“Davis has no idea how to properly run the damn corporation,” Cook sighed. “And frankly, he doesn’t care. He was content to just ride my father’s coattails—my coattails, too. You know, I’m quite the inventor myself.”
Dominique Moore expertly averted her rolling eyes from President Cook’s view. Having heard this exact same lament during post-coital rambling from President Cook three times in the past week, it had become a boring but necessary price of admission into his bedroom. Her husband, Edward, was more than happy to indulge his lover’s truest, most animal need.
“Of course you are, Stephen,” Edward Moore whispered from his right. He nuzzled his stubbly chin against the inner tricep of his paramour.
“Ow!” President Cook yelped, yanking his arm out from under Edward’s head. “Jesus… I told you to condition that beard, Ed!”
“Oh, you coy boy,” Edward cooed, smiling wider and moving his head to President Cook’s sparsely haired chest. “You can’t pretend with us. We know you like it a little rough.”
“A little?” Dominique Moore said from his left. Silky auburn hair cascaded across Cook’s left arm as his other bed partner turned her head to face the pair of men. “If the past thirty minutes were any indication, I’d say he likes it a lot rough… Isn’t that right, Cookie?”
Stephen Cook sighed. “The two of you lay it on a little too thick these days,” he replied, lifting himself off of the silk sheets and bracing on his elbows. His two lovers fell back giggling. Cook sighed and scooted himself forward, his bare bottom sliding along the smooth sheets.
“Whatever do you mean?” Dominique asked.
“You know exactly what I mean,” Cook replied. “Ever since I was elected President… Well, I don’t need to be treated like some John,” he said, standing. “Nothing’s changed. Not with us. I don’t want you to treat me any differently than before.”
He marched over to the gilded bar cart directly across from the bed. He couldn’t help but be amazed each time he laid eyes on it—it looked as if nothing had ever happened to it. The Imageneers who had designed and constructed the Presidential quarters had painstakingly recreated the precious antique exactly as it had been before the President’s drunken rampage. One could never tell by looking at it that it had been reduced to a bent and broken wreck not three weeks before. Instinctively, he glanced over to a small, slightly discolored portion of the hardwood flooring. He winced in frustration that the floor couldn’t have been similarly restored like the beverage cart. He reached over the top of the cart and took a second to appreciate his own reflection in the mirrored base. He smiled at his reflection, and then grasped the crystal whiskey decanter and hoisted it chest level.
Dominique looked at Edward quizzically, who returned a a shrug. Neither knew what to say anymore. They appreciated the access their relationship with Stephen Cook granted them, but in the days since the Tragedy at Terminus, Cook had risen far past the role of a Citizen surrogate to a man of true power. And they wanted to protect their access to that power.
Dominique improvised. Her eyes rolled dramatically. “We’re sorry,” she drawled. “It’s just that… Lately, you have been just so… sooooo… Presidential.”
“It’s hot as fuck,” Edward added.
President Cook cocked a slight smile as he lifted the decanter up to his eye line and gazed at the brown liquor waves that sloshed along the sides. Small fingers of ethanol held the liquid to the edges of the decanter; the ambient warm light of the room pooled along the edges of each ripple.
“Now that’s the couple I remember,” Cook said as he turned to face them. He pulled the stopper from the top of the decanter and took a mighty swig.
“I need a break,” he said. “You two feel free to go at it some more, if you like. I can watch.”
Edward licked his lips and slid over to his wife. Dominique pretended not to notice his advance. “We’re in the mood for a break, too, I think,” she said for the both of them. “Maybe we can, you know… Talk through that little issue that’s been troubling you.”
Cook smiled. “And what issue would that be?” He asked quietly.
“The one that’s been holding you back the past few days… Don’t think we didn’t notice,” Dominique said, looking over at Edward.
“Yeah, it’s obvious,” Edward added, releasing his pout and playing along. “And you don’t have to talk, if you don’t want. But, we are here for you.” Edward shifted behind his wife and placed his hands on her shoulders in solidarity. Dominique brushed his hands off with a shrug and slid off the foot of the bed to approach Cook.
“Ugh,” Cook said with disgust as he walked straight past her. “I don’t need a therapist, much less two of them. I do, however, need to piss.”
President Cook sauntered to the bathroom. He did not break stride when a tone sounded throughout the room. “Sir,” JAQi said, “Marcus for you.”
“Put him through,” Cook ordered casually as he entered the bathroom.
The fully repaired wall screen facing the President’s bed and the doorway to the bathroom flickered, and the delighted eyes and full smile of his aide Marcus very quickly turned to a look of surprised horror as he got yet another full view of the President of the United American State’s nude rear end. He heard the telltale sound of urine striking the water in the commode.
“Uh… Sir,” Marcus said, flinching and trying to avert his eyes.
“Why are you so uncomfortable, Marcus?” President Cook asked calmly.
Marcus watched as the President raised the decanter to his lips and took a massive swig. He winced. “Uh… I’m not, sir. Not at all…” Marcus lied.
