For disclaimer and notes, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: Josh and Sam try to deal with Crys being gone and wind up going to her apartment to see if there are any more clues there and find out she's somewhere with a German passport. Josh investigates the German connection.

~

Crystal was pleased that thirty-some agents that had been located by that next afternoon. More importantly, she was ecstatic with the six located agents who had been working inside the Indian government. She would have been thrilled if all seventy-four agents had been found. The good thing about having so many agents found was that Crystal did not have to get out and look, too. She could stay in the headquarters and orchestrate the operation, answering questions from agents in the field over the phone. As soon as agents were located, they were reassigned to help with the tracking down of those still missing, which was the reason behind the number of agents recovered so quickly. "Okay, guys, listen up," she said. "Welcome back to the fold, if you will. This building we're in now will serve as the temp headquarters. As soon as things die down out here, a more permanent location will be found in New Delhi."

"Wasn't that what got us into trouble?" asked an agent. "Having a headquarters so close to the government?"

"You want to tell me how we're going to get accurate information otherwise?" Crystal asked. "Even with all the precautions we take, occasionally we still get seen. It's an occupational hazard. That doesn't mean that we should be worried but that doesn't mean that we can get cocky either. The Company has survived so far. We'll continue."

"Are we being reassigned?" asked another agent.

"Temporarily, yeah. Forty agents are still unaccounted for. They're our number one priority right now. I have a feeling they've fled the immediate area. They may be under for a very long time. Some of them have pertinent information we desperately need," Crystal said.

"What's our cover?"

"This is an international news organization," Crystal said. "I've got all the equipment from the old HQ in New Delhi. As soon as we get the presses up, you'll have new identification papers."

"Are we going to pull out before the fighting starts?"

"I certainly hope so," Crystal said. "It all depends on how quickly we can locate the rest of the agents. Rest assured, though, if we have to, we will evacuate. What I need from each of you now is a full and detailed report on the last things you were working on. Those of you who I already have reports from, get back out there."

Crystal left the agents to write up case synopses as she started hauling the computer and technical equipment up from a flatbed truck she had procured. As she started hooking up a computer, a timid young agent approached her with her report.

"Ma'am?" she asked.

"Yeah?" said Crystal, struggling to untangle cables.

"I'm, um. My job here was technical, I."

"You're not used to the field work?" The young agent nodded. "What's your name?"

"Rose, ma'am. Rose Parker."

"I tell you what, Rose. Why don't you help me out with this stuff? I could use it." Rose nodded, looking at the mechanical parts in the box Crystal had brought up. "Can I ask you something?" Rose pulled the monitor out of the box and placed it on a desk.

"Of course."

"How long have you been with the Company?"

"Including training?" Crystal shook her head.

"Just your field experience."

"Three weeks," she said, placing the tower beside the monitor.

"Oh, hon, bless your heart," said Crystal. "No wonder you look nervous. This is probably your first assignment, right?" She nodded. "Baptism by fire, let me assure you. But don't worry. All non-essential personnel will be removed long before the fighting gets to us."

"Yes, ma'am."

~~~

Everyone in the Situation Room rose to their feet when Bartlet and Leo entered. "So what's new this morning?" asked Bartlet as he sat down. Although it was only six thirty in the morning in D.C., it was four PM in India.

"We've got new intelligence form India," reported Conrad.

"Crystal found them?" asked Bartlet. Leo quickly looked at Bartlet realizing that Josh and Sam's concerns had been correct.

"She found a few of them," Conrad said with a nod. "Good news is that one is still undercover within the military."

"Bad news?" Bartlet asked.

"Pakistan has gotten their own avenues of information from the Indian government," said Conrad.

"Meaning?"

"Meaning that Pakistani intelligence is what's caused all our trouble," Conrad said. "India found out someone was reading their mail as it were. Our agents thought they had been found out and promptly went underground when it was Pakistan who had-"

"What happens now?" asked Bartlet.

"Pakistan now knows where India's defensive weakness are. They'll act on them as quickly as they can," Conrad said. Bartlet turned to Fitzwallace.

"Are we talking nuclear right now? I mean, has Pakistan turned command control of their nuclear arsenal over to the field?"

"Not yet," Fitzwallace said, "but that's the next step."

"Does India know that the Pakistanis know their weaknesses?" asked Leo.

"The information could be leaked to them," Conrad said.

"How many American citizens do we have over there?" Bartlet asked.

"Agents and military personnel?" asked Conrad. Bartlet nodded. "Not quite one hundred."

"How close are they to the troops?" asked Bartlet.

"Everybody is inside a three hundred mile radius."

"Leak it," Bartlet said.

