For disclaimer and notes, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: The Senior Staff are informed of the approaching war. The Indian and Pakistani armies have mobilized and are headed for each other. As Crys tries to give a report to Bartlet, sheís called away on something more important.

~

"Josh, youíve got the Hill?" Leo asked.

"Sure, why not?" he said.

"C.J.ís going to be mad she missed this meeting," said Toby.

"Sheíll get over it," Leo said. "Besides, she was in the middle of a briefing already. Toby, talk to Crystal as soon as sheís through with the President and find out how much longer itíll be before we get a confirmed report on what both armies are carrying. Iím going to go talk to Fitz." Josh and Toby both started for Leoís office door.

"Iíll trade you jobs," Josh said.

"You think I want to talk to the Hill?"

"It was worth a shot. See you later."

"Okay," Toby said as he and Josh split company.

"Toby!" He rolled his eyes when he heard C.J.ís voice.

"Yeah?" he asked, turning back to her.

"Movement *again* in India and Pakistan?" she asked.

"Yeah."

"And when were you guys going to let me in on it *this* time? I thought I was back on the inside track!"

"You were already in the press briefing room when we started the prelim meeting." He hesitated before asking, "You didnít deny it this time, did you?"

"I said Iíd look into it," she said, looking at him evilly.

"Lord John Marlborough-"

"Marbury," she corrected.

"Is back," Toby continued. "Crystal Seaborn is around here somewhere with information. The Presidentís going to the Sitting Room in a minute."

"Is State going to give me a briefing?"

"Talk to Leo," he said. She nodded, then walked past him. He shook his head before going back towards the Oval Office. "Hello, Mrs. Landingham," he said.

"Well, hello again, Toby."

"Is Crystal still in there?"

"No," Mrs. Landingham said. "She looked in a terrible rush when she left."

"You know where she was going?" Mrs. Landingham shook her head. "Thanks," he said. He wandered over to Samís office. "Hey, Sam."

"Yeah?" asked Sam, typing furiously on his computer.

"Whereís your cousin?"

"She has a name."

"I know. Where is she?"

"You always call her my cousin."

"SamÖ"

"Is there a reason for that?"

"Where is she, Sam?"

"I donít know. You might want to check Joshís office."

"Josh left to talk to the Hill."

"She still might be there," Sam said.

"Okay."

"She has a name," Sam said as Toby left, heading for Joshís corner of the West Wing. He poked his head in Joshís office to find it empty.

"Can I help you, Toby?" asked Donna.

"You havenít seen Crystal today have you?" She shook her head.

"Not at all, no." Toby sighed and started for the Oval Office yet again. As he had told C.J., Bartlet was headed for the Situation Room with Charlie.

"Excuse me, Mr. President," Toby said.

"What can I do for you, Toby?"

"Whereís Crystal?"

"She left." Toby sighed lightly.

"Did she say where she was heading?"

"Home, I think, at least temporarily."

"In the middle of a crisis?"

"Donít ask, Toby."

"All right, then, thank you, sir," Toby said.

"Toby," said Bartlet as Toby started to walk away.

"Yes, sir?"

"What do you want her for?"

"Leo wants information."

"Sheíll be working on it," Bartlet said. "Donít bother her."

"Sir?"

"Just tell Leo I said forget it."

"Yes, sir," Toby said, thoroughly confused. "Can I ask why?"

"Just tell him."

