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......
Saturday Morning, The White House
"You okay?" Toby asked as entered CJ's office.
"Just checking the wires," CJ replied. "Where've you been?"
"Phoned Andi, make sure the kids are alright," he replied, looking a little awkward at the admission that he was worried.
"They're all fine, they're at her mother's. We should find Josh and Donna and get some food before the day starts."
When they entered Leo's office, CJ smiled fondly at the sight that greeted them. Josh was slouched down on the couch, with his feet up on a chair, he'd taken his tie off and his shirt was unbuttoned. Donna had her feet up on the couch, shoes kicked off, her head resting on Josh's chest. "I almost don't like to wake them."
"I'm awake," Josh replied sleepily.
"Did you sleep at all?"
"A little," he shrugged. "How you doing?"
"Tired," CJ replied. "You want to get some food?"
Josh nodded and gently woke Donna. "Morning, you want some breakfast?"
"Time is it?" Donna muttered.
"5.20," CJ replied.
Donna stretched and sat up, wondering what her and Josh must have looked like when CJ and Toby entered the office. She stood up and followed the others out of the office, they collected Charlie and Debbie and headed down to the mess.
"Nothing's happened," Debbie said. "How long will they keep the lock down going if nothing happens?"
"Until they know it's all clear, that it's safe," Josh told her.
"What is the threat?" CJ asked.
Josh looked awkward. "I can't tell you."
CJ felt a little irritated at that, but she understood. "But it's more serious than any others we've had?"
"It is," Josh agreed. "It's actually your fault," he told Charlie, in an attempt to change the subject.
"How do work that out?"
"You suggested locking Leo and the president in a room together until they sorted out whatever their problem was."
"You think it'll work?" Charlie asked.
By 10.30 Josh, Toby, Donna, CJ and Margaret were sat in Leo's office discussing what parts of the next few days schedules it would be possible to keep to. After 10 minutes they agreed that today was a total write-off and next week would have to be taken a day at time.
"There is one good thing to come out of this," Josh said.
"What?" Donna asked.
"Toby and I should be meeting Mary Marsh in 20 minutes," Josh replied.
"Perhaps she's the unspecified threat," CJ suggested as Margaret answered Leo's phone.
"NSA," she said and handed the receiver to Josh.
He took the phone off her, "Josh Lyman," he said, while CJ, Toby, Margaret and Donna stood and watched nervously. "Yeah, I'll hold." He waited a few seconds until someone else spoke and asked for his clearance, he gave his password - which the others hadn't known he had - and listened. "Thanks."
"What?" CJ asked.
"It's over. The President and Leo are on their way back."
"Thank God for that," CJ sighed. "What now?"
"We get calling the staff I guess, see if we can salvage anything of today," Josh replied.
"Like nothing happened," CJ commented. "Your secret service name is Compo," she told Josh.
"It's the beach near Westport."
"Ahh," CJ nodded. "Well it's a hell of a lot better than Flamingo. What's yours?" she asked Toby.
"It's a secret," he replied.
"Parker," Josh told her.
"Like Lady Penelope's chauffeur?" CJ asked.
"Like the pen," Toby grumbled. "Can we do some work?"
"Hey," Leo smiled at Josh, "Close the door."
"You spoke to the NSA, you know what happened?"
"Yeah," Josh nodded, "though I almost had to ask them to call back while I found my password."
"The president wants to see you."
"Is he angry?"
"Me not going."
"No, he'd have stayed as well if they'd have let him. Morale in this place should be pretty low, but it's not and we both agree that that's got a lot to do with you staying behind with the staff."
"I wasn't the only member of the senior staff to stay."
"You had the chance to leave and you didn't. "
"Which we both know was for purely selfish reasons," Josh pointed out. "I think morale being high is because, as far as the staff know, nothing happened."
"Nothing did happen."
"It was damn close."
"Yes it was," Leo agreed.
"If they'd have succeeded, Leo. Where the hell do people get stuff like that?"
Leo shrugged, "The internet?"
"We're all fine," Leo told him. "The president's waiting."
Josh stood up and gave Leo a questioning look. "You and him talk?"
"We've just spent 14 hours locked inside a mountain together, of course we talked. What do you think, we used semaphore?"
"You know what I mean," Josh said.
"Yeah," Leo sighed, "we talked."
"How'd it go?"
"You remember when we talked?"
"It was similar to that. I don't know if sorted anything, we'll see."
"Good," Josh smiled. "Come on then, let's not keep him waiting."
After his meeting with the president, Josh went in search of CJ. "Press statement from the NSC," he said and handed her a manila envelope.
"Does it say anything?"
"But you know," CJ stated.
"No, honestly it's fine. You join Leo and the president in your little club, and the rest of us will sit out in the cold."
Josh sighed, "I can't help that I have higher clearance. I can't tell you things just because we're friends or colleagues. You know all that already."
"Yeah," CJ agreed. "Sorry, it's been a stressful 24 hours. It's just, most of the time there's me, you and Toby, sometime Ed and Larry as well. We all go to meetings and we know what's happening. Then just occasionally I get a brutal reminder that you're actually my boss, I don't think I like that," she smiled.
"Doesn't my authoritative air remind you of it?"
"You have an authoritative air?" CJ laughed. "I must have missed that."
"Good," Josh smiled. "By the way, the president wants to see us all tonight at 8, to tell us what actually happened."
"You couldn't have told me that at the start of this conversation?"
"Nah, I thought I'd let you rant," Josh smiled.
"You can go now."
"Josh, hang on."
"Why'd you stay behind, why didn't you do what any sensible, right minded person would do and get to safety?"
"Well, first of 'right minded', me?" Josh grinned.
"Good point," CJ agreed. "Does this have something to do with when you got the NSC card in our first year?"
"I gave it back," Josh admitted.
"So you had to stay behind?"
"No, Leo and Sam persuaded me to take it back again. I'm pretty sure they knew I wouldn't use it. It's not me."
"I think it'd me," CJ said.
Josh shrugged. "Only once though," he said. "You wouldn't do it again."
"I don't understand."
"Doesn't matter. Just put it down to me being a little nutty," Josh told her.
CJ could see when a conversation was over. "Yeah, that makes sense," she agreed.
END OF CHAPTER 6
After I'd finished writing this I suddenly wondered whether they'd really allow any of the staff to stay in The White House, if there was a threat serious enough to cause them to evacuate the president. Then I reasoned that I was never likely to find out since The White House don't comment on Secret Service Procedure.