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.

Jed looked at the clock and then at the list of people that Josh and Sam
had assembled. Now was the time, the chance to prove that anything was
possible in this great country of theirs. The people that stood before him
had all been more than willing to be a part of the risky plan that might
bring Rade home. He wasn't sure if he was really willing to make these people
do this. If it didn't work, just to think of the guilt and the pain...and
Rade... The pain and the pressure was just too much. But they had
volunteered. They knew what they were asking for.
"Okay. We've got to get ready for this." He said softly. "Does everyone
have their cells?" He asked. People nodded, holding the assorted cell phones
that had been collected from around the office. If this was going to work,
they had to be sure to use non-White House phones, something Cougar couldn't
pick up on. "Then let's do this. Josh, get the ball rolling." The President
called.

Jonathon stared at the unconscious form on his basement floor. What had
he done? He'd promised himself that he wouldn't hurt her unless Bartlet
forced his hand, and now what had he done? She still hadn't opened her eyes.
She was just lying there, unconscious, and probably still bleeding under her
bandage.
With a weak, but determined, sigh, he moved forward and lifted her
gently, carrying her to the table and laying her across it. He took off the
bandage and cleaned the wound again. In her state of darkness, Rade whimpered
and tossed. Jonathon paused and waited for her to still again before
continuing. After he was done, he carried her back to the corner and leaned
her up against the wall. He moved back to the table and leaned against it,
thinking hard. What the hell was he doing? Was it all really worth it?
Was it worth it sixteen years ago? He looked at Rade. Almost seventeen
now. How could it be he never knew that he had a daughter... He knew that
Liz had children. He knew that one of them... But he'd always assumed that
Eric Knox was the father. After all the publicity, Rade's interview,
everything... He found out he had a daughter. And he did this. Why?
The phone rang, disrupting his thoughts. He jumped and then looked at it.
Who could it be? He grabbed it and pressed the reply button. "Hello." He said
sternly. There was a slight hesitation on the other end.
"Coug." A deep male voice said. Jonathon paused. The voice sounded so
familiar. Could it be? Had the President actually done it already? "Guess
who, man?" The voice added.
"Derek?" Jon asked as he sat on the table. "It sounds like you, but could
it be?" He asked softly.
"It could be." The voice said with a chuckle. "Man, what did you do? The
guards were scrambling over their feet trying to shove me out the door."
"I don't believe this." Jon whispered.
"What do you mean?" Derek asked.
"He did it. He did what I told him too." Jon replied and then paused.
Derek seemed tense. Worried. "Der, where are you? They let you out, right?
You want to meet me in the old place?"
"The old place?" Derek repeated. "I don't know. I'm just kinda standing
here when they said I had to contact Cougar or they throw me back in. I'm
standing in front of the prison with the warden's cell. The *warden's*. This
is a trip."
"That's not enough. I need to know that you're safely away." Jon said
getting to his feet.
"They said something about needing to be sure I called you." Derek
replied.
"Something's not right." Jon muttered. He paused and then hung up. There
was silence in the room as he thought. If it were really Derek, the man
wouldn't bother to call back. The phone didn't ring. Suddenly, Jon pressed a
few buttons on the phone again and listened to it ring.
"Bartlet." The President's voice rang through.
"Very clever." Jon exclaimed. There was a pause.
"What are you talking about?" Jed asked.
"Who was that? Some staffer?"
"What are--"
"What is going on? Are you trying to buy time? You don't get any more
time."
"Listen, I don't know what's going on. I've been working my butt off
trying to do everything you've told me to do. As far as I know, Derek
O'Malley, Lucas Johansen and Michael Foster are already out the door. Three
of the others are in the process of leaving. We're having trouble with
Boonr--"
"Bullshit." Cougar interrupted and hung up again.

Jed hung up the phone and looked at Ron Butterfield and then at Josh
Lyman who was standing nervously in the back of the room. "I don't know." He
said softly. "He's acting like he didn't fall for it, but I don't know."
"The thing is that half these guys wouldn't call him if they were told
to. They'd just leave and go wherever. He's got to realize that." Josh
exclaimed. "They're not going to do anything just because we 'said so'."
"So the question is what do we do now?"
"We just need four more minutes of him on the phone, sir." Ron exclaimed.
"If we call him again?" Jed asked.
"He might not answer." Josh pointed out.
"Give it a try." Jed ordered. Ron nodded and spoke into his mike. There
was a pause as he waited for a report.
"He's not answering." Ron finally announced.
"Damn." Jed muttered.
"Now what?" Josh asked weakly.
"Now we find another answer." Jed exclaimed. Then the phone rang again.
He glanced at it and then at Ron.
"Four minutes, sir." Ron said softly. Jed grabbed the phone.
"Bartlet." He said slowly.
"I've thought it over." Jonathon exclaimed. "Your little game is an
insult to my intelligence, and I assure you that I have intelligence. My
price has gone to twenty five million, and I still expect my friends to be
released, and the other demands still stand. Your deadline is in four hours.
In four hours, I expect everyone that was in the office when I first called
to be there when I call again. They will hear what I have to say." He added
before hanging up again. Jed stared at the phone and hung it up. What was
going on inside this Cougar's head?
"Not enough time." Ron said sadly.
"We've got to start taking action." Jed said softly. "Here's what we're
going to do." He exclaimed as he stood up straight for the first time in 32
hours. It was about time he was going to do something Presidential.

TBC...

 

Everything That Changes - 10

 

 

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