"Yes, sir."

~~~

Crystal was frantically packing a suitcase when there was a knock at her door. She had her CIA-issue sidearm at the ready as she went to see who it was. "Yeah?" Crystal asked.

"You called for an image adjuster?" Crystal holstered her gun and opened the door. A flamboyantly dressed man stood at her door.

"Hi," she said. "Crystal Seaborn."

"Andrť," he said simply.

"Come on in," she said. "Iím in a bit of a rush."

"What can I do for you?" She closed the door behind him.

"Whatís the hottest thing in Germany right now?" she asked walking back to her suitcase. He looked her over.

"Shorter hair." Crystal nodded.

"Anything else?"

"Doll, youíve got to lose those horrid glasses."

"I hate contacts, but okay," she said. She abandoned her packing temporarily, walking to her closet and pulling out a large plastic storage box. "What do you suggest?" she asked. "Colored contacts or are green eyes okay?"

"Brown," he said with a confident nod. She opened the box and pulled out a smaller one.

"Brown, brown, brown," she muttered before finally grabbing a small contact lens case. "Aha." She slipped them in her pants pocket. "How long would it take to cut my hair?" she asked.

"Youíd rather not have a wig?" he asked, slightly aghast.

"No, Iíd rather you cut it," she said. "Less of a hassle."

"Wet cut?" She nodded. "Twenty, twenty-five minutes," he said.

"My flight leaves in forty minutes. You couldnít speed it up a bit, could you?"

~~~

Josh, after spending an hour on Capitol Hill, was on his way back to the White House. He tried unsuccessfully to raise Crystal on her cell phone. He finally called Samís office.

"Sam Seaborn."

"Sam, itís Josh. I canít seem to get a hold of Crystal."

"Get in line."

"What?"

"Toby canít find her either. Leo was about to hit the roof when Toby says the President said she was gone and not to worry about it."

"President Bartlet said this?"

"Yeah."

"Whatís the deal?"

"I donít know," he said. "Oh, can you hold on? Iíve got another call."

"Iím headed in. Iíll see you when I get there."

"Right," Sam said, picking up the other line. "Sam Seaborn."

"Mr. Seaborn, this is Melissa from Crystalís office."

"Hey, Lissa."

"Crystal wanted me to inform you that she would be gone for a week." Sam was quiet for a minute.

"Iím sorry?"

"Sheís been called away, but she should be back in about a week."

"Called away on what?"

"Iím sorry, Mr. Seaborn."

"Wha-" Before Sam could say anything more, Melissa was gone. He immediately dialed the CIA back. Crystalís direct extension failed, as well as the extension for Melissa. He finally dialed the information line. Even being patched through via the receptionist resulted in a busy signal. "Damn it," Sam said, slamming the phone down.

"Did you hear from Crystalís assistant?" Josh asked. Seeing Samís expression, he knew his friend had. "Iíll take that as a yes. Whatís going on?"

"I donít know," Sam said. "I canít get back in touch with Lissa or Crys."

"What about the thing with the President?" Josh suggested.

"Letís go," Sam said. The two started for the Oval Office and met Bartlet in front of Mrs. Landinghamís desk. "Mr. President," Sam began.

"Sorry, Sam. No time to talk. Iíve got meetings with ambassadors," Bartlet said. "Iím up to my eyebrows in ambassadors, actually."

"Whereís Crys?" he asked. Bartlet looked at him.

"Sheíll be back," he said.

"Whereíd she go?" Josh asked. Sam put it together.

"Whereíd Rob Conrad send her?" Sam asked. Josh looked at him.

"No, no, no, no," Josh said. "Crystal works as an advisor. She doesnít pull the April Dancer assignments anymore."

"Guys, Iíll be back," he said.

"Whereís Conrad?" Josh asked Sam.

"Iím sure heís down in the Situation Room," said Sam as they started walking through the hallway.

"Sam?" Both Josh and Sam turned to see Toby. "How are the Presidentís comments on this India/Pakistan thing?"

"What did the President say about Crys?" Sam asked, ignoring the question.

"Nothing really, why?" Toby asked. "He said she went home temporarily."

