frea_o: (Chuck)
[personal profile] frea_o
Title: One Piece at a Time
Prompt: Pickles
Rating: PG, no triggers (allusions to sexism, I guess?)
Fandom: Chuck
Pairings: Chuck/Sarah
Summary: An attempt to cheer Casey up leads to Chuck learning something new. Takes place before Chuck vs. the Cougars.
Length: 916 words

The first time she ordered a cheeseburger, Chuck dropped his screwdriver.

Their mission had been a bust—not their fault, Chuck thought; the intel in the Intersect had proved out of date again—but Casey had been so honestly put-out that he hadn’t been able to shoot any bad guys in the name of patriotism that Chuck, in a moment of trying to find solidarity with the big, scary NSA agent in his life, had suggested they stop by his favorite diner on the way back to Burbank. “My treat,” he’d said, though honestly, he made eleven dollars an hour and they were secret agents with a budget and years of government pay-levels behind them. Hell, Sarah drove a Porsche.

Sarah probably knew the contents of his bank account, for she shook her head. “I’ve got it,” she said.

“No, no, I offered, I should pay.”

“We can expense it if I pay,” Sarah said, and Chuck had to admit, he couldn’t argue with that logic.

So they pulled into Cherry’s, which had been established in the San Fernando Valley in 1959 and would be there for years to come, if the current management had anything to say about it. They traded on nostalgia, which was a bit uncomfortable to Chuck because some of the original wall decorations from Cherry’s first days were vaguely sexist. But they made the best cheeseburger on the planet.

“What do you recommend?” Sarah asked as the agents and Chuck picked up the plastic, stained, and sticky menus. Casey held the menu with the very tips of his fingers, a look of sheer distaste settling over his features.

“Uh.” Chuck, and a thousand images of Sarah’s toned abs—which he had seen several times since this assignment had begun—flashed through his brain. She would probably prefer something healthy, right? You didn’t get that kind of body on fried food and grease, after all. He flipped to the salads section, though he regarded green food as a conspiracy (the Intersect had yet to back him up on this), and squinted at the salads. “Uh, the house salad’s probably pretty good? I mean, they’ve been here since the 50s, they’ve had time to perfect it.”

“Oh.” Sarah tilted her head slightly as she contemplated the menu, and Chuck nearly professed his love on the spot for the fiftieth time that day. He bit his tongue to stop himself from looking like an idiot (Casey gave the grunt/smirk/snicker that told Chuck he wasn’t entirely successful). “What are you getting, then, Chuck?”

“Same thing I always get,” Chuck said. “This place makes the best cheeseburgers west of the Mississippi. They will change your life.”

Since he knew Casey was having a bad day, he decided to ignore the muttered comment about how pathetic a life had to be that a cheeseburger could change it.

“Okay,” Sarah said, and went back to the menu. Since Casey didn’t seem intent on looking up any time soon, and had growled whenever Chuck tried to make small talk, and playing on his phone seemed rude, Chuck turned instead to the tiny jukebox at their table. He flipped through the selections until he spotted some Cash. Since it felt like that would be up Casey’s alley, he dropped in a quarter.

The speaker let out nothing but a wheeze. “Huh,” Chuck said, pulling the jukebox closer to him.

“Bartowski, leave the crummy diner property alone,” Casey said, putting his menu down.

“Sounded like a loose connection,” Chuck said, and pulled his toolkit out of his shirt pocket. “I can fix this.”

He had the jukebox half disassembled across the table when the waitress finally came to take their order. “Don’t worry,” Chuck said right away when her eyes went wide. He flicked his Nerd Herd badge. “I’m a professional. Just fixing a loose connection and I’ll have it working in just a minute.”

“That hasn’t worked since the 80s,” the waitress said.

“Neither has my friend Jeff,” Chuck assured her, and went back to poking through the guts of the jukebox.

“I don’t think she finds that reassuring, Bartowski,” Casey told him.

The waitress evidently decided she wasn’t paid enough to care, for she shrugged. “All right, then,” she said, too brightly. “What can I get you fine folks?”

“Steak, bloody, and a beer,” Casey said, handing his menu over.

Chuck, without looking up from the jukebox, ordered his regular cheeseburger, a set of chili fries, and a shake. He didn’t know if he was going to make it out to Cherry’s again. The way the Intersect missions had been going lately, he was probably going to do something that led to him being stuck in a bunker, and Cherry’s definitely didn’t deliver, no matter how awesome the cheeseburgers were. So he might as well live his life while he had it.

“A cheeseburger,” Sarah said when the waitress turned to her. “Extra pickles, fries, and a shake.”

Chuck dropped the screwdriver. The tip stabbed him in the thigh, which, he felt, was probably punishment for making assumptions in the first place. With a sheepish look at Sarah’s raised eyebrow, he scooped up the screwdriver and finished fixing the jukebox. He stowed yet another precious fact about Sarah—she liked cheeseburgers, and pickles—away and set the jukebox back on the table.

When the waitress returned with their food, it was softly playing One Piece at a Time, which Chuck felt was more appropriate than he wanted to admit.

Date: 2012-12-17 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, that's CUTE! Nicely done!

Date: 2012-12-17 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I keep griping that I'm never going to escape this fandom, but I keep writing short stories about it!

Date: 2012-12-17 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I know that feeling. Very well.

Date: 2012-12-17 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
mmm, pickles

Date: 2012-12-17 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have just learned that I've been wrong* peeling off pickles of my sandwiches for years. Those things are delicious!

(More likely story: my tastebuds changed so that I like pickles more than I did when I was a kid.)

Date: 2012-12-17 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm pretty sure I've always liked pickles. But you do taste bitterness less as you grow older, which is why I've been able to adulterate my tea and coffee a bit less with time. And also caught on to the essential life fact that dark chocolate is infinitely superior to milk chocolate.

Date: 2012-12-17 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like pickles, but not on sandwiches. I like them in tuna salad and as dill spears, but nope, not on my cheeseburger, thanks. I'll get them at Subway now, though. Those things are freaking delicious.

Date: 2012-12-20 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've only seen Chuck a couple of times, but that didn't take away from enjoying this fic. The characterizations came thru even though I'm not really familiar with the characters themselves.

One Piece at a Time is one of my favorite Cash songs! It cracks me up -- You might say I went right up to the factory and picked it up, it's cheaper that way LOL!

And pickles -- YUMMY!

Date: 2012-12-20 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We are destined to be best friends! I too adore One Piece at a Time! Well, it's a 49, 50, 51, 52, 53...

The great thing about Chuck is that every character is an exaggeration of an archetype, so it's easy to write generalized Chuckfic that everybody can read. I sent one of my Chuck romance stories to my grandmother to read and she liked it, even though she had no idea it was based on a show. But thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Date: 2012-12-23 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I cannot tell you how much I adored this series and how much I positively miss it!

This was exactly how it would have been written on the show. A small moment, that most people would consider as mundane, but poor Chuck would be so surprised over something so sweet that he would, of course, cause injury.

This was hilarious!

Date: 2012-12-23 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I miss the series sometimes, too (I have many varied and complicated feelings about it, especially in the later seasons). It's always fun to try and write early Chuck, too, but I get tripped up occasionally, so I'm glad to hear the scene worked for you! And yeah, Chuck inadvertently injuring himself was never not funny. ;)

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