2020 January 1st
"Today is the inauguration of candidate victor James Cornwall of the Freeman Party. Tune in to WYZ4 at noon for a live broadcast of this most auspicious occasion. This is Charles Rathers, signing off!" The signature theme played and Charles smiled at the camera until the screen went black. He sighed, the smile immediately dropping from his face as he pushed himself up and walked around his desk. He massaged his temple as he walked to his changing room, shutting the door and plopping down on his chaise. A few moments later, he heard a light knock on the door.
"Charles?" The voice asked. "Charles, may I come in?" Charles heard the door creak open a crack. He knew exactly who it was, so he waved them in. They opened the door and gently shut it again before walking over to Charles. "Charles, sweetie, are you alright?" He sighed.
"I'm fine, Peter, just stressed is all. I'm not looking forward to the inauguration ball. I have a bad feeling about Cornwall, Peter. He…he's not going to be good for this country, I can just tell." Peter nodded his head in understanding. He gently lifted Charles' head and sat down, placing his head into his lap. Peter then started rubbing soothing circles into Charles' back. Charles sighed contentedly.
"Charles, the ball will be fine! I predict it will even go swimmingly! Remember, you are America's news caster, everyone loves you! However, none of them love you as much as me, Lulu or Andrew. But truthfully, I love you the most," Peter said, petting Charles. Charles rolled onto his back so his head was facing up towards Peter. He took the hint and bent down to kiss him. It was gentle and sweet, everything it should be. When Peter pulled away, Charles sighed and smiled up at him. Peter smiled back.
The sun was brightly shining as James Cornwall and his wife Bethanne stepped up the steps of the platform. When they reached the top, James turned toward the crowd of people and smiled. In return, they cheered wildly for James. He smiled again as he turned back the Chief Supreme Court Justice Oliver von Bergman. His smile weakened when he thought about Justice von Burgman's obvious lineage connections to Adolf Hitler, but wiped the thoughts away as he placed his hand on the German Bible. "James Corvall of ze Freeman Pahrty, do you pledge to obey ze laws set forth by ze Vienman Doctrine?" James cringed inside as he replied.
"I do." Justice von Bergman smiled.
"Do you pledge to uphold ze laws set forth by ze High Chancellor, Adolf Hitler ze segund?" James swallowed hard in order to keep the forming bile in his mouth.
"Do you pledge to keep zis country and its laws safe from harm and do you svear to protect it from enemies of ze Reich?"
"I do." Justice von Bergman turned to the crowd.
"People of America, I present to you your new Chancellor, James Cornvall!" Cheers erupted from the crowd as James and Bethanne smiled and waved. After several moments, the Secret Service led them off the platform and into the awaiting limo. Bethanne turned to her husband and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.
"Sweetheart, you did fantastic!" James smiled weakly at her.
"Thank you." He said dryly. He went into the mini fridge to grab a bottle of water. He took a sip before continuing. "I wish I didn't have to act, though. I love what this country used to be, Bethanne. I want to get it back to its former glory."
"Sweetheart, you weren't even alive before the Reich," she said, trying to be soothing. He shook his head.
"It doesn't matter. I remember listening to the stories my grandparents told and reading my great-grandparents journals. This country was…amazing before the Reich took over…" James stared dreamily off into space.
"James, stop talking like that. You know nothing of before the Reich. You've just been elected Chancellor, so be happy! And don't forget, we have the ball this evening." Bethanne said, kissing her husband's head.
"You're right, Bethanne." James sighed, staring out the window.
"Charles, we're going to be late!" Peter cried upstairs. He was in the downstairs bathroom, fixing his bowtie.
"Just a minute! I can't find my Chucks!"
"You won't find them, I hid them!" Peter smirked as he heard Charles stumble down the stairs and to the bathroom.
"Why'd you hide them?" Charles looked genuinely confused and Peter sighed.
"It's formal attire, Charles, which means dress shoes, not Chucks," Peter explained, placing Charles' new shoes on the rim of the sink. Charles sighed as he grabbed them and headed to their living room. Peter went back to checking his appearance and joined Charles several minutes later. "Are you ready yet, Charles?"
"Been waiting on you, Petey." Peter cringed. He hated that nickname.
"Sorry Charlie." Charles cringed and Peter smirked. "I had to make sure I look presentable so my husband isn't embarrassed by me." Charles laughed and pulled Peter into a hug.
