January 21, 2009
When Cameron said that he'd worked on the Obama campaign, Duckie hadn't really processed what that meant. After all, Cameron was as prone to downplaying his accomplishments now as he had been back in high school. So in his head as he packed his tuxedo to attend the inauguration, Duckie figured they'd go to whatever balls Illinoisans and Californians were invited to, and see Cameron's former coworkers for dinners and the like, and that would be that.
Instead, Cameron's blackberry started vibrating the moment they landed in D.C. and never stopped. Since he'd decided not to work for the new administration, all of his friends from the campaign were eager to see him, so there were dinners and cocktail hours and breakfasts and lunches and afternoon hang-outs all over town, not to mention a fistful of tickets for inaugural balls. It was clear from the way they treated Duckie that they weren't used to seeing Cameron in any kind of romantic context. Duckie felt a little overwhelmed, but delighted in seeing Cameron in his element, telling tales of the campaign trail and laughing as the others told stories about him. He wondered if he was feeling now how Cameron had felt since coming out to LA at the first of the year. And that was the weird thing of it—it had only been a few weeks, and they were still often awkward around each other, but sometimes it was so easy that Duckie wondered how it could be real.
They spent most of Inauguration night at President's Home States Ball with the other Illinois crew. It hadn't been too difficult to get their friends tickets, even if Steff was a Republican—Cameron just told him not to let anyone know about that. Ferris, of course, worked the room like the party was for him. Cameron did manage to introduce his friends to the new President, but didn't take up more time than that; he'd said the universe might end if Ferris and Barack Obama were in the same place at the same time and didn't want to take any chances.
At the staff ball the next night, however, the President and First Lady made a beeline for Cameron's table. At first Duckie thought it was because of Cameron's apparent new nickname among the staff—The Man Who Said No To Rahm—but the Commander in Chief had something else on his mind.
"Now Phil," he said, "I understand that you and Cameron dated right after high school? And you were his first boyfriend?"
"That's right, sir," Duckie replied. "Summer of '86."
"See, Michelle here has been off in some kind of romantic haze …"
The new First Lady tutted and hit her husband's arm with the back of her hand. "I have not!"
"All right, all right," he said, chuckling. He reached an arm down to Duckie's shoulder. "Phil, we're trusting you to take care of Cameron out there in California."
"That won't be a problem, sir," Duckie replied, to which Mrs. Obama said, "Aww!" and Cameron blushed faintly.
"And if we really, really need him, you'll lend him back to us?" he asked.
His wife smirked. "Make sure that loan is temporary," she said, which looked to be some sort of secret joke between the two of them because the President looked a bit sheepish.
"Well, a temporary loan," Duckie said. "That I can do."
January 29, 2010
Duckie was in the middle of setting up his office in the new house, where his first priority was to get the speakers in exactly the right place. Not that he'd be using them exclusively; Cameron's housewarming gift to Duckie had been a pair of high-end, high-fidelity headphones that Duckie already cherished. He was killing two birds with one stone, fine tuning the sound while listening to an advance copy of the new Spoon record, with his phone rang.
"Phil Dale," he said.
"Mr. Dale, are you available for the President?" a voice answered.
"The president of what?" Duckie asked, moving a tweeter to another shelf.
"The President of the United States."
Duckie dropped the phone into one of the partially unpacked boxes at his feet. "Hold on! Hold on!" he shouted, feeling around in the eco-friendly peanuts until he found his phone. He glanced at the number and sure enough, it was the DC area code, and he was pretty sure that was the White House exchange. He turned the music down. "Uh, sure," he said. "I'm available."
"Hold please," the voice said, and the audio cut to Sammy Davis, Jr. singing "Candy Man." Duckie was pretty sure that was some kind of inside joke he wasn't getting, and made a mental note to ask Cameron about it.
"Mr. President!" Phil replied. "Good morning! Or, I guess, afternoon?"
"How is that unpacking going?" he asked. "Always hate unpacking. Try to avoid it as much as possible."
"It's going well, sir. Cameron's been living pretty simply, so there isn't that much to merge."
"And you got the gift? I didn't see it but Michelle usually sends a dish of some sort."
"A beautiful bowl, sir. Thank you so much. It's going right in the middle of the dining room table as soon as we buy one."
The President chuckled.
Duckie cleared his throat. "And may I say sir, that was a humdinger of a speech you gave the other night."
"Thanks, Phil, and I'm glad you brought that up, because that is why I am calling. I need to ask you for a favor."
"From me, sir?" Duckie asked.
"If we're going to have any chance to get that health care bill through Congress, we need to bring out the big guns, and that includes Cameron. I'm asking you to loan him to us. Temporarily."
Duckie blinked. "Has anyone spoken to him about this?" he asked.
"Rahm is working on that," the President said, "but understandably Cameron anxious to set up that house you just bought together. So I wanted to make our case directly to you."
"You don't need to do that, sir," Duckie replied. "I understand. I'll talk to Cameron, but you'll get no objection from me."
He could almost hear the President grinning. "Thank you, Phil. I owe you one. We'll get him back to you as soon as this bill is passed."
"I know you will, sir," Duckie replied.
January 12, 2011
Duckie was trying to get work done, he really was, but he kept being distracted by the new ring on his finger: onyx and tiger's eye in a square pattern set in yellow gold. Not a new ring actually—vintage late '60s—but new to him and much more than semi-precious.
The tap on his shoulder made him start a little, and he slipped off his headphones, a little embarrassed to be caught mooning over his ring like a teenage girl or the heroine of a '50s movie. But Cameron just smiled down at him and reached down his left hand to entwine with Duckie's. He had his own ring now, art deco onyx and white gold, because even though Cameron had done the proposing Duckie felt he should have a ring, too. The rings looked handsome side-by-side, similar stuff made different but complimentary.
"I'm off," Cameron said, "but I'll be back later to change."
"We could just meet there," Duckie said. "It's your fundraiser. I'm sure you have a ton of last-minute things to do."
Cameron's eyes darted away for a second before looking back at Duckie. "Maybe I like watching you get ready," he said.
Duckie chuckled. "All right," he said. "I'll see you later, then."
Cameron leaned down and gave him a kiss. "Oh," he said, "we got a couple of e-cards on the joint e-mail."
Duckie watched him walk down the hall—the checking out his ass thing hadn't gone away, though Duckie tried not to be too blatant about it—and then poked around for the cards Cameron had mentioned. The first one was from the White House, which had moved to e-cards for informal correspondence as part of their green program. It was a fairly generic engagement card, but there was a nice personal note from Mrs. Obama: "First love, last love, best love."
The other was from Ferris and Sloane, a customized e-card with Victorian clip art of two cowboys next to the message, "Congratulations on your engagement! Too bad the state renders it entirely meaningless." Duckie laughed; he'd gotten used to Ferris's bluntness by now, and he certainly couldn't disagree. Cameron had been working so hard to overturn Prop 8, and Duckie knew the proposal was his way of keeping the faith that they'd win eventually.
Duckie looked from the e-cards to the invitation for that night's fundraiser pegged to his cork board. He tapped his fingers on the desk, thinking about the temporary loans of big guns and the meaning of onyx rings, and before he could think about it too much he hit "reply" on one of the e-cards.
"Dear Mr. President," he wrote. "About that favor you owe me …"