|"Government Shame" Rekindling 1.13 (TOTTD)
||[Jul. 19th, 2008|01:33 am]
The Real Thing
TITLE: Government Shame|
RATING: Sam/Josh, Teenish
SUMMARY: "Lady, I'm not ashamed my son was gay; my government is." CJ asks Sam if he thinks they're homophobic.
DISCLAIMERS: I don't own them. Please don't sue. This is “Cannon-friendly AU”, meaning it does not contradict anything seen in the series and, in fact, goes hand-in-hand with what we've seen onscreen. Think of it as reading between the lines.
When I wander down to get coffee around 11, CJ's sitting in the darkened Mess, staring into space.
“CJ?” She doesn't respond, so I say again, louder, “CJ?”
She glances over at me. “Hey.” She looks up at the clock and comments, “I thought your allnighters would stop after the State of the Union was over.”
“I got dragged into something today and didn't get written everything I needed to.” It's true. It's the fifty-cent version, but I don't have the energy to explain that the girl who outed Leo to Lillienfield and Claypool is staying at the White House because Leo has a greater sense of forgiveness than I do right now.
“Yeah.” She nods. “Yeah, I know that feeling.”
“CJ, what's going on?”
“Nothing.” She shakes her head.
I sit across the table from her. “What dragged you in today?”
“Nothing,” she says again. I take a sip of my coffee and she hesitates, then starts, “Sam, do you ever-...nevermind. Nothing.” I take another sip and she blurts out, “Do you think we're homophobic?”
I almost choke but recover. “What?”
“Do you think we're homophobic?”
“Personally?” There's the occasional standard joke made, but certainly not frat-boy style humour, I've never felt like my coworkers would be the problem if I-
“As a White House. Do you think we're ashamed of gay people?”
“I...think we sometimes lose sight of what policies mean to actual lives, but we do that with other policies too,” I hedge. “I think we let Republicans push us around too much and frame the issue in moral terms – based on their version of morality. I think...I don't know anymore,” I offer. “Why?”
“I met with the Lydells today.”
“Yeah, I saw they're off the guest list.” I hesitate, then add, “Dads are strange about it, CJ, you can't make them-...they invest this manly image in their son and don't understand why the guy can't just meet a nice woman. Plus men tend to see the act instead of understand the underlying emotional-”
“That's what I thought too,” she interrupts. “I was expecting that from him, after Mandy said he didn't say much. I figured he would be like the jerks who throw out their teenagers because they're gay or...something. But he wasn't.” She looks far-away. “He loved his son, gay or not, and wanted to defend him. Hated our position on Don't Ask, Don't Tell – said he served two tours in Vietnam, the President has served not one day in uniform, and what quality of being a soldier do we think his son lacked? What quality of being a father do we think his son lacked?”
...What quality of being a husband do we think gay men lack? What quality of being a husband do Josh and I-
Okay, I take that back. Josh would make a terrible husband...And we aren't together anymore so I don't know where that one came from, but -
“I wanted to tell Danny,” CJ confesses. “I wanted him to take the easy lead, I didn't want this one buried in the trash.”
“I've had those moments,” I nod.
“He wouldn't let me. Told me if I gave him the story, I wouldn't like him later. I don't think that's true, do you?” She looks over at me and I try to figure out for a few moments what the appropriate response would be, then she goes back to staring at the wall. “Everyone was so certain they knew what he was going to say. A superior attitude about how unaccepting he probably was because he owns a small business in Minnesota, and he turns out to be the most pro-gay-rights person in the room.”
“Yeah,” I say quietly. “We talk about gay rights like anyone who doesn't live on the coast is a bigot, and anyone who lives on the coast is either gay or in PFLAG. It's not that simple.” I wonder for a moment if she'll know the acronym – it's not an organization this White House has really heard from so far. Maybe from her time with Emilys List-
“I knew both types and that was in Ohio,” she replies. “When my brother came out, my father leaned on everyone he could over at the high school to keep him from getting picked on. This was in the mid-70s, no one had ever heard of a...what are they called now? Gay Straight Alliance?”
“I think so.” Those were just starting to take root as I graduated, so they were kind of after my time. The activism at the time was AIDS, not about the right to proclaim being gay.
“So why was I so sure it would be...” She tried to take another sip of coffee, then looked at her empty cup. Rather than going to refill it, she simply set it down.
I hesitate, then offer, “My father's big issue was the legal rights.” She turns her head slowly toward me, eyes wide and almost bulging out of her head. “He didn't understand why I would voluntarily enter into a union where I would have none of the rights of marriage. He was a contracts lawyer, so that was how he saw marriage in general – a contract of-...CJ?” I ask as she keeps staring at me, looking more incredulous by the second.
“Do the President and Leo know?” she asks, snapping so quickly back into press secretary mode that it genuinely surprises me.
“What does it matter?”
“Because I need to be able to protect-”
“Isn't that implying I'm doing something wrong by being bisexual?” I point out and she stops.
“It's not a matter of-....Sam, you know I don't-...It isn't wrong, but it looks like it is.” She sighs deeply and shakes her head, running her fingertip along the top of her empty coffee cup. “So...who does know?”
“Leo has his suspicions because I refused to answer the question during the transition interviews. Josh knows. And now so do you.” I finish my coffee. “I haven't been with a guy in years, CJ, it's not something that's going to come up. If someone cared to uncover it, they would have by now.”
“Anyone worth uncovering?”
I shift uncomfortably. The White House Deputy Chief of Staff is probably worth uncovering, sure, but I'm not about to betray him to CJ. “If someone wanted to uncover it, they would have by now,” I repeat evenly.
She studies me for a long moment, then sits back with her empty coffee cup, the tips of her fingernails just barely grazing the porcelain. “He really was right.”
“Sometimes,” I allow. “Sometimes we get it right.”
She gives me a pointed look. “So that makes it okay?”
“I think that makes it average, and the other guys are a lot worse than average, so it makes us good.”
She ponders that for a moment, and while she's unimpressed, she does seem to accept it. “We should be actually good, not just by comparison.”
“Yes,” I reply. “But you know as well as I do that we don't get to make that decision.”
She blinks. “True.” She sighs quietly, then removes her legs from the other chair and stands, smoothing her skirt. “I'm heading home.”
“Okay,” I reply. As she starts to walk away, I add, “CJ?”
“The more people there are like the Lydells, the more the government gets forced to change its mind and its policies. We'll catch up someday.”
“What about all the people in the meantime?” she asks.
“...We try to make 'someday' soon,” I suppose.
She smiles faintly. “G'night.”
“Good night,” I reply, settling in to stare into space awhile.