Unlike most people Charlie Young didn't mind paper work. It kept his mind occupied and away from painful memories.
But as he sat at his desk just outside the Oval Office the painful memories weren't going away. In fact they intensified with every person who came into the room.
Each person was a painful reminder to Charlie that Zoey would never again step through that door.
It was his fault that she was gone.
Though the President and First Lady had gone out of their way to assure him that they didn't hold him responsible he still blamed himself. Gina had told him about the threats Zoey and the White House in general had gotten since he had started dating Zoey and it had angered him that there were people in this country that still thought that way.
Charlie sighed and picked up the framed photo of Zoey from the left corner of his desk. God, he missed her. He hoped that the last thing he had told her was that he loved her but he couldn't remember.
Sam approached Charlie's desk and placed a medium sized paper cup on the
corner. "I thought you could use some caffeine."
Young jumped slightly not having heard Seaborn's approach. Charlie
placed the photo carefully back in its place before turning to face the
deputy communications director.
"Thanks," Charlie replied softly.
Sam nodded as he sat down on the corner of the desk. "I didn't think the
First Lady would let you out so soon."
Despite everything Charlie smiled as he took a sip of the cappuccino. "I
didn't give her much choice. I was going stir crazy......everytime I
closed my eyes all I saw was the limo...."
Seaborn placed a supportive hand on his friend's shoulder. "I know," he
"I don't know how to deal with this again, Sam."Charlie stated softly.
"I got through my mother's death because I had to.....because Deena
needed me. This is different, Sam.....One second she was there the
Sam knelt next to his friend so that they were eye level with each other. "You're not alone this
time, Charlie. You have all of us. Remember that no matter what time of
day it is, we're here."
Charlie swallowed the lump of tears and nodded tightly. "Thanks, Sam."
"Mac!" Harm exclaimed as Sarah stepped through the door at nine o'clock. "We've been trying to reach you for the past half hour."
Sarah flashed him a sheepish look as she walked toward her office. "Sorry, Harm. My cell phone's on the fritz and the battery in my pager died and I haven't had a chance to replace it. What's going on?"
"We got a lead on the Bartlet case," Harm replied as he stood in the doorway."Bud's waiting for us in the Admiral's office."
Mac nodded as she dumped her briefcase and coat on a nearby chair. "I'll be right there."
Webb sat at his desk staring at the small map Bennett had given him earlier that morning. He knew he had to get it analyzed to make sure of it's authenticity. But with the high stakes of this case Webb didn't trust his usual sources at the CIA lab.
Which left only one group of people who had as much at stake in this case as he did.
With a sigh Clayton put down the map and picked up the phone. "Yes, I need to speak with Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb Jr.."Webb paused, "I don't care if he's in a meeting."
"So this really was an inside job by the Secret Service," Mac replied with a sad shake of her head as she sat next to Bud.
"Not the whole Secret Service, Ma'am," Bud replied quietly as he flipped through a pile of computer printouts, "Just part of it. Peter Koening has been with the Secret Service for almost twenty years. The last ten years he's been assigned to protect the President's family."
"So is he just a run of the mill nutcase or does he actually have a reason for killing Bartlet's daughter?"Harm asked as he glanced at his boss.
Roberts nodded as he handed a printout to Rabb, MacKenzie and Chedwiggen. "He has a good one as far as motives go. His brother, Charles Koening was on death row in New Hampshire for six years before his execution date finally came around three years ago."
"The last year Bartlet was Governor of New Hampshire," the Admiral stated quietly not looking up from the picture of Koening.
"Yes, Sir," Bud confirmed as he continued. "Bartlet denied a stay of execution for Koening."
"Let me guess," Sarah began as she turned to face Roberts. "The anniversary of his brother's death was the day Zoey Bartlet was killed."
Bud nodded. "To the hour, Ma'am."
Chedwiggen's intercom buzzed catching everyone's attention. "What is it, Tiner?"
"Sorry to interrupt, Sir," The young yeoman replied. "But Agent Webb is on the phone and he's insisting to speak with Commander Rabb."
AJ sighed before hitting the right button. "Put him through, Tiner."
"Yes, Sir."Tiner replied.
"He's on line three, Sir."Tiner reported a minute later.
Chedwiggen motioned for Rabb to pick up the phone. "Thank you, Tiner."
Rabb glanced at his boss apologetically before standing and picking up the nearby phone. "What's going on, Webb?"
"Is Mac there?" Webb asked as he picked up the map.
Rabb nodded. "Bud, Mac and I were briefing the Admiral on a new development in the Bartlet case."
"Put me on speaker," Webb ordered. "I have something they'll definitely be interested in."
"Okay," Rabb replied as he hit the correct button on the phone before replacing the receiver. "It's on."
"That informant we were going to meet finally came through," Webb began grimly "He told me that Zoey Bartlet is still alive."
Stunned silence grasped the room for a moment before Chedwiggen spoke. "How the hell is that possible?"
"I don't know, Admiral," Webb's disembodied voice replied. "But he gave me a map that will allegedly lead us right to her."
