All of my other longer stories have been pretty much angst-fests. So I decided I needed to stretch and do a story that was more action/comedy oriented, although comedy is definitely not my forte. Given my writing style, there will be a little angst as well, I'm sure. But not as heavy as my other stories.

This fic is essentially an Alternate Universe (AU) fic set sometime in the middle of season two. Certainly it wouldn't fit in the current timeline with Orion and Roark, et al. Let's say it's set after Best Friend but before Suburbs (going with the proper order of airing of the episodes). That's the problem with fan fics, the show tends to render one's storyline obsolete before one can finish it.

The idea for this fic came as a result of trying to figure out how to get Moses Finkelstein, the CEO and Founder of Buy More, into a story. So, for better or worse, here it is…


Chapter 1

Casey Makes a New Friend

Chuck Bartowki was bored out of his skull. He hadn't flashed for over a week, so now he was stuck on his eighth straight day of Nerd Herd desk duty. There hadn't even been an interesting install to break the monotony. And it wasn't just Chuck. Casey was getting surly. Okay. Surlier. Even Sarah was starting to show the strain of doing nothing but serving frozen yogurt day after boring day. Chuck found himself hoping for a national security emergency just to relieve the tedium of his Buy More life.

He glanced over to where Casey was showing a customer the special features of the Beastmaster grill and grinned. Casey threw himself into any assignment with both feet, even selling appliances. Who would have thought that the NSA's top assassin would be the Buy More's top selling appliance salesman? What was amusing was the number of attractive suburban housewives that came in several times to 'look at appliances' just so John Casey would wait on them. Even more amusing was the fact that Casey seemed completely oblivious to his following of lusty suburban housewives.

Chuck grabbed another work order to enter into the computer when Jeff and Lester, the Laurel and Hardy of the Buy More, came running up to the Nerd Herd desk waiving a piece of paper in Chuck's face.

"We're gonna be rich, Charles, rich!" Lester said.

"Yeah. All the babes and beer we can handle. And I can handle a lot. Of beer that is, I tend to get a little nervous around the babes…"

"Can it, oaf," Lester said. "Let me tell Chuck my idea."

"Your idea?" Jeff said. "I found the flyer."

"Which you were going to use as a napkin," Lester said.

"The meatball sub was messy," Jeff said. Chuck did notice that he had tomato sauce smeared all over his chin.

Lester thrust the piece of paper at Chuck. "Chinchillas!" Lester said triumphantly.

"Excuse me?" Chuck asked, gingerly handling the paper to avoid getting the bits of tomato and meatball on his hands.

"We're going to raise chinchillas," Lester said.

"We're going to be Chinchilla ranchers," Jeff corrected.

"Chinchilla coats are hot," Lester said.

"Technically, that's probably correct," Chuck said. "But I don't think…"

"If Jeff here can raise ferrets…" Lester began.

"Actually, just one ferret," Jeff corrected.

"Whatever," Lester said, curtly. "It can't be that hard. We raise the chinchillas and sell the fur. We're going to be rich!"

"Beer and babes," Jeff said.

"You said it, bubala," Lester responded, holding up his hand for a high five from Jeff. Jeff slapped it, sending tomato sauce flying all over the two of them and speckling their white Nerd Herd shirts.

"Now look what you did," Lester howled. "Emmett won't let us work like this. I've gotta change."

He spun around and marched off toward the break room, Jeff trailing along behind. Chuck laid the paper on the counter and shook his head. "I wonder if they know that you have to kill the chinchillas to get the fur?" he muttered.

He shrugged. Where were Jeff and Lester going to get breeding chinchillas anyway?

He was about to go back to his invoices when Sarah came through the front doors. As usual, Chuck stopped and stared. He still couldn't believe that this gorgeous woman was his girlfriend. All right, cover girlfriend, but still he got to do some fake cuddling and the occasional cover kiss, which was more than he had gotten in the five years between Jill at Stanford and Sarah's appearance in his life.

Sarah leaned over the Nerd Herd counter and gave him a kiss.

"Hi, sweetie," she said.

"Hi, Sarah," he said in that goofy voice he reverted to whenever Sarah kissed him. "You'll never believe Jeff and Lester's latest scheme. They're going to try to raise chinchillas. I thought that went out with fifties sitcoms."

"Later," Sarah said. "We have an emergency. Turn to channel seven." She indicated the video wall.

Chuck grabbed the remote and entered the code to control the video wall, and then tuned to channel seven. There was a helicopter shot of smoke billowing out of a box store. Chuck turned up the volume. "…not known at this time how many people were in the store when the explosion occurred. Police and firefighters have sealed off the area and there is no report, as yet, as to the cause of the explosion. Witnesses said that a fireball erupted from the store approximately twenty minutes ago. Again, for those of you just joining us, there has been an explosion at the Buy More electronics store in Northridge. We have no reports of injuries, but the store was open for business at the time of the explosion. We have no word, as yet, on the cause of the explosion, but we will update you as more information becomes available."

