The President's Son Ch. 01byDWSimon©
It was Christmas Eve, nearly midnight when the couple settled into their bed for the night. They had tucked in the grandchildren with kisses and promises of presents tomorrow. Their excited bodies refused sleep, until grandma sang softly to them and watched them drift to sleep. There was a game of pool set up for the brothers and brothers-in-law, the four of them joking good naturedly and ribbing each other, tossing back a drink or two. The couple was smiling contentedly, happy that the family was together for the holiday, all healthy and whole. As the couple settled down into bed, holding each other after they made love, content in their own happiness, the niggling worries of a mother moved to the forefront. Neither person could easily shut their minds off. This wasn't a family that could. For this wasn't just some simple suburban house, nestled in the glow of a small town Christmas. This was the White House and the couple was President John McNeely and his wife Madeline.
As the afterglow smile slowly faded off of Madeline's face, John looked down into his wife's eyes and asked what was wrong. Her reply was simple. "I'm worried about James."
John sat up straighter and looked into his beloved wife's eyes and could only nod, for he had seen James that day too. "He's not very happy, is he?"
She gave her husband a sad smile. "He's thrilled to be here, with the whole family. He loves each and every one of his brothers and sisters and their families. But he couldn't hide the look." She chuckled. "At least not from me. He never could."
John remembered that day so clearly, almost ten years ago, when his son had come into his study at the governor's mansion. He didn't flinch, he didn't fidget, but he could tell that James was nervous as hell. At seventeen, James had the courage of many men twice or three times his own age. "I'm gay dad. I know you are planning a run for the White House, I just didn't want anything else to come up and surprise you." That something else was his older brother Sam and his excessive sleeping around. The press built it up into a media frenzy of course, but the damage was still extensive. Sam had been caught at a sex party where there were lots of drugs and willing bodies. Sam hadn't taken any drugs, the toxicology report proved it. But he had been with at least four of the women. But it was a scandal that had been weathered well. John remembered the shock and fear that entered his heart. This was his boy, his baby that he'd cradled in his arms. The words didn't scare him, but what the world could do to him did. He didn't want any of his children to suffer, and this road was going to be filled with even more struggles than any of his other children would face. He stood and wrapped his boy in his arms, sad beyond words as James relaxed against him, obviously relieved. "I don't care James. It doesn't matter. You're my son and I love you. No matter what."
John was brought back to the present by his wife's voice. "He's lonely John." Her own voice was haunted, remembering the smiles at his nieces and nephews and the longing looks that one of his siblings got when they were holding their spouse. She frowned, realizing that she didn't even know if her son dated. "He doesn't have anyone in his life. You should know, the secret service watches over him once he leaves base. All he does is captain the sub and take an occasional leave."
John looked out across the bedroom, seeing the Washington Monument through the bedroom window, lost in thought. James had gone far in a very short time. He had enrolled and excelled in the Naval Academy. He was now Captain James McNeely, skipper of the USS Baton Rouge, a nuclear attack sub, stationed in the Pacific Ocean at Pearl Harbor. He had a great tan, but little else. Madeline was right; James was alone. "I'm ashamed to admit it, but I never thought about it. With the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy still in place, I doubt if he has much of a chance to build a relationship."
Madeline sighed and followed her husband's eyes out onto the night sky of Washington. She felt guilty for being so wrapped up in her projects to not know that her son was hurting. Madeline knew he'd never admit it, but James was not happy. "Perhaps we should get him to have more of a social life. We could ask him to the state dinner next week."
John laughed. "I doubt seriously if he'd really want to dress up and toast to the new President of Burundi."
She smacked his still firm chest, stopping for a moment to tweak some salt and pepper chest hair. "Okay, so the situation isn't the best, but it is a social situation." She stroked John's chest and looked at him imploringly. "We need to help him and this is a start at least."
John captured his wife's hand, stilling it from tantalizing him anymore. "He ships out on a three month mission on the twenty-seventh. He won't be available."