"Home," Josh said, pulling out his cell phone and dialing. "Címon, Crystal," he muttered as he listened to the phone ring. After several rings, he hung up. "Sheís not there," he said, looking at Sam.

~~~

Crystal sat in a coach seat, soaring over the Atlantic. She scribbled in a spiral-bound notebook, piecing together what steps she would take to get the agents organized as quickly as possible. First order of business was to find a centrally located office. The first step would probably prove to be the most difficult. Finding the scattered agents, though, would be grueling especially with communication lines down. She knew that, if she were in the position of those field agents, she would be jumping at shadows. Any attempt at communication would probably go unanswered. With a breach of security, passwords change. Some security clearances no longer work. Agents are instantly on their own. Concerns skyrocket.

She closed her notebook and tried to remember how to subjugate verbs in German. She was fluent in Russian and Italian, could fake Turkish and German, but the latter only if she was hard pressed, and could understand Mandarin. For some reason she had never been able to wrap her lips around the language. Opening her eyes again, she knew Josh and Sam had probably heard from Melissa and were going out of their minds and Melissa was probably ducking phone calls from Crystalís cousin and boyfriend, wishing she were somewhere else entirely. Crystal knew that if she called Sam or Josh, they would both demand her immediate return. That or they would yell at her, especially if they knew where she was headed.

In truth, she was a bit concerned about being in the middle of a budding war zone. She would be lying if she said she was petrified but also if she said she did not have a care in the world. She smiled thinly, thinking of how Conrad and Bartlet would be watching the troop movements carefully. She was sure Sam, Josh, and the rest of the senior staff would be anxiously awaiting news on the crisis as well, though they would never know she was there.

She had been close to fighting before. She had even been a foot soldier in a guerrilla war in Brazil once. None of her war experiences had ever included threat of nuclear annihilation. That reality scared her the most. In a way, though, too, she felt proud that Rob Conrad had hand-picked her for the assignment, putting faith in her abilities. It was not as though his belief in her was completely unfounded either. She had managed some amazing feats in her career with the Company. She had saved Conradís own life on a mission in Finland. Most of her missions ended in varying degrees of success.

Glancing at her watch, she added the hours for the time change in Berlin and, going by what time the plane was to touch down in Germany, she decided a power nap was not out of the question. Pulling her baseball cap low over her eyes, she drifted off to a fitful sleep.

~~~

Both Donna and Cathy had the honor of calling the CIA to try and get a hold of Melissa while Sam, Josh, and C.J. sat in on an extensive briefing on the current India/Pakistani trouble. As the meeting broke up, Sam went to his office while C.J. and Josh started for theirs. "All right," she said. "Give it up."

"What?" asked Josh.

"You and Sam both are walking around in a deep blue funk. Whatís the deal?" Josh sighed.

"Crystalís gone," he said simply.

"What do you mean Ďgone?í"

"Nobody knows except the President and Rob Conrad." Joshís voice dripped with venom as he said the name of the CIA director. "And probably Crystalís assistant."

"She just up and left?"

"Without one word to me or Sam."

"How does the President know?"

"Sam thinks sheís on a mission, that Conrad assigned her some case where sheís off gallivanting across the globe again. The President has to sign off on everything the CIA does so-"

"Josh," said Donna as C.J. and Josh passed her desk.

"Yeah?"

"Iíve got Melissa on line oh-three."

"Excuse me, C.J. Thanks, Donna!" he called as he raced into his office and grabbed the telephone. "This is Josh Lyman."

"Yes, Mr. Lyman?"

"Where is she?"

"She who?"

"Donít mess with me right now. Whereís Crystal?"

"Iím sorry, Mr. Lyman. That information is classified."

"I work for the President of the United States. Iím his deputy chief of staff. Surely itís not *that* classified. Where the hell is Crystal Seaborn?"

"Iím sorry youíre upset-"

"Lady, upset doesnít even *begin* to cover it!"

"I am not permitted to release that kind of information."

"Her cousin, Sam Seaborn, wants to know, too. Heís family for crying out loud!"

"I am not permitted to-"

"Never mind then!" He slammed the phone and stormed out of his office. "Donna!" he growled.

"Yeah?" she asked timidly.

"Is Rob Conrad still in the building?"

"He should be."

"Get a message to him. Tell him I want to see him *now*!" Donna glanced cautiously at him.

"Heís probably still in the Situation Room."

