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

Jed tapped his feet impatiently as he sat in Leo's office. His wife put a
hand on his knee to calm him down, but he had a lot of nervous energy. Less
that sixty minutes to go before he addressed the nation about his family
problems, and right now, his daughter and granddaughter were having something
of a showdown in the Oval office. He didn't know how to feel about it. All he
could do was look around the room, watching Toby read Sam's statement and
mutter softly, watch Leo scribble mindlessly on a piece of paper, watch his
wife and youngest daughter share wayward glances and smile weakly and then
feel himself, waiting impatiently for the answer to the question he'd been
asking himself for days.
What now?

********************************
Rade stared at her mother, trying to figure out what she was going to
say. She had a lot to ask of this woman and she didn't know what was going to
be first. What could she say to the woman who stood by while a man they both
loved, perhaps unjustly, grabbed a piece of wood and struck her in the face?
Rade knew that her father would never hurt her mother, and she was fairly
certain that he would never hurt Annie. She had always felt that he disliked
her, that there was something inside of her that he needed to destroy, but
never knew what that was.
"You have something to say to me?" She asked softly, breaking through the
silence. She'd never seen her mother cry before, but she could tell that her
mother had recently. Liz looked at her daughter and tried to find strength.
"I'm sorry, Rade. Your father had no right to do what he did, and looking
back, I can't believe I protected him." She started.
"But you did. You did protect him." Rade interrupted weakly. Liz watched
the young woman carefully and nodded.
"I know. It was wrong. I never should have done that and it shocked me
when your grandparents called to say you were in the hospital." Liz replied
slowly. "Sweetie, I know you may not believe me, but I love you and I'm never
going to do anything like that again."
"So you're the fairweather friend?" Rade accused softly.
"What?" Liz asked.
"When it looks good to stand with dad, you stand with him. The moment the
wind changes direction, it's 'I'm sorry, Rade' and you expect me to say...
what?" Rade asked slowly. "What do you want me to say?"
"I don't know. You're right. I--" Liz started.
"Don't say you're sorry." Rade interrupted again. "It's getting
annoying."
"Rade, what do you need me to say?" Liz exclaimed.
"I need you to say you'll wait." Rade replied honestly. "I need you to
realize that it's not going to be instantaneous that I trust you again out of
the blue. I need you to actually think for a moment, mom."
"Okay. I will wait, sweetie." Liz promised. "For as long as you need me
to."
"That's it you need to say." Rade said softly before moving forward to
hug her mother tightly. Liz hugged her back cry softly. Rade cried too and
hugged tighter. She'd never seen her mom cry, and she'd never wanted to be
the one who made it happen. And yet here they were.

*************************************
"CJ?"
"Yes, Danny?"
"Will you have dinner with me tonight?" CJ looked up at Danny and saw him
smirking. After all they'd been through over the past few days, he was still
the same old playful Danny. She laughed and got to her feet.
"Uh, no." She said, pretending to think about it.
"Why do you always say no?" He asked as he walked with her towards the
press room.
"Because it's so much fun." She teased.
"So you admit you have no legitimate reason for saying no to me?" Danny
asked. CJ laughed again.
"No, I have several legitimate reasons." She replied.
"Those aren't good legitimate reasons though." He replied.
"Sure they are."
"Have dinner with me."
"Okay."
"What?"
"Hang on. Lemme go take care of this."
"Wait, CJ, could you say that again?" Danny pleaded with puppy dog eyes.
"I gotta go take care of this. See you at the briefing, Danny." CJ said
sweetly and disappeared down the hall. Danny grinned and walked back to his
desk, a little hop in his step.

********************************
Jed stroked the cheek of his granddaughter and then moved through the
doors, his staff and family behind him. The cameras flashed as Rade walked in
with her mother, Toby, Leo, Sam, Josh and CJ with them. Annie sat in Leo's
office with Zoey and Charlie, watching the press conference. Cameras
continued to snap as the Presdient took his place at the podium. Reporters
sat on their hands as they waited for him to talk. It was all they could do
not to shout out questions. Many of them didn't know why he was doing this.
The President did not have to make a statement if he faced a family disaster,
merely a national one. Still, Jed Bartlet wanted to be able to talk to the
country about what he'd discovered over the past few days. He wanted to
assure them, and he wanted to assure his family.
"Ladies and gentlement, citizens of this nation. I come before you today
not to speak as your President, but as a father and grandfather who has been
spending the past few days in a very thoughtful mood." He started slowly. "A
lot of things have happened recently; things I never would have expected. My
family and I have been trying to understand why such things happen and the
truth is that no one knows. Everyone has problems, and as the President, I
thought not only was I exempt from that truism, but that my family was as
well. Over the past few days, I've found myself proven wrong, and there's
nothing I regret more.
"Last night, my wife walked in on my granddaughter and found her with a
slit wrist. I'll never forget the pain in my heart, in my wife's voice and in
my granddaughter's eyes as we went to the hospital to save her life. The day
preceding this incident was full of turmoil as we attempted to deal with the
fact that my son-in-law has abused my granddaughter, and that thought makes
me angrier than I can ever remember being. Ladies and gentlemen, I stand here
before you tonight, not to tell you things you'd rather not know. Ladies and
gentlemen, I stand before you to tell you that I have reached the realization
that I cannot change this country. I cannot change this country because I
need help. One man cannot change the world, and that is the lesson that I
have learned over the past few days. One man cannot do it, but I realize now
that I am not alone. I am not alone, and neither is anyone else in this
country. As long as we learn to depend on the support of others and we love
each other and help each other, we are not alone. I know now, that I will
change this country. I will make it better. I will do it, and I will do it
with your help." Jed paused and looked around the room before beginning
again, much softer and slower this time. It was time to get personal.
"My daughter and her children will be staying at the White House for the
next few weeks and my son-in-law has been taken into police custody. I will
continue to run this country as I have been doing and things will find some
state of normalcy, even if that state is an altered one. My belief in this
country is even stronger than it was before and I feel the need to make this
world safe for my family and for all of yours. The world is changing; we are
changing it. No one should have to feel they are without hope. Ladies and
gentlemen, we will go on, no matter what." He finished before nodding to the
camera and taking off for the door. The reporters got to their feet to shout
but there was no point. Jed knew his family and staff were right behind him
and all he could do was smile.
"The lid is on, guys. Go home." CJ called before following her coworkers
to the Oval office where the President finally stopped walking to lean
against his desk. Jed looked around the room and smiled. There was Abbey,
Liz, Rade. Charlie, Zoey and Annie walked in from Leo's office. Leo watched
his best friend carefully. Josh stood, Donna right behind him, and Jed could
see their hands subtly interlaced. Sam stood in the corner, watching his
president. Toby was standing close to Rade, trying to decide where to look.
"We shall go on." Jed repeated. "No matter what." He added and moved to
take Rade in his arms. She hugged him tightly as he hugged her. Jed nodded to
his wife and slowly she, Liz, Zoey and Annie all converged on the two and the
White House staff watched the Bartlet group hug. When the group broke apart,
Abbey hugged her husband tightly. Liz hugged Annie. Zoey hugged Charlie. Rade
looked around and smiled at Toby, who nodded.
No matter what.

The End...
Feedback? Comments? Well? Please? It's the end, finally!! :) Any kind of
feedback is welcome!! ::grins:: No more death threats, please.

~D.C.
Batman

 

 

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