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My Pride and Joy

Chapter Text

‘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.

 

Chapter Text

 All in all, it had been a good first day at the office for Alex, bar one slight hiccup with his co-workers. He hated having to come up with some lame-ass excuse at why he was leaving early on his first day, especially as he wasn’t the type to leave early from anything, and it looked like both John and Herc could tell he was not being honest with them…he just wasn’t ready for Philip to be exposed to his new-found friends until he himself was a hundred percent sure of them. Washington knew of Hamilton Junior, of course…there was no way he would’ve been able to avoid that discussion with his boss, and so his work hours had been arranged around Philip, until Alex could work out some form of baby-sitting arrangements with his landlady.

He had shot out of work and onto the subway, wanting to arrive early for Philip so they didn’t have to sit on the cramp train all the way back to Jackson Heights, but enjoy some father-son time walking and detouring through Highbridge Park. Alex had also done this, because neither he nor Philip liked the subway. It was too hot, too crowded, and too dirty. Cabs weren’t that much better, and with all the New York City traffic, Alex couldn’t guarantee how long he’d take getting to-and-from places. No, the Hamilton’s preferred to walk wherever they could – hand-in-hand – enjoying the sights and sounds that the bustling city provided.

At the current moment, Alex was checking his phone – standing outside of Columbia Elementary – watching the minutes drifts by and parents appear to collect their children. He was the youngest by far, but he had learned to ignore any watching eyes very quickly…they’d just been as bad back on Nevis, but in New York, people just assumed that Alex was either Philip’s brother, or some unemployed, prick-of-a-dad…why else would he have had a kid so young? Shaking himself from that dark and rather depressing thought, Alex saw that he’d had a several messages; ones from Herc and Laf checking if they had the right number, a similar one from Burr, one from Washington asking him to redraft his article again before it could be published, and one from Laurens asking if he was ok. The last one made him smile, and he quickly typed out a response as the bell rang.

Laurens: U ok m8? Just checkin cuz u ran out of wrk (not 2 b creepy or anything)

A.Ham: Yeah, I’m ok. Just have slightly shorter working hours right now, seeing as I’m new. :)

The reply from Laurens was almost instant, as the bubbles signalling his presence had appeared on Alex’s screen the second he had begun texting. Alex looked up to check for Philip as Laurens’ message arrived.

Laurens: Lucky sod! :/ Cya tomoz then!

A.Ham: See you.

The high familiar cry of, “Pop!”, absorbed all of Alex’s attention, and he instantly locked his phone – tucking it away in his blazer – and crouched down in time to receive the full impact of Philip running to hug him. All anxiety that had been stashed within him, with regards to Philip’s first day, flooded out of him in one long breath, the second he felt the solid form of his little boy in his arms. He gave the smaller Hamilton the tightest squeeze he dared, before plopping him down gently on the ground, where Philip’s head met with the crook of Alex’s waist.

“Hey, hijo!”, he said, kissing the top of his son’s mane of curly hair, which had become wilder over the hours they’d not seen each other. Philip grinned, a gap in his smile at where one of his baby teeth had fallen out and held his father’s hand tightly as his discarded bag was retrieved off the ground. “How was school today?”

“Good. Missus Schuyler, let us to private reading and I picked out April Morning, which Missus Schuyler said was a bit of a big kid’s book, but I told her that I’d read lots of bigger books at home – ‘cause we’re reading War and Peace together, and that’s probably worse than April Morning isn’t it? April Morning is on the American Revelation, did you know that, Pop?”

Alex laughed as he son spouted out the happenings of his day in one breath. It was a trait he’d definitely inherited from him, and one that Alex would never want him to lose. He loved that Philip was so interested in history and writing – subjects he too adored – and his fascination with revolutions (hence why they were reading War and Peace at bedtime) only made his dad smile.

“Yes, hijo, I did know that. I’ve read that book too, and the word is Revolution, hijo.”

“Rev-oh-lu-shun.” Philip paused to let the word roll off his tongue, allowing it to settle in his head so he could remember it. His dad watched, and then they began walking towards the school gates, until…

“Excuse me!”

When Alex turned, not really sure if it was him the feminine voice was addressing, he hadn’t expected to be taken back by the vision that walked towards him. Her hair was dark, almost ebony, and there was a hint of Oriental in the way her face and eyes were shaped. She had a dazzling smile, and kind eyes, matching Alex in stature. The woman was holding up a coat in one hand and clutched a book in the other – a copy of Johnny Tremain, Alex saw as she drew closer. A smile was her greeting and it made something warm flourish in Alex’s chest…like when his mother had smiled at him.

“Oh, sorry, I just saw the curly hair and knew it must be Philip. You must be his brother, yes?”, The woman offered her hand, “I’m Elizabeth Schuyler, Philip’s teacher.”

The tiniest hint of a cringe surfaced across Alex’s face, but he shrugged it off as he took her hand – it was soft in his own – and gave it a small shake – “Father, not brother. Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton.”

Miss Schuyler flushed with embarrassment, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I should’ve known better, Philip did say he was an only child, didn’t you, darling?” She looked down at the smaller Hamilton, who nodded, but stayed shyly mute.

“My apologies, Mr Hamilton.”

“Not at all, Miss Schuyler. You’re not the first, nor will you be the last. I should thank you though, Philip was telling what a good day he had had.”

Another blush crossed Eliza’s face, Alex would have stopped time to keep it there, and she waved a hand, “I just want all my kids – no matter where they come from – to receive all the nurturing they deserve. Philip is a model student, although a tad forgetful.”

“No, ‘m not!” The boy protested, but Eliza continued, smiling down at his son with a twinkle in her eye, “He left his coat in my classroom. I guess he was just eager to see his dad.”

It was Alex’s turn to blush at the sincerity behind her statement, and the honesty in her honey-brown eyes. He took the coat from her hands and watched as she crouched down to Philip’s height.

“I also wanted to give you some extra reading, is that ok?”

“Yeah!”

“I wanted you to read this book.” She handed him the tatty copy of Johnny Tremain, “Now, you have to be extra careful, because this is actually my sister, Peggy’s book, ok? So, no reading and eating like you were today.”

Philip nodded, then pointed accusingly up at his dad, “And dad isn’t allowed to eat and read it? ‘Cause he eats and reads when he shouldn’t! He did it with library books, and got sauce on one of the books a-”

Alex hastily covered up his son’s mouth to prevent him from revealing anymore about the dreaded “Kung Pao Incident” – where he’d accidentally defaced a library copy of Scaramouche when he was doing some fictitious reading on the French Revolution and had resorted to paying the library fine for the book instead of returning it…all out of shame. He ruffled the top of Philip’s curls and laughed uncomfortably, remembering the embarrassment all-too-clearly.

“Kids, eh? Always making up stories like that, hahaha.”

“Haha, of course. Although they say that a child’s voice is often the purest and true.” Miss Schuyler said, humouring the man in front of her. “Anyway, I will let you two get on. Have a lovely afternoon, Mr Hamilton…”

“Alex, please.”

“…Alex. I’ll see you tomorrow, Philip.”

“Bye Missus Schuyler!”

With that, the woman turned and began walking back towards the school, waving at a few kids as they left with a bright smile on her face, her long hair flowing behind her. A lop-sided smile sat on Alex’s face as he too turned to leave, his hand warm around his son’s.

_-…-_

As planned, the Hamilton’s detoured through Highbridge Park, Philip talking for majority of the journey as he walked along all the cracks of the sidewalk. He had told Alex that the stone was actually lava, and that the cracks were bridges that would leave them to safety…so far Alex had already lost his right foot to the invisible volcanic liquid. Sounds like he had a lot of fun, thank god. I’m so glad that his teacher is someone like Miss Schuyler. She is like the fairy godmother of teachers.

Whilst attempting to keep his ears open to what Philip was saying, Alex pulled out his phone and saw that he had several more text messages. One was from John, another from Washington – again reminding him to redraft “in case you forgot, son”, the “s” word made him bristle, but he knew that his boss only meant well – the third was one he had not wished for. It was from the Kings Social Services, who insisted that they get involved and check out the living conditions and home-life of immigrant children moving into New York. Alex had only registered with them, because it had sped up the process of letting him and Philip into the country, but he didn’t like the people there, and their boss – a man who referred to himself as King George III (it was a family-run business) – made his skin crawl. He didn’t want anyone poking around his and Philip’s life, they were fine just as they were…just the two of them.

“Pop, look out! You’re gonna lose your other foot!”

Philip’s head jammed into his side, and Alex staggered onto the grass and out of his thoughts. He shook them far away, and grinned scooping his small son up and shouting, “Oh no, Commander Philip! Thank you for saving me! I’ll carry you the rest of the way, because I’m wearing anti-lava shoes.”

“That’s silly. There’s no such thing as anti-lava shoes.”

“Ah, but there is, hijo. See,” he pointed to his red converses, “Red shoes are anti-lava shoes.”

“Oooooh!” Alex nodded, a convincing smirk on his face, as he hoisted Philip up onto his shoulders and allowed him to tug out his ponytail. Two-day unwashed hair was set free, and Philip laughed as he ruffled his dad’s hair, wrapping his arms around the top of his head. Alex then set off at a jaunty pace, bobbing up-and-down to make his freckled-baby giggle, and making “SPLOSH!” noises to keep up the lava illusion. With Philip up on his shoulders, Alex couldn’t care less if people stared at him. So long as he heard the sound of his boy’s laughter, people could think whatever shit about him.

It was dinner-time when they finally got back to Jackson Heights. Several neighbours greeted them with loud “Hola’s!” and “Buenos Dias'!”, as they approached their block of flats. Abuelita, their landlady – a kind old lady from the Dominican Republic – was hoovering the main hallway when Alex emerged through the door and popped Philip safely on the ground.

“Alejandro! Pequeño Felipe! Cómo estás? Buen día en el trabajo?”

“Sí, Abuelita!” Philip answered, running to give the old lady a kiss on the cheek. Alex smiled with a nod and gave the old woman a kiss on the cheek, which she promptly returned to the both of them. Her wrinkled hand against his face reminded Alex vaguely of a time where he may have had a grandmother of his own, but if such a time existed…it was long gone now. Abuela continued talking to them in flurried Spanish, petting Alex’s stubbled chin.

“Fantástico ahora, vaya para arriba. Tienes que cenar e ir a la cama, joven.”

“Sí, sí.” Alex said, a smirk playing on his face. “Venga, hijo.”

Philip kissed Abuelita again and began running up the stairs, calling, “Beunos noches, Abuelita!”

“Buenos noches!”

The Hamiltons went up two flights of stairs before they arrived at their door. They had yet to meet their neighbour, Abuelita had said that he’d been away for work and had ended up crashing at a friend’s house for the last month or so, but he’d most likely be back soon. Alex gave the never-opened door a glance, hoping to hear a shuffle of life, before unlocking his own and walking inside. He gave Philip’s head a kiss and murmured into his curls – the one’s that reminded him of John’s.

“Right, out of those clothes, shower, then pjs. I’ll put on some dinner, spaghetti ok?”

Philip nodded, throwing his coat onto the hook on the door (the one at his level, there was a taller one for Alex) and then raced off to his room. His room was the slightly large of the two and had been filled up with drawings and poems the little boy had developed over the last few years. As well as that, there was a slightly worn-out looking bed and chest of drawers, and a sparse collection of toys. His two most precious possessions were a lion ornament that his dad had given him for his first birthday (it had been given to Alex by his mother), and his first ever stuffed-toy, a soft-shell turtle by the name of Crush. Alex’s room, while smaller, was far more cluttered. He’d squashed a double-bed in alongside a desk and wardrobe, and pages upon pages of writing littered the floor, as did many of Alex’s clothes.

The kitchen and living room were cosy, to put it plainly, and practically designed to that the two could comfortably travel in between – Philip for snacks when he wasn’t reading or doing work, and Alex for coffee to survive on. Yes, the Hamilton home was small, but it was a home nonetheless.

While the pasta boiled, and Alex threw some vegetables into a pan to fry, he set up his laptop on the coffee table and opened his article to redraft it. Having Philip in his life had forced Alex to learn how to be domestic – while he, himself, could survive on minimal sleep, instant noodles, bagels and coffee, Philip could not – he had done his best to create a safe environment for his boy, and although there had been some cooking related issues (case and point being an exploding bowl of porridge) he felt he had done a good job.

 He’d thrown the éclair he’d bought at Rochambeau into the fridge for Philip and was just in the middle of editing his main argument, when he heard the door in the hallway.

“Sí, Abuelita. Lo sé, Abuelita. Estoy yendo, Abuelita. Puedo pasar por mi puerta primero, Abuelita?”

Alex’s hand paused on the door. He knew that voice.

“Pop, is dinner ready?”

Alex jumped and a hushed “Jesus!” escaped him at the sound of Philip’s voice. He let go of the handle and turned, smiling at the mop of wet curls that tangled in front of his son’s eyes. The 6-year-old was sporting some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pyjamas, which some holes around the neck where Philip had chewed it.

“Y-yeah it is, hijo. Come on, let’s get that hair out your face first.”

“Don’t get it knotted this time!” There was a slight fear in Philip’s face – the last time had seen Alex wrestling with a massive knot in his son’s hair and having to cut the hairband free. The man pouted at the boy, who stuck out his tongue, before giggling and sitting down on the couch – two bowls of spaghetti on the coffee table next to Alex’s laptop. Alex then proceeded to pull his son’s hair off his face into a high ponytail, although a few persistent curls escaped along Philip’s cheeks. He flicked the top of Philip’s head and then climbed over the back of the couch to sit down.

“For being cheeky, mister.” He was met with a freckled smirk, and then the pair tucked into their dinner.

Alex was just swallowing a mouthful of spaghetti when someone knocked on the door. Both he and Philip looked round, but it was the former who put his bowl down and went to answer, the latter returning to shovelling food into his mouth. “Slow down before you choke, hijo.”

A small smile sat on Alex’s face as he gave his son a glance, but then let out a puff of air and opened the door – his eyes unfocused on the person on the other side until they spoke.

“Hola, my name is John Laurens, I live in the apart-”

“John?!”

John finally focussed on his new neighbour, and his jaw dropped. “Alex?” There was a moment of silence, but then his co-worker…and now neighbour…grinned and held up the potted plant he had, “Uh, a house-warming present. It’s a Puerto Rican hibiscus, because I’m Puerto Rican and yeah…whe-when did you move in the building?”

The taller man turned and leant against the door, Alex repositioning himself to block the view of the couch, and continued smiling, a deep curiosity in his hazel eyes.

“Around about the same time you went on assignment, probably. W- I met Abuelita in a bodega where w-I used to live, and she offered me this place.”

“That sounds like Abuelita, she offered me my place when I did the photographs for her and her late husband’s golden wedding anniversary. That was before I worked at Yorktown, kinda dabbled around with freelance photography.”

It wasn’t like Alex didn’t want to speak to John. Quite the opposite, he wanted to drag John into his apartment, count the freckles on his face and talk the night away with him. A warmth stirred in him, similar to the one he felt with Miss Schuyler, but it rendered his mouth useless…he just wanted to listen…

“Pop, who is it?”

And the illusion was shattered. John stopped talking, Alex stopped listening, and Philip peered around his father’s arm. He smiled up at the stranger.

“Hi.”

John’s freckled face quirked into a semi-confused smile, it hadn’t quite clicked in his brain yet. Philip looked up at his dad, who squeezed his shoulder and let out a breath. “Philip, this is John. He works with me at the paper with Mr Washington. John, this is my son Philip.”

There was silence from their neighbour, and then the penny dropped.

 

Chapter Text

There had been a lot of questions plaguing John’s mind as he had tried to sleep that night, majority of them revolving around his new neighbours. He hadn’t been able to get Alex to elaborate any more about the smaller Hamilton at his side, earlier, as his phone had rung. At the current moment, John was looking at his own sleepy reflection brushing his teeth, hair resembling a rat’s nest, his freckles annoyingly plastering his face and merging with his tanned skin.

John had been instantly mesmerised by Alex when he’d arrived at the office the day before with Burr. The short man had captivated his attention; intelligent eyes in a hunger-pang frame, peachy-brown hair and stubble, and a personality that John wanted to dive into and drown in. When John had arrived back at his apartment, having been instructed by Abuelita to say hello to his new neighbours (he’d been crashing at Laf and Herc’s apartment along Striver’s Row, as part of his and Burr’s assignment about the effects of immigration in different areas of New York), he had not expected knocking on the once-unopened door and being greeted by Alexander Hamilton.

 He spat out the toothpaste and rinsed his brush, thinking back on the events of the night before. The way his new co-worker and neighbour looked all shy introducing his son.

_-…-_

“Philip, this is John. He works with me at the paper with Mr Washington. John, this is my son Philip.”

It had taken a couple of seconds for the words from Alex’s mouth to process in John’s head.

“John, this is my son.”

“This is my son.”

“My son.”

“Son.”

He has a son?!

“Hi, Mr John!”, was the sentence that dragged the South Carolinian from his thoughts, and he lowered his hazel eyes to meet with a pair of brown ones (ones that mimicked the man standing next to him) He grinned and crouched down to the boy’s level, handing him the hibiscus he had been previously offering to Alex.

“Hey, Squirt. John’s just fine, Mister makes me feel old.”

“You and Pops are both old.”

Alex gave his son a shake and gently tugged at Philip’s ponytail, which drew out a giggly-cry from the boy, “Oy! You know I’m not old, hijo.”

Something in John’s gut twisted at the smile Hamilton gave his son. Alex did not appear to be the domestic type, but there was something endearing about the way the duo stood – Philip in his TMNT jammies, and Alex, hair down, a tired smile on his face. John’s eyes met Alex’s and the latter ushered his son back inside.

“Alright, hijo, say thanks to John for the flower, and then go see what I bought you for dessert.”

Philip’s eyes lit up and he offered a kilowatt grin, “Dessert?”

Alex winked, “In the fridge.”

“Yes! Thanks for the flowers, M- John!” The boy called behind him as he raced down the hallway of the Hamilton-home and vanished behind the corner. “No problem!” John called after him with a laugh. This left the two men alone…alone in awkward silence…

Laurens could not stop himself from breaking the silence…he couldn’t stand long silences. “Soo….”

Once again brown eyes met hazel, “So…”

“POPS YOU ARE THE GREATEST! CAN YOU GET ANOTHER ONE TOMORROW?”

The two men laughed at the sound of Philip’s over-excited, sugar-infused voice and Alex glanced back over his shoulder, shouting his reply of “We’ll see!” John smirked and leant against the opposite door-frame, gesturing down the hallway with his head, “One of Laf’s?”

“Yeah, got it on my way out of work.”

“That’s right you left early?”

“Yeah,” To pick up my son from school. The son you just met. The son I didn’t want anyone to know about just yet.

This wasn’t a conversation that Alex had wanted to have so soon, especially not at his doorway with Philip in the next room, and especially not with John Laurens. John Laurens whose eyes seemed to be searching for answers to so many questions…but there was a small part of Alex that wanted to tell him. No time like the present then, Hamilton.

However, the sound of music emitting from John’s pocket distracted the pair of them, broke the spell of silence that was over them. John fished his phone out of his pocket, and Alex saw the corners of his eyes crease and his mouth set in a firm line. He waved the phone in the air.

“It’s my dad…I better take it. You don’t mind?”

“No, not at all,” Yes, “I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”

“Yeah, see you.”

And with that Hamilton and Laurens went their separate ways.

_-…-_

Trust my father to interrupt as per usual. John thought bitterly as he stared at his reflection, dark shadows under his eyes from lack of sleep. The conversation between him and his estranged father – Senator Henry Laurens – had been tense and short, much like majority of their conversations since he’d come out. All that had been discussed, and by discussed it was really Henry Laurens ranting at his son about why he couldn’t just stop the gay “act” and “man-up” and find himself a girlfriend, and quit his “stupid” job because photography wasn’t a “real career” and he should put that law degree (the one he’d been forced to do) to use and move back to South Carolina and live up to his father’s name…just the normal stuff that father’s rant about, John wasn’t mad at all.

Shaking himself from his thoughts, John splashed some water on his face and pulled his hair up into a ponytail. A small smile crept onto his face as he saw his terrapins – Flash and Gordon – swimming around their tank. He walked over to the tank and pressed his finger to the glass, watching as the small turtles flocked to his finger and began paddling furiously to reach him.

“Alright boys, I gotta go to work, but I’ll be back later.” He gave them a wave and grabbed his hoodie off the back of his couch, keys in his pocket, and went out into the hallway.

“Morning John!”

He jumped and turned to see Philip standing in the hallway, rucksack over his shoulders. His curly hair was wild, and John smirked as it resembled his own. “Hey Squirt, off to school?”

“Mhm, Pops’ just forgot his phone.”

“Haha, I’ve done that more than once.”

Philip smiled, leaning against the wall. “What do you do at dad’s work?”

“Oh, I’m a photographer.”

“Cool! Do you like, take pictures of turtles and tortoises? Or is it just really boring things like buildings and people?”

Laurens shrugged, smiling internally at the kid’s enthusiasm for turtles. “If I had my way, Squirt, I’d only ever take pictures of turtles. Turtles are the bomb!”

Another minute passed of John and Philip talking turtles, until a slightly dishevelled Alex appeared at the door, shrugging on his blazer, keys between his teeth.

“Alright hijo, got my phone let’s…oh, hi John.”

John smiled as he took in Alex’s appearance – hair in a messy bun, sleepy shadows framing his face…positively adorable. He smiled and readjusted his rucksack, “Morning, Alex.” There was a beat of silence broken by Philip who looked up at his dad.

“Pop, John likes turtles too!”

“Haha who would’ve guess, hijo?”

“I actually have two terrapins inside.” Laurens said, gesturing back to his door. The smaller of the two freckled faces lit up and Philip began bouncing up-and-down, shaking his father’s arm wildly.

“Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Please, please can I get a turtle?”

Alex chuckled and shook his head, giving John a pointed look, which said, “This is your fault.” John merely raised his hands in surrender, internally sniggering to himself as he watched his new-found friend deny his son a turtle.

“If you want, you can come and see mine after school? And I mean that in a not-at-all creepy way, BT-dub.” Laurens said, grinning when he heard Alex mutter under his breath, “Did you really just say BT-dub out-loud?”

Again, Philip was quick with his answer and was shaking his dad’s arm again, “Really? Can I, Pops?” His brown eyes bore into Alex’s, and the older man looked between the two curly-haired people he was standing between. Instead of replying, Alex ruffled his son’s loose hair and puffed out, “We’ll talk about it later, okay? Now come on, we have to go otherwise you’ll be late for school.”

“I’ll walk with you.”

That statement blew Alex away.

_-…-_

Surprisingly it hadn’t been an awkward walk for Alex. Philip did most of the talking, holding his dad’s hand tightly, occasionally drawing an answer from one of the two adults. Alex knew that John would probably ask him all the questions he never got to ask the night before, but he was feeling more relaxed about answering them. Seeing that Philip was comfortable around John, and that John was being so nice to his son, had eased most of the nerves he had been having all night…his usual insomniac tendencies had been amplified by his worry, and he’d ended up pounding down three espressos throughout the night whilst emailing his finished article to Washington, and trolling celebrity Twitter accounts.

The trio rocked up at the school gates of Columbia Elementary, and Alex bent down and gave Philip a kiss on the forehead. “I’ll pick you up after school, okay?”

Philip nodded and hugged his dad tightly, “Okiedokes! Love you!”

“Love you too, hijo!”

And with that, Philip raced into the playground, waving at a couple of kids his age, before running over to join them. The sick feeling from the day before returned and Alex let out a sigh as he walked back to where John had been standing…awkwardly watching the scene with the same burning feeling from the last night. Laurens shook himself, checking his watch and forcing a smile as Alex drew closer. “Wanna head to Laf’s before work? We still got time.”

Alex nodded, supressing a yawn as the effects of the last espresso started to wear off, “Sure, I need caffeine otherwise I will not function today.”

“Tally-ho then good sir!” John piped with a rubbish fake-British accent, one which caused Alex to snigger as they walked down the street. The smaller of the two individuals pulled out his phone, whilst Laurens pulled out the one headphone he’d had in since the start of the journey, pausing the music he had been listening to.

Silence followed. Until…

“So, you have a kid?”

Hamilton looked over at Laurens. His eyes were fixed ahead of him, focusing on where he was walking. “Yeah, I have a kid. You did just meet him, that wasn’t some random child I’d dragged off the street.”

“Wow, sarcasm? You really do need caffeine, Hamilton.”

“I never joke about caffeine, Laurens.”

“Noted. But, yeah, no offence intended, but how do you have a kid?”

“Do you need me to explain the birds and the bees?”

The freckles on John’s face danced as he laughed, causing Alex to stare at him for a moment, before the former continued, “Seriously though, sarcasm aside…”

Alex sighed, “Philip’s mum and I dated back when I was 15, Philip came not long after. We moved over here when he was 3.”

The man next to him nodded. More silence, as the Yorktown Daily building slowly came into view and they began crossing the street towards Rochambeau.

“What about Philip’s mum?”

Again silence. John cast a glance over his shoulder as he held the door of the café open. Alex had stopped and was biting his lip, his mind elsewhere. The South Carolinian let go of the handle and touched his friend on the shoulder, “Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah, sorry. I just…don’t like talking about Philip’s mum. He was still just a baby when she…you know.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be it was a long time ago.”

“Well I’m still sorry, must’ve been hard raising him on your own. I certainly couldn’t do it.”

“You don’t think it’s sad that a 22-year-old has a kid?”

John scoffed, “I’ve watched ’16 and Pregnant’, there’s nothing wrong with having a kid young if you’ve got the brains for it…and we both know you definitely have the brains for it,” he commented with a wink, “Besides everyone’s got something to add to their package yours just so happens to be an awesome kid with a love for turtles, which I approve ‘cause who doesn’t love turtles?”

He said this as they slid into a booth, where Hercules was sketching an image of Lafayette. “Morning Herc.”

Herc muttered a greeting as John sat next to him before, “You talking about Alex’s kid?”

“What?”

“What?”

“What?”

“The Petit Lion has un enfant?” Lafayette commented as he too slid into the booth next to Alex. John was still frowning at Hercules, who had finally decided to look up from his pad, smiling at his boyfriend who’d brought them all coffees.

“How do you know Alex has a kid?”

Alex’s eyes also asked the same question, and Hercules gave them a shrug, “Was his phone lock-screen, and he said he only has an older brother…I saw it when we exchanged numbers, soooo?”

“And you didn’t think it was weird?” The newbie of the group queried. Lafayette frowned, his eyeliner creasing with his eyes, stroking his chin with black-polished nails.

“Why would it be weird? Just because you ‘ave a kid, doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t want to be friends with you?” Silence seemed to be a common occurrence for Alex that morning, but Lafayette’s enthusiasm to pursue the discussion, like an eager puppy, ended it the second it began, “Can I see a picture, s’il vous plait?”

“Sure?” Alexander wasn’t confident with his answer, but he wiggled his phone out of his pocket and scrolled briefly through his pictures searching for the one he took of Philip before his first day of school. “He’s called Philip, he’s 6.” He handed the phone to the French man next to him, and then regretted his decision as Lafayette attempted to blow his eardrum with his high-pitch squeal. What came next was a stream of French that – to the unobserved eye and ear – made Lafayette sound like a broody woman.

“Oh, mon dieu, il est si mignon comme un mini John! Je pourrais juste le poudrer de cannelle et le transformer en une pâtisserie. Il est magnifique Alex, tu dois être si fier, non?”

“Yeah, he’s a cutie and, he likes turtles!” John spoke up eagerly, his hazel eyes filled with an equal amount of excitement. He was feeling more relaxed now, because he saw that Alex was happy talking about Philip, and he could now share his honest opinion of the kid he’d only met the night before. It made Alex blush to see his friends coo over his son, as Hercules stole his phone and started tearing up. “Laf, sweetie, I want one!”

“Mon amour! Can we? We can get a little girl, and then she and Philip can get married!!”

This sobered up both Hercules and John and drew Alex’s attention back to the conversation at hand. Lafayette blushed and bit his thumb, his tongue piercing catching the light. “Too much?”

“Wee bit, Laf. Wee bit.”

“My apologies, Petit Lion. Please though, tell me more about Philip! Can I babysit him? Oh, mon dieu, we can all have sleepovers at our apartment!”

This earned laughter from the entire group, but Alex elected not to address the second part of the Frenchman’s statement, but rather the first part.

“Um, well…He’s allergic to strawberries, he likes reading. We’re actually reading War and Peace together, his choice not mine.”

“Dude, that’s adorable”, Herc piped up.

The group chatted for a further ten minutes until the majority had to leave Lafayette, with the promise to return for lunch…and with an uncomfortable make-out session (for Alex and John) …not so much for Laf and Herc, and they headed up to work.

_-…-_

“Hamilton. Burr. Laurens.”

Alex looked up from his computer and looked over at the door where an intern stood. Both Laurens and Burr were looking over as well, although John was still fiddling with the lens of his camera. It was Burr who responded to the intern, mainly because he was the only person who seemed to know her name.

“Yes, Sally?”

“Mr Washington wants to speak with you all in his office.”

“Thank you, Sally.” She received a polite smile from both Alex and John, and a nod from Burr. The latter then looked towards his co-workers and stood up from his desk. “Shall we then?”

Not two minutes later, they were all in Washington’s office, their boss on the phone speaking to someone called Jefferson…Alex had no idea who that was, but from the way Washington was speaking to him, he was another reporter.

“Right, I understand Jefferson, I know that you weren’t meant to cover Franklin’s article, but I need you to do it for me. I know you can have it done and down to Madison for publishing by the end of the day, so please, just do it.”

Their boss then put down the phone and looked at them. Burr immediately piped up with, “All ok at Monticello?”

“Monticello?” Alex muttered to John.

John leant over and whispered, his breath ghosting Alex’s ear, “Monticello News, it’s our sister-newspaper, Washington runs both. Jefferson is their “top reporter”, but he’s pretentious douchebag who’s been in France on assignment for the last few weeks.”

“And Franklin?”

“Ben Franklin, he’s a fucking legend over at Monticello. Bit of an older reporter, not to mention his own photographer…damn I’m still in envy of his pictures.”

“Didn’t he cover the recent presidential elections?”

“Mhm, that he did.”

“Hamilton, Laurens, are you with us?”

Both men nodded, embarrassed blushes creeping across their cheeks, “Sorry sir, was just enlightening Alex about Monticello News.

Washington looked at Alex with a gentle smile, “And you’re caught up now, son?”

Again with the son? “Yes sir. All on board now.”

Their boss rolled up his sleeves and rested his elbows against the wood of the desk, humming to himself, before getting to the reason he’d called the three men in. “Right, gentlemen, I called you all here because I want to discuss the big Puerto Rico article we want to cover. Now, as you all know there has been a large amount of aid relief sent to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and I want you to write a five-page article on the disaster and why relief should be sent out there. Laurens,” Washington looked at John, who was now bubbling with excitement. What had happened in Puerto Rico had hit very close to home with him, and he’d been raising awareness for a while now, “I want you to do the photographs.”

“Yes, thank you sir! I will not let you down with this!”

Washington smiled, “I know you won’t.”

Burr then interrupted, “Five pages, sir? Isn’t that too many?”

John muttered, “You are the worst, Burr.” A comment which made Alex snigger.

However, Burr wasn’t finished talking, “I have some questions, a couple of suggestions about how we could alter the article and make it more of a two-page spread.”

“Actually Burr, I called you here for a different reason, I actually want Hamilton to cover this article with Laurens.”

“Sir?”

Alex looked over at his boss, momentarily taken aback, but Washington merely continued smiling, “You have some foreknowledge on this kind of writing, son, I trust you with it. I don’t want this article until the end of the month, so there is no rush. Burr, I want to elaborate on what is needed for this, do you mind waiting outside?”

Their co-worker was still in stunned silence, but managed to croak out a “Yes, sir.” And headed for the door. “Burr,” Washington said.

“Sir?” Burr turned around, looking back with hope in his eyes.

“Close the door on your way out,” replied their boss, his voice innocent and unintentionally hurtful.

 

Chapter Text

Following the delivery of Washington’s assignments, the week had been kicked into full-throttle. Mulligan and Laurens had swapped desks, so that he and Hamilton could work together on their project: discussing what angles to take, what photos were needed, and the people they’d need to contact in order to create an article with impact – one that would get people donating to Puerto Rico. Mulligan was cross-examining the latest Vogue release – occasionally sponging ideas off his boyfriend (who claimed that his Frenchness helped him spot fashion) Burr had, with a tepid reluctance, taken on an article that was reviewing the damaged reputation of Charles Lee (a tycoon who took pleasure in breeding horses and racing them in all the big competitions across America) as his recent stud-horse “Monmouth” had turned and ran in the wrong direction of the track. Washington had told the entire office that he knew that this article would raise a reaction from Lee, most likely sparking a slanderous response against Washington’s own reputation, but he didn’t want anyone to worry about it. 

As for the Hamilton-home, a routine had come into place. Abuelita had offered to pick Philip up on alternate days of the week, meaning that Alex was able to spend longer with Laurens writing. On those days, Alex would pick up his son from their landlady’s flat, read a couple of chapters of their bedtime storybook, and then tuck Philip into bed. Every other day, he’d meet his boy outside the school gates and they’d walk home together. He’d explained the situation to Miss Schuyler, who totally understood, and commended him for being able to balance his single-parent and work lives (a comment which had Alex blushing). John occasionally came around and would stay over for dinner, an arrangement that had only come into place after they’d both left work early. Flash and Gordon had gone down a hit with Philip, and his pleas for a turtle of his own were ferocious.

It was now Saturday, there was no work and no school, therefore a slow morning for at least one of the Hamilton boys. Alex had been up all the previous night, writing notes one some draft photos John had given him. Part of this had been him admiring the fluidity of John’s handwriting, but it wasn’t something he was prepared to admit out loud.

“Pops?”

He looked up at the sound of Philip’s voice. Philip’s hair had doubled in volume due to sleep, and the sleeves of his pyjama-top were pulled over his hands as he rubbed his eyes and yawned. Alex smiled as he lowered his mug of coffee, opening his arms so Philip could crawl in for a morning hug. He’d let Philip stay up late reading and had found his son passed out on his bed, book half-finished.

“Morning, hijo. You have a good sleep?”

“Mhm,” Philip nodded sleepily, his eyes closed as he rested his face on his father’s chest – drinking in the comfort that the smell and warmth provided, “Whatcha up to?” He asked, having seen the open laptop and scattered empty mugs.

“Working, but don’t worry, I’m almost done.”

“You work a lot, Pops.”

“Do I now?”

“Mhm, Theo says that her dad works a lot too.”

Alex raised an eyebrow. He’d heard a lot about Theo in the past few days – she was a girl in Philip’s class, and they seemed to get on very well.

“Well, sometimes dad’s have to work a lot.”

Philip hummed at this comment, his mocha-coloured eyes now wide and open. He pushed some wild curls behind his ear, biting on the neckline of his top, “Theo doesn’t get to see her dad much. Her mum and dad are seprated.”

“Separated, hijo.”

“Sep-ar-ate-ed?”

“That’s right. And sometimes, mums and dads don’t stay together, but that doesn’t mean that they stop loving you. Remember even though Mama isn’t here with us, she still loves you.”

“And you?”

Feeling his son’s eyes on him, Alex contained the sigh he wanted to release. He and Philip’s mum, Olenna, broke up not long after they’d slept together – unknowingly conceiving Philip – as she felt they hadn’t connected emotionally. Alex suspected that she’d known of his bisexuality before he had and was sparing the both of them from any emotional heartache. They’d stayed close friends throughout the entirety of her pregnancy, but it had been a short-lived happiness as Olenna had suffered from a preeclampsia and had died holding Alex’s hand, Philip in one arm.

