Pt. 15

The Candidate

Part 15

The following day there was a picture in the paper that neither Brian nor Justin was prepared for.  It was the moment where Justin took Gus from Brian at the Polish Center and gave his partner a kiss on the cheek.  Whoever took the picture had managed to capture the exact moment of the kiss with Gus trapped between them.


"Fuck!" Brian said when he saw the newspaper.  "I didn't see any flashbulbs go off, did you?"


"No, but with digital cameras it isn't always necessary to use a flash," Justin said as he ate his cereal.


"I wonder what the reaction to that will be."


"You mean you wonder what the fallout will be," Justin clarified.


"That too."


"Why did Lindsay and Melanie bring Gus there?"

"They felt sorry for me when I told them that the mayoral race was neck and neck."

"You never asked them to let Gus be part of your campaign, did you?"

Brian looked away.




"No, I couldn't.  He's so little and so innocent.  I didn't want to use him like that."


Justin leaned across the table and kissed Brian.  "What's that for?" Brian asked.


"For being so sweet."

"Me?  Sweet?"

"Of course.  You always have been."

"You are either a pathetic liar or you really are delusional," Brian stated.


"Both," Justin joked.  "Brian, you never realize how sweet you really are.  Most politicians would have had Gus out there front and center from the get-go."

"Christ, I hope I'm not like most politicians," Brian gasped.


"I just said you weren't and you better not turn out like so many of them."


"You know," Brian said thoughtfully, "I think about that.  Look how it changed me after you got hurt.  I tried to downplay who I really am, tried to fit into a more acceptable mold and not make waves.  That's not me."


"That's for sure.  Most of the time you're a tidal wave looking for some place to crash ashore."

Brian snorted.  "I do wonder if I get elected how everything will change."


"I have to admit that it is a scary thought.  You will have so much responsibility and so many things to take care of.  Where will I fit in all of that, or will I?" Justin asked, his eyes suddenly filled with worry.


"You will be right there beside me," Brian stated.


Justin beamed his sunshine smile in reply, and then said, "But don't I have to walk a couple of steps behind you?


"Only when they make me queen," Brian replied with a twinkle in his eye.


"You already are," Justin giggled.


"Come here, you," Brian said his voice suddenly husky.


"I'd like to, but I have to get to class and then I'm going to a couple more colleges this afternoon."


"Justin, I appreciate you doing this," Brian said sincerely.  "But be careful.  Don't overdo it and don't take any chances."


"You worry too much.  I'm fine and I'll be fine."  Justin kissed Brian longingly, and then forced himself upright, grabbed his coat and ran out the door.


Brian groaned and adjusted his jeans.


The phone rang almost instantly.  "Yeah," Brian answered.


"Brian, it's Lindsay.  Could you come over here right away?"

"I guess.  What's wrong?"


"There are reporters at the front door.  We had to take the phone off the hook and I'll do that again as soon as I end this call."  Lindsay sounded close to tears.


"Reporters?  What the fuck is going on?"


"That picture in the paper this morning.  It seems like somehow we, and particularly Gus, have become fair game all of a sudden."


"I'll be right there," Brian said grabbing his coat.


When he pulled up to Lindsay's a few minutes later, it looked like a house under siege.  There were vans from the local TV stations and cameramen and people walking around with tape recorders and pads of paper.


"Fuck!" Brian mumbled to himself as he slid out of the Corvette.


"Mr. Kinney!" someone yelled.  "Mr. Kinney!"  Suddenly he was surrounded.  People shouted questions at him, no one allowing him to answer.


Brian shoved his way through and finally made it to the front door of the house.  Melanie opened the door and Brian scooted in before she slammed it shut and locked it.


"Go out there and tell them to go away," the woman commanded.


"I would if I could.  I couldn't get a word in edgewise."

Melanie grimaced.  "You've got to do something."

"What do they want?  What have they said to you?" Brian asked.


"They want Gus."


"Gus?  He's two!  How can he hold a press conference?"  Brian couldn't believe his ears.


"They want pictures … of him, of you and him, of us."


"But why now?  They left you alone before."


"I know, but I think they feel we brought Gus into the campaign last night, and now they want more."

"Shit!  That's why I didn't want him at any of those meetings.  Why did you bring him?"


"We were trying to be supportive, Brian," Melanie said ruefully.  "I'm sorry if we upset your neat little campaign."

