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The Fourth Time's a Charm (Or Not)

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Light flooded the foyer of Donald Trump’s penthouse as the disgraced presidential candidate entered, wrapped up in an animated conversation on his cellphone.

“You should see your sister! She’s tremendous, believe me!” He boasted, “She looks just like me, inherited all my rugged good looks!” Another man limped in behind him-his husband, Mike Pence, now known as Mike Trump since he had changed his name after his marriage. In Mike’s arms was a small wrapped bundle; he shifted the bundle slightly and rested one of his hands on Donald’s shoulder, getting his attention.

“Donald,” He said softly, not wanting to disturb the man’s phone call, “Is the nursery done? I want to set Topaz down in her crib.”

“Yeah yeah, I had one of the maids finish putting it together, go see for yourself,” Donald muttered, waving Mike off, “Anyways Barron, I’ll send the chauffer to come get you from your mom’s on Sunday. Be ready to go by eleven.” With that, he hung up, stuffed the phone in his pocket, and made his way to the new nursery he’d ordered to be set up. Entering the room, Donald took a moment to admire the décor. Like the rest of the penthouse the nursery was decorated in garish gold, with the most prominent feature being the elegant canopied crib in the center. Mike stood by its side, still clutching the bundle to his chest. Carefully, he set the bundle down within the crib and began to unwrap it, freeing the baby girl encased within. Donald joined his husband and stared down at their new daughter, beaming with pride. Though she was only a few days old one of the traits she had inherited from him was already visible. Soft wisps of blonde hair peeked out from beneath the little pink cap she’d been given at the hospital to keep her head warm, the beginnings of what would one day become a wild blonde mane to rival that of her father. Mike reached down to gently brush some of the wisps aside to get a better look at her face. Wide blue eyes stared back at him, and he grinned.

“I wonder if her eyes will stay blue like yours or get darker so they’re more like mine,” He thought aloud, “What do you think, Donald?”

“They might not stay blue?” Donald asked, confused by this new piece of information.

“No, the color could change in the next few months,” Pence explained, “This was in one of the books about baby care and development that I gave you to read. Didn’t you look at any of them? I read through each of them at least twice!”

“Ah, well, I skimmed through them.” Donald replied with a shrug. Mike frowned and placed his hands on his hips. That was not the answer he had hoped for.

“Donald! That’s not okay!” He berated his spouse.

“Oh come on Mike, why would you even expect me to know that her eyes might change color? That’s not important!” Donald scoffed. “I read enough to pick up all the important things!” A soft whimpering emanated from the crib; Donald and Mike directed their gazes back to their daughter, who was wriggling and making a fuss. Mike scooped her up in his arms again, prepared to rock her to get her to calm down, when he suddenly remembered something. Donald hadn’t had the opportunity to hold her yet!

“Topaz has been with me almost constantly since she was born, I think you should spend some time with her now,” He decided, turning to his husband, “Why don’t you hold her for a little while?” Donald nodded and held his hands out to take the baby. Mike gently placed Topaz in his arms and watched as Donald held her up to get a better look at her face. She stared back at him, bearing a grimace quite like his own. He smiled approvingly and then shoved her back towards Mike.

“Okay, you can have her back now,” He announced, “I’m done holding her.”

“You’ve been holding her for less than thirty seconds!” Mike pointed out.

“Yeah, but holding her is kind of boring,” Donald complained, “I’d rather be doing something fun, like golfing.” Mike sighed at this.

“Look, if you want something to keep yourself occupied, why don’t you fix her a bottle and feed her?” He suggested. “It’s been a couple hours since I fed her last, she must be hungry. Come on.” Mike took Topaz back from Donald and led him into the kitchen. After giving Donald a brief summary of how to prepare the baby formula since he probably hadn’t read up on how to do that either Mike left him alone and decided he’d go to his study to get some work done. He sat down at his desk, wincing slightly as he did so. The birth had been difficult, he’d torn quite a bit and required a lot of stitching afterward, leaving that particular area of his body feeling rather tender. It hurt to sit down, but Mike did his best to ignore the pain and, nestling Topaz safely in one of his arms, he used his free hand to boot up his computer. Though he had resigned as governor of Indiana and decided he would no longer run for any type of office he had since busied himself with working for the New York Republican Party in an advisory capacity, strategizing and fundraising for the local Republican politicians. With 2018 fast approaching the New York governorship, one of the senate seats, and all the house seats would soon be up for grabs. New York had a reputation of being a solidly liberal state and the potential Republican candidates were going to need all the help they could get, so Mike certainly had his work cut out for him. He had just finished sifting through his work email when Donald entered the study several minutes later, bottle of formula in hand.

