It was a very exciting day for Senator Tim Kaine.
The senator, freshly anointed as the Democratic Party’s nominee for vice president, had been invited by his running mate to have dinner at her residence. He had shared a meal with her at his own house in Richmond a few days earlier, but until now he had never before been to her apartment. It was a large, somewhat expensive setup in Chappaqua where she resided by herself, and Tim could not help but wonder if she ever felt lonely living in such a spacious home with no other companions. She wasn’t married, but she did have a son and several close friends, all of whom she was eager to introduce him to, though none of them lived with her. They were supposed to join him and her for dinner, however they had not yet arrived. For now, it was just the two of them.
Tim sat by himself at the kitchen table, idly watching the pot of food simmering on the stove as he waited for his companion to emerge from her bedroom, where she had retreated after letting him in in order to make some last minute adjustments to her appearance. He heard the soft sound of high heels clicking against the hardwood floor, and Tim shifted his gaze from the stovetop to the doorway. Standing there was none other than his running mate, former secretary of state turned Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham.
She looked gorgeous. She had styled her hair into lose waves and was wearing a little eyeshadow and lipstick to embellish her already lovely features. She was dressed in a periwinkle pantsuit and heels, and gold and pearl earrings glinted in her ears. In her hand she held a matching gold and pearl necklace, which Tim assumed was the last accessory to complete her ensemble.
“How do I look?” She asked him, bringing one hand up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “You don’t think I’m overdressed or anything, do you?”
“Not at all. You look beautiful,” He replied, “Do you need any help getting your necklace on?”
“Sure, if you don’t mind,” Hillary accepted, “Sometimes I can’t quite get it to clasp.” Tim rose from his seat and approached her; he held out his palm and she dropped the necklace into it with a soft plink. He got behind her, carefully brushed her hair aside so as not to disrupt the waves, and fastened the necklace gently around her neck.
“It’s not too tight, is it?” He asked her as she turned to face him. She shook her head.
“No,” She assured him, “It’s perfect. Thank you, Tim.” He smiled.
“No problem. Do you need any help with the food?”
“Nah I’m good,” Hillary waved him off, “Thank you, though. The chili’s the last thing I have to prepare and I’m almost done with it; it’ll be ready by the time everyone else shows up.” Tim returned to his seat and watched as she took some vegetables out of the fridge, rolled up her sleeves, and began peeling and cutting them. When she had gotten them diced into manageable pieces she scooped them up and plopped them into the pot, stirring gently as they cooked on the stovetop. Suddenly, the two of them heard a knock at the door.
“Tim, would you mind getting that?” Hillary asked, glancing over her shoulder at her running mate as she sprinkled some seasoning onto the food.
“No problem! I’ll be right back.” Tim hurried into the foyer and promptly opened the door for the guest. A young man was standing before him, dressed smartly in a taupe suit and black tie. Upon catching sight of the senator, the man seemed to grow a bit confused.
“Huh, Mom didn’t tell me she had a new boyfriend.” He stated. Tim’s cheeks reddened, and he grew quite flustered at the guest’s misconception. He was about to politely correct him, but before he could say anything Hillary walked in. She was giggling a bit as she rolled her sleeves down to her wrists once more, and her cheeks were equally as red as the senator’s.
“Oh no, he’s not my boyfriend, sweetie,” She clarified for the young man, “He’s my running mate.”
“Oh!” The man exclaimed, his eyes going wide, “Sorry! My mistake. You must be Senator Kaine, then.” Tim nodded.
“Yep, that’s me,” He replied, “And you must be Hillary’s son; it’s nice to finally meet you!” He offered his hand to the young man; the man smiled and took it, giving it a friendly shake.
“Yeah, my name’s Charlie, Charlie Rodham,” He introduced himself, “It’s nice to finally meet you too, Senator.”
"What do you think, Tim?” Hillary asked, placing her arm around Charlie, “See a resemblance? Can you tell that he’s my boy?” Tim studied the young man closely, comparing his appearance to that of his running mate. Charlie was obviously much younger than her-he looked to be in his mid-thirties-but in spite of the age difference Tim could still see some of Hillary’s features mirrored within him. He had his mother's cute, apple-like cheeks as well as her bright, expressive blue eyes. He had blonde hair like Hillary, though his was a much darker, almost brown shade, and while Hillary had straight hair that she kept in carefully styled layers, her son's hair was quite curly and untamed. Tim noted that Charlie’s smile and jaw were also very different from his mother’s-Hillary had a rounder jawline and sported a broad, toothy grin, whereas her son's jaw was more angled and his smile slighter, showing less of his teeth. Tim figured that Charlie must have inherited these features from his father, whoever he was. The senator was quite curious about the paternity of his running mate’s son, but he did not feel that it was in his place to pry into her personal life. He had known her for only a short while, and he felt that it would be incredibly rude to ask so intimate a question to someone he had only recently been acquainted with, so he refrained from saying anything on the subject.