"How do you know he's telling the truth?" Mac asked as she leaned forward.
"I don't, Mac, but the informant who gave me the information is a worm who doesn't trust anyone but himself. He doesn't risk his neck lightly or cheaply." Clayton replied quietly.
"If there's any chance this is true, Sir, we have to look into it," Bud stated quietly.
Chedwiggen nodded as he turned toward the speakerphone. "Webb, I'd like you and Rabb to get the map analyzed and if it is real follow it."
"I'll be over there shortly," Clayton replied as he ended the conversation.
Chedwiggen turned to face Mackenzie. "Colonel, I want you and Seaborn to track down this Secret Service agent and bring him in."
It was eleven o'clock by the time Sam returned to his office from a meeting with Toby and Leo. He had just set his briefcase down on his desk when there was a soft knock on his door.
"Sarah?" Seaborn said in surprise as he opened the door.
"Sorry I didn't call first, Sam," the Marine Colonel replied quietly. "But I didn't want to tell you this over the phone."
"You found out who killed Zoey didn't you?" Sam asked as he stepped aside to allow her entrance into the office before shutting the door behind her.
Mac nodded as she sat down in one of the chairs. "Yes, but there's also a good chance that Zoey could still be alive."
Sam had walked around his desk while she had been talking and now quickly sat down as he felt his knees go weak. "What?! Sarah, I saw the limo explode....."
"I know," Mac replied grimly. "We don't know all the details yet but Webb's informant is reliable."
Sam's head snapped up. "Webb?" he repeated sharply. "You're basing this on Webb? Sarah, after what I dug up on this guy I wouldn't let him sell me the Brooklyn Bridge."
Mac shook her head. "Don't believe everything you read, Sam. Yes, Clayton's done some questionable things in the past but when push came to shove he came through for us. He's saved my life more than once."
Sam sank back into his chair shaking his head in disbelief. "How could she possibly be alive, Sarah? Everyone saw her get into the limo.....hell Charlie was talking to her ten minutes before the door closed."
"We have reason to believe the Secret Service was involved," Mac replied grimly.
"I thought you had some pull around here."Webb muttered darkly as he sat slumped in one of the chairs in Harm's office.
Harm glanced up from a file. "Our lab's not as high-tech as the CIA's. It'll take them some time to run the tests."
"I just have a bad feeling about this whole mess, Rabb."Clayton replied candidly. "If Bartlet is alive she's in the hands of a group of people who'd rather blow themselves up then hand her over to us."
"We'll get her out."Harm replied firmly as he set the paperwork aside.
Webb shot him a look. "When aren't you an optimistic Boy Scout?"
Just then Bud knocked on the open office door. "Sir, here are the results on the map."
"Finally."Webb stated as he stood and snatched the file folder from the younger man.
Rabb nodded at Bud. "Thank you, Lieutenant."
Robert's glanced at Webb before closing the door. "You're welcome, Sir."
"Well?"Harm prompted as Webb read the results.
"It's real."Clayton replied as he grabbed his coat from the back of the chair. "Let's go."
Harm quickly stood and grabbed his own coat from the coat rack before catching up with the operative in the bullpen. "Does it give us a place to start?"
Webb glanced over his shoulder at him. "Georgetown."
"That was Butterfield."Sam replied as he hung up the phone twenty minutes later. "He can't find Koening at any of his usual posts."
"Do you have a last known address for him?"Mac asked as she leaned forward.
"It'll take a phone call."Seaborn replied as he stood. "What do you have in mind?"
Sarah stood. "You might want to cancel the rest of your meetings this afternoon. It might take us a few hours to track him down."
Sam nodded as he came to stand next to her. "I'll have to come up with an excuse to tell the President. I don't want to get his hopes up about Zoey if this turns out to be false."
Sarah placed a hand on his arm. "I think we can come up with something. Let's go."
It was nearly one o'clock before Sam and Mac arrived at Koening's apartment in Dupont Circle. The small apartment was located above a trendy new-age art gallery.
"You sure this is the right address?"Sarah asked as they climbed the metal stairs on the right side of the building.
Sam double-checked the small piece of paper he was holding. "Yeah, why?"
Mac glanced at him over her shoulder. "Just doesn't strike me as the type of place where a Secret Service agent would live."
"Mr. Koening?"Sarah called as she knocked on the yellow door.
To Sam and Sarah's surprise the door swung inward easily at her touch.
Sam exchanged an anxious glance with Mac. "Isn't this the part in the movie where the bad guy jumps out with a gun?"
"Stay behind me."Mac ordered quietly.
"And let you have all the fun?"Sam replied with a smile as he moved to her right.
"I work for the President remember?"Sam replied with a grim smile. "Do you think we haven't had defense
Sarah nodded and pushed the door all the way open. Sam was close on her heels as they stepped into the apartment.
"Knew this wasn't going to be easy."Mac replied in frustration a few minutes later when they discovered that all the rooms of the apartment were empty.
"And I thought Josh's apartment was badly decorated."Sam commented with a shake of his head as he walked past Sarah and into the tiny bedroom.
