For disclaimer and notes, please see part one.

 

Previously, on the West Wing: Crys and Josh celebrate one year together on the eve of a brewing war in India and Pakistan. Josh is considering getting a "skylight."

 

Crystal wandered over to Donnaís desk casually and leaned against the glass partition. "So," Crystal said.

"Oh, hi," Donna said, still jumpy.

"How are you?"

"Fine."

"Good." Donna nodded and waited for her to continue.

"Um, can I get you anything, Crystal?"

"Whatís going on?" Crystal asked, getting down to business.

"What do you mean?"

"You and Josh and Sam this morning. That wasnít normal."

"Oh, sure it was."

"What were you looking at?"

"Car brochures," Donna said, noticing a fellow staffer, whose last name happened to be Ford, walk past her.

"Car brochures?"

"For those sports cars."

"Josh wants a sports car?"

"Mid-life crisis?" Donna asked, regretting it the instant it left her mouth. Crystal suddenly felt old.

"Ah," Crystal said. "He wants one of those horrendous chick magnets?"

"Something like that," Donna said, wishing she could restart their entire conversation.

"But you, Cathy, Bonnie, Ginger, and the restÖ You wonít let him, will you?"

"Oh, of course not!" Donna said. "I mean, heís already got you. You outlasted every guess in the office pool, too."

"Really?" Crystal asked. Donna nodded.

"Oh, yeah. We were figuring three months tops. Most everybody thought two weeks."

"Any other office pools I should be aware of?" Donna shook her head. "So, specifically, what kind of car is Josh thinking about?"

"UmÖ I donít know what itís called. One of those luxury sporty things."

"A convertible?"

"Sure. Thatís it. A red one."

"Really?" Donna nodded again. "Well, how come yíall were so secretive about it?"

"No reason," Donna said. Crystal nodded, not believing her for a second and Donna knew it. "UmÖ I have some work I should be doing."

"What are you working on?"

"Getting some information together on Chinese properties and prelim information on Congressís idea of a governmental computer chief."

"What about China?" Crystal asked.

"So," Sam said as he and Josh started back for their offices after the morning meeting broke up. "When are you going toÖ you know?"

"It kind of requires a major purchase first," Josh said.

"What requires a major purchase?" asked C.J., coming up behind them.

"Skylights," Josh said. "I canít really put skylights in my apartment. I donít think my neighbors upstairs would like it."

"Go for it, Josh," said Bonnie as the three senior staffers passed her.

"Go for what?" asked C.J.

"Remind me to fire Donna," Josh said.

"What does Donna have to do with anything?" asked C.J.

"Donít you think itís a little *early* in the morning to play twenty questions, C.J.?"

"I donít think so, Josh."

"If you want any more help with theÖ thing," Sam said, glancing at C.J., "you know where to find me."

"Yeah," Josh said before Sam disappeared into his office.

"What *thing*?" asked C.J.

"Skylights," Josh said. C.J. sighed and stalked off. Josh was slightly unnerved to see Crystal and Donna sitting together. He certainly hoped Donna had not said anything. "Hello, ladies. Glad you decided to stick around, Crystal."

"Me, too," Donna said with a smile.

"Your China prep is all wrong," Crystal said.

"What do you mean?" asked Josh.

"Call Dennis Teng at State," Crystal continued. "Believe me, heís the guy you want to talk to about China."

"Donna, werenít you supposed to confirm this-"

"I would have if you had been specific enough to ask for the files in *English*," Donna said.

"What are you talking about?" Josh asked, taking the file folder Crystal handed him. "ThisÖ This is in Chinese?"

"Mandarin," Crystal said. "And totally useless for what youíre wanting to do."

"Why would the State Department send me files in Chinese?" asked Josh.

"Thatís something youíll have to take up with State," said Crystal. "I should be getting to work unless-"

"Unless," Josh said. He nodded towards his office. Crystal followed him inside and watched as he closed the door behind them.

"So."

"SoÖ" He dropped the file on his desk. "Crystal, IÖ Computer virus?"