“I can definitely see that he’s yours. You sure do look a lot like your mother, Charlie!” He chuckled, putting all thoughts of Charlie’s father and who he could be to the side for the moment, “Do you act like her too?”
“My Uncle Bill says I do,” Charlie laughed, “And he’s known Mom for over forty years, so I’ll take his word for it.”
“Why don’t you come sit down in the kitchen, Charlie?” Hillary suggested, “I’m almost done fixing dinner, once your uncles and cousins arrive we can all eat. Oh, and I made a mocha cake for dessert.” Charlie nodded and the three of them walked back into the kitchen. Hillary went and finished adding the last of the vegetables to the chili while her son and running mate seated themselves at the table.
“Mom and I love mocha cake,” Charlie said to Tim after a moment of silence, “Have you ever eaten it, Senator?”
“I haven’t,” Tim admitted, “But I’d love to try a piece. So, tell me a little about yourself, Charlie. What do you do for a living?” He was intrigued by the young man, and he wanted to get to know him a little more.
“I’m an attorney,” Charlie informed him, “I work at a law firm here in Chappaqua.”
“Oh how nice, I was an attorney before I got into politics,” Said Tim, “And what do you like to do in your free time?”
“I like to read, write, go for walks,” Charlie began listing off his hobbies, “Oh, and I love playing music too. I play the harmonica.”
“You play the harmonica? So do I!” Tim replied, delighted to discover that they shared a common interest. “I always carry six with me in my briefcase wherever I go. That way I’m prepared with whatever key harmonica I need.”
“Wow, that many?” Charlie chuckled, amused by this, “I’ll usually carry only one or two on me. Sometimes I’ll hold jam sessions with people; one of my uncles and one of my cousins play the saxophone and the three of us will get together and play every now and then.”
“You and I should play together sometime,” Tim suggested, “I brought some of my harmonicas with me, if you have yours we can jam after dinner.”
“I’d like that!” Charlie said with a grin, and as she watched from the other side of the kitchen his mother could not help but grin as well. Hillary switched off the stove and moved the chili to the table, still smiling all the while. It made her happy to see her son getting along with her running mate. She had been a little worried about how Charlie would receive Tim; he had met many of her political cohorts in the past, and while he treated all of them with respect and dignity, she could easily tell when he didn’t like someone. With her running mate however she could see that he had developed a good rapport. Charlie was smiling, laughing, conversing freely, and there was not a single hint of animosity between the two men. He was taking a real liking to Tim, and Tim seemed to feel the same way about him. The senator spoke to Charlie with the interest and affection that a father would have when speaking with his son, something that Hillary had not expected. Tim was not married and did not have any children, so she had not anticipated him having this fatherly side or being this good with her child. But while it was a surprise to her, it was a pleasant one, and the candidate was glad that her son and her running mate were carrying on so well. She took some dinner rolls out of the oven and began to arrange them in a basket on the table next to the chili just as there was another knock on the door. Tim and Charlie both half-rose from their chairs, but Hillary put her hand out, gesturing for them to remain in the kitchen.
“I’ll get it!” She announced. “Charlie, would you mind pouring drinks for everyone? We’re all going to have some wine except for Bert, Allie, and Gia; give the three of them grape juice instead. And Tim, could you set out some napkins? Charlie can show you where they are.” Charlie nodded and hastily poured some drinks for everyone while Hillary rushed out of the kitchen to answer the door. With the drinks ready, he showed Tim the drawer that the napkins were kept in, and the senator went and placed one next to each set of silverware. Hillary returned just as he and Charlie were sitting down again, accompanied by three men who looked to be around her age, a teenage boy, and two preteen girls. The men and the teenager were all wearing suits and ties, while the girls were wearing dresses with shrug jackets. Tim immediately recognized all six of them, for they were part of a very famous political family, but he decided to wait and let Hillary introduce them.
“Tim, these are my friends, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, and Vice President Al Gore.” She explained, gesturing to each man. “Bill, George, Al, this is Senator Tim Kaine, my running mate.” Tim rose from his seat as the former presidents and vice president approached him, though the teenager and little girls hung back with Hillary.
