NOTES: See Part 1
SUMMARY: Rade finds herself in another bad situation and the West Wing is
left feeling helpless as they have to deal.

There was an eerie silence in the air. Silence except for one sound. The
smooth, unchanging sound of the dial tone that emanated from the speaker
sitting on Jed Bartlet's desk. All eyes in the room were focused on that
speaker. No one even looked at anyone else in the room.
What could be said now? What could be done? It was over. They'd failed.
Gone. She was gone. Josh felt his knees began to quake as he collapsed into
the couch. No. It couldn't be. She wasn't gone... . She was gone. And it
was his fault. His fault. He was right, and he was wrong. And she had died.
She was dead. Wasn't she? Wasn't that what the gunshot meant? Josh looked
around the room to gauge the reactions he could see.
Jed Bartlet was leaning over his desk in shock. Suddenly, he reached out
and he knocked the phone of off his desk, sendng it to the ground and
silencing the ominous dial tone. Several occupants of the room jumped and
then watched as he sank to the ground, his face contorted in pain and fear .
. . Their President, their leader, their friend... was sitting on the
floor so close to crying that Josh couldn't help but wonder what the hell he
was supposed to do.
Leo moved over to his best friend and knelt down next to him, too stunned
to do anything else. What could he say? What could he do? He looked up at
Ron, searching for some answers. Then he looked at the others. CJ was crying
without sound. Sam was holding her arm, trying to look like steel when it was
clear to anyone that his insides were being torn apart. Josh just looked so
incredibly guilty...guilty. Suddenly, Leo's eyes flew to Toby.
Standing in the center of the room, Toby Ziegler looked like he'd aged
150 years. His face had sagged and dark circles had appeared under his eyes.
There was such a deep sadness embedded in his face as he stared at the spot
where the phone had once been. His hands were hanging by his sides, but not
for long as he reached one up to rub his eyes. When the hand moved away to
rest on his chin, Toby's eyes were filled with tears. He swallowed and then
blinked, trying figure out if he was standing on the right planet.
"We think we may have a location, sir." Ron Butterfield whispered. Leo
looked at him and nodded.
"Check it out, damn it." He hissed. Ron nodded and murmured into his
mike. Leo looked back at Toby and then at Jed, not sure which one to be more
concerned about.
"This isn't possible." Toby whispered. There was another moment of
silence and then Toby slowly backed for the door. The eyes watched him as he
moved quickly out, storming into the hallway searching for something to run
away to.
"Liz . . Abbey..." Jed whispered suddenly, tears in his eyes. Leo
looked at his friend. "I've got to... talk to . ."
"Yeah." Leo whispered. "We'll get you there." Jed nodded and struggled to
get to his feet with his friend's help. The President looked around the room.
"We've got to... talk to them..." He whispered. "Charlie. Where's
Charlie?" Leo nodded to Ron who then went outside and came back. "Charlie . .
. Take me upstairs." Jed asked softly. Charlie looked at Leo and read the
look in his eyes. He gulped and then looked at his President.
"Yes, sir." He whispered before moving to take Jed's arm. Everyone
watched as the two moved out of the room. Leo saw the door close and felt the
sound echo through his heart. What now?

When Abbey saw the door creak open, she felt the sound rip through her
soul. She looked up and saw her husband move slowly into the room. Their eyes
met and she could hear it all without needing to. Tears flooded to her eyes
as she got to her feet. No. It couldn't be true.
"Dad?" Liz asked softly. Jed rose his gaze to meet his daughter's.
"We tried..." Jed started softly. "But I don't know . . We don't know
if she..." He trailed off as he knew she'd gotten the message. Had he? He
wasn't even sure. He wasn't sure his mind was functioning, let alone his
body. It felt like his heart had stopped.
"Rade..." Liz whispered as the tears began to flow down her cheeks.
Jed moved forward and hugged his daughter tightly, moving only when his wife
joined them. The three of them stood together, hugging each other tightly as
the tears began to move like waterfalls.
She was gone. Just like that.

TBC... .


Everything That Changes - 12



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