“Sí hijo.”

There was a moment of quiet as Philip absorbed his father’s answer, before he slid of Alex’s knee and went to retrieve his book from his room. Alex resumed his work, before noticing he’d received several texts. Picking up his phone, he smiled to himself as he saw one from Mr Laurens Across The Hall.

Laurens: Heyyy! Meeting up w/ Mullette and some friends for lunch. Wanna join?

Laurens: You can bring Philly! Laf wants to meet him!

Laurens: Answer me Hamilton >:)

He chuckled at Laurens’ enthusiasm, before typing his reply.

A.Ham: Let me check my schedule :P

Laurens: We hav the same 1! Ur doin fuk all 2day

A.Ham: Language! :O I have a son!!

Laurens: My apologies good sir.

A.Ham: Accepted gent

After receiving Laurens’ reply telling him that they could walk together, Hamilton tucked his phone in his pocket and found Philip in his room, book on the floor, reading aloud to his toys which were assembled like a theatre audience on the floor. He circled round, “Room for one more?”

“Shh!” Philip hushed him, finger pressed to his lips, “The audience don’t speak.”

“Ah, ok, hijo.”

“Shh!”

“Sorry.” Alex replied, a smirk on his face as Philip clicked that his father was merely teasing him as he sat on the floor and tucked the toy turtle on his lap.

“Pops, I’m reading.”

“Hi Reading, I’m Pops.”

Despite the awfulness of the dad-joke, Philip (in his innocence) still laughed, although he loudly admitted that his dad was weird.

“Mhm, but do you want to go out for lunch with your weird dad? Or do you wanna be cool and stay home with Abuelita Carlotta?”

The curly-haired boy paused for a moment, “Is John coming?”

“Yeah, John’s coming.”

“Where are we going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Hmm, can I bring Crush?” He asked this, pointing to the turtle sat in Alex’s lap. “Of course,” Alex responded with only an air of exaggeration, “It wouldn’t be lunch without him.”

_-…-_

A couple of hours later saw Alex watching his son be fawned over by a very broody Lafayette. He had been so proud of Philip for engaging well with his friends, introducing himself (and Crush) with the same level of eagerness he’d done with John. Hercules slid into the booth, squashing John further into Alex, announcing, “Just heard from Angie. She and the girls will be here soon.”

The second he spoke, the door to Rochambeau opened and three women filtered in. The tallest of the group was a gorgeous woman with dark skin and curls to match. Her eyes held a fire that Alex could only parallel with his own, and he knew if she’d been single he would’ve made a move to satisfy her every need, but the engagement ring on her finger marked her as “off-limits.” She adjusted her pink blazer and hummed to herself as she approached.

The smallest of the group almost matched the first girl, her brown curls were pulled into a high ponytail and her canary yellow glasses were of the same shade as her skirt. The air around her was light and bubbly, as was her smile, but there was an underlying hint of maturity and grace in the way she carried herself. Alex imagined that he could definitely get along with her.

 The final of the trio was Miss Elizabeth Schuyler.

Eliza looked equally as stunned as Alex when she clocked him at the table. She hadn’t expected him to be the new friend that the boys were wanting to introduce to the group. However, she wasn’t against it, smiling politely and pulling her sky-blue cardigan closer about her.

“Hi guys.”

Her greeting was lost under the intense noise that was Lafayette jabbering away to Philip in frenzied French. This was when Angelica came in, her voice loud and unconcerned with upsetting Laf’s conversation – plus rescuing Philip who slipped under the table and onto John’s knee the very second Angelica shouted, “Oi losers, the Schuylers have arrived!”

“Oooh and who’re the new cuties over there in the corner?” Peggy squealed, rushing over to the table and chucking her bag at a very unprepared Lafayette (meaning the bag hit him square in the face). Alex smiled and stood, reaching over to shake the young girls hand.

“Hi I’m Al-”

“Alexander Hamilton, right?”

He blinked at the other woman, “Y-yeah?”

She grinned, pushing her sister out of the way and shaking his outstretched hand. “Figured it must be. “Handsome, boy does he know it” Ha, heard all about you from Lizzie.”

Eliza’s cheeks flushed as Peggy caught on what her sister was implying. She giggled behind her palm as Angelica continued, “My name is Angelica Schuyler.”

John made eye contact with Hercules and then Lafayette, all of them equally confused with how Alex’s name was already known to the three sisters, but without adapting on their lack of foreknowledge, Alex returned her smile, “Pleasure. I’m sure if your delightful sister has told you all about me,” He sent Eliza a wink, with caused her to become even more flustered – muttering away about being “helpless” to his charms, “Then she must’ve also told you about Philip.”

He gestured to his son, who looked nervous as Angelica gave him a smile. “Hi.” This time it was Angelica who was shoved out the way by Peggy (phone in hand) as she barged in to say hi to the kid. “Oh my god he looks just like John, but miniature! That is adorable. Hey Philip, or is ok if I call you Phil? I’m Peggy, it’s nice to meet ya!”

Thus, began another flurried conversation. Alex began getting to know Angelica and Eliza better – relishing in the opportunity he had at calling the latter by her name – with Hercules chipping in every now and then to fill in the blanks. Both Lafayette and Peggy were talking to Philip, who had quickly taken to the youngest of the Schuyler sisters, about everything he had been doing that week at school. John remained quiet for majority of the early parts of the conversation, but slowly eased into a discussion with Alex and Angelica as it came onto the topic of their article.

The two conversations merged when both Lafayette and Peggy’s voices grew in volume, both of them going over the top in their efforts to be Philip’s new best friend – a place Alex knew belonged to either John, John’s turtles or the little girl from his class.

“My darling Margarita, you are overwhelming ‘im.” Lafayette commented, sliding an arm around Eliza’s shoulders as the three sisters were squashed in the booth next to him.

“And you weren’t, hun?” Hercules retorted.

This comment caused Lafayette to blush, and then fake-huff with his boyfriend. “Mon amour, I am wounded. You think I am, ‘ow you say, overwhelming? Oh, the very shame of it. “Darling Margarita?”

“It’s Peggy, and yes?”

“You are my new beau.”

Peggy punched the air with a whoop, causing Philip to giggle, and Angelica to cry out. “I thought I was your fall-back beau, Laf?”

“Ah, you were,” Lafayette replied, fluttering his eyelashes at her, “But alas, you ‘eart ‘as been taken by that charming English fiancé of yours.”

It was Angelica’s turn to blush, glaring as her sisters began teasing her.

“So, where is the lucky fella then?” John asked, smirking and resting his elbows on the table. His eyes drifted when one bumped against Alex’s, but the other man was still engaged in the discussion to notice – every so often looking over at where his son was snuggled next to Lafayette.

“John’s currently on his way back to London. His father wants to go over wedding details, plus he wants to see how his legal partner, Jerimiah Wadsworth, is coping with the branch over there.”

“Oh, so your fiancé is a lawyer?” Alex inquired, the mention of law triggering his Hamilton curiosity.

Angelica nodded, “Yes, it’s only a small firm, even though it’s across two continents, but he’ll never be satisfied until he gets a big case.”

“I can see that. I wanted to be a lawyer initially.”

“Really?” John looked round at the smaller male next to him. Alex nodded, his ears going pink with John’s comment of, “I bet you’d make quite a lawyer.”

Hercules chuckled, “I originally wanted to be model, but I don’t think my Mam would’ve liked that, Brrrah.”

“I wanted to be President”, Angelica said, “But I suppose helping dad with the business is pretty fun.” It had been revealed that the girls were all the daughters of businessman, Philip Schuyler, and Angelica (being the oldest and the wittiest of all the Schuyler siblings) was being groomed to take over the business so that her father could retire in the near future.

Eliza smiled wistfully, her eyes connecting with Alex’s briefly, “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”

“You’re a good one.” The latter replied, causing her to smile shyly, and John to frown a little. The eldest of the three sisters gave him a pointed look, “Oi, no flirting with my lil sis. She’s your son’s teacher.”

The second of the Schuyler girls cut across Angelica’s rant, “What about you Jackie? What did you want to be?”

Her voice dragged John out of his thoughts and he pretended to think for a moment.

“Artist”, was his simple response, “Though I never told my dad that.”

The tone of his voice was light-hearted, and everyone at the table did laugh, but Alex could tell by the way that the smile didn’t reach Laurens’ eyes and the hollowness to his laugh, that there was something more to be said about that…something no one was confident enough to address…at least with him present.

Would they talk about it if you weren’t here? Was the bitter thought that entered his mind, and he resorted to excusing himself from the table and seeking out his son as an excuse to get away.

Philip had been “kidnapped” by the two “mother hens” to the kitchen and was helping sort out coffees and sandwiches for the table. Alex didn’t go to the kitchen immediately, instead he slipped into the café’s bathroom and pressed the palms of his hands against the sink.

When he’d been younger, after his mother had died and his brother had left…left him alone with his suicidal cousin…Alex had become depressed. His mind had been a black chasm of broken thoughts, all telling him he wasn’t worthy enough to feel love, or joy, or peace…telling him that he deserved the misery that life had thrown at him. That his mother’s death had been a way for her to get away from him, his cousin killing himself for the same reason…people chose death to keep him away.

His life had then become a cycle of closing himself off from the world. Never eating. Rarely sleeping. Choosing to distract himself from emotional pain with physical. Olenna was what had broken that cycle. She had been his first friend for a long time, and then she had died too…creating another hole in his heart.

Now, there was Philip. With Philip in his life, Alex could not allow himself to fall apart. His depression and anxieties were now hidden within carefully crafted rooms, never to be opened in front of others, and the room where it happened was the room with Philip in it. He’d learned to drink in his son’s joy and mask his own misfortunes with it, but…sometimes, in situations such as this, the old emotions would stir, and not even Philip could help.

Alex stared at his reflection for a moment longer, before splashing his face with water and exiting the bathroom. He saw that the trio of chefs had presented the table with lunch and the group was now talking animatedly – Philip included as he smiled over at Eliza, his initial shyness a forgotten memory. John’s neck turned towards him and their eyes met, hazel holding some form of concern, asking whether or not Alex was ok. The latter scraped a smile and shrugged, before grabbing a chair and returning to the table

_-…-_

The second Alex had excused himself from the table, the conversation had switched up drastically. Eliza looked over at John with a mild curiousness in her almond-shaped eyes.

“Is everything ok, John? You seem off.”

“What? No. Everything is fine, just weird that you’re flirting with one of your kids’ parents.”

She blinked at him, “Whoa, I wasn’t flirting.”

“Yeah,” Angelica hummed in agreement, “He was flirting with her. Now, get your jealous panties untwisted.”

John scoffed, “I’m not jealous.”

This caused the rest of the table to laugh rather loudly, attracting the attention of some of the other customers within the café.

“Pa-lease,” Hercules said after wiping his eyes and giggling, “You have been glaring daggers at Lizzie and Angie every time Alex speaks to them. I love ya Jackie, but you’re completely hopeless when hiding your feelings.”

The South Carolinian felt his neck heat up and he muttered a cursed response. The dark-haired Schuyler smiled and reached over to squeeze John’s hand.

“Don’t worry, John. I won’t steal him from you. He’s cute, and I have to admit I forgot my dang name when he first said “hi” to me, but he’s a bit too…non-stop, shall we say, for my tastes.”

John wanted to retort to Eliza’s comment: wanting to say how Alex’s determination to do a job to the best of his ability (which usually involved a production line of pages that weren’t required or asked for) was not a reason for her not to find him attractive…but he remained mute as Lafayette emerged, Peggy and Philip in his wake, with a platter of food and drinks. Philip squashed in next to him, looking around due to the absence of his dad.

“He’s in the bathroom, Squirt.”

He said this as he passed the boy a sandwich. “Oh, ok.” Philip gave John a gap-toothed smile and proceeded to munch on the sandwich. John returned it, ruffling the boys curls. He heard a door behind him and saw Alex. His eyes seemed crestfallen, and John wanted nothing more than to give the man a hug, but his silent question was met with a shrug, and Alex returned to the table.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was the second Alex and Philip returned from their walk home from school that Monday, that Abuelita rushed out of her ground-floor flat to meet them. Her leather-coloured skin held a tight smile and when she rested her hands on Alex’s arms, his expression faltered and he narrowed his brows.

“Que pasa, Abuelita?”

Her eyes flickered quickly to Philip, then to Alex. The older Hamilton, still confused, crouched down to his son’s level and smiled, “Philip, go and play in Abuelita’s for a bit ok?”

His son’s eyes creased as he gripped the straps of his bag, “Why?” His voice was small, full of curiosity at why he was about to be excluded from this adult conversation. Alex chuckled, squeezing Philip’s shoulder, “Because I said so. Don’t be nosy, hijo.”

The final part of his comment made his son flush with embarrassment as his not-so-subtle plan to eavesdrop had been foiled. Abuelita gave him a cuddle as he ran off to her flat, the sound of the door closing echoing behind him. The older woman then looked back at Alex.

“Upstairs, el hombre. He says he’s from a…um”, she clicked her fingers at him, only furthering his newly developed nerves. Carlotta rarely used English if she could help it, unless it was something serious or it involved a stranger from outside the block. “…como dices servicios?”

With a minor amount of exasperation at her broken-English, Alex patted her shoulder, “Services, Abuelita. Did he have an accent?”

“Sí, it was Ingles. He said he’d wait outside for you.”

There was churn within Alex’s stomach as he looked up the stairs, and he felt sick. He glanced at the direction his son vanished to, before thanking the woman for the message. Kissing her cheek, and receiving a tight hug from her, he muttered flatly, “When John comes back, can you ask him to get Philip, por favor?”

Abuelita nodded and then watched as Alex ascended the stairs slowly, his feet feeling like dead-weights the higher he got. He knew it had been coming, the “home-visit” from Kings Social Services, but he had secretly hoped that his paperwork had miraculously evaporated into thin air and that he and Philip would be left alone in peace…but that was now just a dead dream. 

As discussed, there was a man outside the Hamilton-home. He was just taller than Hamilton, dressed in a crisp, clean and sharp suit, but carried an air of false superiority. His greased hair caught in the light, and instantly Alex knew that this wasn’t going to go well, but he had to play nice for his own benefit. The stranger looked over at him when his foot caught on a creaky floorboard, straightened his back and tugged on the lapels of his jacket with one hand, while gripping his briefcase with the other. He offered Alex a strained smile, as if his face had lacked practice at the act, but the immigrant didn’t miss the ratty eyes look him up-and-down – making an instant judgement of him and his character, and probably making the same deductions. However, he offered Alex a hand as he introduced himself.

“Mr Hamilton, I presume. My name is Samuel Seabury. Or should I say, ‘Hola, mi llamo es Samuel Seabury.’”

Alex, reluctantly, took his hand and shook it firmly, not taking his eyes off the calculating stranger. His English accent was fake and as bad as his Spanish one, the underlying Connecticut accent trying to break free. The former forced a smile to attach on his face, “Pleasure to meet you, Mr Seabury.”

“Oh, you speak English.” The statement bit into Alex’s pride, and he tried to not let his next statement come out with too much venom.

“Yes, I actually speak fluent English and French, along with Spanish.”

“Hmm.” Seabury muttered something to himself about “an educated foreigner”, before recreating his false smile, “And where is your son? Philip, right?”

Alex pulled his keys out and unlocked his door, delaying his answer for as long as possible…not just to spite the other man. “Philip is at a friend’s house right now, he won’t be back for this visit unfortunately.”

Seabury followed him inside, noting down this new-found fact on a pad which he’d pulled from his coat pocket. He dusted one of the stools at the breakfast bar and perched himself on it as Alex held up a couple of mugs, “Tea? Coffee?”

“Water.”

No please or thank you. My son could teach you better manners than that, you ponce idiot! Alex smiled, putting the mugs down and grabbing a glass from the cupboard. Seabury brushed down his back and cleared his throat.

“So, Mr Hamilton, how are you finding New York?”

The shorter of the two men let out a chuckled, “Well, considering I’ve been here for 3 years, I am finding it pretty good, thanks.”

“Ah, yes. You emigrated here when you were 19, correct?” Seabury queried this as Alex passed him a glass, leaning his elbows against the other side of the counter.

“That is correct. Philip was three.”

“Mhm, and how would you say he’s settled in, in your new environment?”

“Fine.”

“Just fine?”

Yes. Just fine. I’m not gonna go about this eloquently, Seabury. I’m just going answer your dang questions so you leave me and my son alone! “Well, obviously, because he was so young when we moved, he found it easier to adapt, but he’s enjoying his new school, and his teachers have said he’s doing well. So, I would say, to elaborate on my “fine”, that he is coping perfectly for a child his age.”

Happy now?

Seabury looked a little taken aback by the response, but compose himself and scribbled something on his pad, purposefully hiding the writing from Alex’s prying eyes. The man then drew up his glass and took a long, slow drink as he deliberated his next question.

“Now,” he spoke up once he’d downed nearly half the glass, “You are aware that we, at Kings, are sent out to immigrant children – such as your darling Philip – to assess whether they are being raised in a safe environment. My employer believes that any child, who is not in a safe home should be lifted from that place and returned to one of our homes, before being rehoused with one of our selected families.”

Alex nodded, pretending to take interest. He’d read all of their policies, trolled their website, and even contemplated emailing this “King George III” – the head of the company. The slogan “Oceans Rise. Empires Fall. It’s much harder when it’s all your call, so let us call it for you!” made his stomach crawl, and he doubted that it was all the sprinkles-sunshine-and-rainbows the leaflets made it out to be. This was the motivation for his good behaviour, he wasn’t going to risk getting a bad report for Philip’s sake…

However, that was becoming increasingly difficult as Seabury continued to spout shit in his direction.

“I mean we heed not the rabble of poor parents, the ones who are abusing their children without knowledge of it.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, both parents working? It’s practically child abandonment? As for single parents, like yourself, it is doubtful that the child will ever leave the area in which they are raised.”

Alex bristled at the comment, “I believe that if the child is determined, and skilled enough within themselves, then they can do and be anything. Surely your company should be encouraging parents to help their children use the opportunities that a city, like New York, provides? After all, what is the point of being in the greatest city in the world if we do not allow our children to blow us all away?”

There was an edge to Alex’s comment, one that cut into Seabury’s statement like a machete, and the man stumbled to start a new discussion. “So, looking at the state of your hom-”

“No,” Alex interrupted, “Don’t modulate the key, then not debate with me. Are you saying that your “King” would rather have foreign children grow up ashamed of their home countries, when he – himself – is a foreigner?”

Seabury danced around the comment, downing the rest of his drink with panic swimming in his eyes. Obviously, he’d never been challenged on these points before, and Alex was tempted to drill him further – to push him until he truly figured out what hell-of-a-social-services he’d signed himself into. However, allowing the other man to breathe, and so not to completely wreck his report, the Hamilton let the topic of discussion change.

“Now, you’ve recently taken on employment at Yorktown Daily? I assume that this second-rate, radical newspaper is granting you steady pay and hours?”

Feeling his jaw stiffen, Alex replied, “Yes, Mr Washington knows my situation and is very accommodating towards it.”

And this was how the rest of the assessment went on: Seabury asking questions that back-handed all aspects of Alex’s life, and Hamilton replying with all the composure it took a man not to assault somebody. He had wanted to tear the dude apart when he’d been taking him around the apartment, and Seabury had scoffed about the hurricane on Nevis with a “No wonder you left that dumpy, wreck of an island for such a civilised city.”

It was not long after that statement, that Alex had begun counting down the minutes until the man left.

_-…-_

John had been surprised when he’d walked in and was immediately accosted by a frantic Carlotta. She’d gushed at him in Spanish, her words tripping over themselves as she struggled for breath, and eventually the South Carolinian had had to walk her back inside her own apartment and sit her down. His surprise had been fuelled when a certain curly-haired 6-year-old had emerged from the living room, as he’d boiled the kettle to make some coffee for a panting Abuelita.

“Hey, Squirt. What are you doing here? Thought your dad was picking you up?” The freckled man asked as he popped some crappy instant powder into a mug.

Philip shrugged and chucked his homework book onto the table, his pencil tucked behind his ear. “Pops is upstairs, talking to somebody.”

John nodded, watching as the boy sat down next to Abuelita – who’d now calmed herself down and patted his hair fondly. He then sat down opposite the pair and handed the older woman one of the mugs of coffee. “Necesitas leche?” He asked as he poured milk into his own mug. Abuelita shook her head and waved a hand. The man nodded, wanting to pursue the “Alex is talking to a stranger upstairs” conversation, but ended up looking over to Philip. “What’s your homework on, Squirt?”

“Math.” This was said with disdain, which caused John to smirk as he detected that math wasn’t Philip’s favourite subject to learn.

“You need help?”

Brown eyes lit up and there was frantic nodding. Philip dragged his chair around the table and showed his homework to John. “Dad helps normally, he’s good at math.”

“I know,” John replied with a soft smile. From what he knew of Alex, he half-expected the man to have budgeted his entire life. He pulled the sheet of paper – embellished with numbers and critters to appeal to its young audience – close to him as he saw Philip glare at a caterpillar.

“Right, where are you struggling?”

“All of it.”

“Haha, I’m sure it’s not ALL difficult. See,” He pointed at some rough writing, “You’ve tried some of these problems.”

Philip nodded, lips pouting out, “Still, it’s stupid. I don’t wanna do math. I wanna study turtles.”

The topic change was expected, and John felt a flush of affection for the little boy. He gave Philip a playful shove, “Oi, don’t distract me with turtles.” His reply was Philip sticking his tongue out at him, and like the mature adult he was…he returned the action. Abuelita tootled off to the living room while the pair pushed through the horror of K2 Math – John had underestimated his memory, and he swore that this level of mathematics had not been this hard when he had been Philip’s age. It was that or he’d been a lot smarter as a kid.

Not long after the completion of the mammoth math task, John and Philip were headed upstairs to claim their reward – cuddles with Flash and Gordon as the turtles needed to be fed. A man in a suit crossed their path on the way, and John suspected that this had been the person Alex had been speaking to. He felt his gaze harden on the stranger, whose cheeks were flushed, as he and the boy passed by unnoticed as the suit spoke to an unknown voice on an earpiece; dropping words like “rude” and “arrogant”. When they got to their floor, Philip turned to John with a smile.

“I’m just gonna go say hi to Pops!”

John smiled.

“Ok, Squirt.”

Philip chucked his bag against the wall once he’d closed the door, kicking off his shoes in the same direction. “Pops?” He pattered down the hallway, but his father was nowhere to be seen in the kitchen or living room. The boy frowned and went to his dad’s room, his heart sinking when he saw the form of his parent – sat on the floor, curled in a ball, head between his knees and shoulders shaking.

It wasn’t the first time. It wasn’t even the second. Philip had been 4 the first time he’d seen Alex have a panic attack, but the poor tot had had no idea what to do, crying as he watched his dad struggle for breath, almost fitting as his limbs and voice failed to offer his son any comfort. The next time, Philip had just forced himself into Alex’s arms, allowing the man to hold him tightly as he tried to reengage his brain with the world around him. When he had, Alex had found Philip clutching his shirt tightly, crying and asking for him, and all Alex could do was apologise…it was all he could do every time something like this happened. Now, at 6, Philip no longer cried, but it didn’t stop the sick feeling, the fear, nor the tears that taunted in the corners of his eyes – the boy now just hugged his dad’s middle, asking him to come back.

A small part of him wanted to get John, but, biting his lip, Philip wondered if his dad would be upset if he did. But John was his friend? And Pops’ friend? He could help…he would know what to do…

However, Philip headed over to Alex, who was gripping at the roots of his hair and gulping mouthfuls of air, and crawled between his knees, pressing his face into his dad’s shoulder. Alex seemed to register the warmth against his torso and wrapped his arms around Philip, squeezing him tightly and burying his nose into his son’s hair…his voice creeping out in broken sections.

“I’m sorry. Philip…I’m sorry.”

The second Seabury had left, all the anxiety Alex had pent up throughout the visit had smashed into him. Seabury had only said that he’d be in touch when their next appointment was ready, nothing more, nothing less. He had no idea how he’d ended up in his room, on the floor, but the feeling of his son, hearing that his baby was there, had sobered him immediately. His vision was still hazy, his thoughts dazing his gaze in tattered fragments building and rebuilding themselves. Philip moved and then vanished, causing the panic to rise again, and his throat to close…sobbing into his knees…until…

“Fuu- Alex?!”

A new voice. A warm, rich voice. A large set of arms wrapping around him. His body being dragged against someone else’s. It wasn’t a caged feeling, but one of safety…like a net catching him from a fall.

“Is he gonna be ok?”

Philip’s voice, wavering and worried…worried about him. He felt so useless.

“Of course, Squirt. He just needs a moment.”

As a hand soothingly ran up and down his back, Alex felt his sight return. Spots were the first things he saw…no...not spots, freckles. John offered a weak smile, although his hazel eyes were pleading at him, “You ok?”

“Yeah.” His voice was croaky, and his throat felt dry. It was at that moment, Alex processed his surroundings. He was sat on his bedroom floor, John’s arms around his middle. Philip was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s…?”

“Living room.” John’s voice was quiet, questions – oh so many questions – lacing the answer he gave, but Alex refused to make eye contact as he pushed himself to his feet. His cheeks were red as John’s hand remained on his back, until he walked from his room and found Philip chewing his fingernails, tucked in a ball on the couch. When the boy saw him, he rushed over and hugged him tightly, raggedly sobbing into his stomach. Alex kissed the top of his head and murmured into his chocolate coloured curls.

“Sorry, hijo. I’m sorry that I scared you.”

“It’s ok, Pops.”

_-…-_

It had taken a little longer than normal to put Philip down to bed, and he’d ended up falling asleep with his head on Alex’s lap, arms hugging his leg. John had been an angel, unquestioning and supportive – ordering a pizza and cleaning up afterwards.

“Sorry about that John,” Alex said glumly. His hand was resting on Philip’s head and his fingers played absent-mindedly with his son’s curls. John raised an eyebrow, looking over at the other man from where he sat.

“Alex, you were having a bloody panic attack, don’t apologise.”

“Sorry.”

“Alex.”

“I know. I know. Sorry, shit. Sorry, it’s just you’re my friend and…”

“And friends are meant to help one another. God knows I know that. I was worried when Philip didn’t come over immediately.” The smile on his face had no feeling, nor did the puff of laughter Alex released.

“Thanks for looking after him.”

“Anytime.”

There was a breath of awkward silence, before…

“Alex, what happened?”

“Just had a wobble. Happens sometimes.”

He ran a hand through his hair, massaging his scalp. John didn’t say anything. He wanted to tell Alex that something like that should never happen to anyone, least of all him, but he knew that Alex had been through a lot and there was no way he could stop his body’s reactions. Instead the South Carolinian pushed himself to his feet, and then plopped himself next to Alex.

“Well, if you ever feel something like that happening again, tell me, ok? I know that life can be a dick. Well, I say “can be”, life is a dick and there are no two-ways about it. Life is the dick of all dicks!”

The pair chuckled, the air between them lifting a little. John wasn’t going to push Alex to tell him anything else: he could only hope that the smaller man would open up to him. His cheeks flushed when Alex gave him a heartfelt smile, his eyes looking directly into John’s.

“Thanks Laurens.”

“Anytime Hamilton.”

 

Chapter Text

“I swear to God, if you don’t stop with that violin I will start calling you Sherlock Holmes!”

Thomas Jefferson looked over at where his best friend, and flatmate, James Madison was glaring at him. With the extensive violin playing, his “writing” dressing gown, and natural quick wit, James had been comparing Thomas to Sherlock Holmes on an almost daily basis. The taller man lowered the precious instrument from his chin and leant over his desk, pouting his lips and batting his eyelashes.

“But Jimmy, you and I both know that music helps me relax. It would be unfair to compare me to that British detective when I am obviously the superior.” His tone was cocky, as was the smile that followed, as his grey-brown eyes met James’. His friend was about to retort, sarcasm emanating from the back of his throat, until he broke off coughing – covering his mouth with a hand as he tried to hack up the irritant that had lodged itself in his chest. Unbeknownst to Madison, Jefferson’s gaze wavered, and his knees jumped as he lifted himself from his chair a little, but not fully.

He would never admit aloud that every time his friend coughed his heart clenched for him. Madison always thought that Thomas just cringed whenever he had a bout of illness, but in truth, he was experiencing second-hand stress that was nauseating. It always sounded so painful, hearing James’ sickness…it was worse knowing he could do nothing for him…well not exactly nothing…

“Here,” Thomas managed to wrangle James’ inhaler from his laptop bag and chucked it over to his friend. His shoulders relaxed the second the puff of medicated-air entered Madison’s lungs, and he turned back to his screen before his friend noticed he’d been watching.

“They’re getting worse.”

“Huh?” The smaller of the two men raised an eyebrow. Jefferson was fixated on his screen, fingers dancing wildly along the keyboard as he typed his article – notebook open on the desk in front of him.

“Your coughing fits. They’re getting worse. You should go and see the doctor.”

“I did, right before you came back from France.”

“That was 3 weeks ago, James. Or do you need me to go with you again?”

He’d hesitated in his typing, looking over briefly at James, playing off his own anxiety with a gentle smile – one that wouldn’t arouse any suspicion. James felt his neck heat up as he muttered about not needing babysat and turned to his own computer. He hadn’t told Jefferson how lonely it had been while his flatmate had been away in Paris. He would never tell him that, on several occasions, he’d fallen asleep in Thomas’ dressing gown…and one night his bed.

Best friends they may have been, but they certainly were not good at sharing.

Thomas smirked at his friend’s expression, chuckling inwardly. His good mood was ruined when he saw Washington’s message on the Monticello News group message, praising the work of Alexander Hamilton – the latest edition to their sister-paper, Yorktown Daily.

Prick. Kissing up to the boss just so he can get publicity – that’s my job, and I am definitely much better at it! Granted, he admitted to himself, he had yet to meet the infamous Hamilton, but his removal from being “Washington’s No. 1 Reporter/Prodigy/Son If He Were to Adopt” had stung his pride well enough that he refused to like Hamilton.

“Hamilton, again?” Madison queried.

He chuckled when Thomas flipped him off and glared even harder at his computer.  

“You know, you did say the whole “kissing up to the boss” speech out loud, right? Everyone knows you like being a teacher’s pet, but maybe Hamilton is a less extremist, and that’s why Washington likes him?”

Jefferson scoffed, “If anything, he’s probably some ratty, small, ragamuffin of a man.”

“Did you really just use ragamuffin? We’re in the 21st Century Thomas, not the 18th.”

“I just hate him, ok? He’s all Washington talks about, when he’s here. It’s like he’s frozen onto one subject of conversation which just happens to be Alexander fucking Hamilton.”

“And yet the sun comes up, and the world still spins.”

The glare that James received was piercing, but not heartfelt – humour snuck its way behind Thomas’ eyes. “Your sarcasm is highly underappreciated today, Madison.”

The prior part of his received reply was a cough, before, “My sarcasm is always appreciated, Jefferson.”

They both laughed at this comment as it was now a common conversation between the pair of them. Madison looked as if he were about to say something, but he was interrupted by a knock. At the door stood an intern, the pair recognised her as Sally Hemings – she worked over at Yorktown. James knew that Thomas had hooked up with her before and that had led to a little complication in his life…by the name of Beverly…however, what he didn’t know what that Beverly was due to spend the weekend with his dad, whether his roommate wanted or not.

“Hey Sally,” James offered her a warm smile as he spoke, which she returned (although a heated glare did hit Thomas – the ending of their “relationship”, or as Jefferson recalled “A lot of wine, three hook-ups and a faulty condom, hadn’t been amicable, and the girl was only still in his life for the sake of their 2-year-old)

“Hi James. Jefferson.”

Not looking up from his screen, as yet another stabbing glare hit his shoulder blades, Thomas coined his usual reply, “Sally, always a pleasure.”

“How can we help you?” Madison interrupted before either of them could start shouting snide remarks at the other, “Did Washington need something? I’ve almost finished that report he wanted of our latest stats.”

Bless you, James, Thomas thought, Bless you for being this good.

“Actually no, he wanted me to give you this,” she handed the smaller of the two Virginians a letter and an article, “And he said that neither of you were to react, but he wants to hear what you have to say by the end of the week.”

“Right, thanks. Tell him we will.”

“Ok, bye James. Jefferson.”

Thomas lifted his hand off the keyboard for a second, but it was James who voiced a reply, “Bye Sally.” And with that the intern left. Before Thomas could voice an opinion, his co-worker was slapping his round the head with the aforementioned letter and article – although most of the blow was cushioned by the mane of curls attached to Jefferson’s head.

“Ouch!”

“Oh, that didn’t hurt! You and Sally need to me more civil with each other, for Beverly’s sake.”

“The kid’s 2, he doesn’t even know what his own foot is yet?”

“Thomas,” Oh how can I resist you, James, when you make that face?

“Urgh, fine, I’ll try being nice,” the word sounded disgusting in the context to Sally, “Oh, by the way, while we are on the subject of mini-Jefferson, I’m meant to be babysitting him this weekend. That cool with you?”

James paused and looked over at Thomas, his dark eyes assessing the features of his friend’s face. It ate at him at the fact that Thomas had a son, especially in the circumstances it had happened, but Thomas was a good father – despite what the man believed of himself – and it warmed James’ heart to watch him with Beverly.

“Of course, it’s cool with me. Just promise me you won’t try and hire a hot nanny, just so you can flirt with her again.”

“I mean, while it was fun to try and hire Angelica – and well worth the bitch slap I received for my commentary - I promise I won’t hire a hot nanny…and I if I do, I promise, then, not to flirt with her,” Thomas said, with a wink, “Beside, you’re all the hot stuff I need, Jimmy.”

It was a joke, but it didn’t fail to startle the other man, who began muttering to himself as he opened up their boss’ letter. His friend, face flushing, watched as a creased formed on James’ forehead, “Well shit.”

_-…-_

“Whatcha drawing, Johnny-boy?”

John squeaked at the sudden sound of Hercules and stabbed his charcoal pencil into the paper, thus embellishing his sketch with a large black mark. His stomach clenched as he tarnished his work and he lifted his eyes to glare at his friend, who was smirking and holding out a smoothie in his direction. A smoothie? Really Herc? It’s almost winter! He begrudgingly took it anyway and raised the straw to his lips while Herc checked out the sketch. He’d initially been drawing a rough of how he expected his and Alex’s article to be presented – the due date was now fast approaching and the pair of them had been working tirelessly on it – however, his attention had been drawn (quite literally) as he saw his co-worker talking to one of the publishers, just outside their office.

Alex’s hair was down, his light curls framing his face. His eyes had sad hollows underneath them, shadowed from lack of sleep. John could only guess that the man had been overworking himself, following the upcoming publication date…and he could safely assume that he also had heavy bags under his own eyes. Despite the obvious tiredness, though, the light brought out the colour of Alex’s olive-honeyed skin, and the smile he wore relaxed the stresses of his slim features – although no amount of smiling could hide the fact that he looked like a child in the large grey shirt he was wearing.

Unintentionally, or perhaps totally intentionally (the artist within him had complete control when he put pen to paper) John had begun drawing a close-up of his neighbouring co-worker…from what began as doodles had now flourished into full-blown sketches. The embarrassment only came when he pushed the wrong piece of paper to his friend and realised his mistake a fraction too late.

“Ooh hoo hoo, I’m jealous-”

“Fuck, no, Herc!” The South Carolinian made to snatch the piece of paper from his friend, but Hercules pushed him back by catching the shorter man with his large palm. John wrestled against the hand on his forehead, but the behemoth’s freak strength held him back – his arms wilting when Hercules called Burr over, so they could smirk and laugh over John’s helplessness together.

