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My Pride and Joy

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‘Yorktown Daily’

Alex stared at the letters embellished onto the walls as he stood in the elevator, mentally preparing himself for his first day at his new job. Journalism wasn’t something he ever thought he’d consider as a career – when he thought about it, he had only just got his degree in Law, followed by an English Masters that had had to be put on hold – he was just thankful he’d been offered a full-paid job…instead of some lousy internship that was far below his station.

I will work my ass off at this though…I’m not throwing away my shot here…I owe it to Mr Washington.

It was thanks to Mr George Washington that Alex had even been offered the job at this newspaper. Washington was the Head Editor, and had contacted Alex after finding the poem, and article, the man had written about a hurricane that had hit his home island: Nevis, when he had been 17.

Hurricane… Disaster. Train-wreck….

Alexander Hamilton’s life had been less than pretty…

Well, it had just been goddamn awful really.

 Orphaned by 12.

Alone at 15…

...father to a 1-year-old, and without a home by 17.

Yeah, Alexander Hamilton was many things…bastard, orphan, immigrant, whore’s son (some even said), writer-extraordinaire, fluent in English, Spanish and French, caffeine addict, insomniac, and single dad. The latter of that list, though, had been the best thing that had ever happened to him. Philip was the light of his life, and Alex wasn’t afraid to admit that he’d kill to protect his 6-year-old freckled angel.

Life hadn’t been easy for the Hamiltons, but Alex planned to set that straight and that was what the move was for. The move to New York. After the hurricane on Nevis, after the pain and loss, after the death of Philip’s mum, Alex had written his way out – and his son’s way out – and gone to New York.

At first it had been hard, Alex had had to provide for them both by working two crap jobs at cafes, but his boy was able to go to school…and things were content. But, neither of the Hamilton boys could properly settle…both of them wanted to rise up and make more of their lives.

Now, at 22, in a relatively not-so-shitty downtown apartment, things were starting to look up. Philip was at Columbia Elementary School, it was also his first day today, and Alex had walked his boy to the school gates and sent him off with a kiss, a tight hug, and the promise to meet him when school finished. The 6-year-old seemed excited to be starting anew, but Alex could see the anxiety swimming in his son’s brown eyes, and just hoped he had a great day. His own first-day-jitters could wait…

“Mr Hamilton!”

His eyes opened – he hadn’t even realise he had closed them – and Alex realised that the elevator doors had opened, and he was face-to-face with his new boss. George Washington was nothing like Alexander had expected; mid-40ies, extremely tall (either that or Alex was just shorter than he realised), balding, tanned skin, sparkling brown eyes – the eyes of a man who loved his job – and a pleasant smile on his face. He’d rolled up his shirt sleeves to his elbows, and his tie was loose around his neck – this made Alex feel a bit better about his choice of attire, a black tee, blazer with jeans and trainers…Washington had just said “smart-casual”, so…

“Mr Washington.” He offered his hand, but Washington merely waved him off. The taller man gestured down the corridor, and soon he and Alex were in-step, with the former talking merrily away.

“Please, call me George, or Washington. Mr Washington is, and always will be, my father. I should say that majority of people around here simply call me ‘The General’, so feel free to call me that too. And is it Alexander or Alex, son?”

“Alex…and ‘The General’?” Alex found himself querying aloud, having chosen to let the “son” gloss over him. George laughed and nodded. They were filtering past a chain of office rooms, each with four desks in them. In his interview, Washington had explained to Hamilton that the set-up was that there were four people to each office: two Journalists, one Critic and a member from Graphics & Photography.

“Yes, because while I may seem cheerful, I’m as strict as a General. Or it could be because I remind some of your co-workers of one of the Founding Fathers, who was a General in the American Revolution.”

The smaller man nodded. At this point, Washington seemed to sober and stopped when he approached the final office on the left – before a large set of double-doors led to an even bigger office. That’s probably Washington’s. His boss knocked on the glass, and opened the door, allowing Alex – clutching his messenger bag on his shoulder – to enter before him.

