RATED: PG-13
DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
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.

It's not everyday that a celebrity walks into your place of business and
becomes a customer. If you work in a hospital, this is a good thing.
Unfortunately, there was no such luck for George Washington University
Hospital, who received the wondrous honor of taking the President's
granddaughter into their clientele. And because of that, Nurse Baker saw a
whole string of very important people make their way into the hospital in
search of her ICU patient.
The first person to come in search of Rade Bartlet was a slender young
woman and her mother, the latter of the two being the very recognizable
Abigail Bartlet. Not ten minute behind those two, the recognizable Zoey
Bartlet followed in their footsteps to meet them in the waiting room outside
the main ICU area. They talked quietly, waiting, perhaps even praying, for
the doctor to come out and tell them what would happen to their young
relative. This girl . . this child was a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece .
. . a friend... to whom? Baker had never met Rade Bartlet, or any other
member of the First family for that matter.
What answers could come? Rade had been shot in the center of her body.
She'd had extensive surgery, repairing (and in one case, replacing) vital
organs within her body. If she survived, the chances that her life would
return to any sort of normalcy were slim to none. Of course, her chances of
surviving at this point seemed to be about the same. How could a simple nurse
tell the First Lady and First daughters of the United States this fact? It
was hard enough to say that there were no visitors allowed in ICU at this
hour. ICU had strict visiting hours, or actually a strictly set visiting
*hour*, and not even a presidential order would let the presiding Chief
Medical Officer change that.
"Excuse me?" A soft voice exclaimed. Baker looked into the eyes of the
First lady. "Can you tell me anything about Rade Bartlet?" She asked. Baker
paused and then smiled very weakly.
"I'm afraid not much has changed. Rade is out of surgery and is resting
in ICU room 214. Right now, it's just a matter of time. Time will tell us
which way she's going to go." She said very softly, trying to be honest but
not brutally so. Somehow saying 'She has about a 14% chance of survival, and
even if she does survive, life will probably be the same for her' just didn't
seem like the right thing to say.
"Will we be able to see her?" Abbey asked softly.
"Visiting hour is 4 to 5 pm in ICU. We try to keep the traffic down so
that the doctors have room to work. I'm sorry, but we can't let you in just
now." Baker replied softly, her deepest sympathies going out to these people.
But then, her deepest sympathies went out to every soul who faced the idea of
losing a family member to the darker side of ICU.
"Thank you." Abbey said softly and went back to her family.
And so began the trail of fretful visitors. The slender woman with Abbey
and Zoey was Liz Bartlet, Baker soon found out, and she never left the
hospital. She slept in a separate room that Baker set up for her, and then
spent the rest of her time either sitting in the hallway or inside Rade's
room.
The next visitor was a young man with brownish stringy, curly hair and
wide eyes. Baker noticed that when he talked to Rade, he was cautious and
almost guilty. When she came in to check Rade's vitals, she heard part of
what he had said to her.

"Rade, you're one strong kid." Josh whispered. "So you can't just walk
away from all this. I tried, kid, I tried to do what you would have done. You
gotta pull through this so we can give em hell again and prove to the world
that nobody messes with us. We're the unbreakable set, right?"

After that, Baker forced herself to leave so that she wouldn't intrude on
the poor young man's privacy. Following him came a very tall, slender woman,
and then a redheaded, bearded man. A young man with short brown hair and
startingly blue eyes also came but didn't stay long. Three days into Rade's
"stay" and she'd already received more visitors than Baker had friends. Of
course, being a fulltime nurse didn't exactly give her time to socialize. On
the fourth day, a tired looking older man with graying hair came to stand in
Rade's room while Baker was there to check the vitals that never changed.

"God, look at you." Leo said softly as he stood at the end of Rade's bed.
"You're a Bartlet to the end. We should have known better than to give up on
you, kid. But now you have to do your damnest not to give up on us. We need
you. We spent too many hours already mourning your death, and I don't want
that to become the reality. You have to live. You have to go on." He paused
and then sat on the edge of the bed. "If you don't, I suppose I'll
understand. Goddamn, it'll hurt, but I'll understand. I just thank God I have
this chance to see you, the chance to tell you...No matter what happens, I
want you to remember that I love you, and that my life has been so much
better because of the advice you've given me. You're a wise little brat.
You're a Bartlet."

