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"Precious" By Cindy pt.1/4

"Precious"

By Cindy cindybre74@aol.com

Notes: This is a sequel to Love Conquers All and Chances

Summary: When Rachel is kidnapped Josh and Donna's lives fall apart

"Rachel asleep?"Donna asked from her seat on the living room sofa. A sitcom was playing softly on the television a few feet away.

Josh nodded as he sat down next to his wife pulling her close. "Yeah,only took a story and a half this time."

Donna smiled at the image of Josh putting their three and a half year old daughter to sleep. "She's always had you wrapped around her finger."

Josh grinned as Donna rested her head on his chest. "Just like her mother."

"Do you have to teach tomorrow?"Donna asked a few minutes later knowing that Josh sometimes taught on Saturdays. After their custody fight and divorce proceedings nearly two years ago Josh had stopped touring on the lecture circuit so he could be closer to his family.
He split his time now between being a political consultant for local Chicago radio and tv shows and teaching law and political science at Dupal university.

"No, Lewis is covering since I swapped with him last month when he wanted a weekend off."Josh replied with a shake of his head.

"Good."Donna stated quietly as she reached for the remote and flipped off the tv. "Rachel is really looking forward to you taking her to the Circus this weekend."

Josh nodded. "I just hope the clowns don't freak her out."

Donna laughed. "They're clowns, Joshua. They're supposed to make people of all ages happy."

Josh tenderly tucked a stray blonde hair away from her face. "Hey,they scare some kids."

"You're secret's safe with me, Joshua."Donna replied as she absently traced a finger along Josh's bare right forearm.

"I wasn't talking about me."Josh protested.

"Okay."

"I wasn't."

"I believe you."

"I wish I was coming with you guys to the circus."Donna commented wistfully. As much as she loved working in Congresswoman Schultz's office Donna regretted sometimes how much it took her away from Rachel.

Josh squeezed her shoulder gently. "They'll be other circuses,Donnatella."

Donna nodded. "I know it's just this is the first one that she'll have any clear memory of."

"She's three, Donna."Josh replied softly. "She might remember the elephants, not who was with her."

"Children remember more than we think, Joshua."Donna commented as she pushed away from Josh and into a sitting position. "I have that early meeting tomorrow so I'm going to go and take a shower and get ready for bed. You coming up?"

Josh squeezed her hand. "In a few minutes I have a couple papers to grade."

Donna stood and walked around the coffee table before pausing and retracing her steps to Josh. She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly. "I love you, Joshua."

Josh caressed her face gently. "I love you too, Donnatella, always."

********

Donna's blood curtailing scream jerked Josh out of a sound sleep at five the next morning. Josh lay still for a brief moment disoriented not sure if he were awake or in the middle of a nightmare. Though they were rare he still occasionally had them of the assassination
attempt. Sometimes his warped mind threw Donna into the mix to intensify the nightmare. Josh had lost count of how many times he had woken up screaming still seeing her blood on his hands.

Donna's second chilling scream shocked Josh into motion. He vaulted from their bed and into the hall. Josh's heart dropped when he saw his wife standing in the doorway of their daughter's bedroom.
Rachel.......

"Donna?"Josh asked in a choked whisper as he came up behind her.

"R-Rachel's gone, Josh."Donna replied through tears as she half leaned against the doorframe for support. "She's gone...."

Josh finally found the courage to look past Donna into the small room. The bed was empty and the window was open halfway. He quickly stepped past Donna and did a quick search......Rachel was nowhere in sight.

Josh turned back to Donna and pulled her into his arms. "Lets take a quick look around the house...maybe she woke up early."

"She's gone, Josh."Donna replied in a trembling voice. "I can feel it.....why would somebody take her Josh?"

"I don't know, Donnatella."Josh stated as he fought a losing battle to keep his emotions in check. Rachel needed him to have a clear head. "But whoever they are they'll wish they were never born. I'm going to go call the police. You okay for a few minutes?"

Donna nodded tearfully as she leaned against the doorframe staring unseeingly at her daughter's empty bed.

