Disclaimer: These characters belong to Aaron Sorkin and the other people at NBC.

Bargaining Chips

By Mer

Part 12

(The Waiting Room-an hour later)

"So you're telling me that the terrorists escaped and we could be in danger?" C.J. exclaimed.

"Well, basically..." Leo replied sheepishly.

"Leo, why are you waiting until now to tell me this? I mean how long have you known?" C.J. demanded.

"Because I was waiting until Toby brought Sam back." Leo soothed.

"Well, they aren't back yet." C.J. retorted.

"I know they aren't back yet, but I couldn't keep it from you any longer. C.J., President Bartlet is working with the CIA right now and is trying to come up with a solution to this problem." Leo stated.

"So are we going to lie about this too?" C.J. asked bitterly.

"I never..." Leo began but was cut off.

"Leo, you wanted me to lie and say that Josh was sick and that Donna stayed back to play nursemaid. That in itself could've brought about a scandal." C.J. replied angrily.

"I deserved that. Are you ever going to forgive me?" Leo asked quietly.

"I don't know." C.J. replied and she turned away from him.

"I wish that I could take back all of those things that I said and I wish I could have changed things. Right now America thinks that this administration deserves to be kicked to the curb because of what we did. I saw what the analysts are saying at home, and I'm thinking of resigning." Leo said softly.

"Leo, but why? You can't resign. We all need you." C.J. said as she turned back to look at him.

"I don't know how much more of this I can take. Josh was kidnapped and beaten because of me. Not to mention that he was shot and almost killed." Leo said in almost a whisper.

"Leo, this isn't your fault." C.J. said softly.

"If he hadn't of listened to me that day, he would be on Hoynes staff, and he would be safe." Leo mumbled.

"Leo, stop talking like Josh is dead okay. He's still fighting..." C.J.'s voice trailed.

"I know. But the damn terrorists broke out and now more people are going to get hurt. At least the...no, we need to figure out a way to stop them. We need to send them a message that we aren't going to take attacks against our people lightly." Leo's voice boomed.

"I agree. Where did Mrs. Bartlet go? Where did everyone else go?" C.J. asked realizing for the first time that she was alone with Leo.

"She took Zoey and Charlie to the hotel. I think she wants to check on Donna again. She promised to come straight back. The President wants to check on the terrorist situation some more and he'll be back. Toby and Sam are on their way, as you already know." Leo replied.

"How is Sam?" C.J. asked slowly.

"I tried to call him and tell him but he thought that I was calling to say that Josh had died. So that's when I decided to gather you all together and tell you in person." Leo replied.

"Oh I see." C.J. replied.

"How are you holding up?" Leo asked.

"I'd be a lot better if Josh were out of surgery." C.J. replied softly.

"Yeah me too." Leo nodded.

(Somewhere else in the city-same time)

"I can't believe that they actually thought that they could keep us locked up." Abdul boasted as he flipped through the television stations.

"We aren't even on television yet." Armand pointed out.

"Patience my friend, patience. Looks like Mr. Lyman might survive Rashad's final beating after all." Abdul said as a station's newscast was updating them on Josh's condition.

"I tried, they just stopped me before I could finish him off." Rashad laughed.

"So Abdul what is our master plan now?" Armand asked.

"We blow up the hospital." Abdul replied earnestly.

"You want us to do what?" Rashad asked.

"We are going to blow up the hospital." Abdul repeated.

"Have you lost your mind? It will take awhile to gather up enough firepower to accomplish that. Not to mention, the fact that the hospital is heavily guarded because President Bartlet has been awaiting word on his beloved staff member." Armand exclaimed.

"Okay so maybe blowing up the hospital is a little extreme...maybe we ought to..." Abdul began but stopped once he saw another newscast.

"The peace process continues despite President Bartlet's withdrawal as mediator. The Josh Lyman Peace Talks, as they now are being called, have continued on throughout last night and today. Both sides are very optimistic that a peace agreement can be reached within the next few days." The newscaster stated.