"Itís believed that Pakistan intentionally crippled the new Indian information superhighway with a computer bug that would make the Melissa virus look like the twenty-four hour bug. Itís the last in a long line of incidents, believe me."

"Seems like an awfully dumb reason."

"The Indians are taking it very seriously."

"Why donít we just flood Silicon Valley and be done with it?"

"See, now youíre talking domestic policy. You could talk national news till my ears bleed and I still wonít understand it."

"Sorry."

"I really should be heading out to the Farm."

"You have to?"

"Yeah."

"One of these days, youíre going to have to get a desk over here."

"Trust me, I already have enough reasons to come by." She grabbed her attachť case and started for the door when she turned back to him. "Oh, and stay away from those muscle cars, Josh. They wonít suit you." He looked at her strangely. Donna bounded in with a clipboard.

"Sign on the dotted line," she said.

"What about cars?" Josh asked, scribbling his signature on the bottom of the form. Donna and Crystal exchanged glances.

"See you later, hon," Crystal said. Josh looked expectantly at Donna, who simply smiled and ducked out of his office.

~~~

Crystal spent most of her day at her office in the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. When she returned to the White House at dusk, she went directly to the Situation Room. Projected maps lined the back wall. Digital clocks with their slender red numbers offered the times of Washington D.C., New Delhi, and Islamabad. Slinking through the shadows, she took a seat behind Conrad. "President Bartlet is on his way down." She nodded and pulled a laptop from her attachť case. "Anymore from the agents in the field?"

"The last message I received, I forwarded straight here. From the looks of things," she said, glancing at the map, "youíve already got everything theyíve given me ready for the President. Anything new, I should be able to upload it directly."

"Good," Conrad said.

"Whatís the United Nations saying?"

"Security Council is still in session."

"In other words, same old, same old?"

"The UN doesnít change its tune. Iím still amazed they managed any sort of Ďcease fireí last time around."

"You donít think they can pull it off again?"

"Iím not going to hold my breath," Conrad said. The doors to the Situation Room opened and Bartlet and Leo walked in. Everyone got to their feet even as Bartlet told them to stay seated.

"What do we have?" Bartlet asked as he took a seat at the head of the table. Crystal listened intently as Fitzwallace rattled off the current visuals and preparations the U.S. Military was going through. After Fitzwallace finished, Conrad explained the mission communiquťs agents in both India and Pakistan had been able to send out. "Neither side is brave enough to make a move just yet?"

"No, sir," Conrad said.

"But they are preparing for it?"

"Extensively."

"Any guesses as to when thisíll start?" Conrad turned to Crystal, who hit several keystrokes.

"Predictions are coming in from both sides," Crystal said. A window popped up onscreen, showing the estimated times of attack. Each one varied greatly from the others. "As you can see, sir, their guesses are as good as ours."

"How many agents do we have inside the governments over there?" Leo asked. Crystal glanced at Conrad for permission.

"About fifteen in each," she said. "Mostly theyíve joined the military ranks."

"And the others?" asked Bartlet.

"In Pakistan, there are two right-hand men who answer to you. In India, only one," Crystal said. "Others are lower-level advisors or assistants, but theyíre there and theyíre actively searching for useful information."

"Mr. President," Leo said quietly. Bartlet glanced at his watch and nodded.

"All right," Bartlet said. "Keep your eyes opened," he said as he stood. Everyone instantly rose to their feet. "Inevitably, weíll be back," Bartlet said as he and Leo left. "Wait-Crystal?"

"Sir?" she asked.

"Walk with us." Crystal made her way through the mass of advisors and joined Bartlet and Leo.

"Yes, sir?"

"Tomorrow morning weíll be meeting an expert on all things-"

"Insane," said Leo. Bartlet cleared his throat.

"India and Pakistan." Crystal nodded. "Iíd like you to be there for it."

"Certainly, sir," she said. "What time?"

"Eight oíclock sharp," Leo said.

"Anything else?" Crystal asked.

"Thatís it."

"Thank you, sir."

