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"Love Conquers All" pt.6

Jake frowned as he watched Alice pace the room talking on a cellular phone.
In the last forty minutes they'd gotten calls from various members of Black
Moon. Most of them had been calm but all had been asking what the hell was
going on and why the Feds were rounding them up like they were ducks in a
barrel.

Alice ran a hand through her blonde hair. "Listen to me Bruce.....what did I
just say? Listen to me Bruce take calming breaths. The Feds are only rounding
you guys up to try to find Bartlet's daughter. They'll let you go once they
realize you have nothing to do with it. Yes I'm sure that this is a sure
thing.....would I talking on the phone if I wasn't? Relax Bruce....one night
in jail won't kill you.....think of it as a vacation."

Jake jumped slightly as Alice slammed the phone shut and tossed it against
the chair she'd been sitting in earlier.

"I will not let this fall apart, Jake!" Alice exclaimed as she moved back
toward him. "No matter what happens we will get what we want."

Jake glanced at his watch. "It's almost seven....want to wake the princess?"

*********

Josh stared at the altar that was still set up in the Rose Garden. Most of
the chairs had long since been put away but a few decorations
remained.....telling of the long awaited event that never happened. Josh
swallowed hard and stepped back a few feet....he hadn't meant to come here.
He had just stepped outside hoping the cool air would clear his head and he
had ended up in the Garden.

Josh crouched down by the corner of the altar and reached for one of the
small flower arrangements that had been carelessly left behind.

"Donna." Josh whispered hoarsely as he gently touched one of the pink rose
petals. "Please come back to me......"

Sam approached Josh quietly not sure what to say to his friend. It had taken
Sam a good fifteen minutes to track Josh down and the last place he had
expected him to be was the Rose Garden. But then Sam realized this was
probably where Josh needed to be.

"Josh?" Sam said as he came forward. He didn't want to startle his
friend.

Josh turned to look at Sam. "I should've known." He said.

"Should've known what?" Sam asked coming to stand next to Josh at the
altar.

"That something would've stopped the wedding. But why did it have to be
this?" Josh said in a whisper.

"No one could've known this was going to happen Josh."

"I should've. I don't deserve her Sam. I don't deserve the happiness
she's given me, and she doesn't deserve this."

"Josh..."

"No Sam." Josh said as he turned away. "I appreciate what you are
trying to do but you don't understand..."

"Understand that you feel like a part of you, the most precious part is
slowly being ripped out. That you feel like you can't breathe, that
nothing makes sense anymore and nothing will be right again until Donna
is back in your arms." Sam said softly walking over to him.

Josh turned to look at Sam, fighting the tears that Sam's accurate
words sparked.

"The helplessness is the worst," Sam continued his own eyes brimming
with tears of pain, "because you know that her life is worth much, much
more than yours. And you would readily give your life to save her but
you're not given that option. So all you can do is wait..." Sam's voice
broke as his own memories overwhelmed him. "I know you feel like no one
understands, I felt that way too when Caitie was taken from me."

"I'm sorry Sam, I didn't mean..."

Sam put his hand on Josh's shoulder, then pulled him into a tight
embrace. "No one can know exactly what you are going through, but you're
not alone Josh. We're here for you and Donna when she comes back and she is
coming back."

Caitlin walked out into the Rose Garden, the early morning sun shining
bright above. She quietly made her way over to the altar that had been
set up the day before. She found Josh and Sam and felt intrusive as she
watched them share a private pain with each other. She hung back
letting them have this time. She smiled as she watched them pull away in
the awkward way men do when they have a bonding moment.

Sam turned, as if he sensed her there and held out his hand to her. She
walked over to him taking his and then taking Josh's hand in her free
one.

"It's almost eight o'clock" she said softly "They should be calling
soon."

Josh closed his eyes and nodded. He opened his eyes and looked at them,
"Let's go." He whispered.

*********

"Rise and shine, sleepin' beauty!" Jake called loudly as he entered the small
bedroom and none too gently yanked the blanket off of Donna.

Donna willed herself to remain still....letting Jake think she was still
asleep when in reality she had only jumped back into the bed a few minutes
earlier when she heard his approach.

"I said now, Princess!" Jake growled as he harshly grabbed Donna by the right
arm and yanked her to her feet causing her to stumble.

Donna pretended to blink sleepily as she focused on Jake. "What's going on?"

"It's show time." Alice replied from the doorway with a smile. "Come now, we
don't want to keep Daddy waiting, do we?"