"The Josh Lyman Peace Talks! This wasn't supposed to happen. The American's dropped out so the fighting should have resumed." Abdul complained.

"Abdul, calm down. They have peace talks all the time and nothing ever happens." Armand soothed.

"But to name it after that dumb Jew! I think we need to strike back at a place that has more impact. The hospital is too easy of a target." Abdul cried out.

"Abdul, what do suggest we do?" Rashad asked.

"I don't know yet. But we are going to go out in style!" Abdul replied.

"What have we gotten ourselves in to?" Armand muttered to himself as Abdul happily left the room to begin forming the new plan.

(U.S. Embassy- same time)

"Sir, with all due respect I think it's best that we get you out of the city immediately." Director Harris pleaded via phone.

"Henry, I already told you that I'm not leaving with Josh still in surgery. We can't leave until he's stable enough to fly." Jed replied.
"Sir, I really think that is a bad idea. The terrorists escaped and they are only going to want revenge." Director Harris replied.

"And it's my fault that they escaped? And could someone please tell me what their beef is anyway? I mean we aren't taking away land from the Palestinians we are trying to give it to them." Jed asked.

"Actually, in order to give them some land they are going to have to move out of a few areas, and move on to this new plot." Director Harris replied.

"So shouldn't the Israelis be just as mad?" Jed theorized.

"They are but I think they are more accepting of peace. Look, I'm not the international advisor person you should be talking to about that. I'm just warning you to get out now before you get attacked again, sir." Director Harris replied.

"I realize this and I take what you say under advisement. But I am not leaving him behind." Jed replied affirmatively.

"How much longer will he be in surgery?" Director Harris asked.

"We don't know. Listen, shouldn't you be more worried about how to stop the terrorists than how to keep me protected?" Jed asked.

"Isn't that the same thing?" Director Harris replied.

"Henry." Jed warned.

"Sir, until you are directly attacked it isn't our place to become involved." Director Harris answered slowly.

"Weren't we directly attacked when Josh was kidnapped?" Jed exclaimed.

"Well, yes but then the bad guys were taken into custody, case closed so to speak." Director Harris replied gently.

"Case closed, huh? So they don't re-open once prisoners escape?" Jed asked.

"Yes, but they weren't our prisoners, they were Israeli prisoners." Director Harris replied slowly.

"You know I could really give a damn about policy's right now. If you can't help the Israeli's locate the terrorists then leave me alone." Jed screamed.

"But, sir." Direction Harris said.

"Don't but sir me. Henry I'm serious, either help bring the bad guys back or stop pestering me. I really don't want to go into this any further with you. Up my protection or something but don't tell me to abandon Josh now. I already got enough making up to do because of last night." Jed replied as he slammed the phone down.

(The Waiting Room-half-hour later)

Jed and Abbey returned to the waiting room around the same time. They hugged each other and they walked in. Leo had just finished briefing Sam and Toby on the terrorists escape.

"I can't believe that they let that happen." Sam said angrily.

"They are going to be stopped before anything else happens." Jed assured them.

"Tell that to Josh." Toby muttered.

The door opened just then and a very tired doctor walked in. Everyone looked at him, with mainly fear in their eyes. The room got so still, it was like they were frozen into place.

"Mr. Lyman is out of surgery now." A doctor quietly explained.

"How is he?" C.J. asked.

"It's very, very bad." The doctor said slowly.

"Well, is he going to be alright?" Sam demanded.

"I really can't say." The doctor replied.

"What are his chances of survival?" Abbey asked slowly.

"I'm surprised that he has survived as long as he has." The doctor replied.

"What kind of answer is that?" Jed asked, slightly enraged.

"He means that Josh probably isn't going to make it through the night." Abbey replied softly.

"Can we see him?" Sam asked quietly.

"In a few minutes. I'm sorry we did the best we could. All we can do now is pray." The doctor replied as he left the room.

 

Bargaining Chips - 13

 

 

 

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