Stunned, Chuck looked at Sarah and then around the store. There was stunned silence as everyone, employees and customers alike, stared transfixed at the images on the television. A woman looked around nervously, grabbed the hand of her young child and walked quickly toward the entrance of the store, her child running to keep up with her. Another customer turned and hurried out, and then another. Within a few minutes, the store was empty except for Green Shirts, Nerd Herders and Sarah.

The door to Big Mike's office opened and Big Mike came out. "Milbarge," he yelled. Then he stopped and looked around. "Where the hell are all the customers?"

Chuck, Sarah and Casey stood in front of the video screen upon which was the sour visage of General Diane Beckman. "LAPD has determined that the explosion at the Northridge Buy More was caused by an explosive devise. I want you to go over there as FBI investigators and see if the Intersect flashes on anything. I want to know what kind of bomb this was."

"General," Casey said. "Recommend that the asset be sent to a secure location until we can determine the cause of the bombing."

"The 'asset' is right here," Chuck said.

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea, General," Sarah said. "Fulcrum has targeted the Buy More before in order to smoke out the Intersect. If this is a Fulcrum operation and Chuck suddenly disappears from the Buy More, they would have confirmation that Chuck is the one we're protecting. That he's the Intersect."

"I see your point, Major," Beckman said, "but Agent Walker is correct. Let's see what information we have on this bombing before we make any decision regarding the asset."

The screen went black.

"Why does everyone talk about me like I'm not here?" Chuck asked.

Casey ignored him and went into a side room at the Castle and emerged with three duffle bags. "Let's get changed," he said. "We get to be FBI agents." His tone said what he thought of the FBI.

Thirty minutes later, Casey pulled his black Suburban up to the yellow crime scene tape stretched around the parking lot of the Northridge Buy More Plaza. He, Sarah and Chuck got out. "Let me do the talking," Casey said as a uniformed police officer approached them.

Chuck stepped forward and whipped out a badge. "Special Agent Charles Carmichael, FBI. This is Special Agent Walker and Agent Casey. We were called down to have a look at the crime scene."

The officer glanced at the badge, the black jackets with "FBI" stenciled on the left breast and across the back, and the big black Suburban. He lifted the crime scene tape and motioned the three agents toward the store. "Captain Anders is the detective in charge," he said. He pointed to a middle-aged woman with a cigarette hanging from her bottom lip talking into a radio. "See her."

The three ducked under the police tape and started toward Captain Anders. "What part of 'let me do the talking' didn't you understand?" Casey growled at Chuck.

"And miss the X-Files moment?" Chuck asked. "Not on your life."

Casey reached up and grabbed the back of Chuck's jacket and yanked him backwards while he continued walking toward Captain Anders. "That wasn't very nice," Chuck gasped, rubbing his throat.

"Chuck, quit baiting Casey," Sarah said. "And let us do the talking."

"Fine," Chuck said, testily.

When Sarah and Chuck caught up to Casey, he was just putting his badge away. "So we would like to take a look around at the crime scene," Casey said. "This may be related to some other bombings we're investigating."

Chuck guessed Captain Anders was somewhere between forty-five and fifty, with short blonde hair that obviously came from a bottle given the dark roots and a face lined from a lifetime of squinting and cigarettes. She wore a cheap suit and no jewelry other than two gold stud earrings. She pulled the cigarette out of her mouth. "Where?" she asked.

"Where what?" Casey asked.

"Where are these other bombings, sweet-cheeks?" Anders asked Casey. Chuck and Sarah stifled a guffaw.

"We're not at liberty to say," Casey said.

"Then I'm not at liberty to give you access to my crime scene," Anders replied.

"You're interfering with a federal investigation," Casey said.

"And you're cute when you're mad," Anders said, her voice raspy from the cigarettes. "Tell you what. You buy me a drink and I'll let you take a look-see."

"What?" Casey asked.

"Agent Casey would be happy to buy you a drink," Sarah cut in.

Anders smiled and Chuck was reminded of an Animal Planet special with a lioness pouncing on a gazelle. Anders stepped aside. "Forensics and the arson investigators haven't finished yet, so don't touch anything."

"How many?" Chuck asked, seeing a coroner's wagon pulling slowly away.

"Excuse me?" Anders asked.

"How many people?" Chuck asked.

"We're still counting bodies and digging through the rubble," Anders said. "Our best guess is between twenty-five and thirty. It may take a bit. Some of the bodies are crispy critters."

Chuck paled. Sarah took his arm. "Come on, Agent Carmichael. Let's have a look." She led him toward the store. Chuck stopped and looked up. The green and yellow Buy More sign was blackened and hanging askew with the 'R' and 'E' missing.

"I don't know if I can do this, Sarah," he said.

