Chuck tried to hold his smile in front of the customer, but it was growing very difficult. A small woman, no older than sixty, was franticly telling him the story about her new digital camera that her daughter had given her (but in all honesty really didn't want it), suddenly shutting off and just quit working.
"And it's not the batteries!" she huffed looking at her camera with loathing, "I may be old but I'm not stupid."
"Alright ma'am," Chuck said as nice as possible, "Don't worry about it, just leave it with me and"
"I didn't even want this infernal thing!!" she ranted, not noticing Chuck's smile slip off his face, "But my daughter insisted on me keeping up with the ages. I just don't see why they make it so difficult! What was wrong with just regular film?! It looked just as nice as these…computer generated pictures. I just don't understand it."
Chuck gave her another charming smile, "Again, don't worry ma'am, the Nerd Herd will fix it up for you in no time. Just come back by tomorrow and it should be as good as new."
"Bless you, young man," she smiled at him, giving him the broken camera, "Such a nice boy, listening to the ramblings of an old woman. I wish my son in law was as polite as you." She sighed, "I guess some wishes just can't be granted."
Chuck laughed uncomfortably, not sure if it would insult her or not. She blabbered on a few more minutes about her family, spilling out details he'd rather not hear, and after he got her to sign some papers, she said her goodbye and left.
"You have a nice day." Chuck waved as she walked towards the door. When she was out of sight, Chuck let his smile face fall and let his head used the desk for support.
"How much you wanna bet that it was the batteries all along," Anna said behind him, picking up the camera and examining it.
"There's no reason to bet, because I already figured that to be the case," He sighed taking the camera from his pretty co-worker, "But I'd rather not embarrass her, so I'll just make up something when she picks it up tomorrow."
Anna patted his back; "You have a big heart Chuck." he turned towards her and smiled. "Too bad it makes you look like a total pansy." His smile quickly evaporated.
"Thanks, Anna. Really builds up the self esteem."
"Just being a friend," Anna replied with a caring smile. Chuck let out a sigh, running a hand through his hair. Leave it to Anna to be the blunt one. "By the way, have you seen Morgan?"
Chuck propped his head up with his hand, scanning the store with disinterest. "Hmm…last time I saw him, I think he said something about taking a nap in the entertainment room."
"Well he isn't anywhere else so I guess that's where he must Oh my god who is that!"
Chuck turned towards Anna, looking in the same direction as her. He didn't see anything interesting, just the back of one of the customers roaming the CD section. From what Chuck could tell, he was a tall, well built, and middle aged man, with salt and pepper colored hair. He was wearing a navy blue polo with khaki pants. Chuck raised an eyebrow at his friend.
"He's stunning," Anna breathed, cupping her head in her hands. "They don't make them like that any more."
"Okay, one, how can you even tell what he looks like since he had his back turned, two, aren't you dating my best friend, and three, why are you telling me this?"
"I saw his face before he turned. Yes, but there's nothing wrong in looking. And last, because you're the closest thing to a girl in this store, Mr. Sensitive."
"You're really doing wonders with my confidence today aren't you?" Chuck glared at Anna who merely shrugged, still looking in the direction of the older man. He rolled his eyes and turned his gaze with Anna, having nothing better to do.
This time the man turned toward their direction, his face now visible. Chuck's body went rigged.
"Told you he was good looking." Anna smiled, noticing her partner's expression. Chuck wasn't paying any attention to her though. Pictures of that man and his name: Marcus Hampton, bomb designs, exploding buildings, and pictures of a dozen different agents, flooded his vision. After a few moments, Chuck snapped back into reality, his face growing slightly pale.
Anna gasped. "Oh crap he's looking this way!" she turned her head and busied herself with the stapler. "I hope he didn't notice us staring."
Unfortunately he did. The man's eyes caught Chuck's. They stared at each other, his cold, blue eye bored into Chuck's brown ones. A silent realization washed over them both. Chuck, realizing that this man he flashed on was extremely dangerous, and the man realizing that someone recognized him. The man's eyes narrowed, causing Chuck to take an involuntary step back.
He noticed the worker's reaction. He set down the CD that he was holding, never taking his eyes off of Chuck, and made his way towards the Nerd Herd station.
Oh crap! Chuck thought jumping over the counter. "Anna!! Man the station!!"
"What! Why?" she complained, throwing the stapler behind her.
"Because I said! Don't worry I believe in you!!" He called over his shoulder, noticing the reason for his flash was gaining on him. He turned and ran smack right into another customer, knocking a digital alarm clock out of her hands.
"Hey!! What's the big idea?" the blond girl hollered, pointing a finger at Chuck.
"I'm really sorry miss but I'm in a hurry…" she grabbed his elbow as he attempted to slip pass.
"That still gives you no right to just"
"I've got to go! Sorry!!" he yanked his arm free and ran towards his right, noticing that the older man wasn't following him anymore. In fact he didn't see him anywhere.
That was because he was standing right in front of him.
Chuck rammed straight into him, bouncing off of him like a rag doll. The man grabbed him by the arm, helping him keeping his balance.