“Nice to meet you, Tim!” Bill greeted the senator in his warm Arkansas drawl, giving him a firm handshake. “Hillary’s told my husbands and I a lot of nice things about you.”
“And I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about us,” George smirked, his voice heavy with his distinct Texan accent, “As you already know, we’re famous for a lot of things, and infamous for others.”
“Oh yes, I’m very familiar with you three! And those are your children, right?” Tim asked, nodding to the three youths still standing with his running mate.
“They are indeed,” Al said in his usual mellow, monotonous tone as a small smile graced his face, “Kids, come over here and say hi to the senator.” The kids rushed over to introduce themselves to Tim, with the teenager going first. Tim got a good look at the boy, studying his appearance as he shook hands with him. He had wavy brown hair and blue eyes, and he looked quite a lot like Bill, though with slight traces of George as well.
“Nice to meet you, Senator Kaine,” The young man greeted him, and Tim could not help but notice that he possessed the same southern drawl as Bill, “My name’s Bert, Bert Clinton.” He moved aside and let one of the girls shake the senator’s hand next. She had brown hair and blue eyes like her older brother, though her hair was much longer than his and much wavier, and she looked strikingly similar to George, but with a little bit of Al mixed in.
“Hi, Senator!” She greeted him cheerfully in George’s unmistakable Texan twang, “My name’s Gia Clinton.” Gia skipped back over to her fathers, taking hold of George’s hand, while the second girl finally stepped forward to make her introduction. She shared the same brown hair and blue eyes as her siblings, though her hair was much straighter than theirs, and she bore a strong resemblance to Al, but with small hints of Bill.
“And I’m Allie Clinton,” She said in a droll tone very similar to Al’s. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Senator.”
“It’s nice to meet all of you too!” Tim replied happily. “I feel so honored to have the opportunity to run with Hillary, and just as honored to get to know you and her. I hope that all of us can chat some more over dinner.” With that, everyone seated themselves at the table. Tim was sitting in the middle of one side, with Hillary at his left and Bill at his right. Bert sat at the head of the table adjacent to Bill while Charlie sat at the head adjacent to Hillary, and George, Al, Gia, and Allie sat on the table’s other side. Everyone started casually conversing and serving themselves food.
“Oh, did you make chili, Hillary?” Bill asked.
“Yes, but don’t worry, it’s vegan chili,” She assured him, “It’s fine for you to eat.” Bill nodded and plopped some chili into his bowl, Tim did the same and then passed the chili to Hillary.
“Hillary’s the best, isn’t she?” Bill said to him as he picked up his spoon and dug it into the chili, “She’s a wonderful friend, a wonderful politician, and a wonderful cook.” He stuffed the spoon in his mouth, and Tim nodded in response, grabbing his own spoon.
“I haven’t known her for as long as you, but she certainly seems nice. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her and working with her so far,” He replied, earning an appreciative smile from Hillary as she filled her own bowl with chili, “She’s told me that she’s known you for a long time; how did the two of you meet?”
“We went to college together,” Bill explained, “She and I actually dated for a little bit when we were students.”
“I thought you only liked men, though?” Tim stated, feeling a bit puzzled, “You’re the first openly gay president, why were you and Hillary dating?”
“I am gay and I do like men, but back in the seventies when Hillary and I were in college I wasn’t out yet,” The president clarified, “I’d date women to ‘keep up appearances’, so to speak, but I felt so unhappy doing that and knew I couldn’t keep it up forever. Hillary was the last woman I ever dated and the first person I came out to; she was the first person I felt comfortable enough with to tell. She wasn’t disgusted when I told her or upset that I’d been using her as a beard, she was nothing but loving, accepting, and understanding, and even though our ‘relationship’ ended our friendship has always remained strong.”
“Yeah, Bill and I are and always have been really close,” Hillary added, “He’s like a brother to me, and we get along very well with each other’s children. I’m like a sort of mother figure to Bert, Allie, and Gia since they don’t have any mothers.”
“Yep, no moms here!” Said Bert as he munched on a dinner roll, “Just us and our dads.”
“You would not believe all the dad jokes we have to put up with in this household,” Allie smirked wryly, “We have triple the dads, so we get triple the dad jokes.”
“There’s a considerable lack of dad jokes in my family,” Charlie laughed, “I don’t even have one dad, you should be glad you’ve got three.”
“Maybe Senator Kaine can be your dad, Charlie!” Gia suggested. Tim almost choked on his chili at this, and Hillary’s face flushed.
“Gia, whatever possessed you to suggest that?” She chuckled uncomfortably. “Senator Kaine can’t be Charlie’s dad.”
