Carter's Fortress

Well here we go, Book Five.

Well as promised how ever people seem to have missed my challege....

i wanted you to CAST the book, some got it, some missed it completeely, so I offer it again, same deal four chapters twenty four hours for ten cast lists for the book.

by cast I mean if you were to make a film/movie/tv show who would you have play the characters.

Quid pro quo.

Submitted for your approval.

As usual Comments or questions direct to Feed back is welcome.


Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.

Henry Clay


Chapter Twenty-One

Will's riding stretched from Lake Ontario up to Mount Pleasant Cemetery, from Yonge Street to the Don Valley River. Toronto Center, the heart of the bustle, the noise, the middle of the rush that was metropolitan life.

He had just concluded his first speech as a political candidate, sleeves of the Ralph Lauren shirt rolled up and the new silk tie undone and hanging loose. He looked like a man who was hard at work; a more honest image, Will felt, than the man that had stared back at him in the mirror wearing the Hugo Boss suit Alicia had bought him.

He shook some more hands, greeted some more of the voters. The by-election was only a few weeks away and he had his work cut out for him. But from the reception he had received at the community center... he couldn't believe those cheers had been for him, bright and eager faces listening to his plans to fight for equality, how he intended to carry on with the good work that Robert Avery had started to build equal opportunities for everyone.

He knew what it was like to be a gay man in the work place, he understood and empathized with them on what it was like to be discriminated against. And how, as a Human Resource manager he had made sure everyone, gay, straight, transgender, had been hired based off of their skills.

He glanced over at Brody who was tapping his watch, and Will nodded, pausing long enough to smile at a familiar transvestite who was grinning broadly at him. He stopped and pointed at her, a broad grin on his face. "How are you doing?" he asked, addressing one of his old employees from Avery-Woods.

"Great," she replied with a grin. "It's good that we finally have someone on our side running; you know you have my vote," she stated with a nod.

Will nodded again and excused himself, hurrying to catch up to Brody and Lisa, Lisa already holding up his coat for him to slip into. Behind him, he could hear his former employee relate the story of how Will had hired her, then championed her into a toughly male-dominated sales office.

Will glanced at Brody, "Now that...that was fun."

Brody rolled his eyes. "Attention slut," he commented with a grin. "We gotta roll if we're gonna make the TTC press conference."

Will glanced back and offered a wave to the crowd before he allowed himself to be swept off once more on the campaign trail.


Gravano lowered the newspaper looking across the desk at Hackett. "I thought you said he wasn't going to be around anymore?" he asked, slamming the paper down and pointing to William Carter's picture on the front page.

Hackett stared at the picture of the determined-looking young man passionately speaking at a TTC ralley about the problems facing transit in inner cities."He's far too busy with his election to give you problems," Hackett said firmly. "Besides, even if he is elected he is going to be sitting on the back bench of parliament for the next four years anyway."

Gravano allowed his displeasure to show as he sank back into his chair scowling across at Hackett, "You know full well that people will listen to an MP when he speaks out about something."

"He has nothing," Hackett repeated in a placating tone.

"Oh, he has nothing?" Gravano said. "Really? Then explain why I have the Ministry of Heritage asking me directly for cost reports on the Heritage project?"

"I..." Hackett stared blankly, "this is the first I have heard of it."

"You said this Thorpe wasn't bright enough to put this all together, which means he had help," he tapped the newspaper. "And I'm willing to bet whose help."

"I'll look into it; I have a few contacts in the ministry, I'll find out what they have and then we'll know how to counter it." Hackett stood up to go.

"I suggest you find out, then," Gravano said. "In the meantime," he drew out the envelope of pictures from his desk drawer, glad that he had the foresight to save them, "we still have an ace up our sleeves."


Marc was sitting with a smile as he drove Will's Jeep down the 401 returning to Toronto. The constant shifting was something that he would have to get used to. It was like living in two cities at the same time, constantly shuffling between the two. But Will was worth it...

Marc's smile got broader at the thought of Will and then he glanced up at himself in the rearview mirror. Great, he was giddy. Giddy over a guy? That wasn't supposed to happen. He was supposed to be married to a girl or something, and yet the only time he had ever been happy in his life was with that damned Brit.

He shrugged, so he was in love; he'd deal with it... at least it settled one question, that he was capable of falling in love.

