THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 5AM AND 6AM
EVENTS OCCUR IN REAL TIME
The Marriott Downtown
Connie Beauchamp's day, began, much to her disgust, with a rude awakening from her hotel room telephone. As she opened her eyes and found herself reaching sleepily for the receiver she cursed her husband out loud, already predicting it would be him at the other end of the phone, all bright eyed and bushytailed ready to wish his 'adoring' wife good morning. It had been a regular occurrence since she'd left Washington to take up a temporary posting in Los Angeles a few weeks before, and it was a constant source of amusement / annoyance to her that a man holding a position of such great authority, not to mention national importance be completely incapable of working out the time difference between LA and DC and the effect thereof on his wife's sleep patterns.
"Yes?" She waited for Michael to pick up on the frostiness of her tone, realise what he'd done, mutter the obligatory "Oh fuck it." and then apologise profusely, but neither curse not apology came. "Michael?" she said, irritably due to the interruption to her beauty sleep, "if that's you can we get the usual palaver out of the way so I can go back to sleep?"
"Mrs Beauchamp," A sharp businesslike tone of a voice that clearly didn't belong to Michael quickly stopped her in her tracks, and then quickly dragged her out of her sleepy reverie as he announced himself, "This is Bill Buchanan."
It was a name that she was familiar with even if she didn't know the man himself. Bill Buchanan was the Director of LA's Counter Terrorist Unit, the Government Agency to which she was currently seconded. If he was calling her at 5am it was clearly not for 'welcome to firm' niceties, he clearly meant business.
Suddenly wide-awake, she jumped from the bed, still clutching the phone under her chin as she anticipated that this was a call of duty, and lying around in bed until her alarm went off was no longer going to be an option, "Is there a problem?"
"We need you to come in. There's a situation going down and we need your assistance."
"Can I ask what kind of situation?"
A beat and then, "You'll be fully briefed on your arrival. Please report to Operations. We'll be expecting you." Then a click and he was gone.
CTU Los Angeles
"She's on her way." Bill announced as he clicked the Situation Room's speakerphone off, "She's currently residing at the Marriott, so I'd assume she'd be 15, 20 minutes maximum."
At his side, Chloe O'Brien, CTU's most respected data analyst snorted, "With respect Sir, you seem to have forgotten the 3 hours required for her to choose an outfit, put on her make up and get ready." Unlike the others present she was familiar with Connie, having had a brief altercation with her by the vending machines shortly after her arrival and it hadn't taken long for her to form an opinion that the new Medical Officer was suffering from visions of grandeur way above those her post allowed for.
Her comments fell by the wayside however, as Jack Bauer, the third and final person in the room spoke, ignoring her comments as if she'd never opened her mouth.
"What do we know about her?"
"She has some very nice shoes." Chloe sniped sarcastically, but got no further before Bill interrupted.
"She's a British born medic, highly regarded in her own field which is," he scanned the notes in front of him, "cardio-thoracic surgery. She moved out here with her husband 18 months ago and has been working in a military hospital just outside Washington on a classified assignment since, until being posted here last month."
Never one to miss a trick, Jack was immediately on his guard, "A classified assignment? Just like that? And that happened how?" He took the notes from Bill and quickly scanned them himself, "She's a hospital doctor Bill, she's not even a US citizen. How did she get a detail like that?"
Bill made to answer but Chloe beat him to it, glad to have a piece of information about their new colleague that might finally pique his interest, the collection of Manalo Blanik's obviously not having done the trick, "Check out the name Jack… Constance Beauchamp, wife of…" she got no further before the penny dropped for Jack and he cut her dead,
Chloe nodded, "Got it in one. Our new Medical Officer is married to the President's Chief of Staff."
The White House
In the last year Michael had rarely regretted his decision to up sticks and move to the States. There was very little reason why he would have done. It is not every day that you receive a phone call asking you to accept the position of Chief of Staff in the White House, and Connie would never ever have forgiven him if he'd said no. As it was, his social climbing wife couldn't believe her luck and if she was happy, he was happy, even if it did mean having to keep a secret or two from her.
Like the fact he'd screwed the President at university.
Well, not so much screwed as dated. For four years.
It was a miracle really that the press hadn't dug it up really, but then it was truth universally acknowledged that that any secret could be buried deep enough as long as you were willing to pay the right price. And he was - anything to keep Connie off of his back, and the cries of 'nepotism' at bay.
So yes, it was a charmed life. An apartment at The White House, and a second very plush home not far from Capitol Hill, status, security and a never ending stream of women to keep his bed warm while Connie was off 'doing her thing', which, he noted, was most of the time. Not that he blamed her, she was so excited – she'd spent years in Holby having to battle for every last penny from the NHS, and now suddenly she had budgets and technology at her disposal that she'd only been able to dream of before, not to mention a very swanky 'Level 6 Government Security Classification' pass that put a smile on her face every time she clipped it onto her Gucci suit. It worked in his favour too. He'd given her power, and power made her both horny and grateful, a fact she demonstrated to him whenever they managed to be in the same city at the same time.
It really had all worked out really rather nicely.
Today he'd woken up to news of a terror alert. Now admittedly that was not an infrequent occurrence. In fact, very rarely did he not wake up to some kind of terrorist threat – it kind of went with the territory, but this one was different. This one was, well, serious.
