“This is unconstitutional! It’s....it’s...an abuse of power. I have rights, you know!”
The agents standing on either side of the door glanced at each other, not quite rolling their eyes at the sound of the rant muffled by the closed door. It wasn’t anything they hadn’t already heard at least a dozen times -- hundreds of times if they counted all their charges over the years -- so they just settled in and tuned out the shrill voice.
Besides, she wasn’t shouting at them, so technically it wasn’t even their problem.
“I’m sorry to burst your bubble, honey, but you’re sixteen. You don’t really have many rights,” another voice said, calmer than the first one, but they were trained agents, so they both heard the bite in the words.
“I’m still a person,” the kid snapped, voice high and indignant now, and they’d heard that before too. “Uncle Finn says...”
“Your Uncle Finn is a lunatic. I would know; he got me in more trouble when I was your age than you can even begin to imagine.”
“That’s not true. Even Uncle Will…”
“Please, he’s hardly objective,” the other voice said, and one of the agents smothered a grin at the familiar impatient tone.
Next was an indignant huff of breath, then the sound of a door opening and slamming closed again. They could practically set their watches by it, and if she was planning to keep up the spoiled brat routine, it was going to be a long four years.
Two more agents appeared at the end of the hall, and the agents on either side of the door straightened up and stood aside as the president rounded the corner behind his security team. He stopped when he reached the door, eyeing it warily for a few seconds in a fairly un-presidential way.
“Did she lock herself in the bathroom already?”
“After she threatened him with the constitution and her uncle.”
President Puckerman let out a heavy sigh, shaking his head and reaching up to rub at the back of his neck with one hand. “I knew I should have shot that guy when I had the chance.”
He took a deep breath and opened the door, then he stepped inside and closed it behind him again. The agents on duty nodded at the president’s security detail, then they all settled in to wait.
Noah closed the door as softly as he could, but Kurt still looked up when he came in. His mouth was pressed into a thin line, shoulders tense and Noah sighed and crossed the room to rest a hand on his back.
“What’s the problem this time?”
“False imprisonment, apparently. Someone seems to have given her the idea that she has a right to individual liberties, regardless of what her father does for a living.”
“I really should have shot your brother while I had the chance,” Noah said, but when Kurt huffed a soft laugh he couldn’t help an answering smile.
“I’m fairly sure I could have forgiven you that eventually. Though you probably would have ruined your friendship with Will.”
“He’s still bitching about that time we trashed his car anyway,” Noah said, smiling when Kurt laughed. He took a breath and reached up, pausing for just a second before he knocked on the bathroom door. “Beth, come on, open up.”
“No,” she shouted from the other side of the door, and at least it didn’t sound like she was crying. Yet. “This is false imprisonment, you know. I could call Amnesty International.”
“You can call your uncle and tell him to forget you ever visiting him and Will again, is what you can do,” Noah answered. “And if you want to go stay with Quinn and Sam while we’re in Greece, you’ll open this door right now.”
That got him a raised eyebrow from Kurt, but Noah just shrugged and turned back to the door, because hey, he could play hardball too. He just chose his battles a little more carefully, that’s all.
There was another huff of breath from the bathroom, but a second later he heard the lock turn, then the door opened a crack. Noah glanced at Kurt, but if he was hoping Kurt would take the lead on this one, he was out of luck.
“I should go make sure Alex is dressed,” Kurt said, leaning in to brush a kiss across Noah’s cheek. “Good luck.”
“Coward,” Noah called after him, but Kurt just waved over his shoulder and bailed to deal with their son. At least he wasn’t old enough for teenage histrionics yet, but they both knew it was only a matter of time, and if Noah managed to pull off a second term, he’d be hitting puberty just in time to make his own security detail’s life a complete nightmare.
Noah braced himself and pushed the bathroom door open, but instead of waiting to sucker punch him and try to escape, Beth was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, arms crossed over her chest and her bottom lip stuck out in a pout to rival Kurt himself.
She glanced up at him long enough to glare, and just for a second Noah regretted his entire presidential campaign. Except he’d been working toward this for the past twenty years, and being elected the first openly gay president of the United States was too big a deal to walk away from, even for his kid’s sake.
“Look, kid, I know you’re not crazy about all this, but it hasn’t been that long. We all just need some time to get used to it.”
“Time to get used to being a prisoner? As if,” Beth said, huffing and turning away from him.
“You’re not a prisoner, Beth. Those agents out there are just here to keep you safe. If they say it’s too dangerous to do something with your friends, it’s because it’s too dangerous. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.”
Please, like you’re not going to be on their side.”
And yeah, okay, she kind of had a point, but that didn’t make Noah wish any less that they’d skipped telling her the stupidly romantic story of how her parents met and fell in love. When she was a little kid and he was still a senator it had seemed like a nice story to tell their kids, but now that she was a teenager she held pretty much everything they’d ever said to her against them.
“I’m on your side,” he said anyway, venturing a few more steps into the bathroom and sitting down on the edge of the tub next to her. His tux was probably getting wrinkled, and Kurt was going to kill him if he made them late for the fundraiser, but it wasn’t like he could just walk away when their daughter looked this miserable.
