The South Carolinian laughed as Philip waved at him from where he stood at the doorway to the Hamilton-apartment. He’d knocked on the door but hadn’t received any answer and so he’d done the only logical thing possible…walked right in like he owned the place. After all, it wasn’t like Alex would overly mind – they were friends…at least John thought so, despite what his heart tried to argue…he’s the closest friend I’ve got, I can’t fuck that up with feelings.
“Hey Pip! Where’s your dad? I got the pizza.” He said this with a flourish of the extra-large pizza box he was holding. He’d bought a half-and-half pepperoni and Hawaiian (because pineapple on pizza was delicious no matter what anyone said (and by anyone he meant Laf and Herc who said that his life choices in this area were scum))
Philip, who was pulling at the pigtails his dad had done in his hair, shrugged with a smile. He stuck out his tongue as he thought, and both he and John shared a giggle when the latter ruffled the younger Hamilton’s hair.
“He’s in the shower. He said we were gonna do the sheets when you got here, but he’s still showering.”
“Haha, well let’s not start without him, ok?”
The pair went through to the living room and John smiled down at the boy as he tossed the pizza box onto the counter.
“Ok, pequeña Tortuga, what do you want to drink?”
“Just water please!”
“Okiedokey! Water for the two of us, and coffee for daddy-o,” John replied, jerking a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the bathroom. He lifted Philip up and sat him on the counter, before then rummaging through the cabinets for glasses and plates. His own memory of the Hamilton’s home impressed him as he found them instantly – to be honest, he didn’t know why he was surprised, considering he was basically over every other night and loved helping with the dishes and cooking…domestic life was never quite his style, yet somehow it came naturally when he was around Alex and Pip.
Running the tap and filling both glasses, John passed the smaller boy his drink and then pressed the button on the only appliance he knew Alex worshipped; the coffee machine. He took a long drink, his eyes now properly taking in the image of the 6-year-old next to him. In his honest opinion, Philip looked exhausted. John didn’t know what had happened that day, but he knew it had shaken up both of the Hamilton boys. He pushed his elbows off the counter and opened his arms up for a hug.
“You want a hug, Pip?”
The boy paused, but then nodded quietly. He shuffled his bum along the countertop until he was in front of the South Carolinian. Then, he wrapped his arms around John’s neck and buried his face in the man’s shoulder. All that entered Philip’s mind was that John was warm, John was hugging him, John smelt an awful lot like his dad, but most importantly, John was safe. The John in question circled his arms around the smaller Hamilton’s back and lifted him into his arms, squeezing him gently.
“Was school bad today?”
He got a nod for a reply. Hesitantly, he pried further. “Want to talk about it, Pip?”
“No.” The boy mumbled into his shoulder.
John nodded, not wanting to push any further. After all, he wasn’t Philip’s dad and he had no right to be asking the boy to tell him anything…despite his gut telling him it was the right thing to do. Gently, he popped Philip onto the floor and gave him a weak smile, ruffling his pigtails.
“Wonder what’s taking your papá so long? The pizza’s gonna go cold!”
The freckled pair laughed. Philip then went off to go get changed into his pyjamas, which left John alone in the main space of the apartment. He smiled to himself, feeling safe and comfortable in this environment…at least until the door to the bathroom suddenly opened and a cloud of steam emerged from the room.
What happened next should’ve struck John dead, because he’d assumed Alex would’ve gotten dressed in the bathroom, and Alex hadn’t heard him arrive…so, the curly-haired man felt blessed the instant he clapped eyes on Alex: a towel hanging loose around his waist, drying his hair with a smaller one.
Oh my fuck, I am so gay for him. Fuck, don’t get a boner. Don’t get a boner!
He was lanky, some faint stretch marks around his stomach and a trail of dark hair that led down his midriff to his…ok John don’t stare, don’t stare, don’t stare! Don’t get a boner and don’t stare! His eyes narrowed a little when he saw the long line of white scars trailing down Alex’s arms…his gut twitching with questions…he was, however, caught off guard when Alex turned to him, expecting to meet the sight of his son.