“Oi, spit a verse Burr! Ain’t this the most touching thing you’ve ever seen?”

Aaron plucked the paper from Hercules’ fingers, scanned over it with his eyes, and then lifted his lips into a devious smile. “And here I’ve been wanting you to draw me, Laurens. Why is Hamilton so special, hmmm? Got yourself a wee crush?”

Whether it was anger or embarrassment…or simply because it was now Burr, of all people, teasing him…John’s face burned red, his freckles standing out against his skin as they turned dark. He snatched the paper from the joking pair and stuffed it under his initial sketch, his mouth set into a firm line. The Irishman laughed jollily, leaning against his friend’s hunched back, weighing him down under him, and ruffled John’s hair roughly so that it began escaping its ponytail, causing said John to bat his hand at him, but smile all the same.

“Aw, we were just messing with you, Jackie. You’re just too cute when you’ve got a crush, ya know!”

The blush this time was definitely embarrassment, as John caught Alex’s attention, and the Nevis-born man sent him a bright grin, white teeth showing wide. His breathing stammered, and he choked on his smoothie, causing both Hercules and Aaron to erupt with laughter as the fruity liquid landed on his jeans. His choking was aided by Hercules, who began slapping his back while he fanned his own face with his beanie – his cheeks had rubied as he wheezed with laughter. Burr had slid down against the wall, giggling as tears ebbed in the corner of his eyes. Despite his state of discomfort, even John was managing to giggle as he coughed and cleared his throat free of smoothie.

“Everything alright in here, gentlemen?”

The trio sobered up, although John was still struggling from the smoothie crisis, as Washington appeared at the doorway of the office. Their General smiled kindly at them, although his eyes held curiosity and some level of insight at the subject of which they’d been discussing. Aaron straightened his tie, rubbed what little hair he had on his head, and looked politely at the new arrival.

“Yes, sir.”

Herc sniggered, but nodded to Washington all the same, whereas John waved an absent-minded hand – his attention now back on his assigned task. Washington’s smile brightened when Alex appeared at the door, “Sir.”

“Son.”

Laurens felt his lip twitch when he saw Hamilton’s reaction to the comment, but the latter said nothing and sat at his desk, his eyes darting to the growing smoothie-stain on John’s jeans. When Alex swallowed a chuckle, John’s ears heated up, but thankfully the smaller man didn’t see as his attention was wholly on Washington. Their boss dragged a chair into the office and rested his elbows against Burr’s desk. In his hand he held an issue of Yorktown Daily, as well as a letter and an issue of another paper Alex had never seen, nor read before: The Continental Advertiser His first impression of the paper was that it was tacky, and he ultimately knew that he’d never buy it if he had the option.

George scratched his neck and sighed, “Well, lads, Lee’s published his response.”

Alex scooped up the miserable-looking paper and began reading the article Washington had turned to. Hercules scooted round the desks and rested his head on top of Alex’s, John tucked his chin on one of Alex’s shoulders – their cheeks brushing briefly – while Burr rested his elbow on the other. The four of them stared down at the page, eyes widening at the words, Charles Lee had so cruelly spouted to the world. He attacked Burr, he attacked the paper, he attacked anyone who would dare speak out at him, but the part that had Alex bristling was his ferocious dismemberment of George Washington.

“George Washington is an arrogant, self-centred man, who enjoys divulging in the wrecked spoils of other people’s reputations. A man of his station, he does this as he has no success of his own and enjoys managing an immigrant-sweatshop of a newspaper. He is a man who cannot be left to his own devises, indecisive from crisis to crisis. Like his father before him, he cannot construct a successful means to attack someone with such a prestigious reputation – like myself – and, thus, I can only assume that the best thing he can do for himself and his “newspaper” is go back to his father’s work of planting tobacco at his country-home of Mount Vernon.”

“Strong words from Lee.” Burr said with a low whistle.

John lifted his head off Alex’s shoulder, his body tense as it filled with rage, “Someone ought to hold him to it!”

Alex opened his mouth to agree, but Washington stopped them with a wave of his hand. “No, the last thing we need is partisan fighting. If I can be real a second, for just a millisecond, yes it was a harsh review-”

“Harsh?!” Hercules interrupted.

Their boss sent him a look, and the man quietened down.

“While it was a harsh review, even my wife was on the war-path, I don’t want anyone at this newspaper to do anything or react in any way to what has been published by Lee.”

“But he’s saying this to anybody who will listen!” Hamilton’s voice was desperate as he spoke, and George rested a comforting hand on his arm, squeezing it gently.

“And only those stupid enough to believe him will tell other people. It’ll fade into idle gossip before long, Alex.” The reassurance in his voice was lost on the four other men in the room, and after Washington took his leave from them, they began discussing this new-found information – well, it really turned into a “Let’s bitch about Charles Lee” session between Hercules, Alex and John, while Burr attempted to re-engage with his work.

“He’s a right stuck-up bastard. I’d rip right into him if I ever got my hands on him.” Mulligan said broodily, cracking his knuckles to emphasise his point. His marshmallow outward appearance faded momentarily, and John and Alex briefly saw the “dark and dominant” side of Hercules that Lafayette enjoyed rabbiting on about whenever he decided it was time for an update on the couple’s sex lives…updates that neither John nor Alex or Hercules asked for.

“Someone needs to teach this guy a lesson.” The South Carolinian agreed, sipping the remains of his smoothie angrily.

Alex scrunched up the article and launched it angrily at the bin – not recycling it because it was too much garbage to handle. “‘A man of his station’ Who does he think he is, the bloody Queen of England?” Although he wouldn’t be the first dickhead to think himself as royalty, he thought coldly. “Even Philip knows to treat people with more respect than this bull!”

At this Burr looked up from his desk, “Geniuses lower your voices. You keep outta trouble, and you’ll double your choices.”

“I cannot believe you’re being all Burr about this,” John spat.

“Did you just use my name as a verb?” Burr replied.

Laurens ignored him and continued, “He openly insulted you, and I quote ‘any future spawn this phoney journalist may have’. Surely you wanna take him down a peg?”

“I’m with you, but the situation is fraught. Lee is not a man to be toiled with. I knew what I was getting into writing the article, heck Lee even knew how to push my buttons – I’ve interviewed the guy before. You’ve got to be careful when dealing with people like him.”

“Burr-” Alex began, but he was cut off by the other man. “Let’s just get back to work, shall we?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It was crunch time. The Puerto Rico piece was due in less than two hours and John and Alex had kicked Aaron out of the office, so they could madly tie everything together – rapidly checking the contrast of John’s photos and spell-checking Alex’s rather heart-warming writing. Hercules was already out of the office, he was out on assignment speaking to and interviewing some apparently famous model. He’d messaged them that morning, wishing them luck and promising to meet them later – they were all going to a bar called The Revolutionaries and, despite all Alex’s protests at needing to be home for Philip, John had arranged for the boy to stay with their landlady that night. The boy in question was also eager, as he had seen how tired his dad was and wanted him to have a fun night…he deserved it.

This hadn’t stop Alex’s gnawing guilt, though. Despite being so young, Philip had taken on a lot of extra housework while Alex had been busy; cleaning the house, and even attempting to cook once…something that Alex was never going to allow him to do again until he was older. He felt that he’d been neglecting his son, despite all Philip’s protests that he was fine, and was looking for ward to the next week’s Thanksgiving holiday. For once, the Hamiltons had received multiple invitations to actual turkey meals – there was one from his boss (which he was most likely to attend, because he didn’t want to disappoint the General), one from the Schuylers (who insisted, at the very least, he visited them on the day with Philip…Peggy threatening him more than anything), and finally one from Herc and Lafayette (who were unable to have a proper sit-down on the day, and were leaving it until the weekend after).

John, on the other hand, was dreading Thanksgiving. After several calls from his father demanding his presence at the Laurens family home, the tactics had been changed and his youngest sister, Mary, had ended up calling him and asking him to come. He couldn’t say no to her, and had reluctantly agreed, but he knew that his proper family would be waiting for him to come home so that they could do Thanksgiving together.

“How are we doing over there, Laurens”

Alex’s voice drew John from his thoughts, and the curly-haired man looked up from what he was doing. His co-worker had a pencil behind his ear, and another tucked into the rubbish bun he was sporting – the overall effect was adorable. The tired South Carolinian lowered grabbed his pen between his teeth and turned his computer screen to face Hamilton.

“Almost done on my end. How’re the changes going with the introduction?” His voice was gentle, because he knew that the introduction was what had been stressing Alex out the most. The Caribbean man just couldn’t settle on his beginning, he didn’t want to throw away his shot at really making a difference to those who’d been affected by the hurricane in Puerto Rico.

Groaning at his now least favourite subject, Alex pulled at the roots of his hair and turned his own screen, so John could read what he’d written. “I swear, this crap is bordering on poetic!” John chuckled, his eyes smiling into Alex’s, but soon turned his gaze onto the screen, cupping his chin in his fingers as he read.

“In the eye of a hurricane there is quiet, for just a moment, a yellow sky. In the eye of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto R…”

While the other man read from the screen, Alex found himself watching him. He was going to miss this: working with John so closely. They were quite the team, their work-styles complimented each other, and John always made sure that Alex never burned himself out – allowing him to construct his palaces out of paragraphs but making sure he still ate and slept. John doesn’t realise how handsome he is up close, Alex found himself thinking as a curl escaped from John’s ponytail and bounced down onto his forehead. The pasty glow that came from the computer screen illuminated the tanned freckles and the greens and browns of his eyes swirled like an autumnal palette of colours. Yeah, a wistful sigh escaped him, and John looked over, catching his eye briefly as Alex looked away (hoping his cheeks weren’t flushing too profusely), and pushed his chair back, lifting his arms behind his head. Alex swallowed his second sigh as the muscles in John’s arms tensed…it wasn’t fair that Laurens looked like a fucking Adonis, whereas he looked like a half-drowned teenager.

“That is brilliant, Alex.”

“Really?”

“Pfft, are you fucking with me? Have you even read what you’ve written? If you weren’t watching, I probably would’ve started crying!”

There was a lilt of jokiness in his voice, but overall, he was being completely truthful. The blush that surfaced on Hamilton’s cheeks was now of shy embarrassment, one that John really wished he could capture on his camera and keep forever. The former scratched his stubbly chin and let out a chuckle as he turned the screen back towards him, cracking his knuckles.

“Well, I’m gonna assume that’s a good thing-”

“It is.” John interrupted with a smile, which Alex swiftly returned.

“Interrupting is rude, my dear Laurens.”

Even though he knew Alex was messing with, teasing him as he normally did, something in John’s gut squirmed with a good type of nausea…the man trying not to let his friend see the way his words affected him. He put on his “best” British accent, which was goddam awful, and replied with an equal amount of teasing in his tone.

“Well, one had to reassure you, my dear Hamilton.”

Alex smiled, the stress leaving his voice and shoulders, “I think we’re more or less done then.”

“Really?” The South Carolinian’s voice held disbelief.

Relief flooded through them both, but they knew that they weren’t entirely finished – John still had to email all the photos to Alex and then they had to send the spread to Washington. However, this didn’t take to long, and it was John’s turn to blush shyly as Alex complimented his photos – praising at how he could capture everything on just the image. Hamilton didn’t know it, as he’d never been inside John’s apartment (they’d always done things at Alex’s), but John actually had multiple versions of all the pictures he’d submitted lining his walls. They had become mixed amongst the mural of pictures he had of his friends, and the minimal of his blood relatives. Photography wasn’t an easy job, despite what his all-arrogant-American father believed.

“Urgh my eyes are killing me. I don’t want to stare at a computer screen for at least a week.”

The Hamilton looked over as his friend scoffed loudly. He raised an eyebrow and chuckled out a response, “What?”

“Alex, you and I, and basically the entire world know that you couldn’t go more than an hour without looking at a screen an- OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU FINGERING YOUR EYEBALL?!?”

It took all Alex had not to laugh and poke himself in the eye as he took out his contact lenses. Once it was out, he let rip with his laughter and flicked the lenses into the bin, watching as John stared at him as if he’d grown a third arm – his arms bracing the chair and his jaw agape…or at least that’s what Alex thought, everything had become very blurry.

“Since when did you wear glasses?” Laurens asked, still stunned, as Alex fished in his bag for a moment before pulling out a glasses case.

“Since my optician said I had permanently damaged my eyes from staring at screens for too long, but they’re stupid so I try and wear contacts as much as possible.”

“Oh, I’m sure they’re not that bad.”

“Oh, really?” His voice was challenging as he popped his spectacles on, their large, round lenses altering the world from soft-focus to high-definition. “See, I told you they were stupid!” He said this as he saw John’s face – frozen in a curious expression.

John, however, was questioning only one thing – Why, oh why, did they have to make him look cuter?! When he didn’t respond for a good minute, Alex ended up poking his forehead to get his attention, “You still with me, Laurens?”

“Y-yeah, just trying to find a nice way to describe those hideous specs.”

_-…-_

“PETIT LION! GARÇON TORTUE! Qu'est-ce qui t'a pris autant de temps?! Vous êtes au moins cinq verres d’alcool derrière, mes amis!!”

Lafayette drooped his arms around their shoulders, the alcohol on his breath making the pair of them gag. For being French, Lafayette couldn’t hold his liquor. John patted his friend’s hand, his eyes meeting Alex’s and they both tried not to laugh, and together they helped Laf back to the table where Hercules was nursing a pint. The long line of empty shots was proof enough that the Frenchman was planning to go big that night.

“HERACLES! MON AMOUR! LOOK ‘O IT IS!! JOHN HAMILTON ET ALEXANDRE LAURENS!!” The tallest of the group bellowed in his partner’s face as John and Alex placed him down. Herc bit his lip to keep from laughing at the adorableness of his boyfriend, who flopped onto his lap, and pulled his hair from its ponytail, allowing it to poof out in a cloud of curls.

“Yes, Laf. I saw them come in as well.”

“Really?”

“Yes, sweetie.” Laf’s dark eyes widened in awe at the amazement that was his boyfriend. Both John and Alex sniggered at Laf’s drunken state as John waved over a waitress to order. The girl that came over had far too much cleavage on display, which she attempted to flaunt to John as she leant over the table while he ordered. When her blue eyes looked over to Alex, she was met with a dark, broody brown glare, and he muttered out, “Pint of Sam Adams.”

When she had gone, all but Alex laughed, and John looked highly uncomfortable. “Well she was trying.”

“Mmm.” Alex commented.

“Bless ‘er,” Lafayette managed, having sobered a little through his laughter, “That was painful to watch. My poor gay son.”

He took John’s hands in his own, before resting his head on the table and the others heard him mutter, “I am so drunk.”

Alex shook his head, pushing his glasses up his nose, and gave Laf a pat on the head. “We know.”

Soon the drinks arrived, and then more drinks arrived, and then even more drinks arrived, and soon they found out some very important information: that neither Lafayette (the tallest member of the group) or Alexander (the shortest member of their group) could hold their drink. This was evident when the pair of them had the whole bar singing “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien” – apart from Herc who was making sure neither of them fell off the table, and John who was videoing the whole thing.

Alex, who was far enough gone that he knew he was drunk, but not drunk enough that he would make bad decisions, spotted the busty, bitch waitress (as he’d dubbed her in his head) and broke off mid-song and screamed, “FIGHT MY BI-ASS BITCH!”, before he returned to hugging Lafayette and singing. As the song ended, and a drunk, but rapturous applause broke out for the two wasted foreigners, Lafayette suddenly threw Alex to one side – and off the table – as he screamed and pointed to a secluded table in the corner.

“SACRE BLEU IT’S AARON BURR!!”

From the floor, a slightly concussed Hamilton giggled. John helped him to his feet, sobering as he internally panicked, “Alex you ok?!”

“Yeah, fine. Now let’s go see Blur!”

“You mean Burr.”

“Did I fuckin’ stutter, Laurens?” The aforementioned Laurens shook his head laughing, as the quartet descended upon their friend.

“Well if it isn’t Aaron Burr!” Alex exclaimed, much to Burr’s annoyance. The latter had really regretted his decision to come to this particular bar.

“Go away.”

“What are you tryna hide, Burr?” John teased as Alex slid into the booth-seat next to Burr, immediately dropping his head onto the latter’s shoulder. For being reluctant to come out in the first place, he certainly felt more relaxed than he’d done in weeks.

“How drunk are you Hamilton?”

“Pfft, I’m not drunk. Just jolly me ol’ codger!”

His friends laughed, bar Burr who rolled his eyes, and it was at that point that they noticed that Aaron wasn’t sat alone. “Hi, sorry, hello Miss?” Hercules said, being the soberest of the lot as John downed another shot, Lafayette stared through an empty shot glass and Alex felt his eyes droop a little.

The woman, who was sat opposite Aaron, contained a giggle and smiled at the drunks politely, “Theodosia.”

“That’s a beautiful name, belle feme!” Lafayette slurred, his arms wrapped around Hercules, but his smokey-powdered eyes holding an impish twinkle. Theodosia blushed shyly, tucking one of her mocha-coloured ringlets behind her ear, “Thank you.”

“Ok, introductions done? Can you guys go away now?” Burr asked, the impatience in his voice wasn’t even masked.

“Noooo,” Hercules whined, his inner romantic…well not-so-inner romantic emerging, “Spit a verse, Burr! How’d you cuties meet?”

“Unimportant!” Was the hissed reply, to which he received a scolding look from the only female at the table. “Aaron, it’s ok.” She took his hand with a warm smile, one that Burr instantly relaxed into. The quartet (both Alex and Laf had been flagging, but had rallied as they watched the scene) were agog at how this woman had Burr, Aaron Burr, A.Burr, Burr comma Aaron, wrapped around her little finger.

Theodosia turned and began explaining the story of how she and Aaron met some years earlier, but then had briefly fallen out of touch. The group had teased the man of the story when Theo had explained Burr’s nervousness at asking her out, but they saw the way he looked at her and knew he’d definitely picked a winner. A voice in the back of Alex’s mind taunted him with the prospect of having someone like that in his life…but he wasn’t worth being loved by his son, let alone someone who he could pour his heart out to. Someone like Eliza, whose innocence was so endearing and gentle nature felt so at-home. Eliza hadn’t been the first name to enter his brain, but even so, Alex needed to put Philip first, to give him all his love…despite what his heart was protesting.

_-…-_

“John Laurens wipe that smirk off your face before I smack it off,” Lafayette grumbled. The Frenchman was sporting one of Hercules’ shirts which read, “I love dicks, not tits!”, some pink leggings and was sipping a cup of coffee. His make-up had panda-eyed and it gave him an eerie presence as his hair had become a crazy bush…and not because it was a bedhead.

John smirked, grabbing his own mug and filling it, “I can’t help it that I don’t get hangovers.”

“Liar, you just force yourself to throw up which is disgusting!” The hungover Frenchman retorted.

The squad had all ended up crashing at Laf and Herc’s, and the sound of the shower told John that at least one other of the group was awake.

“Aww, poor Laffy is suffering,” the South Carolinian teased, “Want me to make chocolate-chip pancakes to make it better?”

This brightened up Lafayette, who nodded eagerly. “Oui! You are a saint!” He gave John an affectionate peck on the cheek, “What a perfect son!”

The shower stopped as John started making the pancakes, the pansexual filling his empty seat.

“I don’t know whether or not I should be concerned at the fact that you call me your son. Does Herc know you do this?”

“Most certainly, Laurens. ‘e also calls you son.”

“Laf, you and I are the same age. In fact, I’m older than you by several months!”

“It matters not, my son, you are still my son.”

“Mhmm.”

“Laurens don’t argue with your father!” Came Hercules’ jokey voice as he emerged into the kitchen, curls still damp, but the only fully dressed one of the bunch – John was wearing his boxers and top from the night before. The Irishman hugged his boyfriend’s shoulders and gave his lips a soft and loving kiss. John turned away, mock gagging, but a twinge of jealousy entered his heart and stabbed it harshly.

“Mon amour, surely you ‘re the father, non?”

“No, you’re definitely the irresponsible dad.”

“That is unfair. I am not irresponsible.”

“Dear, you’re as responsible as a large baguette.” Herc replied, pinching Laf’s bearded cheek.

The Frenchman gasped and mocked offence, “No one calls Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de la Lafayette a large baguette!”

John snorted, flipping a pancake, “No one’s got the time!”

Both he and Hercules started laughing, “That’s my son.”

“You two seriously need kids.”

This set the couple into a cuteness frenzy – one that was utterly gag-worthy, and only stopped when John dropped a stack of pancakes in front of them and finally asked, “So, where’s Alex?”

The Mullette smirked to one another before answering as one, “Sleeping?”

“Helpful.”

While breakfast began, John opened his phone and saw that he’d received a text from Washington, praising the work he and Hamilton had submitted. His chest flourished with pride as he walked through to the living room and stopped when his heart stopped dead for a moment at the sight before him. Alexander Hamilton curled up on one sofa cushion, using John and Laf’s hoodies as a blanket. His glasses had been abandoned on the other cushion, but he had never looked so at peace. His hair had fallen over his eyes, the shadows had vanished from his face, and he had his nose buried in the hood of John’s jumper – a fact which please the South Carolinian more than he could say.

John’s head was running through whether he wanted to wake Alex, take a photo of Alex, leave Alex, or risk kissing him and running away. Fortunately for his sanity, he didn’t choose the final of those options, and resorted to returning to the kitchen and sliding onto a seat opposite Hercules – who gave his flushed expression a knowing nod. Lafayette rested his chin on his hand and let out a sigh, watching the flustered boy.

“Ahh jeune amour. It is beautiful, non?”

This caused John’s cheeks to go from rose to vermillion, and he threw a pancake at his friend.

“Shut up!”

Chapter Text

It was another hour or so before Alex rose from his slumber. His head was heavy, lead-like and he internally cursed himself for being so small, as it made his body and brain incapable with coping with the amount of alcohol his stomach enjoyed consuming. If he had to be honest, he knew that he was probably still a little drunk…the fact that he stumbled and fell into Lafayette’s not-so-neatly arranged pile of raunchy, French romance novels, landing flat on his face (he did remember to add his blindness into the equation of this collapse) and one hand searching the surrounding area for his glasses, merely proved it. His body slumped with a sigh when he heard a chortle and saw the unmistakably large feet of Hercules before him – his fall obviously having drawn some attention.

“Ah, so you’re alive then?”

“No.”

His voice felt rough, raw even, and then the memories of loud and unabashed singing popped into his head – his cheeks flushing with delayed embarrassment and his insides cringing. Herc laughed again and stooped to offer him a hand. He held Alex’s round specs in the other, and gently popped them on the smaller man’s face once he was stood on two feet. Alex’s hair had fluffed out into a mane, emphasising his lion-like nickname, and he’d grabbed one of his blankets (John’s hoodie) and had pulled it on over his top and boxers. Despite the few inches of height difference between the two men, the hoodie dropped over Alex’s bum, and he held the overly long sleeves between his fingers as the fell beyond his hands. The hoodie dwarfed him further, making him seem more childlike, and if Herc didn’t know Alex well enough already to know that he was an angry fuck in the morning, he would’ve risked snapping a photo. Instead he gave Alex a pat on the shoulder and showed him through to the kitchen.

“What time is it?” Alex asked, rubbing his eyes with a yawn as he sat down. He rested his forehead against the worktop and eased into the coolness of the granite. A sleepy cloud began to descend on him again as his eyes drooped, but his brain (in protest) was beginning to query at the obvious; where were Laf and John?

“A little after half 10.” Hercules replied, starting up the coffee machine so he could save Alex from slumber.

However, just merely knowing the time seemed to fully sober up the immigrant and he shot up straight and nearly fell out of his chair but managed not to reintroduce his face to the floor for the second time that morning.

“What? No! Shit, seriously?”

“Yeah, you’ve been out for ages. Do you ever just have a normal night’s sleep?”

“Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!”

“Well if you need to drop a deuce, bathrooms that-a-way.”

Herc overlooked the glare that was sent in his direction. Alex ran a hand over his face and groaned, “Carlotta is gonna kill me. I said I’d be home and pick up Pip an hour ago.” He stood and took the mug of coffee from Hercules’ outstretched hand, then lifted it to his lips.

“Wait. Wait, it’s h- JESUS CHRIST ALEX!” Hercules cried out as the small man downed the scalding liquid in one gulp, a few drops escaping into his unkempt, three-day-old beard, “Do you have, like, tonsils of steel or something?” he asked, still in shock, as Alex wiped his chin with the sleeve of John’s hoodie.

“Nah, just a permanently burnt throat. I feel no pain.”

“Ouch.”

“Yeah, it’s a suffering too terrible to name. Anyway,” he cracked his knuckles, “I gotta go get my son and apologise my ass off to my Abuelita.”

“Chill out, Ham-a-lam. John and Laf went out ages ago. Said they were gonna get Mini John.”

Alex froze. John and Laf had gone to get Philip? He wasn’t sure how he felt about it – relieved? Angry? Anxious? Disappointed? He didn’t want his son to think that he’d been forgotten, but he was glad that it was John going to get him.

It was at that point that Alex processed whose hoodie he’d involuntarily put on, and his insides felt the warmth of the coffee. He smiled internally, the faint of smell of John’s cologne mixing with the caffeinated air around him. He was barely listening to what Hercules was saying to him, a fact that the taller man noticed immediately, but he kept talking anyway (relishing in the fact that he could lord this over the Hamilton for a while).

“Yo!” The large marshmallow of a man clicked his fingers in the tanned man’s face. Brown eyes blinked, and Hamilton was back in the room and out of his John-induced fantasy…not that he’d admit that to anyone, or himself. “You still with me, Ham-a-lam?”

“Why do you keep calling me that?”

“What?” Herc replied with a bubbly smirk, knowingly full well what the “that” was, of which Alex was referring to.

Raising an unamused eyebrow, Alex accepted another mug of coffee which he proceeded to sip instead of chug…he’d done enough chugging over the last twelve hours.

“Ham-a-lam?” He inquired slowly, his mug against his lips.

Herc raised his own mug and took a long slurp from it, before replying – his sunny smirk still attached to his face, “You insisted upon it.”

“I would never insist on something as atrocious as ‘Ham-a-lam’ for a nickname.” His voice held some hesitation, and his own fears were confirmed when Herc opened his phone and scrolled through his photos, until he landed upon the video he was looking for. He looped an arm around Alex’s shoulders and grinned, “Behold, my dear Hamilton, the beauty of drunk you!”

He then clicked play.

Past Alex had the camera and was taking the video…

It wasn’t the longest of videos in the world, but for Alexander, it was certainly the most embarrassing second-hand experience he’d ever witnessed…and it was himself he was watching. He could instantly tell the level of his drunken state, by the fact that his eyelids were droopy, his hair had been tied up like a pineapple and he had what suspiciously looked like vomit on a napkin on his shoulder…yeah he’d been a few drinks away from proper blackout-Hamilton…both Laf and John had their arms around him – John was wearing his glasses on the edge of his nose and was muttering away in Alex’s ear, his lips lost behind Alex’s dark curls. Oh yeah, he was talking with a British accent…

“And I say to you again, me ol’ codger!”

And so was I apparently…

“I must insist upon you gents, that you now address me…His Royal Highness and Majesty, the Duke of Nevis, as Ham-a-lam, here and forever more!”

“Oh, mon ami, you do realise that you would never allow us to call you by this name of dogs-”

“Pet name!” Herc shouted from when he had his face pressed into Lafayette’s stomach, before he nuzzled his face further in.

Present Herc momentarily paused the video and looked down at his miniature friend, “Ok, I have to admit I’m not proud of my next act, but it’s worth me hurling on Laf’s suede pumps just to hear your next words!”

Alex looked at him, “O-k…”

The video continued, last night’s Hercules threw up on Laf’s prized suede pumps (much to the hilarity of John and Alex, the form of whom had an arm around Alex’s neck and pulled him close to his chest as he laughed) and then drunk Alex looked back into the camera, yelling to his equally wasted friends.

“I swear on my life, as a Nevisonian…is Nevisonian even a word? Wouldn’t it be a man from Nevis? A Nevisman? Nevish-man? Nevisian? Nevisian that’s it! Ok, where was I?”

“You were swearing as a Nevisonian,” Hercules answered, his face now hidden (in shame) in a bucket as Lafayette glared at him but stroked his curls soothingly all the same as he vomited again…his suede pumps had been discarded in a bin.

Alex passed John the phone and wrapped his free arm around him, “Ah yes, I swear, mi amigos, as a Nevisonian, that I will never – drunk or sober, but mainly sober – dismiss you if you address me by me title! I will only now respond to Ham-a-lam, or I won’t respond at all! Are we agreed?!”

“AYE!”, was the unanimous reply, and then John chucked the phone in the air and it landed in Hercules original pile of vomit, before Laf’s face and hand came into view and the image froze marking the end of the video.

There was a moment of silence between the pair, Alex from utter shame and Herc because he was trying his utmost to contain a large belly laugh, but it was soon broken when Alex turned to his friend.

“Let me be the first to say I really can’t do a British accent!”

_-…-_

Philip had been over the moon when John and Lafayette had come to pick him up from his Abuelita’s apartment that morning. He’d gotten to hold and play with Flash and Gordon for a whole hour, not to mention feed them from his hand, before the trio had set off back. Lafayette was super tall, and when he’d lifted Philip onto his shoulders, the 6-year-old had felt like he was the King of the World, and all those below him were his mere peasants to boss around…although it didn’t really work because neither John nor Lafayette bought him ice-cream…apparently it was “too early”. However, they did listen to his command when he asked politely if they couldn’t go on the subway back to Laf’s home but walk instead through the park. He hoped his Papa was awake now, so when he got there he would buy him ice-cream.

“Wow, you live in a very fancy place, Laffy.”

“Oui, mon Pip, I ‘ave, ‘ow you say, the filled pockets.”

John scoffed and squeezed Philip’s hand, looking at his friend. “Just say that you’re loaded, Laf. And stop pretending you don’t know how to speak English, or Philly and I will just start talking Spanish, so you feel left out, won’t we Philly?”

The curly haired boy grinned, his ponytail matching John’s, and the pair of them wearing different, but similar turtle-related tops. Several people on the way had complimented John and his “son” on their matching outfits, and when the South Carolinian had gotten sick of telling them that Philip wasn’t his, he’d just begun rolling with it.

“Yeah!”

“Mon deu, Pip, you wound my ‘eart!” The flamboyant Frenchman grabbed his chest and gasped, choking on an exaggeratedly fake sob – he also leant against the wall of the staircase and slid onto the floor for dramatic effect.

John crouched down, smirking as his friend lay back – his fake sobs continued – and then whispered into Philip’s ear, “Tickle him in the sides!”

An impish twinkle lit up in Philip’s oh-so-like-Alex’s eyes and he grinned widely, a gap from a lost tooth showing at the front of his mouth. The par of them crept round Lafayette and then pounced on his stomach, tickling his sides and making him squeal and flail to get rid of them. The noise began to amplify, the more the two Spanish-speaking devils tickled the Frenchman, until a door opened, and Alex and Hercules ran out – the latter brandishing his phone and a spatula.

“What’s going on?! We heard a cat being murdered!”

“LAF ARE YOU OK?!”

“Dad!”

Philip ceased his assault on Lafayette and ran to his dad, jumping into his arms and snuggling into him. John too stopped tickling the poor suffering pansexual, who now lay on the floor out of breath, and straightened up. He smiled as Alex peppered Philip’s face with kisses, and the boy laughed, teasing his dad about his unkempt facial hair.

“Pops, you need to shave.”

“Ouch, a hello to you to, Pip.”

“Sorry, hi!” The boy then pointed accusingly at the South Carolinian and the Frenchman, “They wouldn’t get ice-cream for breakfast.”

Alex gasped, “No!”

“Yes!”

“No way!”

“Yes way, Pops!”

As Laf was aided to his feet by his partner, the three other men looked at the father and son, “Wait,” John started, his eyebrows knitting together, “You give him ice-cream for breakfast?”

Alex grinned back at him, popping his son down and letting him run into Laf and Herc’s flat, “Nope, never. Give him porridge with brown sugar, which he thinks is the same as melted ice-cream.”

The group chuckled as they heard a “Wow!” from Philip (who’d just discovered Hercules’ giant Disney DVD collection). They all then went inside and found the small child hunched around a circle of DVDs, his eyes wide with awe and love for the kid’s films. Alex perched on the sofa and scolded his son for rummaging through people’s cupboards without asking permission first, but he was then reprimanded by acting group parents, Hercules and Lafayette.

“Don’t worry about it, Ham-a-lam.”

“Oui, don’t worry, Ham-a-lam.”

“No, Laf, not you too.” Alex looked crestfallen as his friends ganged up on him with his unwanted new nickname.

John laughed, “Ah so he showed you the video.”

“Shut up.”

They ignored him and laughed – Philip, oblivious to the context, laughed also. Hercules then scooted onto the floor and into the inner DVD circle. “So, Pip, what are we thinking?”

“Hmmm,” the little boy stroked his chin thoughtfully. The large man chuckled before whispering, “You know we could just watch them all!”

“All of them?”

“ALL OF THEM! We shall start withhhhh…”

Herc looked to Philip who held up The Lion King. “An excellent choice, Mini John!”

When the older Hamilton tried to argue that he had stuff he wanted to work on, he was immediately hushed by the group and forced to recline back against the cushions, his son crawling onto his lap, Laf and Herc curled up on one armchair (the former was tucked up under a blanket on the latter’s lap) and John sat next to him. It all felt very…normal, homely…peaceful. Wrapping his arms around his boy’s stomach, Alex pulled Philip closer to him and relaxed even further, as the music signalled the start of the movie. It also marked the start of the singing…the loud, out of tune, acting involved, serenading the first to fall asleep (aka Hercules) “…singing”.

It made ears bleed…well ears of those who were actually able to sing, like Broadway stars. It was clear that none of those in the room, bar Philip who was young and still had potential, were meant to be on stage. They could hardly carry a tune, let alone a full musical.

Yeahhh, let’s be thankful they were all good at their jobs and didn’t have to resort to music as a career.

As the Disney binge continued, John and Alex left to go to the local bodega to stock up on snacks, while Laf, Herc and Philip made lunch. Neither had failed to notice (but neither commented) on the fact that Alex was still wearing John’s hoodie, as they stepped out of the shop – armed with unhealthy, sugary goodness. However, when John shivered as an icy wind blew by, Alex began taking the unspoken article off, until he was stopped by the taller of the two.

“Nah, don’t ‘Lex. You don’t wanna catch a cold.”

“But-”

“No buts, except the fine-as buns of an exceptional male specimen,” the pair laughed at this, and Alex shrugged the hoodie back over his shoulders, “besides,” John continued, bumping Alex’s shoulder with his own, “You look like a hobbit in my clothes.”

“Ouch, pride wounded, but a good trilogy to binge.”

“Yeah,” the other agreed, “That’s my Christmas movie binge.”

“Mine too. There’s something about watching fictional characters beheading grotesque creatures and destroying a piece of jewellery that makes me feel so festive.”

“Same though. We totally have to watch it at Christmas!”

“Yes!” Alex agreed, his gut squirming excitedly at the prospect of Christmas plans with John. They talked more about the Tolkien trilogy as they re-entered the flat and joined the group again for their next Disney sing-along, Oliver and Company (Herc’s choice). Everyone resumed their places on the chairs, John a little closer to Alex and Philip, while the couple cuddled on the chair. It was towards the end of Moana (his choice) that Alex felt the weight on his eyes – his hangover coming at him again – and by the time they hit the first song of Beauty and the Beast (Laf’s choice) and Belle was making her way through the poor provincial town, that Alex’s head dropped onto John’s shoulder and he began snoring softly. There was a swift conversation between the three awake adults via eye contact as Philip went to the bathroom, which ended with John sending his “parents” a glare.

