Three days he after he voted for the legislation, the day after the President signed it, he called a press conference. It wasn't well attended, at least by anyone but his staff, and he didn't expect it to be, just a couple of cameras for the news stations back in Oregon, where the people in his district might actually care about what a relatively junior congressman had to say.
An hour later, and his phones were ringing off the hook, his staff frantically trying to answer them as he stood amidst the chaos. He knew that he would have to engage eventually, that he would have to grant interviews, or at least talk to someone at the DNC, even if it wasn't Josh. But for now, he was doing his own brand of reveling.
It was only Sue's voice saying, "It's Kate Harper," that brought him back to himself.
"I'll take it in my office." He stepped back and closed the door, taking a deep breath before he picked up the phone and connected the call.
"You know, that was a brave thing you did. I'm really proud of you." Her voice sounded far away and he wondered just where she was this month that they didn't have modern telecommunications infrastructure but where she could get Washington gossip inside of an hour. He let that list occupy his mind for a long moment.
"You don't think it was too much? Because it feels like it was too much." It was an uncertainty that he wouldn't share with anyone else, that he couldn't.
"I think it was..." He held his breath at her pause, uncommonly nervous. He chalked it up to the day's earlier events. "I think it was just the right amount."
He laughed almost cynically. "Really? Because despite your reassurance, it kinda feels like it was too much."
"Will, what's really wrong? You're too good at this to have gone over the top."
Will sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You're right. You're right. It wasn't too much. It was the absolute bare minimum. I didn't do enough Kate. I... A year ago, two years ago, it would have made a difference. It could have changed something. I should have said something when it mattered. Now... It was cowardly." He sighed as he loosened his tie and leaned against his desk.
"Stop it, Will. It wasn't cowardly. And It matters and you know it, or you wouldn't have done it."
"Yeah, you're right." It didn't make him feel any better. Still, he re-tightened his tie and stood back up. Sometimes he just needed Kate to kick his ass.
"I heard you were amazing." He could hear the reassurance in her voice and it reminded him of why he had tried so hard to keep in touch with her after they both left DC.
"Eh. It wasn't my best speech writing. Actually, it was straight out of AA." He hadn't quite realized it at the time and now he shook his head at his own cluelessness.
"It did what you needed it to do. Now, go tell some of those people who want to interview you that you'll do it."
"Right." There was a tap on his door and it swung open a second later, but he wasn't paying attention to Sue. He was watching the tv screen behind her, watching himself step up to the microphone and start the conference. Even though it was on mute, he remembered precisely what he had said, "Good afternoon everybody. I'm Will Bailey. In case you don't know me," that had gotten him a quick laugh, "I'm a Congressman from Oregon. I'm also an officer in the United States Air Force Reserves, and I'm gay."
There had been more after that, but Kate's voice over the phone pulled him back and Sue was standing in front of him, looking impatient. He held up a hand and turned his back to her. "Hey Kate, I've got to go. Something's come up, but, uh, thanks. Seriously, thank you for calling."
"Yeah, well, I thought you might need a friendly ear. I'll be back in DC in a few weeks. We should get together."
"Give me a call and I'll buy you a drink." With that, he hung up and turned back to his chief of staff. "So, what's up?"