Pt. 14

The Candidate

Part 14

With one week left in the campaign Brian and Allan Billings were running neck in neck.  Some polls put Billings slightly ahead and others favored Brian, but all were too close to call.  Charles felt they had gained some significant support on their daycare and education stand, but Billings was milking his family values platform for all it was worth.  He seemed to have gained as much of the undecided vote as Brian had.


Charles, Justin and Brian sat around the table in the loft.  It was a war council.  They needed to come up with a plan to put them over the top.  None of them liked the idea that it was a toss-up between the two candidates.  They hoped to find something that would swing the electorate in their favor.


Debbie had been out campaigning on Liberty Avenue, trying to coerce all her people to vote for Brian.  Most of them gave lip service that they would, but Debbie felt there was another service that they would rather be using their lips for where Brian was concerned.  She didn't think she could produce a sure percentage of voters for Brian.


The last couple of days Justin had worked the campus at PIFA and had gone to some of the political clubs at the surrounding universities and colleges.  He had spoken to them to ask them for their support to try to bolster Brian's campaign.  He thought most of them seemed inclined to vote in favor of Brian, but again how much would translate into actual votes remained to be seen.


Charles had all of his contacts, helpers and finances working overtime to promote Brian.  He had an idea about something that might put Brian on top, but he didn't think Brian would go for it.  He listened to the discussion at the table trying to decide how to broach the subject.


"I don't know what else we can do," Justin said.  "If only we could get proof of Stockwell's activities and his connection to Billings, then we could destroy their credibility."

"That's not likely to happen," Brian said.  "You know when I was at Robert Morris University I met a kid from the politics club and he was really informative."


Justin gave Brian a look indicating his displeasure with Brian being there at all, but then he said, "You know, we may be missing a golden opportunity here.  I found the political clubs very informative too.  Maybe if I went back and enlisted some of them to campaign door to door for us, we could cover more of the city.  There were at least three or four people in every club that seemed really keen about your campaign."


"That's a great idea, Justin," Charles said.  "Would you mind going back and setting that up for us.  Maybe a blitz for the last three days of the campaign.  I'll get you a list of what areas of the city need some coverage."


Justin nodded, happy to have something useful that he could add to the campaign.   


Brian was at a loss as to what else they could do to improve their share of the electorate.


Both Brian and Justin looked at Charles who looked like he wanted to say something, but still remained silent.


"Say it," Brian ordered after a long silence.


"You won't like it," Charles replied.


"Let me be the judge of that."

"Okay, here goes," Charles began.  "You know that we have been keeping Justin out of the mix lately.  I think it's time to bring him in and really show the public what you stand for and who you are, Brian."  Charles saw the look on Brian's face and quickly added, "Hear me out before you tell me no."  Brian kept his mouth shut and Charles continued, "Part of the reason you came into this race so strong at the beginning was that you were brutally honest about yourself, your homosexuality, your firing from Vangard.  After Justin's encounter with Hobbs you backed away from that.  We deliberately tried to find a topic that deflected attention from who you are and what you stand for.  I think that's why we've lost ground."

Brian stared at Charles.  "I will not have Justin put in danger again," Brian declared.  "He stays out of this."

"Brian," Justin said.


"No," Brian commanded.  "I'm not taking any chances.  You do not get involved."


"It's my life, Brian.  You can't stop me."


"But you have to be careful…"


"I have to be true to myself and so do you.  What good is it otherwise, even if you win?"

"I don't think we should 'flaunt' ourselves," Brian said with a sour look on his face.


"See," Justin said defiantly, "you can't even say that without making a face.  You know that we weren't flaunting ourselves or our relationship when I appeared with you.  We were merely showing the world who we are.  I say we continue to do that.  The voting public will either accept it or vote against you.  We take the consequences either way, knowing that we stood up for what we believe in."


"You are a remarkable young man, Justin," Charles said.


"Live by the sword, die by the sword," Brian muttered.


"What's that supposed to mean?" Justin asked.


"It just passed through my head.  It scares me what could happen to you."


"It scares me what could happen to you if you don't stand up for yourself, and I want to be standing right beside you," Justin declared.


Brian reached for Justin's hand and squeezed it.  Justin knew he had got through to the man.  Even if he was still worried about what might happen to Justin, they would go it together from this point on.  Justin smiled at Brian promising anything and everything.


"I take it then that you will be appearing tomorrow night at the Polish community centre?" Charles said making it more a statement than a real question.


Justin nodded and Brian shrugged his shoulders knowing that Justin would be there regardless of Brian's protestations.


"There's one other thing," Charles said hesitantly.  He knew Brian would really hate this one.


"Yeeessss," Brian drew it out knowing it was probably something he would like even less than the idea of Justin appearing with him.


"We have been campaigning on daycare and education and Billings has been flogging family values.  Why not combine the two, and beat him at his own game?"

"What are you driving at?" Brian asked afraid that he already knew.


"Gus," Charles said.


"No way!" Brian retorted.  "My son is not being dragged into this."


"But he could be the difference," Charles protested.  "He shows that you do have a family and a need for daycare, that you actually are dealing with the issues of this campaign, that you're not just pontificating about them."


