CARTER'S FORTRESS: WILLIAM CARTER V
Chapter 22 - By Christopher Patrick Lydon
"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... ok...here 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."
Thank You for Reading!
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