When the boy didn’t return immediately after the flush of the loo, John looked round and then carefully (and reluctantly) slid himself free from Alex – who snuggled into a pillow, undisturbed – and went to check on him, thankfully unnoticed by Lafayette ad Hercules. He found Pip sat on the floor of the hallway, picking at a loose thread on his jeans, his toes curled and a thoughtful expression stirring his face. He blinked and smiled at John when the man slid down the wall next to him, crossing his legs and looking at the boy with curious hazel eyes.

“What’s up, Philly? Tired?”

“No.”

The jean-picking resumed.

“You know you can tell me if you don’t want to tell your dad something, right?”

This gained a more animated reaction, as the boy straightened up and looked John dead in the eye.

“John, do you think Pops is happy?”

“Why would you think he wasn’t happy?”

“Dunno. He smiles and stuff, but…he just seems sad.”

“Sometimes, grown ups just are.” He wrapped a reassuring arm around Philip and squeezed his shoulders. The boy hummed quietly, and then looked up with wide brown eyes.

“He smiles more with you.”

“Now I know for a fact that’s only cause you’re there.”

“He likes you.”

This made John blush a little, but he was sure that the boy meant “like” in a friendly manner.

“Well, I like him too.”

Philip smiled at this, his innocent face holding so much hope from John’s answer. John didn’t want to take that away from him, so he continued, “Tell you what, let’s – me and you – do everything we can to make your dad happy, kay?”

“Okiedokes!”

Chapter Text

“Eliza, for God’s sake, stop staring for the Hamilton boys. They’ll get here when they get here, but mind they’ve got to go to the Washington’s as well after this.”

Angelica chuckled, pushing some of her curls behind her ear, as she saw her sister flush and jump away from where she’d been sitting by the window sill. The middle of the Schuyler sisters picked at the hem of her sky-coloured cardigan, before returning to play with her hair as her almond eyes glanced back at the window. This gained another chuckle from her sister.

“Shut up.” Eliza shot Angelica a glare, grabbing her wine glass from the sill and downing what was left of the red wine in it.

“Honestly, Lizzie, I know you like him. Heck, even I think he’s gorgeous, but Laurens likes him too, and I think Alex likes John.”

“Angie, I don’t like him like that.”

Her tone was unconvincing and, from the look she got from her elder sibling, she knew that she hadn’t even fooled herself. Yes, Alex was handsome, smart, charming, witty, and oh god she was so smitten…even she knew it. She was dragged from her thoughts when Angelica patted her arm. Angelica’s eyes were a darker shade than hers, and they held only concern and love as she held her sister’s shoulder, cupping her cheek with her free hand.

“Sweetie, it’s ok to crush on him, but I just don’t want you getting hurt, ok? I know you like I know my own mind. If he hurts you, I will crush him.”

Eliza spat out a laugh, and then giggled when she watched her sister dab her face. Her voice was biting back laughter as she spoke, “Angie, I’m not gonna try anything with him, ok? And, anyway, if he did hurt – and I’m only saying if – I would stand with the camera while Pegs held him down and you cut his balls off.”

The pair of sisters laughed, and the older of the two pulled the other in for a hug.

“Ah, my eloquent Eliza, this is why you’re my favourite sister.”

“Haha, I would say ‘I’m your only sister’, but you’re only saying I’m your favourite, because Pegs isn’t here.”

“Well, when she’s here, she’s my favourite.” Angelica said, patting Eliza’s cheek with an overly wide grin on her face. Her reply was a gasp from Eliza, who was now playing the victim and pretended to be hurt. “I can’t believe you said that!” There was a mock sob. “To my face and everything!!”

Her darker-skinned sibling shoved her away, both of them laughing. She then went to pick up the wine bottle that had been abandoned on the pre-set dining table and tipped it to fill her own wine glass that had been sat close by. Unfortunately, the bottle was empty, and Angelica let out a small scoff of upset.

“Already out of wine, and Peggy isn’t even here.”

Eliza laughed and flipped her raven locks over her shoulder. “Well Mum and Dad do love Thanksgiving.”

A knowing smile was shared, before the latter sister walked to the door, “Don’t worry, I’ll grab a few bottles. Don’t want to give Mum and Henrietta more work to do.”

Henrietta was the Schuyler’s cook, and she’d been running herself into the ground in preparation for today. Angelica chuckled and rolled up the sleeves of the coral dress she was wearing.

“Ok, but don’t be too long. John should be home soon, his flight landed an hour ago. Not to mention Peggy is going to be here in a couple of hours, and she’s bringing her college roommate.”

“Seriously? Thanksgiving is a family thing.”

“Says the girl who is pining after one of her children’s parents?”

She let the comment brush off her as her sister continued, pulling her own mop of curls back into a high bun, “Besides, Pegs said that her roommate had nowhere else to go today, and she’s meant to be very nice.”

Eliza called back to Angelica as she left, “If she lives with Pegs, I imagine our beloved lil sis will have drove her crazy! And when I get back, you and Johnny-boy better not be snogging! I was scarred after the last time.”

The door was closed behind her before she heard her sister’s irritated remark.

 

_-…-_

Eliza didn’t have to go far – just a short walk from the grandness that was the Schuyler home to get to the nearest shop. It was quiet uptown, a lot quieter than downtown New York – that much she did know. However, that didn’t mean that there weren’t people still having their Thanksgiving panic-last-minute-shop. The little place was packed when she entered, but it only increased the smile on her face as she ducked and wove through the crammed space to the wines. Just as she arrived, however, she caught somebody on the shoulder and stumbled into the back of another shopper. The other girl hit the ground with such force, that the bottle she’d been holding smashed.

“Oh my god, I am so sorry.”

The girl on the ground waved a hand as she turned herself around. Eliza was still wittering away at her apology as she offered her a hand, the stranger attempting to quiet her. “Seriously, it’s ok.”

Then their eyes met. She was the prettiest girl Eliza had ever seen: red-tipped mahogany curls that fell just past her chin (although she had a thick fringe that draped over one of her ruby-brown eyes), the faintest smattering of freckles across her nose, red lipstick and a singular dimple that emerged when she gave the Schuyler sister a small smile. The smile alone gave Eliza butterflies, as she helped the girl to her feet, that she ended up apologising again.

The stranger smiled properly, and waved her hand again, “Honestly, don’t worry about it. Wouldn’t be the first time this has happened to me…although normally it’s a guy trying to grope my ass.”

The Schuyler laughed with her, unsure of whether or not the pretty girl was being honest or not. She also tried to ignore the urge to glance at the “ass” in question…now that it had been mentioned.

“Well, I am sorry, and don’t try to wave it off. I mean, I floored you for Christ’s sake, not to mention broke your bottle.”

The stranger laughed, “Ah don’t sweat, I was only buying it ‘cause I’m going to a friend’s place for Thanksgiving.” She played with her hair, revealing some level of underlying nerves, “They’re meant to be a fancy bunch, so I wanted to, you know, impress them.”

“Ah I see, I’m sure they’ll like you. Most people uptown are actually quite nice. I take it you’re not from here?”

The tanned girl laughed, “Heck no, I’m from the Bronx. Nothing fancy like this in my local bodega, lemme tell you.”

Eliza’s laugh was genuine this time, fully supportive of what the girl was saying. “I can imagine. I’m Liza, by the way,” she offered her hand with a bright smile.

The girl seemed stunned, almost as if she hadn’t expected to get this far in the conversation let alone Eliza offer her a name. She hesitantly took Eliza’s hand, a faint blush on her cheeks, and shook it gently, “Maria.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Maria.”

“You too, Liz.”

The nickname had the girl’s stomach squirming with overexcited butterflies. Sadly, the winged, imaginary insects were interrupted as Maria pulled out her phone. “Jeez, oh I’m so late. My roommate is gonna skin me. I gotta go, but it was nice bumping into you.”

“Oh, uh, likewise.”

Maria made a move to tackle the crowded exit but stopped a moment. She then turned back to Eliza, whose spirits had sunken a little.

“Look, I don’t do this – ‘specially not with cute uptown girls, like you – but would you wanna grab a coffee sometime?”

Eliza was stunned into silence, so Maria continued, “I mean, we technically got to second base, and you did break my bottle…look forget it, sorry…”

“No, I would like that,” this stunned Maria into silence. This cute-as-fuck stranger, this beautiful woman, was really accepting her dorky invitation to coffee…why? “Just, one sec,” Maria watched as Eliza dug in her purse and pulled out a scrap of paper and a pen. She scribbled her number on it and then handed it to Maria.

“That’s my number. Call me, ok?”

“O-ok.”

They shared a quiet smile, sparks flying between them as the seconds rolled along…until the ruby-eyed girl remember her “skinning” roommate and left the shop with a wave to Eliza. If she hadn’t been in a public and crowded place, the Schuyler sister would have let out a little squeal of joy, but because she was, the squeal happened into a clutched fist as she bit down on her knuckles and smiled widely.

_-…-_

“ANGELICA WHY?!”

Still on her high from the shop encounter, Eliza had strolled back to the house on a cloud. However, the cloud now had a puncture in it, and the girl was brought was to reality when she saw her elder sibling playing tongue-tennis with her fiancé…not a pleasant experience.

Her sister and beau merely smirked, giggling away like the couple they were, as Eliza tried to erase the image of her future-brother-in-law grabbing her sister’s br-…nope she was definitely scarred for life. Angelica walked over to her and rested an elbow on her shoulder, wiping some of her smeared lipstick from her face.

“Well, you were taking a while sis. Had to keep ourselves occupied somehow.”

“What you do to “occupy” yourselves should happen in private rooms where I don’t have to see! Hi John, by the way.”

She gave the Englishman a wave, which he returned with a warm smile. “Hey Lizzie, and we’re sorry about that, but you were taking a while. Isn’t the shop only a few minutes away from the house?”

“Yeah, but if we take into account the amount of people who forget Thanksgiving, then it almost quadruples the amount of time taken.” She deliberately left out her encounter with Maria, wanting to keep it to herself.

“That’s fair,” John replied, wrapping an arm around Angelica’s waist and kissing her cheek softly. He was one of the few people that could make her sister blush, and Eliza loved him for it. John was the calm and collected lake to Angelica’s fierce and passionate fire – they balanced each other out perfectly. She brought him out of his shell (and punched anyone who called him a sissy for being blonde) and he reeled her in if she ever got carried away.

“Anyway,” the middle sister said, “I bringeth wine!” She placed the few bottles she’d bought on the table with a flourish. The couple applauded her, and as Angelica opened a bottle, she gave John a proper hug.

“Stop going to England, Angie becomes her usual bossy self when you’re not here.”, she moped as he gave her a squeeze.

The Englishman laughed, “She’s always like that, though.”

“Hey, I am right here, you know?” Angelica said, her tone feigning hurt. She passed her fiancé and sister a glass each, before sipping the wine herself. “Good choice, Lizzie.”

There was the sound of the front door opening, and then the lilting voice of their younger sister floated through the house, “Yoohoo! The party Peggy has arrived!!”

“And let the chaos descend,” John whispered into Angelica’s ear. She sniggered into her glass and replied with a quiet whisper of her own, “I thought the chaos descended when your flight landed?”

“Ouch, that was cold, Schuyler.”

“As ice, Church.”

“Ew, please stop flirting. You flirting is a painful reminder that my siblings actually have lives outside of my presence, and are not just robots who only exist when I’m in the room.”

“And hello to you to, Pegs.”

The youngest Schuyler sister grinned as she properly entered the room – yellow-square glasses on her face as she breezed in to hug her sisters. They shared a tight hug, before Peggy pushed them all away, “Ok, I’m done with you, need a Johnny-cuddle.”

She then jumped at her sister’s fiancé and gave him a tight squeeze. Angelica laughed at her baby sister’s antics – for 20-years old she was very immature at times – but then caught sight of a stranger hovering by the door, unsure of whether or not she should come in. The eldest of the three siblings, then patted Peggy on the arm.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us to your friend, Peggy?”

“Oh shit, yeah.” Peggy ran to the door and grabbed Maria by the hand, dragging her into the dining room. “Everyone this is Maria Reynolds, my roommate.”

Maria gave a little wave, trying not to glance at Eliza (who looked as equally stunned as she was) as she introduced herself to the small group, “Hi, I’m Maria. I’m 21 and I’m studying paediatric nursing.”

“Don’t worry, this is just a normal family Thanksgiving, not a job interview. You don’t have to be so nervous, also, I’m Angelica, but you can call me Angie. This is my fiancé John, and that’s Eliza.”

The new girl in the room gave Angelica a smile, and then her shoulder’s visibly relaxed. The quiet in the room was broken by Peggy questioning the absence of the Hamilton’s, and the conversations separated as Eliza walked over to Maria. She gave the slightly younger girl a smile and handed her a glass of wine.

“Hello again.”

“Hey, fancy meeting you here.”

Maria gave her a red-lipped grin and took a sip of her wine. “I know right. What are the chances that this would happen?”

“Small world, although technically you did molest me in a public place, so something like this was bound to happen, because karma.”

Eliza felt her cheeks turn red, thankful for the fact that nobody else had heard what Maria had just said aloud, “I told you I was sorry for that!”

The other girl giggle, dribbling some of her red wine. She patted Eliza on the arm, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Calm your tits, Liz.” She received a light-hearted smack on the arm, “Don’t make me panic like that. I’m skittish enough as it is.”

“Is skittishness a good quality to have around young children?” The Reynolds girl elaborated on her point when the Schuyler sister shot her a shocked look, “Peggy told me that you teach kids.”

“Oh, yeah, I do.”

While the pair talked, the doorbell went, and John left to answer it. This left the youngest and oldest of the Schuyler sisters to watch the chatting couple, and whisper amongst themselves.

“They seem awfully chummy,” Angelica said with a tone of over-protection.

Peggy chuckled, an air of foreknowledge about her, “Yeah, Maria said she’d bumped into a “hot as fuck” girl in the store earlier, called Liz. I clocked it when I saw Lizzie’s face.”

“Really?”, the elder of the two inquired, glancing at her small, curly-haired sibling.

“Yup,” Peggy replied, “Maria’s great though. Confirmed lesbian, really sweet, can cook a mean strudel, she’s got a brother or something, but they don’t talk much. She’d never hurt Lizzie, so don’t go get all G.I. Angelica on her, ok?”

She said this as the two other girls broke off laughing, and just as John returned with Alex and Philip Hamilton in tow. The youngest Schuyler broke off into “Mother Hen” mode and squealed out a greeting to the pair.

Alex laughed as his son was swept away to say “hello” to Eliza and another girl he didn’t know by Mother Peggy. He’d apologised, when he’d met Philip Schuyler at the door, for his tardiness, but he’d had to wish Abuela a happy Thanksgiving, text John and drop by Laf and Herc as well. The Schuyler’s were the last people on his list before his meal with the Washingtons, but he’d then gotten a bit lost uptown…although Philip had loved the adventure.

He approached Angelica with a smile and felt heat rise in his cheeks as she gave him a hug – it was similar to the feeling he’d had when Eliza had also hugged him in greeting.

“Alexander!” The woman said, smiling brightly at him.

“Hi.”

“It’s good to see your face.”

“You too. It’s been too long.”

“I take it, Washington’s been keeping you busy?”

He grinned. Talking about work was easy with someone like Angelica. Her level of intellect matched his own, and she always seemed genuinely interested with what was going on. “Always.”

“Haha, that’s The General for you. I read yours and John’s article though – the Puerto Rico piece-”

Alex nodded.

“Had me in tears. Got Daddy to send a large donation to the charity, plus I’m going to go out with some volunteers in the New Year to help with aid work.”

“Wow, that’s incredible, Angelica.”

“Were some really inspiring words, Mr Hamilton,” John said as he joined their conversation. “You could become a writer with talent like that.”

“Haha, I think I’d annoy a lot of people if I became a writer, Mr Church.”

“Ah, some people need annoyed.”

“I know plenty!” Angelica commented, “For example, Thomas Jefferson. That opinionated pr…”, she trailed off as Philip approached the group (having escaped the clutches of Peggy, who was now distracted by the arrival of her parents). The small boy was lifted up by his father, who gave Angelica a look which dared her to continue her thought – the look had John laughing into his glass as he sipped his drink.

“…rrrincess, needs to be taken down a peg.”

And suddenly, there was a Peggy, “You called?”

“No, we didn’t Peggy.” John stated with a smile, as they watched Peggy peel Philip away again (the boy following eagerly at the promise of fizzy juice), “And I agree, Angie, Jefferson is quite full of himself.”

“Still haven’t met the infamous Jefferson,” Hamilton replied, “I’m getting mixed vibes about him.”

“It’s not that he’s a bad guy, just a difficult character.”

As Alex was about to respond he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Pulling it out he saw John’s ID and looked back up at the couple, “I’m just gonna take this quickly.”

“Ok.”

“Say hi to Jackie for us!” Angelica called after him, causing his cheeks to flush red as he exited the room. He clicked the green answer button as he sat down on the stairs.

“Hello?”

There was a breath of silence, before, “Hi Alex.”

“Hey John, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Haha, can’t a guy phone his bro without question?”

“No, duh.”

“Harsh, ‘Lex. Anyway, what’s up?”

“Well, I’m at the Schuyler’s right now.”

“Shit, did I interrupt your Thansgiving? Shit, Peggy’ll eat me alive if I have! SORRY PEGGY!”

Alex laughed at the panic in John’s voice, but something in him felt sad that he couldn’t see his friend face to face. “Calm your tits, Laurens. Me and Pip are having Thanksgiving at the Washingtons in an hour or so. Anyway, I thought you’d be having yours right now? How is South Carolina?”

“Urgh, next question please. I hate coming home. Dad kept on pushing me about getting a girlfriend and to stop being gay and-” John’s voice broke a little, and the sound of a bird let Alex know that his friend must be outside. He wished he was there, just so he could hug him…he knew how much John hadn’t wanted to go.

“I had to get out of there. Needed to call someone who doesn’t think I’m messed up.”

“John, what your Dad says is bullshit.”

“I know,” there was a sigh, “but it still hurts, you know?”

“Yeah,” but he didn’t know. His father had left before he’d ever really known him.

“Look, I’m sorry for taking up your time…”

“John you could never take up my time.”

“…I better go back inside, before he gets even more pissed off with me.”

Alex bit his lip, worrying for the face he couldn’t see.

“Happy Thanksgiving, ‘Lex.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, John.”

 

Chapter Text

“Happy Thanksgiving, ‘Lex.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, John.”

John heard Alex inhale, hesitating as if he were about to say something. He bit his lip, also anxious to speak as well, but too hesitant to open his mouth. Instead, like a coward, he uttered, “Bye Alex.” He then hung up his mobile, just as he heard Alex go “John, wai-”, and then there was silence. He clutched the phone in his fist and let out a long breath. Part of him wanted to call Alex back, to tell him that he missed him, that he couldn’t wait till he was back in New York and could give him a hug, to properly tell him how much he missed his gorgeous brown eyes…well, perhaps he wouldn’t go that far into his professions.

“John?”

A long sigh escaped him, his shoulder’s slumping as he heard his sister’s voice calling him from the house. He tugged at his curls, they were loose, and the evening wind gently stirred them into the air as he leant back against the large elm tree he was sat under. The sun was still in the sky, although it was low on the horizon, piercing his eyes as he looked out across the Laurens’ expansive garden. Henry Laurens really knew how to flaunt his wealth. A glowing career. Large house with flamboyant garden. Children he could be proud of…ha, that’s a laugh, I’m hardly someone Henry Laurens can be proud of… He wasn’t ashamed of himself – he had been when he first came out, when his dad had kicked him out and “banished” him – but no longer. Henry Laurens could get to fuck. He could burn, and yeah John would be sad about it, but it wouldn’t affect his life greatly…he was lucky that he even got mentioned in his dad’s will.

“John…”

“Yeah, I’m coming…” It won’t be long now, I’ll soon be back home.

Pushing himself to his feet, he brushed down the stupid dress trousers he’d been forced into and began walking back to the house. His sister smiled a him as he ascended the steps. Her curls matched his, but they held the same dark, strawberry tones that his mother had had. John pulled Martha in for a hug and released a third sigh. She chuckled and patted his back…she’s taller than Alex…

“Was that your boyfriend, then?”

His little sister let out a loud laugh when John blushed and shook his head, stuttering over his words and tugging at the curls that fell in front of his red cheeks. She tucked the strands behind his ears and cupped his cheeks, “Almost boyfriend?”

It took John a millisecond to reply.

_-...-_

“Wow, the Washington’s live in a palace!!” Philip pressed his nose against the window of the taxi, his breath fogged the glass as he exhaled excitedly. His fingers were sticky from the cinnamon roll Peggy had forced into his hands before the Hamilton’s had left the Schuyler home. He shuffled onto his knees and edged closer to the window, his dad watching with amusement (and yet slight concern). He knew Philip was completely safe in the car, but the way he frolicked on the edge of safety…God he was afraid that one of these days his son and a car were going to have an accident.

“It’s not a palace, Pip.”

His tone wasn’t entirely convincing, even he was in awe by the large house. He knew his boss came from a wealthy family – a family that had made its level wealth, as that of Charles Lee, from their tobacco farms in Virginia – but he never could have guessed that Washington lived in a house with more than five bedrooms…

Not that he was jealous or anything.

He pulled on a stiff smile as he paid the taxi driver, the fee of getting them here from the Schuyler’s was a lot more than he’d initially thought and he was worried he wouldn’t have enough cash to hand to get them back. Philip squealed excitedly as he bounded up the stairs and was sat on a reclining deck chair as his dad approached him. He jumped up and took Alex’ hand as the doorbell was rung and a breath of silence hung above them.

“Remember to ask nicely for things.”

“Yes, Pops.”

No one answered.

“And I’ll ask where the bathroom is, so we can wash up before we eat, ok hijo?”

“Ok!”

There was a noise from the other side of the door, and then suddenly it was flung open and a warm, homely air carried itself around the Hamiltons. A woman stood at the door; taller than Alex, slightly plump, her ivory skin glowing in a wide smile as her blue eyes met Alex’s and a piece of her honey-blonde hair fell from her unkempt bob. The radiance she emanated warmed Alex’s insides, like melted butter, and he instantly felt safe in her presence…it was as if she held the same air as his mother and could ease all his troubles away with a hug.

“Oh, you must be Alex! George has told me so much about you, I’m Martha.” She dragged him in, Alex losing the tight grip he had on Philip’s hand, and encased him in a loving hug. Yes, all the weight in his shoulders flew away as he wrapped his own arms about her back and inhaled the scent of cinnamon that seemed to swirl in her aura.

It was a moment or two before Martha released him, as if she knew that he needed that hug more than he did, and she continued to smile as Alex took a step back. She then turned to Philip and her grin increased in its volume, and sheer love filled her eyes, “And you must be Philip, yes?”

“Yes, Missus Washington.” His son replied, with a toothy grin in response to her happiness.

Martha’s heart melted at the sight and she crouched to give the small boy a hug, which he accepted with a similar amount of hesitance as his father. An internal smile creased itself within her, despite their outward appearances – Alex’s being introverted and Philip’s extroverted – the father and son were remarkably similar in the most adorable ways. She tucked her escaped hair back into the safety of her bob and held out her hands to take their coats.

“Sorry, I’m a bit frazzled at the moment. We weren’t sure what time you’d be arriving, and we gave our cleaner the week off, so she could spend the holiday with her kids. So, I’ve had a lot to do today.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Alex offered, despite her light-hearted and jokey tone.

The woman waved her hand in reply, “No, no. I enjoy the work. Just because we live in a big, fancy house doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what a mop looks like, son.”

She patted his arm as she guided the boys through to the living room. It was expansive and regal, taking Alex’s breath away. The walls were littered with pictures of the Washingtons, not to mention the diplomas and certificates that the couple had earned individually. Alex smiled quietly as he saw the way that Martha and George Washington looked at one another in the pictures: love in their eyes that flowed into their smiles. It was clear that the man adored his wife, and the woman her husband. They were beautiful to look at, and he could happily admit that he envied them.

“Excuse me, Missus Washington.” Philip began, dragging Alex from his thoughts. His eyes drifted to where his son stood next to him, his eyes flicking between the woman and the grand piano in the far corner.

Martha smiled, her blonde hair catching the evening sunlight, “Yes, darling?”

Her voice was gentle, helping to chip away at the walls of shyness that Philip had built over the walk from the door to the living room. Alex rested a hand on his son’s head, smoothing his loose curls, and smiled encouragingly.

“Where’s your bathroom?”

The two adults shared an amused, but knowing look, before the woman replied. “Right, the one down here is just under the stairs.”

She gestured towards the door, and the younger Hamilton’s brown gaze widened. “Like Harry Potter!”

“Yes,” she nodded, “Like Harry Potter.”

As Philip ran off to the bathroom, the older woman looked at the other Hamilton. She couldn’t tear the smile off her face.

“He’s absolutely precious, Alexander. You must be so proud of him.”

“I am, thank you.”

There was a second of quiet, which Martha filled. “Well, I’d better get back into the kitchen. Those yams won’t dish themselves.”

“Let me help you.”

Before she interrupted, he continued. “I insist, you shouldn’t be swept off your feet on my account.”

Martha chuckled, “Such a gentleman, the person you marry is going to feel very blessed.”

His cheeks flushed at the comment as he followed her through to the kitchen. The woman seemed to pick up on his embarrassment and swiftly changed the subject, although she was curious to know whose face had popped into his head which had made him go scarlet.

“George is down in the cellar at the minute. He’s trying to pick the perfect wine.” She passed him a frilly apron, and then looked around the kitchen. “Ok, turkey will be done in half an hour, so you can just mash those potatoes, if that’s alright?”

He nodded mutely, his mind now having drifted to why he’d been invited in the first place. Mrs Washington looked over at him from where she was washing dishes, smiling as his brow creased with concentration. She could see, clear as day, what her husband had seen in him. The passion and fire that lay under the surface, the drive, the intelligence, the wit…the son they’d always wanted.

“Penny for your thoughts, Alex, darling?”

His eyes, the same brown as his son’s, lifted and he hesitated before answering, “N-nothing, Martha.”

“It’s ok, George asked you over because we always invite new employees over for a meal at some point. But he didn’t know if you had Thanksgiving plans or not.”

“Oh…so this…”

“We don’t invite everyone over to Thanksgiving, no. We know you’ve been in New York a while now, but we wanted to give you and Philip a proper family-felt meal.”

This stunned Alex into silence, and he quietly returned to mashing – mind whirring with this new information – while Martha glanced over at him. From the living room came the plinking and plonking of piano keys, and then the face of his employer emerged from around the door.

“I see the Hamiltons made it. Hello Alex.”

“General.”

George smiled, rounding the kitchen island, bottle in hand and kissed his wife on the cheek.

“How were the Schuylers?”, the man asked, his face glowing despite the light layer of dust he’d collected in the cellar.

Alex stopped smashing potatoes and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. “They were all very cheerful. Philip Schuyler was asking after you.”

“Haha, I’ll bet. He’s an old school friend of mine.”

The younger man nodded as the noise from the piano grew. The three adults looked towards the door, before George spoke up. “I met Philip on my way in, delightful young boy you’ve got there. Said he could have a go on the piano. Martha occasionally plays, but it’s been a while since it was properly used last.”

“Does Philip get lessons?”, Martha asked when she caught the pride lurking in Alex’s eyes.

“He had a couple of lessons when he was really young, and Eliza Schuyler was offering to teach him after school on Wednesdays, but we don’t have an instrument he could practice on at home.”

“You could always come here for him to practice,” George stated.

As Alex stuttered a denial, he was waved off by his boss’ wife. “Honestly, son, we would love for Philip to use the instrument. And it would mean you wouldn’t have to worry about him if you needed to work late.”

The offer was genuine, and gentle, but it irked Alex a little that his boss had digressed his whole situation to his wife…embarrassment ate at his gut…

Still…Philip adored piano, and he didn’t want to stop his son from seizing the opportunities that presented themselves to him.

“You don’t have to say anything now, son.” His boss said, “We understand why you might not want to.”

Alex nodded, “Thank you, I’ll ask Pip and let him decide.”

The tension in the air around him vanished with Martha’s smile, and soon he felt at home again.

_-...-_

John was beyond excited as he sat in Herc’s car.

He was finally back in New York. He could finally have a proper Thanksgiving with his family. He could finally see Alex and Philip again. Unknown to him, his large friend had been watching him and Alex rapidly texting one another since he’d been collected from the airport…it was sickeningly adorable.

Back at Herc and Laf’s, the Hamilton boys were helping a frantic Frenchman in the kitchen. Laf and Philip were sorting out the pumpkin and chocolate pies, while Alex had (once again) been tasked with potato mashing. It amused the Frenchman every time the smaller man’s eyes drifted to his phone, and he replied to a Laurens text. When Alex felt his stare, he went back to whipping cream and chatting away to Philip in hurried French.

The apartment mood lifted when Hercules and John returned, the latter armed with his suitcase as there was a sleepover planned afterwards. Herc and Laf had their bedroom, Alex and Pip had taken the sofa bed, which had left poor John on the airbed on the floor.

“Guess who I kidnapped at the airport!” Boomed Hercules as he jumped into the kitchen with a smile. He swooped Laf into a hug and kissed his partner softly as John entered the room. The South Carolinian rolled his hazel eyes at the couple and laughed, his smile widening when Pip thundered into his arms and began explaining how he’d been taking "extra good care" of Flash and Gordon while he’d been away. The warmth in his gut grew, not from Laf’s hug, but when he caught sight of Alex, who had paused in his mashing task to look at him.

Herc rolled up his sleeves and walked over to Alex. He eyed the mash and then bumped Alex with his hip. “Right Ham-a-lam, you’re out of the kitchen.”

“What?” Alex exclaimed with only minor offence, “Why?”

“Because that,” Herc replied, pointing at the sadly beaten potatoes, “is not mash. I will draw the Irish card here, 'cause I know my potatoes!”

John chuckled, to which Alex sent him a pointed glare, and spoke up, “Anything I can do to help, Herc?”

“No!” Both Hercules and Lafayette shouted, and then both John and Alex were ushered out of the kitchen and into the living room. The smaller of the two men looked over to his friend and chuckled, “Dare I ask why they were so quick to kick you out?”

His curly-haired friend plonked himself down on the sofa, laughing quietly to himself. “Last year, I offered to help and cremated the pies. Year before that I dropped the turkey. Before that I may have put sugar in the bread sauce.”

The pair laughed loudly as Alex sat on the cushion next to him, dabbing his eyes as tears ebbed in the corners. “Remind me to never let you cook for me.”

“It’s not that I can’t cook!” John retorted, poking Alex’s forehead playfully. “The Thanksgiving meal physically hates my involvement! I’m actually not that bad a chef.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes!”

They chuckled again. Then there was quiet, a comfortable silence over them as they took in the sight of the other. It was Alex who spoke first.

“How was it? Back at home, I mean?”

He didn’t miss John shudder at the question.

“Dire. Honestly, I love my siblings, but I swear they’re the nosiest bunch of people I’ve ever met.”

“Even nosier than our hosts?” Alex quipped.

“Mhm.”

Alex mouthed a “wow”, shuffling ad edging closer, ever so subtly. It was John’s turn to ask now, and he stretched his arms across the back of the couch as he did so.

“How was things with the boss?”

“Actually, not that bad.”

“See, told you you’d be fine,” John said with a nudge of Alex’s arm. The Nevisian nudged him back, “Martha’s lovely, isn’t she?”

The smaller man nodded, “Yeah, reminded me of my mum. Didn’t want her to ever stop hugging me.”

His cheeks flushed at the overshare. He’d meant to keep that last part as a quiet thought to himself, but it had slipped out because he was talking to John…Alex knew that John wouldn’t care about his vulnerability…wouldn’t take advantage of it. However, John had just had a few heavy days in South Carolina and he didn’t want his friend to worry about him.

“Hey.” A finger brushed his cheek, and Alex looked around to see John’s face close to his. His eyes were so close, that he could see the gold in his iris’, the subtle dimple in his smile…John was beautiful up close. “You ok?”

He blinked, “Y-yeah, sorry, was just thinking.”

John didn’t withdraw his finger and found himself playing with the ends of Alex’s dark hair, gazing at him as if he couldn’t get enough of him. “I missed you so much.”

His voice was a whisper, almost like it was originally meant to be an unspoken thought. Alex had heard it, though, and his heart leapt into his throat, stammering in his ears. John’s eyes drifted but locked with his own again – his ears pink with embarrassment at what he’d said.

“I missed you too.”

Really? Why?

The longer they looked at each other, the closer they became. There was a tension in the room, a feather landing on the floor would have sounded like a boulder on a cliff. Laurens wasn’t sure if was him, or Alex, or both of them moving…their noses touching…he wasn’t even sure what was real anymore. Alex could only see John: John swam in his gaze, his cologne drowned out all other smells, more delicious than the scent of turkey from the kitchen, his breath warmed his face and filled his ears. There was only John, nothing else.

“Pops, John! Laf says dinner’s ready!”

They jumped apart as Philip emerged from the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Philip loved Wednesdays. Wednesdays were great days, and here’s why…

Number One: It meant it was almost the weekend

Number Two: John would let him feed Flash and Gordon – On his own!

Number Three: His dad didn’t have to rush into work, because he had a late start.

Number Four: They got to write poems with Miss Schuyler.

Five: He and Theo could go to the school’s library at break time.

Number Six: It was ‘Clean Sheet Day’ and he and his dad would have great fun changing the bed sheets (this only happened once a month, but always on a Wednesday)

Seven: His dad finished work early, so he could pick him up from school.

Number Eight: There was a rerun omnibus of The Proud Family episodes, which he was allowed to watch while he did his homework (he liked Puff the Dog, but his dad liked Suga Mama)

Nine: (and this was a new one) he was starting his piano lessons with Miss Schuyler that day after school.

His dad had told him about the new lessons not that long after Thanksgiving. The news had shocked the young boy, but the shock had soon been replaced with jubilation as he squealed and hugged his father, rambling on-and-on about how much of a cool dad he was. His father had then told Philip that Miss Schuyler would teach him piano every second Wednesday, but the week in between he would go to the Washington’s after school and practice for an hour until Alex, John or Abuelita Carlotta picked him up…or if Mr or Mrs Washington gave him a lift home.

The curly-haired boy had nodded excitedly, promising to practice his hardest and learn all he could so that he could impress his dad with a tune at Christmas. (This promise also came at the polite request of a keyboard for Christmas, only if his dad could afford it). He didn’t want Alexander spending too much money on him, he knew that they were poor and that the only way for them to rise up was how hard his dad worked.

Anyway, back to school, Philip was hunched over his desk writing. Like his dad, he loved writing. There was just something about it – his dad said it must be in his genes, but Pip had no idea what his trousers had anything to do with his love of writing. At that current moment, he was sat next to Theo writing a poem. Miss Schuyler had asked them to write or draw what they wanted to be when they grew up, and immediately the young Hamilton had snatched a pencil from his turtle-shaped pencil case and had began writing with great speed. His poem looked something like this:

“My name is Philip,

I am a poet,

And I wrote this poem, just to show it.

And this is a funny line,

You can write rhymes, but you can’t write mine!

I practice French,

And play piano with Missus Schuyler

When I grow up I wanna be a writer

My daddy writes, he doesn’t work at the bank.

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq!”

“Look Theo!”, he said proudly once he’d written his name at the bottom of the page.