***


"Is Boxton on his way?" Jed asked just as Sam, Caitlin and Josh entered the Oval office from the
rear doors.

Alberts nodded. "He left about an hour ago."

"This better go smoothly." Bartlet muttered as he ran a weary hand along the back of his neck.

"We'll do everything we can sure to ensure that." Alberts replied as he glanced around the
crowded room. "All the teams are in place we're just waiting for Alice to call."

"I want to be there for the exchange." Josh demanded as he broke away from Sam and Caitlin.

"Haven't you done enough?" Thomas interjected before Alberts could think of replying. "You being
there will only be an added distraction that they do not need."

"He does have a valid point, Mr. Lyman." Alberts began but was cut off by Josh's angry glance.

"I don't care what point he has." Josh snapped. "Donna is my life and I'm going to be there."

Toby cleared his throat causing all eyes to turn to him. "Has anybody noticed what time it is?"

The clock on the President's desk read 8:17.

"Oh no." Caitlin whispered as Sam pulled her close each of them trying not to think of the
possibilities that could've delayed the kidnappers call.

Alberts held up a hand to stop any outbursts that he knew were coming. "It's only seventeen
minutes....let's not...."

The sharp ring of the phone interrupted the FBI Agent.

Everyone instantly crowded around the speakerphone on the President's desk as Bartlet waited
for the signal from Alberts.

"You can pick it up, Mr. President. But everyone else in the room remain silent no matter what
happens." Alberts ordered as the phone rang three times. "Any agitation from us might spook
them."

Josh clenched his right fist but didn't say anything as he glanced over at Caitlin.

Caitlin walked over and placed a gentle hand on Josh's left shoulder.

Jed felt Abby move to stand next to him as he reached down and pressed the button for the
speakerphone.

"This is President Bartlet."

"Dad?" Donna replied quietly all too aware of Jake and Alice standing directly behind her.

Josh closed his eyes briefly as relief washed over him.....she sounded okay.

"Sweetie, are you alright?" Bartlet asked as he reached over to take Abby's hand.

"Fine.......they want to know if their demands have been met." Donna replied trying to keep her
voice from shaking. She desperately wanted to ask how Josh was but that was too big of a risk.

"Tell them that everything has been set." Jed affirmed praying that they could keep Donna on the
phone. "Boxton is on his way to West Virginia as we speak."

"Okay." Donna replied just as Alice yanked the phone away.

At Alice's questioning look Donna nodded and took a step back. Jake placed his hands on her
shoulders.

Jed frowned at the silence as he looked at Alberts who shook his head. The teams weren't in
position yet.

"Caitlin, Caitlin are you alright?" Jed asked.

Caitlin placed a restraining hand on Josh's arm as he started toward the phone.

"Your daughter is just fine." Alice replied smugly. "But she won't be for much longer if you try
anything else with the Feds."

"We've given into your demands." Jed reminded her angrily. "You have no reason to hurt her."

"So you say." Alice replied. "Rest assured that your daughter is fine and will remain that way as
long as Harry is given over to us without a struggle."

"Boxton will be there shortly." Bartlet replied, gripping the sides of the desk. 'This has to work'
he thought

"Good. Until then..." Alice began

"Wait!" The President interrupted. "Please, can I talk to my daughter again, while we wait?"

Alice looked towards Donna and Jake. Jake shrugged, "What could it hurt?" he whispered.

"Very well" Alice said and handed Donna the phone.

Donna hesitantly grabbed the phone and took a deep breath, "Hi" she said softly into the phone.

"Are you OK?" Bartlet asked.

"Yeah" Donna answered afraid to say much more.

"Listen to me," the President began, "we are going to get you out of there. There is a plan just sit
tight."

Donna listened and watched Alice and Jake. She was grateful that they could not hear the
President's words. Just then Jake looked at her with a wicked smirk.

"Why don't you talk to your lover, Miss Bartlet?" he said walking over to the phone and hitting
the speakerphone button. "So where is, um...what's his name Seaborn right?" Jake said.

Everyone in the Oval Office stopped and looked at Sam. Donna's voice wafted through the speaker
in a whisper "What?"

"Your boyfriend?" Jake answered, "That's Seaborn, Sam Seaborn isn't that what the papers said?"

Donna swallowed back the lump in her throat. "Yes" she answered softly.

"So where is he? Is he there?" Jake asked into the speakerphone.

