RATING: PG-15 (to tell you why would spoil the story, *strong* themes)
NOTES: See part 1

Toby watched as Leo closed the door behind him and then looked at Rade.
She seemed so small, so innocent. He moved forward and sat by her on the bed.
Without any words, he reached up and wiped her tears away. She leaned against
his touch and tried to say something, but it was as if her voice didn't work
anymore. He shook his head and just wiped away the tears. She sat up and
hugged him tightly. He hugged her back and stroked her hair.
"I'm sorry." She whispered.
"So am I." He replied softly.

"CJ?" Danny asked as he leaned in the doorway to her office. CJ looked up
at him and motioned for him to come in. He did so, closing the door behind
him. "How are you doing?"
"Not as well as I was last time I talked to you." She said softly as she
got to her feet and walked around her desk. He nodded, approaching her
slowly. She leaned forward and hugged him tightly, crying softly into his
shoulder. He hugged her back, holding her close.
"It's okay, CJ. She's going to be okay." He whispered.
"Is she?" CJ asked softly through her tears. He nodded and held her
"As long as we're here for her and each other, we'll be fine." He
promised her.

Abbey watched her youngest granddaughter sleep. It had taken awhile, but
sleep had taken over, as it would inevitably do so anyway. She sighed and
rubbed her eyes. She was so frightened, felt so out of control and it wasn't
a feeling she was used to. She was married to one of the most powerful men in
the world and she didn't even know what her family was going through. Her
daughter had lied to her. Why? Her daughter had protected a man that was
beating her children. Had they really done such a haphazard job in raising
Liz? Abbey had always believed that she and Jed had done their best by their
children, raised them with the same values that they had, values of respect
and honor and so much more. What had happened in the mix that suddenly Liz
believed that not only was it okay that her husband beat their children, but
that it was also only right to lie about it? Abbey sighed again and leaned
forward in the armchair. Eric had always talked about "preserving the
integrity of the President" and she could remember hearing him tell the
children to behave because what they did reflected on Jed. Maybe that's why
Liz lied, to protect her father. But still, why would she let Eric get away
with it? There were just too many questions, Abbey thought, and none of the
answers were good.
Behind her, the door silently creaked open as Jed leaned in to watch his
wife and granddaughter. What had happened to his family? The only thing he
wanted to do right now was walk over to the Knox's hotel and beat the crap
out of his son-in-law. But he couldn't do that. He was still the President,
and no matter how helpless he felt or was, violence wasn't the answer.
Besides, Toby had beaten him to it.
He leaned back out of the room, closing the door behind him and heading
down the hall towards the stairs. As he moved down to the lower level and
turned towards the West Wing, his soul was still spinning in turmoil as he
tried to figure out what the hell he was going to do next. He wanted to call
out the 82nd airborne and have Eric Knox blown to bits. He wanted to scream
and beat furniture into feathery pulps. He wanted to take Rade in his arms
and protect her from the world, let her know that all was not lost.
He moved to the Oval office silently and sat down at his desk. He then
reached into his pocket and pulled out the folded note. He turned it over and
over in his hands as he thought about the events of the past few days. He'd
read it too many times, and carried it with him, though no one knew as such.
He opened it up and read it again.
"They say if you kill yourself, you will go to hell.
But the reason we kill ourselves is because we're there already.
I'm sorry."
Jed folded the note back up and stuck it back into his pocket. He was
dressed casual today, all his appointments canceled as the White House tried
to deal with the disaster. To his left, Leo's door opened to reveal the
entrance of the tired looking chief of staff. Jed looked at him and their
eyes met. Leo almost winced as he saw the pain and confusion in his best
friend's eyes.
"She woke up, Mr. President." He said softly. Jed nodded weakly.
"What happened, Leo?" He whispered. Leo sighed and closed the door before
moving to sit on the couch and trying to think of an answer.
"I suppose we all want to believe our lives are perfect. As the
President, we always believed that your family was stable, or at least more
stable than most in this country. We thought there'd be a problem when Jenny
left, the Chief of Staff can't even hold his marriage together, but it
didn't. The President has a daughter and son-in-law who abuse at least one of
their children, but you didn't know, sir. We'll get through this, and things
will change for the better." Leo said slowly.
"But that doesn't answer my question." Jed returned softly as he got to
his feet and walked over to the other couch to sit down again. "I asked what
happened? We raised Liz, Marielle and Zoey all the same. We taught them about
respecting living things and the difference between right and wrong. We tried
to instill in them the same ideals that we hold dear, and now I find that my
daughter not only stands by while her husband hits her child with a *chair*
but then she lies to me about it and makes up excuses? Leo, what happened?"
"I don't know, Mr. President." Leo replied honestly after a long pause.
"But I do know one thing: a lot of other people are asking themselves that
same question." He added softly.

Liz sat in a small chair in her hotel room, watching her husband sleep.
So much had happened in the past week, she didn't know how to control
herself. She still didn't know why she'd lied to her father. She was angry
with Eric for what he did, but she couldn't find herself able to tell the
truth. Her family was falling apart, and she didn't know what to do about it.
It had all started when that damn Martin kid had to go and get himself shot.
Since then, Rade had found it necessary to be more irritable than ever
before. It was only a matter of time before her temper and Eric's clashed.
There was an abrupt knock at the door, bringing Liz's attention back to
reality. She got up, walked up to the door and peered through the peephole
before opening the door.
"Zoey." She said simply. "Hi. Do you want to--"
"Rade woke up." Zoey interrupted harshly, a cold look in her eyes.
"I'm glad. Does she want to see--" Liz started again.
"No." Zoey said sharply.
"Maybe we should talk, Zoey." Liz whispered.
"I just came in person because I wanted to see you for myself, Liz. I
never would have thought anything like this could happen." Zoey said softly
but coldly. "I just have one question for you: Who are you?" She asked.
"What do you mean?" Liz asked.
"The sister I once had would never have let anything like all this
happen. You used to be there for me, and I remember the times we shared. What
happened to the sweet, loving sister I used to have? Who are you and what did
you do with her?" Zoey asked in more detail. Liz hesitated as tears came to
her eyes.
"I don't know. Zoey, the real world was so much tougher than I thought
and Rade was just --" Liz started.
"Don't blame this on her. Blame it on yourself." Zoey interrupted and
then walked away. Liz watched her younger sister disappear down the hallway
and then turned back into her hotel room and locked the door. She turned into
the room and saw her husband watching her.
"What have you done?" She asked softly before running into the bathroom
and locking the door behind her.

TBC... .
Feedback? Comments? Please??



Just One Wish - 12



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