NOTES: See Part 1, please don't kill me. I know you'll all want to after this
part, but just remember, if you kill me, you don't get anymore of the story.
Of course, someone would probably write it for me... No, that does not
mean you can kill me. Just... don't. My mom would be very sad.
SUMMARY: Rade finds herself in another bad situation and the West Wing is
left feeling helpless as they have to deal.

Liz stared out the window, watching the rain stream down. It was a light
storm, that was coming a bit early in the year. Perhaps the rain was there to
suit her mood. It had been 33 hours since Rade had disappeared, and Liz had
yet to speak to anyone except her mother, her father and her younger
daughter. Now Annie slept in her room, finally able to shut her eyes despite
the massive worry she had for her older sister.
Liz marveled at the relationship that Rade and Annie shared. Growing up
with Marielle and Zoey, she'd never felt as close to them as she felt Rade
and Annie were. Rade took care of Annie, treated her well and taught her
about the world. Annie never asked too much of her older sister, and always
seemed to recognize when Rade needed her space. It was something that awed
Liz, how mature her two children were with each other... and with no one
else, she thought with a weak smile.
Would Rade come back so that Annie could still have that? Liz didn't know
what she'd do if Zoey or Elle were hurt... or even killed. But the
difference between that and this was that Zoey and Elle would never be harmed
by their father.
Did Rade know who it was that held her captive? Liz had heard that
Jonathon was out of town, but she didn't believe it. She didn't tell anyone
that she didn't believe it, but she knew somewhere within her that Jonathon
had to be behind all this. What did he want? Why would he hurt Rade, after
all these years?
"Liz." A soft voice exclaimed. Liz turned and looked at the door to see
her mother standing there. "How are you doing?" Abbey asked as she moved into
the room and closed the door behind her.
"I don't know." Liz whispered. Abbey nodded as she moved towards her
"Why is this happening? Hasn't Rade been through enough? Haven't I?" Liz
asked, almost angrily.
"I don't know, but you're right. You and Rade have been through too much
already." Abbey whispered.
"Mom, what kind of God would do this to us?" Liz asked. "Tell me why."
Abbey paused. She herself had questioned the Lord before, but in the end, she
could only assume that He knew what He was doing. Still, that answer didn't
seem adequate enough right now.
"I honestly don't know. Maybe there's no reason behind it at all, or
maybe there is one. Maybe this was a reminder that things never get any
easier. I don't know how He thinks." Abbey said softly.
"What, is this some sort of test?" Liz asked honestly.
"I don't know." Abbey repeated. "I honestly don't. The best I can do
though is to say that I'm here for you and for Rade when she comes home." Liz
turned back to the window and stared at the sky.
"If she comes home."

When she opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was that everything
she saw had no coherence. It was like looking at a jigsaw puzzle; all the
pieces were mixed up and were just waiting for her brain to put them back
together. Rade blinked a few times and rolled her head to the side. She saw a
dark figure sitting on the table on the opposite side of the room. She knew
who it was, but she couldn't place the name quite yet.
"You woke up just in time." He said softly. She looked at him and blinked
"Dad..." She mumbled and let her head drop to the floor again. She
stared up at the ceiling and tried to gather her senses. Jonathon stopped in
his tracks. Had she really called him dad?
"I'm calling them in about five minutes. If they have an answer for me
that I don't want to hear, I apologize ahead of time." He said softly.
"For wha..." Rade mumbled. Jon decided not to answer her and then
looked at the table. The 9mm just sat there, waiting for him to pull it back
into his fingers. He looked at her again and then at the cell phone in his
left hand. Five minutes until he had to make the final decision. Finally, he
dialed and then listened as the line began to ring.

"When will we get notice?" Jed asked into the phone. Around the room, his
staff waited nervously for him to get off the line and say something about
the way his plan was going. He nodded without thinking. "Okay. Check it out.
You heard me." He said before hanging up. "Leo, what's the word on Knox?"
"He's on his way to the GW airport, extremely confused. He thinks he's
got a free ticket and gets a free plane with it. He'll realize that's not so
correct when they cuff him to the plane." Leo exclaimed.
"Okay. Well, they went to Richards's place and are searching it now. The
joys of being the President. Now--" Jed started to speak again when the phone
rang. He looked at his watch. "Goddamn."
"Sir." Toby said weakly. Jed looked at his speechwriter and caught the
look in his eyes. He nodded and then grabbed the phone.
"Bartlet." He said sternly.
"Have they been released?" Cougar asked.
"Yes." Jed lied.
"You're lying. They would have called me." Cougar replied.
"There's no way we can make them call you. We tried with O'Malley and you
suspected us. The men that we've released have no reason to call you unless
they wish to, and I hon--" Jed started.
"They would call me. This much I know about them." Cougar interrupted.
"Listen, I don't know--"
"I'm not on speakerphone. Are they all there?"
"Yes." Jed replied after a brief pause.
"Speakerphone. Now." Cougar ordered. Jed sighed and did as he was told.
"I know you can all hear me now. Listen as I ask your precious president a
question, and I expect a direct, honest answer." He paused. "Have they been
released?" There was a silent pause. "I won't chastize you for lying, but you
damn well better tell the truth now."
"Listen-" Jed started again.
"No, you listen. Yes or no. Have they been released?" Cougar asked
sharply. Jed looked at Ron. Was it enough time? "Answer me! What, do you need
more time??" Cougar snapped.
"Yes, we need more time." Jed said softly. Down in the distant basement,
Jon looked at Rade who had managed to slip up against the wall, and then he
grabbed the gun.
The entire senior staff jumped as a gunshot rang through the telephone
line, echoing off the walls.
"Now you've got all the time in the world." Cougar said darkly before
hanging up.
Inside the Oval office, everyone was staring at the speakerphone, their
hearts breaking as they listened to the burning sound of an empty dial tone,
the gunshot resonating through their brains.

TBC... .


Everything That Changes - 11



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