanding. “And I’d like to be really clear on this - he is absolutely not *my* Casey. He’s my watcher come bodyguard and pain in my ass. He’s also saved my life more times than I can count.”
“You’re sure?” Chuck nodded. “Alright then we’d better get you back before Cleveland gets invaded by men in black. That never goes down well in my circles. Let me just grab you a couple of things that should come in handy.” Xander moved off and began gathering up items.
“Alright here we go. You got any cash?” Chuck pulled out his wallet finding $20. Xander took it and handed Chuck a small black duffle. “Wear this anytime you’re out at night round here.” Xander handed him a small cross. Chuck was going to protest but there was something about the other man that made him believe this was all absolutely necessary.
Next he handed him a blade with a surprisingly sharp wooden handle. “Concealed weapons, highly underrated. This one’s special you’ll be surprised how many people will over look it.” Xander added with a secret smile. “Oh and if they’re going in for the neck, use the other end.” Chuck nodded bemusedly.
“And finally this is a disposable phone. It’ll only dial my number but if you need an out all you gotta do is call alright?” Chuck looked stunned for a moment.
“All this for $20?”
“We’ll keep the sum between us. I’m not in this to turn a profit.” Xander made a mental apology to Anya knowing she’d be turning in her grave right about now. “I’d rather make sure people were safe.”
“Thank you. I’m not sure what else to say.”
“Hey we help the almost helpless. No offence.”
“None taken.” There was a blast of a car horn.
“That’s your ride. Don’t worry about the fare, the driver owes me a favour.” They moved out the front door with Chuck glancing around warily as he was ushered into the back of the car. “Stay safe and don’t forget you’re not alone if you need to get out.” Xander banged the top of the car and returned to the store.
Chuck glanced back as they pulled away and did a double take as Xander vanished from view.
Inside Xander went straight for the phone.
“Wills? Hi how are ya? Not bad, listen might have a problem of the non supernatural spook kind. Can you find out what you can about Chuck Bartowski. I dunno Charles probably. No he’s definitely a good guy but he knew my name. Thanks Will. See you soon.”
Xander picked up the remainder of his drink. “Here’s to never hearing from Chuck again.”