Author's Note: This story is based on a this prompt from odd's tumblr (found on page 32 at www dot oddarchives stuff dot tumblr dot com. ): Has anyone written a nice, long AU where Kurt and Blaine are sons of the two leading presidential candidates and they have to hide their relationship from the press (and security details) after meeting on the campaign trail? Because I would really like to read that. Thanks to Odd for planting the seed of this story, and for the beta.
There is another take on that same prompt, written by colferbabes. You can find her story on tumblr (colferbabes dot tumblr dot com /post/33982004209/not-on-my-agenda-a-political-klaine-au-1) or on fanfiction dot net ( www dot fanfiction dot net /s/8626803/1/Not-On-My-Agenda).
I've played with the Glee timeline just a tiny bit, to make the boys the same year in school, and by necessity they are different boys than they are in canon. What I love about writing AU's is the way one little twist changes everything about a character, and that happened here dramatically with Kurt. Blaine's circumstances regarding his absent parents and his history with homophobic violence is still intact, which makes him a lot closer to canon!Blaine (or at least to my canon!Blaine). I like to believe that I've left Kurt's personality unchanged. He is still snarky and witty, but he is also so much more confident and stronger than the Kurt we know and love.
Now for the down and dirty details: some states (South Carolina and Maine, I'm looking at you) held their 2012 Democratic and Republican primaries and/or caucuses on different days. For convenience's sake in this story, I've made both parties vote on the same day. There is an excessive amount of politics in here. Lots of travel, some snarkiness, teenage panic, and lots of angst. Warnings for mentions of homophobic slurs and violence, suicide, gun violence, and hate crimes.
Glee isn't mine, and none of my original characters are intended to resemble any real people. That said, there are real people discussed in this story. They are Rachel Maddow, girl-geek and MSNBC news host extraordinaire, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a shooting at a public event in her district in 2011, and University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was killed in a hate crime in 1998.
I've also co-opted that leather cuff and silver Guardian Angelcharm that Chris Colfer wore last summer on the Land of Stories book tour.
I freely admit that some of my attitudes toward certain regions or political opinions or voter habits here might fall into stereotype. I am not Southern, I am not Christian, and I'm not Conservative. That said, I follow politics and GLBT-related news closely, and my writing is influenced by that. This is a love story, but it is also a political story: it is a story about the political process in the United States, about the issues that both unite and divide us, and about what I imagine might be the sacrifices people have to make all across their lives to succeed in a business like that. It is also perhaps an idealized story, but I'm an idealist to my core and I really want to believe that there are still good people out there who want to be politicians to do some actual good.
If you don't like politics, or don't like my politics, then this is not the fic for you.
This story is complete enough that I will be posting a chapter a week for each of the next 7 weeks. I will likely post on Sundays or Mondays.
Prologue : Genesis (1997-2011)
Blaine should have known it was coming. His whole life, his mother had been climbing the political ladder one race and office at a time, ticking each victory off on a list only she seemed privy to.
Blaine had a list, too, but his was from both of his parents. His Expectations list included but was not limited to being on the honor roll and playing a sport and not getting into trouble. By the time he was twelve and understood that the things he was feeling about Brian Cavanaugh who played on the 8th grade soccer team were more than just friendship, well. He suspected that those feelings fell firmly into the camp of something that could get him in trouble.
He kept his own secret, which was easy in his silent and empty house. It was easy, until he got paired up with sweet, quiet Daniel Morey as writing buddies in Freshman Honors English, and they started meeting after school once a week to work on their stories and essays. One afternoon, warm cookies and milk at the Morey kitchen table and Daniel's sister turning cartwheels in the leaves on the back lawn, Daniel leaned in close to Blaine and whispered so softly that Blaine almost didn't hear him, I like boys.
Blaine sighed. Me too, he replied, and that was the only thing they ever said about it until Blaine decided to see if Daniel wanted to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance. It's not, you know, like that, he reassured Daniel. It was just the two of them, friends and secret keepers, and it was fun and surprisingly uncomplicated.
Until it wasn't fun or uncomplicated, Daniel huddled against the wall behind Blaine outside the Kennebunk High School gym as some varsity lineman and his friends drew blood and broke bones. The last thing Blaine was able to do before he blacked out was to stare at Daniel through the blood dripping down his face and plead with him to just lay still.
When he came to, he could hear Daniel outside screaming he saved my life, you assholes. Just let me fucking see him. When the door opened, the light was too bright and his father was too big, too silent, too wrong.
"Who is that boy?" his father said, a finger gently poking at Blaine's left eye which was partially swollen shut.
"Daniel. He's a friend." Blaine's voice was hoarse. "Please, let him come in."
"Is it true?"
Blaine closed his right eye and leaned back into the stupid hospital bed, which was oddly stiff and really uncomfortable, and sighed. "You don't need to worry about it," he said, leaving off the about me that he really wanted to say, but his dad heard it anyway.