“Hey hijo, remember we’ve got John co-”
Alex froze when he caught sight of his tall neighbour, standing in the kitchen, pizza and plates at the ready. He looked like he belonged there, and the Nevisian momentarily forgot that he was basically naked in front of one of his closest friends. When his eyes met the hazel of John’s he felt his cheeks flare with heat and then the recollection of his clothing…or lack of…popped back into his head.
“S-sorry, I didn’t realise you’d…”, he trailed off as John kept staring at him, an unidentifiable emotion in his eyes. His voice was small, shy, lacking it’s normal Hamilton confidence when he next spoke, “John, are you ok?”
John blinked himself out of his daze, “Y-yeah, sorry…um, yeah, Pip said you were in the shower.” He picked up the abandoned pizza and shyly attempted to steal a glance at Alex. Alex, on the other hand, was wishing that the ground would quickly swallow him, so he didn’t have to die from embarrassment.
There was an awkward beat of silence, one that found John’s mind acknowledging the fact that Alex had the smallest amount of muscle definition – he only noticed because was totally not looking for it. Damn, he really was gay for this man…and he really didn’t know if he could hold back from telling him.
Alex coughed nervously and fiddled with the hem of the small towel in his hands. He lifted his eyes briefly and caught John’s gaze, before coughing again, “I’m just, uh, gonna...go…”
“Yeah,” John said, not looking at Alex, “You go, and…yeah…”
The second Alex closed the door to his room, he released the long breath he’d been holding – tears now pricking the corners of his eyes. John couldn’t look at him…John didn’t like what he’d seen…
Well why would he? You’ve got stretch marks and scars…
Holy fuck, the scars.
Alex looked down at his arms, his back sliding down the door as he hit the floor softly. He could remember when and where he’d created each one, and why he’d done them…why he’d chosen to feel physical pain over emotional turmoil. Philip called them his battle wounds. When he’d been little, he’d asked Alex what monster had given them to him. His father had said, “Daddy fought demons and got these, but now I’ve got you hijo and I have to protect you instead.”
They were still ugly, tainting the tanned skin that Alex had. How could John like these? Why would he? He let out a long sight and wiped his eyes, getting to his feet and pulling on his pyjamas.
“Pops! You’re here! John brought pizza!”
“Did he now?”
A smile graced the smaller man’s face as he hugged his son and looked at his friend. The curious emotion was back in John’s eyes, but Alex was too bowled over by the fact that the South Carolinian had set everything up for dinner. His heart fluttered, and he felt his smile widen. John felt a blush creep up his neck. Somehow, Alex had managed to make putting on more clothes look more irresistible than less clothes. The Nevisian had tied his hair up loosely, strands escaping all over his face, and was wearing joggy bottoms and a long-sleeve top that fell over his hands. His glasses finished off the over-top-adorableness of the look.
“That I did, thought it would be cheap and cheerful!”
Alex nodded, kissing the top of Philip’s head. “Thank you. Ok, Pip, you grab the pizza, John you’re on plates and I will go and begin drafting what I’m going to say to Jefferson in tomorrow’s meeting. Everybody got their assignments? Ready, break!”
“Oh no you don’t,” John snigged as he caught Alex by the waist and pulled him back. The pair giggled, and Philip watched them – his heart feeling full as he saw the light in his father’s eyes. “You can plan what you want to say to Jefferson later, first we’ve got to stuff our faces with pizza and ten we’ve got some bedsheets to change, right Pip?”
The freckled pair high-fived and then proceeded to drag Alex onto the sofa.
“Pops look! He got Hawaiian!”
“Oh, come on, don’t tell me that you hate Hawaiian too! I cannot be the only person in the squad that likes it,” the curly-haired man pouted, until Alex elbowed him in the gut and Philip wriggled between the two adults.
