Hi all. This is my first attempt at a West Wing story. I have a series planned if you like this. Heck, even if you don't I'm having fun. I love the characters, the stories and the potential here. I am a writer. I like taking liberties. I like creating, so some of what you see may not be what Aaron Sorkin intended but I thank the man for what he has created.

This is still in progress. I know where I want to go, but who knows what the characters will do before we get there. I plan to post one part per day.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. I don't make any money from them. I am a teacher. I have no money. This story is purely for enjoyment.

Archive: Whoever, wherever but please use the pseudonym Tessa.

Rating: PG-13 for some violence and implied sexuality (no worse than what you see on the soaps)

Synopsis: A crisis reveals one couple's secrets and estranges another.

Warning: Josh/Donna, CJ/Danny, CJ/Toby (eventually)

Friends and Lovers Part I: Grace Under Pressure (1/?) by Tessa

White House press Secretary Claudia Jean "CJ" Cregg sat at her desk rubbing her temples in a circular motion. The last forty-eight hours had been unreal. CJ had genuinely believed that nothing could top the "news cycle that wouldn't end" from several months ago, but she had been ever so wrong. Strangely enough this time no one on the staff had contributed to the chaos. In fact, everyone had pulled together with admirable dedication. Even Toby had stopped whining long enough to be effective even supportive. CJ closed her eyes as the events of the past two days replayed themselves in her mind.

The mess had started early Thursday morning. CJ had only been asleep for about two hours when her phone and pager began to buzz at the same time. Leo’s voice at the other end of the line sounded taunt. "CJ - we need you back here!"

Shaking the sleep from her brain, CJ questioned the Chief of Staff even as she threw the covers off and headed to the bathroom. "What is it Leo?"

"Hijacking in London. A Delta Jet bound for New York. Mostly Americans. Possibly IRA."

"At Heathrow?!?!?" CJ gasped. The British airport was known world-wide for its security.

"Yea," Leo answered brusquely. "Inside help. I’ll tell you more when you get here."

"On my way!" CJ said.

"I’ve got a car coming for you and Toby. They’ll get Toby first. You have about twenty minutes." Leo ended the call. CJ clicked off but kept the hand set with her so it was within easy reach.

The car arrived in front of her townhouse exactly twenty minutes later. Fully dressed, CJ carried a makeup bag and an overnight bag with a couple of changes of clothes. If the situation lasted into the weekend it might be a couple of days before she got home again. The driver grabbed CJ’s bag and opened the door for her. CJ clambered into the back seat, joining an annoyed and slightly rumpled looking Director of Communications. "Morning Toby"

Toby Ziegler grunted a reply then looked at his friend. "What do you know?"

"Delta jet bound for New York grabbed at Heathrow. Lots of Americans. Possibly IRA, Leo said."

Toby nodded. "What else did Leo tell you?"

"Nothing. He said he’d tell me the rest when I got there. Why? Do you know more?" CJ eyed her friend critically. She could now see that what she’d assumed was annoyance was actually worry.

"I think Leo was concerned about secure lines. This quite simply cannot get out - it could be fatal if it does."

"What can’t get out Toby?" CJ was beginning to get worried.

"CJ - we think...there is a high probability . . almost a certainty ." Toby stammered, not certain how to get the words out.

"Toby, damn it, tell me!" CJ raised her voice as her own fear escalated.

Toby took a deep breath. "We believe that Josh is on the plane."

Had CJ been standing she would have fainted. As it was the world went gray. Covering her hands with her face she took several deep, cleansing breaths. "How?" she managed to croak out.

Not certain if she meant how the Deputy Chief of Staff was on the plane or how they knew, Toby started from the top.

"He went to London as sort of a secret advance man for the President’s visit next month. We wanted state kept out of it until we saw if there was any interest in pulling a summit on N. Ireland together while we were over there. Josh has a couple of friends from grad school in Blair’s office. We figured it could be low key. He made all his own arrangements - under the guise of a vacation. No one knew. Only Leo had his itinerary. If he stuck to it, he’s on the flight. They should have a passenger manifest from Delta by the time we get there."

"Is the press getting the manifest?" CJ asked, her face tight and pale. If the press released the names or made the connection Josh could become a pawn in a terrible game.

"Delta is going to stall, but it can only work so long. If he’s on there we may have to ask for cooperation and there is no guarantee." Toby voice was flat. His distrust of the press was clear.

CJ sighed. "I can talk to some of the senior press corps members. Josh isn’t popular, but they’ll play ball." I hope she added silently.

"CJ," Toby began. "There’s more."

Bracing herself, CJ looked at him expectantly.

"Shots were exchanged. At least three passengers are dead. We just don’t know …" Toby’s voice trailed off into silence, but CJ’s mind finished the sentence. They had no way of knowing if Josh was still alive.

 

TBC

 

 

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