In the room was one man, one huge man…honestly, against him, Alex looked like a child…or at least a bratty teen. The man offered a wide, white smile and stood up. Alex did his usual Hamilton-examination as he zoned out of the brief pleasantries exchanged between the stranger and his boss. The man was wearing a blue beanie over what, Alex could safely assume, was some dark curls. His dark eyes screamed “I’m soft as a marshmallow” …as did the caption on his top.

“Hercules, this is Alexander Hamilton. He’s going to be the new journalist for the political section. Alex,” Washington said, now that Alex was fully engaged in the conversation, “this is Hercules Mulligan. He is our chief fashion critic, unfortunately I cannot introduce to the others in your office, but I’m sure you’ll get acquainted with John and Aaron when they get back from their assignments.”

Alex nodded, only half listening, Fashion critic? This guy is a fashion critic?! I mean, I get it ‘Do not judge, lest ye be judged’, but fuck that wasn’t what I was expecting at all. That's awesome! 

“Yo, dude, you ok, Brrrah?”

The deep voice of the man, Hercules, drew him from his thoughts and Alex nodded. Hercules grinned, “Ah, I get, you’re wondering how someone like me is a fashion critic?” There was a peculiarity to his accent, but Alex chose not to address it and find out more about his co-worker.

“That obvious, huh?”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it, Brrrah, John and Aaron were the same,” he gestured at the two empty desks – one of which was meticulously tidy, to the extent that Alex knew he would probably kill the guy who owned it with his own messiness, while the other was a chaotic heap of photographs and post-it notes.

“But yeah,” Hercules continued, “I trained as a tailor when I was a kid in Ireland, but then me and my Ma moved here, and I went to college, and decided I was rather good at judging clothes than making them…and hence,” He opened his arms and gave a shrug, which caused Alex to smile. He decided he liked Hercules.

“Well, I’m not one to judge. After all, this wasn’t my first job choice.”

“What was your first job choice?”

“President, duh.”

An hour had passed, and Hercules and Alexander had spent most of that time getting to know each other – as well as setting Alex up in the email system, exchanging numbers, and such. Alex hadn’t told him about Philip yet, it didn’t feel right to tell a man he had just met that he was 22 and had a kid…he didn’t want to scare off his potential new friend. It was another quarter-of-an-hour, before their other office-mates appeared, and Hamilton was introduced.

It was an…unusual meeting…considering the pair entered shouting curses at each other.

“Burr, I cannot actually believe you! How can you say that we have to be careful about immigrants, when you yourself are a fucking immigrant? Dude! Seriously?!”

The man shouting at Burr had a fluffy mess of curls, much like Philips, pulled into a high bun, bright hazel eyes, and a ‘Starry Sky’ of freckles across his cheeks that had Alex thinking that someone had splattered paint on a tanned canvas. He stood at least an inch taller than Hamilton and was wearing a rainbow-coloured tee with the phrase ‘Straight Outta The Closet’ printed on it, jeans that hugged the finest ass Alex had ever seen on a man, and a brown blazer with the sleeves pushed up. The other man, Burr, was dressed more professionally and his dress mimicked his demeanour.

“I’m just saying, Laurens, with the growing rates of immigration to the US, we have to be careful. I’m not saying I'm against immigration, I actually have no strong opinions on the subject.”

Both Laurens and Hercules groaned at this statement, the latter grumbling about “a classic Burr phrase”, and Hamilton found his voice – not that he was shy, he just found it intriguing to listen to the debate and assess the situation.

“If you stand for nothing Burr, then what will you fall for?”

At the sound of an unfamiliar voice, both Burr and Laurens stopped and turned to look at where Alex was sat at his new desk next to Hercules. The former’s jaw dropped a little, and he started to say something, but was interrupted by Laurens. “Thank you, my man!” He high-fived Alex, “You must be Alexander Hamilton, yeah? I’m John Laurens, Laurens is fine or John, and you’re in the place to be.”

“Hi.” Well that was lame, Alex.