"This isn't badly decorated,"Mac replied from the living room as she started to sift through the papers on the small oak desk. "This is sparse."
"All his clothes are here."Sam stated as he joined her in the living room. "So if he skipped town he's planning to burn up his credit limit."
"He's not gone."Sarah replied softly as she turned to face Sam holding a piece of paper. "If he has Zoey he has every reason to stay."
"Very accurate deduction."A cold male voice stated from the front doorway causing both Sam and Mac to whirl around. "Especially from a pair of government employees."
Sam's gaze was frozen on the gun in Koening's hand. "Where's Zoey?"
"You're about to find out, Mr. Seaborn."Peter replied as he waved the gun motioning for them to move out of the apartment. "And no hero moves. I have no problem with killing both of you....as you already know I have nothing to lose."
Zoey Bartlet fought the wave of dizziness and weakness that threatened to overwhelm her. She couldn't remember the last time her captors had brought her anything outside of a piece of bread and a glass of water.
She leaned back against the cold wall wishing she knew what was going on. Or at the very least knew what day it was. Her parents had to be beside themselves with worry right now.
She wondered if her kidnappers had made any kind of contact with them.
Just as Zoey was about to drift off to sleep the door swung inwards with a loud clang causing her to jump. She shielded her eyes against the harsh florsant light as two human shapes were shoved into the small room.
"Sarah, you okay?"Sam asked as he scrambled to his feet, as the door was slammed shut behind him.
"Yeah, you?"Mac replied as she brushed dirt off her uniform.
"Oh just great considering we've been held at gunpoint and now we're locked in a small cold room with no windows."Seaborn replied sarcastically.
"Sam?"Zoey asked weakly causing the conversation to come to a dead halt.
Sam quickly followed her voice and sat down next to her pulling her into an embrace. "Zoey, thank God. Are you alright?"
The young woman nodded. "A little weak but otherwise okay. Who's your friend?"
Sam pulled back from her slightly as Mac knelt next to them. "This is Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Mackenzie, she's with JAG. Are you sure you're okay?"
"It's nice to meet you, Zoey."Sarah commented quietly. "I just wish it was under different circumstances."
"You and me both."Zoey replied with a weak grin before turning her attention back to Seaborn. "Sam, what's going on?"
Sam sighed inwardly. "How much do you remember?"
"I remember the fundraiser and sitting in the limo talking with Charlie about dinner the next day."Zoey replied softly. "Then suddenly the door behind me opened and I was yanked out of the limo and thrown into a van."
"There was a bomb in the limo, Zoey."Sam replied grimly. "We thought you were dead."
"Oh God," Zoey replied shakily as she realized what her family must be going through. "Was any one else hurt? Charlie?"
"Charlie was the closest to the limo when it exploded so he was in the hospital for a few days, but he's fine now."Sam stated wishing they had more light in the room so he could get a good look at her. "He misses you terribly."
"My father?"Zoey asked anxiously.
"He wasn't hurt."Sam quickly assured her.
"Zoey,"Mac interjected gently,"What can you tell us about the men who brought you here?"
Zoey shook her as she drew her knees to her chest. "Not much.....they kept behind me when they brought me here. I haven't been out of this room so I've only seen the ones who've brought food."
By three o'clock Harmon Rabb was beginning to wish they had taken a helicopter to follow the map instead of a car. If they had they wouldn't have been stuck in gridlock traffic for the past hour somewhere between L street and New York Avenue. If they could just get on the Baltimore-Washington expressway they'd make it to Baltimore in no time.
"That's it!"Clayton Webb exclaimed as he unbuckled his seat belt and grabbed the door handle.
Harm snagged his arm as he kept one hand on the wheel. "Where do you think you're going?"
Webb glared at him slightly. "To tell them it's a national emergency and that they have to get out of our way."
"If you want to cause more delays go ahead."Harm snapped as he gestured toward the construction crew five cars ahead. "But if you had taken the time to look you'd notice that they're opening all lanes."
Webb broke free of Rabb's grasp and rehooked his seatbelt. "I'm going to call Mac, see if she's making better progress than we are."He replied as he pulled out his cellular phone.
Toby Ziegler knocked on CJ's open office door causing the press secretary to jump slightly.
Toby flashed her a sheepish look. "Sorry, CJ, didn't mean to startle you."
CJ nodded. "What do you need?"
Toby closed the door behind him and sat down in one of the chairs. "We're going to have to talk with the President about making a statement about the bombing."
CJ took a container of fish food out of her desk drawer. "He did that already, the day after."
Toby shook his head. "He still needs to send out a message to the American people that we are a hundred percent behind catching the people who did this."
CJ paused in her task of feeding Gail. "Toby, you saw him during the first press conference he barely made it through. I don't think he can handle another one. Not with everything still so fresh."
"I know,"Toby replied quietly,"But he has to do this. It's part of being President."
CJ nodded as she reached for her phone. "I'll call Mrs. Landingham and see if he has time this afternoon."
"Mac's not answering," Webb reported a few minutes later as Harm passed a slow moving semi-truck.