He tried to switch topics in his own mind. It was odd living in two cities at the same time. All their possessions were back in Ottawa at Brody's house, but then there was the riding house, a townhouse kept as the primary residence. It was fully furnished from Will's recounts, which was good as Marc had no desire to lug everything back from Ottawa again. And when Will got elected--losing wasn't possible for a guy like Will in Marc's mind--they would be back to living in Ottawa jetting back for the constituency meetings at the end of each week.

Will had offered to fly Marc in, but there was something just wrong about jetting down from Ottawa; it was only a few hours by car and since Will wasn't about, it allowed Marc to...

He sped up and drifted the Jeep over to the next lane, listening to the engine of the powerful little vehicle. Will had owned the Jeep for as long as Marc had known him, and from all accounts it had been with Will for years. It was well-maintained but was definitely showing its age in the near constant time it spent at the mechanic's for various minor repairs, a worn belt, corroded brake lines. It was a shame because Will loved his Jeep.

Marc turned up the radio as he glanced at Oshawa flashing by, another half hour to an hour and he would be there. Back in the city again, the city that had once seemed so dark and all-consuming, but now didn't affect him.

The cell phone in its cradle began to ring and Marc absently reached out to pick it up, "Hey?"

"Hi, short stuff," Will's voice sounded tired. "How are you doing?"

"Just passing Oshawa," Marc said glancing out the window again. "Missing me?"

"Yeah," Will said, sounding like he was still at the office. "We have a big fund raiser tonight to gather some support from the local business members; it's also a chance for me to meet people, Brody's idea."

"Cool," Marc said. "Does that mean you're asking me to come?"

"That was the idea," Will said sounding amused. "I've never seen you in a tuxedo."

Marc coughed, "A tuxedo?" He detested suits, he always felt like a dork.

"Mmm," Will said. "I had Alicia get you one, it's here at the office; if you want to swing by here you could get ready with me."

"A tux?" Marc repeated. "I dunno, Will..."

Will chuckled, "Stop being so shy, you'll look fine in it, or would you rather miss me in a dinner jacket and a bow tie?"

Marc thought about that for a second, Will dressed up and looking like James Bond... "Damn..." Marc said with the mental image firmly in mind.

"Knew you'd cave," Will said sounding pleased. "I'll see you shortly."

Marc hung up, a perma-grin on his face as he shook his head, "Damn..."


"I can always tell when you're nervous, boss," Alicia said as she nimbly tied his bow tie and straightened it stepping back to admire her handywork. "Wow!"

"What?" Will asked shrugging on the white dinner jacket and fiddling with his cuffs, "Is something wrong?"

Alicia stepped back in to make one final adjustment to his collar and shook her head, "You look great; you sure you're gay?"

"He better be," Marc said, emerging from the bathroom holding up his black bowtie and looking lost. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

Alicia rolled her eyes. "Boys!" she exclaimed, gesturing for him to come over to allow her to tie that one as well. She for her part had chosen a devastating green dress that was conservative and liberal in all the right places.

Will sat down on the edge of the desk behind her, looking at his boyfriend. Short but handsome, shy but confidant. Marc was clean-shaven showing off his boyish face and really bringing out his eyes. He blinked over at Will and smiled, colour touching his cheeks again, painfully self-conscious like he always was when he was dressed up.

"I feel like I'm going to the prom," Marc said as Alicia drew the tie tight.

"Well," Alicia said, "at least I'll be the prettiest girl there."

"I don't know," Will said. "This is Toronto-Center, you'd probably be the only girl there but certainly not the only person in a dress..."

"Oh," Alicia said a note of warning in her voice, "if I get there and the drag queens look prettier than me I am so going back to the hotel after a stop off for Haagen Daz!"

Will smiled in amusement, "I'm sure you'll be prom queen,"

"I better be," Alicia threatened, finishing Marc's tie and handing him his black jacket.

"The car is here," Brody said coming into the office. As usual, as smart as everyone looked, Brody outclassed them, wearing a simple mandarin-collared suit that made him look like a Bond villain, no doubt done deliberately. Brody always liked to be contrary to everyone else. All he needed was a white cat...

Will nodded and gestured to the door, "Shall we, then?"

"No, no," Brody said stepping back. "The Honourable Mister Carter, future MP for Toronto-Center, should go first." He flourished a bow and Will shook his head as he smiled.