Laurens smiled all the same as Alex stood to shake his hand, but then the room stopped when they saw the two-inch difference in the height of the men. “YES!” Laurens whooped and swiftly ran around the desk to truly check if Hamilton was really smaller than him. Hercules laughed and spoke, a mute Burr still standing at the door, “Well, it’s official Alex, you’re now the shrimp of the group.” He picked up a mug adorned with shrimps from atop a filing cabinet and handed it to John, “John, my boy, it was fun while it lasted, but I give you the honour of presenting the Shrimp Mug to our new designated midget!”

After the weird presentation ceremony, in all honesty of which Alex was completely clueless of for most of it, he formally introduced himself to Aaron Burr – his fellow journalist, and the four men began working. Alex loved it when his fingers sped over the keys of his laptop, he loved being able to write something with a strong opinion. Washington had asked him to prepare an article about whether or not politics should be discussed more in schools – a subject that Alex could spout an entire thesis on but had to limit to a meagre 1000 words.

At that moment, he was sitting at 3000 words and that was editing it down from 8000.

Yeaaaahhhhh….

There was a reason Alex had been hesitant about becoming a journalist.

Conversation seemed to flow naturally between himself, Laurens and Mulligan. Burr didn’t talk much but engaged when the conversation was on something he could debate about. John and Hercules had been right about “classic Burr”. The man only liked to contradict points, he never disagreed or agreed, he just enjoyed provoking an argument, and with someone as hot-headed as Alex knew himself to be, he could see their relationship heading in two directions.

Tolerable work acquaintances.

Intolerable enemies.

“Yo, Hamilton, me and Herc are gonna grab some lunch. You fancy tagging along, or you gonna starve yourself until you finish that dissertation your writing?”

Alex hesitated, moving his eyes from the screen of his laptop, to the boy hovering by the door. Laurens smirked, “Don’t worry, we’re not gonna kill you. Just heading to a little café around the corner that Herc’s boyfriend runs.”

There was an unspoken question of “You’re not a homophobe, are you?” in John’s hazel eyes, but luckily for the not-so-shy-about-his-sexuality man, Alex was bi and was glad to have been placed with people he could be open with.

Back on Nevis, it had been difficult for him to be open about his sexuality. In such a small community, being gay was largely frowned upon (although no one directly addressed the issue - it was an unspoken discrimination). So, Alexander’s realisation that he was bi – which had occurred the month after Philip had been born, and his girlfriend (Philip’s mom) had died, when he had ended up making out with a boy he knew from school. The boy in question, hadn’t reacted well, and Alex had become more of a recluse after that…a 16-year-old dad who liked boys and girls…

With no one else left in the world, but Philip.

A hand on his shoulder brought him back to reality, and Alexander’s eyes met with Laurens’. The deep hazel was actually a mixture of golds, greens and browns swirling together like a magical palette…Alex could’ve gotten lost in those eyes for a moment, but John’s voice was quick to save him.

“You alright, man? You kinda spaced out there?”

He nodded, shaking himself internally. It’s your first day and you’re already going googoo-eyed for a co-worker? The fuck is wrong with you, Alex? You’re here for work, for money, and for Philip…you don’t have time for relationship, you don’t even have time to get laid these days……….you haven’t been laid in 7 years, never mind “these days”

“Are you in or out for lunch, then?”

“So long as his man’s place has got caffeine, then I’m game.”

“Alright, that’s what I’m talking about,” Laurens declared, chucking Alex’s blazer to him which he caught, “A man after my own heart! Catch you later, Burr.”

Burr gave a nonchalant wave, which screamed “Whatever, go away”, and Alex stuffed his laptop away in his messenger bag, and hurried after Laurens and Mulligan down, out of the building and into the bustling streets of New York City.

_-...-_ 

Laurens hadn’t been lying when he said that the café, Herc’s boyfriend had, was just around the corner. Yorktown Daily lay alongside a busy high street, with cabs running up and down the road in both directions, and people cramming down the sidewalks like herds of wildebeest. When Alex had first arrived at the newspaper company, it had been early morning, and the streets were quieter, but now, he felt a little intimidated by the heights and sounds of the people around him. Hercules had steered him straight, however, and when it seemed that Alex was bout to be swept off across the road – Laurens had caught his hand, without a word, and dragged him to the wall.