Josh and Sam stared at each other for a long moment. Finally Josh nodded towards Sam to reply.
They couldn't take any chances- Sam and Josh were both in the news, their voices are
recognizable.

Sam looked down at Caitlin for confirmation. She reached up and stroked his cheek then gave him
a gentle push. "I'm here" he replied walking to the desk.

"There you go little Miss Bartlet. Why don't you tell loverboy how much you miss him" Jake said.
"Then he turned to his cohorts in the room "This should be good" he said laughing.

Donna closed her eyes. She needed to hear Josh's voice right now, tell Josh that she loved him...
"Sam?" she said.

"Hi...Caitlin." Sam said closing his eyes. How was he going to do this? "Are you OK?"

"Yes" she replied, aware of the ears listening to both of them.

"Oh come on- you can do better than that" Jake interrupted. "I thought you two loved each other.
How about some endearments."

Donna forced back the tears of frustration that threatened to overwhelm her. In the Oval Office
Josh sank onto the couch, fighting the urge to run to the phone and tell Donna he loved her.
Caitlin sat down next to Josh and wrapped her arms around him.

Sam realized this was hard for Donna so he decided to comply with Jake and get him to back off.
"I miss you baby..." he turned and met Caitlin's eyes. "I love you" he said.

Donna closed her eyes and pictured Josh who she prayed was in the room and unhurt. "I love you
too."

Sam started to speak but broke off as he heard a car engine approach.

Alice grabbed Donna away from the speakerphone. "Ah it appears your FBI friends have arrived,
Mr. President. Remember if this is a trick you'll be the one paying the ultimate price."

Josh winced as the line went dead.

All eyes turned to Agent Alberts for confirmation.

Alberts nodded as he held his cell phone in one hand. "Everything's set, Mr. President. They're
taking Boxton out of the van now."

Josh closed his eyes and sent off a silent prayer that his nightmare wouldn't come true.

Sam moved to stand next to Caitlin and placed an arm around her waist drawing her close.
Caitlin closed her eyes and leaned back into his arms hoping against hope that everything went
as planned.

***

"Can't say I won't miss ya, Princess." Jake stated smugly as he roughly pushed Donna out the
doors of the small house Alice close on their heels.

In front of them approximately forty feet away were three black vans surrounded by thirty FBI
agents all with guns drawn.

A sandy haired man in his late thirties stood next to the closest van his wrists and ankles
shackled by cuffs.

"Harry" Alice whispered as she saw her husband shackled.

Jake grabbed Donna when they were about twenty feet away from the FBI Agents. "Unchain him
and send him over." Jake shouted.

"Send over Miss Bartlet" one of the agents called out.

"Not until we have him here." Alice answered.

There was a hesitation among the FBI agents, then after a few moments they unshackled
Boxton. He slowly walked towards Alice and Jake, aware of the FBI guns trained on him with
each step he took.

Jake held Donna tightly against him, a handgun pressed against her back.

Donna took calming breaths, praying that it would end soon and without any harm. She watched
Boxton as he approached. She had some idea of why he was in prison and she knew what
releasing him meant. She also realized that they couldn't just release him. The President said
there was a plan, she just hoped she wasn't still here to see it.

Boxton approached and Alice threw her arms around him. "I told you it would work!" she
exclaimed as she kissed him.

"You were right Baby." He said and moved to shake Jake's hand. "Even you are a sight for sore
eyes, Jake"

"Some people wouldn't agree with you." Jake said pulling Donna closer, "especially Little Miss
Bartlet here."

Boxton turned to Donna for the first time. He eyed her up and down through scrutinizing eyes.
"You're not Caitlin Bartlet." He whispered.

"What?" Alice exclaimed.

Boxton reached out and grabbed Donna from Jake. "You're not Caitlin Bartlet!" he shouted.

At Harry's raised voice the agents moved forward guns at the ready.

Donna froze not sure how to respond.

Alice yanked her roughly away from Jake while still looking at her husband. "What the hell are
you talking about, Harry?"

"How could you idiots grab the wrong girl?! Bartlet's a brunette!" Harry replied furiously.

Boxton risked a glance behind them before pulling Donna away from Alice and flung her bodily
back into the house.

Donna immediately lost her balance and crashed hard
into the living room sofa.

"Inside!" Harry ordered. "Now! She may not be Bartlet
but she's somebody in the inner circle and she'll get
us out of here."

*******

In the Oval Office the tension in the room mounted
with each passing minute. Agent Alberts was beginning
to understand what a clock felt like as everyone
stared at him for answers he didn't have.

