The Cabinet meeting had been going well, all things considered. Hamilton and Jefferson had been stopped before they could get too far (three times) and Washington found he wasn’t feeling the urge to fire them both.
He loved Alexander like a son, he did, but dear god was he good at picking fights.
On top of having his Cabinet, he had Lafayette, visiting from France and Mulligan and Tallmadge, who were proposing a security unit for protecting the Governing body of the country. Oh, and Burr was helping act as a neutral de-escalator. They needed a mediator.
But when a meeting is going well, something inevitably comes to disrupt it. He knew this. He knew it. So why he was so surprised when it happened this time, he just didn’t know.
The door had swung open and a man with a gun had strode in.
The gunman had scanned the room, and to his dread, zoned in on Alexander, snarl taking over his face as the gun levelled onto him.
All anyone could do was freeze.
But while the rest of the room looked on in confusion, Alexanders eyes widened in recognition. This wasn’t just a random fanatic who disagreed with his policies, this was someone Hamilton recognised.
He knew this gunman.
Which made sense, given the gunman was pointing the gun straight at him.
Years of war and seeing a gun pointed at Alexander never got easier.
The gunman's hand was shaking slightly.
“Do you remember me, Mister Hamilton? Do you?”
“I do. I remember you. Samuel, right, Samuel Seabee?”
“Seabury! Samuel Seabury. You ruined my life.”
“Ruined your... we met once, almost 14 years ago.”
“And I hated you for that. I was sure someone as loud mouthed as you would be offed before the war ended, but here you are.”
“Look, Seabury, you don’t need to do this. You can walk away.”
Seabury's hand shook again, and Washington wished he knew what this was about. He couldn’t move as long as the gun was trained on someone and, by a rule he was now regretting, none of the room's occupants had weapons of their own. It was mainly to stop Hamilton or Jefferson shooting each other.
But then something caught Seabury’s eye.
The gun swung around and pointed straight at Burr, but Hamilton was talking before the Burr had his hands raised.
“Woah, woah, no.”
“He was there too.”
“He wasn’t a part of it, listen to me Seabury, he wasn’t a part of it.”
“He was there. He was there with you.”
“He tried to stop me, ok, Burr was the one who pulled me away from the debate, remember, he tried to stop me starting it anyway. You shoot someone, it me. I'm the one you have an issue with, ok.”
“Oh god,” Mulligan muttered from behind them, “I think remember this kid.”
“You do!” Jefferson hissed. Just because the gun was back on Alex didn’t mean Jefferson was less scared, it seemed.
“Yeah, College Square, about a month before the war started, remember Laf?”
“Oh, oui , the ‘free thoughts’ on the revolution. Merde . Of all the enemies Alex made, this was not the one I expected to show up with a gun.”
“Yeah, lower on the list than I'd thought.”
He turned his attention away from the muttering of his colleagues and back to Alex and Seabury. If they got an opening, they needed to take it.
“...and I’m sorry. I should have listened to Burr but I was young and hungry for an argument and I hated the Empire. Your speech was so... infuriatingly incorrect so I jumped up and argued it. I didn’t care who I was arguing against, just what it was I was arguing and that was wrong of me.”
“You think that matters?”
“I don’t know, but this isn’t the answer. You pull the trigger and you’ll be killed; you’re going to throw your life away if you do this. You still have a chance to walk away. You still have a chance to live.”
“You think I care. You humiliated me, in front of hundreds of people . You ruined my reputation . You ruined me.”
“Ruined your reputation, you saw how the people reacted to what I was saying. Your reputation was ruined by what you were saying, not how well I countered it.”
“I wanted to avert a war. Look around, was all the bloodshed worth this? All the people who died, on both sides. Were their lives worth this?”
“Yes, Seabury, it was. 100% it was worth it. Every day I fought was worth the future we’re building now and I will never regret fighting for what I believed in. Please, put the gun down.”
“I came here to make a statement Hamilton. Last time I tried to make a statement you silenced me; this time the world is going to know what I think...”
Seabury was stepping forwards with his gun drawn.
“For the rest of time the Cabinet will be stained with your blood and the world will know it.”
