The following is a work of fiction. Any similarities are entirely fortuitous. The story may contain profanity and references to gay sex. If such content offends you please leave now. The author retains all rights to the story. Do not copy or use without written authority from the author. Write Bobby at this address with your comments.

Along the Way 11

"We're not mad at you two, okay?" Mrs. Malcolm started the conversation off in a pleasant way. At least those evil looks Brett and I saw before we boarded the plane weren't for us.

"I'm setting ground rules you two. The first and most important rule is that neither of you can set foot out of the White House without security supervision. The second rule is that there will be no holding hands or anything of the sort outside of the house."

"Why?" Brett asked harshly.

"Because if you're seen doing anything remotely gay it will just feed the fire. You both have to understand that those pictures are probably already in the papers." his dad said. "You need to keep a very low profile until this is yesterday's news or at least until your mom and I figure out what to do."

"Whatever," Brett mumbled.

"Brett, your father is just thinking of your safety as well as Tanner's safety, especially Tanner's. Once he goes home he could be stalked or harassed even." Mrs. Malcolm cut in. She seemed genuinely worried about my safety.

I never thought about what the consequences for me would be. Brett has so much more to lose than I so it seems natural my worries are more focused on him. Until Mrs. Malcolm just mentioned it, I wasn't too worried about myself. Now that that topic is out in the open, I can honestly say I'm now terrified. What if someone tries to hurt me? There could be people out there that think Brett's gay because of me.

"Mom, can Tanner and I go to the room? I'm really tired from the drive." Brett asked.

"Sure, dear," his mom replied. "Your father and I will be in his office in a meeting with the cabinet so please don't interrupt."

"Okay, good night." Brett pulled me along to his father's suite. There were two men dressed in black suits standing outside of the door. Kind of creepy, but I guess extra security in a plane hundreds of feet below actual danger is a good thing. The room wasn't very big at all, but the bed was pretty comfortable. Brett handed me a bottle of water and then we plopped down on the bed. I was just about to fall asleep until Brett started talking to me. "Hey,"

"Yeah?" I mumbled tiredly.

"I hope my parents didn't scare you or anything. They're just stressed out right now." Brett said quietly. I could sense the sadness in his voice.

"Well, your mom did kind of scare me. I don't want to be harassed at me house. It's bad enough when my mom is home." I responded without thinking. I hate bringing my mom up.

"Who says you even have to go home? You can just live with me."

"Live with you? Um, I'm not too sure about that, Brett." I said nervously. "I mean, I wouldn't want to be a burden plus I couldn't help pay for anything until I get a job."

"Tanner, Tanner, Tanner," Brett sighed. "Money doesn't matter. My dad makes $400,000 a year. That's more than enough to cover two-hundred you's. I can talk to my parents about it and I'm sure they'd agree to it."

"But, Brett, you're going away to college soon and I don't want to be here by myself."

"So, come with me." he said.

I looked at him like he was crazy. "There's no way I could afford to go to college, much less the college you're going to. What's going to happen when you leave? Are we going to break up?"

"No!" Brett shouted too loudly.

Suddenly, the door swung open and in came the two security guards. "Is everything all right in here, sir?"

"Yes, yes, everything's all right. Thanks, guys." Brett said, waving them off. He turned his attention back to me. "I promise you we will make something work, okay? There's no way we'll break up."

I smiled and said, "Okay, what have you got in mind?" I took a big gulp of my water.

"I could just not go until you can."

I choked on my water. Brett patted my back. "You can't do that, Brett! That is completely insane!"

"Well, maybe it isn't one of my best ideas, but I just don't want to leave you behind, Tanner." Brett said softly. "You know, I don't need to go to the best college in the nation. I could just go to a state college that way we can both go."

"But I can't afford that, Brett. Do you not realize that?" I buried my head in a pillow and sighed. It's so embarrassing to have to say that.

Brett scooted closer to me. He spooned up behind me. "There's lots of ways to get money for college. There are fee waivers, grants, loans, scholarships, and loads of other ways. You can get as much aid as you can and then I can pick up whatever is left."

"As thoughtful as that is, it isn't right for you to do that for me. I can't let you pay for me regardless of how little." I argued.

"What's the point of being rich if I can't spend it on you?"

"That made you sound kind of arrogant, you know?"