"You know, that title is going to take some getting used to," he admitted as he led the way into the outer office to a hail of applause from his campaign workers, and a few wolf whistles from some of the Pride Association workers and the female volunteers.

Will chuckled as he shook his head. "Oh stop," he laughed, as he shook his head at them. "You are all nuts."

Lisa was waiting with the car; she smiled at him and followed the small procession into the back of the Lincoln taking the seat opposite Will as she flipped open a leather document case and made a few last minute notes on his cue cards.

"You're looking exceptionally radiant," Will observed as he looked at her.

She looked up, "Huh?"

"You look good," Will repeated. "Happy."

Lisa smiled at him. "I'm getting to help a good man go to parliament," she said in reply.

"Suck-up," Brody commented as he cranked his head around to look at a couple of young women walking up Yonge Street in short-cut dresses.

Will rolled his eyes at the pair as he watched the car pull up outside the hotel, the door already being held open for him to step out. It was like he was a celebrity, stepping out onto a red carpet. He glanced at the news cameras as they flashed to get pictures of him and he stood still for a second, stepping forward to let the others out of the car.

Marc blinked at the flashes that were suddenly turned on him as he stepped out beside Will, and he shrank back a step, almost trying to hide behind Will from the attention. Will smiled at him reassuringly and wrapped a hand around his waist.

"You look fine," he reassured as he escorted Marc through the front doors of the hotel. The lobby was blissfully devoid of the cameras, the press only being permitted into the fund-raiser after the guests had arrived. But Will was surprised to see the group of people waiting for him.

The Mayor of Toronto was chatting with Minister Thorpe and the Riding Association President, Mac, threw him a wink and gestured for him to join them. Will crossed the lobby with Marc in tow, inclining his head as he joined the small circle, shaking hands as he was introduced.

"So this is the infamous Marc, is it?" Mac asked, giving Marc the once-over and nodding in approval.

"Marc Lawrence, sir," Marc said, shaking hands with everyone and glancing nervously at Will for support.

"Marc's a photography student at the University of Ottawa," Will explained.

"Really?" the Mayor said, his eyes lighting up. "You should meet my wife, she used to be a photojournalist." He turned and beaming, gestured for his wife to join the circle.

"I'd like to introduce Marc Lawrence, dear," he said fondly to the classically elegant woman who had a friendly smile on her face. "He's Mister Carter's...partner?" he asked, turning uncertain for a second.

Will nodded with a smile.

Marc glanced at Will a second staring in wonder; it was the first time he had really considered it. It sounded so formal, more so than boyfriend... and he blushed involuntarily.

"That's wonderful," the Mayor's wife beamed at him. "Come, we were just discussing art," she motioned to a collection of elegant women standing a little apart from the men staring at a magnificent painting hanging on the wall.

Marc nodded and followed, glancing back at Will a second as he went.

"Oh dear," Brody said, trying his best not to chuckle.

"What?" Will said, glancing at his campaign manager.

Thorpe was trying his best not to laugh, as was the Mayor. Brody rolled his eyes, "You just sent your...'partner' off with the politicians' wives." Brody tried to restrain his smirking, "Way to emasculate the kid."

Thorpe coughed politely, grabbing a couple of glasses a waiter offered to him, handing one to Will. "Here, you're going to need this. Trust me, the first time I sent my wife off so the `boys' could talk I was chewed out for a month."

The Mayor nodded in agreement, "Yes, mine was the same way. You realize, though, that they aren't discussing art, right?"

Will glanced suspiciously over to where the women were talking, all of them clustered around Marc. "Oh dear..." he murmured.

Chapter Twenty-Two

"You gave a good speech the other day," the Mayor said, drawing the conversation back around to business. "One of our biggest concerns is the traffic situation here in Toronto."

Will nodded. "I understand that all too well," he smiled. "I used to work down on Front Street and congestion first thing in the morning was murder; I definitely don't recommend the Don Valley in rush hour." He grew serious, "I meant what I said though; Toronto needs additional funds for its infrastructure."

"It's a shame," the Mayor said. "Toronto has, over the last few elections, been solidly behind the Liberal Party and yet what do we get in return? The Federal Government largely ignoring the city's concerns." He smiled, "And yet we still continue to support the Liberal Party. Take a look at your own situation--polls place you as the clear frontrunner."