Madeline rolled her eyes and plucked at another tuft of his chest hair. "You are the Commander in Chief. I'm sure you can see to it that that trip is delayed. Say for three weeks?"
John chuckled and pulled his wife in for a kiss. "Yes, I guess I can do that."
She kissed him back deeply, savoring the rise in passion between them. "I love a really powerful man." His chuckle was drowned out by her kiss as she straddled his still lean hips and moved against him before slowly taking him inside. "Very powerful, Mr. President."
* * *
The pool game had been over for an hour, basically breaking up when Sam's wife Martine stood in the doorway and tapped her foot. Sam grinned like the devil and made his excuses before picking her up and carrying her off to one of the many bedrooms. The others followed suit quickly; this left James alone with way too much time to think. He hadn't meant to feel jealous. But that's what he did feel. It really only hit him at times like this, when everyone was together. He loved playing with his nieces and nephews and had long ago accepted that he really wouldn't be having children of his own. But it was watching his brothers and sister. They had found love. They had someone to share their lives with.
As he wandered the halls of the White House, looking at paintings and the clutter of over two hundred years in each of the rooms he passed, he wondered if it wasn't just the holiday blues. James stood in the Yellow Ball Room and stared at the portrait of George Washington, wondering how old George would have handled the concept of gays in the military. Don't ask, don't tell was a bitch, but he knew of many people who somehow made it work. In the Academy, he hadn't wanted to push it. His dad was up for his first term and all of the kids were being watched. If Sam could screw up, the media vultures hoped one of the others would too. But James kept his nose in his books and graduated with honors. Then he started his very rapid rise in the ranks, and now he captained his own sub. He was proud of his crew, of the job he'd done. It wasn't the biggest or brightest boat in the fleet, nor was it the pack leader, but it was his. He took pride in it. While on board, he funneled everything that he was into that ship. It was only when he had shore leave that he began to doubt. Those doubts were getting louder with each passing day. But it had been so long since he'd even tried to date that he knew he was fiercely out of practice. Hell, the embarrassing part was that he had never even kissed someone, let alone had sex.
James continued to stand in front of Washington's portrait for a few more minutes, lost in thought when he noticed something outside. He walked up to the window and spotted the first flakes of falling snow. His smile was near bursting and he wanted so badly to go upstairs and wake all the kids up so they could see it. But he stopped the impulse. They'd get to see it in the morning. James turned and wished his secret service guard a good night as he walked up to the second floor and into the Lincoln Bedroom. He pulled off his clothes and crawled between the sheets, chuckling at the large size of the bed. He fell asleep while watching the snow fall outside, his problems forgotten for a few hours at least.
* * *
Christmas day was a fun one for the family, only interrupted by the President's speech to the nation. For once, the family got to spend it together. The next day, James flew out to Hawaii, ready for his next mission, the holiday blues forgotten. When he got on base, he headed straight for his ship, hoping to catch his Lieutenant before they were underway. Alec Masterson and James had been sailing together ever since James got his commission. They got on well together; disagreements were few and far between. They even hung out together for a beer or two during shore leave. James had been over to Alec and his wife Corrine's house several times for dinner. He liked the man and was glad that he had found such a capable and compatible coworker. He was a few years older, and he never seemed to mind that he served someone younger. When he arrived on dock, Alec was already in place, seeing to the stores when James walked up to him. They shook hands and greeted each other warmly. They were discussing the mission when a jeep pulled up and a messenger handed James a message, calling him into headquarters.
"Uh oh James, who'd you piss off this time?"
There was confusion in his eyes as he looked up at Alec. "No one recently."
"I'll see you when you get back." He got a quick salute before James walked off. "Oh, and by the way. Merry Christmas."
James turned around and smiled. "Thanks Alec. I hope you and your family's was good too."