The name of the café, tucked cosily in a side street, was Rochambeau and it had a very…French…feel to it, if the red-white-and-blue canopy had anything to say about it. It was surprisingly quiet inside, given the lunchtime rush outside, and the duo led Alex to a booth opposite the counter which was filled with fancy patisseries and cream-cakes of every colour. The sight of them made Alex’s mouth water, and he made a mental note to buy a chocolate éclair to take home for Philip that night.

“Heracles! Mon Amour!”

A tall, dark-skinned (although he was paler than Hercules) man, with a curly ponytail of black hair came floating out of the kitchen and wrapped his arms around the man in question – or his amour. Hercules laughed as his boyfriend’s stubbly beard scratched against his cheek, as Lafayette peppered him with kisses…leaving John and Alex standing there awkwardly watching the encounter…

Although, in John’s head he was just thankful he wasn’t the only third wheel anymore.

It was after about 37 kisses, because yes Alex was counting, that the French man noticed him and gasped. “Oh mon dieu, how rude of me. You must be Herc and John’s new co-worker, oui?”

Alex smiled, taking in the pierced eyebrow, fleek eyeliner, fabulous foundation, and the dark shade of eyeshadow, Nonbinary? Pansexual? Either way, he seems cool.

“Oui, bonjour. Je m'appelle Alexander Hamilton, c'est un plaisir de vous rencontrer, monsieur?"

“Magnifique! Votre français, c'est superbe, monsieur. Je suis Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, mais s'il vous plaît, appelez-moi Lafayette.”

The pair continued in this manner, until eventually, “Ok, and for those of us here who aren’t fluent in French,” grumbled Hercules, while John laughed. The latter spoke alright French but was more comfortable with Spanish and English.

Lafayette blushed and pinched his boyfriend’s cheek, “Sorry, my Heracles. You know ‘ow I get when I hear an impeccable,” He looked to his friends to make sure he had chosen the right word, “French accent, and the Petit Lion has a wonderful accent.”

“That’s twice now people have called me short today,” Alex grumbled.

“Welcome to my world,” John smirked, making Alex’s cheeks heat a little, “I’ve had to deal with this for years.”

Lafayette pulled out a small notepad and pen, “Anyway, what is for lunch, mes amis?”

The newly developed quartet sat and chatted away for what felt like years, Alex had never shared so much about himself so quickly…obviously leaving out the finer details of his life like his dead mother, cousin’s suicide, and his pride and joy. The instant Philip popped into his head, the young man felt a little guilty for having so much fun…he could only hope that his son had found a nice group of friends he could open-up to. What if he hasn’t? What if he is alone right now, and you’re having fun? Jesus you’d be the world’s worst dad if you were? Should I phone the school, just to be safe?

“Alex,” It was Hercules, “You’re zoning out again, Brrrah.”

An embarrassed blush crept onto his cheeks when he saw that they were all watching him, and he sipped his black coffee, “Sorry, was just thinking about my article.”

“Aleeeeex,” John whined, “Don’t be a Burr, we don’t need another Aaron “workaholic” Burr in our lives. You’ve met Burr, you know it to be true.”

Hamilton laughed and shook his head, “Yeah well, I’m Alexander Hamilton, and we Hamilton’s are workaholics too.”

“Mon ami, you must ‘ow you say, live a little.”

“It is live a little,” Herc muttered with a smile, “Don’t pretend you don’t know English.”

Lafayette stuck his pierced tongue out, which earned a unanimous laugh from the group. Maybe if I just phone the school office? If I head back now… He started to rise but was stopped by John’s hand on his tanned skin.

“And where are you off to, Mister Hamilton?”

“Work. Gotta go, gotta get the job done, gotta publish the article and start another one.”

“Whoa, a poet over here ladies and gents!”

Alex joined in their laughter, a contented sigh happening within him.