***
Three hours later the Lyman living room looked like a Press room on the eve of a breaking story. Only instead of reporters everywhere there were cops everywhere. From local Chicago police detectives to FBI agents and the Secret Service had even been brought in just in case this tied back to the Bartlet administration.

From his position by the right living room wall Josh glanced
worriedly at Donna who sat on the sofa staring at her folded hands.
The only time she had spoke in the last three hours was to answer the detectives never ending series of questions.

Josh buried his face in his hands and let out a ragged breath. Part of him still couldn't believe this was happening. How the hell could some bastard break into their home....kidnap their daughter and neither of them hear anything two doors away? Clamping down on his fury Josh retraced his steps to the sofa and sat down next to Donna
pulling her into a tight embrace. At his touch Donna's tears started again.

"We'll bring Rachel home, I promise you that, Donnatella."Josh whispered as he gently stroked her hair.

Several minutes later Donna's tears slowed enough so she was able to speak. "W-were you able to get a hold of Sam?"

Josh glanced at his cell phone, which sat on the coffee table a few feet away. "Not yet....I either get a busy signal or an answering machine. I need to talk to Samuel about getting a separate line for his computer."

Donna reached up and gently touched Josh's left cheek as his voice broke on the last word.

For a moment they didn't say anything just stared at each other feeling the emptiness of the house.

"Mrs. Lyman, I'm sorry but we need to ask you a few more questions."A now familiar female voice said softly breaking the silence.

Josh glared at the thirty-ish oriental woman in a dark blue
dress. "Detective, you've already asked her the same questions for the past three hours. Shouldn't you be out looking for our daughter?"

Donna laid a gentle hand on his arm. "It's alright, Josh."

Josh stood. "No, it's not."He replied before the detective could speak. "They've been here for three hours doing nothing but drinking coffee. My daughter could be getting farther away from her home every minute that we stand here!"

"Mr. Lyman...."Detective Samantha Choe began but Donna interrupted her.

"Josh, please."Donna pleaded as she stood to face Josh. "I'll answer however many questions it takes to get Rachel back. Why don't you try to get a hold of Sam again?"

Josh glared at the detective a moment longer before giving Donna's hand a brief squeeze. "Okay, but I'll be close by if you need me."

"Mr. Lyman, we need to keep the....."Choe began as she took a step forward.

Josh angrily snatched up his cellular phone from the coffee table and raised it high in the air. "I've watched my share of police shows, Detective I know the drill. Instead of worrying about our phone lines you should be looking for my daughter."

Donna watched Josh with concern as he turned on his heel and stormed into the den.

"He's not angry at you, Detective "Donna apologized as she turned to face the younger woman.

Choe nodded as she motioned for Donna to sit down on the sofa. "I understand, Mrs. Lyman. We do have roadblocks up in this suburb and surrounding ones plus Rachel's picture has been faxed to all law enforcement offices from here to the Canadian border. Also we have officers and agents at O'Hare and Midway plus bus stations and the train station."

Donna nodded as she watched the crime scene unit officers move up and down the stairs carrying equipment to her daughter's room and back. "I know you're doing all you can."

***
Sam Seaborn hummed softly as he entered his law office in Washington D.C. He was running a little late.

"I know, I'm late."Sam said to his secretary Sarah before she could admonish him. He felt a twinge of deja vu how many times had he said the same thing to Kathy when he worked at the White House?

The red haired woman in her twenties appeared in his doorway just as he set his briefcase and laptop on his desk. "I rescheduled your eight o'clock deposition with Carter for ten and moved your ten o'clock meeting with Seaver to one."

Sam smiled. "Thanks Sarah, Peter in yet?"

Sarah shook her head. "No, probably overslept."

Sam sat down behind his desk. "So what else is new?"He replied with a grin as his secretary left.

"I'll let you know when he gets here."Sarah replied before slipping out the door.

Sam glanced at his calendar trying to prioritize what he needed done before his ten o'clock deposition. With it being a Saturday his schedule was light and he was only working half a day. One of the perks of being his own boss. Sam was just about to sort through some files when his private line rang. He picked up the receiver without looking up from the files.

"Seaborn?"

"Sam?"