Will nodded, "There needs to be some serious changes in public works." Will glanced at Thorpe who nodded in agreement, "And there are several ministers who believe in the same thing. I hope that one more voice may just tip the balance and get that funding to where it's needed."

The Mayor smiled, "Good to hear, Mister Carter. Well, I wish you luck with it; I, however, want to get a head start on the buffet before those wolves," he gestured to the press chomping at the bit to get inside, "are turned loose and eat all the shrimp."

Will bowed his head as the Mayor started off, Mac following close behind. Brody glanced at Will and shrugged, heading into the main hall as well.

Thorpe hung back a second to look at Will. "Politics suits you," he commented with a warm smile, "though you best watch out, it often gives you gray hairs." He brushed the touch of white that decorated his temples.

"Speaking of gray hairs," Will commented, "did you get a chance to look into that matter I discussed with you the other day?"

Thorpe gestured into the hall and the pair of politicians walked in together, the Albertan sounding thoughtful, "I've put in a request to check the Gravano books; I want to take a look at the projected numbers, I want to get a better idea of what kind of scandal you've uncovered before we attempt to expose it." He leaned in, "Last thing either of us want to do is piss off someone higher up the food chain."

"Indeed," Will murmured helping himself to some of the hors d'oeuvres, putting them on a small plate as he followed Thorpe down the table. "I just want this sorted out. The current fix is to just throw money at the project in the hopes it will go away; it just seems such a waste."

"Oh it is," the Albertan MP replied. "It's just that I want to be sure if I'm going to move on this." He smiled at Will, "Robert was right about you, you are good at your job."

Will nodded, "I do my best." He turned as the Press were permitted inside, snapping pictures of the guests; a burly-looking man snapped a picture of Will and Thorpe and Will glanced at the minister, "Well, looks like the show's started, I should find my place."

"Knock `em dead," Thorpe said with a grin as he discovered the shrimp bowl.


"An election just before Christmas," a businessman at Will's table was stating. "Boy, that would be a great Christmas present for you."

Will looked up from his plate and nodded. "That it would," he replied with a polite smile as he sipped his coffee. He still wasn't much of a drinker, preferring to feed his caffeine addiction instead. He glanced at Marc who was eating quietly beside him.

"Well, you got my vote," the businessman continued loudly. "Just keep your word, we know you politicians and your promises."

Will looked up and glanced at Brody. "Well, I intend to keep them," he replied firmly. "I prefer to have my integrity intact than be branded as a liar."

"Naturally," the businessman replied.

"Well," the Mayor's wife interrupted tactfully before the drunk businessman got any louder, and addressed Marc with a polite smile, "how long have you two been together?"

Will couldn't help but smile; the more he met of the Mayor's wife, the more he liked her. She was every inch the dutiful political wife, strong, elegant, intelligent and tactful. And she was doing her best to include Marc in the conversation.

"Almost two years," Marc replied, and Will felt Marc squeeze his leg under the table.

"That's wonderful;" she beamed, "you two must be very happy together. Any plans on getting married?"

Will choked on his coffee, and Marc's eyes went wide. Brody and Lisa exchanged glances across the table, as if the idea had never occurred to them, but suddenly seemed like a brilliant idea.

Will tried to say something, but for some reason he couldn't find any words.

Missing the unspoken, the Mayor's wife continued, "Well, it is legal now in Ontario," she said looking happily at her husband. "I personally think it's good that everyone can equally share in something as important as marriage."

Her husband chuckled, "Yeah, but the poor lad's too young."

"We were younger than they were," his wife reminded.

Brody leaned forward, a devilish grin on his face, "Yeah, Mister Carter, when are you going to pop the question?"

Will cleared his throat, "Well... I hadn't really thought... I mean..."

"Marriage isn't something to be rushed," Thorpe said with a nod to Will. "I personally think too many people jump into it taking it too lightly. It used to be that people had to wait until they could get married; you know, take the time to properly get to know the person they are promising to spend the rest of their life with."

"Oh, I totally agree," Brody said, flashing a toothy smile at Lisa. "However, there are those that take too long in engagement."

"It's a serious commitment," Lisa fired back, knowing all too well Brody was taking a direct dig at her five-year engagement to her husband Jeff. "Some people just need to be certain they are making the right choice."

