"Was it really necessary to dye your hair?"

"Sugar, just how many redheads do you think are in Poland?"

John fiddled with a strand of hair that had fallen from my sloppily made bun. "I don't like it."

"I'm sorry, was that a pout I detected? Did the great John Casey actually pout about my hair color?"

He growled and I laughed. "To answer your question, it was, sadly, necessary. I didn't wanna color it either, but everyone thought it'd be better if I blended in a bit more. It was either brown or blonde, and I didn't figure blonde would cover my red hair—I'd have to color it more often."

"Shouldn't have to color it at all."

I laughed; why was he so worried about my hair? "Well I promise ya darlin' the first chance I can change it back—I will."

"Good. You're best as a redhead."

Giving him a wink I asked, "Cause I'm saucy?"

"Cause you're temperamental."

"You're not always easy to deal with either, Misiaczku"

He looked at me funny, and I grinned. "You have no idea what that means, do you?"

"Enlighten me."

"Well, it's Polish…"

"I hadn't guessed."

"Don't get smart with me, mister." Snuggling into his side, I whispered, "Means teddy bear."

He growled, and I couldn't help but laugh. "See? It's fitting."

"A teddy bear?"

"Not a teddy bear, my teddy bear."

"Possessive, don't you think?"

"You obviously haven't known too many southern women, have you Colonel? We country folk like to keep what's ours' close. Our flag, our men, and our guns, not necessarily in that order."

I sighed in contentment. I loved being back home. When we'd gotten back from the airport, I had been greeted with Kate's cinnamon rolls and coffee, heavenly, completely normal-tasting American coffee. Not that weird stuff Poland drinks. We'd spent the rest of the morning curled up on the couch, sleeping off and on.

"Hey John?"

"Mm?" he answered, lazily playing with my hair. It would take a long time before he accepted the color, I'd guessed. I still wasn't used to it.

"I…that feels real nice, you know. I've missed you so much—all the phone conversations in the world don't add up to actually bein' here you know. What have your guys' missions been like? Is it weird with just you and Sarah?"

He grunted, and I nodded. He didn't say so, but it was different. Not just with me gone, but with Chuck also gone. Much as he'd hate to admit it, Chuck was a big part of what made our team so…so connected, I guess. He was like the glue to this crazy puzzle—held us all together.

"Your missions?"

I scoffed. "They're there. Bunch of ridiculous and stupid…I'm wasting my breath there. But…Beckman says I'm best for the job."

"And you don't believe her."

"Well…it's not that. It's just…" I trailed off, knowing if I brought up the Valerian incident or my getting shot, he'd get upset. He put part of the blame on himself, stupid as it was.

"It's just what?"

Sighing, I mumbled, "I don't think she thinks I can work in the field anymore."

"And why would she think that?"

"Just a, um, feeling."

He stopped playing with my hair, and I knew he was on to me. "Stop avoiding the question. Beth, talk to me."

Coming from someone who spent more of his time growling or grunting than talking, I found the plea a bit ironic, but I nodded slowly anyway. "All right…I think, I think Beckman thinks she sent me back to field work too soon, because of what happened, um, with Valerian and his almost-assault. And then getting shot...she hasn't really put me on any big danger missions—a whole lotta recon is what we've been doing. And she always has me working with Calgary, even though I'd rather work alone."

As I suspected, John tensed at the mention of Valerian, and held onto me closer when I oh-so-casually mentioned my latest wound, which technically still wasn't at a hundred percent. "She worries."

"Over me? I'm just one agent. Hell, I'm not even her agent."

"But you're part of her team. She feels responsible for you."

"Then wouldn't she know it'd be better if I was here? If I was home?"

He sighed, and I knew he didn't have an answer anymore than I did. Leaning up slightly, I kissed him on the cheek. "It's alright you don't have an answer either, sugar. Compared to you goin' off on black-ops missions, I think we got off pretty easy. Least you can know where I am, right?"

He grunted, which I took to mean I was right. "Y'know, Poland's not actually as bad as you'd think. I mean, it's cold and a lil' dreary at times, but it has nice people. A cozy sorta atmosphere. I saw AJ the other week there."

"What was Abbott doing in Poland?"

"Said she hadn't seen it last time she travelled; she'd been off to five countries and said she was 'bored'. Which means of course she's just missing Morgan and Burbank but is too stubborn to come back."

"Think they'll get together?"

I looked up at John, who gave me an enigmatic smile, and I laughed. "Well, look at you John Casey, playin' matchmaker!"

He scoffed, "I'm tired of seeing Grimes walk around like a lost puppy."

"Oh, he doesn't wander around like a lost puppy…just a—well, okay, he does."

"Ridiculous. Man ought to grow some balls, just kiss her."

I raised an eyebrow. "Oh, like you did?"

He leaned over and I barely had time to make a surprised 'oh' before he kissed me full on the mouth, his tongue teasing me with expertise. After a bit, he pulled back, practically growling, "And what do you call that?"

"That—that I call nirvana, but you know what I mean. It took a full year before you kissed me, and even then, I do believe I kissed you."

"Would have kissed you sooner, if I recall."

"Mhm, and I recall a certain Forrest interrupting." I glared across the room before muttering, "The bitch."

He raised his eyes in surprise before chucking in amusement. "That's not very courteous of you, Tulip. Where's all your southern charm?"

"It left when Forrest decided to put her eye on my man."

"I wasn't yours yet."

"See?" I told him, "There's your keyword: yet."

He sounded almost surprised when he said, "You were jealous."

"I was not!" At his disbelieving look, I continued, "Much. But…c'mon! She was cold and callous and taking over Sarah's job. And then she was all into you and you were acting like she was the best thing since sliced bread and forgetting things previous arrangements like Bonanza watching and Sunday quiche and she was a-a home wrecker! Er, without the being involved with the other person, so I guess…a roommate wrecker! Plus, did you see her? Hair had to be bleached—couldn't have been that naturally blonde. Not with her complexion. And her boobs—I mean, it's not like they were that impressive, just because she knew a few stripper mo—"

John cut me off with another kiss, and shifted so that I was laying on the couch, he leaning over me. Moving his lips to my ear, he whispered, "You were jealous. And it's a trait I find utterly sexy."

I shivered as he planted a row of kissed to my collarbone. Dear gods…Should I stop him? Don't wanna get carried away but…aw hell, who cared? My arms wrapped around his shoulders, and I let myself sink into the satisfaction of a mid-morning make-out session with my boyfriend. Yep, it was good to be home.

And there's the second chapter for the day! Hope you enjoyed! ((Side-note, I don't own Chuck and such, I do own Beth.)) And who else was super excited that Chuck's getting a fifth season? *raises hand* Right...had to get that out of my system. Please review; reviews make me happy. :)