Sam's head snapped up his blue eyes narrowing with concern...he barely recognized Josh's voice it was hallow and dead. "Josh, you okay?"

"Rachel's missing."Josh choked out as he slumped down against the wall of the den. Saying it out loud for the first time made the situation hauntingly real.

Sam swallowed hard, he had grown attached to Josh's daughter and thought of her like a niece. "What do you mean she's missing?"

"S-somebody took her, Sam."Josh replied shakily. "Took her from her bedroom last night."

"Are you and Donna alright? Physically I mean...."Sam asked as he stood and started to gather his things.

"We somehow slept through it."Josh whispered as he closed his eyes. "Sam, how could we sleep through this? How could we not hear someone climbing through Rachel's window and snatching her?"

Sam didn't have an answer for his friend he wished he did so instead he asked a question. "Are the police there?"

"They've been here for three hours and haven't found her."

"Caitlin and I will be there as soon as we can, Josh."Sam promised.

"Okay."Josh replied as he forced himself to stand...he couldn't lose it yet. "I'm on the cell phone they had to keep our lines clear in case.....I can't leave Donna alone....she's taking this hard."

"Hold on to each other, Josh."Sam stated softly as he motioned Sarah in. "We'll be there as soon as we can."

***
Caitlin settled back into her seat as the plane took off around ten but she couldn't relax. Sam was flipping through a magazine but Caitlin knew he wasn't seeing a word of it.

Part of her couldn't believe what her husband had told her. Rachel couldn't have been kidnapped. It just wasn't fair. Josh and Donna had already gone through so much.

"Did Josh say if they had any leads?"Caitlin asked quietly as she turned to face Sam.

Seaborn shook his head sadly finally giving up on the magazine. "He was really torn up....couldn't get much detail out of him. But it sounded like the police were still camped out in their living room."

Caitlin reached over and took his hand in hers. "Who would do this Sam? Josh and Donna have never hurt anybody. Who could hate them so much that they would endanger a little girls life?"

Sam squeezed her hand just as the pilot came on announcing they had reached cruising altitude. "Hopefully this will be resolved by the time we get there."He replied wishing he could keep his voice from shaking.

"Do you think this has to do with them working at the White House?"Caitlin asked softly.

"I don't know, Caitie. There are a lot of crazies out there and not all of them are made at the government."Sam replied in a voice filled with quiet anger.

*********

By noon there was still no ransom call and that terrified Josh more than anything. He wasn't a rich man by any means but he'd do whatever he had to get whatever money he had to, to bring Rachel home.

Donna caught the anguished expression on Josh's face and reached over and squeezed his hand.They were sitting on the living room sofa....the police still had most of the house quarantined as a crime scene. It was just as well neither of them could bring themselves to go back upstairs.

"Do you want me to call Leo?"Donna asked quietly knowing that the former chief of staff was the closest thing Josh had to a father.

Josh shook his head as he pulled her into an embrace. "Wait till we know more. You know Leo doesn't deal with helplessness well."

Donna nodded as she buried her face against his chest. "Josh, what if they've taken her out of the country.....what if she's in some third world country that even if we find her we'll never be able to get her back....."

Josh tightened his grip on her shoulders as he heard her voice tremble and break. "Don't start thinking about what if's, Donnatella. Rachel will come home....concentrate on that."

***
It was almost one when Sam helped Caitlin out of the cab as it idled in front of Josh and Donna's house. Or as close to it as they could get. The driveway was overflowing with police and FBI cars. Caitlin felt a chill as she glanced at her friend's house.....yellow crime scene tape across Rachel's window, forensic units still working around
the grounds.

Sam paid the driver and took their luggage before he and Caitlin stepped onto the Lyman's front lawn. Instantly they were surrounded by two uniformed police officers and two FBI agents.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but we'll have to ask for some identification."A black haired FBI agent ordered as he stepped forward.

Sam blinked in surprise but took his wallet out of his jacket pocket and saw that Caitlin was taking hers out of her purse.

"We're friends of Josh and Donna."Sam informed the agent as their ID's were scrutinized. "This is Caitlin Bartlet, daughter of former President Josiah Bartlet."