"Nearly forgot, she mentioned this morning that her cell's on the fritz," Harm replied sheepishly. "Try Seaborn."
Webb just shook his head as he pulled out his computerized address book and began searching for Seaborn's cellular phone number that Mac had given them earlier.
"Once we get to Baltimore go to Water Street," Webb ordered as he glanced down at the map. "Only problem is it doesn't tell us what warehouse she's in. The line ends at a cluster of buildings."
Harm nodded, "Shouldn't be too hard to narrow it down. I have a feeling these guys aren't as smart as they think they are."
Zoey sank back against the wall, the last few days starting to make sense now. If everyone thought she was dead the kidnappers had no need to contact her family.
"How many agents were killed?" Zoey asked quietly as she glanced at Seaborn.
"Three," Sam replied sadly.
Zoey buried her head in her hands for a moment before meeting Sam's concerned gaze. "Why would anyone do this, Sam? Was this because of me and Charlie?"
Sarah shook her head. "We thought so at first but later discovered that the bomb wasn't directed at you."
Zoey looked at her in surprise. "Why go to the lengths of blowing up the limo and taking me if this wasn't because of the threats I've been getting?"
"This was a personal vendetta against your father, Zoey," Sam replied grimly as he scooted closer to the younger woman. "They figured taking you like this would cause him the most pain."
"Tell her the rest, Sam," Mac urged quietly.
Sam shot her a look. "Sarah, we don't need to go into that now. Let's concentrate on finding a way out of here."
Zoey glanced at Sam to Sarah and back again. "Tell me what? Is this about my father? You said he wasn't hurt...."
"He's fine," Sam quickly assured her. "Physically anyway."
"Zoey," Sarah began gently. "We have hard evidence that the man behind your kidnapping is a secret service agent who was assigned to guard your family."
"Seaborn's not answering either," Clayton stated as he tried to conceal his anxiety. This case just seemed to be getting worse and worse with every turn.
Harm frowned as he pulled off the highway at the Baltimore exit. "Koening might have given them some trouble when they went to bring him in. Give me the phone, I'll call the Admiral and see if they're there."
Webb handed him the small phone as he watched the road signs. "Another mile and we should be at Water Street."
Harm nodded in acknowledgement as he dialed the familiar number to JAG headquarters.
Zoey stared at them in shock for a moment before shakily rising to her feet. "One of our dispatch? That's not possible, Sam."
Sam watched Zoey with concern as she walked toward the door, "I didn't think so at first either, Zoe, but its the only thing that makes sense."
"He had motive," Sarah added quietly as she stood.
Zoey whirled to face them. "So that makes it okay?!"
Mac shook her head, "No, of course it doesn't. But a lot of times tragedies happen without reason. All I'm saying is that this one had a reason."
"And what was that reason that turned my life upside down?" Zoey demanded as she walked back toward them.
Sam stood and crossed the space between them gently pulling the shaking young woman over to the side of the room and placing an arm around her shoulders.
"Zoe," Sam began gently. "When your father was Governor he had to make decisions that sometimes affected peoples lives. He...."
Sam broke off his sentence as Koening entered the room. The door swung inward with a loud clang.
Sam instantly stepped in front of Zoey pushing her closer to the wall. "You have no way out of this, Koening. Killing us will just make it harder for you to get away."
Peter Koening smiled but didn't acknowledge Sam's statement. Mac, however was ready for Koening when he lunged toward her.
As his arm weaved its way around the Marine's neck, Sarah responded with a sharp right kick to Koening's stomach.
Koening doubled over in pain but recovered quicker than Sarah had planned on. Before she could make a counter attack Peter slammed the butt of the gun heavily across her forehead. The blow sent Sarah sprawling backwards into the far wall.
"Sarah!" Sam cried and started toward her but stopped when Koening spun back toward him gun aimed at Zoey.
"I told you before no hero moves!" Koening shouted clearly becoming unhinged. "You will do what I say and play by my rules."
"What do you want?" Sam demanded amazed that his voice didn't shake. He moved slowly back toward Zoey.
Koening laughed as he glanced at Zoey. "To have the kind of ultimate power that your father held over my brother. For now you'll just have to sit here and wait."
Sam felt Zoey jump as Koening left the room slamming the door shut behind him.
"What was he talking about, Sam?" Zoey asked struggling to keep the fear out of her voice.
"I'll explain in a minute, Zoe," Sam replied as he scurried over to Sarah MacKenzie's still form.
Seaborn winced as he saw the large gash across the middle of her forehead that was bleeding heavily.
"Oh God," Sam whispered as he yanked a handkerchief out of the chest pocket of his suit coat. "Sarah? Can you hear me?"
"Give me your coat," Zoey ordered quietly as she knelt next to him.
"What?" Sam asked as he watched Zoey gently maneuver the Marine Colonel so she was laying flat. "Zoe, I don't think we should move her."
"Sam, just trust me," Zoey replied as she gestured for him to take off his coat. "I learned a few things from my mother."