“Then why can’t I go out with my friends tonight?” she asked, and yeah, she was still pissed, but she wasn’t threatening to call a civil rights lawyer anymore, and that was a step in the right direction. “I don’t want to go to some lame fundraiser.”
“I don’t really want to go either, but it’s important to your dad. He’s been working his butt off to get this thing off the ground, you know that. It’s just one night, right?”
“Yeah, the same night as the biggest party of the year,” she answered, and there went that pout again. It had been cute when she was six, but ten years later he was regretting all the times he’d laughed and given in when she pouted at him. “All my friends are going to be there. Micah said…”
Halfway through the sentence she clamped her mouth shut, her whole face turning bright red, and Noah frowned and glanced toward the door in the hope that maybe Kurt was lurking around. “Who’s Micah?”
“No one,” Beth said, which meant Micah was definitely someone, and Noah definitely wasn’t going to like it.
He ran a hand over the back of his neck again, breathing in deep and fighting down the urge to interrogate her until she broke and spilled everything about this Micah kid. Kurt would kill him if he made her cry and left her looking all puffy in the pictures they were going to spend most of the night posing for, and anyway he didn’t really want her to spend the whole night hating both of them.
“Listen,” he said instead, doing his best to sound calm. “Any guy who’s worth your time won’t hold it against you if you miss one party. Anyway, who says you’re missing the party of the year? You live in the White House. If there’s going to be a party of the year, it should totally be happening here.”
The look she gave him said he didn’t know anything about being a teenager, but that definitely wasn’t true. Noah had been cool, once upon a time, and now he was the leader of the free world. Lots of people wanted him at their parties, even if his own daughter thought he was completely lame.
He swallowed a sigh and swayed close enough to bump her shoulder, and when she frowned and inched away from him he tried not to take it personally. “I’m not the only celebrity on the guest list tonight, you know. I think that actor you like is going to be there. You know, from that one show.”
“Oliver Canfield?” she said, head whipping around so fast he was surprised she didn’t get whiplash.
“Is that the one who always looks like he needs a haircut?”
She rolled her eyes in a way that told him he knew even less about good hair than he did about cool points, but at least she wasn’t pouting anymore. In fact she was standing up now, crossing to the mirror and pulling open drawers to drag little plastic containers of makeup out and pile them on the counter.
Noah sat there and watched her for a couple minutes, but when she spotted him in the mirror and let out an impatient huff, he rolled his eyes in a pretty impressive imitation of her and stood up.
“Okay, okay. But get a move on. If we’re not downstairs in twenty minutes Kurt’s going to have an aneurysm.”
“I know, Dad,” she said, turning back to the mirror to apply way too much eye makeup. “Now can you go away? It’s creepy when you hang around and watch me.”
Noah let out a sigh and let himself out of the bathroom, then he crossed her bedroom and stepped back into the hall. His security detail was still hanging around, and he nodded at Beth’s detail before he headed down the hall in the direction of Alex’s room. He found Kurt in Alex’s closet, searching through a bunch of kid-sized jackets that all looked exactly the same to Noah.
“Not even fifteen minutes and he’s already managed to get something on his clothes,” Kurt said, and Noah tried not to grin at the exasperation in his voice. Finally Kurt pulled a jacket off its hanger and looked up at Noah. “Did you have any luck with Beth?”
“She came around once she figured out I wasn’t the most famous person on the guest list.”
Kurt laughed, letting Noah pull him close and turning his face up for a soft kiss. “I was sort of hoping she wouldn’t notice him until the press gets bored. The last thing we need is the tabloids running a story about the president’s daughter stalking a TV star.”
“Can’t be any worse than that time they ran that story about the president’s son running away with his bodyguard,” Noah answered, grinning and leaning in for another kiss.
“Yes, but that story was true. Sort of, anyway.”
Kurt’s hand slid under Noah’s jacket, and he wished all over again that they could blow off the fundraiser and stay home. But they’d both known what they were signing on for when Noah ran for office, and Kurt had gone to enough boring functions with him that Noah wasn’t going to complain about the occasional fundraiser.
“So who’s Micah?” Noah asked when he pulled away, reaching up to run a thumb along Kurt’s bottom lip.
“Just the latest crush, nothing serious,” Kurt answered. “His father works at the Pentagon, I believe.”
That could mean the kid had manners, but it could also mean he was a cocky bastard. There was no way of knowing for sure, but as long as Kurt said it was nothing serious, Noah didn’t have to worry about it. When Kurt started using the word ‘boyfriend’ he’d call in some favors, maybe starting with interrogating Beth’s security detail.
Still, it was weird to think that their daughter was old enough even for a potential boyfriend, and Noah sighed and let Kurt pull away from him. “The car’s going to be here any minute, and I need to get Alex ready. Would you go make sure Beth isn’t having another meltdown?”
“Yeah, sure, babe,” Noah said. He stood in the closet door and watched Kurt walk away, then he took a deep breath and headed back down the hall toward Beth’s room. She was probably going to roll her eyes and accuse him of creating a police state, and he was seriously going to have to think about banning Finn from the White House for the rest of his term.