Please see disclaimers and notes from Part 1

Knowledge of "The Crackpots and These Women" and "Noel" help to understand this section.

Thank you to all those who have been so kind with feedback. It's always appreciated. Remember as you read, that this is fiction. I reserve the right to warp details about research techniques and bioterrorism. :) Or not.

Part 4

Sam flipped his gaze briefly to the President, then back to Toby.

CJ and Josh leaned forward a bit in their chairs. For once, Sam didn't look ready to back down.

The moment broke when Margaret knocked briefly on the door. She dropped a note in Leo's hand. Leo read it and passed it to the President.

Bartlet looked at his staffers squared off in the middle of the Oval Office. Like two children on a playground, or two boys about to start a bar fight, he mused. "We're going down to the Sit Room. Toby, Sam, cut it out. CJ, perhaps I can get Margaret to hook up a long garden hose in here so you can hose them down if needed."

Leo fell into step beside the President. "Josh, I have a long wooden ruler in my desk so feel free--" He waved with his hand and left with the President.

CJ and Josh looked at each other and smiled despite the situation.

Toby and Sam faced each other. Sam spoke first. My contact told me the virus was stolen from a level four containment facility at USAMRIID, and that you'd been given that information last night."

"I got word that it was possible, Sam."

"You got it, and you knew who was suspected of the theft. You know my past with her.

Josh broke in, "Please tell me this is not another call girl, cuz we really can't handle something like that right now--"

"Shut up, Josh." Toby and Sam chorused the response. Sam broke away and walked to stand with his hands on the back of a chair, effectively blocking himself from Toby and his friends. He blinked and tried to control his emotions. He'd been moments from losing his remaining control right there. He took a breath. Right there in the Oval Office. His hands bit into the back of the chair as he clutched the upholstery.

A moment later Josh stood next to him. "Sam, your hand is bleeding."

Sam looked down at his hands. He'd clutched the back of the chair so hard the cut on his hand opened and bled through the bandage. He realized Josh hadn't mentioned that yet.

"I got pissed, Josh, I put it through a wall. You know it's not the first time."

"But it's been a long time since--"

" -Josh, we're not going there now."

CJ watched them with some a mixture of curiosity and horror. She had a difficult time with Sam being so volatile. Toby and Josh were constantly exploding, and it usually blew over fast. When Sam blew, it was bad. It meant something had been brewing for a while.

She took a deep breath and tried to redirect them. "Guys, can we go back to what got us here tonight. Can someone please explain to me what's going on. Perhaps start with what the hell is USAMRIID? That's a new alphabet soup for me."

Josh broke from his place beside Sam and turned back to CJ. "It's the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases."

"And they play with Anthrax?"



"Other countries engage in ongoing development of biological weapons. We study them to allow countermeasures." Josh supplied the information automatically. Only Sam knew how much Josh hated that he had to know those details.

Toby spoke softly then, and they turned to look at him. "We need to get out of the Oval now. I bet the President is getting the brief on this right now in the Situation room. I'd also bet he's not gonna be happy we knew about it before he did."

They filed quietly out of the Oval and down the hall. CJ grabbed Toby's arm and led him off to her office.

"Toby, you need to back off Sam."

"What the hell for? He's a big boy CJ, and he's done more than his fair share of making this administration suffer for his follies."

"It was ONE thing, Toby. Only ONE thing he could have avoided. Do you really think that Sam has a problem getting women? But he hasn't even had a date in months. Thanks to you and Josh and Leo and the grief you gave him. What does that tell you? He doesn't like to be alone. But he is. He is, because he's put this job above his life. Think about that."

"I know that."

"Then act like you know it. Because it's ripping him apart. I saw him put his hand through that wall Toby. It scared me. Not much is left that scares me."

CJ turned and walked away, leaving Toby staring at the floor.




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