Brian snorted.  "What neat little Campaign?  It's a fucking nightmare.  I was supposed to ask you to let me bring Gus into the campaign yesterday, but I just couldn't involve him," Brian said with a grimace.


"Oh!" Melanie responded.  She was a bit surprised at Brian's admission, but only a bit.  She realized more than ever that Brian loved Gus and wanted only the best for him.  He had managed to keep him and them out of it until they took matters into their own hands by going to the meeting last night.


Brian had been thinking too, while Mel was silent.  He was wondering how he could fix this for them.  Then it hit him.  "Listen, Mel.  What if I go out there and make a deal with them?"

"What kind of deal?" Mel asked warily.


"I'll tell them that all of us will come out to the porch together for a three minute photo-op.  Then you guys can go inside and I'll answer questions."


"How does that solve the problem?" Mel asked.


"We don't come out unless they agree to go away and leave you alone afterwards."

"Oh," Mel said again.  "Let me talk to Lindsay first."


"I'm going out to see if they'll agree," Brian stated.


Melanie went upstairs to find her wife and son.  Brian took a deep breath and stepped out on the porch.


"Ladies and gentlemen of the press," Brian called.  People stopped and turned to face him.  "I have a proposition for you.  I will bring my son and his mothers out on the porch for three minutes for you to take pictures, if you will then pack up and leave.  Leave them alone from now on."

There were rumblings and shaking heads from many areas of the assembled throng.  "Why should we?" someone shouted.


"This is a two year old child we're talking about here," Brian stated.  "I don't want him to be scared, and afraid to come out of his own house."


"He's right," someone said.  "The kid's still a baby."


"Give us five minutes of photo time and get the ladies to say something," another person called out.


"I don't think so," Brian responded.


"How about five minutes for photos and questions to all of you?"


"I … I don't know," Brian said not sure the women would agree.


"That's the best offer we have," the same man yelled out.  He seemed to have appointed himself the main spokesperson for all assembled.


Brian stepped back in the house.  Lindsay stood holding Gus with Melanie beside her.  Gus looked bewildered and Lindsay wasn't much better off.  Mel looked mad.


"Did you hear that?" Brian asked.


Lindsay nodded.


"Want to do it if they say they'll leave?"

Lindsay looked at Mel and they both nodded.


Brian opened the door.  "We have a deal as long as I have your word that you'll disappear from here afterwards."


There was a chorus of "okay" and "yeah" and "all right".


Brian nodded.  "Just a minute," he said.  He disappeared into the house.  When he reappeared he was carrying Gus and Lindsay was on his left and Melanie on the right.  Brian noticed there were some microphones taped to the railing.


"Okay," Brian shouted.  Gus covered his ears.  "Sorry, Sonny Boy.  Please try to be orderly about this.  I don't want Gus frightened."


"Can you get Gus to wave?" someone asked.


Brian whispered in Gus' ear and the little boy looked out at the crowd and made his fist open and close in a sort of wave.


"Good boy," Brian whispered to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  Flashbulbs had been going off continuously all this time.  Gus turned his back to all the light.


"Who's the kid's mother?" someone asked.


"We both are," Melanie retorted.


"Who gave birth to him?" the same person pursued.


"I did," Lindsay said standing up straight and regaining her poise.


Gus continued to cling to Brian's neck facing away from the reporters.


"How was he conceived?" someone else asked.


"I was a sperm donor," Brian said quickly.


"Could Gus say something?"


Brian glared in the direction that the request had come from.  He whispered to Gus.  Gus turned around and looked at the assembled masses.  "Go 'way," he said firmly and hid his face against his father's shoulder.


"I think that just about sums it up.  Now please leave," Brian declared and turned, ushering the women back into the house.  Little did he know that the last look the press got of Gus was his head over his father's shoulder sticking his tongue out at them all.


Brian and Gus' mothers waited for the press to gather up their paraphernalia and hit the road.  True to their bargain they did.  Within twenty minutes the street was back to normal.  Brian had been sitting on the floor playing with Gus when Melanie reported that the last van had just pulled away.


"Do you think they will really stay away?" Lindsay asked.


"They fucking better!" Brian replied.  "We kept our part of the deal, so they better do the same."

"Thanks for coming over and helping us deal with them," Mel said.


"You're welcome, but don't bring Gus to any more political get-togethers," Brian requested.