“Soup’s on!” He announced, jabbing the tip of the bottle towards Topaz’s face, “Drink up!”

“Donald! No!” Mike shrieked as he drew Topaz closer to his chest and turned her head away from the bottle. “You can’t just give it to her like that! You need to see if it’s the right temperature first; it needs to be warm but not hot! Let a little bit of the formula drip onto your wrist to check it.” Donald rolled his eyes but did as he was told. He drew his sleeve up, held the bottle to his wrist, and let some of the formula dribble out onto it. He let out a pained hiss; it was scalding hot! On top of that the formula had mixed with his poorly-applied spray tan, creating orange streaks as it dripped down his arm.

“Mike! It burns and it’s ruining my tan!” He whined. “I don’t have to do this every time I feed her, do I?”

“You most certainly do!” Mike emphasized. “It’s burning your wrist, right? Well, imagine what it would do to her mouth if you fed it to her like that! Wait a few minutes for it to cool and check it again, it should be the right temperature then.” Donald grumbled something about having to reapply his tan and sulked off with the bottle. He returned a little later, looking slightly more orange with a fresh coat of spray tan, and after assuring Mike that he’d checked and made sure the formula was now the right temperature he took Topaz from him and began to feed it to her. Mike wasn’t pleased with how he was doing it, though.

“Not like that, Donald!” He scolded him. “You need to hold her more securely, and you need to tilt the bottle so she’s not swallowing air with the formula! She’ll get gas if she does! Here-just give her to me.” Donald shrugged and handed their daughter and the bottle back to Mike. He watched as Mike fed her, and when it seemed like she had had enough Mike set the bottle aside and held her against his chest, resting her chin on his shoulder as he gently patted her back to burp her.

“So we need to feed her like three times a day, right?” Donald asked. “That should be easy to remember. That’s how often Barron needs to eat.”

“Yes, but he’s eleven! Topaz is a newborn; she needs to eat way more often than three times a day!” Mike clarified. “Yesterday I think I fed her about ten or so times, and I had to get up a couple times during the night to do it.”

“I don’t have time to feed her that often!” Donald complained. “I’m very very busy and I need my beauty sleep!”

“Busy? Ha! Busy with what?” Mike retorted. “You don’t have to lift a finger all day! I’m the one who’s busting his ass working to take New York back from the Democrats!”

“Yes, typing away at your computer all day is busting your ass.” Donald said flatly.

“You’re one to talk! You spend half the day tweeting! Besides, I do other jobs aside from working on the computer,” Mike defended, “I organize and attend fundraising events and rallies, I go to meet local Republicans to strategize, I do a whole host of things and I’m working hard!”

“You don’t even need to work in the first place!” Donald pointed out. “I told you when we got married that I had the money and the power to keep you happy and comfortable! Why do you still go to work when you’ve got me to take care of you?”

“I might not need to work, but I want to! It’s important to me to stay active and do what I can for my party,” Mike huffed, “Look, let’s just drop it and stop fighting. Topaz looks a little sleepy; we should put her down for a nap. Why don’t you try swaddling her so she’ll be nice and warm? I can show you how to do it if you don’t know how.” Donald stared down at his child and cracked an overconfident grin.

“Ha! How hard can this be?” He scoffed. “It’s just like wrapping a burrito, right? I’ve seen it done plenty of times at Taco Bell; I can definitely do it myself. Give her to me.” Mike hesitated a moment but then handed Topaz to Donald. He headed off to the nursery with her, leaving Mike alone. Mike frowned. Given what he had already seen from Donald that day he was doubtful that he’d properly swaddle their baby. He fired off one last email to a Republican acquaintance and rose from his desk. By the time he made it to the nursery Donald had finished his poor attempt at swaddling Topaz and was staring down at her in her crib, arms crossed and triumphant grin plastered across his face. He noticed Mike in the doorway and beckoned for him to join his side and admire his handiwork. Mike winced at what he saw.