"You have a concussion and a facial fracture, and your hand-" his dad broke off, rubbed at his face. "Don't tell me that I don't need to worry, Blaine."
Blaine looked down to where his right hand was encased in some kind of elaborate splint. He couldn't feel anything. He squinted at his dad with his good eye. "What about my hand?"
"Shattered," his dad said, like it was that easy. "God, Blaine, don't you get it? It could have been so much worse."
"Yeah," Blaine said, bitterness curling behind his teeth. "They could have gotten both of us. But I couldn't- I couldn't let that happen to Daniel."
His father rose from his seat, stalked across the room. "Do you realize, if this gets out? Your mother, all the plans . . . you could have been killed, and you're concerned about some boy?"
"He's the best and only friend I have. Please let him in." He couldn't handle his father in that moment, so he did the coldest thing he could think of. "Go back to work, Dad. I've taken care of myself since I was little. I don't need you here."
His dad was clearly taken aback, but he nodded slowly and moved to the door. "Your mother's on the first flight out in the morning. You can- the nurse can- if you-"
"Just go," Blaine sighed, suddenly exhausted.
After his father was gone, the door creaked slowly open and Daniel poked his head around the corner. "Blaine! Are you-?"
Blaine nodded carefully. "I'll be okay. You found your voice," he said with as much of a grin as he could muster.
"They didn't want to let me see you." Daniel was pale, and he had a bruise darkening under the red scrape on his cheekbone, but he wasn't otherwise physically hurt, at least not that Blaine could see.
"You're okay," Blaine said, sleepy and satisfied.
"Because of you. But Blaine, you didn't have to do that."
"Yes, I did." He didn't know how to explain it to Daniel, what it had felt like seeing those guys coming. Thinking about the hours Daniel's dad worked on the lobster boat, and his mom working nights as a home health aide, and his little sister. They were a real family. They needed Daniel like he needed them, but Blaine needed nobody because he was always alone anyway. He had nothing to lose by giving himself up, but Daniel had everything. "Will you stay, till my mom gets here?"
"Of course," Daniel nodded, and settled into the chair next to the bed.
When Blaine woke up in the morning, Daniel was gone. Nobody else was there either.
He lost the rest of the school year. Between surgery and all the time in the cast, then physical therapy and the stupid blinding headaches that took till the spring to go away, it was just as well. He went down to D.C. with his mother once he could travel, spent his days at the museums and in the library and wandering around the city while his father pulled strings and got him a spot at Andover for the fall. He was going to have to repeat ninth grade, and while he didn't care if he stayed at Kennebunk, apparently his parents thought that it was better for him to have a fresh start, someplace where nobody knows, Blaine.
The night before he left for school his dad took them all out to dinner in Kennebunkport. It felt strange, eating among the tourists at the Arundel Wharf, and after dinner they walked through town and went for ice cream at Cape Porpoise like they used to when Blaine was a kid, before his mom got elected to the Senate and they actually did things together instead of being strangers. They didn't talk, really, except for his mom asking questions about what he wanted to get involved with because Andover has so many more opportunities for you.
Blaine didn't care about opportunities, he just cared about being able to be himself, but that was its own problem because his father told him in no uncertain terms as they drove down 95 through New Hampshire that you shouldn't flaunt yourself, Blaine, it wouldn't be good for your mother if this gets out.
Blaine just stared out the window and tried not to feel hurt. He knew that being gay wasn't anything to be ashamed of, why didn't his parents?
Sometimes, once he'd settled in at Andover, Blaine thought that getting bashed was the best thing that had happened to him because it was what allowed him to be there. He loved school, loved his little house where he lived with five other Freshmen and their house advisor. He loved water polo, and his English and History classes, and choir. On weekends he'd walk into town and have coffee and sit for hours in the bookstore just looking at all the books. In the winter he tried out for the musical and got a small part in the chorus. He wasn't a star, but he finally felt welcome somewhere.
He didn't go home much at all, after that. Camp in the summers, school the rest of the year, and breaks meant choosing between the vacant house in Kennebunk or his mother's vacant apartment in D.C. He finally just started going home with friends, instead, because it was easier than feeling like a burden to his parents, and they made even less effort than he did.
He really hardly gave them -politics or any of it - a second thought.
He was happy, and everything outside of his daily life was just all so far away.
Kurt Hummel felt like he lived his life in pictures, literal snapshots that faded but never really disappeared. He was three, having a tea party with his mom in the garden. He was six, sitting on the hood of a Subaru watching his dad change the battery. He was eight, standing with his father at his mother's funeral. Ten, watching his dad stammer and shuffle his feet when he met Carole, whose son Finn was new to Kurt's scout troop. Eleven, standing next to Finn, the two of them awkward and itchy in rented tuxes as their parents married at city hall.