"I want to talk to Rob Conrad," Josh said. "Better yet, bring me the manís head on a silver *platter*!" He stalked back into his office and slammed the door.

C.J. felt her office rattle. She placed her hand on top of Gailís fish tank to steady it. She removed her glasses, saved what she had been doing on her computer, and cautiously walked to Joshís office. "I wouldnít go in there if I were you, C.J.," Donna warned. C.J. knocked.

"If you arenít Rob Conrad or if you arenít carrying his dead body in a large plastic bag, I donít want to see you!" barked Josh from inside his office. Everyone in the bullpen stopped what they were doing to see what C.J. was going to do. Even her assistant, Carol, left her desk to find a better vantage. C.J. hesitated for a moment before venturing inside. "I meant it, C.J."

"What good is a dead CIA director?"

"Good for my piece of mind."

"If you dispose of Director Conrad, how will you ever find out where Crystal is?"

"She has to come back eventually, right? With *Conrad* out of the picture, she wonít be spirited off to weird little places with weird little political problems."

"Nice to see that you trust Crystal," C.J. said, crossing her arms.

"I do trust her," Josh said, looking up at her quickly. "Itís Rob Conrad who is lower than a snake."

"She wouldnít be doing it if she didnít believe in it."

"She wouldnít be doing it if Rob Conrad hadnít ordered her to."

"Youíve know her how long now? A year?"

"A year and two days," Josh said quietly. C.J. suddenly understood. "She didnít even say goodbye. Her assistant called to say she was gone." C.J. sat down across from him.

"If she had stopped in here to say she was leaving, you wouldnít have let her go."

"Damn straight."

"You donít even know where sheís going. It could be important."

"For what?"

"For global peace," C.J. tried, not believing a word she was saying herself. Josh stood quickly and started pacing behind his desk.

"Why wonít she tell me where she went?"

"She who?"

"Melissa. Her assistant. She keeps giving me this lame excuse that itís top secret."

"Have you stopped to consider that what Crystalís doing might be top secret?"

"I just want to know where she is. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is." C.J. stood and started for the door.

"Iím sorry, Josh," she said. He nodded. "Iím sure thingsíll turn out okay."

"I hope so."

~~~

Crystal, carrying her large canvas suitcase, walked into the ladiesí room at the Berlin airport. She made sure the bathroom was empty before locking the door and unzipping her suitcase, pulling out a pair of duffel bags. Wasting no time, she transferred her clothes from the suitcase to one of the bags. She shed her denim jacket for a sleek black leather one. She tossed her baseball cap, glasses, American passport, and folded up canvas suitcase into the second bag. Running both her hands through her shortened hair, she exhaled slowly. She zipped the jacket as she stepped out of her tennis shoes, trading them for a pair of black boots that went halfway up her calf. She started to leave when she remembered her contact lenses. She pulled the small case from her pants pocket and quickly put them on, blinking them into place. She had gone from Crystal Seaborn to "Magda Wolff" in a little under five minutes.

She shouldered one bag and carried the other as she found her way to the bank of lockers. With a key she had picked up at Reagan National Airport before she left, she unlocked the CIAís locker and stuffed the bag with her American existence and key inside. A local agent would be stopping by later to pick it up and have it returned to D.C. Glancing at her watch, she had exactly fifteen minutes to find her connecting flight.

~~~

Bartlet was in the Oval Office, reading over what Sam and Toby had typed up for him to say to the press. It was a condemning speech for both the Pakistani and Indian governments, though he felt the condemnation could be stronger for both sides. Of course, that was Jed Bartlet thinking, not the President of the United States. International politics and the possibilities of global wars were nothing to be sneezed at and that usually meant staying reserved, no matter how much he wanted to shout the statement, "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet," from mountaintops. A knock at his door made him look up. Leo entered.

"Afternoon, Mr. President."

"Anything new?" asked Bartlet.

