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

Leo signed another report and looked at Margaret pleadingly. She smiled
and took the papers out of the room. Leo grinned and jumped out of his chair
for the coat rack. It was time to go home. No more stupid papers to sign. As
he got his jacket on, he heard the phone on Margaret's desk ring. Nooo, he
thought. No more work today. He assured himself and went to fill his
"Leo -" Margaret started.
"Tell them to call tomorrow." Leo exclaimed.
"It's Danny. He says it's *very* important that he talk to you." Margaret
replied. Leo frowned and nodded. What could Danny be calling about? Leo
grabbed the receiver.
"Yeah, Danny. I'm here." He exclaimed.
"Leo, listen. I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm at Gracie's Coffee Shop
and Rade is here." Danny's voice came through kind of loud and crackly. Leo
could tell he was on a cell phone.
"Rade?" He repeated.
"Yeah, Rade. Listen, Leo, I could be wrong, but I'm getting the
impression that her parents don't exactly know that she's here. She didn't
want me to call anyone, but you know..." Danny trailed off.
"Yeah, I'm on my way. Where is this place?" Leo asked as he looked for a
scrap of paper to write the address down on. He scribbled as Danny spoke and
then nodded. "Okay. I'll probably be there in about ten minutes. Keep her
there, Danny." He added before hanging up.

"You can't do that." Rade pointed as she laughed. Danny grinned
innocently and raised his hands.
"Hey, no one ever said there were rules to this game." He exclaimed as he
drew a few more cards. Rade laughed and looked over the cards in her hand.
"There are too rules. First and foremost, don't cheat. Second, you have
to put the cards down in order, Danny, in order. Can you count to ten,
Danny?" She asked as she picked up the cards he'd just put down and handed
them back to him.
"Sure I can. I, 4, 6, 2, 8, 3, 7, 9, 5, 10. There we go." Danny replied.
"Play fair or I'll tell CJ you're a big fat cheater." Rade warned.
"You know, word has it you went around telling people that I'm fat. I'm
not fat, am I?" Danny asked with puppy dog eyes as he took the cards back.
Rade laughed and shrugged.
"No, I was just seeing how CJ would react to it. I heard that she stood
up for you." She replied playfully. Danny grinned.
"You, ma'am, are a troublemaker." He exclaimed.
"I, sir, am a Bartlet." She pointed out. He laughed and nodded. Rade
smirked and then looked at the door as Leo walked in. "And it begins." She
added softly. Danny looked back and then got to his feet. The game was over.
Rade slowly started picking up her cards as Leo walked over.
"Thanks, Danny." Leo said softly. Danny nodded and looked at Rade.
"Maybe I'll see you later." He said softly.
"If I'm still alive." Rade said as she glanced at Leo.
"You will be." Leo promised. Danny nodded and left as Leo took his place
at the booth. "What are you doing here? Do your parents know you're here?"
"Can I lie and say yes?" Rade asked softly. Leo groaned. "Leo, you don't
know what's going on."
"Then tell me what's going on." Leo insisted. Rade shook her head and
looked at her hands which were slightly trembling as she put the cards away.
"It's been a month, Leo. It's so weird, when I left this place after July
4th, I honestly thought things had changed and they were going to get better.
That was probably the stupidest thing I could have done." She said softly.
"Problems with my dad can't be solved by singing a song or playing the
guitar. We talked and stuff, but we never really just focused on the stuff
that had gone wrong. Maybe if we had I wouldn't be here now, but I am. And
I'm not going back." She said softly as she looked at him. Leo noticed now
the hair that hung in her face. It covered her right eye and hung down to the
middle of her cheek.
"What happened, Rade? Did you and your father have a fight?" He asked
softly. Rade chuckled bitterly.
"To say the least." She replied in an almost whisper before looking at
him again. "I know this looks bad, and I know I look even worse, but there
are so many things that just can't be explained. Leo, I'm not going back. And
you can't tell granddad that I'm here. He'd kill me."
"He wouldn't. He'd want to know what had happened." Leo assured her.
"Just like me. Come on, talk to me. It isn't like you to run away. Let's just
call your parents and get this straightened out. They're probably worried
sick about you."
"I've been gone for two days, Leo." Rade said sharply. "And I'm willing
to bet you haven't heard a thing from them." She added. Leo paused. She was
right. Jed had mentioned nothing about Rade, and he himself had gotten no
"Two days?" he repeated. Rade nodded as a tear fell out of her eye.
"They don't care that I'm gone, trust me on that. I used to run away from
them all the time. I'd go to Jake's house for a few hours or overnight and
then my parents would call and tell me to take out the trash." She exclaimed
weakly. "I couldn't go to Jake's this time, so I grabbed some stuff, got on
my bike and just hit the road. I'm not going back there, Leo."
"Why couldn't you go to Jake's this time?" Leo asked softly. Rade stared
at her hands.
"Because a week ago, Jake walked in on an armed robbery at the
Seven-Eleven across the street from his house and was shot twice in the
chest." She retorted softly. Leo stared at her in shock. Tears began to
stream down her face as she started shaking across the booth from him. Leo
got up and swung around to sit next to her and take her in his arms. She
cried into his shoulder as he held her tightly against him.
"I'm sorry, Rade. I'm so sorry." He whispered. She shook her head and
struggled to get out of the booth, but Leo wouldn't move. He held her tighter
and tried to rock her gently. She relaxed and just held on to him. "Sshh.
It's okay. Shh, sweetie, it'll be okay." He assured her.
"No, it won't." She retorted before slipping away from him to duck under
the table and get out away from him. He was quick on her heels as she barged
for the door. When they were outside, he grabbed her arm and pulled her back
before she could reach her bike.
"Rade, don't run away from this." He said sternly but kindly. She shook
her head.
"I can't go back there, Leo." She cried.
"Because of Jake?" He asked.
"Because of my father!" She snapped as she pulled away from him and
collapsed against her bike. "Because of my stupid father." She muttered as
she hid into the bike. Leo knelt down next to her.
"What happened, Rade?" He asked softly.
"He hit me, Leo. I don't even remember what I said." She said softly. "We
were arguing, as usual and he put his hands on the back of this chair, and I
said something, I don't even remember what, and the next thing I knew, he
raised his hands and hit me."
"My god." Leo whispered.
"Leo, he didn't let go of the chair." Rade whimpered as she looked at
him. Leo reached forward and brushed the shaft of hair out of her face.
Nearly the entire top half of her face was badly bruised and there was a long
gash along her face, coming narrowly close to her eye. The gash was not
fresh, but it had not been looked at and it seemed to be slightly red and
lightly shiny.
"Are you telling me that your father hit you... with a chair?" Leo
asked softly as he tried not to stare at the wound. Rade cried and curled
into a ball. Leo held her close and rocked her gently. "I have to take you to
the doctor, Rade. We have to get that looked at." He whispered. Rade was in
no position to argue with him as she just cried in her little ball. Leo held
her close and just rocked her gently as she let lose into him all the
emotions she'd been holding up for almost two days.
"I'm just so scared, Leo."

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Just One Wish - 3



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