Finally Alberts's phone rang. "How? Why did you let
him get that close? Fine just keep me posted."

"What?" Josh demanded as he stood and crossed the room.

Alberts glanced at Josh with a sympathetic gaze that
chilled Josh to the bone. "I'm sorry Mr. Lyman but the
exchange didn't go as planned. Harry Boxton is now
with his wife in the house and they know that Donna is
not Ms. Bartlet."

"No!" Thomas shouted. "How did this happen? I thought it was supposed to be an exchange? How
did they let Donna go back in the house with them?"

"I don't have any answers yet." Alberts said. "But I am going to get them." He picked up his cell
phone and started dialing as he left the office.

Thomas continued his inquisition to no one in particular as everyone tried to assure each other
and themselves that it would all work out.

Josh stood stock still not seeing, hardly breathing. They had been so close, they had almost had
her and now...

"Josh" Leo's voice brought Josh back from thoughts he didn't want to have. "It's not over" Leo
continued, "we are going to get her out of there."

Josh merely nodded, wanting to take strength in the older man's words.

Caitlin watched Josh closely, feeling as if the world had stopped. 'They know. They know she's
not me. There's nothing to stop them from...' Caitlin's thought stopped as panic and fear rose
within her. She felt Sam's arms tighten around her, but she didn't allow herself to take comfort
within them, she didn't deserve comfort.

"Caitlin..." Sam whispered.

Caitlin turned to Sam. "I'm OK." She lied. "I don't think Josh is though. Maybe you can try to help
him."

"Leo's with him. I need to take care of you right now." He answered pulling her close.

Caitlin gently pulled away, "Leo doesn't know what Josh is going through right now. You do." She
said.

"I know, but..."

"Sam please, make sure Josh is handling this. That's what I need from you right now." Caitlin
said and gave Sam a gentle push towards Josh.

Sam watched her closely. He knew she was pushing him away, hiding something, but he wouldn't
get it out of her now. He decided to go check on Josh then come back and take Caitlin someplace
private so he could make sure SHE was OK. He stroked her cheek and kissed her lightly, then he
turned and started towards Josh.

Caitlin sank onto the couch watching the scene surrounding her as if she were watching a play.
'Please God' she silently prayed. 'Bring Donna home.'



Donna sat quietly, watching her three captors, trying not to let her fear overwhelm her.

"What do we do now?" Jake hollered.

"I can't believe that you were all so stupid!" Harry screamed.

"Harry, we..." Alice began.

"Shut up!" he ordered. "I am NOT going back to that hell hole because of YOUR screw up."

Tears began to stream down Alice's cheeks, "Harry please..."

Harry turned to Donna, "OK lady. Exactly who are you?"

Donna hesitated for a moment, trying to quickly weigh her options. "I'm..." she began but was
cut off by Harry.

"Don't even think about lying to us. We are surrounded by Feds and have nothing to lose." He
threatened a wild look in his eyes.

Donna swallowed terrified. She realized that she was in more danger now than she was with
Alice, or even Jake. "Donna Moss" she answered.

"The bride" Alice whispered. "Damn! What..." Alice was interrupted by an amplified voice.

"Boxton! You know you are surrounded. Release the woman and surrender."

Harry began to nervously pace the room talking to himself. "Surrender. No no no. I won't go back.
I will die first..." He stopped and watched Donna with a hard cold stare. The wild look was gone
from his eyes, replaced by a look of coldness and determination that made Donna's blood turn to
ice. He then walked to the window and yelled out "I don't think so. You'll have to come in and
retrieve her. But you'll be retrieving her body!" With that Harry grabbed a shotgun and took aim.

Donna froze her heart racing as she met Boxton's cold
gaze. Just when Donna thought the inevitable was
going to happen the front window shattered and two
tiny canisters rolled into the center of the room.

"Tear gas!" Jake shouted as gray smoke started to
filter out of the canister. The red haired young man
grabbed a small blanket from the back of the sofa and
used it to cover his mouth and nose.

"I'm not going back!" Boxton shouted as he whirled to
face Donna.

"Harry....please...calm down." Alice begged as she
walked toward him.

"Boxton!" The amplified voice repeated. "This is your last warning.....release the hostage!"

***


Sam moved to stand next to Josh and placed a supportive hand on Josh's shoulder.