The man nodded as he handed their driver liceneses back to them. "I recognize you now, Ms. Bartlet, sorry about this, but with the kidnapping we can't be too careful."

Caitlin nodded as she squeezed Sam's hand. "I understand. Any news on Rachel?"

The agent shook his head. "Not yet, Ms. Bartlet but we are waiting to hear back on some of the road blocks."

"Can we go inside now?"Sam asked quietly as he placed an arm around Caitlin's waist.

The man nodded and motioned to the others to let the pair through. "Yes, Mr. Seaborn. The Lymans are in the living room."

"Thank you."Caitlin replied as they walked toward the front door.

As soon as Caitlin and Sam entered the living room she enveloped Josh and Donna, who had stood to greet them, in a huge hug. After they broke apart Sam hugged Donna for a moment before clasping Josh on the shoulder.

"Sorry about the welcoming party."Josh apologized in a hollow voice. "You're the first visitors we've had since...."

Caitlin touched Josh's shoulder as his voice broke. "Just tell us what we can do, Josh."

Josh tried to smile at his friend's earnsty but failed miserably as he shook his head. "Unless you can bring Rachel back there's nothing anyone can do."

Donna exchanged a miserable helpless glance with Caitlin as they watched Josh turn away from his friends and walk toward the living room window.

Josh paused as he neared the window and turned back to the others.
"Excuse me."He said quietly starting to feel the walls close in around him. He turned and walked toward the stairs.

Sam started to follow but Caitlin reached over and placed a hand on her husband's shoulder. "I'll go."

Sam nodded and squeezed her hand as Caitlin stepped away and followed Josh upstairs.

Donna worriedly watched the stairs for a moment before turning to face Sam. "Would you like something to drink?"

Sam placed a hand on her shoulder and guided Donna to the sofa. "We're okay, Donna. How are you?"

Donna fiddled with a gold bracelet she was wearing. "I'm worried about Josh....he's holding it all in."

"I didn't ask about Josh."Sam interjected gently."How are you?"

"I-I feel lost, Sam."Donna whispered sadly as the tears started again. "Its like they took part of me when they took her."

********

Caitlin didn't have to look very far to find Josh. He was standing in the middle of his daughter's room. The forensics team had long since gotten what they needed.

"I'm okay, Cait."Josh assured his friend as she stepped into the room.

Caitlin shook her head as she closed the space between them. "No, Joshua, you're not."

Josh met her gaze briefly and Caitlin's heart broke at the pure anguish she saw there. Caitlin watched as Josh picked up Rachel's stuffed tiger from the bed.

"Josh...."

"I was supposed to take her to the circus today, Cait."Josh whispered as he sank down onto the small bed.

Caitlin sat down next to him her gaze fixated on the tiger. It was Rachel's favorite toy...the little girl couldn't sleep without it."You'll have that chance, Josh."

"I-I'm her father, Cait."Josh replied shakily. "I was supposed to protect her. Now some....stranger...."

As Josh's voice dissolved into tears Caitlin wrapped him in a hug.

***
The dark haired agent who had detained Sam and Caitlin on their arrival approached Detective Choe as she stood with a group of police officers near the front door.

"Detective,"FBI Agent Kevin Hamil began as he handed her a thin piece of fax paper. "The Secret Service may have just broke this case."

Samantha Choe's eyes widened as she took the piece of paper. Her mouth tightened into a grim line as she read the information. "Have the Lymans been told about this?"She asked quietly.

Hamil shook his head sadly. "No, do you want me to tell them?"

"Thanks, but it's my case, I'll handle it."Choe replied as she turned and headed to where Donna and Sam sat on the sofa.

Donna froze as she saw the look on the detective's face. "Do you have news, Detective?"

Choe nodded. "Yes."

Sam instantly stood. "I'll go get Josh and Caitlin."He replied grimly.

**********

After a few minutes Josh pulled away from Caitlin and stood quickly wiping away any remaining tears.

"I should get back downstairs."Josh stated softly unable to break his gaze from the window. The window that still had the yellow crime scene tape draped across it.

Caitlin stood and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "Josh, you don't have to be strong all the time. You can lean on Sam and I."