“Why not?” Gia pouted. “You like him and Charlie likes him, you should marry him so he can be Charlie’s dad and also our uncle! What do you think, Senator Kaine?”
“I, uh, well… your aunt’s a very lovely lady, Gia, but we’re just friends… and even if we were to get married that wouldn’t make me Charlie’s dad,” Tim stammered, feeling a little embarrassed by the girl’s statement, “I’d just be his stepdad.” Gia tilted her head to the side in confusion.
“But you’d be married, wouldn’t you? If being married to Aunt Hillary wouldn’t make you Charlie’s dad then what would?” She asked innocently. Bert and Bill got the smuggest grins on their faces while Allie and Al sighed in exasperation and George, Hillary, Charlie, and Tim blushed as red as the wine they were drinking.
“Just being married to Aunt Hillary wouldn’t make him Charlie’s dad, Gia,” Bert smirked, “He would’ve had to do something else with her first…”
“Like what?” Gia inquired. “What makes someone somebody’s dad?”
“Gia! I made mocha cake for dessert!” Hillary exclaimed in an attempt to move the conversation in a different direction, “Would you like me to cut you a piece?” Gia’s eyes lit up at the mention of cake.
“Can I have a big one?” She asked excitedly. “And can I put some whipped cream on it?”
“You can have as big of a piece and as much whipped cream as you want,” Hillary promised, “Come on over to the fridge with me.” She rose from her seat, took the giddy girl by the hand, and led her off to the other end of the kitchen. Allie, Bert, and Charlie followed them, also wanting some cake.
“I’m real sorry about that, Tim,” George apologized once they were out of earshot, “Gia’s a sweetheart and she means well, but I don’t think she realized how uncomfortable she was making you and Hillary. Bert, however… I’m going to have a talk with that boy when we get home.”
“He’s a good kid, very charming and funny,” Said Al, “But he can be a little mischievous sometimes, especially when it comes to sex-related things.”
“He gets that from you,” George huffed indignantly, nodding towards Bill, “Because he sure as hell didn’t get it from me!”
“Well, I am one of his dads,” Bill chuckled, “Of course he’s gonna be like me, both in good ways and bad ways. Gia’s bubbly and ditzy like you and Allie is sardonic and has a dry sense of humor like Al, it’s only natural that Bert takes after me.”
“Would it be alright if I asked you guys a question?” Tim requested. “You don’t have to answer if it’s too personal, but I’m curious. Which one of you got Al pregnant with the twins? I know Bill got you pregnant with Bert, George, but did you or Bill get Al pregnant?” Tim remembered when George unexpectedly fell pregnant by Bill during the 2000 election and the scandal that it had caused, and he remembered Al being pregnant with the twins during the beginning of George’s second term, but he wasn’t sure whether Bill or George was their other father.
“Nah don’t worry, it’s not too personal. Both Bill and I got Al pregnant, actually,” George explained, “I fathered Gia and Bill fathered Allie.”
“Wait, that can happen?” The senator asked, and Bill, George, and Al nodded in response, “Huh… I didn’t know twins could have different fathers.”
“They can if they’re fraternal twins, and if you’re sleeping with more than one person in a close enough time period,” Al replied, “But none of us really care about which one of us is the biological father of which kid, we love them all just the same even if we didn’t father or carry them.”
"Do they call all of you Dad?" Tim inquired. “Wouldn’t that get confusing since there are three of you?”
“They call me Pop," Bill said, gesturing to himself, "Al is Father and George is Dad. However, when they were little they'd call all of us Daddy and use our names to distinguish between us."
"But now Al and I are the only ones who call Bill daddy." George smirked. Al angrily elbowed him in the shoulder.
"Don't say that around the kids!" He scolded him. "They don't need to hear that!"
"Aw come on Al, they're not close enough to hear us," George laughed, grinning, "Don't be such a stick in the mud."
"I'm not being a stick in the mud," Al huffed, "And it doesn't matter that they can’t hear it, you shouldn't be saying that around them. You get annoyed with Bill and Bert for saying raunchy crap and then you go and do it yourself!"
"You know, you're real cute when you're angry," George commented as he reached up to stroke Al’s cheek, "Even when you yell at me I can still see love in your eyes."
"You're trying to change the subject, George." Al muttered, grasping his hand and removing it from his face.
"Haha, you love me." George teased. Al let out an annoyed grunt; George wrapped his arms around him and gave him a kiss, which softened his demeanor somewhat. Bill chuckled and kissed him as well.