~~~

Crystal woke early to the sound of her telephone ringing. She grabbed it without ever opening her eyes. "Yeah?"

"Crystal, get up. Youíre needed at work."

"Whaís goiní on, Robby?" she slurred.

"Weíve got movement."

"Iíll be right in," she said before hanging up and leaping out of bed.

~~~

Showered, dressed, and in Langley in record time, Crystal was standing at Conradís desk, cleaning her glasses. "When did this happen?" she asked.

"Not quite an hour ago."

"Does the President know?"

"Theyíre waking him now."

"After an hour?"

"That wasnít my call. Chairman Fitzwallace is going to offer up the first report."

"What about our people in India and Pakistan?"

"Intel keeps pouring in," he said, showing her his computer screen. She slipped her glasses on and took a look.

"My, theyíre quick, arenít they?" she asked. India and Pakistan had mobilized their armies with super-efficient speed. "Itís gotta be, what, five PM over there?" Conrad nodded. "How much further are they going to go before they stop?"

"Agents say until dark," Conrad said. "Get a concise report for the White House ready and deliver it personally to Bartlet."

"Arenít you coming, too?"

"If things get too out of hand, I want to be able to pull our guys out of there. Most every other American citizen has been pulled out. The embassies were flooded last night but most everyone has gotten on a plane and hightailed it back here." Crystal nodded. "Take a beeper. Iíll page as soon as things start to heat up."

~~~

Crystal rushed through the halls of the West Wing, juggling her attachť case and car keys as she went. She smiled warmly at Mrs. Landingham. "Heís expecting you, dear," she said.

"Thanks, Mrs. L," Crystal said. "Hey, Charlie."

"How are you, Crystal?" he asked.

"Running late!" she said. She breezed past his desk and into the Oval Office, where her smile faded. She forced one back on her face, seeing President Bartlet, Toby, Leo, Sam, Josh, and a gentleman she had never met before. "I apologize for my tardiness, Mr. President," she said.

"Thatís all right, Crystal. Take a seat. Do you know Lord John Marbury?" asked Bartlet, indicating the man she did not recognize.

"By reputation only, sir." She smiled at the British man. "How do you do, your lordship?" She curtsied. "Crystal Seaborn, CIA."

"Pleasure," he said, shaking her hand. She then took a seat next to Josh. "May I continue, sir?"

"By all means," Bartlet said.

"As Iíve said before, this is not something that will just go away. Plus, it must be handled delicately so as to avoid getting either side more agitated." Bartlet turned to Crystal as Marbury sat down.

"What does the CIA have?"

"As I understand it, Mr. President, the Situation Room is being prepped now. Iím, uh, on call, so to speak," she said, placing a pager on the table in front of her. "The movements of both parties are being monitored very closely." She glanced at her watch. "As of twenty minutes ago, there was about two hundred miles between the two groups. Current intel, sir, says that both the Indian and Pakistani ground troops plan to stop on the boarder. They might still continue on, invading each otherís countries. Fortunately daylight is working against them."

"Crystal, are they still armed from last year, with what Shadid provided?" asked Josh.

"Best guess is probably," she said. "CIA operatives, per President Bartletís order yesterday," she said, glancing at Bartlet, "are working on ways to see if they do, in fact, have what Shadid sold them the time this mess mushroomed last year."

"Do we know what they were sold?" asked Leo.

"Mostly parts for nuclear weaponry," she said, passing one file folder down the couch she was sitting on and one over toward Leo and Bartlet. "That report, Mr. President, details what was sold to which side and how much. I-" She stopped as her cellular telephone began to ring. She reached for her phone and beeper at the same time.

"Trouble?" asked Bartlet.

"Apparently not," she said, frowning at the lack of a pager message. "If youíll excuse me, sir." Bartlet nodded as she walked away from the group on the Oval Office couches. "Seaborn."

"Crystal, Robby."

"Is there a problem?" she asked, looking at Bartlet.

"Are you at the White House?"