Brett chuckled, "Yeah,"

I sighed, scooting in even closer to him. "I love you." My eyelids began to slowly close. The last thing I remember hearing is Brett telling me the same thing.

"I love you, too."

Once more, Brett wasn't next to me when I woke up. I couldn't hear anything. There was neither engine noise nor any movement. Maybe we landed and Brett left me... No, he wouldn't just leave me like that. He probably just went to the bathroom or something. And as if on cue, Brett stepped out of a room connected to the bedroom. When he realized that I was awake, he smiled.

"Have we landed?" I yawned.

"Yep, like a minute ago." he responded. "Dad came in and said that we have to leave immediately so get your stuff and let's go."

We walked out of the bedroom and were greeted by his parents. They told us that we'd be taking something called Marine One to the White House. As the four of us walked off the plane, I couldn't help but notice the jumbo helicopter off to the side. I guess that's Marine One. It seemed like security was doubled around us. Mr. Malcolm probably added more because of what might ensue after the photo gets out.

We were flown to the White House in only a few minutes. There was a large crowd gathered outside of the gates just staring into the long grass stretch. Almost every single person had a newspaper in their hands. The photo has definitely gotten out.

When the helicopter landed, several people came from the White House and greeted us. Mr. Malcolm told us to shower and get ready for the meeting with his cabinet. Brett took me to his room. Both him and I got in the shower to save some time. Neither of us was in the mood for anything sexual, though. In only about thirty minutes, the two of us were suited up and ready for the meeting. Brett told me how it would basically be. His dad would start talking to the cabinet and they'd be responding back obviously. Brett did say that he had no idea how this meeting would go, however, because it involves personal stuff rather than business. Someone knocked on his door telling us it was time.

The President's meeting room was filled with people. A long table sat in the middle of the room where I'm assuming his cabinet was sitting. The two of us sat in a corner and began to listen to his father speak.

"As you are fully aware by now, my son and his boyfriend were pictured holding hands in Las Vegas." Mr. Malcolm then went straight to the point. "What are we going to do about this?"

"Mr. President, with all due respect, the picture is already out so there isn't much that we can do." someone said. Brett told me that the woman who spoke was Karen Russell, the Attorney General.

"We'll definitely need to hold a press conference to quiet the people. This may not even be that big of a deal. I mean, the only real problem we should have is getting letters of disapproval." a man said. Brett informed me that the guy is Ken Gates, the Secretary of the Treasury.

"Mr. President, I believe we need to keep your son and his boyfriend on lockdown until we get a hold of this situation." I recognized the guy who spoke this time. Tom Vogler, the Secretary of Defense. I've seen him giving a speech when Brett's dad was elected into office. He seems like a decent guy honestly. "Should we worry about foreign affairs being affected by this?" There were some hushed whispers all around the room.

"What do you think, Don?" Mr. Malcolm asked the Vice President who seemed to be deep in thought.

"Mr. President, we shouldn't have to worry about foreign affairs just quite yet. First we should concentrate on the home front." Don Barnes replied. "Until we know how it affects us here, then we can worry about foreign affairs."

"Yes, I agree," Tom Vogler said. "Maybe I was getting to ahead of myself."

"Brett, Tanner," Mr. Malcolm said. "What do you two think?"

I'm sure I turned at least two different shades of red. Being put on the spot by the President and then being stared at by the entire cabinet is more than nerve wracking. Luckily for me, I have Brett.

"I'm not sure, dad." Brett answered. "Maybe you should conference in Uncle Gary and Gwen Holden. Aren't they in Saudi Arabia?"

"Yes, but neither one of them are answering. They may be in a meeting with the President themselves." Mr. Malcolm rubbed his temple. "I need some rest. We'll continue this meeting later. Oh, and make a press conference for four o'clock. I'll be addressing this personally."

Everyone stood from the table and began collecting their papers and such. Brett gave me an unsure look. I felt so ashamed of myself. Seeing his dad in such confusion is hard to witness. You'd think the President would be strong and straight in this type of situation, but this really seems to be eating him up.

Back in Brett's room, the two of us undressed in silence. He didn't talk to me at all. My insecurity was immediately perked up and I assumed the worst. What if he's starting to blame me for what happened? Oh, God, please don't do this to me. A few minutes after we finished changing, his mom came to get us for lunch. Brett was silent during lunch, too. Even his mom was being unusually quiet. After lunch, Brett took me for a walk around the house. It was really cool being able to walk around freely. He finally began to talk to me too. Earlier he was probably just a little stressed out, not that I can blame him.