He was twelve, being shoved hard against the bike rack outside of Lima North Middle School, the 8th grade culprit sneering at him with a growled fuckin' fag.
Kurt rode home the back way, that day, shedding all his tears in the woods so that there would be no evidence when he walked in the door. But his dad had known anyway, his dad always knew, so Kurt let him fix toast and milk and then they sat carefully at the table and his dad asked him what happened to make him so upset.
"This kid at school," Kurt began, and then swallowed. He knew it was true. He'd known since he was a little boy, but it felt real, now, in a way it never had before, because knowing and understanding were two different things. "He shoved me against the bike rack and called me a name."
"What did he call you, Kurt?" His dad's voice was level and serious, but not mad at Kurt. He was never mad at Kurt.
"He called me a fag."
His dad flopped back in his chair and sighed, tugged off his cap and rubbed his hand over his head. "Yeah. I've been waitin' for this. Your mom and I talked about this day, I just didn't think it would be happening yet."
Kurt looked at his dad. "I don't think I understand."
"You remember your third birthday?"
Kurt nodded, because he did remember. "I got those sparkly red shoes." He sighed happily. "They were awesome."
"Yeah," his dad choked. "But you might not remember, when your mom asked you what you wanted as a present, you told her a pair of sensible heels. I wish she washere, she was always so much better at this kind of stuff."
Kurt blinked away unexpected tears, and when he looked across the table his dad was doing the same. "What kind of stuff?"
"This," his dad waved his hand between them. "Talking. I just, I need you to hear me, kiddo, okay? You are okay. I love you, and I'll always love you. It doesn't matter what some thug at your school says, or what anyone else thinks. You don't listen to them, you listen to me. And you listen here," he tapped his chest with his hand, right over his heart. "You're just fine, Kurt, and anything you tell me isn't going to be a surprise."
Kurt nodded, and twisted his hands together on the table in front of him. "I'm gay, Dad."
"I know, kiddo." His dad moved suddenly, tugged Kurt out of his chair and wrapped him tight in a bone-crushing hug. "The kids at school keep giving you trouble, you let me know, okay?"
"Okay," Kurt promised, but he didn't want his dad to worry. He vowed to keep quiet, which was fine until some seventh grade boys stole his clothes while he was in PE so he had to wear his gym clothes the rest of the day. The next week he got tripped in the hall and caught his forehead on the corner of someone's open locker door; the nurse clucked over him and called his father, and then they were in the ER waiting for Carole to come back with the doctor.
Kurt gripped his dad's hand tight enough to make the bones creak while the doctor stitched him up, and then the doctor wanted to talk with Kurt alone, so his dad and Carole went into the hall. He talked to the doctor, told him about the bike rack and PE and the incident in the hall. He left out the name-calling, the jeers and taunts, the way nobody would sit with him at lunch. The doctor nodded and wrote on his chart, and Kurt could hear his dad's barely contained rage through the cotton curtain.
"I'm goin' down to that school tomorrow and havin' a word or fifty with that principal. My kid doesn't deserve to be treated like that," he was saying, low and intense, and Carole was soothing him with little success.
It was worse the next day, walking into school with a bandage on his forehead and his dad by his side, the two of them ushered into the principal's office before the counselor took Kurt to her office so your father and Principal Jordan can talk in private.
Kurt appraised the counselor's ill-fitting blue skirt suit and unfortunate shoes, listened to her condescending prepared speech about how sometimes kids are jealous of things, and that's why they act out that way.
Kurt tipped his head at her and scowled. "I'm gay. I'm pretty sure that nobody is jealous of me. In fact, I'm about 110 percent sure that they hate me and that's why they're doing this."
The counselor drew back, her eyes wide. "Your father knows?" she asked.
"Of course," Kurt replied.
She pursed her lips. "I see. Well. That changes things."
"Excuse me?" Kurt's stomach flipped, and he felt entirely inadequate to handle this woman who was looking at him like he was a rare insect specimen in a jar. Kids were one thing, but this woman was supposed to be his authority figure. He didn't know how to escape from her without being rude, and his dad had raised him better than that.
"I'm not sure that school is the place to be vocal about your lifestyle choice. It's distracting from the academic environment." She steepled her fingers in front of her chin and peered over them at him.
"Because the 8th graders two lockers down from me who make out and feel each other up under their clothes in the hall every morning is so supportive of academics." His words dripped with scorn. "I'm done here."
He shouldered his backpack and stalked into the outer office. The secretary glanced up when he slammed the counselor's door shut.
"You okay, honey?"
"I'm Kurt Hummel, 6th grade. Please mark me absent today. I would guess that in about five minutes my father will come storming out of the principal's office. Please tell him that I'm waiting for him in the car. I doubt I'll be coming back here to school."