"Are you sure she's not there, Admiral?" Rabb asked as he pulled the car into a hard left having missed one of Webb's earlier instructions.
"Commander," Chedwiggen began as he stood and turned to look out the window behind his desk, "I like to think I know where all my officers are when they're on duty. And as I said before Colonel Mackenzie isn't here. Last time I saw her was at the briefing this morning."
Harm tried to keep his emotions in check. He knew Mac could handle herself under any situation. But this was different, she hadn't had any backup and Koening was crazy.
"Has she checked in since she met with Seaborn?" Harm asked as he maneuvered the car through the light afternoon traffic on Water Street.
The hair on the back of the Admiral's neck started to rise and he turned away from the window. "Commander, is there something going on that I should be aware of? Did Mac run into trouble with the Secret Service agent?"
"We don't know, Sir," Harm replied as he glanced at Webb who motioned for him to pull the car over to the right side of the street. "Webb can't reach either Mac or Seaborn."
"I'll call the White House and see if they've heard from Seaborn," Chedwiggen stated as he hit the intercom to gain Tiner's attention. "If they haven't I'll send backup over to Koening's. You two keep in touch and watch your backs."
"Always do, Admiral," Rabb replied grimly as he ended the conversation and threw the car into park.
"This is it," Clayton said quietly as he folded the map and put it in the inside pocket of his suit jacket.
Harm glanced out the window at the small gray painted warehouse across the street. It was practically falling apart; paint peeling, parts of window panes missing, graffiti all over the doors.
"You're sure?" Rabb asked as he looked back at the operative.
Clayton nodded and pointed to a barely visible telecommunications antenna on the left corner of the roof.
"Call the FBI and the Baltimore police," Rabb ordered quietly as he looked over the warehouse once more. "But tell them just enough to keep them on stand by. I don't want Koening spooked."
Webb nodded as he picked up the cellular phone. "Then we storm the castle?"
"Something like that," Harm replied grimly as he double-checked his ammunition.
"There's got to be a way out of here," Sam stated firmly as he tried the door handle for the fifteenth time.
"Don't you think I tried that a million times, Sam? The only way out of this room is when they let us out," Zoey replied as she gently wiped blood away from Sarah's forehead.
Seaborn gave the door a final kick of frustration before turning and walking back to Zoey.
"She should be in a hospital," Sam said with concern as he knelt next to Sarah's still form.
Zoey glanced at her friend for the first time wondering if Sam and Sarah were more than friends. "It looks worse than it is, Sam," she assured him quietly. "She should be just fine."
"Hey Boss," a brown haired man in his mid-twenties called as he turned away from the window of what used to be the warehouse's office and moved farther into the room. "We might have trouble. A sedan with D.C. plates sat across the street for a few minutes then drove down by the pier and turned around."
Koening smirked as he stood and reached over to turn off the small television set. "I was wondering when the cavalry would arrive. Tell the others to prepare for phase three."
The youth nodded. "Yes, Sir," he replied with a wide smile before turning and scurrying down a small hallway.
Josh Lyman glanced up as Toby knocked on his open office door. "What's up?"
Toby came into the room and leaned against the doorframe. "Have you seen Sam?"
Josh set down the file he was working on. "Not since this morning. Why?"
"Got a call from JAG," Toby replied quietly."They were wondering if we had seen him."
Josh frowned. "Do they think he's in trouble?"
Toby shook his head. "They didn't give me too many details. But something's going on that's for sure."
Lyman nodded seeing the helplessness he was feeling mirrored on Ziegler's face. Their friend could be in serious trouble and they couldn't do a damn thing about it.
The communication's director cleared his throat as he pushed himself away from the doorframe. "Oh, the President's going to give a press conference in half an hour."
Josh blinked in surprise. "On what?"
"Saying that this administration will not rest until the people responsible for the bombing are caught and prosecuted," Toby replied wearily as he paused in the doorway.
Josh stood behind his desk resting his hands on its edge. "Toby, he's in no shape to do that."
"I know," Ziegler replied quietly as he left. "But the country needs to be reassured. Stay close, CJ might need your help."
"Okay," Josh replied softly as he sat back down, wondering not for the first time that week what the world was coming to.
"Okay let me get the details straight," Webb began as he and Rabb got out of the car, which was parked two blocks away from the rundown warehouse. "We have a witness who saw Koening lead Mac and Seaborn away from the apartment. But they haven't turned up at JAG so we're assuming that Koening brought them here. And we're assuming that because....?"
Harm smiled grimly as they walked quickly through the back alley between the warehouses. "Koening's going to want to keep things where he can control them. If this is his headquarters like we think it is Koening will want to keep all the hostages together so he can make a power play."
"And we don't know how many men Koening has in there," Webb finished.
Harm shot him a dubious look. "Since when do the odds matter to you, Webb? Getting soft in your old age?"
Webb glared at Rabb as he stepped in front of the navy officer. "I'm just remembering the numerous times your hero moves nearly got me killed."
Harm's eyes narrowed. "That street goes both ways, Webb. Do I need to remind you about Russia?"