"I'm right here with you, Chuck," she said. "It'll be fine. We need to see if you flash on anything that will help us find out who did this." She pulled him forward.

The ground under their feet crunched with broken glass. The front doors had been blown out and were lying ten yards from the front of the store.

Chuck stopped again. "Are there going to be any bodies? I don't deal well with dead bodies."

"Come on, Chuck," Sarah said, pulling on his arm. "You need to act like an FBI agent. You need to be Charles Carmichael." Chuck took a deep breath and continued forward… into his own personal hell.

The Northridge Buy More was laid out exactly the same as the Burbank store. That made seeing the effects of the bomb all the more startling and disturbing. Electronics, CD's, DVD's and appliances were blacked and strewn about. Water, blackened from the soot, dripped from every surface. A thick, black mess of water mixed with charred bits of… whatever covered the floor. Chuck felt his stomach heave and was glad he hadn't had time for lunch.

Chuck and Sarah picked their way around the worst debris and puddles of black water to where a man in a Los Angeles County Fire Department jacket stood looking around.

"Excuse me," Sarah said. "I'm Agent Walker; this is Agent Carmichael of the FBI. We're been called in to help with the investigation."

The fireman, a middle-aged man with dark hair turning silver at the temples frowned at them. "I was expecting ATF," he said, holding out his hand. "Captain Doug Schultz, Arson Squad."

Sarah shook his hand, followed by Chuck. "They'll be along later. We were in the area. How did you determine it was a bomb?" Sarah asked.

Captain Schultz walked them through the tell tale signs of the explosion. "The device was here," he said, pointing to a spot at the epicenter of the scorching and damage. "It looks like it was packed in a television, from the debris we've found and the location of the blast."

"How long to get a chemical analysis of the explosive residue?" Sarah asked.

"Forty-eight hours, give or take," Captain Schultz said. "We've asked for it to be expedited."

"Mind if we look around?" Sarah asked.

"Don't touch anything," Captain Schultz said, and then shook his head. "Sorry. Of course, you're FBI. You know that." His radio squawked and he said, "Excuse me," and stepped away to answer.

Sarah looked around. She had seen bombings from Beirut to Bogotá, but it shook her up to see such a familiar seeming location so devastated. What must it be doing to Chuck? She looked over at him.

Chuck saw something on the floor and bent down to get a closer look, trying to avoid the soot and water. He started to reach for it when he heard Sarah bark, "Don't touch anything, Chuck." Chuck froze. "What do you see?" she asked.

Chuck pointed to something sticking out from the corner of some debris. Sarah pulled a pen out of her coat and moved the debris aside just enough to get a look at whatever it was Chuck had pointed to. She looked back at Chuck to see his eyes glaze over and his expression go slack. He was having a flash.

"It's a GB-43 industrial detonator," Chuck said. "Radio controlled. They stopped making them in the '70's." He paled a little. "But until then, they were detonator of choice for bombings by the Palestinian branch of the Red Jihad terrorist organization."

Chuck and Sarah were back in the Castle, reporting to General Beckman. "Where's Major Casey?" she asked.

"He's, um, comparing notes with the lead police investigator, General," Sarah said. Chuck smirked. Sarah was happy to see the smirk. Chuck had been very quiet since they left the ruined Buy More.

"I see," General Beckman said. "Well…" A picture of the detonator appeared on the screen next to the General. "The detonator the Intersect flashed on is an industrial detonator manufactured by Goodville Burdette industries in the 1960's and 1970's. A large shipment of the detonators was stolen in 1971 and made its way into the hands of the Palestinian Branch of the Red Jihad terrorist organization. The detonators were used in a series of bombings throughout the world. The last reported use of a GB-43 for a terrorist attack was in 1978 when Abdul Al Fayed was arrested and jailed for bombings in Israel. Although the all the missing GB-43's were not recovered, there has been no reported use since then. Goodville Burdette went bankruptcy in 1982. The ATF is tracing all their remaining stock of detonators but that may take some time."

"Why would a terrorist want to blow up a Buy More?" Chuck asked.

"We don't know that it's a terrorist," Sarah said. "It could still be Fulcrum and are using the GB-43 to throw us off the trail."

"See what you can come up with," General Beckman said. "Agent Walker, you and Agent Casey investigate the explosion and interview any of the surviving employees. This could be as simple as a disgruntled customer or former employee looking for revenge."

"I'm sorry, General, but someone blows up a Buy More because they got a toaster that didn't work right?" Chuck asked. "I'm not buying it."

"Which is why Agents Walker and Casey are going to investigate, Mr. Bartowski. We are simply not ruling anything out at this point." The General leaned forward and the screen went black.

Sarah turned to Chuck. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Chuck slumped against the table. "Not really. It was like… Walking through that store… It just hit kind of close to home, you know?"

Sarah laid a hand on his arm. She understood completely. The devastated Buy more had affected her, too. "Don't worry, Chuck. We'll find whoever did this."