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His mouth reacts before his conviction to hang up.

“Wait!”

The man on the phone draws in a breath and says, shakily, “yeah?”

There are too many thoughts in Brig’s head that English doesn’t have words for just yet, but he knows he has to say something.  “I… I wish…”

“Me too, Brig.”

“Why do I feel like this?”

“Can you honestly tell me that what we did didn’t make you happy?”

“In the moment, perhaps, but it’s not— this is impossible!”

“No it’s not.  It’s just exceptionally hard.”

“How hard?”

“Scarily, although probably not as hard as you think it is.”

“Where are you?”  He lets out the question quickly, and could he see through phone lines he’d observe Ray’s shocked expression at the vehemence of that question.

“At home”

“Where?”

“Liberty, Indiana… why?”

“Ray, are you seeing someone?”

 Ray lets in a slight gasp and his heart rate skyrockets.  He tries his best to hide the hope in his voice.

“No.”

“I think, that maybe I… that is, if you want, I could…”

“Yeah, yeah I’d like that a lot, Brig.”  Hearing that gave Brig the confidence back that he had earlier.  His mind went into overdrive planning his new life.

“Okay, listen to me, Ray.  I still have to face the circus until the Leffingwell vote, but as soon as that’s done I’ll be on a plane to Indiana and we’ll do this, we’ll show them all just what we can do.  They think they can ruin me with this?  Well they’ve got another thing coming.  I won’t scare so easily.”

“I knew there was a reason I liked you,” Ray laughs into the phone.  “Call me in the morning if you still feel invincible.”

Brig lets out a chuckle and asks for Ray’s number, which he readily gives. 

“I’ll call you tomorrow, I promise.”

“Good luck!”

“Thanks, I think we’ll need it.”

They hang up, and as Ray turns in for the night, he smiles at their beautiful dream.  “If only it were true.”

~~~

Brig doesn’t bother sleeping; he’s too busy freaking out about what he just did.  He just agreed to meet with a confirmed, unapologetic homosexual.  Furthermore, he’s going to leave his wife to be with him and tell the whole world that he did unnatural (and illegal) things to that man’s body?  He has no idea what possessed him to think this was a good idea, but something deep in his soul said that he was too far gone now.  He couldn’t hide this in the attic again for 20 more years; Fred Van Ackerman made sure of that.  This wasn’t just going to be embarrassing; this was going to be painful, dangerous even.  He would probably never work in DC again— he certainly won’t be up for re-election— and in fact finding employment anywhere might be difficult if the story’s as big as he knows it will be.  Mabel and Pidge would be ruined.  He’d never be able to speak to most of his friends again.  As for Leffingwell: well, it won’t be pretty, to put it mildly.  Perhaps if Brig came clean about why he had to do this in the first place, enough blood would be on Leffingwell’s hands not to get appointed.  And maybe if—

It’s with these thoughts that Senator Anderson occupied himself throughout this tortuously long night.  He went through a cycle from energized to fearful to depressed to energized several times, once even opening his desk drawer to contemplate pulling the trigger on the gun stored therein.  But as the sun rose on a brand new day, he started to cry.  He cried for the family he was leaving behind in ruins, and for the friends he’d let down.  He cried for the humiliation he and Ray would suffer not just in the next 24 hours but for the rest of their lives.  More importantly, he cried for a future he could finally see in the distance, one in which he was happy.  What he has with Mabel is perfect, but maybe perfect isn’t what he needs.  He greets the new day with tears, packs up his briefcase, and begins the next chapter of his life.