"My hands were tied on that," Clayton replied quietly. "I did everything I could to help you and Mac. Besides you weren't there on official JAG business."
Rabb waved him silent as they arrived at the back of Koening's warehouse. Using hand signals Harm motioned that they should enter the building through the small loading bay a few feet from the dock.
Webb nodded and the two slowly moved toward the warehouse, weapons drawn.
Falls Church, Virginia
Admiral A.J. Chedwiggen tried to concentrate on his seemingly never ending pile of paperwork but he just couldn't get past the first page. The waiting was sometimes the worst part of being in command.
After the orders were given there was nothing else to do. And it was times like these that A.J. regretted not being able to be out in the front lines.
"Come," A.J. replied wearily to the sharp knock on his office door.
Tiner poked his head in. "Admiral, you might want to turn on the TV. President Bartlet's about to give a press conference."
Chedwiggen raised an eyebrow. "Thank you, Tiner."
As Peter Koening stepped into the room Sam instantly stood putting himself between Koening and Sarah and Zoey.
"If you let them leave," Sam began as he stepped forward. "it'll work greatly in your favor."
As a reply Koening merely fired a shot that landed just inches from Sam's left shoe causing Seaborn to jump back several feet.
"There will be no negotiations, Mr. Seaborn," Koening stated coldly as he took a small object out of his right coat pocket. "The cavalry you've been waiting for was spotted in the area but I'm afraid they won't get here in time."
Sam heard Zoey gasp in fear and he reached behind him and down to place a reassuring hand on her shoulder. He couldn't believe that after they had found Zoey and everything else that had happened over the last week that this would be the end result. There just had to be a way out, he just wasn't seeing it. Sam wished Sarah was awake. He could really use her help right about now.
"As fun as this experience has been I think its time I left this party," Koening replied as he opened the door.
Sam rushed forward hoping to catch the door before it closed but Koening didn't close the door like Sam expected him to. The next thing Seaborn saw was Koening's fist as it connected with his jaw.
"Sam!" Zoey cried out instantly running toward her fallen friend's side.
"I-I'm okay."Seaborn assured her groggily as he struggled to sit up.
Koening watched the scene with an amused expression. "How touching, but I assure you in a few minutes the pain you're feeling will be forgotten." He held up the cigarette lighter that he had taken out of his pocket earlier. "This building has been coated with gasoline......all it will take is one tiny flicker of this flame."
Sam and Zoey could only watch in helpless horror as Koening dropped the active lighter against the right wall.
Koening glanced at Zoey before exiting the room. "Ms. Bartlet, it's been a pleasure."
"Good afternoon," CJ Cregg greeted the room full of reporters as she stepped up to the familiar podium. "The President will make a brief statement, there will be no questions taken at this time."The Press Secretary turned to her left. "Mr. President."
Josiah Bartlet nodded and stepped up to the podium. "Thank you, CJ."
Bartlet glanced down at the statement that Toby had prepared and then over at his wife who was standing to his right.
Abby smiled at him and Jed turned back to face the room full of reporters. He put the statement back in his pocket.
Yes this was a matter of national security that the nation needed to be reassured about. But this was also about his family.
Somebody had shattered his family and that would not be tolerated.
"Barely a week ago I was dancing with my youngest daughter at a fundraiser."Bartlet began instantly pulling the room into a deep silence. "The next instant Zoey was taken away from me. This administration will not rest until the people responsible for this tragedy are caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
"Did that seem a little too easy to you?" Harm asked in a whisper as the duo moved through the back hallway of the warehouse. They had taken out four of Koening's men when they first stepped through the door and nobody else had stepped forward to stop them.
"Yes,very," Webb replied as they paused in a bend in the corridor.
Harm nodded as he glanced around the corner. "What do you think? Bomb?"
Clayton shook his head. "From the information you guys pooled about Koening he doesn't strike me as the suicidal type."
"Agree," Harm replied as they cautiously moved around the corner. "But I'm still not putting it past him to have traps set. He's got some very important hostages."
Webb placed a hand on Harm's shoulder yanking the former aviator back against the wall. "Do you smell smoke?"
Harm stood still for a moment but then he noticed it too. "Damn," he replied angrily as he broke into a run.
Sam tried to reach the door handle but the fire had quickly engulfed the left wall. The door wasn't on fire yet but the intense heat made getting to it impossible. He backpedaled toward Zoey his eyes watering from the smoke.
"Stay low to the ground," Seaborn ordered his voice raspy from the smoke. "I'll try to find us a way out."
Zoey snagged his left arm as he turned to leave. "Sam! Sarah's coming to."
Seaborn instantly dropped to his knees next to the fallen Marine and saw her trying to sit up.
"Take it easy, Sarah," Sam stated as placed a gentle hand on her left shoulder easing her back down."You hit your head pretty hard."
"Where's Koening?" Mac asked hoarsely as she sat up, more slowly this time. Her head felt like an elephant was sitting on it, but otherwise nothing seemed to be broken.
"He's gone," Zoey replied quietly handing Sarah Sam's handkerchief.