Josh shook his head as he met her gaze. "No....Donna's counting on me. She's barely holding it together, Cait....I can't lose it now."

Before Caitlin could reply Sam knocked lightly on the doorway.

Josh swallowed hard seeing Sam's grim expression. "What is it?"

"They have a lead."Sam replied quietly.

When they reached the living room Josh quickly sat down next to Donna and took her hand in his. Sam stood to the left of the sofa while Caitlin sat next to Josh.

Skipping the preamble Choe sat in a chair across from the foursome and leaned forward. "Twenty minutes ago we received a fax from Secret Service agent Ron Butterfield."

Josh's mind was having a hard time grasping this conversation. "Secret Service? Why would...."

"We had to go over every possibility of who might have taken your daughter, Mr. Lyman. And since you both worked in the White House for a number of years we contacted the Secret Service."

Josh nodded numbly. Now he remembered seeing the agents talking with the other officers.

"What did you find out, Detective?"Caitlin asked quietly. Sam placed a hand on her shoulder.

Choe met Josh's gaze. "Apparently Harry Boxton escaped from prison two weeks ago."

***
Choe met Josh's gaze. "Apparently Harry Boxton escaped from prison two weeks ago."

"Oh God."Caitlin whispered as she squeezed Sam's hand.

"No!"Donna exclaimed as she stood and walked away from the sofa. "He can't have her....he just can't...."

Josh's hands shook with shock and anger....this can't be happening. "Are you sure he has Rachel?"

Choe shook her head grimly. "We don't have anything concrete yet on who has your daughter, Mr. Lyman. But Mr. Boxton is the best lead we have. He's the only one with motive and opportunity."

Josh stood and crossed over to Donna and pulled her into his arms. Donna shook her head and pulled away, tears streaming down her face.

Donna leaned against the window sill feeling her knees start to grow weak. It had been bad enough when Boxton had ruined her wedding day and taken her hostage.....Donna had never been more terrified in her life. That was until now.....he had Rachel....she just knew it.....it made a horrible kind of sense.

Sam knelt in front of Caitlin worried about the paleness of her face.They had found out two weeks previous that Caitlin was pregnant. Sam had been hesitant to tell her about Rachel's kidnapping not sure how the strain would affect
her.

Caitlin saw the worry in her husband's blue eyes and knew it wasn't just because of Rachel. They hadn't told anybody outside of their families yet about her pregnancy. She reached out and gently touched Sam's face giving him
a brief smile letting him know she was okay.

Choe leaned forward catching Josh's attention. "Mr. Lyman, I know this is difficult but we need to interview both you and your wife. You're both our best witnesses to what Boxton is capable of."

Donna flinched visibly at the detective's request and forced her attention on the backyard. They had planned to install a swingset when Rachel was old enough.

Caitlin stood knowing that reliving the nightmare with Boxton was the last thing Josh or Donna needed. "Detective, I was there when Donna was kidnapped. I can tell you anything you need to know."

Josh flashed her a brief but grateful smile.

"I appreciate your offer, Ms. Bartlet."Choe replied as she stood. "I'll have one of the officers take your statement but Mrs. Lyman was still the closest to Boxton during the ordeal."

"No!"Josh shouted gaining the entire room's attention.

"Mr. Lyman....."

Josh shook his head. "I'll get you whatever you need from Secret Service reports, FBI reports....but you're not questioning my wife!"

Sam placed a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder. "Josh, if this is the...."

Josh broke away. "No, Sam....we're not reliving it."

Caitlin looked over at Donna worried that she was so quiet and still. Just as she made her way over to her former roommate Donna whirled around tears streaming down her face.

"We're already reliving it, Josh!"Donna shouted her voice catching. "He's taken her.....I know it."

Josh walked over to her and instantly pulled her into his arms. "Donna...."

Donna pulled away from him slightly. "I'll tell them whatever they want to know."

Josh shook his head. "You don't have to.....everything's documented."

"That'll take time....the less time it takes to get the information the quicker Rachel will be home."Donna replied the tears stopping for the moment.

Choe approached them. "I assure you, Mr. Lyman....we can question her here....it won't take very long. Then we'll have better knowledge of where to look for your daughter."