“Why the hell isn’t Hamilton stepping back,” Jefferson muttered, “he’s going to get shot.”
“No,” Tallmadge whispered back, “Ham’s a soldier, he knows how to disarm an attacker, and he needs to get closer.”
“Am I the only one confused as to why Seabury is only doing this now, it’s been years.”
“Yeah, and Ham’s done way worse than what he did to Seabury, maybe we should worry.”
And then Alex moved, with a soldier's speed, and seized the gun out of Seabury’s hands. The rooms occupants flinched as the gun discharged, but Tallmadge had Seabury on the floor seconds later.
Washington had also rushed forwards, but past Seabury and Tallmadge, to get to Alex.
Because there was blood on the curtain behind him.
And blood leaking out of his shoulder.
Alex had been shot.
Washington had his coat pressed into the entry wound, and looking up he realised it was Jefferson’s coat pressed against the exit. Alexander had his whole body clenched in pain, hissing through his teeth, repeatedly pressing his eyes shut as the waves of pain hit.
“It’s always the left fucking shoulder.”
Washington found himself snorting. It was true, this was the second or third time Alexander had been shot in the left shoulder.
“They’re aiming for your heart Ham.”
“Oui, but they’re terrible shots.”
Alexander grinned at his friends’ statements, and if there wasn’t so much blood, he would have probably done the same.
“This is better, nghhh , better than Schuylkill though. ‘m still dry.”
“Worse than Camp Fordale?”
“Oh yeah. Way worse.”
Jefferson looked more sick than amused as he asked, “Camp Fordale?”
“Herc and I stole cannons from the British. I got shot as we were leaving.”
“That part never made the story I heard.”
“General, sir, there are many things, agh , about that story that wouldn’t have reached you.”
Mulligan was nodding and grinning and, for Jefferson’s benefit and his, expanded, “We were retreating from Manhattan Island, and we’d lost our cannons. We knew there was a Camp on the Southern Tip filled with British Soldiers and cannons, and we realised if we were going to cover the retreat of our main forces, we needed those cannons.”
“So you stole them?”
“ So we stole them. Broke into the camp and took them right out from under those Redcoats noses. They realised what was happening just as we pushed off the riverbank with the cannons, but Ham got shot. Didn't even realise until we were about a mile downriver.”
“Only clipped the top of my shoulder. I was, gah, I was fine.”
Washington looked up, hoping to see the doctor arriving, but there was no-one yet. He knew a doctor had been sent for, Burr had run off to get one and Burr was reliable for things like this. Tallmadge had removed Seabury and the rest of the Cabinet had been moved to another room.
He pressed harder into the wound, forcing himself to keep the pressure despite the sound Alex made as he did it, ignoring the face he made.
His breath was becoming more laboured, he was paling with the blood loss. They needed more pressure. They needed to keep Alex awake and talking too.
He made eye contact with Jefferson over Alexanders head, and Jefferson also increased his pressure, asking, “And Schuylkill?”
Alexander had his teeth pressed together , saying nothing.
“Alex. You know the protocol for this,” he prompted, “keep talking.”
“Schuylkill, yeah, we had to... had to destroy British supplies. I took a squad. On the way back the Redcoats shot me... shot me right off the boat... ended up about 8 miles down... downriver before I managed to get out of the water. Then I had to walk back to camp.”
“With a bullet wound in your shoulder?”
“I’m stronger than you think, Jefferson, I found three of my men on the way back, all of whom had also ended up in the river. Water was worse than the shoulder . ‘s cold.”
“Looking back, it was magnifique. We were toasting to his memory and he storms into camp bleeding and soaked to the bone, demanding medical attention for his men.”
“Everyone looked at me... like I was 'ghost .”
“Lee said you were dead. He said he’d seen you been shot in the heart and washed away by the river.”
“Should’ve slapped him.”
“Wasn’t enough to shoot him?” he chided.
“I didn’t shoot him, you said wasn ’ ‘ llowed . John shot ‘m.”
Alexanders words were beginning to slur and he continued to pale and the blood leaking through his and Jefferson’s coats was becoming more noticeable . Where was the damned doctor?