"Sorry about that." He said with a friendly smile that unnerved Chuck. It seemed fake. That's when he noticed the man's hard eyes, telling his real feelings. Chuck was reminded at that moment of a look Casey gave him, that meant 'if we were alone and you weren't so damn valuable I would rip your throat out'.
That didn't make Chuck fill any better about his situation.
The older man put his hand on his shoulder, squeezing it very tightly. "You don't look so good kid," he said, his innocent yet disturbing smile, "You look a little pale. Maybe we need to get you some fresh air. Come on, let's step outside."
"CASEY!!" Chuck found himself screaming the agents name, and in a very girlish squeal. Everyone in the store turned to look at them, confused.
"What's Chuck screaming about?" Jeff asked Anna who was sitting on the Nerd Herd station, filing her nails. She looked up.
"Apparently he's getting assaulted by gorgeous over there." She said going back to her nails, "Lucky." Jeff stood there for a moment, shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
Casey, trying to sell a refrigerator to a couple, heard the scream and snapped his head up. He immediately saw Chuck in the hands of a man a few years older than himself, and he looked pissed.
"Dammit Bartowski," he hissed under breath. He looked at the couple and gave them a tight smile, "Excuse me for one moment." As he stepped away from the confused pair, his smile slipped into a hard set glare, nearly running towards Chuck.
The man, still tightly holding on to Chuck's shoulder, saw Casey making his way quickly towards them. He gave Chuck one last glare, then pushed him roughly away, making his way towards the exit.
Chuck fell back on his butt, letting out a sigh of relief.
"Everything's fine. Now go back to work." Casey yelled at the other workers who were still staring at Chuck. He swooped down beside him, grabbing his shirt and pulling it towards him. "What the hell was that, Bartowski?!"
"Nice to see you too, Casey."
The NSA agent glared at him.
"I flashed on that guy." Casey's eyebrow shot up. "And then he saw me staring at him, and I guess he knew I recognized him or something, cuz he started coming towards me, then I ran and he caught me and tried to get me outside. That's when I screamed your name."
"Good thing you did too," Casey said, "Even though you scream like a four-year-old girl."
"Thanks. Means a lot to know that…"
"What did you flash on?" Casey asked in a low voice, ignoring his sarcasm. Chuck sighed, rubbing his forehead with his hand. "It was about an exploding building, a list of agents that were killed, and that guy. He was named…um…Marcus Hampton."
Casey went strangely quiet. Chuck looked up at him and noticed his skin was paler than usual, and sweat was building up on his forehead.
"Casey?" Chuck asked, freak out by his friends reaction. Suddenly the agent stood up, bringing Chuck up with him. He dragged him towards back of the store. "Casey?!" The agent slid open the entertainment rooms door open, revealing Morgan who was supposedly in a deep sleep on the couch.
"Of course he's still asleep." Chuck breathed, shaking his head slightly. Casey stomped towards his friend, picking him up by his shirt collar. He carried him towards the door and threw him roughly towards the ground.
"What the f" Morgan shot up from the ground, ready to tear in to the person you threw him. His anger quickly evaporated when he saw Casey staring at him. "C-Casey!! Hey there good buddy! Did you want the couch for something, cause that's perfectly fine, I mean you know were like brother's and"
"Go," was all Casey said. Morgan gulped and nodded. He saw Chuck, gave him a friendly wave, and ran towards the Nerd Herd station.
"That was a little harsh, wasn't it?" Chuck asked as Casey pushed him inside and locked the door. "Casey? You're freaking me out more than usual."
Casey looked at him, his features hard. "I don't know how, Bartowski, but you sure as hell attract the worse kind of people."
"What are you"
Casey interrupted him. "Marcus Hampton: age 48. He creates bombs for any terrorist groups that will pay the most. He doesn't exactly make them, mostly designs them. But that doesn't make him any less dangerous. About seventeen years ago, he blew up an undercover CIA office. Fourteen agents were killed, and about twenty more were injured. Right after that he dropped from out radars. I'll give him credit, the bastard's brilliant. No matter what we did he kept dodging us." He ran his hand across his face. "I can't believe that ass hole was actually here! Of all places…" Casey pointed his finger at Chuck.
"You do not even realize how lucky you are. If Hampton would have gotten you outside these doors, he would have killed you without hesitation." Casey sighed. "This isn't good. He knows your face now. And if he thinks you might have recognized him…dammit!!"
Chuck stood rooted in place. He felt his stomach turned cold. He stared at a spot on the floor, his mind blank. Why does this always happen? Ever since he became the stupid intersect, bad guys seemed to flock to him like birds. No matter where he went there was always a weapon in his face, or a villain trying to kidnap or kill him. He let out a shaky breath.
"I'm a damn danger magnet."
Casey's mouth formed a small, yet unnoticeable smile. That is definitely one thing the two seemed to agree on. He opened the door, catching Chuck's attention again. "I'm going to go inform agent Walker on our current findings. She'll want to hear about this." He shot a look at Chuck. "Stay in this room until we come back. If I even think you step out of this room, I'll ground my foot so far up your ass you'll see it coming out of your mouth," and slammed the door shut.
Chuck slumped down on the floor, bracing his back on the couch. He closed his eyes. This was going to be one of those days.