Theodosia, a dark-skinned girl with large, charcoal eyes and curly, black hair, looked up from her own drawing (she’d been drawing a picture of a ballet dancer) and smiled over at her friend. To her left sat Quincy Adams, who was scribbling about how he wanted to be a superhero when he grew up, and across from them sat Henry Knox (drawing a picture of a rainbow) and Nathaniel Green who was drawing a cat. On Philip’s right sat George Eacker, he was writing something, but Philip couldn’t read his handwriting, because it was so small. Philip didn’t like George, and George didn’t like Philip, but Miss Schuyler had sat them both at the same table, because she thought that they could get along…Philip, on the other hand, didn’t think so.

“What?”, she asked, curiosity filling her voice, and her eyes widened as Philip passed her his poem. He then watched, playing with the flippers of his turtle-case, as she read it – she was a slow reader – and played with the ends of his curls. His dad had plaited his hair that morning, but he hadn’t done a very good job, because the majority of it had escaped. Pulling the curl until it looked straight, Pip blew some of the hair from his eyes, and giggled when it tickled his nose.

“It’s really good, Pippy!” Theo said, a large smile showing her white teeth. Philip also smiled, but he could feel his cheeks turn red when she said it was “excellent”. It was one of the biggest words she knew, so it meant a lot to him that she used it to describe his poem.

The little girl moved to give him back the sheet of paper, but a hand from next to Philip snatched the poem from her hand. Both she and the little Hamilton cried out as George scrunched the paper as he read the poem, his green eyes reading the short amount of writing that was on it.

“Give me back my poem, Eacker!”

Philip’s voice was attempting to be firm, like his dad, but he could only manage a small tone…afterall Eacker was a lot taller than him already.

“No,” Eacker spat, “Your poem is stupid.”

“It ain’t stupid!”

“You’re stupid!”

“I’m not stupid!”

“He’s not stupid!” Theo and Philip spoke in unison, but still George refused to give back the poem. When Philip tried to snatch it back, the other boy merely shoved him away with a shoulder. He tried again, with the same result. Theo huffed and folded her arms, her little lips pouting as she looked at the two boys.

“Why are you so mean, George? Pippy didn’t do nothing to you!”

George, glaring at Philip first (who stuck his tongue out as a reply) put on a crestfallen expression when he spoke to her. “He was mean to me first, Theo.”

“Only I call Theo Theo!”

“No you don’t, Pippy!”

He said Theo’s nickname for Philip with a sneer, and it was this that pushed Philip over the edge. He grabbed again, but not for the poem this time. Instead he grabbed George’s hair, and the taller boy screamed, slapping at Philip’s shoulders and shoving him off his chair. The crash alerted Miss Schuyler, who had been helping one of the other tables with their drawings, and she shot up and over to the chaos.

“Philip! George! That’s enough.”

Her stern tone told the boys that she wasn’t joking, and she was definitely not happy. She told them to go wait outside the classroom, and she would speak to them shortly.

In the hallway, George kept sending Philip pointed glares, but Philip was sat on the floor, hugging his knees and trying to control his tears…he really didn’t want to cry…especially not in front of George Eacker. His eyes kept betraying them as salty droplet after salty droplet fell from his brown eyes and onto the sleeves of his top. The tears weren’t for the fact that Miss Schuyler was going to tell him off for fighting, nor were they for the fact that he’d bumped his head really hard off the floor when George had shoved him off his chair…they weren’t even for the fact that stupid George Eacker had called him stupid…no, the tears were because he knew that Miss Schuyler would tell his dad, and that his dad would be upset.

His dad wouldn’t act upset, he wouldn’t shout at him, he’d be upset that Philip hadn’t told him about George Eacker…that would really upset him…and Philip didn’t want to make his dad sad…not on a Wednesday.

It felt like forever before Miss Schuyler came to speak to them, and she looked less angry when she did. Eliza crouched down to the boys’ height and rested her hands on her lap, beckoning the children to come over…which they did, reluctantly.

“Philip started it!” George said quickly as she opened her mouth.

The woman contained a sigh, “I’m not asking who started it George. I want to know why you were fighting.”

Her voice was kind, gentle so that they knew that things would be ok. She looked between the pair: George with his arms folded and Philip who had tear tracks forming on his freckled cheeks.

“G-George said my poem was stupid and I was stupid.”

“No I didn’t!”

“Yes you did! You snatched my poem off Theo!”

“Liar!”

“I’m not a liar! You’re the liar!”

“Boys! What do we say about shouting?”

There was silence, awkward and embarrassed. Eventually, both boys muttered, “No shouting, miss”

“That’s right. So, can we talk about this with our inside voices, yes?”

Eacker nodded at her, while Philip mumbled a barely audible, “Mhm.”

“Good boys. Now, George, did you snatch Philip’s poem?”

“No!”

She intercepted before Philip could speak, “George, remember we don’t lie.”

The boy contained a huffed, but then nodded his head as a response to her question.

“And did you call him stupid?”

Again, a nod.

“Why?”

There was a shrug this time. “Would you like it if someone called you stupid, George?”

A shake of the head.

“Can you apologise to Philip then?”

There was a hesitant few seconds, until eventually (under the encouragingly pressured gaze of Miss Schuyler) George muttered, “Sorry.”

“Well done. Now, Philip, can you apologise for hitting George?”

“Sorry, George.”

Eliza smiled brightly at the pair of them and stood up. “See, that wasn’t so hard! Well done both of you. Now can we go back inside, and I want no more shouting or fighting, ok?”

Neither of the two boys replied to her, they were barely looking at each other…more their shoes…but she let them back into the class and followed after them. The door closed behind her softly and she watched as George stomped back to his seat – not caring that most of the other 6-year-olds were looking at him – whereas Philip hid behind his hair and walked slowly back to his table. She noted how quietly he sat down and resumed working and made a mental note to speak to him more about it in their piano lesson.

_-...-_

Eliza wasn’t sure how to go about asking Philip about the events from earlier. Normally, she’d have no bother with it, because she rarely saw her kids outside of the school…but Philip was a special case. She knew that teachers shouldn’t have favourites, but there was something about Philip Hamilton…the brightness of his smile, his eyes, his writing…she didn’t know what exactly, but she knew that she would’ve been proud if he was her own son.

 Over lunch, she’d phoned Alex at work and told him about the fight. The man had sounded distraught, and had had no idea that Eacker even existed, let alone bore some kind of grudge against his son. He’d offered to come straight to the school to collect Pip, but Eliza had told him that the younger of the two Hamiltons had seemed really excited about his piano lesson, and she didn’t want to cancel it and upset him further. Reluctantly, Alex had agreed, but she knew she’d probably unleashed a tidal wave of worry upon the poor man and could only hope that John, Hercules and Lafayette could keep him distracted for the rest of the afternoon.

She looked over at Philip with concerned eyes but managed a smile when he looked over at her from where they sat on the piano stool. They were still at the school, and she was easing him into the instrument gently – although he seemed enthusiastic at attempting to hit every key at once.

“Ok, Philip, are you ready?”

“Yes!” He replied, all memory of the fight at the back of his mind. The resilience of children constantly amazed her, but she didn’t want him to forget about it before they could work it out.

“Good. Now, repeat this after me – un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, ouit, neuf.”

Her fingers danced along the keys and her skylark voice carried an awe-invoking grace, and then it was Philip’s turn. He repeated the phrase but jumped to the higher counterpart of the sequence as he came to the final three numbers.

“…six, sept, ouit, neuf.”

“Sept, ouit, neuf.” Eliza repeated.

Philip did the exact same thing as before, “Sept, ouit, neuf.”

“No, no, listen,” she said lightly, “Sept, ouit, neuf.”

“Sept, ouit, neuf.”

Eliza giggled as the boy did it wrong again, shaking her head and grinning at him. “We’ll work on it again later,” she whispered, and Philip let out a small laugh.

“Shall we take a break?”

“Ok!”

Philip was sat on the floor, playing with his pencil case, while Eliza sipped at her coffee. She smoothed out her skirt and crossed her legs as her phone vibrated on the piano lid. A smile crept onto her face when she saw who the text was from.

Maria R: Heyyy! When are you free? X

Elizaaa: Hi! Sorry, can’t talk right now (teaching a piano lesson) I’ll text you more later xx

Maria R: Shit! Soz didn’t know XD No rest for teachers, eh? TTYL X

Warmth spread across her chest, as she tucked her phone away in her bag. She then looked back over at Philip…it was now or never to ask.

“I read your poem Philip.”

He looked over at her, his eyes wide and pulled his turtle-case closer to him like a security blanket. As he waited for her reaction, she went and sat next to him, ruffling his hair fondly – it had fully escaped the plait.

“I thought it was lovely.”

“It was stupid…George was right.”

Her gaze softened, “No, George should never have said that word. You are a very clever little boy, Pip, and your poem was wonderful, like a rap.”

“Really?”

“Mhm, cross my heart.”

A small smile graced his freckles, but Eliza wasn’t done.

“Why did you grab George, Philip?”

“Dunno, just did. He was being mean to me and Pops says you should stand up to bullies.”

“Your dad is right, Philip…but you should never choose to fight them.”

“He hit me too!”

Her reply caught in her throat when she saw the fat tears on the verge of escape. She could feel her heart break for this little boy in front of her, and it only continued with what he said next.

“I meant my sorry, but George didn’t! He kept saying I was stupid! And, and he drew on Theo’s drawing! She’d worked really hard on it, it was a ballet dancer! A-and he said that my, my dad was stupid for being a writer, but my dad isn’t stupid! And I wanted to hit him again, but I didn’t want to make you mad, and I didn’t want to upset dad, because dad needs to be happy and, and..”

He broke off as hysteria took hold, and his small shoulders began shaking – the tears breaking free from their cage and rolling down his face. Eliza didn’t hesitate, she scooped the boy into her arms and hugged him close – kissing the top of his head and rocking him gently. She felt as if she’d failed him a little; by not noticed what else had happened…but she couldn’t have, because Philip had told her…he wasn’t scared to tell her what George had done. She spoke into his curls as his crying started to quieten.

“You are not stupid Philip. Your dad isn’t stupid, either. It was mean of George to say those things, and I will speak to him tomorrow. Thank you for telling me, that was really brave.”

She contained a smile when Philip’s eyes met hers and he wiped his snotty nose with his sleeve. “Do you want to go back to playing the piano?”

He nodded mutely, glad that she had changed the subject. He didn’t feel brave, he felt embarrassed, but when Miss Schuyler gave him another tight hug, a little bit of braveness swirled in his stomach.

They were both sat at the piano, singing and playing, when Alex arrived to retrieve his son. He smiled a little, but his eyes held worry. It was masked though when Philip noticed his arrival and barrelled over to him. His son wrapped his arms around his middle ad Alex could feel the dampening of tears on his top, and he hugged Philip tightly. When they pulled apart, Philip was rubbing his eyes as fresh tears (for the third time that day) ran their way down his face.

“I-I-I’m sorry f-for fighting.” The 6-year-old managed to choke out.

Alex crouched down, cupping his son’s cheeks and wiping the tears away with the sleeve of his hoodie. He squeezed Pip’s shoulders and gave his forehead a kiss.

“Hey now, none of that, hijo. It’s ok.”

He pulled Philip in for another hug and gently took out the hair tie which had failed to hold his hair. He then looked over to Eliza and mouthed “thank you”. She waved her hand but blushed shyly all the same. Alex helped Philip collect his things and then, without bringing up the issue further, the Hamilton’s said goodbye to Eliza and left the school.

Alex held Philip’s hand tightly as they walked home. In the other was his phone and John was texting him.

Laurens: Hey, everythin go ok wiv Pip?

A.Ham: Yeah think so

Laurens: r u ok?

A.Ham: Yeah

Laurens: Alex don’t lie to me.

A.Ham: Honestly John, I’m ok. Just worried about Pip

Laurens: He’ll be ok

Laurens: Wanna order a pizza?

A.Ham: Takeaway on a school night?

Laurens: I’ll buy ;)

Alex chuckled quietly at John’s text, and then looked down at Pip. It was Wednesday, ‘Clean Sheet Day’…John wouldn’t want to help with that…

A.Ham: It’s clean sheet day at home

Laurens: Happy 2 help if u want me?

Chapter Text

“John!”

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?”

“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?”

“Right!”

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!

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!!!

Maddie: THOMAS!

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

Maddie: Mhmmmm

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?”

“Yes sir.”

But if truth be told, Alex really wasn’t.

 

Chapter Text

Following their first meeting, loud arguments were commonplace between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson…well whenever they ever happened to be in the same work place…most of the time the arguments were over the newspapers’ group chat. Everyone, but Laurens, Mulligan, Burr, Madison and Washington had muted the chat because of the frequency of the texts, and the great essays that were published over them. What everyone didn’t know was that the arguments, the work, the effort needed to juggle the level of heated debate as well as looking after a child, exhausted the pair of them. Jefferson had taken Sally’s advice and had begun going to the single dad’s support group. It had taken a great weight off his shoulders, and he’d actually managed to enjoy some leisure time with James.

Alex, on the other hand, was now sat yawning at his laptop. He was sat alone in Rochambeau, a mug of coffee sat in front of him – now long forgotten and stone cold. John and Herc had left long before, the former had volunteered to pick up Philip from his piano lesson, and the latter had gone home, which left Alex and Lafayette on their own in the café. The Frenchman was watching, with concerned dark eyes, as his friend rubbed the bags on his face and let out another long yawn. When his chin slipped off his hand and he whacked his forehead off the table, that was the last straw for Lafayette.

The tall foreigner pushed his elbows off the counter and picked up a tea towel, circling round to the booths. He rolled the towel in his fingers and then whipped Alex on the shoulder with it. The Nevisian jumped with a shout and rubbed his arm, glaring at his French-fry of a friend.

“What the hell was that for?”

“Rentre chez toi mon ami. Vous êtes épuisé et ont besoin de rentrer à la maison, mettez votre pyjama, obtenir Philip et John et câliner l'enfer hors d'eux avec un film. Arrêtez-vous travailler à la mort!”

Alex frowned, supressing another yawn so that Laf’s point wouldn’t be made. He waved a hand at the taller man as he slid into the booth opposite him and passed him a fresh cup of coffee.

“Laf, je vais bien, et je suis sûr que John a de meilleures choses qu'il préfère faire que de passer du temps avec moi.”

His curly-haired friend let out a snort, chuckling into his tea towel. Lafayette gave Alex a deadpanned eyebrow raise and drummed the table with his well-manicured nails. “You are kidding, right? I am more than positive that John would love nothing more than potato it up on the sofa with you and Pip. You are blind to ‘ow much ‘e adores you.”

Alex sipped his renewed cup of coffee and then pointed a finger at his friend. “First of all, it’s veg out on the sofa – stop pretending you don’t know all the English phrases in the dictionary.”

The pair shared an amused grin as Lafayette twirled the loose curls that framed his face, before flicking Alex on the forehead. “I assume there is a secondly, before you started slagging off my English.”

The smaller man rolled his eyes, before continuing in an unamused and slightly hurt tone, “Yeah, secondly, John…John doesn’t “adore” me. We’re just friends, nothing more.”

“Alex…”, Lafayette began, noticing the way his friend seemed to curl in on himself, his eyes looking sad as he played with the ends of his sleeves. Alex waved him off, “Laf, just don’t. John is a good friend, but I can’t afford to read to much into it…I already rely on him too much when it comes to Philip…I rely on you all too much.”

He ran a hand through his hair, sighing heavily. Lafayette swallowed, before an idea came to him: a crazy idea, a crazy, but possibly beneficial idea, a crazy, but possibly beneficial idea that could backfire immensely…and lead to full-scale war on the newspapers’ group chat… It was a sacrifice he was willing to take, but as he carefully rubbed his eyes (so not to smudge his eyeliner) he decided it would probably be best if he omitted some of the more…finer details.

“’ave you ever thought of going to a support group?”

“Jesus, Laf, I’m tired, I don’t need a shrink.”

“Non, non, non, je ne le pense pas. I mean a, um,” Laf clicked his fingers, searching for the right word. “Eh, ‘ow would you say, “lieu où les parents célibataires se rencontrent et discutent de leur vie”, in your beautiful mother tongue?”

Alex stroked his chin, mentally reminding himself that he really needed to shave, before replying. “Conseil aux parents?”

“Parent counselling, hmm, sounds like something that ‘appens at school, non?”

“Haha, yeah, but I get what you meant now. Sort of like an AA meeting, but for single parents?”

The older man nodded, resting his chin on his hands. From the corer of his eyes, Laf noted that Alex’s phone screen lit up – John’s name illuminating the screen. He bit back a smirk out of respect for his friend, but God he was as piny as John in the hope that the pair would get together soon. Alex took another sip of his coffee, “Where did you find out about that then?”

“I ‘ave other friends besides you, John and Heracles.”

“Wait,” Alex clutched his chest in mock hurt, “You have other friends who are single parents? You mean to tell me that I am not the only person you know with an adorable child whom you dote on?”

Oh, Alexander, mon ami, you ‘ave no idea, ‘ho this particular friend is.

“Philip better be your favourite of those children?” Alex continued as his questioning of Lafayette grew.

They both laughed, “Don’t worry, ‘e is.”

There was a beat of silence, in which Laf glanced outside and watched as the world slunk from the steady breaths of the afternoon into the warmth of the early evening. He smiled gently as he looked back at Alex, “Speaking of my darling adopted son-”

“He’s not your son.”

“Fine, your son ‘ho is really my son, shouldn’t you be getting ‘ome to ‘im?”

The Hamilton checked his watch, brown eyes widening as he registered the time. He’d had no idea how late it had gotten. The small man began manically packing up his laptop, much to the amusement of his friend.

“Yeah, sorry, I promise, I’ll settle my tab next time.”

He shouted this as he ran out the door, Lafayette calling “Of course you will! Just like mon amour promised to unclog the sink with his beard ‘air!!”

Alex, hearing this, found himself wheezing with laughter as he ran down the sidewalk in the direction of Jackson Heights.

_-…-_

Alex was charging across the street and towards his apartment block, when a man on the sidewalk called out to him.

“Alexander Hamilton?”

The Nevisian slowed, almost to a stop, as he looked in the general direction of the stranger. He was tall, with a dark red beard and mahogany curls, rubied-brown eyes meeting his own. They were dark, intimidating and intense…a raging fire burning in the iris’.

“That depends, who’s asking?”

The stranger offered him a dashingly white style, I see his daddy’s got money, and offered a hand. “James Reynolds,” In the evening light, Alex could see how he wore a blue, fitted suit – that highlighted some serious muscle definition, “I work with Kings Social Services.”

His heart stopped dead in his ears. Bile rising up in his throat. He felt light-headed as he tried to formulate a reply, “O-oh?”

Reynolds continued smiling, lowering his rejected hand, “Yes, Mr King and Mr Seabury sent me over to have a chat with you and Philip and assess how things have changed since the last time.”

“I thought we weren’t due another assessment until the New Year?” There was unhidden shock in Alex’s voice, and he wavered as he tried to hold James Reynold’s gaze. The fire in this man’s eyes scared him, but it also held a deep excitement…an unsafe excitement…a dark, broody, lustful excitement…the worse part was James seemed to know of the fire within him and played upon it as he took a step closer to the smaller man – dwarfing him further with his height – and tucked a strand of hair behind Alex’s ear.

“How about we continue this inside with a cup of tea? You can collect Philip from your…charming landlady, and I can make my own assumptions of your apartment. Seabury’s notes were definitely insightful, but I like to make my own judgements of the most…” He looked Alex square in the face, licking his lips, “…useful locations within a single parent’s home.”

Alex swallowed, nerves swirling in his gut, and nodded mutely. This man had rendered him speechless, mute, silent…something he never thought someone could do. He fiddled with his keys in the lock, hands shaking as Reynold’s braced an arm above his head, his cologne drowning his senses and sending his brain into a mushy frenzy. In some corner of his brain, alarm bells were ringing, but they were drowned under the noise of the handsome stranger’s breaths.

“Allow me,” James said, pushing the door open and allowing Alex to walk in first.

Thankfully, some space was put between them as Alex bolted slowly through the door and called out to the building. “Hola volví!”

He heard Reynolds mutter, “Spanish-speaking, sexy.”, and bit back a blush. A metaphorical bucket of cold water was thrown over him, however, the second he saw Philip charging down the stairs…followed by John. Handsome, sweet, innocent John. His John…well not his, but his John all the same. John, who’s hazel eyes creased with concern the second he clapped eyes on the well-dressed stranger who was standing too close to Alex. Far too close.

Reynold’s smiled through John’s piercing glare, and offered his hand again, “James Reynolds, you must be Alex’s landlord. Funny, I was expecting a man.”

“I’m his neighbour and friend from work.” John rebuffed the handshake offered to him, glancing briefly at Alex. The smaller man’s face was flushed, and he looked nervous…and not the good kind.

“How’d you know Pops, Mister Rain-olds?” Philip said, struggling to get his mouth around the man’s surname as he was missing a tooth.

James Reynold’s demeanour seemed to falter, a mistake that wasn’t missed by John and Alex. The pair made eye contact as the other adult began speaking to the boy – Alex’s gut suddenly burning with anger as he allowed this stranger to speak to his son.

“Reynolds, Philip I’m guessing?”

“Mhm!” The boy nodded, smiling, innocently ignorant to the mood of the lobby.

“Well, I’m here because I need to speak to you,” he prodded Philip playfully on the nose, causing the younger Hamilton to giggle and Alex to feel sick, “and your very charming father,” he winked at Alex. It took all John had not to punch the man then and there, he had no idea how much self-restraint he had until he was forced to watch this slimy, weasel of a man talk to two of the most important people in his life; walk them up the stairs, his hand dangerously close to Alex’s waist (something which had the South Carolinian cracking his knuckles behind his back, as he had to flash the freckled 6-year-old a smile), and close the door in his face…locking him away from Alex, unable to protect him.

He stood outside of the Hamilton’s door for ten minutes, his hands against the wood, his heart beating manically in his ears. He felt sick. He wanted to burst in, grab Alex and kiss him…just to prove a point to that bastard Reynolds…and for other reasons… Eventually, and reluctantly, he ended up carrying himself back to his own apartment, but he didn’t get much further than his own door. He just stood there, staring at the closed wood, watching the blurred exterior of the outer hallway…

Pulling his phone out, John found himself dialling Hercules’ number.

“John, brrrah, La-” There was a loud and shameful moan from his large friend, which managed to generate a smirk from John (as well as a roll of his eyes), before Herc continued, “Laf, honey, I’m tryna talk to John.”

“Mon amooooor.”

“Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.”

“Tu es si chaud quand tu dis mon nom, mon amour. Dis le encore.”

John held the phone away from his ear as the couple down the line began kissing sloppily. Of all the things someone could be doing at five in the evening, he had to call his friends when there were on the brink of…God did they need to invest in voicemail.

“Après, je promets,” Herc eventually replied, in a very poor French accent…but it got Lafayette mewling like a kitten as if he were French royalty.

That was when John had had enough.

“Right, much as it does amuse me to listen to you two making out, on the very cusp of boning one another. And don’t get me wrong, I love being the third wheel in this emotional rollercoaster that is your sex lives – I love how you need to include me in this, little old John who hasn’t got laid since he met…well unimportant – but I need to have a serious talk with Hercules. It’s a bro-to-bro situation, Laffy.”

Bro-to-bro meant that it was deadly serious, and from the sigh that came from his French friend, John could hear that Lafayette understood. He heard him mutter something about Alex, before kissing Herc’s cheek and left the room.

“What’s up, Johnny?” Herc asked, his attention now fully on John.

The latter let out a long sigh, running a hand through his hair and pulling out his ponytail.

“It’s about Alex.”

_-…-_

From the other side of the door Alex was having to deal with an onslaught of Reynold’s. The man kept invading his personal space, breathing down his next, trying to get him hot and flustered (working successfully because he didn’t have John there to keep him grounded). The man kept asking him the very same questions that Seabury had…just with a different approach.

It was when he asked to speak to Philip alone…

…Alex couldn’t cope. He felt too scared to message anyone, to move from where he was now sat in his living room, his eyes on his son’s bedroom door. He wanted to throw up. He wanted to cry. He wanted John.

Instinctively his fingers began tracing along the scars on his arms, through the material of his shirt. He did this when he was stressed…a reminder to himself not to work himself up too much, to remain as calm as possible…or he would become his worst enemy.

He began scratching his arm as he heard the voices carrying through the wood. I swear I won’t let him do anything to you Philip…I swear on my life.

“And now Miss Eliza said I could maybe learn Claire de Lune soon!”

“That’s fantastic to hear. I’m sure you’ll play it beautifully. I’ll have to come ‘round sometime to hear it.” Reynolds winked, causing Philip to smile brightly between him and his father. Alex attempted to smile in return, but it felt stiff and awkward with James Reynolds in the room. The initial feelings he had with this man had died in the pit of his stomach the second he’d spoken to Philip, but for the sake of his son’s safety…for the sake of everything he’d built here, in the few months he’d been in this apartment…he had to play like nothing had changed.

“Now,” Reynolds’ voice dragged Alex back to reality. The tall New Yorker flashed the Hamilton a dashing smile, “I’ve got to speak to your daddy alone, so why don’t you go over and speak to that lovely neighbour of yours.”

He bumped Philip’s arm gently, and the little boy nodded, looking to Alex. “Is it ok if I go see John again, Pops?”

John. John is safe.

“Of course, hijo.”

And soon it was just Alexander and James…alone.

“Well, now it’s just the two of us,” James began, slinking towards Alex – who was backed into the wall, “I should say, Alexander darling,” He trailed a finger along Alex’s jaw, looking into his eyes, all sense of charm gone from his eyes, “It doesn’t look good for you and your son.”

Silence. “Wh-what do you mean?”

“I mean, you’re either likely to be deported, or Philip Hamilton gets put into an orphanage.”

“But, I haven’t done anything to warrant that!”

“Not according to Seabury’s report, darling.”

He pressed his lower half against Alex, who was now completely against the wall. The Nevisian just stared, open-mouthed as Reynolds drew ever closer, “B-but…” He was speechless again, his voice lost in his throat.

“I haven’t done anything.”

“Means nothing to me, and I can’t help you…”

There was a breath of silence as James held Alex’s face. The panic was evident in the brown of Alex’s iris’, even Reynolds could see it…and for some reason, it amused him.

“Unless,” he said in a voice, barely above a whisper.

Alex met his gaze, his voice equally as quiet. He swallowed thickly, “Unless?”

Reynolds took a step back, allowing Alex room to breathe. The small man gulped for air, his eyes wavering around the room. There was no escape from this, whatever Reynolds had to say, he couldn’t get away from it. The other man opened his arms up with a wide grin.

“I’m not gonna lie to you, I like you Alex. You’re hot as hell. Definitely fuckable, even with those skinny legs and tiny frame – although smaller is better in my preference. I could maybe sway things with the higher-ups if you-”

“If I sleep with you.” Alex finished off. His voice lacked all feeling, he felt disgusted at the suggestion, but even more disgusted at himself when he found himself considering it…but only after Reynolds whispered, “It is the only way you can keep him.”

 

Chapter Text

“Hello everyone, it’s nice to see you all again. I should say that we have some new members today, so why don’t we go around the group, introduce ourselves and maybe a little bit about our situations, and also, perhaps, a little interesting fact about ourselves. I can go first, unless someone else wants to? ...no? That’s ok. Hi, my name is John Jay and my situation is that I’ve recently divorced and I’m sharing custody over my 6 children with my ex-wife. Oh, and a little interesting fact about me is that I am part Dutch. Right, who wants to go next?”, Jay queried as he smiled around the circle of quiet individuals.

Not including him, there was 19 of them, and Alex was still amazed at himself that he was even sat there…especially after Jefferson had sat opposite him…and then Burr had appeared! Questions now plagued his head. Questions with obvious answers – seeing he was at a meeting for single dads, and single dads alone, but he couldn’t stop his gaze from flicking between Thomas and Aaron every so often. The way they sat, Jefferson slightly more relaxed than Burr, gave Alex the inkling that it was also his co-worker’s first time in this situation, but the Monticello reporter had obvious been before. This was confirmed when Jefferson raised his hand mutely – much to the Hamilton’s surprise, seeing as he never thought that the pompous Virginia knew was silence even was – and was given the floor to speak.

“Hey again, so as y’all know, my name is Thomas. Thomas Jefferson. Uh,” Jefferson faltered as his eyes met the brown of Alexander’s. He felt his gaze waver as a sudden burst of nerves began eating in his gut. He didn’t want to tell Alexander Hamilton (of all people) what his real situation in life was; that he too was a single dad sharing custody over his son, that he was terrified that, one day, Sally would take Beverly away from him, that he was equally terrified that James would leave if he failed as a father…

As James’ face popped into his head, Thomas felt the corner of his mouth twitch into a smile. James, damn I love that man…

Jay leant forward in his chair and smiled encouragingly at the Virginian. “Take your time, Thomas,” he said with an easing tone.

A sigh escaped the tall man as he proceeded, his confidence renewed, “So, yeah, I’m Thomas, and my situation is that I had a fling with a co-worker…well she’s sort of a co-worker…and yeah, I got a kid from it. He’s called Bev, and I love him more than anything else in the world…might not always look like it,” he raised his eyes to meet Hamilton’s, almost challenging him to top what he’d just said.

“Oh, an interesting fact about me is that there are too many to count.”

He sat back in his chair and folded his arms, definitely challenging Alex to do one better than his declaration. From he corner of his eye, the Nevisian could see a small eyeroll from Burr and smirked internally to himself. It fell quickly as he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He knew it would be one of two people: John…or Reynolds. The latter had taken it upon himself to give Alex until Christmas to decide what he wanted to do about the little “offer” James had proposed. Until then, he kept texting Alex, day-and-night, keeping it fresh in his mind that he was perhaps the only person who could stop Kings from taking Philip away from him…

John, on the other hand, would be asking where he was. Despite Lafayette being the one who recommended the group, Alex hadn’t told a single soul where he was going that evening – he just simply asked Abuelita to babysit Philip and, if anyone (specifically John) asked, he was just out. He knew the South Carolinian was smart enough not to accept “just out” as an answer, and it ate at Alex that he hadn’t told anyone (again, specifically John) what was going on with him…and the threat of Reynolds. He’d become crabby at work, snapping at interns over the littlest of things. His friends had commented how tired he had become, but he definitely did not have the courage to tell them that it was because he’d been up all-night crying in his bedroom…his phone vibrating with the harassing messages from Reynolds.

In summary, it had become too much for the small man, and that was why Alex was there, in the circle. He couldn’t tell anyone the specifics but getting away from the situation…getting away from John’s hurt expression…would be enough for him to hide for an hour…hide from his own thoughts, as well as his turbulent life.

He’d barely noticed that several members of the group had now shared their individual stories, and there was about 5 of them left – Burr and himself included. When he glanced over at Jefferson, he was struck dumb by the fact that the man wasn’t looking at him with discontent or challenge, but with…concern? As if he was worried about the smaller man’s complete silence up until this moment. Why should he care anyway? It’s not like we’re friends.

Alex gave Thomas a frown, and the Virginian just opened his arms before crossing them: signalling quietly that he had meant no harm but was genuinely a little concerned for him. The fact that Jefferson was showing some other kind of human emotion didn’t hesitate to stun Alex into a new kind of silence, but he soon overcame himself and raised his hand…volunteering to be the next speaker after Jacobus Kip.

“Yes, you can go now, sir.” Jay said, pleased that a new member was offering their story.

Alex lowered his hand and scratched his neck, planning what was and wasn’t acceptable to say.

“My name is Alexander Hamilton…and….um…”, he paused, suddenly very aware of the group’s eyes on him. He felt his cheeks burn, “Sorry, just trying to think what to say. There a million things I haven’t done to prepare for this,” he said with a gesture around the circle.

“Name. Kid. Fact. It’s easy, Hamilton. Don’t overthink it.” Jefferson said, not out of spite. He gave a relaxed, but encouraging nod to his fellow reported, who seemed to find new confidence.

“…thanks, Jefferson. Uh, ok, so yeah, I’m Alexander Hamilton, but Alex is just fine. I am a single dad, well obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be here…this isn’t ‘About a Boy’,” at this comment, group gave a low chuckle, “yeah, so I have one son – Philip – he’s going to be 7 in January. His mum…isn’t around anymore, but she was my ex-girlfriend…and an interesting fact about me…”

He muttered under his breath that he didn’t feel he was very interesting, but said aloud to the group, “An interesting fact about me is that this is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life, and I’ve been through a shitload of stuff. I even like one of my neighbours, and I’m less nervous talking to them than I am right now!” He chuckled as several members nodded with mutual understanding.

John Jay slapped his knee lightly as he laughed, “Don’t worry yourself, Alex. Every one of us was nervous on our first day here, but what is said here will remain confidential unless you wish it otherwise. Remember that.”

Yeah, I doubt you’d keep the fact that I’m being blackmailed by a sex-pest confidential.

“I will do,” was, however, his reply.

Before they knew it, it was the turn of Aaron Burr – definitely the one Alex had the most questions about. He thought that Burr had a girlfriend or, at the very least, someone he was dating. Theodosia seemed to ring a bell in the very back of Alex’s mind, and he remembered the kind face he’d met when he’d been drunk.

“Aaron Burr, and my “this is your life” story is that I met a girl nearly 8 years ago, hit off, dated her, got her pregnant. She then told me she was actually engaged, we broke up, but kept seeing each other. Her husband knows that Theo – she’s my daughter – isn’t his, but they’re still together. And, I think I’ve shared enough that you don’t need an interesting fact about me.”

Aaron cupped his hands together, feeling a great weight lifting off his shoulders as he finally admitted to himself – as well as to others – what he was going through. It had torn his heart apart the day Theo told him she was engaged, but they were still drawn together – love keeping them in each other’s lives and little Theodosia was a blessing for them. He only hoped that…one day…her husband would let his girls go, let them be his…finally. Sadly, all he could do was wait for that day to come.

_-…-_

The group chatted for a while afterwards – mainly those who didn’t seem to know each other (so that excluded Alex, Thomas and Aaron) – and then broke at the end of the session for coffee and biscuits, provided by the hall they were in, and with the promise of meeting again at the same time next week. Alex had taken one swig of the shitty black liquid they’d tried to pass off as coffee, before deciding he really wanted to go home and read Philip his bedtime story: Anatol was just about to seduce Natasha into running away with him. However, just as he had said goodbye to John Jay and was making his way towards the door, he was caught on the arm and spun round. His brow creased when he saw it was Jefferson who had stopped him. The taller man smirked at Alex’s expression of disdain, but could see that his brown eyes held hesitance, fear of being judged for what he’d said.

“Want to go to Starbucks?”

“Huh?”

“Starbucks.”

“What?”

“Fuck’s sake, Hamilton, are you that dense?” The Hamilton in question bristled as Thomas continued, “I’m asking if you want to join me and Burr for a Starbucks. The coffee here tastes like piss-water. Would’ve gone to Laf’s place, but Burr don’t want him, or any of that lot, knowing ‘bout his kid yet.”

Lafayette knew Thomas. Thomas knew Lafayette. The penny dropped as Alex realised that that must’ve been the reason Laf knew about the group. The Frenchman had obviously edited Jefferson out his retelling of his knowledge, because Alex knew that Laf was aware of how he would never have turned up if he knew Jefferson was going to be there.

A flood of affection for Lafayette washed over him, mixed with a minor amount of betrayal, but he knew his friend only had his best interests at heart. His attention returned to the room as Thomas spoke again.

“Look,” his voice sounded a little miffed that Alex hadn’t replied immediately, “You don’t have to if you don’t wanna, sure you’ve got people you ought to be pissing off right now. Just thought I’d offer because we obviously all have questions we wanna ask.”