"I could never be embarrassed by you, Peter," he said. His voice was slightly muffled because he was nuzzling Peter's neck. Peter laughed and kissed the top of his head.
"I take it you're ready then?" Peter asked. Charles laughed.
"Yes, I'm ready. Where's Lulu and Andrew's babysitter?"
"Oh, you mean Claire?"
"Yeah, Claire. I knew that." Peter eyed him.
"Uh-huh. Right." Charles glared at him. "Claire's had Lulu and Andrew all day. We were both working today, remember?" Peter smiled at him and Charles slapped him playfully.
"Yes, I do remember, thank you!"
"We should probably get going, Charles, we don't want to be late, do we?" Peter inquired, dragging Charles to the awaiting limo outside.
"And now ladies and gentlemen, the Chancellor of the United States, James Cornwall!" Applause and cheering filled the hall as James and Bethanne entered, arm in arm. They walked to the microphone at the front of the hall. James discreetly pulled out his notecards and began speaking into the mic.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen! I would like to thank you all for attending this evening and for voting for me in the election." He smiled charmingly, taking a breath. "I assume if you're here, you voted for me," he chuckled. The hall filled with little chuckles. Charles glanced nervously at Peter, who smiled reassuringly at him. James cleared his voice and continued his speech. "Of course, if you didn't, that's alright too. I would merely like to say that I intend to accomplish all that I said I would do during my campaign. I will make this country great again and I will make its citizens proud. Again, thank you for coming and please enjoy yourselves." Once again, the hall was filled with cheers and applause, even from Charles. Once the noise died down and music began playing again, Peter took Charles' hand and led them in a dance.
"Charles?" Peter asked, leaning towards him.
"Yes pumpkin?" Charles smiled and received a slight glare from him.
"I was just wondering why you clapped for Chancellor Cornwall. I thought you had suspicions about him?" Charles took several moments for thought before replying.
"My suspicions changed, they're now focused on his wife. I'd actually like to talk with him. Would you mind?" Peter shook his head.
"Of course not! I'd be thrilled. When this song's over, we'll go over and talk to him, alright?" Charles nodded and Peter smiled as they continued their dance.
When the song ended, they made their way through the crowd towards the Chancellor. He was easy enough to find, towering over others at a height of six feet, four inches with neatly trimmed, light brown hair and piercing, blue-gray eyes. James and his wife were talking with Justice Hoffer when he felt a finger poke at his arm. He politely pardoned himself and turned around. He looked down and saw a man of about five feet, ten inches in height, with black hair, emerald eyes and pink, slightly pouty lips. "It's Charles Rathers." He murmured. His face lit up with recognition as he proudly declared "IT'S CHARLES RATHERS!" A blush crept up Charles' face and Peter bit back a laugh. At that point, Bethanne curtly turned around, recognition registering across her face. She quickly pursed her lips into a thin, tight-lipped smile.
"Sweetheart, calm down," she said soothingly, rubbing James' arm. He took a breath before he spoke again.
"I can't believe you're here! It's such a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Rathers." James said eagerly, extending his hand. Charles beamed and took it, surprised at the overly-firm grip.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, too, Chancellor."
"Please, call me James." He said eagerly. Peter began quietly laughing to himself, unable to contain it any longer. "So, Mr. Rathers-"
"Please, call me Charles." Charles said, smiling. A blush crept up James' face. He felt just like a little kid.
"Certainly…Charles." He smiled, feeling shy. I feel like I'm a kid calling an adult by their first name, he thought. He chuckled to himself and Bethanne took over.
"So, Mr. Rathers-"
"Charles, please." He smiled gently but she just stared icily back.
"Mr. Rathers, what brings you here?"
"Well, Peter and I received our invitation through our broadcasting company WYZ-"
"Who's Peter?" Bethanne rudely interrupted. Charles smiled proudly, gently pulling Peter forward.
"This is Peter," he said proudly. Peter beamed. "So, as I was-"
"Is he your brother?" Bethanne prodded.
"No, he's my-"
"Bethanne, please," James said, finally coming out of his stupor. "Just let the man talk."
"Thank you, James. As I was trying to say, Peter is my husband." James smiled and Bethanne's eyes narrowed.
"So you're queer?"
"BETHANNE!" James exclaimed. "Don't be rude to our guests!" Charles sighed, shaking his head. He quickly glanced at Peter, who looked like he was on the brink of tears. He grabbed his hand and began rubbing the web of skin between Peter's thumb and pointer finger. Peter smiled at him. They finally tuned back into the conversation.