As James walked off towards headquarters, Alec couldn't help but stare at his ass. The man wore military khakis like no one he'd ever seen. He didn't even try to hide the lust that he felt for his captain anymore. There just seemed to be no need. The man was oblivious. Of course he'd never admit it out loud. So he hardly ever slept with his wife anymore. Okay, so he'd keep his cabin's door open, hoping to catch the captain in the morning during his jog, when he'd run around in only his shorts. The man had an amazing chest, darkly forested with deep chestnut hair. The flopping of the obvious girth inside his shorts was a nice feast too. He'd lie back in his bunk many a night and think about that vision as he stroked himself. Alec had only gotten worried that one time, when he'd moaned James's name when he came. But no one heard it. No one knew his secret. A secret he would take to his grave.
* * *
James stood at attention, waiting for Admiral Benson to acknowledge him. He had had a few run-ins with Peter Benson. The admiral didn't like having to kowtow to the son of the President. It didn't matter that James McNeely worked his ass off nor got as far as he did by his own merit. There was just something about him that pissed the admiral off. James accepted it for what it was; a personality conflict.
"At ease, Captain."
After James had relaxed his stance, the admiral handed James an envelope. "Your mission has been delayed for three weeks. You are to report to Washington immediately."
James groaned internally. He was just there. What the hell was going on? "My orders, sir?"
The admiral laughed. "You are to be the escort of the First Lady to a state dinner for the President of Burundi."
James didn't keep this groan internal. "I see. I'm sorry sir. I wouldn't have come back if I'd known they were planning this."
The admiral actually softened a bit at the captain. Perhaps he was what he seemed: a good sailor. "Don't worry. At least I'm not the one who has to dress up and play nice at a state function."
James was shocked by the reaction. He was expecting to get his ass chewed. Instead, he got what could only be called sympathy. "I'll make sure nothing like this ever happens again, sir."
"I don't doubt that in the slightest. Dismissed."
* * *
James fumed the entire ten hours of his flight to Washington. And it didn't help that he had the secret service with him. Because of the last minute nature of the flight, he had to fly commercial. By the time the plane touched down at National Airport, he was steamed. He grabbed his bags and crawled into the limo. He didn't even speak as they drove through the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He was pissed. He walked into the White House, bypassing security and headed straight for the oval office. He was still dressed in his whites. He had no idea at how many heads turned as he stormed through the halls on his way to the west wing. He stood for a moment outside of the oval office and calmed himself, waiting for his father to be free. Once the door opened he marched in and gave his father a perfect salute.
"James. What the hell are you doing?"
James stood at attention, enjoying seeing his father's perplexed look.
John stared at his son and recognized the square set of his jaw. He was pissed. He was afraid this might happen. "Now James, your mother is worried about you. She only asked so you could spend some time with us."
When James didn't even blink let alone move; John got fed up. "Oh for Christ's sake, at ease!"
James relaxed his pose but still stared straight ahead. About thirty seconds into this he realized he was being immature, but he didn't stop. In his best subordinate voice he barked out, "Reporting for duty, SIR!"
Now John was truly pissed. "You will not take that tone with me young man. I diapered your butt and wiped your nose. Do not for a minute think that I won't take you over my knee and teach you a lesson."
James lasted perhaps three seconds before he burst out laughing. John quickly followed suit. John walked up and hugged his son, wondering when the last time it was that he had. When he pulled away, James was smiling.
"I'm sorry dad. It just steamed me to fly all the way to Hawaii only to be called back."
John smirked. "If you hadn't taken off so early, I would have stopped you."
James looked down at his feet. "Yeah. I'm sorry about that."
John reached his hand out and cupped his boy's face. He needed to shave, but it was damn good to see him. Just then Madeline walked into the office and he decided now was as good a time as any for them to talk. "We got you here because we're worried about you."
James knitted his brows in confusion. What did they have to worry about? "Dad, we're at peace, nothing is going to happen on my ship."
John shook his head, wondering why he could talk to the nation and dance circles around the press, but he had a hell of a time talking to his own son. "This has nothing to do with the Navy. We're worried that that is all you have in your life."
Madeline looked at James and wondered how far to press it. Deciding that at this point it didn't matter, she forged ahead. "I saw how you were on Christmas Eve James. You're lonely."
James rolled his eyes. "Mom, everyone gets a little blue at Christmas time."