"Currently, yeah. Have shots been fired?"

"Something a bit more serious, Iím afraid." Seeing Bartletís concerned expression, she shook her head before quickly stepping out of the Oval and into the corridor.

"Whatís going on?" she asked quietly.

"Security has been breached in India."

"Pardon?"

"The outpost in India along the front has been compromised. Everybodyís gone underground, too scared to report in."

"What! When?"

"Just now. I received one last frantic message before the communication lines went dead. I need you to go to Amritsar, India and get things back into shape quickly. We need the information from the team Bartlet ordered."

"Even the New Delhi team is under?"

"Yeah."

"Canít you raise them on emergency frequencies?"

"Weíre still trying. Youíve got to get there, Crystal. I know you can bring peace to the outpost quicker than anyone else." She closed her eyes, already formulating a plan.

"All right. Suggestions on profiles? Transportation?"

"Anything *but* American," Conrad warned. "Take a commercial flight."

"Am I going to be building the outpost from scratch?"

"Afraid so. Being that close to where the troops are, Crystal, youíre going to have to."

"Okay," she said. "Anything else?"

"Inform President Bartlet and catch the quickest flight out."

"Yes, sir."

"Iím sorry to do this to you, Crystal."

"Donít give it a second thought," she said. "Iíll handle it."

"Good. Iím on my way to the White House now for the Situation Room debates."

"All right."

"Good luck, Crystal." She smiled faintly.

"Thank you, sir." She ended the call and dialed her assistantís number at the Agency. After a few rings, Melissa picked up. "Lissa, I need a flight to Berlin in my name followed by a flight from Berlin to New Delhi in GER-02 with connecting transportation to Amritsar."

"Whatís going on?"

"Just do it, please."

"Anything else?"

"Have one of the image consultants at my place in," she checked her watch, "fifteen minutes."

"All right."

"One more thing. After my flight takes off for Berlin, I need you to call both Sam Seaborn and Josh Lyman and tell them I should be back in about a week."

"Why donít you tell them?"

"I donít think Iím going to have the time. Plus, itíll stop them from trying to stop me."

"Okay," Melissa said.

"Thanks, Lissa."

"See you when you get back."

"Yeah," Crystal said. She closed her phone and started back for the Oval Office. "Iím sorry about that, Mr. President."

"Thatís all right, Crystal," Bartlet said.

"Um, may I speak to you for a moment, Mr. President?" Crystal asked, glancing at Josh and Sam.

"Go ahead."

"Privately, sir?" she asked.

"Crys?" asked Sam. She smiled at him reassuringly.

"You guys mind stepping out?" Bartlet asked. "Weíll continue this meeting later." Leo started for his office, followed by Toby and Josh. Marbury and Sam walked out to Mrs. Landinghamís office. She waited until all the doors were closed before speaking to Bartlet.

"Is there a problem?" asked Bartlet.

"I just got off the phone with Director Conrad, sir."

"Are we looking at total nuclear meltdown right now?"

"No, sir. We are having a bit ofÖ trouble in India, though."

"Thereís a *lot* of trouble in India right now." Crystal took a deep breath.

"The CIA team we sent two days ago, sir, hasÖ" She shook her head. She didnít have the time to beat around the bush. "CIA security has been breached severely in India. Director Conrad has asked me to go seal off the leak and get the operatives back to work."

"What happened?"

"Either our CIA field office has been located by enemy forces or one of our agents has been made. Either way, every CIA agent currently on assignment in India has gone underground, especially those on the boarder. Iíve got to go put everything back in order."

"Youíre going to India?" She nodded. "Now?"

"As soon as I can, yes, sir." Bartlet sighed.

"He canít send anybody else?"

"Sir," she started. He held up a hand.

"Never mind. Godspeed, Crystal."

"Thank you, sir." Bartlet sighed heavily before sitting down at his desk, watching Crystal race out of the Oval after gathering her belongings.

Stay tunedÖ

==

 

 

Come Back 2 Me - 3

 

 

 

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