“Are you kidding me, John? We always buy Hawaiian. Pineapple and pizza were meant to be.”
I’m so into you. Boy, you got me helpless.
Maddie: Thomas where the hell are you?!
Maddie: Thomas I swear to god if you’re still doing your hair I am going to kill you!
Maddie: The meeting started 10 mins ago! Hamilton is losing control! I’m the only person from Monticello that’s here! I’m fighting for the South alone!!!
Jeff-Jeff-Jefferson: Wow, all caps, must be some serious shit going down ;P
Maddie: Oh so you are alive! Where have you been?
Jeff-Jeff-Jefferson: Uhhh…France? ;)
Maddie: …your sarcasm is not appreciated
Jeff-Jeff-Jefferson: Oh but it is darling
Jeff-Jeff-Jefferson: Seriously though, I am on my way. Got caught up on the phone with Baby Jeff’s female parent, she insisted I go to some kind of “single dad counselling group” blah blah blah
Maddie: Not that I’m not fascinated by this discussion, Tommy, but you seriously need to get your ass in this meeting! Someone needs to stand up for the South.
Jeff-Jeff-Jefferson: Check your 9 o’clock, honey-pie ;)
James lifted his eyes from where he had his phone in his lap and looked to his left, spotting where Thomas breezed through the door: hair perfectly styled, beard neatly trimmed, cologne enticing, and a pretty purple blazer on top a white top and black vest. In his hand he held his MacBook and in the other two cups from Starbucks. He gave his friend a wink as he filled the empty seat next to Madison, and then smiled dashingly towards Washington…who didn’t look at all amused at Jefferson’s tardiness.
“Apologies for my late arrival, Mr President.”
The nickname had been given to Washington by all at Monticello News, just like ‘The General’ was how he’d been dubbed at Yorktown Daily. The boss of the two newspapers couldn’t help the smile in his sigh as he waved a hand at Jefferson, “Mr Jefferson welcome.”
Thomas gave Washington another smile, before finally turning his attention to the room. It was a small meeting, a select few of George’s closest and most trusted journalists. Of course, there was Madison, Thomas would have been outraged if he hadn’t been there, he could see Benjamin Franklin snoozing in his chair – the older man not really providing much support for their section of the two newspapers. Aaron Burr was sat at the opposite end of the table, whereas John Laurens and Hercules Mulligan sat opposite him and Madison. There was one man, however, that Jefferson didn’t recognise. He sat on Washington’s right hand, and his eyebrows raised with a challenge the second he and Jefferson’s eyes met. So, this must be the infamous Alexander Hamilton.
The room seemed to acknowledge that the two journalists had clocked one another, and Washington smiled to himself as he introduced the pair. “Thomas, Alex. Alex, Thomas.”
Alexander smiled stiffly, his instincts and everything he’d been told about this man setting his shoulders rigid. He stood though and offered a hand politely. “Mr Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton.”
“Ok, pleasantries done?”, Washington began, “Are you ready for a cabinet meeting?” He directed this at Jefferson, who leant an arm on Madison’s shoulder ad slid him the less over-the-top creamed coffees. At Madison’s blush, Thomas smiled with content. That was the one thing he needed that morning, and now he was ready to finally take on Hamilton.
“That I am, sir.”
“Good, the issue on the table is Hamilton’s plan to distribute an article that revolves around the state debts that are occurring in New York at the current time. Now, this is a decision that will have to be taken to the entire staff, but I wanted you guys to discuss it first.”
All eyes turned to Jefferson as he raised his hand. George pointed at him, “Mr Jefferson, you have the floor sir.”
“Well first of all, I don’t want to be “that guy” that says this is a stupid idea, but Hamilton’s idea is stupid.”
“You just openly contradicted yourself, how on earth can you make a valid point when that is your opening argument?” Hamilton responded swiftly, bristling at the fact that Jefferson had called him stupid indirectly.