"Well I just want to make sure they're Registered." Bethanne said coldly.
"Bethanne, they're our guests." James replied, voice laced with anger. He turned to Charles and Peter. He noticed Peter's face and frowned. "I'm so sorry Charles, Peter. Please, I-" Charles stuck his free hand up.
"It's fine, James," he said, digging in his coat. Finally, he found what he was looking for. "Here you are Mrs. Cornwall. Mine and Peter's Registration." Bethanne snatched it and examined it closely while James stared, red-faced at his wife.
"It appears to be legitimate," she said, handing it back to Charles. He snatched it back, quickly stuffing it back into his pocket. "Tell me. You said you were husbands. Where did you get 'married'?" She asked, placing air-quotes around the married. James stared incredulously at her before turning back towards the pair.
"Please," James begged. "Feel no need to-"
"We were married during a vacation to the Free Territories." Peter answered. It was the first time he'd spoken in front of James. Bethanne stared at him.
"You got married in the Free Territories?" She thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Well they do allow anything. I guess that includes letting queers wed. You know it's not legal anywhere under the control of the Third Reich, don't you? In fact, I believe it's-"
"Excuse us a moment, will you?" James asked, dragging Bethanne away from the pair. He stopped a few feet away and turned her towards him, grabbing both her upper arms. "What the hell is the matter with you Bethanne?" She stared innocently back at him.
"What ever are you talking about James, dear?" He glared at her.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. You were insulting out guests!" She waved her hand flippantly.
"Who cares? They're just fags, James." His eyes bugged and he glared at her some more.
"That's a derogatory term Bethanne! They seem like perfectly good-natured people! You were being so rude to them!"
"Lower your voice, James." Bethanne said worriedly. They were starting to attract attention. "If you wish to associate with them, then go do it. I will be with Justice von Bergman," Bethanne finished, striding in the direction of the gathered Justices. James rubbed his temple as he walked towards the Rathers'. He noticed Charles cradling Peter in his arms. A sour feeling hit the pit of his stomach. His wife had caused this scene before him. He ignored the nausea and continued towards them. He cleared his throat and Charles looked up at him, causing Peter to turn his tear-stained face up as well. James wanted to cry.
"I am terribly sorry about my wife. I don't-"
"Stop. Unless it's an apology from her, I don't want to hear it." Peter spat. He then buried his face back in Charles' chest. James grimaced and Charles grimaced back at him.
"James, I think we're going to leave." James nodded. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Chancellor." Charles stuck out his hand and James took it, lightly shaking it.
"It was a pleasure to meet you, too, Mr. and Mr. Rathers." Peter glanced up, a smile playing on his lips. James smiled back and Peter buried his head again.
"You don't have a problem with us like your wife?" James shook his head in earnest.
"No, of course not. My eldest cousin is gay and my Great Aunt is a lesbian. I think it's terrible that you're forced to Register." He saw a tear trail down Charles' cheek before he wiped it away.
"Yes…well…thank you, James." James smiled.
"Thank you, Charles." Charles nodded as he led Peter towards the door, James watching apologetically from his spot.
"YAVUL!" Bethanne declared. Justice von Bergman turned around.
"Yavul frauline Cornvall. What can I help you with?" She turned him towards her husband.
"Do you see meine husband?"
"He's going to talk to two schwul."
"Is he now?"
"Ja, and they were married in the Free Territories."
"Ze can be killed for zat," he said, a devilish smile crossing his lips. "Are ze Registered?"
"Yes, I inspected their Registrations myself."
"Zen I don't know if zere's anysing ve can do. Let me call meine brother, Claus." He whipped out his cell phone, speed dialing his brother. "Yavul! Zis is Oliver von Bergman. Ja…Hello, Claus? Ja, it's Oliver…Nein…Ja…A qvestion for you…Ja…Chancellor Cornvall is talking vith two Registered schwul who vere married in ze Free Territories. Ja? Excellent. Abschied Claus." He stuck his phone back into his pocket, grinning evilly. He turned back to Bethanne. "Good news." Bethanne smiled. "Ve can at ze least incarcerate them." Bethanne laughed.
"Good. When they leave, send the Gestapo after them." Justice von Bergman nodded. Bethanne smiled, moving to talk again with Justice Hoffer. Her husband joined her several moments later.