John looked at his boy, seeing that he was growing uncomfortable. "Blue is one thing. But this is different. Do you date at all son?"
James blushed a bit and shifted his feet, not wanting at all to discuss his sex life, or lack thereof, with his parents. "That has nothing to do with this."
Madeline came up and touched her son's face, pulling him to look into her eyes. "You're alone James. I can see it in your eyes."
James's blush grew deeper and his discomfort ratcheted up a notch. "This really isn't any of your business."
The answer wasn't good enough for his mother. "All we've ever wanted was for you to be happy. Can you honestly say that you are?"
James looked into his mother's eyes and wanted so badly to lie. But he couldn't. He lowered his head and mumbled out one word. "No."
John was curious, afraid he already knew the answer, but had to ask anyway. "Why have you kept yourself alone James?"
James looked out the window, anywhere but at his parents and he grew angry, not wanting to deal with any of this. "How can you ask me that? After what happened with Sam? You were running for President." He looked right into his father's eyes and told him everything. "I came out to you because I knew that you didn't need a single secret hiding to bite you in the ass. I locked myself away in the Academy because the press followed me everywhere I went while you were campaigning. Then you won and I graduated. Don't ask, don't tell." His voice scoffed. "It should be don't ask, don't tell, provided that your old man isn't the President of the United States."
The raw bitterness in his voice made tears prickle Madeline's eyes. "Are you saying what I think you're saying James?"
James looked away, feeling absolutely humiliated. John had to clear the lump in his throat. "I never asked you for any of this. You didn't have to do this..." His voice trailed off as he watched his son's shoulders droop.
His emotions raw, James felt absolutely naked and vulnerable. "You never asked, but I gladly gave. I believe in you dad. I always have." Madeline walked up to him and placed her hand on his shoulder, but he only shrugged it off. "To answer your question mom, I've never gone out on a date. I've kept myself completely alone, so there would never be any question." His voice was thick with tears that he didn't hear. "My God, I've never even kissed anyone."
With those final words, James left his parents and walked into his father's private office and suite, heading for the bathroom to splash water on his face. His parents stood in the oval office, staring at each other in horror. The tears ran unchecked down Madeline's face as she looked at her husband. His eyes were filled with tears too, guilt hitting him hard in the gut. "I had no idea. No idea at all."
Madeline walked up to her husband and pulled him into her arms. "I didn't either. Oh John, what have we done?" Then she burst into tears, feeling horrid at the pain and loneliness that her son was living with. She felt her husband's sobs as he cried out his pain too. She knew that he was blaming himself for this. But it really wasn't entirely his burden to bear. She shared in it equally.
James stood in the bathroom, looking at his reflection in the mirror, ashamed that he had shared that with his parents. He never wanted them to know. His sacrifice didn't seem that great. His reasoning, that you cannot miss what you've never known, seemed so shallow now. Fear is a great motivator, especially when you can hide behind such solid reasons. But the time for hiding was over. He dried his face and walked back out into the oval office, staring at his parents holding each other, rocking back and forth gently. That same spear of jealousy hit him again. In his mind, James knew that this was something he should have. He had a great pair of role models in his parents. His siblings had found this happiness too. It can't be that hard. But that first step scared him to death.
"Mom? Dad? I'm sorry. I'm sorry for hurting you."
Madeline stood away from her husband and walked over to her son, embracing him hard, kissing his cheek, his forehead over and over. "No. We should be the ones to apologize. You've done nothing wrong."
John came up behind them, holding both of his loved ones in his arms. "Your mother is right James. This isn't your fault."
James swallowed deeply, figuring that if today was the day for clearing the air, the least he could do was be completely honest. "I was afraid. I'm still scared." He swallowed audibly in the hush of the room. "I don't know what the first step is, so I never tried to take it. I used this as an excuse. Because I'm really a coward."
John chuckled, but there was no mirth to it. "You are the bravest person I've ever met."
Madeline agreed completely. "If you don't know what the first step is, we'll help you. Your brothers and sister found someone. You can too. You are too good a person with too much love in your heart not to."