It was Thomas’ turn to bristle as he saw Laurens snigger behind his hand, the photographer locking eyes with Hamilton and the pair sharing a longing, but amused smile. Oh god, not another office romance…gag… He looked round when James touched his arm, his face showing an encouraging smile as he coughed to clear his throat. Dark eyes softened momentarily, until Hercules dragged hm back to reality.
“Stop mooning at Madison and get back to the point, Jeffy-boy!”
The pair of Virginians felt the burning heat of blushes across their faces, to which the rest of the room (bar Burr, because let’s face it, he was Burr) began laughing. Thomas pushed some of his afro back and straightened his back, not allowing himself to check that Madison was ok for fear of damaging his pride further.
“Back to what I was saying before I was rudely interrupted. Why should both Yorktown and Monticello write about this issue? Our side of the newspaper tackles the Southern states, like Virginia. And if I remember correctly, which I do, our debts are paid I’m afraid, don’t get us to do your work, ‘cause we got it made in the shade.”
There was an approving hum from Franklin, who’d now risen from his slumber, and Thomas allowed himself to glance at James who gave him a thumb’s up from under the table. Feeling a surge of confidence, that inflated his ego, he continued, “And besides, if y’all go around supporting this article idea, it ain’t gonna be any of us that get the credit for it. Place your bets as to who it benefits, the very journalist’s chair where Hamilton sits.”
Alex shot out of his seat, glaring daggers at the tall man. The sting had dulled the thought that had been floating around his mind – about the similarities in appearance between Lafayette and Jefferson – and he pointed an accusing finger at the pompous prick before him. “Not true!”
Thomas opened his arms smugly in challenge, “If the shoe fits wear it!”
John now stood, pointing his pencil towards Jefferson and Madison. “Get off your high horse Jefferson, you took all the credit for the last article Monticello and Yorktown collaborated on, so don’t think someone else with talent doing the same thing is gonna damage your pride!”
The Nevisian flushed shyly at John’s comment, not unmissed by anyone, but John himself. He tucked his hair behind his ear and then made eye contact with Madison. “Madison, what’s your opinion? Or are you letting Jefferson speak for you?”
After a brief spell of coughing, James managed to talk, but not before Thomas made him swallow a few mouthfuls of coffee.
“I feel it’s a bit risky taking on such a huge article. Not because of the subject topic, but because we’re already vulnerable to criticism from Lee and his peers. We’re too fragile to start another fight, and if this article goes down badly, we’re very likely to piss off John Adams.”
Washington nodded at this. John Adams was a public figure, and a patron to the newpapers, but also a friend to Lee. He had not been impressed with Burr’s article and didn’t hold Hamilton or Jefferson with much regard…his large fortune had been hit hard by the New York state debts, so tackling the issue was likely to spark another huge reaction.
“Yeah, but if we’re aggressive and competitive, the paper gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?”
The debate continued like this until eventually Thomas and Alexander were almost at blows with one another. George had to send everyone out of the room while he sat and talked with his newest journalist…Alex all the while sending stabbing glares at the door where he knew Jefferson lurked. Washington clicked his fingers in front of the brown eyes, getting the young man to look over at him.
“Hey, you want to pull yourself together?”
Alex’s shoulders slumped, “I’m sorry, these Virginians are birds of a feather.”
His boss smirked and folded his arms, raising an eyebrow with an unamused expression. “Young man, I’m from Virginia, so watch your mouth.”
The smaller man looked down apologetically, muttering his apology. George smiled warmly, placing a gentle hand on Alex’s shoulder. “It’s alright, son. However, with regards to your article plan, I’d recommend holding it off for now. Wait for it, ok? Wait until after Christmas and tackle the problem in the New Year. By then Lee should’ve cooled off.”
“Someone needs to stand up to his mouth, sir.”
“Yes, but that someone doesn’t have to be you.”
The men looked at each other for a moment longer, before George spoke up again.
“Are you alright with holding off the article, son?”
But if truth be told, Alex really wasn’t.