Characters: Chuck, Morgan, Big Mike, Casey (Gen)
Summary: It's not Christmas, it's not Chuck's birthday… and it's not even fun.
Author's Notes: For nbc_las and the prompt of "finding a suspicious package."
Also for writers_choice, this is "box."
Chuck was not a complainer, but today's shift at the Buy More had been long.
He respected his customers, of course, even when they were challenging. Once the screaming started, though, even Chuck's patience had limits. Riding home in the blissful silence of the Nerd Herder, he was surprised to find himself actually hoping that the spy business would take the night off.
When he walked up to his apartment, there was another surprise. A box waited on the doorstep, addressed to him. Chuck felt his spirits lift for the briefest of moments.
That was before he realized that the dimensions of the box were not only large, they were disturbingly familiar.
Chuck glanced around behind him, then cracked open one of the flaps. A shiny, blue fin glistened in the fading sunlight.
"Crap!" Chuck dragged the box inside the apartment and locked the door. Oh God, I am so totally screwed…
At the Buy More, Big Mike finished the weekly task of lecturing Lester and Jeff. Ought to fire their punk asses once and for all, he thought, rolling the tension out of his neck. He came around the corner to his office, where he found the door open. That wasn't the only thing that was wrong: on the wall next to his desk, there was nothing but a gigantic fish-shaped emptiness to greet him.
"Oh, hell no!"
Chuck answered the phone on the third ring, after debating whether to answer it at all. "Hello?"
"Bartowski!" Big Mike bellowed.
A pain formed between Chuck's eyes. Why didn't anyone use his first name anymore? "Sir?" he replied.
Chuck's eyelid began to twitch. "Norman, sir?" he stalled.
"Norman the marlin!" Big Mike said. "For the second time, no less. You wouldn't know anything about that, now would you, Bartowski?"
"N-no," Chuck said. He used his foot to try to push the box under his bed, even though the box was obviously too big. "No, sir."
"Hmmph. That fish better be making a reappearance at my office pretty damn soon, is all I can say."
"Yes, sir," Chuck said, feeling like a broken record. He breathed a sigh of relief when Big Mike hung up, only to have the phone ring again a second later. He nearly dropped it.
"Hello?" he said, more tentatively this time.
"Did it come yet?"
Morgan. Chuck groaned. So the whole thing had been Morgan's idea.
"I Fed-Exed it over a few hours ago, before I left work," Morgan continued. "Should be there any time."
"Morgan, why would you steal Big Mike's marlin? And while we're at it, why on earth would you send it to me?"
Morgan laughed. "Well I couldn't bring it here. Too many questions—you know how my Mom gets."
Chuck flopped down on the bed. "And the other part?"
"Because it's funny," Morgan said.
"Funny? Funny?" Chuck squeaked.
"Well, yeah. Big Mike totally flips his lid when that fish is missing."
"Yes," Chuck said, "I know." He had half a mind to sneak over to Morgan's mom's place later, and slide the fish through Morgan's bedroom window. "Now listen carefully, Morgan. I want Norman out of here now. Put him back where he came from."
"You kill me," Morgan said. "You know I can't get into the Buy More after it closes. Only managers have the keys."
Which meant Chuck. He sighed. "Fine," he grumbled. "You owe me. And don't do it again."
Chuck had no sooner put the phone down than it rang again. "What!" he barked into it.
"Need a hand getting past the security cameras?"
Chuck had never heard Casey's voice sound so soothing. So helpful. Though the eavesdropping thing kind of bothered him, but still, what the hell?
"Please," he said, all the while thinking it was probably unnecessary because surely Big Mike wouldn't… Oh who was he kidding? After losing Norman again so soon, Big Mike had probably already bugged his entire office by now.
"Rendezvous here, twenty-three hundred hours."
"Roger," Chuck answered, adding "Bye" before he realized that the line was already dead. Oh well—at least they had a plan.
He made himself a sandwich for dinner, then went to bed. Might as well catch some sleep while he could.
As he set the alarm for 10:45, Chuck found himself smiling.
Running an operation to smuggle a fish into the Buy More to undo Morgan's stupid prank… maybe that was a little bit funny after all.
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