For disclaimer and notes, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: Sam and Josh break into Crys' office to find information. Crys has some difficulty in India but does successfully find a few agents. Conrad gets questioned by Sam and Josh before giving Bartlet the status of the India mission.

~

Josh sat in his office, looking at his necktie. Crystal had given it to him as a gag gift after the passing of a bill they had been pushing in the Senate. It had the CIA logo screened in the middle of it in place of a tie tack. He didn't wear it because he supported the CIA. He wore it because Crystal had given it to him. Thinking back, he had always supported the work the CIA did until he met Crystal, that is. The Company always seemed to put the two of them at odds. She had known how much he loathed the agency she worked for and how thrilled he was at the bill being passed. He smiled faintly, remembering the smirk on her face when she handed him the nondescript box wrapped in brown paper. His smile faded as Donna entered his office and crossed her arms. They stared at each other for a moment before Josh caved. "What?"

"Don't be mad at her."

"At Crystal? I'm not."

"You're not?" she asked. He shook his head. Donna walked to his garbage can and pulled the jewelry fliers out of the top and slammed them on his desk. "You sure look like it."

"Don't you have work to do?"

"You're not doing anything. Why should I?"

"Donna-" He stood up.

"It's what she does for a living, Josh."

"Why do you care?"

"Because she makes you nice."

"Donna-"

"She does."

"I'm not mad at her."

"Then what about the ring?" Josh pulled a box from his pants pocket. Donna's jaw dropped. "You already bought one? When?"

"I'm not mad at her," he said, his eyes misting.

"Can I-Can I see it?" He shrugged, handing her the box before sitting back down. "It's beautiful, Josh," she said, looking at the diamond solitaire.

"I just. I feel sick," he said. "God only knows where she is or if she'll come home. And if she doesn't, she'll never know I-"

"Of course she'll come home," Donna said.

"Even if she does, it'll never be the same."

"What do you mean?" she asked as she returned the box to him.

"You don't see the way her eyes light up when she talks about what she used to do," he said, looking at the box in his hands. "She thrives on the adventure, the hunt. How can I ever compare to the adrenaline rush she gets when she's-" He stopped and looked up at his assistant. "Donna, I yell at politicians. What kind of excitement is that?"

"Apparently enough to keep her attention for a year." Josh shook his head. "For whatever reason, Josh, she finds you."

"What?"

"I don't know, but obviously there's something good in you that she sees and the rest of us can't."

"Thanks, Donna," he said sarcastically. "You're really cheering me up."

"We put up with you because we have to. She puts up with you because she wants to."

"I know you've got other things you could be doing."

"I'm trying to be helpful."

"Leave. That would be helpful."

"But, Josh-" He spun in his chair to look out his window. Donna's shoulders drooped as she left.

~

Sam tried to focus on his work. He tried to make his fingers dance across the keyboard several times but he kept hitting the wrong keys, stumbling over his own fingertips. Even resorting to the classic "hunt and peck" method wound up with wrong keys pressed. He finally sighed, removed his glasses, and turned from the computer. "She's been gone before. She's been gone more times than I can count. She always comes back. Why is this time any worse?" he asked himself aloud. He knew the answer. He had gotten the old Crys back, the one who called him at least every other night even after seeing him at least half a dozen times during the day, the one who told him everything. He knew more about Josh than he *ever* wanted to know. Before he had even had the chance to realize it, he had lost her again. She was off somewhere doing things he could only imagine if, that is, he wanted to imagine them at all.

Rob Conrad had told him she was fine. He tried to convince himself of that, though, for some reason, he had serious doubts. Conrad was, after all, the director of the CIA: a spy. He made a living by lying. Then again, so did Crystal. It was not as though she had lied to him before leaving. She simply had not said a word. Melissa was bound by Company policy to keep Crystal's whereabouts a secret for security reasons. He could understand that up to a point. Low-life criminals or archenemies call up and ask for her location then it is a good policy. Him, on the other hand, her own cousin? What could possibly be so wrong with him knowing where she was?

His mind flew to his and Josh's trip into the Langley headquarters. He grabbed a legal pad and pen and wrote "GERO2 Amritsar" at the top. On the subsequent lines, he scrambled the letters in hopes he could figure out what was going on. He wrote down every combination that he could come up with though none of them made any sense. He filled the sheet and tore it off before starting on another sheet. When he started repeating combinations, he stopped for a moment to look over all he had come up with. Armed with the two sheets, he headed for Josh's office. "You got a minute?" Sam asked from the door. Josh turned to look at him.

"Yeah, sure." Sam entered, closing the door behind him. "S'up?"

"What we found last night in Crys's office, GERO2 Amritsar?"

"Yeah?"

"I can't stop thinking about it." He handed Josh the two sheets. "You know, in 'Sneakers' when Robert Redford takes the Scrabble tiles and scrambles the name of that company to come up with 'too many secrets?'"

"No," said Josh. Sam sighed.

"Rent it some night," Sam said as Josh's eyes darted over the groupings Sam had come up with. Some were rather interesting. "'Star R MIA?'" asked Josh. Sam shrugged. "'As Mir rat?' Mir as in Russian space station Mir?"

"We should talk to Toby about that with his brother an astronaut and all."

"I think we ought to keep this under our hats for the time being." He looked back at the papers. "'Ogre 2?'"

"I got to thinking, too. You have a key to Crys's apartment, don't you?" Josh nodded then hit his forehead with his palm.

"Why didn't I think of that?"

"Let's get out of here." Josh grabbed his suit jacket and handed Sam back the papers. "I'll meet you at my car." Josh nodded as Sam raced back to his office for his own coat.

"Donna!" She appeared a moment later.

"Yeah?"

"I'll be back in about an hour."

"Where are you going?"

"Lunch."

"It's almost four-"

"Really, really late lunch," Josh said. "You hear anything about Crystal, you call me immediately, okay?"

"What's going on?"

"A guy can't go out for lunch?" Josh asked.

"You already had something from the mess."

"A guy can't get hungry again?"

"You've got a meeting with the deputy whip in twenty minutes."

"Tell him to wait," Josh said.

"You know how much he hates to wait."

"Reschedule, then," Josh said.

"Josh?"

"Donna, I have to go."

"What's going on?"

"Nothing, Donna. We'll be back."

"Wait-we?"

"Just call if you hear anything about Crystal," Josh said before passing her on the way out.

~~~

Josh unlocked Crystal's door and walked inside, followed by Sam. "It's kind of weird being here when she's not here," Sam said, glancing around.

"Yeah, really," Josh said, closing the door. Sam started looking at her bookcase while Josh headed for her desk. "Hey! My cufflinks!" Sam turned to Josh and shook his head. "I'd been wondering where I had left these," he said, slipping them into his jacket pocket.

"What do you suppose she's doing right now?" asked Sam as he finished searching the bookshelf. Josh stopped rifling through her desk drawers to think.

"I don't know."

"It's kind of creepy if you think about it."

"What do you mean?" asked Josh, picking up where he left off.

"Well," Sam said. "Think about all the Hollywood spies you've seen and all the things they do. Picture Crys in a motorcycle chase like in 'Mission: Impossible 2,' you know?"

"Or getting injected with some weird disease she'll die from in less than twenty-four hours if she doesn't get the antidote. Yeah, Sam, this is a great little game you've got."

"Could be worse," Sam said, looking under Crystal's couch.

"How?" Josh asked, abandoning the desk for her closet.

"She could be undercover, pretending to be madly in love with some French guy." Josh gagged.

"I could have gone all day without that mental picture. Thanks, Sam."

"I'm just saying-"

"Don't say anymore," Josh said. "Keep your imagination to yourself. Personally, I'm thinking she's sitting in some university library somewhere, doing research on crude oil or something equally unexciting."

"In your dreams," Sam said, wandering into Crystal's bedroom.

"It's better than thinking she's in the middle of a horrible situation."

"But that's more realistic."

"Who cares about realism? I just want Crystal back."

"Well, that makes two of us," Sam said. Josh pulled a large plastic storage container out of the bottom of her closet and opened it. He poked through it, finding smaller boxes with traditional clothes of various countries. One of the last boxes he found contained several snack-sized plastic bags.

"Sam!"

"What?"

"You gotta come see this."

"What'd you find?" Sam asked. Josh handed Sam one of the bags. On the front, written in permanent marker in Crystal's hand, was the code "RUS-01." Inside the bag was a passport, a driver's license with Crystal's picture on it, a birth certificate, a couple rubles, a Russian Orthodox crucifix necklace, and a detailed handkerchief.

"I don't get it," Sam said.

"Here, look," Josh said, handing him two other bags, one with "GER-01" on the front, the other with "GER-03." "It wasn't 'oh,' it was zero. She's in Germany."

"Or playing a German somewhere else. With the passport, she could be anywhere."

"Now that we've figured out what GER-02 is, what's Amritsar?"

"That doesn't sound German." Crystal's telephone started to ring. Josh and Sam looked at the phone then at each other. "Do we get it or not?"

"Whoever it is doesn't know she's gone," said Josh as he started to answer it.

"That, or they know she's gone and that we're here and we shouldn't be." He pulled back from the phone. Sam licked his lips then quickly grabbed the phone. "Hello?" Josh watched him carefully, wondering if they needed to run for the nearest exit. "No, I'm afraid she's not home right now. Can I take a message?" Josh raised an eyebrow. "Okay," Sam said, scribbling down on a notepad by the phone. He hung up.

"Who was that?"

"A reminder that Crys has a dentist appointment on Thursday."

"Will she be home by Thursday?" Sam shrugged.

"Let's get out of here."

~~~

Donna met Josh and Sam as they entered the White House. "I couldn't reschedule."

"Why not?"

"He said he'd rather wait."

"I thought he hates to wait." Sam clapped Josh's shoulder before leaving him to argue with his assistant.

"He does," said Donna. "But he said he'd wait. He's in your office right now." Josh sighed.

"Okay. While I go get my head chewed off, I need you to get me everything you can find on Germany."

"Germany?" asked Donna. "Travel?"

"No, like the current state of affairs, recent politics."

"What for?"

"Yours is not to question why, Donna."

"I just want to know if we're going to be fighting two wars at once or not."

"Donna, I don't have the time *or* patience for this right now." Donna watched Josh walk to his office. She wanted Crystal back in D.C., too, if only so she could have her boss back. He was definitely not the same without her.

~~~

Josh went home to his cold apartment that night. He dropped his backpack on a table near his door and unzipped it, pulling out several file folders Donna had given him on the state of affairs in Germany. He removed his tie and jacket before sitting down at his desk to read over the information; he managed to get through one page before losing interest. Turning to look out his window, he wondered where Crystal could be. The possibilities were endless. Sighing, he returned his attention to the file folders briefly. He picked up his American Heritage dictionary and leafed through the "A" section just to see. Of course, there was no entry for Amritsar. He angrily tossed the dictionary back on his desk.

"Face it, Lyman," Josh told himself. "She's gone." He stood and started wandering through his apartment, making laps. He had actually wanted to settle down, which was something he never figured he would do in his lifetime ever. And yet there he was with an engagement ring in his pocket. He glanced skyward. "Yeah, you've got a *marvelous* sense of humor."

Stay tuned.

 

 

Come Back 2 Me - 6

 

 

 

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