“Well, I don’t know about you two,” He said, “But I’m gonna go get some cake now.” He went to cut himself a slice of cake and his husbands and Tim followed. After dessert was over with everyone migrated into the living room and spent the rest of the evening hanging out and talking, with thankfully no more awkward conversations sparked by Gia and Bert. Bert and the girls kept haranguing Charlie about performing a song on his harmonica for them, and he eventually did, with Tim joining in to make an impressive duet.
“Bert and I should have brought our saxes,” Bill smirked when they were finished, “We should get together and play sometime.”
“I’d like that!” Tim agreed. “I think it’d be fun!”
“It’s getting late, Bill,” Said George, who was looking at his watch, “We should head home soon, the kids are getting tired.” Allie had fallen asleep on the couch and Gia was struggling to keep her eyes open. Both girls were leaning on Al, who was sitting in the middle and had one arm protectively around each of them. Gia let out a soft yawn and snuggled up to him; he smiled and nuzzled her as Allie snored against his other shoulder. Bert was still awake and lounging in a chair nearby, but he looked quite sleepy as well, and Bill agreed that now was a good time to depart.
“Yeah, I think we should get going.” He decided. “You and Al go out to the car with Bert and the girls, I’ll join you in a minute.” George nodded, scooping up Gia as he took Bert by the hand while Al cradled the sleeping Allie in his arms. They bid Hillary farewell and exited the apartment; Charlie pocketed his harmonica and straightened his jacket, rising from his chair.
“I’ve got to get going too, Mom,” He announced, “I had a great time tonight, but I have a big case that I’ve got to work tomorrow morning so I should really get some rest. It was nice meeting you, Senator Kaine! Mom made an excellent choice in picking you as her running mate, just as I knew she would.”
“It was nice meeting you too, Charlie!” Tim replied. “You’re a good kid, and one heck of a good harmonica player.” Charlie beamed at this and thanked him. Then, he gave his mother a hug and left for his residence. “I should get going now too, Hillary,” Tim said as he turned to his running mate, “Thank you for having me, and have a good night! You too, Bill!”
“You’re welcome, Tim! I was happy to have you!” Hillary told him. They shared a brief hug and Tim gave her a friendly kiss on the cheek before he departed, leaving her alone with Bill. Hillary blushed and touched her fingertips to her cheek, smiling a dreamy smile. She was glad that the evening had gone well, and she had really enjoyed Tim’s company. The candidate couldn’t help but think about how delightful he was to be around, how kind, how funny, how captivating he could be. She wished she could spend more time with him, but she wouldn’t see him again until their next rally later that week-an unnecessarily long time to be apart, she mused to herself.
“Tim seems like a nice fella,” Bill commented, jarring her out of her thoughts, “He’s very bright, he’s got a good heart, he’s pretty cute too-don’t tell Al or George I said that.”
“He is very sweet, and also very handsome,” Hillary agreed, still blushing heavily, “But I hope you’re not suggesting that I date him. He’s my running mate, not my boyfriend.”
“He could be both,” Bill pointed out, “There’s nothing prohibiting you from running with someone you’re romantically involved with. Al and I started dating back in the nineties when I ran, and we got married after we won. Maybe Gia was on to something earlier; you and Tim would make a handsome couple.”
“Oh please, what would Tim honestly want to do with me?” She scoffed. “I’m eleven years older than him and I have a kid. A lot of men are put off by kids, and a lot of kids are put off by their parents dating people.”
“He and Charlie are getting along very well, though,” Bill noted, “I’m sure that if you started dating him Tim would treat Charlie well and Charlie would enjoy having him around. I don’t think he’d be bothered by your age difference either; eleven years isn’t a whole lot, and who knows? Maybe he’s into older women.”
“Maybe…” She admitted, “But there are plenty of other women my age who are better looking than me…”
“Aw, don’t say that! I’m not into women but I recognize a pretty woman when I see one and you, Hillary, are indeed a pretty woman,” Bill assured her, “I bet Tim would love to date you, but whether or not you date is for you two to decide, not me, I’m just saying that you should consider it. Anyways, I don’t wanna keep George, Al, and the kids waiting. Have a good night!” With that, he left to be with his family, and Hillary was alone once more. She sighed, overcome with a wave of mixed feelings. She really did like Tim, and he and her son got along well, but she wasn’t sure if his feelings for her went beyond friendship, and she was more worried about her campaign at the moment than any potential romances. Maybe after the election was over and done with she would ask him out on a date, but not now. Definitely not now. Putting all thoughts of crushes and love aside, Hillary headed into the kitchen and grabbed a sponge from the sink. There were a lot of dishes that needed washing.