The Virginian turned to go and collect Burr but was stopped when Alex finally found his voice. The Nevisian brushed past, lightly shoving Jefferson with his elbow, his voice holding a lilt of humour, “So long as you buy ‘em, l’chaim!”

The pair shared an uncommon chuckle as they fell in step with one another.

_-…-_

“Wait, you’re telling me our kids go to the same school?!”

Alex couldn’t contain the snigger as he took in Burr’s bewildered expression. He nodded all the same as he sipped his black coffee – he’d judged Jefferson and Burr’s choices for refreshments because they’d involved too much foam.

“So, Pippy is your Philip. I assumed he was a girl.”

“No. I call him Philip or Pip. Only Theo is allowed to call him Pippy. I should’ve realised that your Theodosia was the mum of Theo. She’s got your eyes, but her mother’s name. Very original.”

“I can tell you’re being sarcastic, but honestly I don’t care. Both my girls are beautiful.” Burr replied with an equal amount of sass as he sipped his latte.

From where he was sat next to Hamilton, Jefferson let out a snigger, “I’m just glad that my Bev doesn’t have to deal with any of your kids.”

“I’m more than 100% sure-”

“Physically impossible but do go on.”

Alex narrowed his eyes, continuing in a more matter-of-fact manner. “As I was saying, I am more than 100% sure that you’re worse than our 6-year-olds, Thomas.”

“I am wounded that you believe that of me, Alexander. And here I thought we’d found some common ground of which we could be friendly with one another.”

Both Hamilton and Burr rolled their eyes, “We’re being civil, we’re not friends Jefferson.”

“Ditto to you, Hamilton.”

As Burr took another drink of his coffee, he felt both Jefferson and Hamilton looking at him. Their faces were serious, and he could see the question that floated behind their eyes but were too scared to ask him directly. He let out a long breath, raising an unamused eyebrow.

“You’re both staring at me as if I have a disease. If it’s me and Theo you’re wondering about, then yes we are technically having an affair.”

“We didn’t say anything,” Thomas said quickly, raising his hands in surrender.

Alex mimicked his actions, muttering, “What he said,” with a jerk of his head in Thomas’ poofy-haired direction.

“Look”, Burr began, but he was stopped by his phone. It was Theo. A soft smile fell onto his face, and Alex could the love fill his eyes as his carefully answered.

“Hey…yeah just finished….it was good…you sure?...ok, love…I’ll head over now…I love you too. See you soon.”

He hung up and then downed the rest of his drink. “Me and Theo have a complicated relationship, and yes it isn’t as adorable as you two – who’re both pining for your best friends – but Theodosia, she’s mine, despite her being married, and that’s enough for me.”

He stood, rubbing a hand over what little hair he had. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow, Alex.”

“Yeah, see you Burr.”

And with that, Aaron was gone, leaving Jefferson and Hamilton in stunned silence. Thomas was the first to break it, looking over at Alex who was rummaging through his pockets. The smaller man placed his phone on the table, shooting it a glare as Jefferson spoke up again.

“I thought you said you had a crush on one of your neighbours, not your best friend, aka John Laurens who you totes have a crush on.”

Alex looked over at him, having now moved into the seat Burr had just vacated, aware that his ears were now tinged with pink.

“Did you just say totes? What are you, 9?”

“Don’t try and change the subject, Hamilton. Who’d you have a crush on?”

“Oh my god, you really are 9, aren’t you?”

“Oh, go on. You may as well tell me, or I’ll tell Johnny-boy what you really think of him.”

Alex’s face was now vermillion as he glared directly at Jefferson’s face. “You do that and I tell Madison that you have a picture of him as your screensaver on your phone.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Watch me!”

As Alex reached for his phone, it vibrated and lit up; Reynold’s name filling a bar across the screen. Hamilton could feel his heart sink as he saw what was written, what Jefferson could see written.

  1. Reynolds: Hey there sexy. Thought anymore of my proposition? Thought about it long and hard? ;) ‘cause I have. We can help each other, Lexi <3 Me with your little problem, and you with my VERY LARGE one.
  2. Reynolds: Hope you get back to me soon, so I can have you back, and then front, then back again ;P

“Hamilton, what’s this?”

There was no joke in the way Jefferson spoke, and Alex didn’t have the heart to look up. He knew what he’d be greeted with: stone, cold pity. Pity of the very worse kind. He was forced to look up when Jefferson stood slightly and lifted his chin.

“Alex, who the fuck is J. Reynolds?! And why the fuck is he harassing you?”

“He isn’t harassing me.”

Even Alex wasn’t convinced by the measly tone of his voice, and when Thomas glared at him, he shrunk all the more into his hoodie.

“Is it something concerning Philip?”

Jefferson wasn’t dumb. He’d hit the nail on the head with one blow. All Alex could do was nod mutely, suddenly aware of how tired, how scared, how emotionally exhausted he was. Fiery, salty tears teased in the wells of his eyes, and he bit his lip as he heard Jefferson whisper “Jesus” under his breath.

“When did this start?”

“About a week ago.”

“And does John know?” Thomas asked, because he wasn’t blind. He could see the way Laurens looked at Alex, and the way that look was returned.

“No!” Alex exclaimed. “And you can’t tell him. He can’t know about this. No one knows.”

“Alex, why the fuck not?! Some creep is trying to force you to have sex! We may not be friends, but I’m not about to let that happen to someone I can actually tolerate! You have to tell Washington, or the police.”

“Careful Jefferson, or someone might think you care.”

“I’m not kidding, Hamilton. You should go to the police.”

“No, because if I do..i-if I do,” Alex could feel the tears wobbling their way onto his lashes, his voice cracking as his heart leapt into his throat…he could feel himself breaking as he shoved his face into his hands, “they’ll take Philip away from me…they’ll take my baby away.”

The curly-haired man watched for a moment as his co-worker sobbed silently into the sleeves of his jumper. He wasn’t sure what to do, he’d only ever comforted James before…and that was hugging him until he stopped…should he do the same with Hamilton? Crossing over to the seat next to Alex, Thomas hesitantly wrapped an arm around the small man and pulled him into his chest, allowing him to sob onto the fabric of his tweed blazer.

It’s not the same as John…Alex thought miserably as the tears kept pouring, but he clung onto Jefferson all the same, letting the man whisper comfortingly to him and rocking him gently.

“C’mon, Hamilton. I’ll take you home.”

Chapter Text

If you’ve ever been punched in the gut, then you’ll know that the first thing you experience is not pain, but more a sudden loss of breath – the air is forced out of you, the blood shoots to your stomach to compensate the non-existent feeling your brain hasn’t had the time to comprehend…then it clicks, and then (and only then) does the feeling of nausea, of wrenching agony, arrives. You want to stay completely still, and yet you want to stagger back and brace yourself against the wall. Tears form in your eyes, but to cry only reveals to others that bile is rising up in the back of your throat…that you’re weak…strong…that you’re human?

It’s a horrific experience…

…but one John found himself experiencing the second he saw Alex and Jefferson walking up the stairwell. The two men were chatting civilly with one another, the smaller of the two carrying his son in his arms. Philip was sleeping, his little head resting gently in the crook of Alex’s neck and shoulder; curls bouncing on his shoulders, his lashes fluttered against the freckles on his cheeks as he peacefully dreamt in the safety and warmth of his dad. John felt breathless, light-headed, as he watched Alex and Jefferson through the peep-hole – their distorted figures lingering awkwardly in the hallway. The Nevisian then struggled with his pocket, barely having one arm available to wrangle his keys free, so Jefferson offered his assistance and, much to John’s delight, was rebuffed. However, the tall Virginian was passed the sleeping 6-year-old as Alex unlocked the door and they both stepped inside.

Then, the pain hit John in the stomach with all the force and anger of a hurricane.

He staggered back, hitting his back off the easel he’d had assembled. He’d been stress-painting, which (yes) was a thing, the whole time Alex had been out. It was Carlotta who’d been asked to look after Philip. It was Carlotta who told him that Alex was out. It was Lafayette and Hercules who told him to stop panicking. And now it was Jefferson who’d walked Alex home. So many questions were filling John’s mind that his ears were beginning to pound. He felt sick.

There was something he was missing. Something Alex hadn’t told him. Something Alex didn’t want to tell him…and it hurt. The South Carolinian now found himself sat on the floor, staring blankly at his turtle-tank, pulling at his curls and wondering why…why did it hurt so much? He picked at the loose skin of his thumbs as he anxiously waited; every flutter of his eyes saw the image of Alex, more and more clearly.

I have to do something, I’m gonna go mad if I just sit here…

The thought was piercing, forcing him to rub the stresses of his temples. He wanted to move, John swore he was telling his brain to tell his legs to move…but they refused, stubborn in their need to wait for Alex…to demand from his friend to know more.

_-…-_

All Alex knew, as Jefferson opened his front door and stepped out into the darkened hallway, was that he was cold, tired and hungry…although he wasn’t all that willing to eat anything. The two men had taken a slow walk back to Alex’s apartment, the Virginian giving the smaller man time to catch his breath and the space he needed to share, if he wanted to. The plan had backfired when it had begun snowing. It was uncommon for early December, but soon fat, white flakes floated heavily from the sky and soaked themselves into Alex and Thomas’ forms below. So, now, back in the safety and warmth of his apartment, Alex could only feel the chill and it was taking all he had not to shiver from the heat that was prickling along his brow.

He was obviously doing a good job at hiding his discomfort, as Jefferson had neither noticed nor commented on the state of the Nevisian, only some back-handed remark that Alex looked like he’d taken ten-rounds in a boxing ring. This had prompted an irked reaction from the Hamilton, and soon the normality of their discontent for one another had returned, and that was Jefferson’s cue to leave.

Thomas turned back to where Alex was hunched in his doorway, giving his a sleazy, but dazzlingly white grin. Alex rolled his eyes as the Southerner spoke, his drawl setting his teeth on edge, “Not that this wasn’t fun, Hamilturd, but yeah it really wasn’t fun and let’s not do it again anytime soon, kay?”

“Same to you, Jeffershit, and no, this won’t be happening again.”

Thomas’ grin broadened, but there was still a lingering worry behind his dark gaze. He was curious to know how the small man would tackle his unfortunate situation, but he knew it wasn’t his place to pry. The Virginian was about to move off, when both he and Hamilton jumped at the rapid ferocity of the door across from Alex’s opening.

It was the fastest John had ever moved, when he heard the door of the Hamilton flat open. In the time it had taken Hamilton and Jefferson to do…whatever the hell they’d been doing for the last half hour…John had deduced that he could interrupt the situation by returning a book of Alex’s he’d borrowed earlier that week. He hadn’t finished the text and had been highly anticipating the climax of the romantic arc that had been forming throughout the novel, but he needed to speak to Alex. Alex’s voice had become like a drug to John. He could get high of the sultry sound of the Nevisian’s voice – the Hispanic undertones interweaving with the words Alex’s sultry lips formed – God, how high John could get off Alex’s voice.

He stopped, though, as he heard the audible intake of breath, the pause in Jefferson’s heavy footfalls towards the stairs. His hand was frozen on the door…then he’d just yanked it open without thinking…leaving him in the uncomfortable position of having nothing to say at the sight before him.

“Hey..uh…Jefferson…”, was apparently the best he could produce.

Alex felt his heart cease in his chest as hazel eyes searched his longingly, but his discomfort turned into a cringe as he saw Jefferson’s face crease into a smirk…an all-to-knowing smirk. He refused to meet the peacock’s gaze as he spoke.

“So, John is you neighbour? Interesting.”

John bristled at Jefferson’s words, loathing the fact that the other man seemed to find this whole thing quite humorous. He clenched and unclenched his fists, stiffly managing to speak, “Why is it interesting Jefferson?”

“Oh, that’s between me and Alex over here.” Thomas declared, draping an arm over Alex’s damp coat.

Had John been a little calmer, he would’ve seen the way Alex tensed at Jefferson’s touch, but all he could see was Thomas mocking him. Somehow, he’d gotten Alex first and was now flaunting that fact in front of him…he wanted to throw up.

When Jefferson ruffled his hair, Alex was brought back into the room. His head was feeling heavy and his nose felt as if it were stuffed with cotton wool. He shook of Jefferson’s arm, weakly glaring at him, and managed to mutter grumpily, “Don’t address me by my name, Jefferdick.”

“Really? Altering my name once is insulting, but twice is just sad.”

“Whatever Jeffertit, wouldn’t you find it a more beneficial use of your ‘oh so valuable’ time pestering Madison instead of me?”

“Actually I would.” Thomas said, a blush creeping up his dark skin. He flipped his hair, chuckling inwardly at the murderous glare Laurens was sending in his direction, and patted Alex on the shoulder – trying to convey some last-minute support. “I’ll see y’all soon.”

And with that, Thomas took his leave. The silence that followed in his wake was polluted and grim. There seemed to be an invisible wall forming between John and Alex, and the Nevisian found himself at a loss for words…unsure how to reassure the South Carolinian that nothing had happened…that nothing would ever happen between him and Jefferson… It was Laurens who broke the silence, his voice distant and cold, biting into the staleness of the air like daggers.

“So, you and Thomas have a fun night?” He said the latter with a sneer, causing Alex to visibly frown.

“It wasn’t a date, John.”

“Then what was it then?”

“I…” Alex trailed off, losing his voice. How could he tell him? I can’t tell him…I don’t want to ruin the way he looks at me…like I’m someone worth talking to…

The curly-haired man bristled, scratching his neck so as to find something to do with his hands. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the man in the opposite doorway, he was afraid of what he’d find.

“Alex, you can tell me if it was. Why should I care who you date? Although, I though you had some kind of self-respect that you would’ve picked someone better than Thomas Jefferson.”

It stung, more than it should have, because it was John speaking, but Alex could see that something else was bothering his friend…John was better than this, he didn’t mean what he said.

“Jefferson isn’t as bad as you think.”

Why is he defending him?! John thought bitterly, his gut wrenching. Instead of voicing this, he merely barked out a stiff laugh, “Of course you’d think that, you were all cosy a few minutes ago.”

“John,” Alex took a step forward and gestured to the empty stairwell the Virginian had exited by, “I just told that asshole to go and pester Madison. You and I both know he worships the ground he walks on. It wasn’t a date John, believe me.”

“Then why can’t you tell me what it was, Alex? Why does he get to know, and I don’t?!”

The hurt was evident in John’s voice, the betrayal even more so. Alex could see John’s eyes swimming, and it made him feel sick to know that it was him that caused that look.

“Because…” His voice failed him again. John took a step forward, desperately hoping for something to relieve him of this doubt, but it never came…Alex’s quiet voice merely snapped his heart. “…because he understands, John.”

He felt cold as John recoiled from him, and he couldn’t seem to elaborate any further than that. He just relented and let John explode at him, “So, he knows it all hmm? Everything I- Laf, Herc and I found out in a few months, he got in one night? He knows everything about Philip, and Philip is ok with it?”

Alex never thought he’d be too scared to respond to someone he cared so much about.

“For Christ’s sake Alex, at least have the decency to nod. I’m not stupid. If you and Jefferson have a thing, then have the guts to admit it, but don’t you dare stand there and spread bullshit to me saying that he ‘understands’ you better. That’s just as fucked up as saying that Reynolds guy knows you better than you own friends! You keep bringing pompous guys like him and Jefferson into your life, and soon someone, probably Philip, is gonna be thinking you’re running some kind of dodgy business!”

That was enough.

“No.”

John froze at the single syllable, his mind sobering up at what he’d just said, what he’d insinuated. His heart dropped to his gut as he knew he’d crossed the line. It was now he could properly see Alex: small, hunched, damp, shivery Alex – whose eyes were red from crying and whose skin looked leathery from a feverish sweat. Opening and closing his mouth, like a fish, John willed himself to correct the wrong he’d done, but it was Alex who continued.

“You have no right to tell me how to run my life, John Laurens, or how to raise my son! You are not his father. I can see and speak to who I damn well want to, without your fucking consent! If you were truly my friend then you’d know that,” both of the men flinched, and Alex found himself staring at hi feet, the room swaying around him, “No,” he whispered, “I have to go before I say something I’ll regret.” His phoned vibrated against hi skin, the unpleasant sensations adding to the nausea he was already experiencing. “I have to go,” he whispered again.

As Alex bolted for the door, not thinking or daring to look behind him, John called out for. His hand brushed the cold, dank material of his coat, but all in vain as the door to the Hamilton-home was slammed in his face. He could hear the dampened, quiet thud of his friend’s back hitting the wood, and then sliding down. He could see the faint shadow, cut in half by the door, of Alex sitting on the ground – curled up in some way. However, all John could do now was rest his fist against the wrong side of the door – followed by his forehead – and whisper to himself, “Fuck.”

_-…-_

“You’re back late.”

Thomas glanced over his shoulder, meeting the darkness of James’ gaze, and brushed some of the snow out of his hair. Shrugging off his jacket, he shot his friend a smile and gave an honest reply, “Went for coffee with a couple of the dads and then walked one of them home. He was a bit emotional – going through a rough time.”

He missed the falter in Madison’s smile. “O-oh, ok. You don’t need to tell me, I was just stating a fact.” James found himself staring at his feet, his gut squirming with displeasure.

The tall Virginian noticed this and, raising an eyebrow, he walked to James and gentle braced James’ shoulders – staring straight into his best friend’s face. His voice got caught in his throat as he lost himself for a moment in James’ eyes, but quickly composing himself, he stroked the smaller man’s shoulders reassuringly, his thumb catching the hem of Madison’s top and the skin of his neck. A shiver ran along his spine as he gazed at Thomas a moment longer than he should’ve, and eventually James managed to find his voice – although it was more him finding his cough as his illness broke the moment.

James pushed himself free of the cage that was Thomas’ long, lanky arms, and ran to the bathroom spluttering. Thomas followed after him, swift on his heels as if he were a shadow and knelt next to his flatmate as he hacked up the contents of his stomach. He rubbed small circles on James’ back, pressing his nose against his cheek and humming in his ear. His heart hurt to see this kind of fallout, he hated seeing James like this.

The latter, himself, hated feeling so vulnerable – even with Thomas – but he’d rather have the company as bile turned to blood. It was over as soon as it had begun, and the two men sat back against the bathtub, the shorter of the two wheezing for breath – blood sticking to the corners of his lips. Thomas looked at him, his brows etched with worry, cupped his cheek and wiped the blood away with sleeve of his jumper.

His jumper was an expensive and one-of-a-kind, tailor made for Thomas and made from the highest quality baby alpaca wool; blood wouldn’t wash out. Thomas knew this. James knew this, which was why he weakly pushed his friend’s hand away.

“Thomas don-don’t.” His voice was quiet and croaky, minutely above a whisper. His fellow Virginian scoffed and just took his hands, kissing them softly. Thomas’ beard wasn’t scratchy, like most men. It was soft, well-groomed, yet it still tickled James’ skin as his breath fanned his fingers.

“James, I don’t give a shit about this jumper. I don’t give two shits about Burr. I don’t give six shits about Hamilton. I give far too many shits about you.”

“Ham-?”

Their foreheads were pressed together, and Thomas whispered the secrets he was keeping. “The two dads I had coffee with were Burr and Hamilton. I walked Hamilton home, but honestly, nothing happened. I can’t tell you what was said, or what’s going on with either of them, but I swear there’s nothing going on between me and Hamilturd…despite what I may have insinuated to Laurens.”

A smirk graced his face as James released a meek chuckle, leaning further into the warmth of Thomas’ cologne. “Why did you do that to them? They’re emotionally constipated enough without your help.”

“I know.”

“Laf’s gonna kill you for that.”

“I know.”

“…”

There was a second of silence, before Madison continued – his eyes focused on Thomas’ chest rather than his face. “You give a shit about me?”

Thomas lifted his chin, “I could be eloquent with this, but I’m not gonna be. James, I give the biggest shit about you. I’m scared you don’t see how much I care about you, how much it scares me when you have these episodes.”

“’M sorry…”

“…I know you are, but you shouldn’t have to be. It’s not your fault. You’re sick, but I still love you man.”

If the smaller man’s heart hadn’t exploded already, it had done now. Thomas cared. Thomas really cared about him. He said he loved him…but did the “man” mean that it was just as a friend? He didn’t dare ask…all he did next was curl into Thomas’ chest, relishing the moment of being the sole thing in Thomas’ life in that second.

“I love you too, Thomas.”

The grin that spread on the latter’s face hurt, it was so wide. He smoothed the wiry curls of James’ hair and brought his face even closer, whispering into the miniscule space between them, “Just what I’ve wanted to hear.”

He then closed the distance between, pressing his lips against James – stealing the other man’s breath as he finally…FINALLY…kissed him. And they stayed like that for the longest of times, sharing the joy in their new-found intimacy and breaking down the walls, destroying their friendship well and truly.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Alex?”

Silence.

“Alex?” Herc tried a little louder, hoping to ruse the small man from his slumber. When that didn’t work, the Irishman let out a sigh and clapped his hands loudly, “ALEX!”

The Hamilton jumped awake with a yell, “Él es un hombre tan caliente como una tortuga!”, and fell from his seat, hands safely cradling the shrimp-mug of coffee he was holding. He looked up at his friend and narrowed his eyes, their brown iris’ glaring meekly at Hercules through a hazed fog of sleep. The look would’ve been more intimidating, in Herc’s mind, if Alex hadn’t been two shades paler than his natural skin tone, and his nose wasn’t beet-red.

“Herc, what the fuck?!”

There was a noticeable wince on Alex’s face as the piercing noise of his own voice pounded his brain. He groaned and pushed himself up onto his seat, ignoring the concerned look Herc shot him and glancing at the empty desk across from him. He hadn’t seen or spoken to John since their fight; three days he hadn’t heard from his friend…he was on assignment over at Monticello, and Alex longed to talk to him…to apologise for snapping.

“Dude, go home, you’re obviously ill.”

Hercules’ voice was trying to be soothing, he hadn’t pried about the reason John and Alex weren’t talking. All John had told him, and Lafayette was that he’d fucked up, but was going to do everything he could to make it right, but then Washington had placed him on an assignment about gay rights at Monticello the very same day Alex had rocked in looking like death itself. The Nevisian’s condition had only worsened, and Herc knew he hadn’t been sleeping or eating…he was beginning to question how Alex could take so much care for Philip but neglect his own health so poorly. He watched, concern etched all over his face, as Alex took a long swig of his coffee.

“I’m not sick, just under the weather. Unlike you and L-” he muttered the rest of ‘Laurens’, darting his eyes away from Herc’s to the black liquid in his mug, “- my body isn’t accustomed to the cold, despite me being here a few years. I’m Caribbean through and through, sunshine is my only friend.”

“Ouch, I’m wounded.” The dark-skinned man smirked from under his blue beanie but frowned when Alex broke off coughing – his lungs sounded stuffed and clotted. “Seriously though, go home.”

“It’s just a cold Herc, nothing I can’t handle.”

“You poured half a bottle of Dayquil into your coffee and then downed it,” Burr highlighted without looking up from his screen, “I hardly think that constitutes you as ‘handling’ the problem of your illness.”

“Shut up, Burr! Nobody asked for you opinion.” Alex said with a poorly constructed glare. He pulled his hair out, the tension on his scalp was making his eyes burn and pulled open his desk drawer. Inside was a fresh bottle of cough medicine, and he cracked it open – flipping Burr off as he did so, for he felt the man’s look of disapproval.

“Hey!” He cried, when Herc snatched the bottle from him. “I was drinking that.”

“Yes, I noticed!”

“Give it back, Herc.”

“No! Not until you go and tell Washington you want a week off because you’re ill! I don’t want John skinning me alive because you died on my watch.”

Alex quietened at that. He lowered his hand as his face fell and he managed to hide his grimace as his mind (in it’s intoxicated state) wandered to dark places. John wouldn’t care if you did die…neither would Herc or Laf or Burr or even Jefferson…no they’d just get on with their lives, probably look after Philip better than you ever could. Philip would probably be better off without you…why would he want such a broken, little man for a father? He doesn’t. Reynolds was right, you’re weak and you’ll fall and break everything you touch…why can’t you just die? You couldn’t die then, so why don’t you just die now? John wouldn’t care. John wouldn’t care. John.

“Son?”

Alex blinked the bitterness from his eyes as Washington came into focus. He tried to find his voice, so he could question how he’d ended up on the floor with Hercules and Aaron standing in the corner, their faces the epitome of panic. However, all that emitted from his throat was a choke sob – he hadn’t even realised he’d started crying – and he felt Washington rub his hands up and down his back. He swallowed strangled gulps of air and managed to sober himself as Washington spoke again.

“Son…can you hear me?”

“Y-yeah.”

A weak smile crossed George’s features, before he patted one of Alex’s shoulders. “Had us worried there for a second. You ok?” His received reply was a quiet nod, before Alex began pushing himself to his feet and brushing off his boss’ securing hold.

“Sorry, m-must’ve had a wobble.” The Nevisian didn’t dare glance at where his friends and co-workers stood, but he heard Herc’s clear “Jesus, fuck Alex, don’t bullshit with Washington”, as well as the audible sigh that came from the General. George braced both of Alex’s shoulders, forcing the smaller man to look at him square in the face, his eyes bloodshot, until he broke off coughing. Washington sighed again. He wanted to pull Alex into a tight hug but knew it would probably just embarrass the man…instead he took a step back and folded his arms, choosing to harden his gaze to make it aware that he wasn’t joking. He wasn’t going to pry into Alex’s business, despite wanting to help, but he wasn’t going to allow the small man to work himself to death whilst he was ill.

“Go home, Alexander.” The fall in Alex’s face pierced his heart, but George just wanted the best for Alex, “That’s an order from you commander.” His tone here was softer, trying to show that he wasn’t trying to be cruel or ignorant to Alex’s feelings.

“But sir,” Alex protested, but he was interrupted by Washington, who held up a hand, “Go home.”

Alex felt his jaw drop and his gut sink. He looked to Hercules and Aaron, but Burr didn’t meet his gaze and Hercules just mouthed “Sorry mate.” He bit his lip and scratched his chin, before quietly whispering, “Fine. I’ll go home.”

As he packed his bag, Washington offered a smile, “Take the week off, son. The lads will keep you updated with everything, and Aaron will cover your current assignment.”

Alex merely nodded, before walking to the door – tears pricking his eyes – and Herc patted his shoulder and whispered, “Get well soon, Al.”, as he left.

As soon as he was out of sight, Washington pointed to Hercules and Aaron, his General persona was assumed, and his voice was firm. “Aaron, can you manage both assignments?”

“Yes, sir.” Burr replied, immediately jumping to action.

“Good, Hercules.” Washington continued, “Can you message Laurens and update him on the situation? I want him to take a couple of days off just to check on Alex, but after he’s finished his current job. Don’t let him know he’s getting time off, because those two have been acting weird around each other.”

Herc grinned, “Already done, sir.”

“Well done, lad. Now,” Washington wiggled his phone out of his pocket, “I’ve just got one more person to get in touch with and then we can get back to work.”

_-…-_

“Hello Alex.”

The man stumbled down the stair at the voice. Martha smiled warmly at Alex, walking up to him, her handbag over her shoulder. Alex stared at her, lost for words and wondering why she was there. It wasn’t Wednesday, and school hadn’t finished, so Philip wasn’t home…so why? Why was she outside his home?

The women cupped his cheeks and stroked his face with her thumbs. He relaxed into her touch, it awoke memories of his mother, and Martha’s perfume easing the stresses that swirled in his head.

“George called me. He said something had happened at work.”

“It was nothing, y-you didn’t have t-”

“Alex,” Martha started sternly, “Don’t start saying “Oh you didn’t have to” with me, ok? I wanted to come. Do you really think I’d want to leave you all alone when you’re sick?” He was quiet for a minute, so she continued, “Darling, I just want to make sure you’re settled. George said he’d pick up Philip from school and I’ll make dinner for you both, for the week ok?”

“M-Martha…” Alex trailed off, his heart was swelling with so many emotions. He wanted to tell her that he really didn’t need all of that, but he also wanted to thank her…thank her so much. She cares? The Washingtons care?

“Of course we do, son?”

His brown eyes met her bright blue ones, and Martha let out a quiet sigh, pulling the man into her arms for a tight hug. It was awkward for a moment, before Alex allowed himself to wrap his arms around the woman, squeezing his eyes shut and hiding his face in her shoulder. The honey-blonde woman squeezed him that little bit tighter when she felt him choke out a sob and pressed a kiss onto the side of his head. She stroked his hair, a contained chuckle emitting within her as she felt the light layer of grease that fell upon it. Honestly, Alex really did prioritise everyone else’s health over his own, and it was evident from his appearance.

Martha kissed his cheek again, before speaking softly too him. “Come on, darling. Let’s go inside.” She made a start to move, but Alex squeaked out a quiet “No.” Blue eyes widened and her heart warmed at his next words, “Can we just hug for a bit longer?”

The woman swallowed down her overwhelming happiness and adoration for the young man, and nodded, “Of course, Alex. Take as long as you need.”

_-…-_

“Pops we’re back!”, Philip announced proudly as he held on tightly to George’s hand. George chuckled, but pressed a finger to his lips and crouched to the little boy’s height.

“Shhh, Philip. Remember your dad isn’t feeling too well.”

The curly-haired boy stared for a moment, his brown eyes wide, but he nodded and pressed his finger to George’s lips. “You quiet too, Mr George.” At this point Martha appeared from the kitchen and folded her arms, shaking her head and smiling at the pair. Alex was curled up on the sofa, fast asleep and snoring quietly. The woman had managed to feed him something other than coffee and had made him change into his pyjamas after confiscating his laptop.

 George glanced at her briefly, before replying to the 6-year-ol, “Mhm.”

Martha smiled and walked over to the pair, kissing George lightly and stroking Philip’s head, “Hey boys.” She too, crouched down to Pip’s height and tickled the boy’s sides. He giggled, his hands over his mouth and wrapped his small arms around Martha’s neck. Martha, in turn, hugged him back and lightly kissed his hair, “Did you have a good day at school, Pip?”

The two adults led the boy through to the kitchen, the pair of them smiling as Philip detoured to where his father lay asleep and gave him a kiss on the forehead. It took all George had not to squeal when he heard the boy say, “Have a nice nap, Pops.” He then tootled through to the kitchen, where Martha had prepared dinner, and resumed the previous conversation.

“School was really good today. Eacker was off sick. There was a group of people come to teach us about Broadway!”

“Ooh, that’s interesting.” George said grinning as the two boys started their meal, Martha going to wake Alex, so he could have another meal. “What did they do?”

“Well they sung some songs about one of the Finding Fathers of America – which is one of dad’s favourite musicals. And, and some of them talked about dancing and acting, and we got to do some dancing! Theo was really good, but she already does ballet. I liked the singing the most,” the boy rushed through all this as he shovelled food into his mouth.

“Pip, don’t talk with your mouth full, ok hijo?” Alex managed to say roughly as he entered the room. His glasses had slid down his face and he felt awkward as his boss offered him a smile.

“Dad!” Philip slid off his chair and ran over to his father, wrapping his arms around Alex’s middle and giving him a tight squeeze. “Are you feeling better? Wait wait!” As the little boy ran from the room and down the hallway, Alex turned to the Washingtons. He felt his shoulders slump and he gave them a look of genuine appreciation.

“Thank you, for this.”

George smiled, walking up to Alex and giving him a gentle hug, “Any time, son.” The smaller man cringed a little – he’d allowed the Washingtons to be very liberal with the “s” word…but it felt good to be called someone’s son again, even if he wasn’t really…

The pair sat down, Martha’s stern look started Alex eating, and the General was about to comment in the change in Alex’s expression, but was cut off by Philip’s reappearance. Curly-hair bounced as the boy waved a piece of green card at Alexander – the words “Get Well Soon Popz!” were written in gold pencil. There was also a massive glittery star on the card, and Philip pushed the card into Alex’s hands, his eyes filled with excitement as he bounced on his heels.

“Missus Schuyler said I should make you a card after Mr George phoned the school. So, so I made you this!”

Alex’s rosy cheeks flushed even more with love for his son, and he opened his arms. Philip crept into them and hugged his father back tightly. “Muchas gracias, hijo es hermoso, y gracias por comportarse tan bien con los Washingtons.”

He whispered this into Philip’s ear, and he felt his son adjust his hold around his neck. “Eres bienvenido, Papá.”

For the briefest of moments, Alex forgot of his current predicament. He just pulled Philip onto his lap and smiled over at Martha and George as the conversation seemed to flow naturally between them. It felt safe, natural…like family. The feeling of security smacked Alex cruelly in the stomach and he bit his lip. There’s just one thing missing… He couldn’t admit it aloud, even in his thoughts, and the miserable thought of John dragged Alex’s mind (kicking ad screaming) back to reality. He remained quiet throughout the rest of the meal, noticed by the two older adults, or rather the few mouthfuls he managed to eat under Martha’s watchful gaze.

“I think I’m just going to go to the loo.”

“Alex,” but Martha was cut off.

“Don’t worry about doing the dishes or anything. Thanks for bringing Pip home and everything, but I won’t be needing you for the rest of the week,” Alex paused to cough, edging towards the door. Suddenly the familial feeling was too much, he felt sick (and not because he was actually sick, because he wasn’t) “Pip, make sure you get ready for bed, ok?”

He never caught the hurt that glossed over Philip’s face. He just bolted for the bathroom and locked the door behind him, coughing heavily into his hands. His throat was raw by the time he’d finished, and he curled further in on himself when he heard a knock on the door. It was George.

“Son…”

Silence was his reply, and George rested his hand against the door. He glanced back at Martha, who looked just as lost as he was. Philip stood at her hip, his face full of worry. George managed a smile and spoke to the boy, “Ok, shall we get you ready for bed?”

_-…-_

When Herc had phoned him to say Alex was sick, John had felt like throwing up himself. He’d wanted to abandon the photos he’d been working on and run straight over to Yorktown. There was no way Alex would admit he was unwell, John knew how stubborn the Hamilton was…it was one of his most endearing qualities, but Laurens didn’t know if his friend would listen to him, especially after the last time they spoke. If we’re still friends that is…

He swallowed thickly, glancing over at his neighbour’s door. It was approaching early morning, and he’d wanted to text or call Alex…just to make sure he was ok. He hadn’t expected the pictures for the article he was working on to take so long, but he’d passionately been working on the gay rights article for the past few days (sort of to avoid Alex, but mainly because he was passionate about the subject) and it’d hurt when he’d heard that Washington had been asked to sort out Philip, but he knew his boss just wanted to look after Alex. Still…John wanted to be the one Alex turned to.

He sighed, opening his door and plopping his camera down carefully and glancing over at Alex’s door again. The silence was driving him insane, he needed to check on Alex…even if it was 2am. There were butterflies dancing in his belly as he walked over and knocked, and they hesitated in their quickstep when no answer came, but the door creaked ajar. Hesitantly, John stepped across the threshold, feeling like a thief in the night, and crept down the hallway. “Alex?”

His skin nearly jumped off when the bathroom door creaked, and he let out an unmanly squeal of terror when a pasty-white figure emerged. Alex, too, jumped at the figure in his hallway and dropped the unused, dusty loofa he’d been brandishing when he saw who it was. His heart cracked in his chest and he let out a little broken, “John?”

“Hey.”

Neither were sure who moved first, but soon Alex had flung himself into John’s arms and was sniffling onto his shirt. John hugged the shaky man tight as he could, and gently took out the rubbish bun Alex had put up. When they finally broke apart, John really took in Alex’s dishevelled appearance…he looked exhausted, and on the verge of collapse.