"Not even your victory party?" Lindsay asked.


Brian made a face.  "I wouldn't be too sure that there'll be one," he said.  "The polls show that it could go either way."


"So that means you could win," Lindsay said trying to be positive.


"Yeah, right.  Well, I better go," Brian said giving Gus a kiss on the top of his head.  "Keep your mothers in line, Sonny Boy."

Gus giggled.  "Bye, Daddy."



Brian didn't see Justin again until he got in from another meeting with the other candidates at another cultural center somewhere in the city.  All these meetings had begun to run together.  This meeting was pretty tame compared to some of the others.


Brian had been asked about the kiss between Justin and him that had been captured in the photo in the paper.  He had answered that by saying they were a couple and they did show affection from time to time.  That had earned him a laugh from the audience.  He had really wanted to tell them that he and Justin had a healthy, even extraordinary, sex life and that little kiss was nothing to what they could show the public.  However, he dutifully restrained himself and played the role of a sensible candidate.


He had had a message from Justin on his voicemail when he finished at the center.  It merely said that he was running late, wouldn't be able to make it to the meeting and would see Brian back at the loft.


When Brian arrived home Justin was sitting on the couch staring out the window.


"Hey," Brian greeted him.


"Hey," he responded but didn't get up.  "Everything go okay at the meeting tonight?"

"Pretty much.  I had a request for us to demonstrate the art of kissing."

"What?" Justin asked taken by surprise.


"I'm kidding.  Are you all right?  You seem distracted."

"I am a bit.  I have something to tell you."

"Oh, what?"

"I went to Robert Morris University and spoke to Terry, the guy you talked to there.  He's really keen to help you.  I think you have another conquest," Justin said, rushing to get it all in before Brian reacted.


"What the fuck did you go there for?" Brian demanded.  "That's where Hobbs is."


"I know, but you talked about this kid who was very informative, so I thought I'd try to find him and get him to help."

"How did you find him?" Brian asked.


"I went to the student union building and he found me.  He recognized me from the article in the paper."

"That kid must live there.  That's where I ran into him too.  So he's going to help?"

"Yeah, he said he'd round up a team and do that end of the city starting tomorrow."

"Great, but I'm still not happy about you going there."


"I saw him," Justin said staring at the darkness through the windows.


"Hobbs?  Fuck!"


"He came up to me and apologized for the incident when I got hurt.  He said he just wanted to scare me, not hurt me."

"He didn't do anything to you, did he?" Brian asked coming to sit beside Justin and putting his arm around his shoulder.


"No, it was all very civil.  I … I actually didn't feel afraid," Justin said shaking his head.


"That's good, I guess, but I wish you hadn't gone there."

"I asked him if Stockwell put him up to it," Justin said quietly.


"You didn't?  Fuck, Justin, he could have hurt you again."

"He seemed genuinely sorry.  He wouldn't admit that Stockwell gave him money, but I'm even surer now that he did.  I think he even wanted to tell me that."


"But he didn't."


"Justin, I asked you to be careful."

"I know, but I felt like I needed to talk to him.  I don't think he'll be a problem again."

"How can you know that?"

"I just feel like it's finally finished."

Brian pulled Justin against him and kissed him hard.  "I'm glad nothing bad happened," Brian whispered.


"Me too," Justin admitted holding onto Brian.


"How was your day otherwise?" Justin asked.


"Peachy!  I had to go to Gus' press conference."




"The press had Linds' house under siege this morning.  She called just after you left.  I made a deal with the press that Gus would come out for five minutes if they would go away after."


"Did they?"


"Surprisingly yes."

"Wow, you are getting to be such a politician," Justin said in awe.


"Fuck you!" Brian retorted.  "I don't like being called that."

Justin chuckled.  "Brian, what the fuck do you think you are?  You've been in politics for almost a month now.  That makes you a politician."

"Don't I have to get elected to be a politician?"

"Maybe," Justin admitted.


"Wanna fuck a politician?"

"Sure," said Justin, "but you just told me you weren't one yet."

Brian groaned.  "Close enough."  His mouth closed over Justin's and his hands began removing clothes.


"You politicians are a crafty lot," Justin gasped as Brian let him up for air.


"Do tell."

"You can kiss and undress and win an election all at the same time."


Brian grinned at him, took his hand and pulled him up to the bedroom.

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