"Since when do I pontificate?" Brian asked with a grimace.


Charles and Justin looked at each other and grinned.


"If either of you say that I am pontificating, you can shove your campaign up your asses.  I'm out of it," Brian stated not seeing any humor in this at all.

"Brian," Justin said, "Charles means that it would prove to everyone that these are real problems for you, not just talk.  Besides, Gus is so cute that he would probably sway eighty percent of the electorate in your favor."

"Only eighty?"


"Maybe ninety," Justin agreed.  "Who can resist a tiny carbon copy of you?"

"My own Mini-me?"


Charles and Justin chuckled.


"Will you talk to his mothers?" Charles asked.  "At least find out if they'd be willing to go along with this, because they would be in the public eye too.  You would be showing the public the kind of alternative family that you have been talking about at the candidate meetings."

"I don't know," Brian said still reluctant to involve his son and the munchers.


"Think about it, Brian," Justin said.  "Go talk to Lindsay and Melanie and see how they feel."


"All right," Brian gave in, "but I'm not promising anything."




A couple of hours later Brian rang the bell at the munchers.  He still wasn't convinced that this was a good idea, but he had agreed to talk to them, so here he was.  Lindsay answered the door.


"Hi," she said.  "We haven't seen much of you lately."  She held back the door and allowed Brian through.


"I've been busy.  May I see Gus?  Is Melanie home yet?"


"Yes and yes," Lindsay replied.  "Melanie's upstairs getting Gus cleaned up for dinner.  He was out playing in the yard for awhile.  We probably won't get too many more nice days before it's officially winter."

"Daddy!" Brian heard and Gus ran over to him.  He pulled the little boy up into his lap and was rewarded with a smacking good kiss.  He returned the favor.


"What have you been up to, Sonny Boy?" Brian asked hugging his son.


"Play," Gus replied.


"That's exactly what you should be doing," Brian agreed.


Gus smiled up at him liking his spot in his father's lap.  "Love you, Daddy," Gus cooed.


"I love you too, Gus," Brian replied kissing the top of his head.  That simple statement made Brian realize how innocent and precious his son was.  He was not going to drag him into politics in any way, shape or form.


"So what's up with the campaign?" Melanie asked.


"It's pretty tight," Brian said seriously.


"Is there anything we can do to help?" Lindsay asked.


For a second Brian considered asking them, but then he simply replied, "No.  I…want to thank you, Melanie, for keeping your feelings about me out of it."

"You're welcome.  It hasn't been too hard.  We simply refuse to grant any interviews."


"You mean they've been asking you for interviews?" Brian asked.


"At least one or two times a day," Melanie said.


"Shit!  I had no idea they were bothering you."

"They haven't really pestered us too much.  We just keep saying no," Lindsay added.


"That's good.  Keep saying that."

"So what are you going to do, if the race is so close?"



"You?" Melanie asked with a chuckle.


"Maybe not," Brian replied.  "Justin's going to start appearing with me again, and he's going to recruit some of the college types to go door to door for me the last three days of the campaign."

"That sounds like a good idea," Lindsay agreed.


"I'm appearing at the Polish Center tonight.  I think it's very conservative, so it should be interesting."


"The Poles are very much pro education so that may be to your advantage," Melanie said.


"If they can get past the fact that I'm gay."

"Yeah," Mel agreed. "By the way the things you have been saying about alternative families and daycare are right on.  I'm glad you're bringing that to the public's attention."

"Thanks," Brian replied.  "Well, I better get going.  I have to look stunning for the Polish citizens of Pittsburgh in a couple of hours."

"Good luck," Lindsay told him.


Brian kissed Gus who still sat on his lap and handed him to his mother.  "I hope I'll have more time soon to spend with Gus," Brian said a little sadly.


"Only if you lose," Mel said.


Brian gave her a look, but didn't say anything more.




Brian and Charles arrived at the Polish Center just before eight.  The other candidates were already there.  He saw Allan Billings and his wife schmoozing with some people.  The other two candidates had already taken their seats on the stage.


Brian looked around for Justin but didn't see him anywhere.  The boy had gone off to visit a couple of the local universities as soon as their meeting with Charles was over.  He was supposed to meet them there.


The moderator came over saying they were ready to start.  Charles said he would keep an eye out for Justin and found a seat towards the back.  Brian wondered why Justin wasn't there yet, but went up on stage.  He saw Allan Billings' wife take her seat in the front row.


This meeting was to be informal with questions from the audience and/or moderator as the situation dictated.  The meeting started off well with several people lined up at the mikes in the hall, most asking the standard questions that all the candidates had answered over and over again.  For a good hour things went along smoothly.


A distinguished looking man was next to ask a question.  He began to speak with quite a pronounced Polish accent.  "I want to know why my granddaughter who has a little girl, two years old, can't find daycare that she can afford," he said.


"Who is your question directed to?" the moderator asked.


"Anyone who can answer it," he said.  The audience laughed.


