Summary: An undisclosed threat gives everyone chance to talk.
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u that leaves the show's timeline at the end of season 5. This chapter takes place immediately after chapter 5.
Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing them for a while, they belong to Aaron Sorkin, Thomas Schlamme, John Wells, NBC......
Thursday September 16th 2004
8.30pm, The White House
"I'd be happier if we knew tonight," Jed complained as they entered the Oval Office. "I don't like the thought of waiting overnight, I certainly don't think I'll be sleeping," he confided.
"They have to be sure," Leo replied.
"It doesn't seem that long since the worst threats we received were pledges Georgetown jumping the fence. Now we've got this crap. How the hell do these people get past the CIA?"
"They didn't get past them," Leo reasoned, "If they had, the secret service wouldn't be talking about evacuation."
"What if I refused to leave?"
"I think we've had that discussion before," Leo reminded him.
"And why do we have to leave? What's wrong with the bunker?"
Leo wanted to ask whether he looked like the National Security Advisor, instead he calmly pointed out that the NSC and Treasury obviously thought the mountain was safer. Leo knew Jed was scared, angry and frustrated because that was how he felt. He knew he should be calming Jed down, but he doubted he would listen even if he tried, so he let him carry on ranting.
"They could have rocket launchers, Leo," Jed was saying.
"What's your point?" Leo asked.
"They could shoot down Marine One as we leave," Jed told him.
"Yeah, thanks for that," Leo replied. "We need to tell Josh what's going on."
"Don't be late," Donna instructed.
"Yeah," Josh agreed. "I'll just tell the president that I can't stay long because it's Carol's birthday and I have to go on a tour of the bars of Washington."
"Good," Donna smiled.
Josh shook his head and walked to the Oval Office. He passed CJ on the way and agreed that he wouldn't be late and he'd bring Charlie. "Hey, Charlie, he wanted me?" he asked as he entered the outer office.
"Yeah, couple of minutes."
"You coming out for Carol's birthday?"
"If I can get away before midnight," Charlie agreed.
"Feign illness," Josh suggested, "he might let you leave early."
"But probably not," Charlie smiled.
"No," Josh agreed. "Is that Deanna?" he indicated a photograph on Charlie's desk.
"Wow, California agrees with her."
Charlie looked questioningly at his friend.
"I mean, she looks well and grown up," Josh stuttered.
Charlie grinned at Josh's discomfort. "I know, when she came home this summer, I hardly recognized her. Makes me feel left behind somehow." He shrugged, "I guess that's how parents feel when their kids go away."
"You do remember that you only took this job until Deanna finished high school?"
"It's kinda grown on me," Charlie replied and answered the phone. "You can go in," he told Josh when he hung up.
Two hours later, Josh joined the others at a bar on Capitol Hill. He wasn't in the mood for socializing, and he sat quietly studying his drink, ignoring the conversation around him.
CJ poured some more wine into her glass. "Why were there no stars then?" she asked. "I mean there should be stars above the moon."
"Isn't that a song?" Donna asked. "Stars Across The Moon."
"Clouds Across The Moon," Carol amended.
"You don't get clouds on the moon, there's no atmosphere," Donna told them.
"Bit like this bar," CJ commented.
"So why do you think we didn't land on the moon?" Carol asked CJ.
"Because she spends too much time on the internet," Toby smiled.
"No, funny boy," CJ replied. "It was a documentary on TV. There are no stars, why are there shadows, why....."
"Why did the flag move when there's no wind," Toby finished. "Conspiracy theories, CJ. It's crap. Why would they fake the moon landing?"
"Because," Donna joined in, "Kennedy promised they'd land on the moon before the end of the decade."
"Good job we didn't say we'd cure cancer then," Toby replied.
"Josh, you're very quiet," CJ nudged her friend. "What do you think?"
Josh dragged his mind back from his meeting with Leo and the president. "What about?" he asked.
CJ sighed. "Was the moon landing faked?"
"You really think that many people could keep such a big secret?" Josh asked.
"You just want to spoil my fun," CJ teased.
"I'm going to get another drink, you all want the same?" Josh replied.
Toby followed him across the bar. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Josh lied.
"Okay," Toby agreed. "But you'll tell me when something is?"
Josh glanced at Toby. "It might be nothing. And if it's something, there's not much we can do now," he cryptically replied.
At 10.40 Nancy McNally and Ron Butterfield gave Jed the news he hadn't wanted. The threat had been confirmed as credible, although the exact target was still unknown, the most likely were The White House, Pentagon and Capitol. The Secret Service weren't willing to wait any longer and operation Bamboo had been implemented.
"Leo, tell Josh," Jed instructed. "And ask Debbie and Charlie to step in."
"Yes, Sir." Leo took the briefing memos from Nancy and went in search of his deputy. In the outer office, he stopped by Debbie's desk and told her and Charlie that the president wanted them. They had both known something serious was happening and Debbie searched Leo's face for some indication of the magnitude, she wasn't sure she liked what she saw.
Leo found Josh in Toby's office. "Can you give us a minute, Toby," he asked. Toby looked a little put out, but left his office and closed the door.
"It's happened?" Josh asked in a slightly stunned voice.
"Yeah, it's credible. National Guard and local law enforcement are on standby, the city will be locked down. I want only essential personnel in the White House. The Capitol is being evacuated, Pentagon's on high alert. We have to leave in twenty minutes, Josh. Can you sort your staff, arrange for all non-essentials, that's just about everyone below senior assistant, to be sent home, CJ's going to need to brief and then the press have to leave."
Josh nodded. "I'll tell CJ and Toby, I'm pretty sure they know something's going on."
"You know how much to tell them?"
"Yeah." Josh was painfully aware that he wasn't allowed to tell them everything, neither the exact nature of the threat nor where it had come from. He was also aware that they weren't going to be happy.
"Briefing memos." Leo handed Josh an envelope and went to leave. "Twenty minutes, Josh."
Toby walked back into his office and looked at Josh. "What's going on?"
"There's a credible threat against the White House. The president and Leo, Joint Chiefs, VP and first family are being evacuated. CJ's going to need to brief and then send the press out. All non-essentials have to leave the building."
Toby had known something was going on, but he hadn't envisioned this. "This is serious."
"Yeah. Capitol's being evacuated, Pentagon's on high alert."
"Not just The White House then?"
"The city's being locked down, airports and airspace will be closed. I have to go." Josh handed Toby two of the memos Leo had given him. "One for CJ, I'll see you later."