“John…” Alex began, but his friend quietened him with a shake of the head. John was good at that, making Alex at a loss for words…the good kind of loss though…the Nevisian thought as the dim light from the hallway caught the colour of John’s freckles and waltzed it across his cheeks.

“Go to bed, ‘Lex. I’ll come and check on you tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

The smile that radiated from Maria’s face as she walked into Rochambeau, melted the nerves Eliza had been feeling clean away. She ceased the nervous chewing of her upper lip and returned the excited grin – happy to be finally going on that first date they’d both been waiting for. A coffee date; yes, it may have seemed a simple, and somewhat cheap, date (with either woman paying for her own beverage), but simplicity was what both these girls needed to get to know one another, and Maria was more than eager to learn all she could from the beautiful woman who sat opposite her – sipping away at her salted caramel macchiato.

The Miss Reynolds had fallen hard for the sky-blue Schuyler, the moment she’d saw her. The stillness and purity that Eliza’s almond eyes held contrasted the fire that raged in her own life – her brother’s domineering presence (despite her deleting his number) still loomed over her head daily, and he was constantly trying to find ways of telling her how he’d messed up another person’s life. Maria didn’t want that. She wanted to work hard, get the job she wanted, meet a girl, start a family, have…stability. She wanted calm, collected, safe…she wanted Eliza.

“So, Peggy said you have a brother? What’s he like?” Eliza asked, her eyes kind as she rested her chin on her hand, easing closer to Maria over the table as their feet kept brushing off another – like a gentle game of footsie.

The ruby-eyed girl swallowed a mouthful of her iced latte, biting the inside of her cheek. She nodded to begin her answer to Eliza’s unintentionally awkward questions, “Uh, yeah, James. He and I don’t really…talk anymore.”

Eliza’s face fell, her brow stirring itself into a frown, “Oh, I’m sorry if it’s a sensitive.”

Maria shook her head quickly, contradicting her own feelings, but she hated seeing such a crestfallen expression on the Schuyler’s face, “No, no, it’s not…uh, he just wasn’t the best brother…” She ran her hand through her hair nervously, her fingers brushing along the scarring on her scalp from where James had grabbed her and thrown her into a desk…it had been the same night she’d left and begun the long road of sorting her life out… “He’s not a nice person,” she said, her voice quiet as she stared into her plastic cup – her faint reflection stared back at her, but the distorted image reminded her of the days before when she lived at the Reynolds’ home, James’ home.

She looked up when she felt the smooth touch of Eliza’s skin against her hand and saw that the older woman had slipped her fingers snugly into hers, squeezing them with an air of reassurance. Maria’s eyes met Eliza’s honey-brown ones, and the pair shared a small smile, although it was fleeting for Eliza.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pried.”

The smile that graced Maria’s rose-coloured lips was so genuine that Eliza felt her heart swell to double the size. The younger girl returned the squeeze of the hand, not breaking eye-contact with her date, “Honestly, Liz, it’s alright. I can’t help it if people ask me about James, he was a part of my life. It was because he was beatin’ me, cheatin’ me and mistreatin’ me, that I became the person I am today.”

“Well,” Eliza began, lacing her fingers with the darker ones and stroking her thumb along the back of Maria’s hand, “I like who you are today.”

“I like who I am today too. Wanna know why?” Maria batted her eyelashes, causing the Schuyler sister to giggle. “Why?”, Eliza asked playfully, dabbing some caramel sauce on the woman-opposite-her’s nose.

The short-haired woman lengthened the pause between her answer, as she wiped the sticky substance from her nose and licked it off her finger. Sweet, with a heavy bite of sugar that covered her teeth in a layer of candied flavouring. She closed her eyes as she savoured the taste; it reminding her of the woman before her, whose personality was as sugar-filled as the caramel and whose eyes matched the sauce’s colour.

“Because, I met you.”

Despite the cheesiness of the compliment, Eliza felt her flush with heat, and she looked away shyly with a mock scoff. “That was the cheesiest thing I ever heard, and I’ve met Alexander Hamilton.”

The name awoke a vague familiarity in Maria’s head, but not enough to warrant her attention as she laughed at the blush on Eliza’s cheeks. The bashful look warmed her skin and it was positively adorable. “Well, if you stick with me, love, you’ll find I’m as cheesy as camembert.”

“Haha, camembert? Really? Could’ve picked a nicer cheese.”

“What are you talking about? Camembert is delicious.” Maria protested, although she couldn’t stop grinning at the pout Eliza formed.

“Ew, no. Brie, brie is delicious.”

“I can’t argue with that.”

“Excusez-moi, mais vous vous battez pour des fromages à un rendez-vous?”

The interruption was, of course, Lafayette – who’d been watching the entire date, an over-the-moon smile on his face as he texted Hercules about the whole thing. His beau had been replying with updates about John and Alexander (both of whom were absent from work, because of the latter’s illness). When cheese had become a discussion topic, the Frenchman had shaken his head, in some disbelief that two sensible and well-educated women were laughing over camembert. It is truly adorable to see Eliza so ‘appy, though.

Eliza shot Laf a small glare for interrupting, but quickly smiled as she saw the confused expression on Maria’s face, ah she can’t speak French. She shook her head and replied in fluent French, “Nous ne combattons pas Laffy. C'est un débat tout aussi réfléchi entre deux femmes matures.”

Lafayette chuckled, his purple-lipstick covered lips creased into a wide grin, before he revealed the source of his humour, “Mature comme le cheddar.” He covered his mouth with a hand, laughing. Some dark curls danced their way into his eyes as he wiped around his eyeliner, the contouring on his cheeks now hidden under a red blush of laughter.

The half-Asian woman raised an unamused eyebrow as she pushed some of her own straight locks from her face. “Des jeux de mots au fromage, vraiment Laf?” She quickly glanced over to Maria and saw that the poor girl still had no idea what was being said between the pair.

The tall pansexual eventually got over his self-made pun and replied, “Vous avez commencé, Eliza.”

“Et je le finis, pars avant qu'elle pense que nous nous connaissons!”

“Je suis blessé!” Laf gasped, clutching a hand over his chest in mock pain. He then placed the two drinks he’d initially meant to give them on the table and smiled warmly at the pair of ladies, “J'irai bien, profite de ton rendez-vous.”

“Merci!” Eliza sang.

“Uh…” Began Maria, but Lafayette cut her off.

“Oh, forgive me for being rude. I was just saying to Eliza that these drinks are on the ‘ouse.”

“Oh, thank you.”

“My pleasure,” he lifted her hand and kissed it, leaving a faint print of dark purple lipstick.  He did the same to Eliza, whispering, “This is the only freebie this month! You and your sisters are terrible at paying your tab.”

Eliza’s reply was lost in her throat as Lafayette sauntered away, his hips swaying as he sashayed over to serve another customer. Maria leant forward, her elbows on the table as she waggled her manicured eyebrow at Eliza (the other was hidden under her heavy fringe), “So, who was that?”

“That,” Eliza said, glaring playfully at his back, “Was Lafayette.”

_-…-_

“Alex, did you really just hiss at me?”

The Nevisian blushed under his fever a he cradled his mug of coffee. He and John were sat on his couch, Alex half-swaddled in a blanket, and the latter had just attempted to take away Alex’s caffeine.

“No.”

“Alex, we both know you just hissed at me,” John joked, a crooked smile on his face as he prodded the smaller man’s foot.

He’d been over at Alex’s since the crack of dawn, making sure that both of the Hamilton boys were fed and ready to face the day (or in Alex’s case, ready to take it easy and get better). He’d phoned Washington and asked for the day off, which his boss had done without question, and had been texting Herc and Laf on-an-off throughout the day. Mainly though, he’d been enjoying all the time he’d spent with Alex – their fight now a forgotten memory. Alex had professed many thank you’s when he’d awoken to find out that John had taken Philip to school, but was beginning to regret the decision of letting his friend play nurse when he said he wasn’t allowed any more coffee.

“I need coffee, John.”

“You need more sleep, Alex.” The South Carolinian replied, ignoring the cute way Alex batted his eyelashes sleepily as he curled further into his swaddle.

“Pfft, sleep is for the weak.”

“Says the man who would sleep for a week.”

They both chuckled, gazing at each other as brown eyes melted into hazel. The moment was broken between them when Alex began coughing, spilling coffee onto the blanket and sitting up as his lungs weakly tried to rid themselves of any irritancy. John also sat up, tucking some curls away behind his ear, and gently ran a large hand across the Hamilton’s back. As well as that, he picked up the cold, damp towel that had been discarded on the coffee table, and gently dabbed the back of Alex’s neck, ridding the sweat that beaded on it. Alex relaxed his shoulder onto John’s chest as the coughing subsided, his eyes closed tightly as pained memories of illnesses gone by filled his mind. He shuddered, wriggling free from his blanket prison, and felt John pull him a little closer.

He feels so…warm.

“Go to sleep, Alex.”

The honeyed rumble of John’s chest and voice nearly did lull Alex to sleep, but he shuddered again and sat up in full, hugging himself.

John frowned as he heard his friend muttering away to himself quietly in Spanish. He watched helplessly as Alex rubbed his elbows, then pulled at his hair, before scratching along the scars that pebbled the skin of his arms. As he leant forward a little more, wrapping a freckled arm around Alex’s shoulders and listened quietly to what the other man was saying to himself; his demons revealing themselves in the safety of John’s presence.

"Idiota. No se podía morir la última vez, pero lo hizo. Ella murió, porque ella no quería estar contigo. Todos se van al final. Todo el mundo."

“Alex…”

Alex’s voice sounded drunk off the amount of medicine he’d been taking; his speech was slurring from emotion. He didn’t look at John, but plucked the fallen mug off the carpet and stared at the coffee stain that now formed. Then the tears came. If Alex really though about it, he hadn’t cried so much in the last 5 years, than he had since he’d started at Yorktown Daily. His friends and family had revived dead emotions that had slumbered within him, and with them brought a lot of tears. However, in that moment, all he could feel was John pulling him close (his nose now pressed into the fabric of John’s shirt – he smelt like jasmine) and the comforting embers of warmth that came from his arms.

The South Carolinian hid his chin in Alex’s waves, pressing a feathered kiss into his hair (unfelt by Alex himself). Like a mother would her child, he rocked back and forth, giving Alex the time he needed to cry – not caring how tear-stained his TMNT t-shirt was getting. Alex was the priority. Alex would always be the priority over turtles.

Eventually the smaller of the two men pushed himself up and wiped his snotty, red nose with the sleeve of his hoodie. “I hate being ill,” he whispered.

“Alex,” it seemed to be the only word John could formulate, and all he could do was listen as Alex dropped a huge load of information on him.

“The last time I was properly ill, I was 12. Mum and I got yellow fever – we couldn’t afford the vaccine. We were both bedridden, half-dead, sitting in our own sick, the scent thick…” He broke off with a shaky breath, in slight disbelief that he was sharing a secret he’d kept for 10 years, “I got better, but…Mum…she…”

Alex captured his bottom lip in his teeth, the skin was chapped and torn, and rolled it around as he tried to swallow his emotions.

“Alex,” John began for the third time, and watery brown eyes finally looked up into hazel. John had tears in the wells of his eyes, and held an arm open. “Come here.” Alex released his lip and crawled into John’s arms, wrapping his own around the man’s middle – the muscles stiffening momentarily at his touch. Their legs were swung onto the sofa cushions and John ran his fingers through Alex’s hair, whispering gently into his ear.

“It wasn’t your fault, ‘Lex. She didn’t leave you on purpose.”

“B-but she left. E-every-everyone leaves in the end, an-and Philip.”

A large hand cupped Alex’s cheek, and John forced him to meet his eye. “Listen to me, Alexander Hamilton. Philip isn’t going anywhere. Herc and Laf aren’t going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere. No one is going to leave you. You’re not alone, ‘Lex. You have a family here who loves you.” His thumb ran along the stubble on Alex’s chin, and despite what his heart was yearning for him to do, John just hugged Alex that little bit tighter.

_-…-_

Herc and Laf had agreed, earlier that day, to pick up Philip from school. The diverse couple had taken the little boy through the park and had allowed him extra time to play with a few of the children he knew from around the bodega. When they had arrived at the Hamilton apartment, some homemade ratatouille (courtesy of Lafayette) in tow, the day had rolled into the early evening. Philip was tuckered out physically, and was being carried on Herc’s broad shoulders, but was still chatting away to the couple happily.

“Bonjour, are we all decent?” Laf called out jokingly as they entered. They’d knocked, but had received no answer, so had basically broken in…which seemed to be a common occurrence for Alex’s friendship group.

The trio, hand-in-hand, tootled down the hallway – the loudest voice being the 6-year-old, but he was soon hushed by Hercules. “They’re sleeping, Pip.”

It was true. Laf – phone in hand – was trying his utmost not to squeal at the sight before him. John’s head was resting atop Alex’s, his arms encircled tightly around the small waist, chest rising and falling. His nose was hidden behind Alex’s dark hair, and the latter had one hand on John’s chest and the other was fisted in his shirt. The pairs legs were tangled together, but they were sleeping soundly – Alex’s face the most peaceful it had looked in a long time.

“Should we wake them?” Herc asked, but he was answered with glares from both Lafayette and Philip (the boy’s being the strongest). There was a shake of a curly head, and Philip tugged on Lafayette’s sleeve, whispering, “Should I do my homework?”

Chapter Text

Thomas yawned as he lifted his arms above his head, stretching the muscles tautly and feeling his spine crack; he released a satisfied groan and ran a hand through his hair as his gaze came into focus. His face creased into a smile as he saw the vision before him: head tucked safely under Jefferson’s chin, breath rising in a steady, but crackled manner; Madison snuggled further into the warmth of the man below him, Jefferson’s chest providing the perfect pillow.

I’ll never get used to this, Thomas thought happily to himself. His heart was full, and his head was on cloud 9 (which could have been his hair from the way it was frizzed up) He stroked small circles along the dark skin of Madison’s back and pressed feathery to the top of the smaller man’s hair, nuzzling his curls with his nose – hoping to stir his lover gently from the warm embrace of sleep. Slowly, it worked, and James inhaled deep and clear – taking in all of Thomas’ scent (wool, paper and expensive cologne) and smiled to himself as his cheek brushed the soft hairs on Thomas’ chest. He let out a small groan when a crack of morning light crept through the purple blinds in Thomas’ room and pierced his blinkered gaze. James rolled to the darker side of Thomas and pulled the sheet over his head, containing another enamoured smile as he heard the gravels of his lover’s voice.

“Mornin’, Sleeping Beauty.”

The tall Virginian chuckled as he received a groaned reply. He pulled James closer to him and finally met eyes with him as the other man looked up at him – his eyes were tired, sleep hiding in the corners, but bright as they wobbled in the sunlight, gazing at him fully.

“What are you staring at?” James queried, prodding his former friend’s chest. He felt the rumble of Thomas’ breath as he chuckled, which made Madison smile as he received his answer.

Jefferson tilted his head to get a better view of James and answered his so genuinely that his tone struck the other man into dumb silence, “You.”

They never broke eye contact, and the longer they looked at one another, the more James felt a blush creep up his skin. It blossomed on his cheeks when Thomas took his chin between his fingers, caressing the soft hairs that were growing out, and pulled Madison’s lips onto his own. It was soft, gentle, the two men reaffirming the aftermath of passion they’d shared the night previous – learning each other’s mountains and valleys as skin brushed skin, breath met breath, and fingers intertwined. Thomas could feel the man above him squeeze his hands, his thumbs teasing the creases of Jefferson’s palms as he shifted a knee.

The minor movement alone indicated the ignition of heat within Madison, his heart yearning to recreate the connection of the night prior…and his lithe lover was only to happy to oblige him. In a flash Thomas had flipped their situation and ground his hips against the smaller Virginian, drawing his own smirk on his lips when Madison released a breathy groan. The heated response was returned as James slipped his hands along his partner’s ebony-coloured skin, stopping when they reached Thomas’ ass. He squeezed, choking on another moan when their arousals brushed one another, “Th-Thomas.”

“Shhh, easy there, baby.”

Stubble brushed the crook of James’ neck, and he released a whine: needy and desperate. The sound was music to Thomas' ears. He revelled in the noise, wanting nothing more than to hear it again, record it and turn it into his new ringtone. His train of thought was brought back to the present as James chuckled beneath him - not killing the passionate sparks that filled the room, but certainly dulling them for an instant. Thomas looked at him, raising an eyebrow. "What?"

"There's no way in hell that you're turning my moans into a ringtone, you sick bastard."

A puff of laughter escaped the former, he hadn't meant for his thoughts to escape aloud, and he leant down, their noses brushing off one another as he pressed their foreheads together. The eros of the room had now been replaced with a quiet agape; love so subtle and genuine, that the next words spoken between them were whispered, as if protecting the innocence of the moment from veiled ears.

"I'm your sick bastard though," Thomas murmured, closing his eyes as he felt James' breath fan against his face, "Always," he followed with an inaudible whisper.

James felt his heart swell as he replied, "I wouldn't have you any other way.", his voice croaked a little as he felt the need to cough, but he wasn't about to let his weak lungs ruin the moment...besides the red blush that pigmented Thomas' skin was worth the stalling of breath, for he truly killed all previous arousal by spitting a loud laugh in his lover's face. Jefferson himself, frowned in embarrassment, shifted and refused to meet James' storm-filled eyes as he listened to him laugh. The pair sat up and gave the other space, as the smaller of the two men tried to regain composure; failing miserably.

"I can't believe it," Madison wheezed, now allowing his disease-riddled breaths to escape in spared amounts, "I, James Madison, made the almighty Thomas Jefferson blush like a little school-girl." He ruined the forcefulness of the statement, by giggling like a girl himself, but it only made Thomas smile. Only James was allowed to laugh at him, properly, because he never meant it out of spite.

However, he was a little peeved that his dearly beloved boyfriend had chosen to kill the mood with his continuous uproar. He prodded James in the side weakly, pouting his lips and giving him puppydog eyes, "Jaaaammeeess," he whined, "Stop being mean to me."

This only prompted more giggles from Madison, who cupped Jefferson's bearded cheeks and pressed a light kiss to his nose, causing said Virginian to blush again. "I'm sorry, Tommy. You know I love you, blushes and all." There they were, the three words Thomas would never tire of hearing from the other man's lips...and no they weren't "blushes and all". He covered James' hands with his own and pressed his cheek into them. "I love you too, darling."

With the passionate mood well and truly buried, the pair decided to curl back under Thomas' covers. With the latter as the little spoon, he purred like a cat as James played with his curls, the pair of them hiding from the ticking of time and the pressures of their jobs that day. Madison kept kissing Thomas' forehead, but he spoke quietly to the room, "You know we have to move eventually?"

"Don't wanna." Jefferson whined, turning the spoon around and nuzzling his face into the chest beneath him. "Wanna stay here."

"Ahhh, what an elegant and eloquent use of words. I marvel at your journalistic abilities." Madison's chest jumped in its rise as he chuckled, "C'mon, Tommy. I've got an appointment with the doctor in a couple of hours. I don't want to go smelling like last night's sex and your cologne. Actually scratch the last part of that sentence, you cologne smells delicious."

"Dang," Jefferson chuckled, lifting his chin and smirking, "Here I was hoping you'd be proud going out smelling like my j-"

"Alright," exclaimed a blushing Madison, as he shot out of the bed, displacing the other man, "I'm going for a shower. You should at least put on a shirt considering you're getting Beverly in less than an hour."

He vaguely heard Jefferson's disgruntled reply as he once again buried his face from the privileges that came with life, although this time he was attempting to lightly smother himself with the duvet. After the door to the bathroom had closed with a click, Thomas rolled over and stared at the ceiling, his cheeks splitting at the seems from the width of his smile. Seriously, he could never recollect another time he'd been this happy...well, except, maybe....

The sound of the buzzer brought Jefferson out of his mental wander, and he glanced at the clock on his bedside table.

10:37

"Shit," he breathed. James had been right about needing to move. As he contained a groan, the buzzer sounded again, this time with the irritated voice of his one-night stand drifting through the intercom.

"Open up, Thomas! I'm running late!"

He could hear the muffled sound of screaming, and chuckled to himself. Obviously Beverly was going to be a bit of a handful when he made the transition from his mother's care to his father's.

Sally, from the other side of Jefferson's door, groaned as she bounced Beverly on her hip. The tot was not happy about being woken up early on a Tuesday morning, and then taken outside into the crisp air, frost clinging to every window and the snow on the ground thickening gradually as fat flakes flew gently down from the sky. No, Beverly Jefferson was not a happy bunny that morning, however, his crying halted for an instant when the door in front of him opened to reveal his slightly bedraggled-looking father.

"You took your time?" Sally said, her voice hinting to some secret meaning as she took in Thomas' appearance, "James keep you busy last night?"

Ignoring her for a moment, Thomas opened up his arms and scooped the screaming toddler into them. "Hey now, kiddo.", he cooed, swooping Bev up into the air and then onto his hip, "What's all that crying for, eh? What're y'all crying about?" He kissed his son's damp cheeks, his skin casting a shadow against the lighter brown of the tot's, and winced when Beverly continued crying and slapped Thomas on the head. Beverly fisted longer curls in his hand and tugged.

"Hey," Sally reminded, clicking her fingers at the Virginian, "I was talking to you."

"I thought y'all were in a rush?"

"Don't be smarmy with me, Jefferson."

"Wouldn't dream of it, Hemings."

"Thomas, be nice," James' voice entered the fray - firm and unamused - as he emerged from Thomas' room, a towel round his shoulders. He donned a lilac top of Thomas', which brought out the ebony of his skin, and waggled a finger at Beverly with a smile; the tot grabbing it with both hands (releasing his father's mane) and chewing on it. Madison looked over to Sally and smiled, "Mornin' Sally, how're things this morning?"

"Good, apart from I'm running late, because someone," she sent a pointed glare at Jefferson - who wasn't looking at her for he was tickling the now sober tot, both of them smiling at one another - "wouldn't answer my texts about when I should've brought Bevvy over."

"I was busy," Thomas' tone was filled with amusement as he glanced over at Madison, who blushed. Sally rolled her eyes, but contained a soft grin all the same. Even if she couldn't admit it aloud, she was happy that Thomas' had found someone, especially someone as level-headed as James. "Mhm?," she responded after a minute.

The lanky man looked briefly sheepish, but shook himself as he placed his son on his shoulders - feeling Beverly drum on his scalp. He finally met Sally's firm gaze, equally matching her as they saw one another as parents - rather than one stilted lover and their formerly promiscuous ex. "Now, you're picking Bevvy up next Wednesday evening, that right?"

"Yes," confirmed the intern, "Mr Washington is sending the team I'm on to Philly for an assignment on early American traditions - something for the Christmas bulk edition. I fly out tomorrow, final briefing today, back on the Monday, then I've got a date Tuesday night-"

"Oooh, who's the lucky fella?" Jefferson queried with a wiggle of his brows, one that caused Madison to roll his eyes with amusement.

Hemings smirked, but answered as she draped a muslin on Thomas' shoulder - choosing not to tell him that Beverly had spit up a little on his expensive-looking top, "He's called Edmund Bacon. He's a business overseer at a big farming company."

It took a lot of self-restraint for the taller of the two men not to laugh at the surname 'Bacon', James could see the humour fill Thomas' eyes: impishly attempting to twinkle its way to freedom. He decided it best to save Sally the taunting, "Well, I hope it all goes well."

The woman twiddled her hair nervously, "I hope so," she then looked over at her former partner, who was trying to ease their son's chubby hands out of his stinging scalp, "And make sure you text me with how he's doing, ok? I don't want to be kept out the loop!"

"I'll keep him in check," Madison said earnestly.

"Thank you, James."

"I am right here, you know." The curly-haired man protested, but he was ignored as the smaller people wished each other well and the group parted ways.

Once they were back in the safety of their apartment, Jefferson lifted Beverly over his head and place him on the ground with a plop. He smiled as the tot's feet refused to be planted, socks brushing off the wood flooring in an attempt of sitting. When seated, the 2-year-old pouted, reaching his hands up to his father, his voice demanding and yet still sugary, "Up!" Thomas bent over and booped his son on the nose, "Not right now, buddy. Daddy is gonna get you a snack, yes he is. Then, Daddy is gonna get dressed."

"No. Want up!"

"Bevvy."

"UP!"

At the increase of demand in the toddler's voice, Madison chuckled and sat on the floor next to him. He met the little boy's eye and gave him a wide smile, white teeth shining. "Hey Beverly, how about you and I play a game while Daddy gets us a snack? How does that sound?"

Eyes widened and a smile erupted on Beverly's face as he clapped his hands, fingers now reaching for James instead of Thomas. He burbled in baby-talk, edging his bum closer to the adult before him. Madison cooed him on, opening his arms to the boy and he squeezed Beverly's side - drawing ecstatic giggles - as he brought the tot into his chest and blew a raspberry on his cheek. Jefferson watched - chin now resting on his palm, like a lovesick girl - as his son squealed in his boyfriend's arms. The sight was too perfect. They were both too perfect, too pure...and God how he loved them.

This is going to be a good week.

_-...-_

George King the Third stroked his chin in thought. The board meeting had concluded, he'd told his gullible ambassadors some nonsense about the "saved" children the company had "rehomed" in the last six months, and now he was still in the board-room - however, his only company was Samuel Seabury and James Reynolds. The topic of discussion: The Hamilton Issue. He truly hadn't expected the young immigrant to hold out so long against Reynolds' charms, he himself had asked the handsome individual to be his booty call on more than one occasion (something the silver-tongued devil was only too happy to oblige). Yet, Alexander Hamilton had persisted and resisted everything that had been thrown at him.

He needed to be taught a lesson. To be shown exactly where his pitiful, immigrant, barbaric ass stood in the general order of things. He needed to be broken.

That was the topic of discussion. The King needed to up the anti, disturb the hive: find Alex's weakness and exploit it.

"His son," Seabury had suggested.

"Too obvious," George King said dismissively. While he like Seabury, another booty call favourite his wife knew nothing about, he was still irked by the fact that the man had let Hamilton best him with words. "We've already threatened him with taking the brat away by force, and we are going to take him away eventually. We just need the motive. He needs to sleep with you Reynolds, even if he doesn't...we have to exploit that he has."

The crisp accent filled the almost empty room, and no one dared break the train of thought as King stroked his lip. His eyes rounded fully on Reynolds, who sat up a little straighter, "The neighbour you spoke of, how would you say he reacted to your advances on our dear Alexander?"

James' lip curled into a sneer. "Oh, he hated it. The prick kept trying to play it off, but I'm sure he was gagging to hit me. His eyes leered after Hamilton the whole time. They're probably friends-with-benefits, but he wants more."

"Interesting, what did you say his name was again, Samuel?"

The small man jumped at his name, scurrying through a stack of papers, before squeaking out an answer, "Uh, John Laurens...yes, John Laurens, sir."

"John Laurens." The King repeated quietly. The name seemed now to float above them as they questioned its affect and impact on the life of Alexander Hamilton. Eventually, Reynolds let out a cruel scoff, "He's probably not worth our time, sir. Let me have another shot with Hamilton. I'm sure this time I can break him in - I'm good with a rogue Paso Fino." He shot a wink in his boss' direction, the innuendo and bestial impressions purposefully meant. Across the table, Seabury rolled his eyes in disgust, but said nothing - he waited to hear his beloved boss' answer.

"Alright, take another shot with Hamilton. Whether or not you succeed, I'm sure we'll have all the legal arrangements in place to rectify that. If there should be any chance of failure in that area, however, I'm sure some 'special' arrangements can be made for Mr Hamilton's darling son, and beloved Mr Laurens." He laughed coldly, unfelt and bitter, "After all, we want what is best for the child, do we not?"

 

 

Chapter Text

“I don’t think you should be going straight back to full shift, ‘Lex. You’ve only just got better and knowing you, you’ll definitely run yourself straight into the ground again.” John’s voice was laced with a thick layer of concern as he and Alexander walked home from work. Winter was now in New York with abundance and the snow lay heaped on the sidewalks, making it interesting for all who decided to journey on foot. For the tall South Carolinian, this was no issue as his long strides kept his on the dusty top layer, but for the smaller Nevisian…well he found himself sinking quickly with every hurried step.

Alex glanced over to his friend and attempted to smile the concern from his face. “John, stop being my nurse for one second and relax, ok? I think you, Herc, Laf and Washington would all yell at me if I jumped straight back into full days and knowing Martha she’d outright kill me.”

The pair both laughed, warming themselves off the others happy expression. “Besides,” Hamilton continued as he blew some hair from his face – his band having snapped on the way to work had meant it had become a loose mess for the entire day, “We’ve only got a week or so left before our Christmas break, and it’s the office party tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” John interrupted, bumping his shoulder off Alex’s playfully, “And I guess you’ll want to leave early to get back to whatever assignment Washington gives you.”

His reply was a scoff, and Alex’s answer surprised him greatly, “You kidding? Free alcohol and the chance to drunk slam Jefferson in public, and you think I’m leaving early? What’s my name, man?”

“…Alexander Hamilton.”

“Exactly, and as Hamilton comma Alexander, I will accept any invitation to publicly humiliate Jefferson whenever I can. It’s only a matter of time before I can really show him that he’s not the best reporter in the two companies!”

John chuckled, shaking his loose curls and looking at Alex with a mixture of adoration and pride. “Well, you’ve certainly got my vote on that front. Just don’t go drinking too much tomorrow, ok? I don’t want to be dragging your drunk ass home, and I certainly don’t want you catching third degree pneumonia because you fell asleep in a snow drift.”

“If you’re dragging my drunk ass home, then how come I end up asleep in a snow drift?” Alex queried, smirking as he quirked an eyebrow at John’s expression.

With a roll of his eyes, Laurens replied, “Because I’ll dump you in it if you continue to sass me.”

They both broke off in loud giggles as their apartment block came into view. It was moments like this that Alex forgot he was a single dad: a single dad who was struggling to come to a difficult decision, a single dad who could lose his son at any moment…the sight of the building reminded him of his responsibilities, reminded him that Philip was inside wit Abuela Carlotta, reminded him that whatever he decided to do would impact his son’s whole future…a lot of pressure ebbed back onto his shoulders at the sight of the building. John detected the shift in Alex’s mood, and was just about to ask him what was wrong when something shifted in the snow behind him.

“Alexander,” came a smooth drawl, and both Alex and John turned to see the almost-forgotten form of James Reynolds crossing the sidewalk towards them, “It’s a pleasure to see you again,” he finished, taking one of Alex’s hands between his own and pulling it close to him. Alex, himself, was too stunned to speak: had he come for an answer to his proposition? Was he here to take Philip away? What would he say to John?

John. The instant he recollected his friend next to him, the small man felt his arm being pulled free of Reynolds as John tugged on the sleeves of his coat, drawing Alex closer to him as he wrapped a protective arm around his shoulders. The comfort was instantaneous, Alex wanted nothing more than to snuggle further into John’s chest and drown himself in the scent of his aftershave, however ice-water was thrown over him in a gargantuan amount as Reynolds spoke again – his lustful gaze marred by what could’ve passed as concern at Alex’s continuance to play mute.

“Alex,” James began, lifting his hand to have another go at taking Alex’s, only to freeze when the Nevisian spoke.

“Apologies, Mr Reynolds. Yes,” Alex said, pushing a little away from John so it did not seem as if he were cowering next to him. The South Carolinian felt this, and while he did feel a sting of hurt, he understood that it wasn’t his place to stop Alex from speaking to this slime-ball of a man…no matter how much he wanted to have that power. “It’s a pleasure to see you again. Are you here for another assessment? Or to speak with Philip? I’m sure I’d be able to ask Carlotta to have him.”

“Actually, I’ve come to talk to you.” The cool was back in Reynolds’ tone, his façade regained and the casualness back in his demeanour. His eyes met the burning hazel of John’s, and it took all the New Yorker had not to smile cruelly as he finished with, “in private.”

Alex felt John tense next to him, but for the sake of keeping things civil he had to play along. So far, Reynolds had done nothing to pose as a threat, and while Alex had yet to fully make up his mind over the offer, the way the other man portrayed himself over the next few minutes would help his final decision.

Freeing himself completely of John, Alex gave his best smile and tucked a few loose strands of hair behind his ear. Both James and John focused intently as the crook of Alex’s neck came into view: one with awe, the other with desire. Alex, on the other hand, was completely oblivious as he returned his attention on his now guest. “I’ll show you up.”

It was Reynold’s large hand that stopped him. The taller man flashed him a white smile and bent to whisper in his ear, “Don’t worry darling, I know where I’m going. I even know the way to the bedroom,” he finished as he nipped the bottom of Alex’s ear. The Nevisian went scarlet, heart pounding in his brain, but John could do nothing but watch as Reynolds vanished inside the building. When Alex made a move to follow, something in the curly-haired man snapped and he reached out to catch his friend’s hand. The older Hamilton paused and glanced to their hands – his calloused one fitting so perfectly in John’s freckled.

“Alex,” there was a crackle to John’s voice, a raw emotion trying to break through. Alex felt his gaze waver when his brown eyes met John’s properly – so intense, the feeling in them terrified him, because he knew if he stayed too long, he’d drown in the hazel depths, “Don’t go in there by yourself…I don’t trust this Reynolds guy.”

“John,” Alex began, turning to face him, but was interrupted as his friend grabbed both his shoulders. He felt John shake him, firm, but light and allowed him to steal into his sentence, “Please ‘Lex.”

“John,” the South Carolinian was forced to look up as Alex cupped his face. There was a loose smile on his face and he tilted his head to the side, so that his eyes weren’t centred on John’s, “I’ll be ok,” I’ve made my decision, “I promise.”

His words didn’t seem to reassure the panic-stricken Laurens, but Alex knew he couldn’t keep Reynolds waiting any longer. He couldn’t afford to give the man anymore ammunition to take Philip from him…Philip came first.

Alex turned his back on John and hurried up the stairs.

Philip had to come first.

He saw Reynolds perching against the wall, his eyes lifting when he caught sight of Alex approaching up the stairs. Something in the way he looked at Alex shifted, evolving the situation to that of a hawk spotting its prey. A fire lay behind the rubied gaze of the amorous gentleman, but he withheld any intent of pouncing on Alex for now…he had to play his cards right. He watched as the Hamilton carefully unlocked his front door, eyes glancing to the stairs for the briefest of moments – silently praying for the interruption of Philip or John…someone to stop him from doing what he was about to do. They stepped into the apartment together, the air between them heavy. It felt like an age as Alex freed himself of his winter wear until he was left in his jeans and shirt.

“So,” James grabbed both of Alex’s hands and began leading him to the couch, pushing the smaller man onto it. Alex could only swallow the lump in his throat as Reynolds wormed his knee between his legs, pressing it into his groin, and edging his back onto the cushions, “have you come to a decision about my little offer?”

“I-” His reply caught in his throat as he felt Reynolds’ tongue in his ear, before the lips moved down onto neck, biting the skin painfully. The Nevisian winced, but stopped himself from shoving the unwanted body off him.

Philip had to come first.

“Well, Alex?” James started again, his voice a mere whisper as one hand slid under Alex’s shirt and began playing with his chest – the other had gone into the soft curls of the Hamilton’s dark locks, fisting them into the fingers so that his scalp felt as if it was on fire.

Desperately searching for his voice and petrified by what he was allowing himself to become, Alex screwed his eyes shut. Every other sense heightened for an instant and he could smell the stale scent of sex on Reynolds’ skin, the taste of his overpowering cologne had Alex’s stomach churning, but his ears homed in on the creak of the floorboards outside his door, the distant voices that ebbed through the wood.

“Can we get out Flash and Gordon?”

“Sure Pip, you can play with them while I clean out their tank!”