He sighed, flipping through the latest batch of intelligence information he'd received from CTU in LA. It really wasn't looking good at all, and quite frankly, he was feeling out of his depth. Clearly landing a job as a result of your talents in the bedroom was not all it cracked up to be. Which was odd, because it had often worked well for his wife.
He walked towards the Oval Office, knocked on the door and then, when bidden, entered and approached the desk.
"Mrs Logan, I really think you ought to take a look at this."
Connie flew through the lobby of the Marriott and out of the front doors where her car was waiting for her, along with a Valet who had the keys in his hand. Although time was of the essence she afforded him a smile as she did every morning, since he had a very pert behind, and since Michael was 1000's of miles away she never knew when she might need to secure his assistance in servicing far more than just her car.
"Thanks Manuel." She glanced at her watch, noting the time, "6 minutes. Not bad." Although in truth she felt the accolades belonged more to her given that in the time it had taken him to drive her car round from the garage she'd managed to choose an outfit, apply a touch of make up, get ready and get downstairs – no mean feat when all was said and done.
She climbed into the car, "See you tonight."
She turned the key in the ignition, and pulled away, before taking her phone from her pocket, activating the hands free kit and dialing Michael. It was a 10 minute journey to the downtown offices in which CTU was situated, and by the time she arrived she intended to be as fully briefed they were.
Michael and The President were deep in discussion over the most recent CTU report when his mobile rang, treating them both to a rendition of 'Most Beautiful Girl in the World' by Prince that seemed both grating and rather inappropriate considering their location and the severity of the situation. He removed it from his pocket and looked at her apologetically,
"Ah, it's my wife… I'm sorry, would you mind?"
The President shook her head and then returned to the report as he stepped into the corridor to take the call.
Is that my gorgeous husband?
His first question, when greeted in such a manner normally, would have been "What the Hell are you after?" but on this particular occasion he was more intrigued by what she was doing up and about, let alone sounding so perky. After several weeks of enraging her temper by completely failing to understand American Time Zones he'd finally thought he'd got it nailed – but apparently not.
"Shouldn't you be asleep?" He asked, somewhat puzzled, as he removed a post it note from his pocket that clearly spelt out to him that LA was 3 hours behind DC and therefore she should be.
"I got called into work." She replied, "Do you want to tell me why?"
"Why would I know why?"
At the end of the phone he heard her sigh, a surefire sign that she was getting huffy, which she tended to do whenever she felt he was missing the point, or just being deliberately evasive. Quite often it was the former, but today it was the latter. Clearly there was some link between her being called into work and the documents he'd just been going through with Martha but really, that was hardly the point. It was a bone of contention between them that sometimes these days he had secrets he had to keep from her beyond the name of the bimbo he was screwing at any given moment – that she was used to, it was everything else she didn't like, couldn't cope with and thus tended to huff about.
Well she was going to have to learn to live with it now. Her husband was the closest colleague and confidante of the Leader of the Free World – he was going to have secrets whether she liked it or not.
And she liked it not.
"You would know why Michael," she said in the frosty tone that she reserved for him when he was really pissing her off as opposed to just mildly so, "Because I work for a Government Agency, a Government Agency that answers to the President herself, the said same President that I am in little doubt you're currently sat sharing a morning latte with and discussing the reason I'm being called into work now, are you going to give me the fucking heads up or," she stopped her ranting momentarily as she swore violently and Michael was aware of beeping horns and screeching brakes at the other end of the phone, "do I have to get myself killed first." She added as the screeching stop and calm was restored.
Michael sighed. There was no point in arguing with her when she was like this. Sometimes it was just a hell of a lot easier just to give in.
"We have evidence that terrorists are planning a biological attack somewhere in the US, at some point today. "
On the other end of the phone his wife fell silent and he regretted his bluntness. For all her arrogance and overblown self confidence she displayed he knew she was no more equipped to deal with this than he was.
"What kind of biological attack?" She asked finally, in a tiny voice that he barely recognized as belonging to her.
He sighed, "A virus. The symptoms are like Ebola," He took a deep breath, "but worse." He waited for a response and when one wasn't forthcoming he could easily imagine the picture at the other end of the phone – it took a lot to scare his wife but when it happened the results were always the same: - her fists clenched (no doubt round the steering wheel in this scenario), her face ashen and her bottom lip wobbling as she desperately tried to maintain her composure. His brave little soldier. "Darling," he said gently, "we've got a body infected with the virus, it's on its way to CTU now and we need you to look at it. We need you to find out what this thing is."
"This isn't my area of expertise."
He laughed softly, "Come on baby, EVERYTHING is your area of expertise, at least that's what you've always told me. You'll be ok." Just as he was reassuring her the President opened the door, looked at her watch and then at him questioningly, obviously a reminder that the clock was ticking. "I have to go. I'll talk to you later." He waited until Martha left again and added a very tender, "I love you."
"I love you too." Connie mumbled as she pulled into the parking lot of the CTU buildings, but it was too late, Michael was already gone. Still stunned from his revelation, and by what they were expecting her to do she leant against the steering wheel, desperately trying to get her head together.
An Ebola type virus?
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
She never thought she'd see the day, but at that moment she'd have quite happily traded Capitol Hill and dining with Statesmen for Holby City and the staff canteen.
Still, it was not the time for having nervous breakdowns and getting nostalgic about a place she'd been very glad to see the back of.
She checked her make up in the mirror, clipped on her Level 6 Security Clearance pass and then made her way into the building.
She had work to do.
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