He turned on his heel and walked carefully to the car to wait for his dad, who made it back to the car in three and a half minutes.
"The principal tried to make me think it was your fault," he said, flinging his cap on the dash.
"The counselor tried to tell me that my being gay would take attention away from academics."
His dad set his hands on the steering wheel, flexed his fingers, and frowned. "I don't suspect that Lima South will be any better, and you're sure as hell not going to any of those damn parochial schools. I guess we'll just have to do home schooling."
Sitting in the car with Kurt, the two of them fuming mad, Burt knew that it was settled. Finn stayed on at Lima North, and Kurt did homeschooling, and Burt Hummel discovered that bullying wasn't just a problem in Western Ohio. He read stories about kids all over the country who were taking their own lives in droves because of it, and read about the parents of kids who'd been killed by other kids because of their differences. Every news article and interview and internet link left him sick and shaking. It felt like there was no possible way to protect any of those kids any more than he could protect Kurt. He got pissed off, and there was nothing he could do. There was nothing until the guy who'd held the seat in the Ohio 4th for the last half century died.
The day they announced the special election, Burt sat the family down over Friday dinner and threw the idea on the table.
"It would mean a lot of work," he said, waiting for them to say no and dreading having to tell them that he'd already filed his papers to run.
Finn looked up from his meatloaf with measured deliberation and said with focus, "No, man. I think it's a great idea. Maybe you'd be able to really do something about all those problems you guys are always complaining about, like the war and the banks and the stuff with schools."
Carole nodded her approval. "I think you'd do really well, honey," she said quietly and scooped another helping of salad into her bowl.
"Kiddo?" Burt eyed Kurt, who was staring into his mashed potatoes like they were going to start tap dancing or something.
"I think you should run," he said carefully, and then paused for a moment. "And when someone asks about your family, you shouldn't be afraid to tell the truth about me. I'm not ashamed of who I am, and I know you're not either."
Burt frowned at his son, thirteen and with no right to be as secure in himself as he was. "I'm not letting anyone exploit you, Kurt. That's not what elections should be about. They should be about the issues, and not whether my son, who I love with every breath in my body, is gay or not."
Kurt just shrugged and went back to his dinner, almost like he was silently telling Burt to think what he wanted, they would all just have to wait and see.
That first election was dirty, and the other guys dug deep against Burt, but he gutted it out and emerged with his family and his soul intact, and a sudden new job on top of the garage. They struggled, they really did, Kurt tagging along to D.C. sometimes that first year, and then helping out with the re-election campaign. It seemed to loosen people's minds, meeting Kurt, and Burt wished that he could have Kurt with him all the time because he really seemed to connect with the voters on a personal level. But by the time he was ready to run his third race, Kurt was a sophomore at McKinley and seemed to be doing well, what with Glee club and all his friends, and yeah, okay. Carole sometimes called him late at night after the boys were in bed to tell him she was worried, Kurt was silent over dinner or went straight to his room after school. "He'll be okay," Burt reassured her. "Kurt's always been a little sensitive, and there's a lot, um, going on?"
"You're right," Carole said, sounding relieved. "I'll just keep an eye on him. Don't worry."
Burt sighed. "I'll try not to."
Kurt got more and more sullen as the school year went on, though. Burt and Carole even talked with him about going to D.C. for the spring semester, but he swore up and down that nothing was wrong. He really wanted to stay at McKinley because he didn't want to miss the Glee Club competitions, he said, and he kept reassuring them he was safe, so they let him stay.
Burt just worried in silence.
Junior year wasn't any better, Kurt angry and pale and lashing out at all of them. Burt offered again, to take Kurt to D.C, but Kurt said that if he did that then he'd be letting them win, and he didn't think he could do that again.
"So we all have to suffer," Burt whispered to Carole as they cuddled in bed on one of his weekend visits home. "I love that kid, but he's coming undone and I don't know what to do to help him."
"Maybe we should talk to that counselor, Ms. Pillsbury?"
Burt shook his head. "I dunno. Kurt and I are both a little wary of the counselors in Lima City Schools. We haven't had the best track record."
"What else? You're worked up about more than just Kurt." Carole rubber her hand over his arm, and her touch raised goose bumps on his flesh.
"It's the election next year. I have some decisions to make." It was all jumbled in his head, too many options and not enough answers.
"You're planning to run again, right?" Carole looked at him, concerned. "You love Congress. You have a place there."
"There's a lame duck President." How was he going to decide if he can't even say the words.
"You're not thinking about . . . you know. Are you?" Carole tucked herself closer to him.
"I don't know," he said honestly. "It would mean some research first, and lots of talking with you and the boys. It wouldn't be like running locally at all. There's a lot to consider."
Carole smiled up at him. "Then you should start to consider it, I think."
Burt wrapped his arms around her, kissed the top of her head. "I think I will."