“You did it wrong,” He noted, “Her feet are sticking out.” Instead of creating a snug wrap Donald had just laid the blanket out flat, folded it over, and loosely rolled Topaz up in it like a jelly roll, leaving her tiny feet uncovered.

“It’s good enough,” Donald argued, “She’s mostly covered.”

“She’s going to get cold!” Mike insisted as he began to undo the blanket. “Donald, this isn’t okay!”

“Either do it yourself or don’t complain about how I did it!” Donald snapped at him, clearly frustrated. “Screw this, I’m gonna crack open a Diet Coke and tweet about Crooked Hillary.” He pulled out his cellphone and lumbered out of the room to locate his soda, leaving Mike alone. Mike didn’t even bother going after him. He scooped Topaz up and swaddled her correctly, neatly tucking and folding the blanket to create a snug cocoon to cover her. Topaz cooed at him; he smiled and gave her a soft kiss on her forehead before setting her down in her crib again to nap. He turned off the lights and left the room, closing the door behind him. Mike leaned against the doorframe and sighed, shaking his head in dismay. He was beginning to wonder if he’d made a mistake in deciding to start a family with Donald. He thought back to mid-July the previous year when they’d first been acquainted, when Donald had asked him to be his running mate. He’d been charmed by the man during that first meeting, captivated by his looks and ideas, and the feeling seemed to be mutual. Mike was so happy to join the ticket, and he’d grown even happier when Donald had asked him another question-if he would spend an evening with him in Mar-a-Lago. That night that they had flown down there together, the first night he had spent in Donald’s bed, was truly magical to him.

He’d felt some guilt over it, conflicted about carrying on with a married man, thinking of Melania who was abandoned with her son up in New York while the two of them were together in Florida, and he was scared of his true sexuality being exposed in spite of his adamantly anti-gay attitudes in public, but Donald dispelled all of his worries. “I’m not happy with Melania”, he had said, “I think she’s cheating on me too”, he had claimed, “This’ll be our little secret and no one will ever know”, he had assured him. Well, things didn’t entirely turn out the way Mike had hoped. It all seemed fine the first few weeks after that encounter, the Republican National Convention went off without a hitch, he and Donald began campaigning together, and they continued to carry on their affair in secret. But then Mike discovered he was pregnant, and it all went downhill from there.

Donald had been scared shitless when Mike had finally mustered up the courage to tell him, but in spite of his distress he remained at Mike’s side. Mike had made it clear that abortion was against his beliefs, and they knew they couldn’t hide his pregnancy forever-he was going to start showing at some point and that would give it away-but they figured they would be able to at least keep it under wraps until after Election Day. They thought that he wouldn’t begin to show until after it had passed, and they went about business as usual, continuing to campaign and attempting to stoke opposition against their adversary, Hillary Rodham. But the pregnancy proved harder to conceal than they had expected. Mike was hit with terrible bouts of morning sickness and often appeared visibly ill at campaign events, even requiring hospitalization at one point, he started showing early, and people were asking more and more questions. A press conference held to try and deflect any inquiry only made it worse and ended up with them cornered into revealing their shameful secret, killing their campaign. Donald had stuck by his side through all that, through his divorce from Melania, their humiliating defeat on Election Day, their hastily arranged shotgun wedding in Las Vegas, the birth of their child, but now would he fail him? Was all of this worth it?

“Things are going to be okay,” Mike told himself, “This will be worth all the trouble in the end. I’m not the vice president, but I’ve got a husband who loves me, we’re going to raise our baby together, and we’re going to be happy. This is worth it.” But as much as he kept saying that to himself he wasn’t sure he truly believed it. He had been in love that night in Mar-a-Lago, Donald had been a gentleman to him then and had continued to dote upon him all throughout the time he had carried Topaz, but now the passion was cooling, the spark that was once there was fading, and Donald didn’t seem very interested in being a parent either. Was this just a rough patch, a tough period of adjustment due to the new baby? Would things settle down again and go back to how they were before, or would they just get worse? Mike sighed and shook his head. He didn’t have time to dwell upon this. There was work to be done. Putting his worries aside for the time being, he returned to his study to create some fliers for one of his Republican cohorts.