“Bullshit,” Cook replied. “It’s my human body. It’s perfectly natural. And besides, I told you not to ping me after CookTalks,” he reminded his aide. “This is what you get.”
“But… You, just a bit ago—”
“I’m the President,” Cook responded flatly. “I get to. Now, please tell me you finally silenced that Hank Collins nuisance.”
“Uh, well, sir, you see… I have even better news.” Marcus said, his tone changing. A smile grew on his face. “Hank Collins won’t be a problem, because we got them. We finally got Sovereign.”
Cook swallowed his liquor hard. He coughed, shook off the last drops of urine, and turned to face the massive wall screen. “Got them? You mean…”
“Yes, sir! The last account!” Marcus said gleefully. “Research found it literally just now. I knew you’d want to know.” Marcus’ smile fell slightly as his eyes darted down to President Cook’s privates and swiftly back up again.
Cook’s smile, already wide, grew wider. “We have won,” he said dazedly.
“We have, sir,” Marcus agreed.
“Thank you, Marcus. Tell them to seize the account,” Cook said.
“Already done, sir,” Marcus replied proudly. “I didn’t want to delay even a mom—”
“GODDAMMIT!” Cook suddenly shrieked. HIs fists clenched and every muscle in his body flexed, as his testes and penis dangled comically. “That was MY call, you little shit! I wanted to be the one to…” Cook seethed for a moment longer and then composed himself. “I forgive you,” he said, walking toward the screen with every inch of his body in full view. “Hold this information close to your chest, Marcus. I have some business to close before this gets out.”
“Yes, sir,” Marcus said, eyes down.
“You can join us if you like,” President Cook offered with a coy smile.
“Uh…” Marcus replied uncomfortably.
“Kidding,” Cook said airily. “Go. Shut down the Sovereign with my blessing.” He waved his hand in the air and the call terminated.
“Oh my God, that is so exciting!” Edward cooed. “I… WE are so proud of you! Are we celebrating?” He asked jubilantly as he rose to his knees on the silk sheets.
“Not quite yet,” President Cook replied, marching across the room with the decanter extended toward his lovers. “Take this,” he said, dropping it without even pausing. Edward just managed to catch the decanter clumsily and breathed a shaky sigh of relief.
Cook returned to the Presidential bathroom and checked himself in the mirror. His shave was no longer smooth, nevertheless he was still presentable enough to make a call of this importance. He reached over to a hook on the wall beside the mirror and seized a black silk robe with the seal of the President of the United American State on the left breast. With a dramatic toss, he flung the robe open and put it on. He turned his face left once more, and then right.
“This is appropriate enough,” he said aloud, and then said “JAQi, ping Andrew Garfield.”
A tone sounded. Several long moments passed. Finally, as Cook counted a sixth moment, the Judge answered the call.
“Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise,” the Judge said through a thick, dark moustache. “Whatever can I do for you, Mister President?” He asked sarcastically.
“Andrew,” Cook answered. “I’d like to know where you stand on the offer I’ve—”
“Go fuck yourself, Stephen,” the Judge said flatly.
“That’s what you said last time,” Cook replied, suppressing a grin.
“And the time before,” the Judge replied. “And before that. And you know what? It’ll be the reply next time, too.”
“I thought you might change your mind this time,” Cook responded.
“And why would I?” The Judge said through his trademark smirk. “This revolution is happening. We will change this country for the better, and not your definition of better—actual change. Actual liberty. Actual freedom.”
“…I’m guessing you haven’t checked your credit balance lately?”
“You keep attacking my accounting,” The Judge replied. “I’ve told you—I’ve got more accounts than you know—”
“—You had one account left. And I’ve found it. It’s being seized as we speak.”
The Judge’s aloof smile never faltered. To Dominique and Edward who were watching from the bed, it was shocking how calm and collected the Judge seemed to be, despite being told his revolution had just been brought to a complete stop. Yet, Cook had known Andrew Garfield for most of his early adult life. He’d gone to boarding school with him. They had attended Imagen Advanced Training Academy together. They had even served a year in the MilSec Domestic Service in the same detail.
Back in the day, Garfield and Cook had scammed thousands upon thousands of credits from society sons and daughters for decades. The children of Imagen board members couldn’t understand why they were so unlucky at poker at boarding school. The offspring of celebrities and socialites never understood why the weed they smoked tasted like oregano, and the Amp they inhaled never seemed to affect them (despite pretending all the while to be sooooooo high). But Stephen and Andrew had known. And Stephen couldn’t help but glance at the Judge’s neck. He noticed his jugular pulse in a way it hadn’t just before; a deep throbbing bulge which pulled his skin tight against the right ligament.
Cook smiled. “I hope to hear from you very, very soon, Andrew,” he said as he waved in the air and terminated the call.
He marched out of the bathroom and pulled the sash of the robe around his waist. It hung open for a moment, before he lifted his arms and shed it to the floor. “So which one of you is going to blow me first?” He asked.
Dominique and Edward simultaneously lunged toward the foot of the bed.