"Okay."Josh replied reluctantly as he walked with Donna and the detective over to the sofa.

***
Sam watched his friends worriedly as he pulled a cell phone out of his jacket pocket. He walked over to Caitlin and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"I'm going to make a phone call."Sam said quietly.

Caitlin nodded as he followed his gaze to Josh knowing exactly who her husband was calling. She just hoped it would help.

************

"Knew I should've wrote this thing with pad and pencil."Leo McGarry muttered as he slammed a few keys on his laptop computer in pure frustration. His latest book on politics wasn't coming up. The computer had eaten his file and
now he wanted it back.

"Leo?"His wife called from the den's doorway of their Virginia home.

"Just a minute, Jenny."Leo replied absently not looking up from the screen.

"Sam's on the phone."Jenny stated as she walked over and handed him the cordless phone.

Leo nodded his thanks as he took the phone. "Sam, how's D.C.?"

"Did you know that Boxton escaped?"Sam demanded forgoing any preamble.

Leo's attention was now completely away from his computer. "No, when?"

"Two weeks ago."Sam replied quietly glancing back at the activity in the Lyman's living room.

"What has he done, Sam?"Leo asked grimly catching the anxious tone in the younger man's voice.

"Rachel's missing....kidnapped last night."Sam replied in a tight voice. "Police think that Boxton is the best suspect."

"What do you need?"Leo asked he may not be the chief of staff any longer but he could still pull a few strings.

"Caitie and I are in Chicago."Sam replied. "But I need you to come here as soon as you can. Josh is a wreck...he's trying to hold it together for Donna's sake but it's not working."

Leo closed his eyes briefly remembering the hell that Josh endured when Donna was missing."I'll be there by tonight, Sam. Thanks for letting me know."

***
Toby Ziegler stood at his desk in his office at Columbia University. Even for a Saturday it had been a long day of grading papers and preparing next week's lectures. He had just finished the last stack of exams and was getting ready
to head home. It was just after four and all Toby wanted to do was catch an early dinner and collapse on his sofa to watch an old movie.

Toby sighed as he spotted Jake Moser, one of the journalism teachers walking toward him computer printout in hand. "I'm walking out the door, Jake."

The black man nodded. "I know, but I thought you'd like to see this. You worked with a Josh Lyman right?"

Toby snatched the paper from the younger man as images of the shooting came flooding back. "Yeah."

"I saw this on one of the wire services web pages and thought you'd like to know."

Toby quickly scanned the article his face paling. "Thanks Jake."

"Sure."

After Moser left Toby grabbed his briefcase and walked quickly out of the building.With Rachel missing Josh and Donna would need all the support they could get.

On his way to the parking lot Toby pulled out his cellular phone and dialed a familiar number.

"CJ? It's Toby.....you might want to see if you can get some time off. I'm going to try to get somebody to cover my classes next week....Rachel's missing the police are pretty sure that she's been kidnapped."

***********

Josh sat with Donna as Choe began her questioning. Caitlin watched them for a moment before moving into the kitchen Sam close behind her.

"I got a hold of Leo."Sam whispered as he pulled Caitlin close. "He'll be here as soon as he can."

Caitlin nodded as she leaned back against her husband. "I just hope Leo can help Josh....he's bound and determined to carry the weight of this on his shoulders. I tried to talk to him but he won't let me in. Sam, if he won't talk to the two of us...."

Sam tightened his hold as he rested his head on top of hers. "Josh will talk when he's ready, Caitie."

Caitlin closed her eyes as memories of Josh and Donna's wedding came flooding back. "I could've prevented this, Sam."

Sam shook his head. "There is no way this is your fault, Caitie. Don't even think it."

"Boxton was after me when they took Donna."Caitlin replied quietly as she opened her eyes. "If I hadn't set those events in motion Boxton wouldn't even know who Donna was let alone come in here and take a terrified little girl."

Sam turned Caitlin around so she was facing him. "We don't know that. We all worked highly publicized jobs.....we knew the risks when we agreed to work for your father. If it hadn't been Boxton some other nutcase might have done
this. After the shooting Josh's name was all over the news."

go on to the next part