RATED: PG-13
DISCLAIMER: See Part 1, you might recognize a line or two. :) Who can guess
which line from where?
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.

Every office in the world possesses a sort of intensity. Every office has
a different kind of intensity, but still, it's always there. Some offices are
lighthearted, some are dark and silent, some are just full of constant
pressure. At any given time, the White House offices could be any one of
those things and more. At times, it was fun and lighthearted. At times it was
full of a sort of pressure that came from a bill that had to be passed or
maybe Toby was in another of his moods. And there were also times when the
West Wing and the other executive offices were dark and silent, everyone
within those rooms waiting impatiently for the next word. To make it all
worse, Toby was in one of his moods, one of his worst moods, and the bill
that was to be passed was not a piece of legislation, but rather the
metaphorical paper on which Rade's life depended. The tension was unbearable
and the silence was deafening.
Sam stared at the wall, trying not to think about the whole thing. Rade
was in danger, and all he could think about was what exactly she thinking at
this moment. Was she afraid? Was she angry? Did she even know what was going
on? When she was on the phone previously, she didn't seem as scared as he
knew he would have been. Of course, Rade was a Bartlet. The family genes
usually dictated that emotions were best kept under control. Sam marveled at
the capability to do that. He doubted he himself ever could.
Down the hall, Josh tapped his pen against the desk, trying to think of
who on the staff could best imitate a 32-year-old guy who was recently
convicted for the murder of his wife's ex-boyfriend. He didn't know who he
could ask, or how. 'Hey, you mind pretending to be a vicious psycho on the
phone to another vicious psycho who happens to be holding Rade's life in his
hands? Would you?' He couldn't do it himself, nor could anyone else on the
staff because their voices might be too recognizable.
Josh's door creaked open as Donna stepped inside and closed the door
behind herself. She moved over to him and placed a friendly hand on his
shoulder. It had been nearly three months since he'd kissed her, three months
since he'd acknowledge his feelings for her, but since then nothing had
really happened. They'd gone back to being friends, as they thought it should
be. They'd agreed that what they'd done had been done in a moment of distress
and they just needed something to hold them together. It was nothing more.
"How are you doing?" She asked softly. Josh shook his head and leaned
back in his chair.
"I honestly don't know." He whispered. "I wish I did, but I don't."
"We'll get her back, Josh." Donna said.
"I want her back, but I feel like I've betrayed her. I stood in that
office and I shouted to the President of the United States that he couldn't
do the one thing that would get her safely home." Josh replied. "I feel like
I should have said 'yes, sir' and skittered off to release those people on to
the street just so that Rade could come home and I could watch her hug her
family again."
"But you didn't, Josh, and that's good. You knew what could be done and
what couldn't and you were the voice of reason in that room. Most of the time
we say 'I serve at the pleasure of the President' but every once in a while
we have to stand up to him when we think he's wrong." Donna said softly. "In
this country it is not only acceptable to question our leaders, it's our
responsibility."
"And what about Rade? What's our responsibility to her?" Josh asked
weakly.
"Our responsibility to her is to get her home and help her cope. That's
all that matters, Josh." Donna replied as she squeezed his shoulder and left
the room. Josh watched her go and began to wonder about the choices he'd
made.
All his life, he'd been faced with loss. He'd lost Joanie. He'd lost for
Hoynes. He'd lost his father. Hell, he lost on the Dean's list two semesters
in a row. He'd lost Mandy, when it hurt so much. He'd pushed Donna away,
thereby losing her, and now he was faced with the fact that he might lose
Rade. How many of those losses was his fault? No. They had to get Rade back.
If they didn't... No, they had to. He would accept nothing else.
Josh looked at his watch. 26 hours left. One day and change to decide
whether or not Rade would live to see another day.

Eric Knox stared at the ceiling of his prison cell, his eyes squinted in
the dim light. He'd been incarcerated for nearly two months now, and he
didn't know if he could make it through four more years, or 2.8, assuming he
got his time off for good behavior. He'd never expected all this to go so
far. He'd never expected Rade to fight back. She hadn't ever before. But then
Liz went and switched sides. After all he did for her, she had protected that
child, the product of a crime of hatred. Why couldn't she just give it up for
adoption like he suggested?
No, she had to love the child, and raise her as if she were a child of
love, not some evidence of a horrible crime. It angered Eric when he thought
of what the bastard had done to Liz. No one had ever told him the man's name,
but he knew they knew. There was something wrong with the picture. Hell, a
deal was probably made. Jed Bartlet was always there to make deals. Except
this time. Jed Bartlet didn't make a deal for Eric. He wanted to see Eric
hang. Eric could sense that much in the courtroom.
"Knox." A sharp voice exclaimed. Eric looked up and saw the prison warden
standing by his cell door. "Get up. You're going for a ride."

TBC...

 

Everything That Changes - 9

 

 

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