"Sorry I was so quiet before. I guess I was just kind of scared." Brett said. His voice was kind of soft, almost weak even.

"It's not a problem. I figured as much." I smiled. He reached for my hand, but I moved it away. "Not in here, Brett. I don't want anyone to see."

"Tanner, in here we don't have to worry. Everyone knows I'm gay and they obviously don't have a problem with it. Please hold my hand. I feel kind of distant from you today." I saw moisture in his eyes. Brett was damn near in tears from all of this.

I sadly looked at him, but grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly. We continued our little walk throughout the house. Eventually four o'clock grew nearer. The two of us went back to his room and suited up once more. Brett told me that we won't be a part of the conference, but we will be there nonetheless.

President Malcolm was all ready to go when we went to the area for the conference. He looked as confident as ever. I guess his nap soothed his nerves. The time came for him to walk out and address the press. Brett and I were listening intently.

"Ladies and gentlemen in this room and the millions watching all over the country, I'm sure you all have seen what shocking picture is in the newspapers. I would like to take this opportunity to cease any rumors and falsifications floating around. It is true. I do have a gay son." People began whispering to each other, clearly in shock that the President just came out and said it. "I am not ashamed of having a gay son. He knows that I support him in anything he chooses one-hundred percent. Hopefully, this does not change your views on me as the President of your country. All of my views are the same and will remain as such. Now, are there any questions?"

The crowd suddenly erupted and every single reporter was on their feet waving their hands around. Mr. Malcolm called on a woman.

"Mr. Malcolm, will you be pushing harder for gay marriage?" she asked.

"Actually yes," he responded. "Gay marriage will be a legal right before I'm out of office. I guarantee it."

"Will this affect any kind of trade to the United States?" she quickly asked.

"I do not know at this time. I'll ask the foreign countries to look not with their eyes or think with their beliefs, but to look and think with their hearts." Mr. Malcolm said strongly. "Next question."

"Who is your son's boyfriend?" someone shouted.

"That will not be released at this time." Mr. Malcolm sternly said.

A man was next. "How about we hear from your son about this!"

"That is absolutely out of the question. I will not allow my son to be harassed by a feeding frenzy of reporters." He looked to the side where Brett and I were standing. "Well, I believe the media has gotten enough time out of this. The conference is over." He walked away without anything else said.

Mr. Malcolm angrily walked past us. The Secretary of Defense told him that he's got a phone call from his brother. Brett nudged me to follow. We followed his dad to his office where he took the call.

"Is that the uncle you talked about earlier?" I asked Brett.

"Yeah, he's the Secretary of State." he said quietly.

"What's that?"

"He basically deals with foreign affairs. Hopefully this phone call is bad news." Brett said with a nervous smile.

"What's the news, Adam?" Mr. Malcolm put the conversation on speakerphone. Everyone in the room went deathly silent.

"This gay incident has gotten out of hand over here, Greg. President Tabuk is insulted by that damn picture." Adam hastily said. It was clear he was amped up about something."

"Isn't it midnight there?" The President began to rub his temple. His calm demeanor had completely disappeared.

"Apparently he just does not care. He somehow managed to get the picture." Adam paused for a moment. "Damage control needs to start immediately."

"What have you got in mind?"

"Send that son of yours to an asylum. That will show Tabuk that you're not okay with it and you're trying to change him. That should at least ease the tension."

"Are you insane!?"

"No, I'm not. If you don't do something about your gay son, then things will get out of hand really quick."

"If you ever talk about Brett like that again so help me, Adam, I will massacre you." Mr. Malcolm roared, standing from his chair and slamming his fists down on the desk. "I'm talking scorched earth mother fucker! I will fuck you up!"

Everyone in the room was in shock by the President's sudden rage. Brett's mom looked pretty pissed as well, but she still said nothing. Not even Brett said anything. He was just standing next to me looking mortified.

"Greg, President Tabuk is considering terminating our oil supply in Saudi Arabia." Adam said after a long pause.

"He what!?"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Well everyone, I hope you all liked chapter eleven! As always, feel free to write me at the e-mail address given atop every single chapter. Also feel free to join my group by clicking this link: Shades of Wisteria.

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