Hours drift by slowly in the hospital, even when you have a patient that
is featured in every single newspaper across the newstands. The men in black
suits who stood in the hallways weren't exactly conspicuous, and they made
Baker a little more than nervous. She left when her shift ended and when she
came back, everything was the same. Rade just wasn't getting better, but she
wasn't getting worse. If anything, she was stable.
It was going on 4:20 and Baker was about to go in and check Rade's vitals
again. Liz Bartlet was sleeping in her makeshift room, tossing a bit. Abbey
and Zoey had gone home to deal with their lives and the hospital was
decidingly quiet. But not for long, for at 4:20, on the dot, the doors at the
end of the hallway opened and in walked Josiah Bartlet, President of the
United States, surrounded on all sides by serious looking secret service
agents. He'd come to see his granddaughter, and when he stopped to talk to
her, Baker was somewhat speechless.
When she regained her senses, she took him to the room, stopping only to
let him peek in on his daughter. Then they moved into Rade's room and Baker
couldn't help but stand by to watch the leader of the free world as he stared
at the pale form of his dying granddaughter.

"You're so beautiful." Jed whispered as he stroked the cheek of the young
woman who rested in front of him. "Such a beautiful gift of life and love,
and it kills me that I almost lost you, that I still might. I don't know
what's going to happen, Rade, I honestly don't. It seems unfair that your
life should end so soon, especially after all the things you've survived." He
paused. "I just want you to know, that whatever you decide, I'll always love
you, no matter what. If you decide you have to leave, if that's the way He
chooses, I'll miss you, and my heart will always be with you." Jed whispered.
"I only pray that that is not how it will end." He added and then kissed her
IV covered hand. "I will see you tomorrow." He exclaimed and then got to his
feet. His eyes met the nurse's and he nodded.
"Thank you for all your help." He said weakly. She nodded back.
"It's my pleasure, sir. I only wish I had better news for you all." She
said softly. He smiled weakly and moved for the door.
"One day, you will, no matter what it is." He said softly and moved down
the hallway. Baker watched as he disappeared down the hallway.

"Leo." Jed called as he walked up behind his friend in the hallway. Leo
looked back and saw that his friend's face was considerably less pale than it
had been in days. Leo knew it was because the man had just visited his
granddaughter, and the visit had probably been as rejuvenating for the
President as it had been for the chief of staff.
"Hello, Mr. President. You're looking better." Leo said with a weak
smile. Jed nodded weakly. Nothing could take away the fear and pain they were
going through, but at least they could feel better.
"Thank you. I think I am feeling as such." Jed replied as he followed Leo
into his office. "I went to see Rade today." He added as he sat down in one
of Leo's armchairs.
"I figured. How'd she look?" Leo asked softly as he tried to distract
himself over his desk. Jed paused and sighed.
"Worse than the last time I saw her, but better than I thought she
would." He said finally. Leo nodded. "Has everyone else been to see her?" Jed
asked. Leo paused and looked at his friend.
"Josh, CJ, Sam and Danny have all gone to see her, as well as myself and
Abbey, Zoey and Charlie." He recalled. Jed frowned.
"And Toby?" He asked. Leo sighed and looked at his desk. Jed didn't like
the look of that. "You're kidding. That man means everything to Rade, and he
hasn't been to see her?" He snapped. Leo raised his hands in defense.
"I don't know what to tell you, sir. I think Toby is utterly convinced
that it won't make a difference either way whether he goes or not." Leo mused
out loud. "He's hurting, sir, and I think he's afraid to hurt more."
"Goddamn that man. We're all hurting. He needs to go see her." Jed
muttered.
"Well, you tell him that, sir." Leo replied.
"I will." Jed promised as he got to his feet. Just then the phone rang.
Leo grabbed the handle.
"McGarry." He said in his traditional tone. "Knox?" He asked, pulling
Jed's attention back to him. "Where? Are you sure? What's his condition?
Okay. You'll let us know on a... yes. Okay. Thank you." He finished and
hung up.
"They found Eric?" Jed asked as he took a step towards Leo's desk.
"Yeah, unconscious on the coast of a small town in Maryland. He was shot
in the chest and there was a large gash across the right side of his face."
Leo reported ominously.
"Just like he did to Rade." Jed murmured.
"That's the image I got, yes, sir." Leo replied. Silence filled the room.
Jed sighed, looked at his feet and then at Leo.
"I'm going to go talk to Toby." He said finally and moved quickly out of
the room.

TBC...

 

Everything That Changes - 15

 

 

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