Alexanders head fell forwards into his shoulder as he and Jefferson pressed harder again into his wound, his breath hitching as he bit down noises of pain. Alexander was strong, stronger than most, he’d survived more than most.
He'd survive this.
Alexander fell limp against him, the last of his strength bleeding out as the doctor bustled into the room.
“No, hey Alex, stay awake. Son, you need to stay awake.”
“Not ‘cha son.”
“No, no you’re not, but you do need to stay awake.”
“ M’wake . M'tired b’ m’wake.”
And then he was in the doctors hands. They worked fast, removing his coats and shirts and binding the wound for travel before getting him onto a stretcher and then they were gone.
“Someone needs to tell Mrs Hamilton.”
He froze. He hadn’t even thought about Alexanders wife, he’d only though that he needed his boy to survive, that America needed him to survive.
Please god let Alexander survive this.
As soon as Alexander was out of surgery, George sank into one of the chairs by his side. He'd done this before, more than once, but the war was over. He'd hoped never to see Alexander like this ever again because the war was over and he shouldn’t have been in danger like this anymore. Sickness, perhaps, but not gunshots.
Alexander was pale and shivery, but his wound was not infected and he was going to survive.
Eliza Hamilton was in the chair on the other side, looking somber. Burr had rushed in with her not long after he himself had arrived. If Burr had an issue with having had to run around a play messenger, he kept it to himself, merely asking to be kept updated before joining the rest of Alexanders friends outside.
The doctor had insisted Alexander would live and recover fully as long as he rested and looked after himself. He didn’t doubt Mrs Hamilton would be able to make him look after himself, she did better than most and curbing Alexanders somewhat destructive tendencies.
Alexander never meant to cause himself harm, he just neglected himself in his aims to help everyone else.
If it wasn’t so frustrating it would be admirable.
Washington wasn’t looking forwards to telling Alexander that Jefferson was demanding a new coat.
Or maybe he was, if only to see Alexander reacting and awake and back to his normal self. If Jefferson was getting a new coat, he highly doubted it was coming from Alexander, unless of course Alexander decided to buy him one that was well fitting but horrid, or completely out of Jeffersons style, which he didn’t think was above Alexander to do.
Seabury was going to hang. Attempted murder of a member of the President's Cabinet in front of a dozen witnesses was not a long trial. He imagined Alexander would be rather sad Seabury was going to hang. Maybe not sad, but disappointed. He had genuinely sounded remorseful as he tried to talk the man down from shooting him.
Not just to protect himself but to protect another man who blamed him for ruining his life. Did Alexander blame himself for ruining Seabury's life? Would he blame himself for Seabury’s death?
Lafayette and Mulligan had filled him in on the story while they’d waited for the doctor's verdict.
About an 18-year-old Seabury giving a speech against revolution and a 19-year-old Alexander stepping up to challenge him publicly, causing almost a week of protesting in New York. About how even that young Alexanders mind had been fast enough to challenge him and turn his own well-crafted pre-written speech against him on the spot. How they had both pushed Alexander into going onto the stage while Burr had been trying to stop them.
He was grateful Seabury hadn’t recognised either of them. He'd recognised Burr, but Burr hadn’t been egging Alexander on. He'd been kept out of danger by his trying to stop Alexander, if Seabury had seen either of them, they could have been in danger too. There could have been more than 1 man being treated.
He needed to get the three of them to give Tallmadge a list of people they (Alexander) had pissed off.
Three weeks later and Hamilton burst into the Cabinet room with all the drama of a man who’d been bored out of his mind for weeks.
Apparently, Eliza had locked away his quills and had been moving his work out of his reach when he wasn’t looking.
Next to him Jefferson actually looked relieved to have Hamilton back. It wasn’t worry; it was boredom. While Alexander had been recovering, he’d had no one to debate.
He had a sling around his arm, but a feral grin on his face and a stack of papers in his hand. He had three weeks of backlogged topics on top of the argument from the day Seabury broke in.
The cabinet was screwed and he couldn’t wait to watch it.