John…

Not even aware of what his body was doing, suddenly Alex had shoved Reynolds onto the floor and had backed away towards the front door. The other man shot to his feet, and a rage burned in his expression as he stalked towards him. “What the hell, Alex?!”, his voice was loud and harsh, but thankfully inaudible to anyone outside of the apartment, otherwise Alex knew John would’ve rushed in.

“No.”

“What?”

“I have to say no.”

He felt suffocated as James caged him against the wall, snarling at him coldly. “You’re kidding. Leading me on, enticing me on. I don’t like to play games where I’m not the one teasing, Alexander.”

“I’m not kidding, Mr Reynolds. My answer to your offer is no.”

There was a pregnant pause as they both digested what had just come from Alex’s mouth, “You can’t say no to this!” Reynolds then spat, saliva hitting the Nevisian square on the face as the man gestured to himself. “This was an offer you weren’t allowed to refuse.”

“Well, I just did.” There it was, the sass he’d so long missed using. It rejuvenated Alex like water to a plant, and he straightened up to free himself of where he stood, “Now, I’d like you to get out of my home.”

Grabbing the outerwear that the social worker had discarded on the floor, Alex shoved it into Reynolds’ arms and herded him towards the exit. “You’re making a mistake, Mr Hamilton. You chuck me out now, then you are sure to lose your son.”

“You’re wrong, I won’t apologise for doing what’s right, because I have done nothing to warrant having my son taken away from me…Philip is not going anywhere.”

_-…-_

John was lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. It was definitely past midnight by now. He had no idea how long he’d been lying there; had he eaten after Alex had come to collect Philip? He did not know. All he knew was that something has happened between Alex and Reynolds…something he couldn’t bear to think about. A painful-looking bruise on Alex’s neck had only been confirmation of the terrible thought that swirled around in John’s head – the one that was keeping him wide awake. Why? Why did you do Alex? What did he say to you? What did he… The more he thought about the whys and wherefores, the more John’s brain pounded, and his train of thought spun around behind his eyes. He was driving himself mad with the lack of knowledge he had…he just wanted to know more.

He jumped as someone knocked on his door. Sliding himself off his bed, he pulled a shirt over his chest and poked his head out of his room, glancing suspiciously up and down the hallway of his home. Who would be up this late? His internal question was answered when he gently opened the door to see a dishevelled Alex standing on the other side.

“Alex?” He looked as if he’d been pulling at his hair, wearing naught but a baggy top that fell to knees, a hoodie, and a pair of pyjama bottoms. His glasses were askew on his face, but he looked up when John opened the door. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“Can I come in?” Alex’s voice was quiet, shy even – a trope that John would never have thought to have used to describe Alexander Hamilton of all people. He glanced over Alex’s shoulder, nodding towards his neighbour’s door, “What about Pip?”

“He’s sleeping, he’ll be ok. Please John, I need to talk to you.”

“Alex…”

“Please.”

Something about that final please seized John’s heart and he finally looked into Alex’s eyes. Has he been crying? “Ok,” Alex edged inside John’s apartment. Now that he thought about it, he had never really spent much time in it – every time he and John hung out, it was always at his place…John would always go to the Hamiltons to accommodate Philip’s bedtime routine. The set up of John’s apartment was much like his own, however from the open door, Alex could see that what could’ve been a spare bedroom was being used a film-developing room. Photos adorned almost every wall of John’s home, and it made Alex blush quietly when he saw his own face in a large amount of the recent ones.

John led him through to his living room – tapping gently on the glass of the clean turtle tank as he passed – and gestured for Alex to sit anywhere he liked. The latter opted for the couch and was grateful that John asked him if he wanted a glass of water. While he was out of the room, it allowed Alex to process what he was going to say.

However, his subconscious being its own novelist, there was not enough time for him to even think of a single sentence. His chest felt like lead as John plopped down next him, and the air within him was lost even further when he saw the cracks of moonlight hit John’s face. It danced on his skin and waltzed through his freckles like the perfect partner, he was so gone in the beauty that was John Laurens, that it took the man in question snapping his fingers to draw him back to reality.

“Hey, you zoned out there?”

“Sorry,” Alex managed to mumble out, embarrassed that his cheeks were surely a shocking shade of rose.

“It ok,” John replied, his lip twitching, “Anyway, you wanted to talk?”

“Yeah…um…mierda, no estoy seguro de cómo empezar. Debo decir que no dormí con Reynolds o la otra cosa?”

“You didn’t sleep with him?!” There was no way of hiding the shock, or joy, from John’s voice, however the bewildered expression that crossed Alex’s face as he remembered John’s Puerto Rican heritage outweighed it.

“Olvidó que yo también puedo hablar español?”

At the Hamilton’s nod, Laurens laughed and cupped Alex’s face, speaking softly to him. He needed to hear it again, needed to know it again. “No dormiste con él?”

“No, he-”, but Alex was pulled into a tight hug as the curly-haired man squashed him into his chest. John could feel the panic leaving his head. He hadn’t slept with Reynolds. He hadn’t slept with Reynolds. The thought ran through his head like a bell. “Thank god.” The South Carolinian voice was a hushed whisper, but Alex heard it nonetheless. He pushed back off John’s chest and held him at an arm’s length. Seeing the confusion in Laurens’ face at his action, Alex began speaking again. Oh Jefferson would’ve given him the smuggest look if he knew that Alex was about to pour everything out to John.

“I was going to sleep with him John…I got so close to sleeping with him.”

John could feel his heart crack, “What?”

“He told me…he told me that they…that they were going to take Pip away from me, and…and that the only way for me to keep him…” Alex’s broke off as he choked on a dry sob. He couldn’t bring himself to look at his friend, so he brought his knees to his chest and chose to weep into them rather than face John.

“That bastard. I’m gonna kill him.”

“Don’t.”

“Alex, he was blackmailing you! He was going to use you!”

“I had to protect my son!!”

“Jesus Christ Alex, we’re all here to protect Pip! Nobody is going to let him be taken away from you, but fuck’s sake, you never protect yourself! What if he’d done something to you, ‘Lex? What if I couldn’t…” John’s question trailed away as he caught sight of Alex staring at him, with beautiful, sad eyes…then suddenly, they weren’t staring at each other anymore.

 

Chapter Text

It was still dark outside when John awoke. Artificial light was slowly fading into the dark blue hues of the winter morn – silhouettes of the New York City skyline painted themselves along his wall. In the gloom, he could make out the faint spattering of his own freckles; that littered his neck, chest and bare arms, as well as the pimples of goosebumps that prickled his skin. He shuddered as he rolled over onto his side, the air above his bedsheets was crisp and pinched at his nose. A smile was about to etch its way onto the South Carolinian’s face, but was halted in its tacks when he saw the empty space neck to him. The blankets there were disturbed but lay cold – as if they hadn’t been touched for some hours now. Frowning, John sat up, running a hand through his untamed mane, and glanced about his bedroom. The scattered clothes that had littered the floor the previous evening had now been neatly folded and placed on his dresser. Hazel eyes glanced to the window, to the left of his dresser, and he saw a small figure sat on the fire-escape: wearing a pair of John’s sweatpants and a hoodie, hair loose, glasses perched on his nose, book on his lap, a mug of coffee in his hands, and a blanket around his shoulders.

John beamed. He slipped out of his bed and pulled on another pair of sweatpants over his boxers. He knocked on the partially-open window gently as he pulled a jumper over his head. Alex didn’t jump, but glanced over to the window, a tired smile creeping onto his face when he saw John staring back at him. The Nevisian scooted along the metal stair and placed his mug on the sill, before squeaking the window open quietly so that John could climb through.

“Mornin’”, came the hushed Southern drawl from Laurens as he clambered through the window and onto the step next to Alex.

“Hey.” Alex’s voice was soft, and he held open the blanket, so John could pull it over both of them. They snuggled together for a moment, John passing Alex his coffee back, and looked out at the snow-covered blocks and bodegas. New York City, the city that never slept was a ghost town – the only signs of unrest were the distant cries of shops opening downtown, and the morning song of birds in the park. These sounds were far off and distant to Alex and John as they sat on their fire-escape in Jackson Heights.

“What are you reading?” John queried. He carefully brushed some of Alex’s hair from his face, causing the smaller man to glance away shyly for a moment, before replying. “Photography for Dummies. It was on your bookshelf, thought why not?”

They both sniggered, meeting one another’s gaze, and leant towards each other. However, John composed himself as his forehead touched Alex’s, his eyes opening and his lungs releasing a sigh. His breath fogged in the morning air and, when Alex pulled back to look at him with a confused expression (a slight panic hidden in chocolate colouring of his eyes), John cupped his cheeks and brushed the stubbed on them with his thumbs. “We have to talk about last night, ‘Lex.”

_-…-_

‘Lex? What if I couldn’t…” John’s question trailed away as he caught sight of Alex staring at him, with beautiful, sad eyes…then suddenly, they weren’t staring at each other anymore.

Alex’s heart stopped. He blinked. His brain stalled. It rebooted a second later and that was when he felt it: John’s lips on his own. There were no fireworks, no cosmic alignment of the heavens, no choir of angels…just something in him spoke out, ringing in his mind; John’s kissing me. John Laurens is kissing me! He couldn’t react, couldn’t process the way John’s lips felt on his, and his stunned form caused John to panic. He pulled back and gawped as Alex touched his mouth.

“Shit, Alex, I…”

He turned away from Alex, resting his elbows on his knees. The South Carolinian rubbed his hands together, glancing at the coffee table where old newspapers lay scattered. Every single one he’d saved had an article either Alex or Herc had written – he kept clippings in a sketchbook alongside doodles of his friends.

“John.” Alex started, finally crawling back to reality. He reached out to place a hand on John’s shoulder, but froze again when John completed his broken thought, “What if I couldn’t do anything to help?”

The Nevisian dropped his hand and shuffled. John glanced shyly over his shoulder, he let out a long breath and massaged his scalp – subtly pulling at his hair, however the stressed act wasn’t unmissed by Alex. “Alex,” John’s voice sounded glum, yet there was a pang of distress hidden within it, “I-We are all trying to help you and Pip. M-Our lives have been so much better since you came into it, and Pip…I-we love him so much. You have no idea how special your kid is and y-”

“Believe me, I know how special my kid is…it’s…it’s why I can’t lose him, John.” His voice cracked as he tried to swallow his emotions and couldn’t bring himself to look up when he felt John take his hand. The South Carolinian rolled the smaller hand between both of his, he let out a cold chuckle as he shuffled back round in Alex’s direction, “You don’t get it do you?”

“Wh-?”

“Oh my god, Alex,” John laughed, slapping Alex’s forehead. “Ow!”

“For someone with so much brains, you’re so thick.” The freckled man cupped Alex’s face, finger slipping into the baby-hairs on his neck and edged closer to the other man; his knee snuck between both of the Hamilton’s. He pulled their foreheads together – Alex could feel the heat radiating from John – and whispered, “I’m never going to let anyone take Philip away from you. I love that kid, God you have no idea how much I love him, how much I l-care about you…”

“You care?” The reply was small, full of uncertainty. Hazel met brown and John could see the questions swirling behind Alex’s eyes. He knew the questions; why him? How could John possibly like him? Did John understand how much Alex didn’t rate himself?

He’s such an idiot, John thought smiling, This beautiful idiot, he’s perfect. “Of course, I care.” Alex’s face cracked into a small smile and he pulled back, chuckling quietly as he glanced at John’s lap where his hands were resting. He clenched his fist as he swallowed dryly. “Let me in, ‘Lex. I’m scared, because I feel I don’t know anything…and I imagine Pip is feeling the same. You’ve got some much going on – with Pip, Jefferson…Reynolds – and I just want to help, but…”

“First off, I can’t tell Pip any of this. I don’t wanna ruin his Christmas, but I know I’ve been acting weird lately. I know that.” He looked back up at John, “I want to tell you everything John, but I’m scared that…”, he swallowed again, “…what if you don’t…like me? After hearing it all, I mean.”

“Alexander,” John cut him off again, and this time Alex felt it when their lips met. The South Carolinian’s heart went into overdrive when he felt the Nevisian respond and he felt as if he could cry. A hand cupped his cheek, and when they pulled apart Alex could not stop the way his face split into a wide grin. “I’ve now kissed you twice and hope to again after this. I’ve liked you for months now…there’s nothing you could do or say to make me hate you. Believe me, I really wanted to hate you when I saw you with Jeffershit.”

They both laughed, “John,” Alex began, “Jeffertit and I go to the same single-dad group.”

John blinked, “What?”

“Jefferson has a kid. We met at a dad group thing, Laf told me about it. I didn’t tell anyone I actually went, ‘cause I was embarrassed.”

“Embarrassed? Alex, you’re 22, and you have a 6-year old, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.”

“I know,” Alex admitted, “But I’m a mess; my son has to look after me when I have a panic attack, he thinks my scars are from fighting demons, not from a fucking razor, I kicked my boss and his wife out my house when they tried to help me, I nearly slept with a sociopath just so I could keep my son, and I basically admitted to my rival that I have a crush on you.”

Deciding not to focus on the last part, despite that making his heart explode, John gazed at Alex. “Hey, you’ve not had a panic attack for a month now. Philip doesn’t need to know about your scars, they’re your business, but he’s still proud of you because of them.” To make a point, he lifted Alex’s arm and pressed a kiss to one of the white lines that littered the tanned skin. “Also, you know Wash still cares ‘bout you. He kept asking after you while you were off. And you didn’t sleep with Reynolds…you just told me that.”

Alex blushed, “Inadvertently,” he muttered.

John grinned, “Yeah, I got that.”

“Don’t look at me all smug, Laurens.”

“I’m not, I swear ‘Lex. But you had a crush on me? That’s cute.”

“Shut up.” Scoffed the Nevisian. “But John, if I told you everything, like everything everything…”

“My father was an abusive homophobe.”

“…what?”

The taller of the two sat up, pulling his other knee onto the sofa. “When I came out, my whole family dynamic shifted. My dad thought that he could ‘fix’ me, but in the end, he gave up…hence why I never speak to him.”

“John…”

“Look, I’m not telling you this, because I know you feel you’ve overshared; I’m telling you this, because I want you to know this about me. I’m not asking you to tell me everything, to go into Alexander Hamiltonian detail about everything-”

“Did you just use me as a verb?” Alex was hushed as John pinched his lips between his fingers.

“I want to know what’s going on in that head of yours, Alex…but I know how hard it is…”

There was a heavy silence, neither one of them sure how to pursue the conversation any further. John glanced over at the smaller man and smiled softly, “Look, it’s late…and much as I would love to continue this, God knows how much I’d love to continue this, but we should probably get to bed – I don’t want Philip waking up in your apartment alone”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Alex agreed. They both stood, ready to say goodnight…however, in an instant, they were kissing again. Unlike the previous two, it was hot, needy, sloppy. There was a mess of hands as John lifted Alex up by the ass, and Alex’s hands shot into the curly ponytail – tugging the hairband out so he could release John’s hair. The Nevisian looped his legs around Laurens’ middle, their crotches brushing off one another. Alex swallowed a moan when he felt John’s tongue fight against his own – their need to be the dominant male taking over, but John won as he backed Alex onto the countertop.

“John,” Alex whined, “Too,” He gasped, “Too many clothes on.”

“On it, ‘Lex.” And then John slipped his fingers under Alex’s top, shivering as his cold hand met the burning skin of Alex’s taught stomach. He rolled the fabric up-and-over Hamilton’s head and began kissing his neck, containing a growl when he heard Alex mewl as he stroked his naval. The mood changed, however, when John’s gaze caught sight of the hickey Reynolds had abused onto Alex’s skin. His head felt as if it had been plunged into a bucket of ice-water, and he stopped his pleasing ministrations, backing away.

Alex frowned, “John…”

“Alex, we can’t.”

“What?”

“Shit, no I didn’t mean it like…you didn’t do anything, seriously, I want to…you know…I really really want to, but you just turned down Reynolds today. We just kissed.”

“John.”

“I mean, call me old-fashioned, but I want to do this right with you…”

“John.”

“I want to date and be all Herc-and-Laf in public, and I wanna sleep with you when you’re ready an-”

“John!” Alex interrupted, jumping off the counter and crossing the room to where John stood. He grabbed the latter’s top and yanked his head downward, kissing him lightly. When he let go, he could see a rosy dusting on the South Carolinian’s cheeks and he played with the ends of Alex’s hair, “I was rambling, wasn’t I?”

“Almost as bad as my kind of rambling,” replied the other man, an edge of sass entering his voice. “But, you’re right. I’ve liked you for a long time, John, and I want to do this right. Everything I do, in my life, I do for Philip, but you…you’re something I want…God I sound so cheesy right now, don’t I?”

“We both do. See if there were any hidden cameras right now, I swear people would be writing fanfiction over this conversation.”

Alex laughed and leant further onto John’s chest, “Fanfiction? What are you 12?” John smirked.

“Just shut up and kiss me.”

_-…-_

Back on the fire-escape, Alex and John sat side-by-side – their knees touching as they enjoyed a moment of comfortable silence. Laurens reached over and took Hamilton’s hand, briefly glancing at Alex’s watch to check the time as he played with his fingers.

06:48am

“So, where are we?”

“Well, we’re on a fire-escape.”

“Seriously, Alexander,” John said, bumping Alex with his shoulder, “Are we still friends? Or are we something more?”

Alex looked away in thought, smirking to himself because he already knew his answer…he just wanted to teased John a little more. “Is that your way of asking me out on a date, Laurens?”

“Would you like it to be?” replied the dishevelled South Carolinian, leaning forward to give Alex a kiss. Before their lips connected, Alex grinned back at him, “It might beeeee.” He closed the distance between their mouths, relishing the way his stomach squirmed when John wrapped his arms around his middle. They broke away, breathing heavily.

“Alexander Hamilton, will you go to our office party tonight…as my date?”

“Oooh, I can’t, I’m going with Jefferson.” He laughed when John groaned and shoved him away. The small man caught hold of John’s jumper and pulled him back, kissing him again. I could kiss him all day. “Promise we’ll do dinner on Saturday, and you’ve got a deal.”

“Sounds good to me.”

The pair smiled at one another, stunned by this new development in their relationship. The Nevisian then checked his watch and muttered “Crap” under his breath. He slowly got up and shrugged off the blanket. “I have to go…Pip’ll be up soon.” As he began climbing through the window, he heard John shuffle behind him and call out – “I’ll come with you.”

Alex jumped off the dresser and looked over at John, who was crouched in the window frame, “John, you don’t have to.”

His reply was a smile, and then a kind, “But I want to.”

_-…-_

Philip woke up to the smell of pancakes. The sugary sweetness caused his eyes to fly open and he darted out of bed – Crush in hand – running through to the kitchen, his hair flying behind him. “Pops, Pops, P- John? What are you doing here?” The 6-year old questioned when he saw his friend standing by the hob, making fat, fluffy discs.

John turned and smiled, a plate of pancakes in hand, “Morning, Lil Turtle, I’m making pancakes.”

He slipped his hands under the boy’s underarms and lifted him onto the countertop, ruffling his hair. The man handed Pip the plate of pancakes, just as Alex entered the room. He’d gone to grab a hairband and had switched his glasses for lenses. When he caught sight of the two boys, he grinned and went to give his son a hug, “Morning, hijo! How’d you sleep?”

“Good! I dreamed that I got a turtle called Shelley!”

“That’s great.”

“Maybe Santa will get you Shelley for Christmas?” John offered, containing a snigger when Alex gave him a pointed glare. He knew that he was fuelling the child’s desire to have his very own pet turtle – specifically he was hoping Santa would give him one for Christmas…or his birthday…Santa worked miracles like that.

“Pops,” Philip started over a mouthful of pancake, “Did John sleep over?”

Both adults blushed, unnoticed by the little boy, and in that moment, John really wanted to give Alex a kiss. He also wanted to tell Pip that he’d been able to make his dad smile, but he’d rather not embarrass the boy’s dad any further than he already was…plus, technically, Alex had stayed over at his place.

“No Pip, I thought I’d come over and make you guys my mum’s famous pancakes!”

Philip was no longer listening, his head and mouth now full of pancake, as he enjoyed his breakfast from where he now sat on his father’s lap. Alex kissed his son on the top head and grinned over at John, “Yeah, he spoils us, doesn’t he Pip?”

Chapter Text

When John had told Lafayette and Hercules that he had something important to tell them, but that he had to wait for Alexander, the other couple had become suspicious. Their friend had been acting off all day – almost childlike in his giddiness – and now that the sun had rolled off into the night, the Frenchman was less than impatient to hear what the South Carolinian had to say.

“Please, mon ami! Tell me! I will not tell, Heracles!” Laf whined, prodding the shoulder-pad of John’s suit. The trio were dressed for Yorktown Daily and Monticello News’ Christmas party, but were still waiting on the arrival of the young Nevisian before they continued on their way to the Washingtons house uptown. Alex had been texting John on-and-off all that day, as he had had the day off to spend with Philip because the schools had now broken up for Christmas. His latest message had informed the excited curly-haired (or more tamed curly-haired) man that Pip had been safely dropped off with their landlady, and that Hamilton was making his way to Rochambeau.

John shot Lafayette a firm look, before glancing back at his phone, “Laf, you’re not finding out anything until ‘Lex gets here.”

“You are too cruel, Laurens! What about my curiosity?” The pansexual pouted, his mocha-coloured lips revealing their natural pink colour as he did so. Laf had opted for a very colourful, yet almost regal outfit – his military-blue blazer made the dark hues of his iris’ pop, and his white skinny jeans brought out the bitter chocolate of his skin…John had had to separate him and Hercules as they were struggling to keep their hands off one another. Well, it was more Lafayette was using his partner to disgust John into telling him whatever secret he was keeping. However, the Frenchman had forgotten John’s immunity to their antics, and had only separated them when Hercules got far too into his attempts at undressing the tall pansexual.

Herc chuckled from where he now sat, banished behind the counter – his beanie softened the smart suit and bowtie he was wearing. “Laf, sweetheart, you do know the phrase ‘Curiosity killed the cat’, right?”

“Oui,” Laf replied instantly, leaning over the counter to kiss his partner’s forehead, “But if I remember correctly, does that phrase not finish with ‘Yet satisfaction resurrected it’?”

John snorted, “It’s ‘Satisfaction brought it back’.”

He was briefly interrupted by Lafayette who whispered loudly, “I will never be satisfied,” before he continued his sentence, “seriously why do you pretend that you don’t know English?”

“Because it gets him sympathy points with Herc?”, interrupted a fourth voice as Alex sauntered into the closed café. His hair was loose, and his beard trimmed – making it very difficult for Laurens not to swoon. The Nevisian was wearing a royal blue suit, which made his olive-skin glow, but it was the affectionate look he shot John and the smile that quirked on his face, that made the South Carolinian blush. Now that all his anxieties about Alex not liking him had vanished, John could read the smaller man’s eyes like a sonnet. Their pupils dilated upon seeing the South Carolinian, and the bilingual bisexual’s cheeks tinted…only slightly…but enough for John to see that Alex was caught off guard by his own arousal at seeing him. The underlying feeling wasn’t sexual or heated, but a toasted warmth which had John’s knees feeling like marshmallows.

“Mon petit lion!”, Lafayette squealed, almost swan diving over to where Alexander stood. He pulled the other man’s face to his chest and began stroking Alex’s hair manically, like those villains from spy movies with their cats. The rapid stream of French swiftly followed as Alex struggled to free himself of Laf’s lanky arms.

“John était si cruel avec moi! Il dit qu'il a un secret à nous dire, mais il était un bâtard et le gardait pour lui jusqu'à votre arrivée.”

Alex shot a weak look over to where both John and Hercules stood, his eyes pleading for help. However, neither of the other pair lifted a finger, except to wipe the tears of laughter falling down their cheeks. The Hamilton then smirked as an idea came to him – remembering something John had told him guiltily a few weeks back about Lafayette.

“Oh, I know what John’s secret is.”

The whole room froze into silence, and John quirked an eyebrow at Alex’s tone. When he caught the Nevisian’s eye, he saw a cruel and teasing look in them, impish as it clicked for the South Carolinian that he wasn’t about to share their new-found discovery of one another’s feelings. His tongue was caught in his throat when Laf flung his arms out wide, slamming a fist into his gut so that he was now doubled over in pain: his tongue now bleeding as he clamped it accidentally between his teeth. All three of his friends flashed momentary looks of concern, but they were short-lived, as the juicy gossip that Alex was yet to reveal was a far more pressing matter than John being winded by the enthusiasm of a Frenchman.

“What is ‘is secret, mon petit lion?” Laf queried, not even daring to mask the desperation in his voice as he gave the Nevisian a little squeeze of encouragement. Alex, on the other hand, was enjoying drawing this out – watching John squirm (quite literally as he tried to regain regular breathing) was an entertaining way to start off his evening before he had to go and be forcible put into a social situation with Jefferson.

“Well, Laf, you know your favourite cashmere sweater?” The smallest of the quartet began, his voice long and drawn out like silk. John knew he was doing this deliberately. He knew that Alex knew of his weakness for his voice, for his sultry, Hispanic accent…however, fear…fear of what Lafayette might do to him if he found out that John had blatantly killed his favourite sweater – gifted to him by Hercules for their third anniversary – by dropping cranberry sauce all over it at Thanksgiving. It hadn’t been a deliberate act against the sweater, John had been drunk, and had only recently remembered the event, yet guilt and shame kept him from revealing the horror to Laf – so he’d snuck into his friends’ apartment and stolen the murdered victim of clothing in some attempt to rescue it.

“Oui?” Laf quirked an eyebrow. His lips curled as he glanced between John and Alex, curious to know what shared secret lay between them.

This time it was John’s eyes who were pleading; pleasing to Alex for more time to resolve the killing of the sweater. However, the Hamilton’s expression was unreadable, and Laurens could only chew the inside of his cheek as Alex opened his mouth to speak again.

“Oh good, I was just wondering if you knew what sweater your favourite was.”

“Huh?”

“What?”

“Pardon?”

Alex shrugged as the rest of his friends stared at him in confusion. He couldn’t be that horrid to John, by throwing him under the bus…plus…he’d also wrecked one of Lafayette’s make-up palettes and had seen the Frenchman’s wrath. He didn’t want to put John through that, it would be like scolding a puppy.

“What? I just wanted to know. I don’t have a favourite sweater, wanted to know if Lafayette did. I have no idea what John’s secret is.”

The Nevisian then managed to slink his way round next to John and stood on his toes to whisper, “There, I bought you some time, Cashmere Killer.”

He smirked as a brief blush crossed the freckled cheeks, “Thank you, Make-Up Murderer,” and he nodded his thanks. Laf visibly deflated, having missed this short encounter, his shoulders sagging as he flopped backward onto Hercules with a dramatic flair. His voice came out as a shrill whine, causing his beau to flinch and pull his beanie over his ears with one hand (the other supporting Lafayette by the waist), “Non! Alex, comment as-tu pu me mentir? Je pensais que nous étions amis!!”

Alex scoffed as Lafayette flipped his middle finger at him and contained a chuckled when he saw John roll up his sleeves and frown. The South Carolinian felt his face harden, whilst trying to dismiss the stupid need to defend Alex at this interaction, as he knew that this was just banter among friends. His expression softened though when he caught brown eyes staring at him. The affection behind Alexander’s smile caused his throat to clam up and he sagged once again, sinking back on his heels and smiling.

The shortest member of the quartet felt his palms sweat a little and he hunched his shoulders slightly. He wanted to tell the others about him and John, and damn anyone who tried to stop him. Alex could sense John’s eyes on his face and smiled widely – pulling at the sleeves of his blazer – and scoffed to Lafayette.

"Oh, tais-toi, Laf. Nous ne faisons que jouer avec toi. John et moi allons à un rendez-vous samedi, tu es heureux maintenant?"

…it took ten minutes and one cab ride to the Washingtons to stop Lafayette squealing.

_-...-_

The party was in full swing and the introvert in Alex panicked the second he lost Hercules and Lafayette to the dancefloor. John sensed his partner’s growing unease and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, leaning into his side and whispering in his ear, “D’ya wanna go get a drink and see if we can find the hosts?”

His reply was an eager nod and Alex had to yell a reply as the music gained volume, “Yes, you’re a saint.”

“Only for you, baby.”

They both looked away from each other, heat up their necks, before they moved around the edge of the room for the kitchen. In this, Alex led the way (as he was more accustomed to the layout of the Washington household), and honestly, the Nevisian never thought he’d ever see so many different types of drunk people in the one room. There were flirty drunks, sleepy drunks, angry drunks, mute drunks, cuddly drunks, loner drunks…then Jefferson drunk. The towering individual intercepted the pair’s path, grabbing Alexander’s face and breathing heavily into it. Behind him was a highly embarrassed Madison, who was clutching a bottle of water, Thomas’ phone, shirt and blazer…apparently Thomas Jefferson was a stripper drunk.

“OH MY GOD IT’S HAAM-HAMILTURNIP!”

Both Alex and John raised a hand to fan the alcoholic haze away. The South Carolinian unintentionally tensed, his eye narrowing as Thomas refused to let go of Alex’s face. A squeeze to his hand reassured him that Alex was equally as uncomfortable with their co-worker’s newfound closeness.

Alex instinctively stepped away from Jefferson – whose afro was imposing more height on him – and cringed while he spoke, trying not to inhale Thomas’ used breath, “Holy shit Jefferson, how much bourbon have you drunk?”

“Too much.” Madison groaned as his boyfriend staggered back to his embrace, his fingers still clasped to their fellow reporter’s cheek.

“Look! Maddy! It’s a Hammy.”

Ignoring him, Madison looked at John and Alex. His eyes screamed with both amusement and apology, and it was mimicked in his voice as he spoke, “We’ve got Beverly until next week, and he was supposed to by the designated driver.”

“Bailed as soon as he saw The General was serving Four Roses?”, John enquired.

“Yep”, James confirmed with a sigh, “He needed it though. Bev’s teething an- Wait, how do you know about…?” He trailed off as the puzzle-pieces slotted together. His eyes met Alex’s, whose cheek had now been released by Jefferson who had now joined Laf and Herc on the dancefloor.

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine. Tommy told me about your son as well. I know it’s not easy.”

“Thanks, James.”

There was an awkward moment of “silence” between the group as music blared around them, and they watched as Jefferson surprisingly started breakdancing…and ended up nearly breaking a hip. His small partner chuckled fondly and looked away for a moment, “Right, I better get him outside before he tries to throw up in Mr President’s mum’s urn.”

“He did what?!”

John let out a snort and answered Alex’s query as Madison walked away. “Last year, Jefferson got super wasted and nearly threw up in Mrs Washington Senior’s ashes. Boss ended up plunging his head into an ice-bucket to sober him up. Made everyone watch too, it was fucking hilarious.”

“Nooooo!”

“Mhm.”

Alex shuffled round to look John in the eyes, gauging his honesty. He slid his hands up the other man’s toned chest and smirked, “Sad that I missed that.”

“Me too, you would’ve laughed so hard.”

“I probably would’ve ended up just as drunk.” They both laughed at this remark and John leant his head down a little, pressing his lips to Alex’s and melting into the heat of him. It was brief…mainly because someone accidentally rammed into them, causing the couple to headbutt and pull apart, grasping their foreheads and attempting to glare at the culprit.

“Oh my god, Alexander, hey!”

Angelica Schuyler grinned, lop-sided and obviously drunk. Both men looked at her, one amused and the other confused as she moved her arms like a robot. John chuckled, quickly glancing at his partner, before opening his mouth to speak to the eldest of the Schuyler sisters.

“Hey Angie, you here with Liz and Peg-a-leg?”

“Nah! I’m here with Jacky-boy!”, she pointed towards the space behind her and let Alex and John search for the tall, blonde head of Angelica’s fiancé, “Pegs is out with her college friends, and Lizzie’s here with her new girlfriend.”

Her conversation partners blinked in surprise, but it was Alex who spoke up. “Eliza’s got a girlfriend?”

“Yeah, y’know that chick from Thanksgiving? Whatshername?”

She began clicking at Alex for an answer. He shared a smirk with John, “Maria?”

“YES! Maria. Miss Maria Reynolds. That’s her. Yeah, they’ve been on like 4 dates now. They’re actually so cute together…what?”

John had felt Alex tense next to him, and he knew exactly why. Reynolds. There couldn’t possibly be a connection between the two? There was no way that monster could have a decent relative? One who could snag someone as sweet as Eliza?…could there? The South Carolinian felt the hand next to his tremble, so he slipped it into his larger one, brushing his thumb along Alex’s knuckles as he looped their fingers. Angelica was staring at them, her mind having sobered a little, but before she could respond, Laurens intercepted the conversation and steered it away from the uncomfortable conversation.

“Nothing, Angie. We’re just gonna go get a drink, ‘kay?”

“Okay?”

He gently tugged on Alex’s hand, who was mutely staring at his feet, and led him away: not to the kitchen where they were originally headed, but to the pantry just off from it. The room was cluttered with cabinet, dry food. Tins and cans littered shelves making it too cramped for it to be a party hangout, but spacious enough for two people. Perfect to get away from the madness and to let Alex breathe.

As soon as the curly-haired man had closed the door, Alex slumped against the wall. He pulled at his collar, loosening his tie and trying to gasp for air as black dots began to swim in his vision. He clenched them shut.

They can’t be related. He can’t be here. He can’t be here.

“Alex…”

A finger brushed his cheek and Alex opened his eyes, gazing at John’s brogues. He dipped his torso forward so that his forehead bumped into John’s chest and he let out a shaky breath. John sighed and pulled him close, kissing his head. “It’s ok.”

“’m sorry…I-I just heard R-that name and freaked out.”

“I know.” He kissed Alex’s hair again, “I know.” Alex shuffled so that his cheek rested on John’s chest, his hand tucked under his chin while John held him close.

And there they stood for several minutes, enjoying the quiet.

“Fuck, I don’t wanna go back out there.”

“Mhm.”

“Do we have to go back out there?”, John queried, “Can’t we just cuddle in here all night and let our friends and co-workers just get pissed?”

Alex chuckled, shaking his head. He pushed away from John quietly and looked at him softly. “Much as I would love to do that. I did say I was going to drunk slam Jefferson tonight and I have the honour to fulfil that promise.”

The other man raised an amused brow, “Oh, really?”

“Mhm.”

“Well, we better get back out there.”

_-...-_

“Have you got him?”

Washington asked this carefully and quietly as he passed an incapacitated Alex over to John. The party had surpassed its climax and had now ebbed with the melody of a slow tune. A few stragglers remained, but cabs had been called and soon peace would finally descend on the Washington house. Alex had gone beyond the drunkest John had ever seen him. He had fulfilled his promise of slamming on Jefferson – it had sparked a rap-dance-battle (which Alex totally won) but had ended with both reporters overdoing it on tequila and vomiting in two out of three of the bathrooms within the grand house. Thus, it had fallen on both their respective other halves to carry their drunk asses home.

“Yeah, I got him,” John said as he readjusted his grip on Alex’s waist. The smaller man was semi-conscious, muttering away in Spanish. He’d drooled a little on John, his hair was a mess and he’d taken his contact lenses out so all he could see was a blurry mess (more so because of the tequila).

“El tequila corre por mi sangre! Soy el Rey del alcohol, Thomas Jefferson es un ser débil.” The Nevisian slurred as his head rolled back into the crook of John’s neck. The John in question chuckled, giving Alex a peck on the forehead, whispering a quiet, “I know.”

As they staggered towards the cab George had called, Martha smiled as she watched the two young men. When her husband wrapped an arm around her waist, she leant into him and murmured sleepily, “Well, I think that went well.”