NOTES: See Part 1, Thanks again to beta AJ, maybe she's not so evil after
all? Heheh. I said *maybe*.
SUMMARY: Rade finds herself in another bad situation and the West Wing is
left feeling helpless as they have to deal.

"Liz, I need to talk to you." Jed said softly. Liz looked at him, her
eyes reflecting all the fear and worry he knew she had to be feeling. "We
think we know who the guy is that has Rade."
"Who?" Liz asked weakly. Jed took a deep breath.
"We're not positive, but it's someone who is close to or who actually is
Jonathon Rich--"
"No." Liz interrupted. "Don't finish that."
"Okay." Jed said softly. "You still want to come?"
"No." Liz said assuredly as she drew her knees to her chest.
"Okay." Jed said softly as he kissed her forehead and then looked at his
"I'll stay here." Abbey whispered. He nodded and moved out of the room.
He tried not to think of the tears he'd seen in his daughter's eyes, nor of
the possible resolutions to the current problem. There seemed to be so many
options but all boiled down to two: Do it or don't.
As he moved down the hallway, he felt eyes all over him. He looked about
and saw the eyes of all the former presidents watching him. Who were they to
watch him so intensely? He felt a little paranoid as he moved through the
halls. Then he realized that the reason the pictures hung there was not to
scrutinize, but to remind him that he wasn't the only one to ever be in this
office; he wasn't the only one to ever have to examine the line between his
profession and his personal life. They were there not to judge him, but to
support him.
Jed moved down the hall and turned towards the Oval office. Now the eyes
weren't painted, but real. The staffers of the most powerful office in the
world all watched him intensely, as if he had any answers for them. He
didn't. He wanted answers for himself. If it was Jonathon doing this, why?
Why was he doing it? Nobody had heard from him in nearly 17 years. He had
become some stupid lawyer but that was about all that Jed knew.
"Mr. President."Josh exclaimed as his president walked in through the
door. "Sir, we've checked into Richards and apparently he's out of town. He
bought a plane ticket a week ago and left for Rome two days later."
"And he hasn't come back?" Jed asked, a little confused. He just
naturally assumed it was Richards.
"No, sir, not as far as we can tell." Toby replied.
"Which means that we may be dealing with someone else, someone who was
probably close to Richards." Josh added.
"Right. Go through the list, guys. I want to know who we're dealing
with." Jed exclaimed before his phone rang. He frowned and picked up the
phone. He saw the looks on the secret service's faces, and he knew who he was
about to speak to. "Bartlet speaking."
"How's it coming?" Cougar's voice exclaimed.
"We're working on it. You gave us a lot of territory to cover." Jed said
"Are you making excuses?" Cougar asked calmly.
"No, I'm telling you the truth. Nine men across the country, each with
vastly different sentences and charges, it takes time. So far it's only been
... eight hours." Jed explained.
"What about the plane? What about my money?" The voice asked hurriedly.
"The plane should be there by the time you gave us. The silver fin is
going to be slightly hard, but we're working on it." Jed admitted.
"I didn't ask for a Rembrandt. I just want the fin to be painted silver."
Cougar said angrily. "What about my money?"
"I don't have that kind of money." Jed said weakly.
"You're the President. You've got the treas-" Cougar started.
"That's the country's money, not mine. I'm not at liberty to use that."
Jed interrupted.
"Don't make excuses. I want my money, and you *will* get it for me. I'm
telling you right now, that I have no qualms about hurting this kid. She's
nice, and I like her, but that doesn't mean she's not my hostage. You get
this done, and you do it on time, or I will be forced to harm her." Cougar
exclaimed and hung up. Jed stared at the phone in horror. Cougar had never
come out and threatened Rade so boldly before. The danger was even more real
now than before.
"What did he say, sir?" Toby asked.
"He threatened Rade if we didn't make the deadline." Jed said hoarsely.
"What are we going to do?" Josh inquired, wondering exactly what it was
his boss was feeling. Jed looked at his staff members one by one and then
looked at Toby, then Leo.
"Do it." Jed said finally.

TBC... .


Everything That Changes - 7



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