"True," Brody replied, "but there are some that just don't know. I personally like that not being sure--it keeps the mystery alive. I think there is nothing worse than being in a marriage where there is no mystery and everything is predictable."

"But knowing everything about the person you are marrying has its own rewards," Lisa insisted as she turned to face Brody directly.

"Ahem." Will cleared his throat politely, reminding the two where they were.

Sheepishly, Lisa turned back to the table, and Brody grinned like a Cheshire cat, confident that he had ruffled Lisa's feathers again.

"I just hadn't given it much thought," Will replied, looking at Marc sitting very quietly beside him. He had no idea what Marc's thoughts were on the subject. It was just something they had never discussed, and given the recent events it wasn't on the forefront of Will's mind. The question, however, was: was it on Marc's?

Marc was being evasive as usual, refusing to give Will anything as he quietly tucked into his plate of food. Realizing everyone at the table was looking at him, he stopped and glanced up, "Huh?"

Well, that answered that. Will chuckled to himself as he turned back to the Mayor, "So what made you get into politics?"


Will found Marc sitting alone in the lobby of the hotel, playing with a balloon that had Will's name scrawled across it. Will stood a moment looking at the short young man with his handsome features and that lost look in his eyes as he nervously turned the balloon through his fingers.

"Drink?" Will offered, gesturing to the bar.

The young man in the tuxedo glanced up, "No thanks, want to join me for a cigarette?"

"Okay," Will replied, offering a hand to help Marc up out of the extremely comfortable-looking armchair.

The two walked outside to the steps, Marc leaning against the wall as he lit up, and grinned as he extended the cigarette to Will.

"Don't smoke," Will replied.

"Shame," Marc said with a sly smile.

"Smoking will kill you," Will reminded knowing this game, "you should think about quitting."

"Nahh," Marc grinned, "It bugs my boyfriend, I have to have one bad habit he can try to break me of."

"Mmm," Will murmured thoughtfully, "how come all the good ones are taken?"

"Well," Marc said puffing on the cigarette and studying Will, "I'm not averse to the idea of cheating, so long as it's only with you."

"Really," Will quirked an eyebrow. "Won't your boyfriend be jealous?"

"Insanely," Marc responded smiling shyly. "I think he loves me."

"Possibly," Will replied. "I think he's a very lucky man to have such a handsome, witty, intelligent..."

"Aww stop, you're making me blush," Marc waved him off.

"All right," Will said with a chuckle.

"No, don't stop!" Marc said suddenly changing his tone. "Man, you have a lot to learn about picking up guys; when someone says `stop' while you are giving them compliments, they really mean `tell me more'."

"Oh I see," Will gave Marc a cocky grin. "What if I just said I love you?"

Marc bounced from foot to foot, sniffing as he wiped his nose with the back of his hand, "I know. I love me too."

Will shook his head, "Yeah, its official: you're a goof."

Marc grinned back at him, "One of us has to be."

"Indeed," Will said, stepping back and looking at Marc a second before he dropped to one knee.

"Oh, sweet Jesus!" Marc said in utter shock.

"I dropped a penny," Will said with a grin on his face, remaining there.

"Don't you dare!" Marc said blushing and looking around. "Get up before someone sees you."

Will smirked, "I don't have a ring," he said chuckling at Marc's embarrassment, "but I can get one... that is... if... what I mean to say is..."

"No!" Marc said, a massive grin splitting his face. "Stop it, don't ask me..." he blinked not able to hide his smile.

"Well, in that case..." Will said standing up again.

Marc's smile stopped as his eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Hey now, I didn't actually mean stop!"

"Oh?" Will said. "You know, you could just ask me. We are both guys."

Marc licked his lips, tossing the cigarette away and shooting his cuffs as if steadying himself, "Right... I go..."

He took a knee. "William Carter...Will..." he began to chuckle at the complete absurdity, as he stood back up.

"Not as easy as it looks, is it?" Will responded, nodding.

"Ok, so you ask me, then," Marc said, "'cause I'm a chicken."

William smiled and drew Marc close, wrapping his arms around his waist and staring down into those fearful eyes--eyes that were always so afraid of his feelings, but couldn't hide them. That was where his answer was, and where he drew the courage to ask.

"Marc Lawrence, will you..."

"Shut up," Marc said, his eyes welling up. "You know perfectly well I want to."