"I'll take that on," Allan Billings said before Brian could open his mouth.  Brian gave him a withering look, but Billings merely looked smugly back at him.  "I think the reason your granddaughter is having trouble is because too many people in power talk about fixing the system, but nothing ever happens.  They don't really mean to do anything about it.  It's just talk to get your support."  He stared directly at Brian.


"That may be true," Brian said quickly.  "But since you're the only one here who's had the opportunity to make it any better, you must be talking about yourself."


Several people laughed and Billings looked like he wanted to strangle Brian.


"To further answer your question, sir," Brian continued directing his attention to the gentleman in the audience, "I'd like to see cultural centers like this one set up daycares for people in their communities.  If I'm elected that would be one of the things that I'd promote.  I'd like to talk to you later about your granddaughter's situation."


The distinguished man nodded and even bowed slightly as he went to sit down. 


"One for me," Brian thought looking triumphantly over at Billings.


"I have a question for any of the candidates who care to answer," a woman said.  "I'm interested in the family values that many of you have been talking about.  How can we help young people have safer, gentler, better families in which to live?"


Billings picked that up immediately and Brian wondered if the woman had been planted to ask that question.  "I think we need to get back to the old fashioned values that religion has taught," Billings said with a superior view over the audience.


"And which religion would that be?" Brian asked.


"What do you mean?" Billings shot back.


"There are many religions.  Are you saying there is only one to follow?"

"Of course not, but most religions have good Christian values as part of them," Billings said.


"Did you hear what you just said?" Brian asked sarcastically.  "Most religions have nothing to do with Christianity."

"But…but…but you know what I mean," Billings said appealing to the audience.  "Why the Pope is Catholic and Polish!"


Brian almost burst out laughing at that statement.  He really had Billings flustered.  Who would have guessed how easy that could be?


"I think we need to help young people a lot more than we are," Brian continued.  "Like the previous gentleman said there are many who can't get or can't afford proper daycare.  It limits their lives and leads to frustrations that put strains on the family and can lead to violence."

"How could you possibly fix that?" Billings asked regaining some of his bravado.


"I can't … alone, but case by case we can make a difference.  It's up to all of us."  Brian saw many heads nodding in agreement.


"You who have no true family or responsibility beyond yourself are going to tell us who do how to fix our lives?  I don't think so," Billings said in his most superior tone.


"I do have a family, Mr. Billings, and I'm not trying to tell anyone how to do anything.  I'm merely saying that we all can aid in change for the better."


"I have my wife with me tonight.  Other than one time I've never seen your so-called partner.  As for this fictitious son of yours, where's he?"


Brian was about to snap back at Billings when he heard, "Daddy!  Daddy!" and saw Gus running up the aisle towards the stage.


"Sonny Boy!" Brian responded standing and quickly jumping down from the stage to catch the toddler and hoist him up into his arms.  "What are you doing here?"


"Mama, Mommy," Gus replied pointing to Mel and Lindsay who had been seated in the back.  They smiled and shrugged their shoulders.


Brian gave Gus a kiss and the boy said, "Love you, Daddy!" much to the appreciation of the people who heard the exchange.


"This is my fictitious son, Mr. Billings," Brian said looking up at the stunned looking man.  "Those are his mothers back there and I see my partner has just arrived," Brian concluded seeing Justin entering the hall.  "Justin, would you come get Gus?"


Justin walked up to the front, took Gus from Brian, gave the baby a kiss and then a little peck on Brian's cheek, before he really thought about what he was doing.  Brian saw him blush and rush away to give Gus back to his mothers.


The moderator said that this was a good opportunity to end the question part of the evening and invited the people to help themselves to coffee at the back.


Brian immediately went to find out what Gus was doing there. 


"What the fuck are you two doing here?" Brian said between clenched teeth.


"After your visit today we decided maybe you could use some moral support," Lindsay said.  "We were about to leave and take Gus home to bed, when that asshole started talking about your fictitious son.  Gus wanted to go see you, so we just let him go."


"Well, thanks, I think."  Brian took Gus from his mother and held him.  "Did you not want to see me lose, Mel?  I might have too much time to spend at your place if I did."

"I'll take my chances," Mel chuckled good-naturedly.  "We just got sick of listening to that holier-than-thou asshole."

"That makes two of us," Brian said.


"Mr. Kinney," a voice from behind Brian said, "you have a beautiful family."

"Thank you," Brian said handing Gus back to Lindsay.


"He looks just like you," the woman continued gesturing towards Gus.


"He's going home to bed now," Brian said.


The woman smiled at him and moved away.  Brian felt Justin's arm slip through his.


"Sorry I kissed you in front of everyone," Justin whispered.


"I'm not," Brian said and gave him a quick and rather chaste kiss in front of any who chose to notice.


"Aren't you flaunting yourself?" Justin asked.


"Fuck 'em!  I'm sick of being politically correct.  I don't even know when that became part of the plan, but no more!"


"I like the sound of that," Justin replied.  "Sounds like the Brian Kinney I know and love."

Brian looked into that wonderful face.  "I want to fuck you, but I have to go find the gentleman with the granddaughter who needs daycare."


"Go ahead," Justin said with a groan.  He wanted Brian so badly at that very moment.  "Later."


"Later," Brian promised as he moved away. 

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