~~~

Crystal had managed to get a large map of India and was plotting the troop movements when Rose Parker came rushing up to her. "Miss Seaborn!"

"Yeah?" she asked, hearing the insistence in the young agent's voice immediately.

"You've got to come down here; you've got to see this."

"What's going on?" asked Crystal as she abandoned her map. She followed Rose down to the communications room. Rose handed her a computer printout.

"Just in," said Rose. It took all of Crystal's self-control to keep from falling over. It had happened. Pakistan had finally invaded India.

"Get me a line to Rob Conrad now," she said. Rose obliged quickly, handing her a telephone receiver. Several nauseating minutes later, Crystal finally heard the voice of Rob Conrad.

"Report, Crystal."

"It's happened, sir," she said. "Now what?"

"How close are you to the fighting?"

"Two hundred miles right now. That'll change quickly, though."

"How many agents do you have found?"

"Current headcount puts us at negative thirty-five," she said. "I don't like leaving anybody behind. You know that."

"You may not have a choice in the matter."

"I'll be damned if I leave anybody over here to die, Robby."

"Crystal, you can't win 'em all."

"I can try," she said.

"Do you have evac routes planned yet?"

"Yeah. We'll get out."

"Good girl. If you do have to leave anybody behind, surely they can find their way home."

"God, Robby, you know as well as I do that they probably won't ever leave this country. They don't know what's going on other than the fact that they've possibly been made and that we've got trouble on the boarder. They'll never make it out."

"Crystal, you aren't their personal keeper. They knew the risks getting in. They know them now."

"This sucks, Robby."

"I know it. That's the way it works."

"It's an awful system."

"Find me a way to fix it then we'll talk."

"Fine."

"I want you guys pulling out by the time the fighting gets fifty miles from you, understand me?"

"Sure."

"I mean it, Crystal. I want you to have enough time to make it out alive."

"We'll make it, we'll make it. What's going on in the States?"

"President Bartlet's going on TV again. We'll see how it goes."

"All right. Anything new goes down, we'll contact you again." Crystal handed the receiver back to Rose and swallowed a curse before storming into the main room. "Everybody listen up!" she called over the din of the room. As soon as they quieted down, Crystal continued. "Pakistan has officially invaded India. We've got a one-hundred-and-fifty mile buffer right now. When that gets met, we're all out of here. I want those thirty-five missing agents found by then. I want them found before they reach the first fifty!" The agents stood stolidly. "Is that understood?" They all nodded. "Then get to it!" Teddy Forsythe chased after her as she started back for her temporary office.

"Agent Seaborn!" he called. She was so caught up in her own thoughts that she did not hear his voice until she was already in her office.

"What do you want, Teddy?" she asked.

"The fighting is a little over one-hundred-and-fifty miles away?" She nodded. "Then what the hell are we still doing here?"

"I don't leave men behind, Teddy," she said. "It's part of fieldwork that you should learn. Get to it." She tried to close the door on him but he prevented her from doing so.

"I don't want to die here."

"Neither do thirty-five other people, I assure you. Find them." Her voice was so cold and harsh it shocked Teddy. He had not expected the severity from her. Every time he had gone before the review board in Langley, she was always the quiet member of the board. He was not sure if he had ever actually heard her say anything. "Perhaps you didn't hear me the first two times," she said when Teddy had not moved. "Get busy." He slowly backed away. As her door closed, he turned and walked back to the main room, glancing back at her door only once.

~~~

"The first shots have been fired," Donna said as she looked in Josh's office.

"Where?"

"India and Pakistan."

"Where specifically?" Donna shrugged and turned on Josh's TV set to CNN. A reporter was doing a stand-up from New Delhi. "Does Sam know yet?"

"I don't know."

"Go tell him," Josh said.

"Josh, Leo's office. Now." C.J. was standing at Josh's door.

"Never mind, Donna," Josh said as he quickly joined C.J. and the two walked together to Leo's office. "How much do you know about this?"

"I know what's on CNN," C.J. said. "You?"

"I didn't even get to see the full report," Josh said. They met up with Sam and Toby as they continued their trek. They walked right past Margaret's desk and into the office. Leo was standing there with orders from the President. The senior staffers mumbled their greetings.

"Josh, you've got to go back to the Hill," Leo said. Josh nodded. "Take Sam with you."

"Me?" asked Sam.

"Write what he's going to say," Leo said. "We need a strong showing to the Hill and we don't know much to begin with."

"Yes, sir," Sam said.

"C.J., Sam, there's a guy from State on the way who can answer your questions. C.J., get a press release out ASAP," said Leo. C.J. nodded, already picturing the swarming White House Press Corps. "Toby, you, too. We need a resolute warning," Leo said. "The UN couldn't pull off a cease fire. We need something stinging that'll make both the Pakistanis and the Indians think twice before they fire their next shot."

"What's going on right now?" asked C.J. "Are we talking about guys shooting at each other from behind buildings or guys in tanks or what?"

"Ground troops with machine guns," Leo said. "They've got jet fighters warming up on tarmacs, though. I want all this on CNN in the next twenty minutes, people." The senior staff quickly ducked out of his office. They had work to do.

