CJ, Sam and Josh walked together down the hall to the Oval. Dark halls marked it as
night in the West Wing, but none of them doubted that even the full light of day would
chase away the fear they faced.
Leo was seated in his usual spot. Toby paced behind him.
"Sam, what the hell happened to your hand?" A single dot of blood soaked the
neatly wrapped bandage on his hand. Leo's voice was firm and did not betray the fatigue in
"I hit it on something."
"Yes. I'll get the wall fixed."
Leo looked up at him carefully. "Thank you." Everyone in the room understood
that there was more to the comment. He really meant 'thanks for just telling me you were
pissed and put your hand through a wall, and that you're not hiding some battle with
Josh stood next to Sam and watched the interchange. The moment broke when Bartlet
entered the room.
"Well, kids, it seems we have some problems to deal with. Toby, we'll start with
the call you got last night."
Toby snapped his head up at the mention of his name and dropped into a chair.
"A friend of mine called me to give me the heads up about a potential security
breach within the bioweapons section."
"This friend have a name, Toby?" Leo tapped his pen on the binder in front of
"I'm guessing that you have all that in the brief from the CIA that's right in
front of you, Leo. But to answer the question you're really asking, let me say that he
only gave me a heads up for potential disaster. It wasn't expected to go as far as it
Josh shook his head in confusion. "And why would your friend think you should be
on the first need to know list about a bioweapons disaster. Do you have a secret life in
intelligence that we don't know about?"
"No. He just remembers a discussion we had many years ago about a certain CIA
director forced to fall on his sword to protect the President and allow plausible
deniability of a stupid plan to overthrow the leader of this little place called Cuba. The
President signed off on the current research plans and could be held ultimately
CJ joined the men shaking their heads. "How in all the ways the skies are blue can
the President be held accountable for that?"
Leo answered her directly. "He is ultimately responsible for all the actions of
the appointed agents and agencies of the government. There's no piece of paper that he
signed directly, but that's the nature of the power chain."
"It's a pretty big stretch, but legally, there is some validity." Sam
addressed them confidently. They listened when he spoke in this tone. He was the youngest
politician, but the best of their legal minds. And the fact that he understood the
ramifications was a big part of the reason there was a hole in the wall of his office.
Toby broke in again. "But it's a ridiculous stretch. Except for the fact that a
few key members at the Agency and the Department of Defense hold a grudge against this
White House. They see it as a chance to spin it to their advantage--"
CJ interrupted. "-- As the person whose gonna be in front while we spin our own
plates on sticks, I need a little more information about what the hell actually is
Leo motioned for Josh to explain.
"What we know so far is that a purposefully mutated strain of anthrax has been
stolen from a lab at Fort Detrick. This is not an easy task. The virus is kept in a strict
containment environment with high level security and controlled access. This was
definitely an inside job. Before you ask, I don't know why we play with this stuff. It's
supposedly to allow us to counter terrorism by other countries--"
"--It sounds stupid and dangerous." CJ interjected.
--our chief concerns are that the people who stole it plan to release it in an act of
terrorism, and that they plan to release the news of its existence in an attempt to
discredit the military and government research facilities and use it for political
Toby stood and interrupted Josh again. "What we're really afraid of is that these
monsters will release it in a populated area. By conservative estimates, it could kill
millions, depending on the technical knowledge of the people who have it."
Sam joined Toby in his pacing. "What if they just want people to know that it can
be stolen and that it poses a threat to national security to have this kind of research
Toby stood in front of Sam. "Are you engaging in wide speculation, or does this
have something to do with the call you took from your 'friend' at the CIA. The call that
that you took three minutes before you put your hand through the wall."
Sam held Toby's eyes. "Back off. You don't know what you're talking about."
The shocked quiet of the room broke with the President's quiet command. "Maybe
you'd better tell us, Sam."