Sarah flashed her a grateful look as she pressed the cloth against her forehead. It was only then that she noticed the flames. Mac quickly stood which she realized too late was a mistake as the world immediately began to swim.
Sam and Zoey instantly reached out and steadied Sarah as she started to fall.
"You okay?" Sam asked worriedly before risking a glance at the growing fire.
Sarah nodded. "Yeah, but we won't be if we can't get that door open."
Sam shook his head sadly. "I tried, but the heat's too intense."
Mac glanced at their only exit and then back at Sam. "There's a way out of here," she assured them quietly."There has to be."
Harm and Webb stepped into the main room of the warehouse just in time to see Koening open the front door.
"If you think you're going somewhere, you're gravely mistaken," Rabb stated coldly as he walked toward Koening his gun leveled at Koening's head.
The dark haired man slowly turned around a smile on his face. "You're too late to save them."
"That's your opinion," Webb replied quietly as he came to stand next to Rabb.
Harm grabbed Koening by the front shirt collar and slammed him up against the door. "You have less than ten seconds to tell me where they are."
Koening smirked. "Do you think I'm scared of you?"
Rabb shook his head. "No, but I don't think you want to die. And that is what will happen if you don't start giving some answers that I like."
Mac looked from Sam and Zoey's worried faces to the rapidly growing fire and back again. There had to be an escape route that none of them were seeing.
Sarah scanned the room once more. The fire had completely engulfed the left and right walls and was working on the front wall licking the door. Mac whirled around ignoring the wave of dizziness that nearly toppled her. The room had no windows but the back wall might be their ticket out. It was mostly cement but there was a section of it near the right corner that was wood. And since the wall was close to the harbor the wood was exposed to the salt air and the elements. If their luck held the wood might just be rotten enough for them to break their way through.
Sarah grabbed Seaborn's arm and gestured toward the back wall. "We might have a chance to break through the wood if it's rotted away enough."
Sam nodded and turned back to Zoey. "Zoey stay close to the back wall and stay as low to the floor as possible. We're going to try to break through the wood section."
The young woman nodded and scurried toward the cement wall where she quickly crouched down into a sitting position.
Sam met Sarah's gaze. "Think this will work?"
Mac shrugged. "It's our only chance, Sam, it has to."
"If we get out of this I owe you at least a couple dinners," Sam replied quietly as he knelt next to the back wall.
Despite the grim situation Sarah smiled briefly. "I hope you're not planning on cooking those dinners."
Sam shook his head as he tested a board for its weakness. "I wouldn't put anybody through my cooking."
Harm nearly stopped dead in his tracks when he and Webb reached the section of the warehouse where Koening said the hostages were. Heavy smoke was billowing through the hallway and Harm could feel the heat of the fire even though he couldn't immediately see any flames.
"Webb," Harm said between coughs. "Take Koening and get out. Backup's already on the way but this fire won't wait for them."
The operative shook his head. "Not a chance, Rabb. Think I want to risk the Admiral's wrath for letting two of his prize officers get killed? Koening's fine where he is for the moment. Let's get them and get out of here."
Harm nodded and the duo quickly moved down the hallway. Halfway down the corridor they spied a room nearly engulfed in flames.
"Mac!" Harm shouted as he raced toward the door praying that they weren't too late.
Webb made a grab for the door handle but instantly yanked his hand back from the hot metal.
"Mac?!" Rabb called again struggling to keep a reign on his fear. They'd been in tougher situations than this. She had to be okay.
"Door handle's too hot," Webb reported trying not to choke on the smoke that surrounded them.
Harm nodded. "On three we'll break it down. One.....two.....three!"
The door protested at first but finally splintered and fell inward allowing Webb and Harm entrance. The smoke was so thick in the room now that Harm could barely see his hand in front of his face.
"Mac?" Rabb called out as he and Webb moved farther into the room.
"Here!" Mac replied with relief as she, Sam and Zoey stood. "Harm, we're by the back wall."
"Everybody okay?" Rabb asked as he reached his partner's side. He winced inwardly seeing the nasty gash across Mac's forehead.
"Despite the fact that we've been kidnapped, shot at, and trapped in a burning room, we're fine."Sam replied sarcastically as he placed an arm around Zoey's shoulders helping her to her feet. "Can we possibly get out of here, now?"
Just then a burning piece of the left wall gave way and fell inward with a loud crash nearly taking Webb with it. Sparks and small pieces of wood flew everywhere.
"Webb, you okay?" Mac shouted as she moved to stand next to Harm.
"Yeah," Clayton replied as he moved toward the door. "Let's move before anything else falls."
Mac fell back slightly so Zoey and Sam would be between her and Harm as they left the burning room. The group moved quickly through the burning warehouse. Once in the main room of the warehouse Harm opened the small broom closet and unhandcuffed Koening from the door handle. Harm shoved the former Secret Service agent ahead of him as they walked quickly out of the building.
Once outside men and women of the Baltimore police department and the FBI instantly surrounded them. Zoey, Sam and Mac were immediately put into a waiting ambulance and whisked away to a nearby hospital.
Harm and Webb stayed at the scene just long enough to hand Koening and his men over to the FBI.
For a moment Rabb stood next to the circle of police cars watching the fire department douse the flames.
"Zoey Bartlet owes her life to you, Webb," Harm said quietly as the CIA agent came to stand next to him.
Webb shook his head. "I just happened to have the right informant. The kid was just lucky that Koening was egotistical enough to stage her death instead of just killing her on the spot." He turned to face Rabb. "You heading back to D.C.?"
Harm shook his head. "Not right away. I want to head over to the hospital and make sure they're okay."
Webb nodded as he turned and started to walk in the direction where they had parked the car. "I'll fill Chedwiggen in when I get back."
"Thanks," Harm replied as he walked toward one of the FBI agents. He paused and turned back to Webb's retreating form. "Sure you don't want to come work for JAG?"
Webb stopped and turned back to face Rabb. "No thanks, the CIA's a lot safer."
Harm laughed as he got into the car.
Jed glanced up from his desk as his wife stepped into the Oval office. He was worried about her. She had been strong for everyone throughout this whole ordeal but she had yet to really talk about it with him. "Hi," Bartlet greeted softly as he stood and walked around his desk.
"Hi," Abby replied quietly as she crossed the space between them. "I thought you were going to come back to the Residence for dinner."
Jed pulled his wife into his arms and rested his chin on the top of her head. "I'm sorry, time just got away from me."
"God, Jed," Abby whispered as she rested her head on his chest. "What are we going to do without our little girl?"
Bartlet tightened his hold. "We will pull through this, Abby. I promise you, somehow we will."
Jed looked up as his chief of staff knocked apologetically on the door.
"Sorry to interrupt but I have some news." Leo stated softly.
Bartlet shook his head. "Whatever it is it can wait until tomorrow Leo."
"You'll want to hear this, Mr. President. It's about Zoey." McGarry replied quietly.
"Hey," Sarah called softly as she turned slightly in the front seat of the car. "You okay back there?"
Sam nodded wearily as he glanced down at Zoey's sleeping form. "Yeah. How's your head?"
"A little sore, but I'll be okay," Mac replied quietly. "I'm sorry, Sam, this got a little hairier than I expected."
Sam smiled briefly. "Not your fault. I knew what I was getting into. Besides I was willing to do whatever it took to get Zoey back home."
"Speaking of which," Harm replied quietly as he made a right turn. "You might want to wake Zoey. We're almost to the White House."
"Hey Charlie," Jed Bartlet called as he and the First Lady stepped into the living room of the Residence. "Have you eaten yet?"
"Does coffee count?" Charlie replied as he crossed the span of the room.
"No," Jed replied as he placed a supportive arm around the young man's shoulder's steering him toward the dining room. "Did my daughter let you get away with that kind of thinking?"
Charlie smiled sadly. "No, Sir, she didn't."
"Daddy?" a familiar voice called from the doorway causing the trio to whirl around.
"Zoey?" Jed replied weakly not believing what he was seeing. Even though Leo had told them she was alive it hadn't really sunk in yet. His daughter stood in the doorway of the living room flanked on one side by a disheveled looking Sam Seaborn and on the other by a young brown haired woman in a Marine uniform. Behind them stood a tall brown haired man in a Navy uniform. Bartlet vaguely recalled that the two military officers worked for JAG.
"Oh my God," Abby stated softly tears streaming down her face as she ran across the room. "Zoey! Baby, are you alright?"
"I'm okay, Mom."Zoey replied tearfully as Abby enveloped her in a huge hug.
Bartlet and Charlie joined them. Jed touched his daughter's shoulder pulling her away from her mother slightly.
Jed wanted to say something, anything to convey to his daughter how happy he was that she was home. But his throat was so thick with tears that he couldn't speak.
Zoey nodded in understanding and jumped into her father's arms, wrapping her arms around his neck. "I missed you, Daddy."
"I missed you too, baby," Bartlet replied hoarsely as he gently stroked her back.
Charlie stared at Zoey in complete shock. He quickly reached behind him and thankfully found an armrest of a nearby chair. He leaned on it heavily as he watched Zoey be reunited with her parents.
"H-How?" Young asked quietly as Seaborn came to stand next to him.
"She was kidnapped," Sam replied his gaze never leaving the reunion before him.
"Because of me?" Charlie asked with concern.
Seaborn placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "No, this was a revenge plot against her father. I'll fill you in on the details later."
"Charlie?" Zoey called softly as she stepped away from her parents. He looked tired and pale but otherwise unhurt and for that she was grateful. Zoey could only hope that he could forgive her.
"Thank God," Charlie whispered as he pulled Zoey into an embrace that took her off her feet. He buried his face in the base of her neck.
"Charlie," Zoey replied. "I can't breathe."
"Sorry," Charlie apologized quickly releasing her but he didn't let her go. He gently reached up and caressed her left cheek. "I thought I had lost you."
Zoey shook her head as she wrapped her arms around his neck pulling him close. "Never."