~~~

Crystal made sure everyone was working through the night. The two coffeepots they had were almost constantly brewing new pots. She had accidentally fallen asleep at her desk for forty-five minutes before waking up with a jerk. Fearing she would go back to sleep if she remained still, she forced herself to get up. She stumbled to the nearest coffeepot where Rose was slowly sipping on a mug. "What's the latest, Rose?" Crystal drawled as she grabbed a Styrofoam cup.

"For a while, India was doing quite well. They knew where Pakistan was going to attack because we were able to get that information to them but. Miss Seaborn, ma'am, they're headed this way. They've reached the first fifty." Crystal crushed her cup she was so upset. If she had managed to fill it with coffee she would have been even more upset. Thankfully it was empty.

"What's the current headcount?"

"Negative thirty-one." Crystal threw her cup away.

"Get me Rob Conrad," she said. Rose nodded as she rushed off towards the communications room they had set up only hours ago. Crystal looked out at the agents feverishly working on tracking down their missing comrades before going into the communications room.

"Director Conrad, ma'am," Rose said, handing her a telephone receiver.

"Robby."

"Crystal, what's going on?"

"They've reached the first fifty," she said.

"I know."

"I could use some help out here," Crystal said.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean Army intervention," Crystal said. "Navy, Marines, I don't care. You've got to get the fighting heading the other way. Not south, not in towards the center of India. I'm saying they need to go either north or into Pakistan. We can't do our job if we're going to be under attack ourselves."

"Crystal, you're not the only Americans out there. We've got agents in Pakistan, too, remember?"

"At least we know where the hell they are!" Crystal said. "We're working our asses off out here, trying to locate them. We're at negative thirty-one for crying out loud. We could use a little help!"

"I'll pass along your suggestion."

"Suggestion! Robby, it's a necessity. We can't do our job if we're going to-"

"I'll see what I can do, Crystal. We're kind of busy over here, too. You've still got a hundred-mile buffer. You'll be fine." Conrad ended the connection. Crystal was fighting mad as she slammed the phone down. Rose watched warily as Crystal stormed into the main room.

"Let me have your attention for a minute," Crystal said. The agents turned to her slowly. "They've reached the first fifty. I'm going to get the evacuation operation ready to go. That doesn't mean you stop working. We're at negative thirty-one. I don't like that number." She marched back to the communications room. "Get me the nearest HQ in China."

~~~

Now that war had broken out officially between India and Pakistan, Josh and Sam were torn between worrying over Crystal and the crisis. Unfortunately they could do very little about Crystal being gone. They had to focus on the war. Every television set in the West Wing was tuned into one of the major news channels. News correspondents were giving live reports from foreign locations and the White House lawn every fifteen minutes. C.J. was giving up to two briefings an hour for the White House Press Corps just to keep them from breaking down her office door. Even if only to say what the latest troop movement was and that the President was actively working on ways to help end the crisis, she was standing before the cameras every half hour or so.

"Josh?" C.J. said, leaning in his office.

"Yeah?" he asked, holding his hand over the telephone receiver.

"Are we talking bombing raids yet?" she asked. "Somebody's got a source in the Pentagon that says India is getting trashed along the boarder."

"Yeah," Josh said. "Started not quite twenty minutes ago."

"I'm going to get asked the specific question next time. Where are they?" Josh shrugged.

"Talk to Leo. They've been looking at maps for hours down in the Situation Room," Josh said.

"Okay," C.J. said. Before she left she asked, "Who are you talking to?"

"I'm not talking to him. He's talking my ear off," Josh said. "Some guy from State."

"He telling you anything good?" Josh shook his head.

"More of the same. If only I could get the guy to shut up."

"Okay," C.J. said as she walked to her office. Donna entered his office with a file folder. He sighed and looked at her.

"Have you heard anything new?"

"Just that the Indian boarder is getting hit severely, especially the two hundred miles between some places called 'Jammu' and 'Amritsar,'" said Donna.

"Where?" Josh asked.

"I don't know. I could have the pronunciation wrong."

"I'm going to have to call you back," Josh told the man from the State Department before quickly hanging up. Josh ran to Sam's office, leaving Donna in his dust.

"Sam," Josh said frenetically as he burst into Sam's office.

"What's the matter?" asked Sam.

"I know where she is."

"Crystal?" asked Sam, standing up.

"She is in India."

"No," Sam said, running his hands through his short hair.

"Amritsar is a city on the boarder."

"Dear God, no," he said.

"That's where they're getting hit right now," Josh said. Sam fell back into his chair.

"Maybe she got out."

"We've got to find Rob Conrad," Josh said. "Come on."

"Crys."

"Stay together, Sam, just a little while longer." Josh could tell Sam wasn't going to make it. Truthfully, he wasn't sure if he could stay composed either. "For Crys." Sam stood and dazedly followed Josh out of his office.

~~~

Crystal was rounding up Indian guides to take all the found CIA agents two hundred miles East, into China having placed a call to the regional Company headquarters in China to meet them at the boarder, smuggling them across. She had almost decided that she could take a minute to sit down and close her eyes when she heard the first gunshots. She ran down to the main room.

"Ma'am," said an agent next to a window, "we've got guys in the street throwing rocks and different guys firing off warning shots." Crystal joined him at the window and looked out.

"Those are Pakistani troops," Crystal said. "Did we find any more agents?" she asked quickly.

"Three. Teddy Forsythe is on his way back with them," offered an agent.

"Okay. The rest of you, I want you in cars. The fighting must not be that organized if we've got Pakistanis shooting at Indian kids up here. Grab what you can and hightail it out of here. Keep your guns holstered unless you're in immediate danger. As soon as you reach China, you'll be further informed about what's going on," Crystal said as she started unplugging the computers that she and Rose had spent hours putting together the day before. She had hoped that the fighting would have stayed away from them so the headquarters could stay in place.

"Um, ma'am?" Rose asked.

"Get on one of those cars," Crystal said as she turned to look at her. "You'll be met on the Chinese boarder by other Company men and you'll be shipped back to the States. Go on."

"What're you going to do?" Rose asked.

"Wait on Teddy and those agents he found and take down the HQ."

"Take it down? We just put it up."

"Best laid plans, I'm afraid," Crystal said. Rose immediately started helping Crystal disconnect computer cables. "Get goin', Rose. That's an order."

"I can get out with Teddy and the other three," Rose said.

"Rose-"

"You can't take it all down without getting yourself killed here." Crystal looked at Rose. She couldn't have been more than twenty-three decided Crystal. She had the tenacity to stand up to her, though, and she was willing.

"All right, stay. Don't say I didn't warn you, okay?" Crystal asked. Rose said nothing; she simply continued gathering up files and equipment. They stacked everything they could in the center of the main room. Crystal felt very much the captain of a ship, waiting for it to go down while sending all her hands off in the lifeboats.

~~~

Josh and Sam walked into the Oval Office. Bartlet and Leo were discussing quietly near the President's desk. "Where's Rob Conrad?" asked Josh, forgetting the pleasantries.

"I'm sorry?" asked Leo.

"Rob Conrad," Sam said. "We have to know. Did Crys make it out of Amritsar, India?"

"How on Earth did you figure out where she is?" Bartlet asked.

"Is she still there or not?" Sam asked, willing his emotions to stay in check.

"I honestly don't know," Bartlet said. Sam doubled over.

"Where's Conrad?" Josh asked, helping Sam to sit down on one of the couches.

"He left not ten minutes ago," Leo said sadly.

"Where'd he go?" demanded Josh.

"He'll be back in about an hour. He was going back out to the Farm for something," said Leo.

"How can I get a hold of him?" asked Josh. "Does he have a cell phone? CB radio?"

"I don't know," Bartlet said. Josh left the Oval, walking to Charlie's desk.

"Can I borrow your phone, there, for a minute?" asked Josh. Charlie nodded, recognizing his indomitable expression on Josh's face. In truth, it almost frightened him.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Come Back 2 Me - 7

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings