DISCLAIMER: I don't own the West Wing or related characters. I own Rade
Bartlet but that's about it... unfortunately.
NOTES: This is a nice long complicated story, the first of a small series,
maybe only one more after this, I don't know. Thanks so much to AJ for being
my wonderful beta. ::grins:: And for putting up with me.
SUMMARY: Rade finds herself in another bad situation and the West Wing is
left feeling helpless as they have to deal.

"I still think she's in need of a personality." Rade exclaimed. Ellis
chuckled and shook his head as they moved into the House. "I mean it's like
being taught by an android. I can learn English more effectively with Toby
and Sam." She added as she moved for the residence.
"She's not that bad." Ellis exclaimed. "And the way you and those two get
along, you'd never get any work done." He added. Rade grinned.
"Is that so bad?" She asked sweetly.
"Not for you, I guess, but your granddad might be kind of pissed about
it." Ellis retorted. Rade snickered and went into her room. Ellis stayed in
the hallway, as usual, unless she invited him in. He saw her closed the door
and waited. Five minutes later, the door opened again and Rade was already on
her way. She knew she must be heading for the West Wing, as always.
"Hey, Ginger. Is he in?" Rade asked as she approached Toby's office.
Ginger nodded and smiled. Rade smiled back and went inside.
"How was school?" Toby muttered as he stared at his computer screen. Rade
shrugged and picked up the green folder that waited for her on the corner of
his cluttered desk.
"Boring, stressful, the same." She replied as she collapsed into the
couch and opened the folder. She looked at the work that had been given to
her and smiled when Toby grunted.
"Still, it's good for you." He commented absentmindedly.
"Do you really believe that?" Rade teased.
"Yes." He retorted. "But only because I'm paid to." He added. Rade
laughed and nodded.
"Granted." She murmured as she began to scribble on the speech Sam had
written. Toby smirked as he heard her mutter about punctuation. He watched
her for a moment and then looked back at his work.
"No homework?" He asked.
"Finished it." She retorted.
"That's what I thought."
"You know me too well."
"My birthday is coming up."
"Is it?"
"Nine days."
"Really? That would be the... 24th?"
"Yep. I'll be seventeen."
"Thank you for your enthusiasm."
"Any time."

"Survivor has arrived, Sir." A secret service agent exclaimed. Jed nodded
and moved for his desk. The agent paused and then disappeared. The President
sat down and looked around the grand office. My, how far things had come. He
could still remember being sixteen years old, the day he met Leo, the day he
met Abbey, the day his father died, the day he was married, when his first
child was born... So many memories and now here he was, in the Oval
office, just remembering.
It had been more than a month since Eric Knox's trial. Rade was in
school, Liz had found a good job working at a local advertising firm and
Annie was also getting back into her education. Rade worked as an "intern" in
the White House communications office and had even consented to being
interviewed for the first time ever. After an *almost* fistfight between
eager reporters, the honor went to Danny Concannon. The interview was read by
more than forty-five million people according to sales numbers, a record for
Danny and his paper. The reporter attributed it to the fact that Rade had hit
the spotlight so many times in recent months. Jed thought it was a
combination of Rade's personality and Danny's talent. So did quite a few
Rade was happy again. Many others were because of it. Toby interacted
with her the most and everyone had seen the changes in him. Sam was all the
happier because when Toby was nice, Sam got a break. Even CJ was marveling at
the man's kindness. Margaret, Ginger and Bonnie were all scared at first, but
every once in a while, the grouchiness re-emerged and they were assured. Zoey
was happy to be near her sister and nieces. Abbey was ecstatic to have her
daughter and granddaughters in such close proximity. Josh was always goofing
off with Rade. Together, the two were quite excellent practical jokers. This
was annoyance to most, but an entertaining one. Many rumored that Mrs.
Landingham was in on the deal too, explaining Rade's endless cookie stash.
Life was going on. It was a fascinating process of how resilient they all
were. Being President of the United States, Jed never expected to have to
deal with all the things that had happened in the last four months. He never
would have believed that the man who had married his daughter, comforted her
through tragedy, was such a violent miscreant. After Liz's trauma, Eric had
been there for her, but was it his horrid intention all along to treat Liz's
child with abuse and hatred? Maybe Eric had expected Liz to abort the child
or perhaps he'd expected her to hate the child because of the trauma it
represented. Jed could never be sure that the latter assumption wasn't the
slightest bit true, but he'd seen Liz and Rade together. They loved each
other and no one had ever suspected that Rade was anything but the product of
a mother's love. But none of that mattered now. What had happened, happened,
and life had moved on. Life was okay now... wasn't it?
"Mr. President?" Leo McGarry's voice called.
"Yeah." Jed murmured.
"We've got the people from the NSC waiting." Leo said as he moved into
the room. "Are you all right sir? You seem perplexed."
"I'm the leader of the free world, Leo." Jed said playfully. "I'm always
perplexed." Leo smiled and nodded.
"Anything in particular this time?" He asked.
"Just musing about how far we've come." Jed admitted. "So much has
happened to us lately and I'm just thinking about how proud I am that we're
still standing"
"We are, Mr. President, and we'll stay that way." Leo replied softly. Jed
smiled and nodded as he rose to his feet.
"You bet we will. I'm beginning to think that we can handle anything." He
retorted as he grabbed his jacket and moved for his best friend. Leo just
smiled and shrugged.
"Maybe so." Was all he would venture to say. Jed slipped his jacket on
and sighed.
"Lead the way." He said in a mock command.
"Yes, sir." Leo replied and then did as he was told. Together the two
friends disappeared down the hallway.

TBC... .


Everything That Changes - 2



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