"I know it's the last thing you want to do, Josh, but you have to keep it together." Sam stated
softly remembering all too well what he felt when Caitlin was taken hostage during the bank
robbery. "Don't give into the fear."

Josh turned wide eyes to his friend. "How? She's my life, Sam......"

"I know Josh. I..." Sam stopped as Alberts cell phone rang.

All eyes in the room turned towards Alberts, who took a deep breath before answering.

"Alberts...when? Have they moved towards the house yet...how many agents?...Remember Boxton
is desperate...OK as soon as Miss Moss is out of the house I am your first call." Alberts hung up
the phone and looked around the room.

"The rescue attempt has begun." He said quietly.

"Already?" Leo asked. "What about negotiation?"

Alberts paused, "The field agent in charge felt the situation had reached the critical point. From
their vantage point..." Alberts voice trailed off.

"What?" Josh asked. "What did they see?"

Alberts looked Josh directly in the eye, "Boxton pulled a rifle on Miss Moss"


"Boxton!" The amplified voice repeated. "This is your last warning.....release the hostage!"

The tear gas continued to fill the room as everyone started coughing.

"No!" Harry shouted continuing to hold his rifle in a position to fire. "I will not go back!"

Donna tried to make her way towards to door. She needed to get out of there before Harry
decided death was better than jail and took her with him.

"Don't even think about it!" Jake cried grabbing hold of Donna and pulling her back.

"No" Donna whimpered struggling against Jake. She managed to break free and collided with
Alice.

Harry let out a frustrated yell and pulled the trigger on the shotgun, managing to keep his aim
straight through the haze of the tear gas. He smiled triumphantly as he watched the blonde
woman fall to the ground with an agonized moan.

The Agents burst in and quickly subdued Boxton and the others. As tear gas smoke cleared and
they saw the still form of the blonde woman on the floor one agent quickly went over to check
for a pulse. With a grim expression the agent glanced at his boss
with a sad shake of his head.

*********

"What do you mean he pulled a rifle on her?" Josh demanded as he took a step toward the FBI
agent. "You have to know more than that."

Alberts shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mr. Lyman that's the latest info I have."

The First Lady moved away from the desk and gently pulled Josh into a hug. "Donna's a fighter,
Josh. If anybody can make it out of this it's her."

Josh nodded weakly not trusting his voice. All he could think of was that a madman had a gun
pointed at Donna....at his Donna.....
The now familiar ring of Albert's cell phone caused Josh to jump away from Abby as if he had
been shocked.

"Alberts?"

Caitlin looked over at Donna's family as they stood in front of the sofa. Thomas was supporting
his mother as they watched Alberts anxiously. Sam caught her gaze and moved to stand next to
her pulling Caitlin into his arms.

"Okay." Agent Travis Alberts replied quietly as he shut off his phone and turned to look at the
group of people surrounding him.

Josh felt his knees weaken as Alberts looked away from him and moved toward Donna's parents.
Numbly Josh watched as Alberts took Donna's mother's hand in his own.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Moss......"Alberts began quietly but Donna's mother interrupted him.

"Donna's gone?" Julie Moss asked in a shaky voice as she clutched Thomas's right arm.

Alberts nodded keenly feeling all eyes on him. "I'm sorry.....Boxton shot her before the Agents
could enter the house."

Mrs. Lyman gasped softly and moved over to her son, grabbing his hand.

Thomas stared at the FBI agent in complete shock as he felt all the energy leave his body. He
tried to keep his arm around his mother but his arm wouldn't answer his mind's order. His baby
sister......dead......no.....this couldn't be happening.....Thomas thought bleakly as he slid to the floor
resting his forehead against his knees.

"NO!" Josh shouted finally finding his voice. "That's not true!"

Leo moved forward and placed a gentle hand on the younger man's shoulder but Josh shook off his
boss's grip and pulled away from his mother.

"It's not true, Leo!" Josh repeated his voice catching as he glanced at the Moss's....then over at
Sam and Caitlin's ashen faces. "She wouldn't leave....."

Not being able to see her son in such pain any longer Mrs. Lyman quickly moved over to Josh and
pulled him into a huge hug. She didn't let him go until Josh finally began to cry.

Caitlin looked around the room in a daze. Sam touched her arm worriedly his blue eyes filled
with unshed tears.

"Caitie?" Sam asked in a choked voice.

Caitlin looked past him to where Josh stood by the window sobbing in his mother's arms and
pulled away from Sam.

Without a word Caitlin turned and fled the room.

***

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