"Not yet. C.J. is rounding up the White House Press Corps for you. They should be ready to go in ten minutes." Bartlet nodded. Leo was silent but Bartlet could tell the chief of staff wanted to say something. "Sir, I have to ask."

"What is it, Leo?"

"Whereís Crystal?"

"LeoÖ"

"Iím getting hounded by Sam and Josh at every turn. They think sheís off in Pakistan or something. Sheís just out in the middle of nowhere for Rob Conrad, isnít she? Some quick mission in Antarctica or something?"

"Iíll talk to them," Bartlet said.

"Where is she?"

"Well," Bartlet said. "Sheís certainly not in Pakistan. Charlie!" he called. His personal aide appeared a moment later.

"Yes, sir?"

"I want to talk to Josh and Sam."

"Yes, sir."

"Have you seen Lord Marbury recently?" Bartlet asked as Charlie disappeared.

"Out in the Rose Garden I think," Leo said. "Wandering around talking to bees."

"Leo," Bartlet sighed. "Iíd like him to watch the press conference." Leo nodded.

"Iíll have someone find him."

"Thank you."

"And have him committed."

"Now, now."

"You wanted to see me, sir?" asked Sam from the door.

"Come on in, Sam," Bartlet said.

"Iíll go find Lord Marbury."

"Thank you," Bartlet said as Leo exited the Oval.

"Is there something I can do for you, sir?"

"No, just wanted to have a little chat with you and Josh before the press briefing."

"Is there something wrong with your comments?"

"No. Nothing like that."

"May I ask what itís in reference to?"

"I canít talk to two of my staffers without a reason?"

"Hello, Mr. President," Josh said as he entered. "Sam."

"Have a seat, guys," Bartlet said. He noticed Charlie standing in the door.

"Anything else, Mr. President?"

"Just get the door. Thanks, Charlie." Charlie nodded as he closed the door. "I hear you guys have been busy."

"Iím sorry?" asked Sam.

"Iíve gotten complaints from Rob Conrad and Leo." Josh tried not to roll his eyes. "I know the both of you are concerned for her, but when it starts interfering with your workÖ"

"We apologize, Mr. President," Sam said. "Itís just that she left without a word."

"And no one is saying anything," Josh added.

"Youíre going to have to expect that sometimes, guys," Bartlet said. "Sheís still an agent of the CIA. There are some things you canít be privy to."

"She hasnít been a field agent in a year," Sam said.

"What makes you think sheís back doing field work?" asked Bartlet.

"She wouldnít have left otherwise," Sam said.

"Certain, are you?" Bartlet asked.

"Iím positive she wouldnít have left unless it was a field op. Where is she?" asked Sam.

"If I know or if I donít, I canít tell either of you anything."

"If you could just give us a little something," Josh said, "we wouldnít be as distracted by this. Put our minds at ease."

"You know I canít comment."

"Is she in danger?" asked Sam. "Thatís mostly what we want to know." Josh looked at Sam. Personally, he would like to know everything.

"GuysÖ"

"Thatís not giving anything away," Sam tried. Bartlet opened his mouth and was about to say something when Charlie entered the room again.

"Iím sorry, sir, but the press is ready." Bartlet had never been so thankful to give a press conference.

"Just donít worry about her, guys," Bartlet said. "Sheíll be back before you know it." Josh and Sam looked at each other. Josh was shaking his head.

"You donít believe him?" Sam asked quietly as Bartlet left.

"Not for a second," Josh said. The two started for their offices.

"I guess thereís nothing else we can do," said Sam.

"Are you kidding? Iím just getting started."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean Iím going to find out whatís going on if itís the last thing I do." Sam sighed as Josh angrily continued down the West Wing halls for his office. He was tempted to go into his office and let Josh get himself into trouble. Crystal was his cousin, though, and he was determined to find out what was going on, too. He sped to catch up to Josh.

"How?"

"You donít want in on this, Sam."

"I want to find her as much as you do." Josh nodded.

"Okay. Come on."

Stay tunedÖ

 

 

Come Back 2 Me - 4

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings