Aaron wakes up to a throbbing headache and Alexander Hamilton sprawled over his stomach. He blinks at the ceiling as his brain tries, under the weight of its massive hangover, to reconcile what exactly is happening right now. Hamilton is heavy for such a small person. He doesn't snore, but on every exhale he makes a small, chuffing sound.
"What the fuck," Aaron says.
Aaron can probably blame this all on Thomas Jefferson—but, to be fair, he's been able to blame a lot on Jefferson since throwing his lot in with the Republicans back when he was running for Senate.
"Angelica's getting married, huh?" Jefferson says, leaning on Hamilton's desk and smirking. "You going to the ceremony, Hamilton?" He mock gasps, holding a hand up to his mouth. "Or would that be too painful for you?"
Aaron, who only came with because Madison's out sick and Jefferson bribed him, rolls his eyes behind Jefferson's back. Sure, Hamilton is a pain in the ass and Aaron sometimes fantasizes about strangling him, but it's stupid to bring up Hamilton's whole messy history with the Schuyler sisters and it's just… underhanded, really. Which, of course, is why Jefferson does it. They may be in the same party, and Jefferson's backing may have gotten him elected, but that doesn't mean Aaron necessarily likes Jefferson.
"I was invited," Hamilton says, with an edge to his voice that suggests Jefferson drop the subject or see more of his projects get underfunded and cut in the near future.
"What a coincidence!" Jefferson says. "I was invited too! And so was Burr, here."
Hamilton's looks up from his iPad finally, meeting Aaron's eyes. As always, he looks tired: Aaron's still not convinced that Hamilton sleeps, and he's got enough evidence in the dark bags under his eyes to prove it.
"Oh?" he asks. "I didn't know you and Angelica were that close, Burr."
Aaron smiles. "I donated generously to some of her charities," he says. "I'm sure I'm just a political guest, not a personal one."
Angelica Schuyler, who is possibly the smartest person Aaron knows excluding the man sitting across from him, would never give up the advantage of including political acquaintances on her wedding invitation list. Her ambition and clear-headed strategic thinking are only a few of the things Aaron admires most about her. Besides, they were friendly with each other when Aaron was still at Princeton, even if Angelica clearly only had eyes for Hamilton.
"I see," Hamilton says. He rubs at his eyes. "Did you come in here for a reason, Jefferson?"
"Well," Jefferson drawls. "I figured since we're all going, we might as well buddy up and travel together, don't you think. I know you always fly coach, Hamilton, but this is a wedding. Take my private jet instead."
"I'd rather be shot in the face," Hamilton says, going back to his iPad. "I'm going to give you a hard pass on that offer, Jefferson."
Jefferson scowls down at Hamilton's head, obviously incensed at losing an opportunity to rub his wealth in Hamilton's face. Hamilton dresses pristinely, sometimes even opulently, and everyone's noticed—but he's frugal with money outside of appearances, because he really doesn't have that much to spare.
"How's Eliza doing these days, Hamilton?" Jefferson sneers, switching tactics. "You know she's going to be at the wedding too?"
Hamilton's shoulders tense, and he looks up again. This time, his eyes glitter. "Get the fuck out of my office, Jefferson," he says. "I'll see you in Vegas—or hopefully not."
Jefferson, perhaps sensing that he's toeing a line he shouldn't be, shows prudence for the first time in his life and just waves at Hamilton, sauntering out of the door. Aaron glances at Hamilton, but he's already immersed back in his work, a clear dismissal. Aaron sighs, leaves, closes the door behind him.
The next day, the Tribune runs another scandalous piece about Jefferson and his "supposed" (confirmed) mistress. Madison looks from Jefferson's pout to the paper and sighs.
"What the fuck did you do now?" he asks.
Angelica chooses to have her ceremony in her hometown: Las Vegas. The ceremony itself is quick, gorgeous, intimate. Aaron isn't invited to it, but he hears about it afterwards. Hamilton (who was invited to it) only says that at least they didn't play Wind Beneath My Wings.
"You're such a romantic, Ham," Mulligan says, leaning on Hamilton's elbow, already three sheets to the wind. Mulligan spends most of his time three sheets to the wind, which might be why he's such a convincing agent: nobody suspects a drunk.
Hamilton may be listening, but Aaron would bet he's not—his eyes are fixed on Elizabeth Schuyler's figure as she dances with her new fiancee. Aaron hadn't caught his name, but he knows that he's involved in real estate somehow, the same as Phillip Schuyler. Aaron sips at his whiskey and considers Hamilton's mournful eyes.
He'd already left Princeton by the time the whole scandal happened, but he knows the story: up and coming politician Alexander Hamilton caught in bed with a married woman—despite already being engaged to the enticing Elizabeth Schuyler. Enraged, Eliza broke off their engagement and left school, even though she was only a sophomore—instead choosing to finish her education upstate at Yale. Angelica ended up following her a year later, supposedly after a fling of her own with Hamilton, though nobody can say for certain if they did anything.
Aaron's not sure how Angelica and Hamilton made up—her kiss to his cheek when she came by to say hello was certainly affectionate enough—but it looks like Eliza hasn't gotten over it quite yet. It's been—what, ten years since that happened? And Hamilton's still as hung up on her as ever. Hamilton was a tomcat in undergrad, but Aaron doesn't think he's even gone on a date with a woman since that whole debacle, let alone slept around. Despite himself, Aaron finds himself a little sympathetic—he's no stranger to trouble in love. Hamilton, for all his brilliance, is totally inept with people.
Aaron's seated at the bar, content to drink the rest of the night away now that he's made his requisite pleasantries, when Hamilton slides into the seat next to him.
"I need another drink," Hamilton says to the bartender. "Whiskey, please. Burr."
"Sir," Aaron says. "You're not going to go and dance?"
The bartender slides a whiskey toward Hamilton and he raises it and chugs it down. His hair is starting to come loose from his ponytail.
"Can't," he says. "I don't have anyone to dance with."
Aaron eyes him. At thirty-four, he is the youngest secretary their nation has ever seen—and he looks it, sometimes. Right now, with his rumpled hair and bright-dark eyes that take up so much of his face, he looks like he's still in his twenties. He's shorter than most men, but hardly unfit; Aaron can spot several ladies who shoot him a glance as they pass by.
"You could find someone," he suggests, taking another sip of whiskey.
Hamilton doesn't need to look back for Aaron to know his mind is on Eliza Schuyler. Aaron looks for him and spots her still on the dance-floor with her fiancee, laughing. Yes, he can see how it would be hard to forget a woman like that.
"No," Hamilton says, drawing Aaron's attention back to him. "I don't think I can."
Aaron considers him. Then he lifts a glass.
"To messy break-ups," he says solemnly.
Hamilton blinks, then smiles, raising his own glass. "And what do you know about that, Burr?"
Aaron's a little drunk, which has always given him a loose tongue. It's the reason he usually avoids alcohol at state gatherings.
"I once made the same mistake you did, Hamilton," he says, ignoring the way Hamilton tenses up. "I slept with a woman who was already married. But I was in love with her, unlike you. I thought she would leave her husband for me, you see, but…"
Hamilton reaches out and clasps Aaron on the shoulder. His hand is small, warm. "I'm sorry, Burr," he says. Hamilton's never been able to be anything less than completely genuine, completely himself—he doesn't have a duplicitous bone in his body, so Aaron can read his sincerity clearly. "Do you want to get wasted with me?"
Aaron considers it. "Sure," he says. "Why not?"
Aaron contemplates his bed companion. They're still wearing their clothes, which at least means there wasn't any sex involved. But he can't figure out why they're in a hotel room he doesn't recognize, let alone why they're in bed together. More to the point, everything after the fifth shot of whiskey is a blur: he doesn't know how he got from that bar to here, or why he pulled Hamilton along with him.
He shakes at Hamilton's shoulder. Hamilton startles awake, hand grasping like he's reaching for a gun. Aaron always forgets that he's army.
"Hamilton," he says and Hamilton relaxes a little.
"Burr?" he asks, rubbing at his eyes. "What the—?"
"I suppose you can't remember what happened last night any better than I can," Aaron says. "Fantastic. Well, with any luck nobody has missed us and we can catch the next flight back to D.C."
Hamilton runs his hand through his frizzy hair, then pauses. Slowly, he lowers his hand. And stares. Aaron frowns and follows the direction of hand. His heart stops when he sees a thin silver band around Hamilton's left ring finger. Frantically, he checks his own hand and goes wan when he sees a matching band on his left hand.
"No," he says, because desperate denial is the only way to get out of this sane. "No, no, no—"
Hamilton, pale and wide-eyed, hands over a slip of paper from his bedside table. Aaron takes in the marriage certificate with absolute numbness.
"Shit," Hamilton says finally.
"Shit," Aaron agrees.
can NOT believe u got married and didnt make me best man what the FUCK hammy
FROM: Your Excellency
Hamilton, call me at your earliest convenience. I mean it, son.
when I said get over eliza this is not what I meant
also you upstaged my wedding you dick
Burr, though? Really?
Aaron's all for getting dressed in silence, going their separate ways, and having a quiet and private divorce, but Hamilton puts a kink in that plan the moment he checks the phone tucked in his breast pocket. It's nearly dead—probably because, as Aaron can see over Hamilton's shoulder, it's been blown up with notifications.
"This is probably bad," Hamilton says as he scrolls and scrolls. "Oh—oh shit. I may have, uh. Changed my relationship status on Facebook? And posted about it on Twitter. And then it got on Tumblr and now—"
He flicks his thumb neatly, efficiently (as always, more attuned to technology than Aaron, with his dinosaur flip-phone, can ever hope to be) and holds it up for Aaron to see. Aaron pales when the headline SENATOR AND SECRETARY MARRY SECRETLY displayed on the front page of the online Times.
"They really tried for that alliteration," Hamilton says, a little scornful. "But it's in every newspaper." He swipes a couple times and then winces. "And we're trending on twitter. #CongratsBam."
"Couple name," Hamilton says absently, still perusing. "Better than Hurr I guess."
Aaron has no idea what he's talking about, but he decides those are questions best put aside.
"So everyone knows," Aaron says. Just saying that aloud is enough to give him hives. "But they… they think we did it on purpose?"
That's the oddest thing to him. Nobody questions the fact that he and Hamilton, opposite in almost every way, decided to get married in Vegas? There's doubtless negative response, but nobody, from what Hamilton has shown him, is questioning it.
Hamilton's eyes flick up toward him. "Well, I came out a while ago," he says.
Yes, Aaron does remember the splash Hamilton made when he told the press he was bisexual, nearly four years ago—only months after being sworn in as treasury secretary. The Republicans had nearly revolted, and Aaron's secretary confided that Hamilton still got negative letters and tweets sent to him to this very day. Aaron took one look at the mess Hamilton made and quietly decided to never come out while he was in office.
So much for that.
"And we've been friends since college," Hamilton continues. "It probably looks more legitimate if you don't… know us very well."
"Know that we hate each other, you mean," Aaron supplies, oddly annoyed.
Hamilton rolls his eyes. "Don't get yourself in a quiff, Burr," he says. "I don't hate you. Which, honestly, you should take as a compliment, because I hate quite a few people, many of your friends among them." Aaron winces when he thinks about what Jefferson's response to this whole mess will be. "I don't agree with you, I don't understand you, and I sometimes wonder if you weren't put on this earth purely to drive me up the wall, but I don't hate you."
Aaron smiles. He can't explain his own relief.
"What are we going to do?" he says. "Do you think they'll believe that it was just a joke?"
"I'll go out and make a statement," Hamilton says, putting his phone aside. He adopts the brisk, crisp way of speaking he often used when he was in charge of Washington's PR during his campaign. "Just a mistake, both took it too far enjoying our vacation, slightly inebriated, who hasn't done it… Use the homophobia angle. There's been plenty of celebrities who've gotten married in Vegas, why should we be any different? Then we explain that we'll have a nice divorce, no harm done, a funny story to share with the kids. News cycle lasts… probably a few months, but they should calm down once Jefferson does something stupid again."
"Once you leak information about something stupid he does again, you mean," Aaron corrects. "May I see your phone?"
Hamilton side-eyes him. "You're not going to break it with your technologically-inept fingers, are you?"
Aaron rolls his eyes. "I know how a smartphone works, Hamilton. Let me see it."
Hamilton hands it over, with obvious reluctance. Aaron scrolls through the messages of congratulations, confusion, hatred, anger, outrage. His mind turns over their new marriage like a Rubik's cube, adjusting here, rotating there. He hadn't come out for years because of the ruckus, but public opinion is swinging more and more toward gay politicians these days. He'll hardly get fruit baskets from every part of the country, but his state will appreciate him for it, he's sure of that. And his ratings could use a boost: from the liberal parts of the country, he'll look less like a rich CEO's son and more like a persecuted gay man, married, settled down to the Democratic Golden Child….
Well. This could work.
"No," Aaron says.
Hamilton's eyebrows shoot up and his mouth purses the way it does sometimes when Jefferson says something he hates but Washington has recently lectured him on manners.
"No?" he inquires. Aaron can hear the buried what the fuck?
"No, that's not what we should do," Aaron says. "We've already put it out there. Everyone believes it. You know that denial only makes a story grow, makes rumors spread… No, we should roll with it. Talk it up. Make everyone believe that we're actually married. Then, in a few years, we start to drift apart. Our careers, our personalities… Then in, say, five years or so, we divorce. Mutual, consensual, we're still friends and colleagues, etc…."
"Burr," Hamilton says with abject horror. "You can't be serious."
"Well, why not?"
"Because!" Hamilton says. "For one, are you even gay? For two, that means five years of having to pretend to be in love with you, and we both know I'm not that good of an actor. For three, that means you will always have to explain this to anyone you're trying to take out in the future and for four that means no dating anyone for five years at the least and for five—!"
"Okay, okay," Aaron says. Hamilton snaps his mouth shut, eyes glittering. "I am… I'm bisexual," he says, a little uncomfortable. He hasn't told many people—well, not before today, anyway. Now the whole world knows. Terrific, he thinks. "As for the rest… I haven't dated anyone in years anyway, Hamilton. I have no plans to do so in the future. And you're a better actor than you think you are. Look, it won't have to take much. Between our jobs, we barely see each other anyway. Just a few lunches here and there, some public events—"
"We'd have to share a house," Hamilton says, sounding a little hysterical now. "And our taxes would change! It's a whole now system for married couples and—"
Aaron finds the perfect tweet to use to his advantage. He waves the phone under Hamilton's nose and watches as he goes silent and intense.
@lilhammy @aaronburr You don't know how happy you've made me. Being able to see you two get married, be out in somewhere like D.C. makes me believe I can go all the way someday. #CongratsBam
"There are dozens of other messages like that," Aaron says. "Kids all over the country who see us, an openly gay couple in some of the most powerful positions in America… and think that this country is changing. That they can come to the White House as they are, instead of hiding. Isn't that why you came out, Hamilton? To be a figure of hope to those kids?"
Hamilton's mouth pinches. "You're a bastard, Burr," he says. Aaron waits for what he knows is coming. "But you're… you're right. It will make less of a splash if we play it real and then break it off in the future. But if we're going to do this, we're going to need to have the details down, cold. We're going to need to play it up in front of probably every news cycle in America. If they find out we didn't have this planned, it will be worse than if we were to admit it. So nothing can go wrong."
Aaron smiles. "Got it," he says. "Let's begin, shall we?"
SENATOR AND SECRETARY MARRY SECRETLY
In a shocking twist of events, Senator Aaron Burr and Secretary Treasury Alexander Hamilton married last night in Las Vegas, Nevada. While no formal announcement has been made, evidence of the new couple's ceremony is rife throughout social media: both changed their Facebook statuses and Hamilton sent out a tweet to his 4.5k followers on Twitter (@lilhammy) proclaiming that he and Burr were "finally tying the old knot" and that he was "elated." A new hashtag has surfaced since this tweet—already 1.5k retweets and counting—was published; #CongratsBam, Bam being a mash-up of Hamilton and Burr's names. The hashtag is full of everything from well-wishes to hate messages.
Hamilton has been openly bisexual since he first entered office under President Washington after serving as his campaign manager for first (and then, second) election. While initial reaction him was heated and mixed, his relentless pursuit for LGBT equality and charity work has made him a pillar of the community and a figure of admiration for many. Burr, New York's Republican Senator, has never formally come out, though there have been rumors about his sexuality since he was an undergraduate at Princeton (which, oddly enough, he attended at the same time as Hamilton). We can only wait for their press release to guess at his own story with his sexuality, though we at the Times commend him for his bravery.
Burr and Hamilton met at Princeton and began what would become a famous rivalry-friendship. Burr worked with Hamilton on Washington's campaign during his first election, then ran for office against Phillip Schuyler for the New York seat after Washington took office. In the following years, he and Hamilton—being in opposing parties—have publicly clashed on many issues and bills, including Hamilton's financial plan that will come in to effect next year. However, despite this professional rivalry, Hamilton has been quick to not let it get in the way of their personal relationship. In a 2012 interview, he named Burr as "one of my closest friends—certainly, the first one I made when I first came to this country, and one who was more than willing to show a young, naive immigrant the ropes. I still owe him for that." Burr, always reticent to openly speak his mind to journalists, has been less effusive over Hamilton, but he did admit in 2014 that Hamilton "is one of the most promising leaders in this century—if he can learn when to keep his mouth shut."
Certainly these two have a long and varied history. To learn of their marriage has been nothing less than a surprise—though it becomes less and less of one the more one thinks about it. We can only hope for the fully story in the near future—and a very happy future for these two may it be. #CongratsBam!
thanks for the positive response! i'm glad i converted some of you into this trope bc it's honestly my FAVORITE TROPE.
honestly i'm not sure how well this is going to make sense, but i'm just going to run with it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"We're going to need a press release," Hamilton says as they make themselves decent. "You didn't bring any luggage with you, did you?" he asks as he examines the odd stains on his rumpled dress shirt with disdain. "There'll probably be press waiting for us and I absolutely refuse to photographed like this—for fuck's sake, it was bad enough during Washington's first campaign when Mulligan got us all wasted—do you remember—?"
"I, like almost everyone else, remember very little of that night," Aaron says wryly, straightening his own clothes. "And I didn't bring any luggage. I didn't expect to stay the night."
Hamilton frowns, pacing in little circles even as he straightens his cuffs and buttons his shirt. That's Hamilton down to a tee—doing five things at once, and all of them at top efficiency. Aaron swallows down the near reflexive envy; he learned that trick back during Washington's first campaign.
"All right," Hamilton decides, though he hasn't even said a word of his plan out loud. He turns to his phone, flicks a few times, and holds it to his ear.
Although Hamilton is on the other side of the room and his phone's volume is doubtless at a normal level, Hercules Mulligan's voice comes through loud and clear.
"What the fuck, Hammy—! We promised, man, we promised. Well, fuck, I mean you and Laurens promised, but I was your back-up best man."
"No, that was Lafayette," Hamilton says. "I would never choose you first, Mulligan. You'd throw too many trashy jokes in the toast."
"Well, you're asking for it," Mulligan says, apparently incapable of speaking at a decent volume. Hamilton spares a look at Aaron, rolls his eyes, and switches the phone to speaker. "I mean, a drunk Vegas wedding? The trash writes itself."
"Rude," Hamilton says. Mulligan laughs. "Listen, you're still in the city right?"
"Leave after all that shit that went down last night? Leave before I try my chances with all of Angelica's pretty bridesmaids? I don't think so—"
"Good," Hamilton says. "I need your help, Mulligan. I know you're hungover and there's probably one of those bridesmaids in bed with you right now, but can you come downtown and act like a CIA agent for about… twenty minutes or so?"
There's a long pause.
"Well, sure," Mulligan says, in a very different tone of voice. "Why not?"
Anything from #Bam about their wedding yet? I want to know the story so bad
@sacrednation paps parked outside their reported location but no sightings so far
@sacrednation @love-me-die-2 just called the hotel and the room they booked has been vacated. they're on the move.
They make it back to D.C. in one piece, by the skin of their teeth.They take a private jet loaned to them by the CIA. Mulligan comes along, and Aaron's able to spend most of the plane ride in a state of drowsiness, still worn-out from whatever drunken escapade they held the night before and his own hangover. For the first hour or so, Hamilton is on the phone, gleefully heedless of the usual protocol of turning phones off during plane rides ("I stopped trying to fight that battle a long time ago, Burr. Damn, you really think Ham would listen if I told him to turn his phone off? He doesn't even do that on commercial flights.") making calls to news reporters, and journalists. Then, with Aaron listening disbelievingly at his side the entire time, he makes an extremely uncomfortable call to President Washington.
("Yes, sir, I have been married. We are deeply in love. Yes, I am speaking about Aaron Burr. Yes, it is too late for you to refuse to give us your blessing, sir.")
Then, for the next few hours, Hamilton settles down with a pen and paper. Aaron's well-acquainted with Hamilton's proficiency, so he's only half-surprised when Hamilton nudges him awake and offers him the papers where he's written out their official statement. Aaron's honestly not sure where Hamilton gets his drive; he has to be just as tired and hungover as Aaron is, but he still pushes himself to work. Aaron reads the press statement as they descend—all fourteen pages of it. Handwritten, of course. Hamilton is the oddest conglomeration of technological and old-fashioned that Aaron's ever seen.
"We have to trim it down," he says.
Hamilton blinks. Mulligan begins to laugh.
"We can't trim it down," Hamilton says, like Aaron's just personally offended him on some level. "Every sentence is essential, every period, every comma! If you take out one part, you might as well scrap the whole document itself! Trim it down, I might as well cut the paper in half and call it a night!"
"Hamilton, nobody is going to read this," Aaron says. "You spend the first six pages talking about the freedom of marriage: you can condense it down to two paragraphs. You don't have to go into such detail about the ceremony—especially considering we…" He casts a cautious look at Mulligan and amends, "can't remember any details."
Hamilton scowls. "I've been writing the President's speeches for years, Burr," he says. "I think I know—"
"Press releases are different from speeches," Aaron says. "They need to be crisp, they need to be short, and more importantly, they need to only contain the relevant information and nothing else. The more you give them, the more the press runs with."
He hopes he doesn't need to say how much they don't need the press to run with this.
Hamilton looks from Aaron to the sheaf of papers and back again. When Aaron shows no sign of giving in to his demands, Hamilton sulkily accepts the papers back and begins revising them.
("Two pages, Hamilton."
"No. I can't possibly. Ten."
"Huh," Mulligan says, plopping into the seat next to Aaron. "You know, you did always have a magic touch with him. Maybe it isn't so weird y'all were secretly in love or whatever."
Aaron turns and gives him the stare such a comment deserves. Mulligan laughs at him.
"No, I mean it! Ham doesn't really listen to anybody but himself—but he listened to you more than he listened to anyone other than Washington and Laurens. Remember that fight he had at Princeton during his first year with Seabury? He backed off when you asked him to."
"You're forgetting how Seabury continued to make disparaging comments about immigration reform and Hamilton proceeded to punch him in the face," Aaron says.
Mulligan ignores him. "Or that thing with the bursar—man that was funny." Aaron gives him a look. "I mean, terrible. Just terrible. But in a hilarious way. But he listened to you then too, when you told him to back off."
"Alexander Hamilton only listens to himself," Aaron says.
Mulligan shrugs. "Maybe marriage will change him?" he offers with a grin, and gets up. "We land in a half-hour, by the way."
Hamilton begins to write faster.
"I," says President George Washington, "am not pleased."
Aaron shifts from foot to foot. For some reason, Washington has always been able to make him feel like a small child who has recently broken something valuable.
"Sir, I know this is an awkward situation, but—"
Washington holds up a hand. He's the only person Aaron knows who can do that and actually make Hamilton shut up.
"I have had numerous calls and several dozens questions this morning. My correspondent is doing all that she can, but she also wanted me to tell you that Hamilton is going to need to bail himself out of any trouble he causes from here on out. She's getting tired of cleaning up after his messes."
"Now, maybe if I hadn't worked with both of you I would be more willing to believe this—admittedly pretty—fiction that you two have been madly in love for—what was it?" He checks the press statement in his hand. "Two years?"
Aaron glances over and watches Hamilton's face go through several expressions. He's never been able to lie to Washington. Aaron's mind goes through several scenarios in the silence that drags - ultimately, he decides, Washington's help will be necessary to make the fiction reality. But will he be more willing to help if he thinks their relationship is real or fake?
Aaron considers everything he knows of Washington's character and makes a calculated leap.
"We kept it a secret," he says, grabbing Hamilton's hand. Hamilton jerks his head around to stare and Aaron gives him a stern look, hoping it conveys the talk less! clearly enough. "At first we just didn't want to get the media attention for something that might end soon. Then… well, Alexander wasn't sure if you'd approve, sir."
Aaron knows about Washington's opinion of him; hell, everyone on the hill probably knows about Washington's opinion of him. Washington's staring at him thoughtfully, but Aaron catches sight of the way Hamilton's eyes widen in indignation at the implication he cares about Washington's approval (which, of course he does, the liar). Aaron prays that he stays silent for just a little longer.
Washington turns to Hamilton. "Is this true, son?"
Aaron swallows a familiar bitterness. He'd given up a long time ago on getting that kind of regard from Washington. At least with their five-year plan Washington will be forced to make nice with him or risk upsetting his favorite pseudo-child. Aaron almost feels better at that thought.
Hamilton looks uneasy and Aaron hopes he's remembering all the tweets, all the emails, the horrible embarrassment they'll go through if they try and turn back on it now…
"Yes," Hamilton says, and though he sounds awkward, he meets Washington's eyes squarely. "That's right. It may have been an impulsive decision, what we did last night, but we are—in love. We don't intend to go back on it."
Washington considers him. Unreadable at the best of times—the Times has called him the Sphinx on more than one occasion—Aaron can't make out the thoughts or feelings whirring beneath that stony expression. Hamilton, though, relaxes a little. So Aaron takes that as his hint—besides Martha, Hamilton is the only one who can really cold read Washington, even if he is vehemently opposed to a closer relationship with the man for reasons Aaron can't even begin to understand. It doesn't stop everyone from knowing that Hamilton is Washington's favorite, of course, or that he may as well be Washington's son in everything but blood—even if Hamilton himself would prefer otherwise.
(And the tabloids says Aaron is the one with "daddy issues.")
"So you're both happy with this decision," Washington says. "You plan to remain married?"
"Yes, sir," Hamilton says, straightening.
Washington turns a weather eye on to Aaron. Aaron does his best to look as besotted as he can. Whatever Washington sees in his face must satisfy him, for he heaves a sigh and relaxes.
"Thomas won't be happy," he says.
"Honestly," Hamilton says, "that's the best wedding present he could give me."
Jefferson is more than just not happy.
"You spy!" he hisses the moment Aaron steps into his office. Aaron dodges a book thrown at his head. "You lying, betraying mongrel of a man!"
"I'd offer my congratulations, Burr," Madison says from his corner of the office, suitably dry, "but I don't believe in lying."
"Have you been in league with him the whole time?" Jefferson demands.
Aaron dodges another book and hopes that Jefferson isn't just tossing around the priceless first editions he keeps in his office. Even if no one—including Jefferson—has read them, some of them are worth more than entire states.
"I trusted you! I vouched for you! And you get all cozy and carnal with that man who betrays every ideal of this great nation! You married the enemy!"
"Yes, I did," Aaron says. He's known the way he would have to play this since their plane ride. "Shouldn't you be thanking me?"
Jefferson pauses in the midst of raising another book. Slowly, he sets it down. His eyes begin to gleam, just as Aaron thought they would.
"Oh?" he says. "Are you saying that this marriage is more than just an act of," he makes a disgusted noise, "love?"
"Hamilton is our biggest adversary," Aaron says, which is true. "He has the ear of the President, a firm hold over our financials, and the support of the nation." Jefferson's face sours with every reminder of Hamilton's power. "It's impossible to fight him on equal grounds. But… if one were to be, say, his spouse and dearly beloved husband…"
"Ooooh," Jefferson says. "Oooooh! Aaron Burr, I'll be damned. Did you really marry that nasty piece of work for your political agenda? If so, respect."
Aaron resists the urge to tell Jefferson that Hamilton's not nearly as bad as he seems. He's obnoxious, abrasive, and has been, for most of the time Aaron has known him, an arrogant, loud-mouthed bother—but at least he's honest and passionate and reliable. Aaron could do worse for a friend, and worse for a husband.
But Jefferson doesn't need to know that.
"On top of that, being married to Hamilton brings me some clout of my own, you know," he says. "It opens doors that were previously closed… such as the liberal left?"
"Of course," Madison says. "Now that you're married to him, you've become a progressive gay icon instead of a business tycoon out to steal from the poor and give to the rich…"
"And I'm married to their golden child of progress," Aaron says. "It's a win-win."
"Except for the part where you're married to Hamilton," Jefferson says. "But hey, if you can ignore all that yapping, good for you."
"We'll divorce eventually," Aaron says.
"And why did he decide to marry you, anyway?" Jefferson asks, suspicious again. "Hamilton isn't the type to go along with this kind of stunt, even if it would help his politics."
Aaron had thought long and hard about how to answer this question. In the end, he could only give the nastiest lie he could think of and hope that Jefferson bought it.
"He thinks we're in love," he says. "We've been dating in secret for the past two years—and he thinks it's all real. So when I suggested we take the leap when we were in Vegas, he was all for it."
There's a long silence. Then Jefferson begins to laugh.
"Ha! You really are a nasty piece of work," he says when he stops, admiringly. "I knew I made a good choice when I backed you, Burr. You gonna break his heart? Damn, let me know when you do so I can be there with fucking bells on."
"We'll see," Aaron says. "Listen, I have to go, we have this interview—"
Jefferson flaps a hand. "No worries, no worries. Go play newlywed." He smiles, exposing all his teeth. "But come find me after. We have some planning to do, now that you've got Hamilton in your pocket."
Aaron ignores his uneasiness as he leaves. He's back in good graces with Jefferson and Madison, and if all it took was a bit of lying well… does it really matter?
He ignores the part of him that says Hamilton would not be pleased about it.
Their first interview is set for five in the afternoon, about six hours after they've landed in D.C. After a few hours of running around and trying to explain, Aaron's a little relieved to be herded into a car with tinted windows. While no one could ever describe Hamilton's presence as 'peaceful' at least there wasn't any need to put up a pretense with him. As Hamilton ambles into the backseat to join him, Aaron remembers that they never settled exactly where they were going to end up living. He sold his family estate in New Jersey when he was in his twenties, allowing it to be set up as a monument and preserved. For the last fifteen years, he's lived in a lavish apartment in D.C. where he's made himself quite comfortable. He has no idea where Hamilton lives; knowing Hamilton, it's probably a studio apartment with just a bed, for the rare times he actually goes home to sleep.
Aaron likes his apartment. If he's lucky, Hamilton won't care about moving in.
As the car begins to move, Hamilton turns his full attention to Aaron. There's something disconcerting about having those eyes focused on him—perhaps it's because Hamilton, who spends so much of his time doing five things at once, focuses on one thing so rarely that Aaron almost feels embarrassed by his attention.
"You've read the press release—both of them—so you know what our official story is. But interviews, especially couple interviews, are hardly going to be the same thing as the kind of official statements you make as a Senator. We're going to need to make it believable beyond the story—our physicality and intimacy must look natural as well. There will have to be a lot of casual touching, some heated looks—"
"You act as if I'm the one who has trouble acting, Hamilton," Aaron says, a little amused.
Hamilton frowns at him. "You'll need to call me Alexander," he says. "Or Alex, I suppose. I prefer Alexander. And I'll call you Aaron, of course."
For some reason, Aaron's heart does something strange. Hamilton has never addressed him by his first name before, not even when they were at Princeton together. Aaron had always supposed it was the same reason that Hamilton always called Washington Mr. President—a way to keep distance between them.
"That shouldn't be a problem, Alexander," he says.
"I also…" Hamilton sighs. "I want to give a message to the community. For those young people who have tweeted us and congratulated us and found us a beacon of hope."
Aaron smiles. Hamilton is rough around the edges, obnoxious, arrogant, and often a foul-mouthed beast. But there is something of a gentleman in him, and Aaron doesn't think he is an unkind man. Certainly, he is kinder than Aaron is, in many respects.
"That sounds fine too, Alexander," he says. "Now, shall we go over our story one more time?"
Joining with our CNN correspondent (Peggy Schuyler) for an exclusive interview are Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and New York Senator Aaron Burr, who have recently announced their marriage to each other.
PS: Peggy Schuyler, interviewer
AB: Senator Aaron Burr (NY)
AH: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton
PS: Thank you Kristen. Well, you two have had a busy weekend!
AB: [laughs] That's one way of putting it.
PS: Let's see, how should we start… You gave everyone in America quite the surprise when you announced that you'd been married. Over the past ten years or so, you two have been friends but also rivals. When did your connection turn romantic?
AH: About two years ago we started to work together in close quarters again to put together a bill involving placing homeless men and women in temporary quarters until they were able to gain employment. It's actually quite a simple idea—the amount of empty houses is at least triple the homeless population in America, and trying to place them is significantly less expensive than producing legislation to try and contain them or drive them off the streets as if they're animals and not human beings—
AH: Ah. I've gotten off point. What was I…? Yes, the bill brought us together. We hadn't worked in close quarters since Princeton, you see, even if we still had lunch every now and again.
PS: Had you always had feelings for each other? Since Princeton, I mean?
AH: Well, Princeton has a lot of… bad memories for me, romantic-wise, as any person who's read a tabloid or has access to a computer probably knows. After some of the stuff I went through there, I wasn't interested at all in romance.
AB: [after a long pause] The thing about Alexander is that it's hard to know him and not feel something for him. I wouldn't say that I loved him while we were at Princeton, but my feelings for him were anything but indifferent.
PS: Oh! If this was all mutual, then why all the secrecy? No one was even aware you were dating before you announced your marriage.
AH: As public figures, so much of our lives are documented—sometimes more than we might necessarily want. What was happening between us was at first too new to show it to the public; what if it went wrong? What if we broke up? We didn't want to have to face the scrutiny that would go along with that. As it became more mature and stable, we then had a mutual desire to… well, keep it private.
PS: And that desire didn't apply to your marriage as well?
AB: [Laughing] A marriage is much harder to hide than a relationship!
PS: Why Las Vegas? Why this spur of the moment decision instead of a formal announcement of an engagement?
AH: We were already there for a wedding—your sister's, in fact.
PS: Yes, and could you please text her back? She won't stop complaining to me that you usurped her wedding.
AH: [Laughing] Okay, okay! But we were already there, and there was this romantic atmosphere… I don't know. We were impulsive. It felt like the right time to do it, the right way to do it. Isn't that what couples have been doing in Las Vegas for years now? Just going for their feelings?
PS: But it's only recently that couples such as yourself and Senator Burr can do that as well, isn't it?
AB: And we're very grateful for it.
PS: Senator Burr, you've never gone on the record with your sexuality before now. Is there a reason for that?
AB: [Long pause] Well, I should think it's obvious.
PS: Oh? Please elaborate.
AB: [Long pause]
PS: Senator Burr?
AB: Very well. For all its talk of equality, America is hardly a place that is open to the LGBT community. We managed a great victory with marriage equality, but that hardly begins to take on the discrimination and hate crimes that LGBT people of all ages—especially teenagers—face on a day to day basis. Alexander still receives hate messages and cruel comments, years after he's come out.
AB: What should be obvious is: well, how could I come out, surrounded by people who will degrade me or abuse me simply for who I chose to love?
PS: But you chose to come out now. With your marriage, I mean.
AB: Coming out requires bravery, Ms. Schuyler. I didn't have enough on my own—but with Alexander, it seemed bearable.
PS: Do you feel the same, Mr. Hamilton?
AH: [Slightly teary] Of course. And Aaron's right—coming out is not something easy or even remotely safe to do in the vast majority of this country; indeed, even the world. When an LGBT person comes out they risk everything—their reputation, the respect of their peers, their safety. What we hope to do, with our very public marriage, is to help create an atmosphere where LGBT people can come out in safety and happiness. And to give young LGBT kids someone to look up to—or, at least, the knowledge that their sexuality isn't something that will stop them in their political pursuits.
Aaron runs a hand over his head, slightly shaky. He'd said more than he'd meant to in that interview. More than he'd ever said about the politics that governed him whether he liked it or not—politics that he'd pointedly kept his nose out of until this very moment. He doesn't want to check his twitter or even his email—likely some of his Republican support base is going to be very upset with him.
Alexander swings into the car and, to Aaron's surprise, gives him a sloppy kiss on the cheek.
"That was marvelous!" he says. "Just brilliant. You had her eating out of your hand! Just the right combination of political and romantic!"
Aaron has to take a moment to collect himself in front of Hamilton's bright-eyed enthusiasm.
"You didn't do so bad yourself," he says, remembering the way Hamilton had openly teared up. "Was that crying fake?"
"Of course not," Hamilton says, affronted. "I give my all to a performance, Burr. Besides, you were very moving. It was almost like you had real emotions for a minute there."
Aaron carefully doesn't lash out. Their windows may be tinted, but there's always a chance that they'd be spotted.
"I think we convinced her," he says. "We'll have to see about the rest of America."
"No problems there," Hamilton says, smug as any tomcat. "My feed's blowing up with responses. Not all of them are nice, of course, but they all seem to buy it. Nobody's questioning us."
Aaron sighs. "I suppose that's the best we can hope for. By the way—where are you sleeping tonight?"
"With you, of course," Hamilton says.
Aaron chokes. "What?!"
"At your apartment, I mean," Hamilton says. "We can put off the honeymoon with the work excuse, but they're hardly going to expect us to spend our nights apart days after we've been happily married." He examines Aaron critically. "We'll have to stay up late or something so we look properly bedraggled."
Aaron puts his head in his hands. "Oh my god."
alex you'd better answer my call or so help me god
you KNOW you cant just ignore me I will not stop until you explain how the fuck you married BURR of all people
I cant believe you got married and DIDN'T INVITE ME
Like, I honestly didn't really believe it was true at first, but you guys are super cute~ Congratulations~
eliza says she's happy for you btw
she seemed a little confused but pleased
she may not be happy with you, but she always worried about how withdrawn you were
after she finished being pissed off with you, of course
btw how's the sex? rumor has it that burr's a+ in the sack
your punishment for usurping my wedding is to tell me ALL THE DETAILS
pls answer laurens he's started texting me now and I need my beauty sleep
peggy stays on the coast (unlike eliza and angelica) and becomes a news anchor reporter in D.C. i always feel bad that peggy gets the shaft in the musical (and in life, damn) so.
i've been overwhelmed with the response to the last few chapters! your kind reviews have been really wonderful and i can't tell you how much i've appreciated them!
this chapter took forever bc i wasn't.... really sure where i wanted to go.... but hopefully it doesn't disappoint? once again, thank you for your reviews and your kudos! they mean the world!!!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
YOU HAVE  NEW VOICEMAIL
[crackle] Alexander...? It's Eliza. I'm sorry, I know it's late. I'm not sure if you're sleeping or... well, actually, if Angelica's telling the truth, you haven't changed that much since college, so you're probably not sleeping. Maybe you're just avoiding my calls. That's fine. I don't know why I called. I didn't really expect you to pick up, so I don't know what I would have even said if you did... I guess I always worried about you, just a little. Even after everything that happened, I do care about you, and Angelica said you never took care of yourself as much as you should. Always writing like you're going to run out of time, never eating or sleeping enough, never... never going out with anyone... So I wanted to let you know how happy I am--truly, honestly happy--that you've found someone to love. I remember Aaron from Princeton, and of course, I know of his work as a Senator. He's a good man. You looked good together during your interview. I think that's the happiest I've seen you in... in a long time. So I just wanted to call and offer my congratulations. [long pause] I don't think we could have ever really been satisfied together, Alexander. I pray that Aaron brings you what you needed, just as Jeffery brings me what I need. [long pause] I'll send you an invitation to my wedding, if you like. Be happy, Alexander. God bless you. [BEEP]
Aaron wakes up to his smoke alarm going off.
He stumbles out of bed, bleary and panicked, tumbling from his room and into the open hallway. Smoke billows out from his kitchen and he guns for the open door, only to stop dead when he sees Hamilton at the stove, frantically trying to stop whatever he's frying on the stove from burning. Aaron slumps agains the doorframe, weak from the sudden adrenaline rush.
"What are you doing?"
"I was trying to make an omelet," Hamilton says. "But I seem to have missed some crucial step, because the eggs began to cook much faster than anticipated and stick to the bottom of the pan and now everything's charred." He glances at the smoke alarm above his head, still blaring away. "And your ridiculous alarm can't tell the difference between burning food and an actual fire."
Aaron sighs. He pads into the kitchen and reaches up to grab the alarm to turn it off, ignoring Hamilton's irritated look. (It's hardly Aaron's fault that Hamilton's too short to reach it.) Once the apartment is blessedly quiet, he turns off the stove and flicks the stove fan on, which catches all the excess smoke and keeps them from choking. Of course, the charred mess still smoking on the stovetop means that Aaron probably has to buy a new frying pan.
"What I want to know," Aaron says once he's finished doing damage control, "is why you decided to cook at all."
From what Aaron remembers of their days at Princeton and the meager times they've been in each other's company since then, Hamilton exists almost entirely on coffee, energy drinks, and whatever the closest and easiest pre-made food is. Usually this means sandwiches, fast food, and, on one memorable occasion, someone else's handmade lunch.
"Cooking just requires following a recipe," he says. "You do one step, then another, then another. It's hardly more complex than writing a bill or restructuring a useless financial system. It's an imminently simple skill, and requires so little training that any moron can do it—being much more intelligent than a moron, I shouldn't have any trouble with it."
"Ah," he says. "So Alexander the Great has found something he can't master immediately, is that it?"
Hamilton grimaces. "I wish you wouldn't call me that," he mutters.
The nickname, apparently coined by Laurens, made the rounds during their time at Princeton as Hamilton—a nobody immigrant with no connections or fortune—continued to rise to the top, gaining the respect of the upperclassmen and professors, the best grades, the best-looking dates. Hamilton didn't have any of the old connections that someone like Aaron did, but he bulldozed his way through with a combination of charm, intelligence, and good fucking luck. Somehow there became a feeling that Alexander Hamilton could do almost anything, if he set his mind to it
Except cook, apparently.
"Oh? I would've thought someone with your ego would enjoy it."
Hamilton scowls. "I'd rather be admired for what I've done, not what men with my name have done before my time."
That, Aaron thinks, is a very Hamilton way of looking at it.
He sets about clearing away the useless frying pan, getting rid of the sickly, smokey smell of burnt eggs. He does wonder at Hamilton trying to make breakfast for them—a weak attempt at domesticity? The idea of Alexander Hamilton, doting house-husband, is enough to make Aaron snort. Doubtless there are many political men and women who are capable of balancing a household and their work, but Hamilton is not one of them. Hamilton can barely look after himself most days.
"How long have you been awake?" he asks, washing his hands in the kitchen sink.
He notices for the first time that Hamilton is completely dressed. He also smells fresher than he did yesterday, but his hair is dry—so if he took a shower, it would've had to have been a while ago. Aaron's eyes narrow. He better not have—
"Since four," Hamilton says.
Aaron doesn't sigh out loud out of sheer force of will. He's not sure why he'd thought that adulthood would ease off Hamilton's chronic insomnia—Aaron's never met a person so bad at sleeping before in his life. It's just about nine now, which means Hamilton's been up for about five hours; Aaron supposes he should feel lucky that Hamilton didn't do something to disturb his sleep sooner. Of course…
"Was nearly burning my apartment down your subtle way of getting me out of bed?" he asks, suspicious.
"I don't know how you can sleep so long," Hamilton says, the immediacy of his reply more of an answer than anything else.
It's true that Aaron would normally have been up much sooner—his days on the capital often begin in the early morning, and he's adjusted his routine accordingly. However, Washington had allowed them a few days of freedom ("Think of it as a… honeymoon," he'd said, with more of a grimace than Aaron thought the idea of a honeymoon warranted) so Aaron had felt, considering the chaos of the last few days, a bit of sleeping in was the least of his dues.
Jesus. Just two days ago the worst of his problems was what to buy Angelica for a wedding gift.
"And what else have you been doing all morning?" Aaron asks. "Flooding my laundry? Breaking my dishes? Overwatering my plants?"
"Your plants are already dead," Hamilton says. "I was working, of course."
"Alexander," Aaron says. "We're supposed to be on holiday."
Hamilton makes a face, as if Aaron's said something morally ambiguous or complimented Jefferson.
"Holidays," he says darkly. "Do you know how much work I have to do? There's still a lot I need to finalize for the financial plan—it's coming out in January, you know, that's only six months away—and that's not even counting the vote on neutrality with France coming up—"
Aaron grimaces. Fuck. He'd forgotten about that vote with all the hectic rush of the last few days. All the better to distract Hamilton, then. If he's distracted, maybe he'll actually slip up and Aaron won't lose face to him on yet another issue.
"You need to learn how to relax," he says.
Although, to be honest, he might as well tell Hamilton to stop breathing. Even during their Princeton days, Hamilton may have gone out partying with his little group of friends, but he never, ever stopped working. Aaron remembers once watching, in abject horror, as Hamilton spent the entirety of a frat party going from member to member and solemnly lecturing them on the way frat houses encouraged heteronormative toxic masculinity. He even offered them his own notes on ways to challenge the current bigoted infrastructure. None of the frat boys took it, of course. In fact, Hamilton was thrown out of that party almost twenty minutes after it started.
"That's nonsense," Hamilton says. "There's too much work for me to stop, and besides it's silly to have to loiter around your apartment doing nothing because of our fake marriage—"
Hamilton actually shuts up for once, which is such a miracle that Aaron briefly reconsiders his position on the existence of God.
"I'm not asking you to drop everything and go for a massage or go lie on a beach," he says, though he privately thinks it would do Hamilton some good to do either. "Just… sleep in. Leave the bills and the votes and the plans to the side for a little while." Hamilton looks unconvinced. "The hill can survive without you for a few days."
"No it can't," Hamilton says.
It would be infuriating if Aaron didn't know it was also probably true. Washington is their bedrock, a truly magnificent president, but Hamilton's been his charging force since he was inducted into office, and his right hand man for a lot longer than that. Hamilton has, for the past three years, almost singlehandedly shouldered a lot of the government refurbishing and refinancing. Aaron knows that it's that combination of capability and influence that makes Jefferson despise Hamilton.
"Well," he says. "For the sake of the rest of my pots and pans, you can at least try."
youre not at your apt where ar e u
oh my god
are you actually LIVING WITH BURR
WITH B U R R?????
its like ive stepped into the twilight zone
and not like the fun episodes of the twilight zone, like those episodes where everyone's disassociating or on a continuous time loop and it's really fucking scary okay
@lilhammy Congrats on finally settling down, little man. Guess you finally found someone to put up with that mouth, huh?
@tjefferson I have it on good authority that my mouth is fantastic.
@tjefferson @lilhammy Break it up, boys.
There's a hard knock on Aaron's door in the mid-afternoon. Aaron looks up, startled, from the book he'd been reading to try and distract himself from the way Hamilton can't seem to sit still for longer than two seconds. Hamilton looks up as well.
"Were you expecting someone?" he asks.
"No," Burr says, setting his book aside. "You?"
They exchange a look and Hamilton stands, going over to the couch to swipe off the blankets and pillow he'd used last night to store them in the nearest closest. Then he turns to Aaron and examines him critically. Aaron's never felt more like a bug under a microscope.
"What?" he asks, irritable.
Hamilton doesn't answer, but reaches out to unbutton the top three buttons of Aaron's shirt without so much as a by-your-leave. His fingers brush Aaron's collarbone, oddly callused at the tips, and warm.
"What are you doing?" Aaron says.
Hamilton's running his hands through his hair now, letting it loose and mussing it so that he looks like he's just stumbled out of bed.
"We're newlyweds," he says, mussing his shirt too. "We can't look live we've spent the morning reading, of all things!"
There's more knocking now, louder, and Hamilton strides over to wrench open the door. He grins as soon as he sees who it is.
"John!" he exclaims, pulling Laurens into a tight hug. "I thought you were in South Carolina!"
Laurens gives Aaron a suspicious look over Hamilton's shoulder.
"Well, my closest friend had a shotgun wedding to someone he's despised for years," Laurens says. "I figured that was a good enough reason to visit."
"John," Hamilton says disapprovingly. "Didn't you read my text?"
"Yes and I married Burr was not particular informative, Alexander," Laurens says. "Actually, I was almost concerned that Burr had abducted you—I don't think you've sent me only one text in the entire time I've known you."
"How did you even find me?" Hamilton asks, though he sounds less aggravated and more fond. "I didn't tell you I'd moved."
"I know people," Laurens says.
Hamilton examines his face for a moment and rolls his eyes. "The President need to learn to keep his mouth shut," he mutters.
"I dare you to say that to his face," Laurens says.
At last, he turns to Burr. His expression noticeably sours.
"Burr," he says.
"Sir," Aaron says. "Please, come in. Make yourself at home."
Laurens does come in - he strips off his jacket and his shoes and settles in comfortably on Aaron's couch. Aaron eyes him and wonders if he shouldn't pull Hamilton aside for a quick check on how they're planning to handle this—Mulligan is one of Hamilton's best friends, but there's no one closer to Hamilton than Laurens. At Princeton and on Washington's campaign, they were inseparable. Now that Laurens is a doctor, Aaron isn't sure how much they see each other, but they've clearly kept in contact if Laurens is so put out about not being informed about their wedding.
Aaron's actually pretty sure they were together at Princeton, though he never saw anything that would confirm it. He also doesn't know if Hamilton continued the association during his engagement with Eliza Schuyler, or even returned to it after that engagement ended. What if they were still together? But no, Hamilton would never have agreed to this scheme if he and Laurens were involved—Hamilton may be oblivious at the best of times, but he's not needlessly cruel.
"So," Laurens says to Hamilton with a bit of bite to his voice. "You're married. You've been dating Burr for two years? You've been madly in love with Burr for the past two years…?"
"John," Hamilton says.
"I mean, not telling me you were dating Burr is one thing," Laurens says. "But if you were serious enough to want to get married to him, that's a different thing altogether! And Vegas, Alexander? You know Mulligan's going to be making jokes about that for the rest of our lives, right?"
"Well, maybe he'll finally stop making jokes about the Turtle Incident," Hamilton says, though with the particular hopelessness of someone who's wishing for something they know won't happen. "I did want to tell you, John. I just didn't… know how well it would go. And the marriage wasn't really planned. We just…" He casts a look at Aaron, then sighs. "We just went for it, I guess. We were both a little drunk and the atmosphere got to us."
"So you're going to get it annulled?" Laurens asks, sounding far too happy about that prospect.
"No," Hamilton says, quickly enough to be gratifying. "Even though it wasn't planned, we're both happy about it." He grabs Aaron's hand; his palm is smaller than Aaron's, dry and warm. "We're happy."
Aaron tries to look like a newlywed in love. He's not really sure what that looks like, but Laurens doesn't seem that suspicious, so he must pull it off somehow.
"That's what I still don't understand," he says. "You might be able to fool the papers with that loving enemy talk, but I know you two—you can't stand each other. How the hell did you even start dating?"
Aaron exchanges a quick look with Hamilton. He can't answer this—Laurens is Hamilton's friend, and Hamilton will know the best answer to placate him. He tries to tell Hamilton with his eyes alone that he'll go along with whatever Hamilton decides to do.
"We had a one night stand," Hamilton says. "During that homelessness bill. You remember?"
Laurens grimaces. "The one that Jefferson tanked? Yeah, I remember. I'd never been so pissed off at one person before in my life."
"After that, I went out and got wasted," Hamilton says. "Aaron and I accidentally met up at a bar and we got… well a little heated and one thing led to another—"
Laurens holds up a hand. "Okay," he says. "I don't need all the sordid details of your angry hate sex. Leave that for Angelica." He considers for a moment. "Or Lafayette."
Hamilton grins. "After that, we just kept meeting up," he says. "And we ended up… actually dating." He shrugs. "It works for us, I think."
Laurens looks at Aaron. "And you're fine with this?" he asks. "Being married, being out to the world? Being married to Alexander?"
"Yes," Aaron says.
Lauren's eyes narrow. "And you're not just using him?"
"What, Alex!" Laurens snaps back. "He's in the opposite party, he's in league with Jefferson, and he's tried to tank all of your bills to date! I don't understand how you can just trust him! What if this is all a ploy, huh?"
Aaron's glad he doesn't blush easily, though he can feel heat crawling up the back of his neck. Laurens is a sharp bastard, for all that he never went into politics. Aaron frantically hopes that since Hamilton knows how unmeditated this entire situation was, he won't suspect what Laurens is accusing Aaron of—even if it happens to be just… slightly true.
"He's not doing that," Hamilton says. Inexplicably, Aaron's guilt increases by Hamilton's immediate response. "Look, I'm not blind—I know he's wily and doesn't commit to things and says whatever he needs to get what he wants."
"Ouch," Aaron mutters under his breath.
"But he's not a bad man," Hamilton says, ignoring him. "He's helped me more than he's ever hurt me, John—you know that."
Laurens is still frowning, but he seems to concede the point, because he sighs.
"You know him better than I do," he says. Aaron's a little incensed that they're talking about him like he's not even there. "If you think you can trust him, I have to believe you." He turns to Aaron. "And if you don't treat him right, believe that I know many, many ways to dismantle the human body."
Tuesday, 2pm. At Madison's. Don't bring your husband.
Aaron arrives at Madison's mansion a little before two. Madison's home, perched on the outskirts of D.C. and surrounded by lush greenery, is not quite as garish or in-your-face as Jefferson's home in Monticello, but there's clear signs of wealth everywhere. Aaron doesn't know if Hamilton's ever visited Jefferson or Madison's homes—probably not—but he takes the minutes waiting for someone to open the door to amuse himself imagining Hamilton's reactions to them. Hamilton doesn't really despise the extremely wealthy—he's too pragmatically political for that—but Aaron's seen the way his nose wrinkles, just a little, during big state dinners when he's surrounded by people talking about their vacation homes and seven yachts.
The door opens. To Aaron's surprise, he's greeted by Madison himself and not a butler.
"Come on," Madison says. "Thomas is waiting for us in the parlor."
The walk is quiet. Madison is the more tolerable of the pair, but he and Aaron have never really seen eye to eye or talked much, though Aaron does admire the calm efficiency of Madison's diplomacy—so completely different from Jefferson's hard-nosed, aggressive politics. If Madison were a little more independent, Aaron might have thrown his lot in with him instead; as it is, Madison is still too tied up with Jefferson to make him a formidable political ally in his own right.
Jefferson is seated when they enter the parlor, but stands quickly enough to come and slap Aaron on the back.
"There he is, our newlywed," he says. "How's the married life? Strangled Hamilton in his sleep yet?"
"It's only been a couple of days, Jefferson," Aaron says.
Jefferson makes a face. "Man, that's all it would take. Are you living together too? Nasty. I can't even imagine."
Aaron considers arguing with him, but the last thing he needs is to be seen as an ally of Hamilton's right now. He still needs Jefferson and Madison, after all—he can't have them abandoning him before his plans come to fruitation. So he schools his face into an appropriately disgusted look and doesn't let his grimace show when Jefferson laughs.
"And you have to sleep with him too, huh?" Jefferson says, throwing himself back onto the nearest settee. "Poor bastard. What's he like in the sack, anyway? You hear some rumors up on the hill. And of course our dear Hamilton thinks he's Jesus' goddamn gift to humanity." Jefferson gives Aaron a side-eye, all leer. "Come on, Burr. Tell us what you know."
"I can't be gone for long," Aaron says, side-stepping the question. "The only reason I made it was because Hamilton went in to talk to Washington." Jefferson's expression sours. "What did you need?"
"What do you mean, what do we need?" Jefferson asks. "What we need is for you to get some dirt on that vacuous mass you're married to."
Aaron blinks. "Dirt?"
"Get me some blackmail, Burr," Jefferson says. "Something I can run the next time Hamilton decides to slip a bit of my business to the Post."
Aaron hesitates. "I'm married to him now," he says. "Anything you run affects me as well."
"And it will reflect poorly on you as well, Thomas," Madison cuts in. When Aaron glances back, his expression is as cool as ever. "You know that the public doesn't like pettiness."
"Then why the hell do they kiss Hamilton's ass?" Jefferson mutters. "Fine. We'll start small. There's the vote on neutrality against France next week—" 
"Yes, he's been working on it," Aaron says. "He made some calls to several senators this afternoon."
"That vote is hanging by a thread," Madison says. "If we can get some of the people who've committed to it to switch…"
"The problem is that there's still people who've clammed up tight about which way they'll be voting," Jefferson says irritably. "Damn turncoats."
"I can try and find out who Hamilton's talking to," Aaron says.
Jefferson's irritation disappears. "Yeah," he says. "Then we can get to them before it goes down and get them to switch."
"The President still gets the final say," Madison reminds them both. "Hamilton's probably got him in his pocket for this."
"If enough people vote against it, he'll change his mind," Jefferson says. "Washington's not stupid. He'll go the way the wind blows, regardless of whether of what his little right hand man wants. Burr, you get on those names for us. We'll need them before next week if we want to make a countermove."
Aaron wonders, a little uneasily, about Hamilton's absolute faith in him just a few hours ago—the immediacy with which he shot down Laurens assertions, as if he'd never even considered them as a possibility. And yet here Aaron stands, not even a full day later, with Hamilton's most vicious enemies, planning to undermine a decision Hamilton was backing ardently.
Hamilton won't know, Aaron thinks. And there's still the possibility that Washington won't fold like Jefferson's predicting; if so, no harm, no foul. He can pretend that he's gunning for Hamilton as much as Jefferson and Madison are and not collapse one of Hamilton's projects—it's a win-win. He swallows, hard.
"Sure," he says. "I'll get them to you as soon as I can."
Thanks for all your congratulations and kind words. It means a lot to Aaron and I to know we've got so much support behind us!
And if you're one of the assholes who've tried to tell me I'm going to hell, then all I have to say is SIT DOWN MOTHERFUCKERS.
@lilhammy Hamilton, take a walk.
 so today's situation with france is obviously different than it was in the 1700s. but i needed an issue that jefferson and burr both agreed on, and honestly, despite them working together, they didn't... really agree on a whole lot... so i decided to just move the france situation up. more about it will be talked about in the next chapter, so the situation will be explained more fully.
sorry for the long wait, y'all! i had a lot of schoolwork & finals and then i ended up stalling myself out working out the logistics of this chapter (which is partly why it's so short as well as being late, lmao). next chapter should be up way sooner, and will probably be longer.
just wanted to say again that the response to this astounds & inspires & every single kind word or kudos you leave means a lot to me!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Mon petit jambon, I am the only one who has not been invited to celebrate with you and your new HUSBAND and that makes me tragically depressed.
(Even if Burr is the worst.)
In case I wasn't clear: invite me over. Mulligan won't shut up about how cute you are together, it's making me mad.
And Laurens shouldn't be the only one to threaten him with bodily harm.
I've ALWAYS wanted to threaten Burr with bodily harm and now I have a good reason!
What Aaron learns over the course of the next few days is that Hamilton is surprisingly difficult to spy on. For someone who's made a living out of being honest and forthright to the point of self-destruction, he's close-mouthed about his political movements to a suspicious degree. Aaron catches him on phone calls—several of them in French, which probably means the Marquis—but while he's able to make out some of the conversation, most of it is incomprehensible in the snippets he manages to overhear. He knows that Hamilton is angry at someone (or multiple someones, knowing Hamilton) and that there's a point of contention about maintaining neutrality with France, but he still hasn't been able to figure out who Hamilton's talking to or who might be wavering. Of course, his job is made doubly hard by the fact that Hamilton is rarely away from his phone long enough for Aaron to sneak a peek—and when he does try, he finds the password protection and fingerprint identification standing in his way.
Jefferson gives him a late night call demanding to know why Aaron hasn't been able to give them anything concrete yet, threatening (once again) to publicly remove his support from Aaron. Aaron manages to talk him down with promises of soon, soon, just give me another couple of days, but he knows he's walking a tightrope without any netting below him. Aaron's confident enough with his popularity, but even though his marriage to Hamilton gave him more sway in some corners, it destabilized his position in the Republican party; they now no longer know what to do with him. Without Jefferson's support, he has no chance in hell of accomplishing what he needs to accomplish, and considering he's spent the last ten years working for one goal, that's completely unacceptable.
"The vote's in two days," he says to Hamilton over their morning breakfast.
After their first disastrous morning, Aaron never allowed Hamilton to do anything more than make coffee in the kitchen (something Hamilton was actually excellent at).
"Mmhm," Hamilton says, in the middle of scarfing down his eggs.
For such a small person, he manages to pack away quite a bit—Aaron chalks up his own smugness at seeing Hamilton eat his cooking like it's his last meal to his pride. It's nice to be better at Hamilton at something, that's all, and it's nice to see Hamilton at least vaguely acknowledging him in something; even if it is just cooking.
"We're on opposite sides with this," Aaron says, keeping his tone as nonchalant as possible.
Hamilton's gives him a suspicious side-eye. "Do you have a point, Burr? You know how much I hate small talk. It's—"
"—a waste of time, energy, and breath, I know," Aaron finishes. "Do you think we should say something to the press? We just got married, but we're going to be at each other's throats already…"
"I'm not sure that it's necessary," Hamilton says. "We can't issue a press release every time we go toe-to-toe on an issue; we'll always be issuing press releases." He smiles just a little, eyes sparkling. "Of course, if you came over to my side, we wouldn't need to worry about this in the slightest."
Aaron scoffs. "Neutrality with France? Siding with Britain, Alexander?"
"We're not siding with anyone; that's the point," Hamilton says. "You know we can't afford to get involved in another war right now, Burr. We're spread thin enough as it is after Afghanistan—not to mention Iran and Syria. We're pulling out of there as best we can without leaving any more damage behind us, but we're out of manpower."
"So get more."
"With what money?" Hamilton says. "Because I can sure as hell tell you we don't have any to go jaunting off to fight in another war after just ending one of the longest wars in American history! Which Jefferson would know if he understood anything about economics; but let's be honest, Jefferson probably knows less than the average high school student about economics."
Aaron sternly tells himself that it's rude to laugh at a mean joke about a political ally.
"Alexander, you know what allying with the French gets us," he says. "We could use their help. Alienating them when we're still vulnerable—especially when we're still vulnerable financially—is no way to play international politics. What's worse, if they go through with this and beat Britain, we might have a real problem on our hands."
Hamilton's leaning forward in his seat now, as bright-eyed as if he's drunk an entire jug of coffee. Nothing wakes Alexander Hamilton up more than debate.
"And if we alienate Britain?" Hamilton asks. "Right now we're stuck between a rock and a hard place—the only way out is to refuse to move. If we don't side with either of them, we avoid angering either of them. We keep our assets safe, we get time to recover, and we don't get involved in issues that, frankly, don't even involve us. America's done enough of that in the past fifty years, don't you think? It's time we learned from past mistakes and keep our nose out of other country's business."
"That's the kind of thinking that kept us from entering World War II for three years," Aaron points out.
"It's also the kind of thinking that made us decide to get involved with Vietnam and Afghanistan," Hamilton shoots back. "Meddling in other nation's affairs has hurt us more than it's helped us, I think."
Aaron purses his lips. "So quick-witted," he says. "You've got a comeback for everything, don't you, Alexander?"
Hamilton flashes him an unexpectedly bright smile—Aaron's chest does something funny, his heart skipping or lurching. Perhaps the eggs were bad.
"I think that's the greatest compliment you've ever given me, Burr."
SENATE VOTES ON NEUTRALITY WITH FRANCE; 72:27
Just over two months ago, France announced its intentions to go to war with Britain, claiming that Britain's secret service, MI6, were the perpetrators behind the assassination of beloved Marquis de Capet, killed by gunshot wound on his drive home in late July. When Capet's family made these claims to the newspapers, Britain denied any involvement in the assassination, but support has been building in France for war—though, the reasons are probably just as much for the rising taxes on imports. Capet, despised and exalted in equal measure depending on what side of France you happen to be in, has become the lightning rod for a call to arms in France that hasn't been seen for years. While no formal declaration has been made, reports say that the French Armed Forces have been mobilized. Britain, on the other hand, is maintaining its innocence in the crimes it has been accused of. "It bereaves us that our close friend France would believe of us such evil," said King George III during a televised speech to the nation last week. "We consider ourselves their allies in settling the matter of Marquis de Capet's untimely death and can only pray that the French people see reason."
Yesterday evening, the Senate gathered for a vote on neutrality with France. The vote called for non-interference in the coming war—a void of alliance with both France and Britain in their coming conflict. The bill, brought in to the Senate by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, has received controversy and spotlight over the past few weeks as it brought back to the American consciousness the debate over interfering in international affairs. "We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand," said Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who voted against the bill last night. "America is isolated by nature, but we do not have to be by choice; we are a part of the world's stage, and we cannot conveniently forget that fact whenever we don't feel like being involved." Of course, his view was not shared by everyone in the Senate, as the bill to maintain neutrality with France passed with a resounding three-quarters vote in the Senate, and approval from the President. "If we get involved in every conflict in the world, we never know where to stop," Hamilton said when asked about the bill this morning. "Where do we know where to draw the line? The key to international politics is not poking our noses into every disagreement or war that comes our way—it's knowing which ones require our help and which ones don't. That kind of consideration would have been wildly useful in our decision to go to Vietnam and Afghanistan. The fact of the matter is that France and Britain have their own score to settle and it doesn't involve Americans."
Of course, there were many who said the same during World War II, only to be proven wrong before the decade was over. The world watches with baited breath to see if France and Britain will actually come to blows, potentially sparking another worldwide conflict, while Americans will wait to see whose predictions on the home-front will prove correct in the long run.
Aaron winces as a figurine the price of an average person's salary smashes against the wall. Jefferson, fuming, looks ready to hurl another twenty, but Madison puts a hand on his arm to stave him off. Jefferson shakes it off, but he goes for his whiskey instead of his priceless trinkets, so Madison looks satisfied.
"I hate that little bastard," Jefferson says, pouring a generous amount of whiskey into a tumbler and sitting on the nearest couch. "And you. What the fuck were you doing?"
Aaron considers his options carefully. Jefferson's tone is poisonous and Madison's gaze is thoughtful—if he makes one wrong step here, he's going to throw away all of his hard work.
"I gave you names," he says.
He'd gotten them through a combination of luck and Hamilton's own carelessness; Hamilton had dropped names several times when Aaron was close enough to hear, and had left his phone unlocked when he went to use Aaron's bathroom once or twice. Furtively looking through his contacts, most recent calls, and emails had been hell; Aaron was not adept with a smartphone and kept hitting the wrong thing, and his stomach had been heavy as lead the entire time he'd snooped.
"Yeah, yeah," Jefferson says, some of the acidity falling away. "He just had too many guys in his pocket. I thought the vote would've been closer than that." He broods, swirling his whiskey. "One of these days I'm going to get the upper-hand on that bastard and I'll get to laugh in his face."
"Thomas," Madison says.
Jefferson makes a face. "Don't pretend, James," he says. "You know you're dying to crush Hamilton under your boots. Burr there sure as hell is—he's a stone-cold motherfucker, playing Hamilton the way he is."
Aaron is careful not to let anything he's feeling show on his face. In politics, a good poker face is almost more important than a nuanced knowledge of policies or a charismatic way of speaking.
"You don't give Hamilton enough credit," Madison says, which surprises Aaron. He's always thought Madison hated Hamilton as much as Jefferson does. "He's done great things for us."
"He's almost single-handedly reinforced government control with his financial plan. He has the ear of the President, and you know he's the main reason that bill even managed to pass," Jefferson says. "And just when I think I've finally got the upper hand on him, he slithers away like a fucking eel. I hate his guts, and you should too." He turns to Aaron. "Does he suspect you at all?"
"No," Aaron says, a little pained because he knows that it's probably the only true thing he's said in this room.
"Well, then," Jefferson says, a little more pleased now. "We'll just have to keep trying. And you know what? I do want you to do some digging. Madison over there might be going a little soft, but if I can't outplay Hamilton on the hill, then I'll just have to get him dirty somewhere else. The man's not a saint—he must've fucked up somewhere. Find that out for me, Burr, and I'll get you whatever you want."
Aaron thinks about asking for the one thing he wants, but holds himself back. Jefferson doesn't need to know yet. He could refuse to bring Jefferson anything, like he did before, but Jefferson's in a mood tonight and probably doesn't want to hear Aaron's excuses, valid as they are. He needs to make a compromise to stay in Jefferson's good grace, so that perhaps whenever he brings Jefferson what he's asking for he can ask for what he wants, at last.
"It can't be something that reflects badly on me," he says, allowing his tone to show that his willingness on the subject has shifted.
Jefferson's eyes gleam. "Of course not," he says. "We wouldn't want that. But you get me something, and we'll make sure you're protected."
Hamilton is asleep on his desk by the time Aaron arrives home. Aaron slips in and lets the door close softly behind him.
His apartment is more cluttered than it has been the entire time Aaron's lived there—all of his neat tidiness has been swept away by Hurricane Hamilton. Hamilton installed a second desk in Aaron's living room, near the kitchen, that has overflowed with paper, post-its, and print-outs since its arrival. More paper is stuck to the wall behind the desk, floating around on the ground in haphazard piles, and on the kitchen counter. Aaron picks his way among the mess. He'd learned in college that everywhere Hamilton lived eventually turned into a disaster area, but Hamilton never saw it that way—everything he put down had its specific place, and if Aaron ever dared tried to tidy it up, he ended up being lectured for three hours. It was more trouble than it was worth trying to fight Hamilton about it.
And there's something oddly cozy about the mess, Aaron thinks as he sinks into his couch (the one spot of cleanliness among the chaos). Aaron loves his place, but he spends more time on the hill than he really does at home. Hamilton's disorderliness gives his apartment a more lived-in feeling.
Of course, that will all change in a few days. Their President-mandated break is over by the end of this week—Aaron has no doubt Hamilton will be barging into his office full-time now that he won't be chased by away by the President's lackeys, and then he'll probably never be in Aaron's apartment for longer than a quick nap or a change of clothes.
That was what made their arrangement possible, of course. Aaron's not sure why the knowledge unsettles him now.
He sits on his couch and listens to the soft chuffing sounds Hamilton makes as he sleeps and he thinks.
By his recollection, there aren't any major votes coming up for at least another month—nothing that Jefferson or Madison may need Aaron to collect information for them for. That's a relief, at least. But Aaron's still worried about the look in Jefferson's eyes as he demanded blackmail; Jefferson's not a man easily put off, and Hamilton is too enticing a target to distract him with something else. If Aaron doesn't come up with something soon, Jefferson will probably drop him; before, when Aaron was old money, it would've been harder, but now that he's gotten gay-married and gay-married to Hamilton to boot, much of the traditional conservative right that used to be his home base has been uneasy with him. Aaron snorts. He'd known that he would be in murky water when he decided to go through with this stunt, but it's still unpleasant to have it backfire on him. If he's careful, he'll be able to put out the fire with minimal burns. But there will now always be people in his party who will never back him.
This is what he gets, for taking a stand for once.
He glances over at Hamilton. His hair is falling into his eyes, loose of his tie, and the way he's lying can't be doing any favors to his neck. Still, seeing him asleep is a novelty enough that Aaron doesn't get up to wake him; Hamilton gets precious little sleep as it is, and even an uncomfortable nap is better than no nap at all.
Aaron returns to his thoughts. If the conservative right is wary about him, the liberal left is ecstatic, he thinks, feeling a little better. He's gotten several emails and phone calls from Democrats who would have never given him the time of day before he married Hamilton. But it's still not enough, he thinks. He's spent too long as their enemy, and they're wary of him the same way a mouse is wary of a cat that's hunted it before. It'll take time for that to go away, and more than just a public marriage and coming out.
He glances at Hamilton again. He could tell him, Aaron thinks. Come clean. Confess that Jefferson and Madison have been using him to snoop, that Aaron's been working with them to undermine Hamilton's progress, that he is being ordered to give Jefferson anything incriminating he can find. Throw himself whole-heartedly into Hamilton's camp. Pick a side.
Everything in Aaron balks.
He's spent years cultivating his relationship with Jefferson. Years. Jefferson's trust is not easily won—Aaron doubts he even has it now, but at least he has a sort of wary alliance. Outside of Washington—who hates him—there aren't many people in the country with Jefferson's clout. Even Hamilton doesn't quite have it; he's certainly popular, and he's redesigned most of their government, but he's too controversial to be universally beloved in their country. Jefferson has his enemies, but even they respect him as a leader. Aaron's going to need that kind of universal appeal. To drop Jefferson would be sure political suicide for his ambitions, and he didn't marry Alexander Hamilton to drop everything he's worked for. (In fact, the opposite is true.) So no, he can't betray Jefferson.
But he finds that he's balking at the thought of giving Jefferson Hamilton's secrets. The problem, Aaron thinks, is that Hamilton is too damn charming for his own good. He's arrogant and loud-mouthed and caustic, but Aaron still can't help liking him, at least a little. It's those damn eyes of his.
He has time, now. He won't be put to the test again until another vote that pits Jefferson and Hamilton comes up. Until that comes up, he can bide his time, wait, and see what happens. Keeping his cards close to his chest is what Aaron excels at.
Hamilton stirs at the desk. Aaron watches him wake up.
"Aaron?" Hamilton says, and the use of his first name never fails to stir something in Aaron's chest. "When did you get back?"
"Just now," Aaron says. He stands. "Dinner?"
Hamilton's alert now, jumping from sleep to awareness with an ease unlike Aaron's ever seen before. Aaron stands and picks his way across the living room to the kitchen. When he accidentally stirs a pile, Hamilton looks a little murderous.
"I don't think I can," Hamilton says. "I have these papers to finish, and then a draft of the President's speech next week to look after and—"
"Alexander," Aaron says. "You have to eat. If you collapse, everyone in America is going to blame me for being a bad husband."
Hamilton's eyes widen with indignation. "I'm not going to collapse!" he says. "I skip meals all the time. It's no big deal."
"Skipping meals is a very big deal," Aaron says, starting to get out some vegetables.
"But I need to finish this, I just don't have time—"
"Alexander, I have had no less than six people threatening my life if I don't, and I quote, 'treat you like the high-strung princess that you secretly are' unquote."
"Who said that?" Hamilton asks suspiciously. "Was it Mulligan?"
It was Angelica, but Aaron isn't going to tell him that. "I'm afraid for my life if I don't feed you, at this point. So come and help me with this and then we'll eat, and then you can work on giving yourself ulcers before you're forty later."
There's a long silence. Hamilton being quiet is so odd that Aaron actually looks up from the food he's been collecting on the counter to check on him. Hamilton's staring at him like he's never met Aaron before, and Aaron can feel a flush climbing up the back of his neck. He hates having Hamilton's full attention, he thinks. It's too unnerving. It's like being a bug pinned under a microscope.
"All right," Hamilton says.
Aaron waits for more protests, more complaining. When none come, his eyes narrow. "All right?" he asks.
"All right," he says again, more agreeably. "I'll help you and we'll have dinner. After all, I can't be responsible for my husband getting murdered in cold blood by my overprotective friends, can I? I'm pretty sure that goes against my marriage duties somewhere."
Hamilton smiles at him and the heat climbing up Aaron's back grows. He determinedly turns back to the potatoes and begins to peel them, watching out of the corner of his eye as Hamilton approaches and washes his hands in the sink. Sometimes he wonders if he didn't get a little over his head, deciding to go through with this.
are you ever going to tell me about the sex?
marquis de capet is king louis. he was sometimes called louis capet. mon petite jambon is 'my little ham' in french. (if you want to imagine all of the marquis' texts in french, feel free. i'm not confident enough in my french to do so, but it could easily happen that way.)
the france v. britain stuff might come up again as we progress. i was originally going to try to bring the revolution stuff up into the present, but it honestly didn't really work out, so i had to figure out some other reason that america would be keeping neutrality with france. hopefully it makes sense?? i am obviously a huge amateur when it comes to international politics so pls excuse my extreme handwaving of foreign affairs
(real talk the main reason that there's a news article instead of a scene for the senate thing is that i have no actual idea how a senate vote works & trying to research it turned out to make it even more bloody confusing.)
next chapter will have more burr/hamilton, lafayette makes his long-awaited appearance, and probably more washington. leave comments/kudos if you please!
(and merry christmas to those of you who celebrate!! happy holidays to everyone else!!)
well at least it didn't take me a month this time
i was going to do lafayette this chapter but there wasn't room for him. next chapter!
warnings in this chapter for a homophobic slur and homophobic language/rhetoric.
once again, thank you for your comments and kudos!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Aaron," Angelica says as Aaron picks up his phone. "I am not satisfied."
Aaron takes advantage of the privacy of his office to put his head down on his desk.
"Aren't you on your honeymoon?" he asks.
"Aren't you on yours?"
"Alexander had enough trouble taking a few days off from work and not going anywhere—do you really think I could've convinced him to actually travel or, god forbid, stop working?"
Angelica pauses thoughtfully. "No, I suppose not," she concedes. "But that doesn't change the fact that Alexander has been holding out on me and I expect full cooperation from you."
"He won't tell me any details, Aaron, and as someone who has been his closest confidante for years, it's honestly quite hurtful."
Details? Aaron wonders, confused, before it clicks. He's glad that his personal assistant and secretary are both in the other room, far away from being able to see him blush like a shy child. Alexander has the oddest friends—or perhaps he just brings out the lewd in people. Aaron's known Angelica for years and she's never before demanded details of his sex life.
"Some things are private, Angelica," he says.
Angelica scoffs. "Not this. Not for Alexander. He told me all about his kinky stuff with Laurens, that one-night stand he and Lafayette had, even some of the vanilla stuff he and my sister were getting up too—"
"Did he tell you about Maria Reynolds, too?" Aaron snaps.
He knows as soon as he's said it that he shouldn't have; Angelica's icy silence is telling, and Aaron is opening up a ten-year wound for no reason. But he doesn't want to hear a litany of Hamilton's conquests, he doesn't want to know what Hamilton does or doesn't do with people who are actually his lover and not just his fake husband. And he's had too little sleep and too much coffee and too many days exhausting himself with this farce.
"I apologize," he says.
Angelica allows the silence to draw out in a pointed way and Aaron sighs.
"I've been having some problems with my party," he says, which is all entirely true, if not in the way Angelica will think. "Alexander's been tied up with work for the past week and I'm just—stressed. I didn't mean to take it out on you, Angelica."
The silence continues. Aaron almost tries to apologize again, honestly concerned that Angelica will actually hold this against him, when Angelica laughs. He relaxes in his chair.
"Do you know what would really convince me you're sorry?" Angelica says. "Details."
Aaron huffs, a little amused now. "Why do you want to know so badly?"
He wonders if she's still hung up on Hamilton. But no, someone who was in love with him still wouldn't want to know about the sex he was having with someone else. And Angelica didn't seem bitter or angry or jilted about their marriage, which she couldn't know was fake.
"Alexander's been alone for a long time," Angelica says. "I just want to see him happy, I guess. And I used to pester him for details before all that… mess. I just want him to know that I support you two. Besides," she adds, and Aaron can hear the smile in her voice, "you're pretty hot together, you know."
"You're a married woman," Aaron says, smiling too.
"That doesn't mean I can't have fantasies, Burr."
"Use your imagination," he says, and she's laughing as he hangs up the phone.
@aburr cant believe u fooled us into voting for a homo
@aburr Go Back to HELL where you Belong
@aburr You and your "husband" are laughing in the face of real marriages.
lmao how can we expect a limp-wristed fairy like @aburr to vote strong on gun laws and war treaties now #evictburr
sign this petition http://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/evict-aaron-burr-from-the-senate #EvictBurr
#evictburr if it gets enough signatures the white house has to consider it!!!!!!!
#evictburr get that faggot off the hill
Aaron presses the heels of his hands into his eyes until he sees stars. Blinking hard, he looks back at his computer screen, trying to read the press conference speech he's been (unsuccessfully) trying to write for the past three hours. Currently, all he has written is Thank you for joining me, ladies and gentlemen.
The online hatred has been growing over the past two weeks that he and Hamilton have been married. Aaron can ignore it, mostly—he doesn't use Twitter personally, and his assistants handle his public account. In fact, aside from checking his email, he rarely goes online; most of the vile things people have been spouting at him, he's been able to ignore. But one of his assistants—Percy, a small, quick-handed young adult with a head for numbers—showed him the growing number of angry, homophobic tweets directed at him this morning and the accompanying tag.
"They've started a petition?" Aaron says, staring down at the page Percy pulled up.
Aaron Burr deceived the American people and New York citizens when he failed to announce his sexuality during his run for Senator. New Yorkers want him evicted from the Senate posthaste, with a suitable replacement until we can re-elect a new Senator.
It has 20,000 signatures and counting.
"If it reaches 100,000, they have to consider it," Percy tells him, obviously uncomfortable. "I should have told you the moment it was made, but I wasn't sure how serious it was. But the tag is trending now and the signatures keep growing so I thought you should know." Percy twists his hands. "I think you might need to make a statement, sir."
Aaron didn't usually take advice from his interns, but looking down at the page counting the number of people who wanted to boot him out of office for being gay, he couldn't exactly argue. He'd ordered the interns to send out calls to all the major news networks and locked himself in his office.
What can he even say? He needs to be diplomatic, but firm. Not too harsh, but not too forgiving. He can't give the people railing against him more ammunition, but he can't look like he's going too soft on them either, or even people on his side will begin to doubt him. Every opening he begins with seems wrong; too forgiving or too harsh, too impartial or too heated. Aaron bangs his hand on his desk to get himself to focus—the sting in his palm calms him down a little.
"What did that desk ever do to you?"
Aaron's head shoots up so fast he gets a little dizzy. Belatedly, he remembers that he hasn't eaten since lunch, but that's hardly as important as Hamilton leaning against his doorway, looking frazzled and amused. Hamilton's suit is unbuttoned, tie skewed to the side, and his hair is coming loose of its ponytail. Aaron knows Hamilton arrived this morning in pristine condition—as he always arrives on the hill—and yet all the pacing, moving, yelling, and generally existing that Hamilton does turns him into a complete mess before the day is over.
"Renee told me you've been in here since four," Hamilton says, moving into the room. "I told her she must have you mixed up with some other Aaron Burr because the one I know generally leaves the hill precisely when the work day is done."
He sits down on the edge of Aaron's desk, near his left elbow.
Aaron scowls. "Not all of us want to overwork ourselves into an early grave, Alexander," he snaps.
"The Aaron Burr I know," Hamilton continues as if Aaron hasn't spoken at all, "would never call a press conference to confront the homophobic masses head-on, either." Hamilton's dark eyes are warm, understanding. "One of your interns finally caved in and showed you the petition, huh?"
Aaron flushes with humiliation. He hadn't thought that people he knew might see it too—that people he worked with would know about it. But of course, it's on the internet and it's trending on Twitter, whatever that means. Aaron wonders, a little miserable, if the President knows about it too. As if this day hasn't been humiliating enough.
"Yes," Aaron says, the word so clipped off that he might as well be hissing it through his teeth. "They showed me."
"It took my interns less time," Hamilton says. "Of course, I didn't hire them for their iron control, like you did." Aaron stares at him. "Didn't I ever tell you that they tried to boot me out of office too?"
"Just after I came out," Hamilton says, totally nonchalant. "They did the same thing they're doing now, actually. Not a whole lot of imagination, but I suppose they have perseverance in their favor. And overwhelming stupidity, but that's pretty common everywhere, to be honest."
"I never heard about that," Aaron says.
"It never went anywhere," Hamilton says. "It never does. The petitions are a good thing, but no President worth his salt is going to fire someone just because a bunch of homophobes rallied together to ask nicely. The stupid thing didn't even reach the required signature amount before they had to shut it down. I still destroyed my office when my interns showed it to me, though."
Aaron frowns. "I didn't hear about that either."
Although, he does remember Jefferson gloating about how the President had gone down to Hamilton's office a few days after the coming out scandal to have a private word with him. At the time, Aaron had queasily wondered if Washington was secretly homophobic and scolding Hamilton for his very public coming out—the talk makes more sense now, with that context.
"I went on a Twitter rage spree that remains infamous in screenshots to this day," Hamilton says. "Even though my PA made me delete all the tweets and wrote a half-assed apology for me before there was really time for them to make an impact. That's about when I started drafting the bill to strengthen the laws on hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, remember?"
Aaron definitely remembers trying to ignore his own self-hatred as he helped Jefferson tank that bill.
"I remember," he says.
"If I could have found the fucker that drafted that thing to punch them in the face, I would have," Hamilton says. "And here you sit, trying to come up with a way to placate them. Sometimes I really do think I'll never understand you, Burr."
"What would you have me do instead, Alexander?" Aaron asks.
"Tell them to go fuck themselves," Hamilton says. He's so close that Aaron can feel the heat of his body, see the shadow of collarbone where his shirt is gaping at the neck. "They're trying to evict you from office for being gay. They don't deserve to be treated compassionately."
"What they deserve doesn't matter," Aaron says. "They are my constituents. I can't just scream at them to shut up or tell them they're being stupid and homophobic."
"Oh?" Hamilton asks. "Why not?"
"Because I, unlike you, am a goddamn responsible adult," Aaron snaps. "We are political figures, Alexander. We are role models, not hooligans, and we can't say whatever we want whenever we want to. We have images to uphold."
"We're also human beings, Aaron," Hamilton says. "You can be a role model and still have feelings and opinions. You don't have to please everybody in the room."
That's easy for Hamilton to say. He's never been interested in pleasing anyone in the room except for himself—and on days when he's feeling generous, Washington. Aaron has never been able to understand Hamilton's ability to always say exactly what he believes, even when it guarantees free ammunition for his enemies. Even the thought of doing that makes a cold sweat break out along Aaron's back.
"I'm elected by the people, not appointed by the president," Aaron says. "I don't have the luxury of ignoring their opinions. As this current situation proves."
Hamilton looks thoughtful. "You know, you're well-liked in New York, Burr," he says. "Plenty of that is for your face, of course—" Aaron's face heats up. What does that mean, of course? "—but there are others who genuinely admire you. Do you know the one thing that holds people back from supporting you wholeheartedly?"
"Being gay, apparently," Aaron mutters.
Hamilton smiles. "You're indecisive."
Aaron's hackles go up. "There's a difference between indecision and caution," he says.
"Yes," Hamilton says. "There is. And sometimes, you walk that line, but sometimes you fall on the side of indecision when it'll hurt you instead of helping you. I've never understood your need to stand to the side, Burr, but whatever you're waiting for—you're not going to get it if you don't take action."
Aaron's heart stutters. Hamilton can't know—nobody knows. Aaron decides to steer this conversation in a bit of a less dangerous direction.
"And what about you?" he says.
"Yes, you. You rush into things without foresight or any planning, you say things that can be used against you later by any of your enemies, you make people angry because you never know when to hold back. Do you know how much more you could accomplish if you kept your mouth shut every once in a while?"
"And what would I lose?" Hamilton demands, losing some of his calm. It brightens his eyes, brings a flush to his cheeks. Hamilton always looks feverish when he's angry.
"Your pride," Aaron says dryly. "Is that so much to lose?"
"What would you know about it?" Hamilton demands. "I came to this country with nothing—few opportunities, just enough money to survive on, no recommendations, no friends. Pride is all I had left, and it got me everything I could have dreamed of. I won't bend over backwards to pander to the close-minded ideals of people who know nothing about me—and you shouldn't either."
Aaron smiles. From the way Hamilton recoils a little, it must not be a very pleasant one.
"My father built his company up from the ground," he says. Hamilton's brow furrows with confusion, but Aaron gives him a hard stare so he doesn't interrupt. "He commanded respect. My mother was a genius. They died when I was two years old, and my entire life has been dedicated to protecting their legacy." The harshness around Hamilton's mouth softens. "I can't just think about what I want, Alexander. Everything I do reflects on my parents and what they've done for me. Everything I become is because of them—and I refuse to dishonor them or what they've left me. So I wait, and wait. I will not jump into a fire to prove myself and see everything they've done burn."
Hamilton is silent for a long moment and Aaron uses it to collect himself. He doesn't talk about his parents that often. He doesn't remember them at all, and only really knows them from photographs and the stories of the family members who helped raise him. But they were good people who did everything for him, and they loved him. He's not sure if Hamilton knows what it is to have a name that you must honor and respect; to know that every action you take—especially the wrong ones—will reflect on that name and its history for ages to come. Aaron knows about it, though. Intimately.
"Is that why you never came out?" Hamilton asks. "Until now, that is."
"Partly," Aaron says.
Hamilton gives him a questioning look, but Aaron doesn't elaborate. Hamilton doesn't need to know about how much casual homophobia he grew up with, about how he would read about the hate crimes in the papers and break out into a cold sweat. He remembers that child, Michael Shepard; he had nightmares about it for weeks. Aaron doesn't consider himself a coward, but exposing a part of himself that would make people want to crush him seemed like utter stupidity for most of his life. Even as the hatred toward people like him simmered and began to cool, he couldn't quite make himself do it, not on his own.
Funnily enough, if this situation with Hamilton hadn't come up, Aaron isn't sure he would have ever been able to come out. He just couldn't manage the push on his own, too paralyzed by fear.
"Ah," he says. Hamilton raises his eyebrows and Aaron shakes his head. "You were right," he says, ignoring Hamilton's smug expression. "But I'm hardly going to go out and play with fire like you do."
"But you can't hide away either," Hamilton says. "People are always going to hate you for being who you are; that's human existence, reviling as it is. The best thing you can do is try and beat some sense into the ones that will listen, and at least makes the ones that won't be afraid of speaking up in front of you."
Aaron looks back at the speech he's been trying to compose. Jefferson won't be happy. His party won't be happy. If he riles them up enough, his constituents might actually get enough signatures to get him booted out of his office, ruining his dreams and chosen career path for good.
But Hamilton's right, in his own way. Aaron can't lie in wait with this.
"All right," Aaron says, and has to turn away when Hamilton beams at him. "Give me a hand and we'll see how it goes."
Thank you for coming today, ladies and gentlemen. Let's keep this short and sweet, shall we? [scattered laughter] Over the past two weeks, there has been a concentrated effort to have me expelled from my position. I do not believe that those behind it are serious or concentrated enough to make it a legitimate threat. However, I did want to take the time to address their concerns and the concerns of my constituents. About two and a half weeks ago, I married Alexander Hamilton, the current Secretary Treasury. He is, of course, a man. In case anything is unclear: I am gay.
I have always been an extremely private person, and I stridently believe in keeping my personal life out of my politics. However, that is a two-way street. My personal life has nothing to do with my politics. Who I choose to marry—regardless of gender, class, or race—is my God-given right, and has nothing to do with the way I run my office. The person I am today is no different from the person I was two weeks ago—except that I now get even more hate mail than I thought possible, thanks to my husband. [scattered laughter] I am still the same man you elected, and I will still fight for you the way I have been ever since I was elected. Who I'm married to, who I decide to love, doesn't affect that in any way.
Finally, I would like to say that there is nothing so small-minded or low than to attack someone for their sexuality—or for anything that makes them different. It is not the American way—and it is not the human way. My right to exist, to work, to strive, to love is just as legitimate as any straight man's, and I will stridently defend that against anyone who thinks otherwise.
Thank you for your time.
did you put him up to that
alexander hamilton that speech has your grimy paws all over it I s2g
you know he's republican right
his party's going to eat him ALIVE
Okay, I like him a little better now
did some alien comes and replace burr's brain
Aaron's shaking a little. There had been photographers waiting by his front steps, journalists shouting questions at him. He'd refused a comment and hurried inside, trying not think about pictures of him in the newspapers tomorrow, wan and red-eyed.
The light is on in the apartment and Aaron pauses when he realizes Hamilton is already inside, reading curled up on the couch. His feet are bare and Aaron watches the flex of his toes for a moment, feeling off-balance. It still shocks him a little, to come home to Hamilton. To know that he'll be coming home to Hamilton for the conceivable future.
That know that they're married.
"You're home early," Aaron says.
Hamilton looks up from his book, expression sour. "The President insisted," he says. "He made one of his Secret Service escort me back, and with all the press downstairs I couldn't sneak out again. You know they're all here about your conference, right?"
"Yes, Alexander, I am aware," Aaron says. "Give them a few days and they'll be chasing something else."
"Maybe not," Hamilton says. "You've gone viral, you know. Twitter's buzzing with your speech, Tumblr's all over you, and the guys on reddit are having a field day."
"I don't know why," Aaron says, dropping into the seat next to Hamilton tiredly. "It's not like I said anything that compelling."
Hamilton has a strange look on his face when Aaron looks over. Like he can't quite believe what he's seeing.
"You know, when I came out, they expected me to be loud and obnoxious and strident about the issues," he says. "They were happy for me, of course, and happy when I spoke up, but nobody was really shocked about it. But you—well, everybody knows Senator Burr side-steps opinions. I think everybody's buzzing because you finally said what you thought, for once." Hamilton grins. "They know how rare that is."
Aaron scowls. "And look where it got me," he says. "Jefferson's pissed, my party is halfway to disowning me, and that stupid petition got another 40,000 signatures. I knew there was a reason I didn't do things your way, Alexander. They only get you into trouble."
Hamilton stands and Aaron braces himself for another lecture on the good of being loud and arrogant with your opinions. Instead, Hamilton leans down and kisses him on the forehead. His lips are warm and chapped. Aaron stares up at him as he pulls away.
"You did a good thing, Aaron," Hamilton says, smiling. "Good night."
Then, before Aaron can say a word, he disappears into the bedroom.
Even given a hundred years, Aaron will never be able to understand Hamilton. Never.
We need to talk.
apparently a president can evict a senator from their position if given due cause, but it's not done very often.
i like backing burr into a corner and making him have opinions. (that's the only way burr will ever have opinions.)
next chapter we have some domestic bliss, lafayette (finally) making a Dramatic Entrance, and jefferson being a dick. good times all around! thanks for reading!!
[deep breath] i'm ALIVEEEEEE
first, let me say that you all are WONDERFUL and the continued support for this story even during such a long dry spell egged me on to continue this and (finally) finish this chapter. there was a lot of kind words and support and i still can't quite believe that anyone likes this dumb fake marriage au of mine!
second, i had to rewrite this chapter about four times, which is part of the reason it took SO LONG to finish it. hopefully it makes some things clear about events in the previous chapters and burr's motivations don't seem terribly out of character.
third, i promise the next chapter will not take as long. I PROMISE. may god strike me down if i go back on my oath and all that jazz.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lafayette doesn't bother with knocking.
"Oui, oui, Lafayette is here!" he calls out as he opens Aaron's door, nonchalant as you please.
Aaron freezes in the middle of getting his second cup of coffee, but Hamilton barely looks up from the sheaf of papers he's been steadily working his way through over breakfast.
(A week back into work and Aaron put his foot down. If Hamilton didn't eat breakfast, he said with a smile, then he'd be sure to inform not only the President of the United States but also their dear sweet friend Angelica, and tell them, in excruciating detail, about the slop that Hamilton fed himself instead. Hamilton had gone satisfyingly pale and he's sullenly shown up at the table every morning since.)
"Excuse me," Aaron says.
Lafayette doesn't even look at him. Instead, he sets down a box of pastries and flicks Hamilton on the forehead. Hamilton grunts a little, looking up with an irritated frown, but he doesn't even have the decency to seem surprised at Lafayette's unannounced visit.
"You're supposed to say hello, mon petit jambon," Lafayette says, laughing. "It is the polite thing to do, non?"
Hamilton makes a disgusted sound. "You know I hate it when you call me that. And I thought you didn't get back in the country until next week," he says instead, reaching for the box of pastries. "Aren't you supposed to be part of the delegations with England?"
"Excuse me," Aaron says again, a little more frostily.
"My best friend got himself married!" Lafayette says, not looking at Aaron. The absolute nerve. "That seemed like a good enough excuse to leave the negotiations, dull as they were."
"Those negotiations will fall apart without you," Hamilton says. He eats another pastry, with visible enthusiasm this time. "My romantic life can't be more important than stopping a war with Britain, Lafayette."
Aaron gives up and sits down at his table, taking a scone and chomping through it, passive-aggressively broadcasting his irritation. Of course, with these two in the room, his anger won't get noticed unless he starts screaming; that's the kind of thickheaded idiots they are. And they don't even look his way, too focused one each other. Aaron scowls. The scones are fucking good, too.
"We will not go to war with Britain for something as small as an assassination," Lafayette says. "Have some faith in the intelligence of my countrymen!"
"Oh, I do," Hamilton says, going back to his papers. "The assassination's just a cover, is that it? You want freedom from those pesky trade agreements with Britain that jack your taxes up and make imports a disaster."
Lafayette smiles. "I cannot believe you would accuse me of such a thing, Ham," he says. "Me, of all people! Where is your trust? Your faith!"
"In French self-preservation," Hamilton says. "And your cunning."
Lafayette laughs. "Ah, I have missed you!" he says. "No one else can match my brilliance on the other side of the ocean." Finally, he turns to Aaron. His smile drops away. "Burr," he says.
"Lafayette," Aaron says. "Such a nice surprise to see you."
"It is my pleasure to grace you with my presence," Lafayette says. "Have you been well?"
"As well as can be expected," Aaron says.
"I saw your little press conference a few days ago," Lafayette says. "Brava! I would not have expected such a sincere performance from the absolute worst human being alive, but it seems you can still manage to surprise me."
"Lafayette," Hamilton says warningly.
Lafayette holds up his hands. "Oui, oui, I know. No picking on your new husband. But you are taking away all of my fun."
"I have to go," Hamilton says, though the way his gaze darts between Lafayette and Aaron suggests that he's leaving in part to avoid disaster—surprisingly discreet of him, and that makes Aaron suspicious. "Will you drive with me, Lafayette? I'm sure His Excellency would love to see you."
"One of these days he's going to get you to call him by name," Lafayette warns, laughing. "But yes, I'll come." He gives Aaron another cool look. "We'll have to have a long talk later on, yes? About the best way to treat a partner. I have been married for so long, I can give you plenty of tips."
There's a shot Aaron can take—involving the rumors of the Marquess' affairs that have even reached America—but he catches Hamilton's pleading look out of the corner of his eye and bites his tongue. He smiles instead, and hopes it conveys all of his irritation.
"Of course," he says. "I can't wait."
Lafayette waits for Hamilton at the door as Hamilton gathers his coat and papers, so Aaron has a moment to slide up to Hamilton's side.
"If that man comes into my house again, I'm divorcing you," he whispers into Hamilton's ear.
To his surprise, Hamilton shudders and leans away. Sensitive ears? Aaron thinks, intrigued. He didn't know that.
"You can't divorce me yet, your ratings would plummet," Hamilton says, grinning. He's a little red in the face, though Aaron isn't quite sure why. "I'll be home late tonight—you can take the bed."
"I'll make sure there's something in the fridge," Aaron says.
"If you collapse while married to me, everyone who knows you is going to come sniffing for my blood," Aaron says. "It's just self-preservation, Alexander."
"I'm not that fucking fragile," Hamilton mutters.
"Go to work," Aaron says, long-suffering. "Make some brilliant law that sends Jefferson's blood pressure through the roof and makes my day infinitely harder. I'll see you tomorrow."
Hamilton glances up at him, eyes mischievous, and then, to Aaron's shock, vaults up to plant a smacking kiss to Aaron's mouth. His lips are dry, chapped, and his breath smells faintly of sugar—the pastries he was eating, no doubt. Aaron stares at him.
Hamilton winks. "Authenticity!" he says and sails out of the door with Lafayette at his elbow.
Aaron stands in the room alone for a long moment, staring at the moody landscape painting on his far wall. His heart feels like it's beating extraordinarily fast, but he can't quite parse out the reason—it's not the first time Hamilton's kissed him (no, he can still remember that—the darkness in the car, the warm hands on his face), even if that wasn't on the mouth, and it was hardly a romantic kiss; more something you'd share with a good friend, if they were affectionate enough. Hamilton's probably kissed all of his friends like that. Surely Lafayette and Laurens, if Angelica is to be believed. And Angelica too. Aaron scowls at the painting ad turns on his heel to go and get ready to start his own day. A kiss means nothing, he thinks fiercely. He might as well just forget about it.
they just released the full transcription of @aburr's speech. @jaegermaster have you read this? http://tinyurl.com/3kajw #ProudofBurr
@treemugger "My right to exist, to work, to strive, to love is just as legitimate as any straight man's" daaaaamn #ProudofBurr
Literal tears in my eyes listening to @aburr's speech. #ProudofBurr
never been more #ProudofBurr for standing up for himself.
Jefferson isn't throwing things this time: Aaron hesitantly hopes that means this meeting won't end in a shouting match. He closes the door of Jefferson's office behind him and waits, a little uneasy as Jefferson gives him a long, considering look. Jefferson's never thought much of him, Aaron's always known that, but even though the dismissal rankled, he's never wanted Jefferson to give him the kind of consideration he's being showered with now. Aaron almost wants to hide.
"I don't know if you're an idiot or if you're brilliant," Jefferson finally says.
Aaron blinks. "What?"
"I can't list how many ways your little press conference last week could have gone wrong," Jefferson continues as if Aaron hasn't spoken. "The backlash against you from the party could have been—hell, should have been—astronomical."
Jefferson pauses. Aaron waits, unsure where this is going and unwilling to show it.
"But," Jefferson says when it's clear Aaron's going to stay quiet, "you're one lucky bastard. Has being married to that little dick made you any better with social media?"
Aaron frowns. "Not really."
"Well, then you've probably missed the uproar you caused over the weekend. People debating about your little speech on every platform available. You've got three separate trending hashtags about the subject right now. This would all be extremely bad news for you if it wasn't for the fact that this is the first time since Bush fucked up that the liberal left is looking at Republicans with respect and sympathy."
"Oh yeah—your little speech drew them in like hippie moths to an organic flame. Everybody can't get enough of the openly gay Republican senator."
"I'm bi," Aaron says, dazed.
"You said you were gay at your conference."
"It's hard enough being gay and a politician," he says. "I didn't want to have to explain that bisexuals exist on top of all of that. Hamilton gets a lot of heat from both sides of the fence about his sexuality, and I just… don't want to deal with that. I'm not interested. Hamilton can wear the label for both of us; I don't care."
Honestly, he'd debated over what to call himself when he'd written the first draft of the speech—but in the end, he'd decided that he didn't really care what label the American public stuck on him; what mattered to him most was that they knew that he wasn't straight. And it's not like it had been that hard for Aaron to choose the public label of gay over bi. He's only ever been in love with one woman and he tends to prefer men.
"The point is, everybody loves you. They think you're the face of a new Republican party; a soft-hearted, inclusive Republican party. And even though all of us hate that, we can hardly say a bad thing about you without coming across as traditional and homophobic, which would be a horrendously bad choice in an election year so." Jefferson grimaces. "So we want you to do more press conferences and interviews."
Aaron opens his mouth, then closes it again. "What?"
"Play up the persecuted gay angle. Talk about how important you find gay rights." Jefferson looks disgusted, but he keeps going. "We lose liberals every election season because they think we're homophobic and backwards—you'll show them that we can be inclusive."
Aaron stares at him. Jefferson isn't homophobic, at least not in a personal sense—he's just so stridently states-rights that he doesn't care about stopping persecution on a national-level. As far as Aaron can see, he isn't violently anti-gay because of his religious or personal sensibilities—he just most doesn't care about the gay community in the long run. A crime of indifference, instead of hatred. Even so, this kind of pandering isn't an angle Jefferson would consider—he hates playing nice in election years. This can't be coming from Jefferson. A thought occurs to Aaron.
"This is Madison's idea, isn't it?"
Jefferson's grimace gives him his answer. "He thinks it's time we change our image," he mutters, clearly mutinous about the idea. "I don't think you're the right person for it, but he's not wrong. Predictions show the youth vote is going to be higher this year after Romney's failure in 2012 - we've got to get it before the Democrats do, and you know how they love to play up their gay support."
Aaron doesn't tell Jefferson that it's rightfully earned—the Democrats aren't really that much better about gay issues, but at least they actually try and most of them aren't a seething mass of fragile masculinity and homophobia on legs.
"You want me to play up the gay Republican thing for votes?" Aaron asks.
"Yes," Jefferson says. "You've already got their sympathy with that bogus petition—make them like you." Jefferson gives him another once-over. "You're young, good-looking, black, and gay. You're married to the Democratic Golden Child. I hate it, but Madison's right—you're perfectly placed to get the youth vote."
Aaron opens his mouth, then closes it again. He feels like he's dropped into some alternate universe—Jefferson and Madison asking him to play up the gay angle? The youth vote actually mattering to his party? Young people—who, traditionally, have despised Aaron for his connections to Wall Street and inability to tweet—actually sympathizing with him?
This is it, Aaron realizes. His mouth goes dry. This is the perfect time. He'll never get another opportunity like this one, to swing on the updraft of the public support and sympathy. He's got attention now, in a way that he never really did outside of his campaign for senator. His marriage, the petition… This is it.
He opens his mouth. Then he closes it.
Wait for it.
"Why do you want me to do all this press?" he asks. "What does the youth vote matter to you anyhow?"
Jefferson stares at him. Then he begins to laugh, his obnoxious cackle filling the room.
"Oh Burr. You sad motherfucker. You haven't realized? In about a month, I'll be resigning as Secretary of State so I can campaign."
Aaron freezes. No.
"Campaign?" he asks weakly.
"For the presidency," Jefferson says. "Washington's finally out for good next year and all those fucking Democrats have is John fucking Adams—there's no way he'll win. This is my chance. I can't believe you didn't realize."
Aaron should've. A man like Jefferson, with high self-esteem and ambition, of course he's going to run for president. Aaron bites the inside of his cheek and smiles. He can't show Jefferson how much of a blow this is—now, more than ever, he has to keep his cards close to his chest, see which way the wind blows. One wrong move and he's fucked.
"I see," he says. "Well, I'll do what I can, Mr. Jefferson. May I go?"
"Sure, sure," Jefferson says. "Actually, one more thing—don't forget our deal about Hamilton. You're living with him, you're sleeping with him—you must be privy to all of his darkest secrets. Find some out for me and I may even take you with me to the White House."
Aaron smiles until his cheeks hurt. "Sure, Jefferson. I'll do what I can."
Aaron gets home and punches the nearest wall. His building is made of concrete, not wood, so all it does is bruise his hand, but it feels good to hit something. He sucks on his sore knuckles and sits down on his couch, mind whirring. It's been a long time since he's fucked up this bad, but even then he never fucked up quite this bad.
Four years ago, Aaron decided to run for the New York seat in the Senate. He had the money and the connections to make himself a formidable opponent, but his support still flagged—his team told him that people liked his face or his family name but they didn't quite trust him, especially since he'd been a Democrat not that long in the past. They advised finding someone to publicly endorse him, an old name in the party, someone respectable. After a lot of deliberation, Aaron had approached Jefferson and Madison, offered funding for their projects for the foreseeable future as well as his support for their projects when he was elected, and he got their endorsement.
Aaron had chosen Jefferson for a variety of reasons. However, the main one was that outside of Washington, there was no one America trusted more than Jefferson. He was a beloved figure, his numerous scandals notwithstanding. With his support, Aaron could achieve almost anything, and Aaron had hoped, back during their first meeting, that he would be able to establish a close relationship with Jefferson, get in good with him, and then, when the time came…
"I'm so fucking stupid," he says.
Aaron wants to run for president.
Aaron's wanted to run for president since he was a teenager, but the desire really solidified during Washington's campaign, where he'd watched, pushed to the sidelines, as Hamilton was drawn more and more into Washington's confidence while Aaron was excluded. Knowing that Hamilton got to be in on all the backroom deals, be in the room where everything happened, drove Aaron up the wall. Aaron wanted that power—and there was no one more powerful than the president. Since then, he's been amassing support and resources and contacts.
And Jefferson ruined it all in one meeting.
He'd wanted to do it this year. He knew as well as Jefferson did that this was the Republican year—Adams was the only real candidate the Democrats had and he wasn't cut out for the national level. A good Republican candidate would have it in the bag this year, and Aaron had been quietly preparing to announce his candidacy for months. But he'd done it all with the assumption that he would have Jefferson's support. If he's running against Jefferson instead…
"Shit," Aaron says.
He won't win against Jefferson, he knows that much. There are plenty of people in America who despise Jefferson's politics—and considering Aaron's new marriage and connections to the Democrat party, he might have a chance to reel those people in—but he's still a household name. He was in politics before Aaron was even born and in many parts of the country that means something. Besides, even though his marriage might help, Aaron inadvertently gave the best ammo he could to his opponent: Jefferson knows that he and Hamilton aren't really in love. He might not be able to prove it, but even the light of suspicion would be enough to throw up a shitstorm. And if he tells Hamilton that Aaron has been giving them information, then…
Aaron rubs at his face. He made too many wrong choices. If he'd been smarter about it, he would have realized that Jefferson would try his hand for the presidency this year and he wouldn't have told him anything about his marriage to Hamilton. He would've announced his candidacy early, instead of waiting for the right moment, and had more momentum on his side.
As it stands, he could still try to run but he'd have to be prepared to lose miserably—and probably have his marriage, the one thing that could give him an edge on Jefferson, dragged through the public mud. If he waits, he's got another eight years before he can have a chance at running. He and Hamilton will have divorced by then, so it might be safer. Jefferson won't be able to run again, so even though the political climate will be completely different, it's possible that he'll be able to make a good run of it.
Aaron thinks about it. Another eight years of pandering to Jefferson, of biding his time, of waiting on the sidelines. Another eight years of watching everyone else pass him by.
He doesn't know how long he sits there, staring at his walls, thinking over all of his options. It isn't until there's a curse and a gentle touch to his hands that he snaps out of it. Hamilton squats in front of him, brow furrowed. His suit is rumpled and half undone, and his ponytail has frizzed out of its binder.
"What the fuck did you do to your hand?" Hamilton asks. "Did you—did you punch someone?"
"Just a wall," Aaron says.
"Oh just a wall. What happened?"
"I'll need ice for my hand," Aaron says, standing.
Hamilton follows him into the kitchen. "You're not getting out of it, Aaron. What the fuck happened?"
"What makes you think anything happened?"
"The Aaron Burr I know doesn't go around punching walls. Nobody does unless something's gone wrong."
"Bad day at the office."
Aaron fills a paper towel with ice from the dispenser and presses it to his knuckles. It feels blessedly cool against his skin. Hamilton watches from the doorway, his eyes narrowed. He looks the way he does when Jefferson tries to pull a fast one on him.
"You don't have to tell me," Hamilton says. "It's not like we're really married or anything."
Aaron considers him. Sadly, Hamilton is the closest thing he has to a friend nowadays—hell, he was always the closest thing Aaron had to a friend. Unlike Hamilton, who seemed to make friends (and enemies) wherever he went, Aaron always had trouble connecting on an intimate level with other people. Political, professional connections he could do in his sleep—but friends and lovers? He'd only ever really had Theodosia and a string of male lovers whose names he'd forgotten. Now there's really only Hamilton.
The thing is, Aaron almost wants to tell him. Hamilton has a quick, energetic mind and a good head for politics; if there's anyone who could help Aaron out of this mess, it would be him. But then he'd have to tell Hamilton about the backroom deals he's been doing with Jefferson and that… would not end well. Best case scenario would be Hamilton demanding a divorce immediately and quietly, so they could pretend they just went on their separate ways naturally. Worst-case scenario, Hamilton blows the whole charade wide open. And the problem is, Aaron could see him doing it: it would ruin Hamilton's career as much as Aaron's, but Hamilton is just self-destructive enough to not care.
"It was nothing," Aaron says, making his decision. "I told you, just a bad day at the office. Even I get them sometimes."
Hamilton eyes him suspiciously. "Do you want the bedroom tonight?"
"It's your week."
"That was supposed to be a kind gesture, Burr."
"Ah, I see. That would explain why I didn't recognize it, since it was coming from you. It's fine, Alexander. I'll take the couch."
Hamilton rolls his eyes, but he looks less concerned. "You sound more like yourself, I suppose," he says. Before Aaron can stop him, he reaches out and takes the makeshift ice pack away from his knuckles, setting it aside so he can grab Aaron's hands. "It'd be a waste to ruin such nice hands."
Aaron's face heats up. Hamilton raises his eyebrows and smirks. Carefully, he lifts Aaron's right hand, the bruised one, and plants a kiss across the knuckles. Aaron stares at his bent head, wide-eyed and blushing. What—?
"To make it better," Hamilton says, lifting his mouth away. He's smirking, the little bastard. "How's that for kindness?"
Aaron clears his throat several times before he feels like he can actually say something without a squeak in his voice.
"If kissing actually healed wounds, Alexander," he says.
Hamilton laughs and drops Aaron's hands. They tingle a little at the fingertips, which Aaron blames on his injury.
"I need food and then sleep," Hamilton says. "You mind if I just heat up leftovers?"
"If you tried anything else, I'd duck and run," Aaron says. "Go ahead. I have some work to get done."
Aaron watches as Hamilton ambles around the kitchen, still disconcertingly at home. It's been weeks now, but sometimes it still catches him off-guard when Hamilton knows where Aaron keeps the mugs or the spices or the leftovers. Aaron's never really lived with someone else—it's taken more adjusting than he'd originally anticipated. And it's a lot nicer than he ever expected, especially with someone like Hamilton, who can grate just by being in the same room.
Aaron goes back into the living room and grabs his old, behemoth laptop. Painstakingly, he makes his way to the password-protected file hidden amongst innocuous documents—with the dull, ordinary title of run times. He glances over his shoulder, but Hamilton is still in the kitchen, humming absently under his breath.
He opens the file and cracks his neck. Time to get to work reorganizing his entire life plan for the next ten years.
let's do lunch tomorrow, oui?
do not tell your husband, I will be happy to never see his face again while I am here
lafayette has just spent the last hour getting drunk and moaning about how you wasted your potential marrying burr
"he could have married ANYONE and he had to marry BURR"
"burr looks like he doesn't even know how to give a proper HANDJOB laurens."
"does burr even know what alexander can do with his TONGUE. does he even CARE."
listen you'd better tell lafayette that you're having really great sex with burr or s/t bc otherwise I think he's going to die
Aaron wakes up in the dead of night and blinks against the darkness. Disoriented, it takes him a moment to realize that he's woken up because of a noise of some sort—he hears it again as he sits up, frowning. A whine or a whimper, something high-pitched and pathetic. It's coming from the bedroom. Aaron gets to his feet and creeps through the house on muscle memory, since he can't see worth a damn. The door to the bedroom is open just a crack, and he peers inside.
Hamilton has left the window open, which is a blessing since the moon is full tonight and gives just enough light for Aaron to see by. He frowns, taking in the bedroom. Hamilton is asleep on the bed, taking up an absurd amount of space for such a small person, as always. Nothing else seems wrong, though—the room is quiet. He almost leaves, convinced that he imagined the noise, when he hears it again. He freezes. Hamilton tosses on the bed, and even with only the moonlight, Aaron can make out the distress knotting his brow and the pained twist of his lips. He must be dreaming—a nightmare.
Aaron considers backing out and pretending he never saw anything. If the situation were reversed, that's what he would want Hamilton to do. Even just thinking about being caught in the throes of a nightmare by Hamilton is enough to make his ears heat up. But then Hamilton makes that noise again, a pathetic whimper-whine, and Aaron hesitates in spite of himself. Hamilton was in the Army, he remembers. He spent most of it being Washington's secretary, but he saw plenty of action early in his career and again near the end. Whatever he's dreaming, it could be very bad indeed. And Aaron doesn't think he'll be able to go back to his own peaceful sleep knowing that.
"Damn it," he mutters, and pushes into the bedroom.
He reaches out to shake at Hamilton's shoulder, planning to keep it brusque, impersonal, and quick. However, the moment he touches Hamilton, his world shifts and suddenly he's on the bed with Hamilton positioned over him, the hard line of an arm across Aaron's throat and Hamilton's eyes inches from his own. Aaron freezes, hardly dares to breathe. Hamilton is clearly not aware of what he's doing—his eyes are distant, wild, wary. The pressure against Aaron's throat is making it difficult to breathe, but Hamilton's positioned himself so that Aaron's can't get enough purchase to buck him off, even though Aaron's both taller and bulkier.
"Hamilton?" he whispers. Shit, no— "Alexander."
Hamilton blinks a couple of times and Aaron's worried that it won't work, that wherever Hamilton's gone he's not going to be able to come back on his own—and then Hamilton's face clears and his arm lets up on Aaron's throat and Aaron can breathe normally again. He coughs.
"Shit," Hamilton says. "Shit, Burr— Aaron, are you okay? I'm sorry, I—"
"I'm fine," Aaron says. "I heard noises."
"I'm so sorry, I usually don't—"
"I shouldn't have come in. I should've known better than to touch you, I'm sorry."
"What do you mean you're sorry?" Hamilton demands. He's sitting up on the bed now, and in the half-dark it's difficult to read his expression. His hair, backlit by the moon, forms a halo around his head.
"I should go," Aaron says, sitting up as well.
Hamilton puts a hand on his knee, stopping him. Aaron's never been as aware of the strength in Hamilton's arms and body until now.
"Don't," Hamilton says. "Listen, I get nightmares sometimes. It doesn't happen often. I should've warned you when I moved in, but I figured since we were going to be sleeping separately it wouldn't matter."
"Is it better when you don't sleep alone?" Aaron asks.
"I should've warned you," Hamilton says, turning his head. Aaron can see his profile now, by moonlight, and his chin is trembling. "Sorry."
"Do you not have the nightmares if you don't sleep alone, Alexander?"
There's a long pause. Hamilton's hand is still on Aaron's knee, tight enough to leave a bruise. Aaron doesn't tell him to take it away though. For some reason, his heart thuds hard against his breastbone, so loud that it amazes Aaron that Hamilton can't hear it too.
"Not usually," Hamilton admits. "Almost never, really."
"And if you sleep alone?"
Another long pause. It's so odd to Aaron that someone like Hamilton—who prides himself on wearing everything on his sleeve, on his honesty—would be so reticent about this. It makes him feel oddly triumphant when Hamilton speaks again.
"A lot more often," Hamilton says. "Okay? I have them pretty regularly."
Aaron thinks of Hamilton alone in his apartment, tossing and turning and on his own, without anyone to wake him up and calm him down afterwards. Hamilton had his insomnia during their time together in Princeton, before he took a few years off to do his military service, but Aaron thinks the dreams only made the problem worse. Probably a lot worse, considering how terrible Hamilton is at sleeping. Aaron thinks about Hamilton waking up from whatever horrendous dreams plague him alone and gasping, struggling to ground himself.
Well. His couch isn't that comfortable anyway.
"Move over," Aaron says.
Aaron ignores him, instead nudging hard at Hamilton's hip. Hamilton scoots, and Aaron settles in on the left side of the bed.
"What are you doing?"
"You'd better not kick me," Aaron warns. "And we're not waking up until a reasonable hour, Alexander."
"You don't have to—"
"Are you going back to sleep or not? Unless you'd rather talk about it?"
Hamilton considers him for a long moment. Aaron still can't really see his expression, though he very much wishes he could. Without another word, Hamilton lays down next to him. The bed is reasonably sized for one person, but a little small for two—their arms brush as Hamilton situates himself, and their heads are close. Aaron can hear Hamilton's breathing, smell the sweat still on his body from the nightmare.
They're silent for a long time. Aaron drifts, on the edge of sleep, more comfortable than he imagined he could be sharing a bed with another person for the first time in years. He's nearly on the edge when he hears Hamilton—so soft that he almost thinks he dreamed it the next morning.
in case anyone's curious - my timeline of hamilton's past is: graduates and joins the army for about three years. does work as washington's secretary, ends up leaving when washington does, goes to princeton and graduates in three years. (burr graduated during hamilton's first year, the only year they went there together.) all of the reynolds stuff happens during ham's first/second years.
NOW i'm pretty sure hamilton didn't go to princeton (i believe he was rejected? lmao feel free to correct me it's been a while since i read the biography & the musical doesn't make a direct mention) but i wanted him and burr to attend the same school so i fudged it. hamilton begins working on washington's first campaign while he's in school - he works in the lower ranks of the white house during washington's first term, comes back as his campaign manager during his second run and gets elected as treasury secretary during washington's second term. burr worked on washington's first campaign as well, though he was way in the background - by washington's second run he was in the republican camp already (he had just been elected senator) so he didn't help.
hopefully that makes sense? i know i don't really give clear details on the timeline, and it's not really that important (FOR NOW) but i wanted to make it clear in case anyone had questions.
next chapter: ham's deep, dark secret, burr's new plans, laurens and mulligan and angelica make appearances.
i'm sorry i've been so terrible with updates. i have the rest of this story plotted out (and i'm thinking about 20 or so chapters at most...?) but i've literally had so little time to write between other projects, the end of school, and beginning an intensive new job. however! the new job is an overnight that has a lot of free hours of sitting around, so i'm hoping to write then and update a bit more regularly.
in any case - happy fourth to all you americans that celebrate!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
JOHN ADAMS’ BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS HELD THIS WEEKEND
Rumors Abound On His Presidential Candidacy
Congressman John Adams celebrates his 62nd birthday this weekend with a lavish gala held downtown. Much of the upper echelon of the Hill will be attending, including the President and First Lady. Rumors abound about Adams’ announcing his candidacy for next year’s presidential election at his birthday celebrations—as of yet, no strong Democratic contender has stepped forward to fill President Washington’s shoes, and many believe Adams is the only contender the Democratic party has who has a hope of winning. There has been no comment from the Adams’ team about his potential candidacy, although there are rumors that he will be meeting with well-known Democrat Alexander Hamilton at his birthday gala. Hamilton, who recently made splashes of his own with his very public gay Vegas marriage, was a staple during the Washington election and many attribute Washington’s successful first campaign to him. With Hamilton on board and Washington’s backing, Adams would be off to a strong start.
The celebration will be held on 8:00 this coming Saturday. We here at the D.C. Daily wish Congressman Adams the best in his new year!
Aaron jumps as his front door slams and Hamilton storms in, more dishevelled than usual. He stands up, thrown off by the wildness in Hamilton’s eyes.
“Please tell me you didn’t know.”
Aaron’s heart leaps into his throat, but he keeps his face even and composed. Whatever Hamilton’s found out, there’s no point in tipping his hand early—if it turns out that Aaron’s guess is wrong, then he will only have exposed himself for nothing.
“Know? About what?”
Hamilton makes a frustrated noise and runs a hand through his tangled hair. He begins to pace in tight, fast circles.
Aaron’s heart picks up speed but he frowns thoughtfully and carefully considers his answer.
“I’m not sure I know what you mean, Alexander.”
“I had a meeting with Washington today,” Hamilton says, pacing faster. “And apparently, Thomas Jefferson is handing in his letter of resignation by the end of the year he can run for president!”
Ah, Aaron thinks, and relaxes.
“Oh, that,” he says.
Hamilton whirls on him, eyes bright and feverish. “So you did know!” he says. “For how long?”
Aaron considers it. “Oh, a few weeks?”
Hamilton’s eyes narrow. Aaron can see that quick mind working double-time, turning over everything Aaron’s done in the past few weeks with this new information in mind. Hamilton has never been good at keeping his cards close to his chest, so Aaron can see the moment that the lightbulb goes off.
“So that’s why you’ve been doing all that stumping,” Hamilton breathes, even more furious. “You’re campaigning for him! You’re playing up the ‘he mentored me, a black gay man’ angle to make him seem more progressive for the Democrats!”
Aaron affects surprise. “Oh? I thought I was speaking out about my experience of discrimination, Alexander. Isn’t that what you wanted me to do? Take a stand against the homophobes of the world?”
“Not if it means helping Jefferson into office!” Hamilton howls. “You know he has a more than decent chance of winning! Adams—“
Hamilton stops—not just talking, but moving. Breathing, practically. Aaron smirks.
“Adams?” he asks, faux-surprised. “I haven’t heard that he’s running.”
Hamilton glowers at him. Aaron’s more than used to that expression, after years of being rivals on the Senate floor, but it doesn’t fill him with his usual disdain and irritation anymore. After weeks of living with Hamilton, of being his husband, Aaron’s pretty much immune now. In fact, he’s almost amused.
“There’s no way this can work if you’re working for Jefferson,” Hamilton says and suddenly Aaron’s not so amused anymore.
“What are you talking about?” he asks, scrambling up from the couch.
“We’ll need to live separately,” Hamilton continues and he begins to pace again. “Because there’s no way this will work if I—“ He grimaces, paces several more times, then continues, “I’m probably going to be working for the Adams’ campaign.”
Aaron blinks. He knew Adams was running—anyone with a political bone in their body knew Adams was going to run—but he’d honestly thought the rumors of Hamilton working with him were trumped up by the Adams’ campaign, not the truth. Hamilton had created quite the name for himself during Washington’s first run—anybody who’d followed the campaign knew that Hamilton had turned Washington from a political powerhouse into a monster. He wasn’t a fixer, not a professional anyway, but he was an excellent player to have on the board and almost everyone on the Hill knew it. The surprise wasn’t that Adams would want Hamilton—it was that—
“You hate Adams,” Aaron blurts, too surprised to be discreet.
Hamilton tsks. “Of course I do,” he says. “But I hate Jefferson more.”
Aaron rolls his eyes. “You told me that John Adams doesn’t even have a real job,” he says. “You’ve called him a fat, arrogant, anti-charismatic national embarrassment several times.”
“And he’s called me an immigrant bastard,” Hamilton says. “He thinks I shouldn’t have my job because I wasn’t born in Virginia with a silver spoon in my mouth and blue blood—or, as they might as well call it, white blood—in my veins. He’s bad with money, he has no sense of foreign policy, and he’s a disaster waiting to happen. But the Democrats won’t have a better candidate and I would die before I let Jefferson into the Oval. Do you understand? I would die.”
“You really think Adams is going to be any better?” Aaron says. “I’ve worked with him, you know. He may be a Democrat, but he’s toeing the line as often as he can get away with it. His anti-immigration acts make Jefferson look liberal.”
Hamilton bares his teeth. “As soon as Jefferson is in the White House, our rights go out the window,” he says. “My rights, our marriage—poof, they’re gone! Sorry women, you no longer get the right to choose what to do with your body! All of the good work we’ve done, all the steps we’ve taken—Jefferson will burn it all down. I can work with Adams. I can combat his fucking racism and his stupid foreign policy and his weak economic goals, but Jefferson would spit in my face rather than listen to what I have to say and you know it.”
Aaron opens and closes his mouth. There’s many things he’s never agreed with Jefferson on, things that almost cost him Jefferson’s support back when he was running for Senator, but Aaron’s only gotten to where he is by burying all of his disgust for some of Jefferson’s more conservative politics and pretending that they’re on the same page. If it gets him where it needs to get him, he’ll smile and smile and they’ll never know what he actually feels about it. Even now, with his very public gay marriage and commitment to gay rights, he talks it down; makes it a state issue instead of a federal one, promotes small-government values, protects the rights of churches to refuse to serve. In some cases he actually believes it—in other he doesn’t. But keeping them guessing, that’s the key. Never let them know what you’re against or what you’re for and you’ll get ahead.
“And why won’t this work if you’re working for Adams?” he asks, not letting any of his conflict surface on his face.
Hamilton snorts. “Why do you think? You’re in Jefferson’s camp and I’m in Adams’—even if I trust you not to tell anything, there’s no way Adams will trust me if I’m living with the enemy, so to speak.”
“You’re married to me,” Aaron says. “It’s not like you have a choice.”
“We could live separately until after the election,” Hamilton says. “You’d probably like to have your living room back. And your bed.”
Aaron determinedly does not blush. Since he’d discovered Hamilton’s nightmares, they share the bed whenever the two of them are both in the apartment—sometimes Aaron wakes up to Hamilton crashing down on his side at four in the morning and vice versa—which has been both awkward and, strangely, nice. Aaron’s slept better than he has in years and Hamilton hasn’t had a single nightmare.
Once, only a week ago, Aaron woke up and realized Hamilton was still sleeping. Still drowsy, he’d watched as Hamilton’s chest rose and fell, the slight part of his mouth as he breathed. Seeing Hamilton asleep was so odd—it removed all of those barriers, the ones Hamilton slung up to keep others at a distance; the words, the barbs, the drive. It left him looking younger, sweeter.
And then, of course, he woke up and opened his mouth and all thoughts of sweetness were left by the wayside.
“We’re supposed to be in love,” Aaron says. “What will our adoring public think if we split our houses?”
“We’re becoming old news,” Hamilton says. “Adams’ dinner is this weekend and there’s sure to be a number of public screw-ups there. War is brewing between England and France, there’s a presidential election on the horizon… The media has other concerns than our big gay marriage. We might as well take advantage of that.”
Aaron bites the inside of his cheek. The thing is, he’s gotten used to having Hamilton underfoot. He leaves his papers everywhere and doesn’t remember to do the dishes and is chronically incapable of keeping normal sleeping hours, but his noise and mess has made Aaron’s sterile apartment feel more like a home than it ever has. It’s just because I haven’t lived with someone in a while, Aaron thinks. Once Hamilton leaves, he’ll get used to being alone again—hell, he might even enjoy it. It’d be a nice change to not wake up at four in the morning because Hamilton was struck with inspiration for his next bill.
There’s still an odd twist in his gut, something hard and unsure.
“We ought to present a united front,” Aaron says. “It’d look for both of our candidates, right? Not letting the party politics get to us.”
Hamilton frowns at him. “I thought you’d be happy,” he says. “This way it’ll almost be like we aren’t married at all.”
Aaron wants to shuffle under Hamilton’s eagle-eyed stare, but forces himself to remain still. Heat crawls up the back of his neck.
“I just don’t want to make our marriage look weak,” he says. “We’ve given up a lot to have it and that means nothing if we piss it all away just to keep our candidates happy.”
Hamilton’s mouth purses in a way that means he’s thinking about it. He stops pacing and comes to sit down next to Aaron, a little closer than really necessary. His body is a long line of heat against Aaron’s side.
“I didn’t think you’d stump for Jefferson,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton smiles at him, wry. Aaron’s heart turns over, stuttering and restarting.
“You keep all those cards close to your vest, Burr,” he says. “I figured you’d let your hand show closer to the finish line, that’s all. Stumping requires commitment.”
“Well, I’m a married man now,” Aaron says. “Can’t be afraid of commitment any longer.”
Hamilton considers him. "I'll talk to Adams," he says. "But you're not wrong about it making a strong picture." He smiles. "Everyone loves star-crossed lovers drama."
"Exactly," Aaron says, relaxing.
Hamilton's smile turns a little sly. "So you want me around, huh, Burr?"
Aaron makes a dismissive noise. "I would have a much tidier apartment without you in it," he says.
"You'd be bored to tears without me here," Hamilton says.
"I've got a meeting to get to," Aaron says, turning towards his bedroom to collect his briefcase and a tie. "You're welcome to stay here, basking in your delusions as long as you need."
Hamilton laughs. Aaron forcibly tells his body to stop blushing and goes to get his tie.
Did you get a picture of his face when he found out? Please tell me you got a picture of his face.
Come visit at your earliest convenience.
Aaron's surprised when Madison leads him into the study and Jefferson's not there. It's rare to get one without the other; in all the time Aaron's known them, they've only ever consulted separately when Madison was bedridden or one of them was in another country. He hovers in the doorway for a moment, uncertain.
Madison smiles at him. "Come sit," he says, gesturing to the couch. "This won't take long."
Aaron sits and tries not to feel the hang of doom over his head. Jefferson is louder and flashier, but Madison is hardly a soft-hitter. No one got this far up on the pole without having some nastiness in them, and Madison was no exception. He just hid it better under his soft-spoken exterior.
"Your press has been doing wonders," Madison says after a long moment, sitting on the couch opposite of Aaron with a heavy thump. "That follow-up interview you did with Peggy Schuyler was a nice touch, especially since Hamilton wasn't there to draw focus."
"Thank you," Aaron says, wary. Madison could've told him all of this in a text instead.
Madison smiles. "You still haven't given us anything on Hamilton."
Aaron stiffens. "There's nothing to give," Aaron says. "The most scandalous thing Hamilton did - aside from marrying me - happened over ten years ago. The man lives and breathes politics now, he barely has time to see me and I'm his husband!"
"Everyone has dirt in their closet," Madison says, standing again. He does to his desk, ruffles through some papers, then sets down a folder in front of Aaron. "You know that he's pushing a new financial system on us by the beginning of next year, correct?"
Who didn't know that? Hamilton's new system was the single greatest achievement he's made in office and had sent Jefferson in a spiral of furious anger for months after it passed.
"Yes, of course," Aaron says.
"It was vetted by a veritable team of economists," Madison says. "They all gave it the go-ahead. But I hired my own team to quietly look into it and we found what we think are discrepancies in Hamilton's financials."
Aaron laughs before he can stop himself. Madison's face doesn't chance, so he curbs it back, incredulous.
"You have to be joking," he says.
"Almost 20,000 has been paid off, in small amounts, to a Swiss bank account," Madison says.
"20,000?" Aaron says. "Excuse me for saying so, but that's hardly unsavory. There are Wall Street CEOs who've funneled away billions."
"The amount isn't what's important," Madison says. "It's the act of embezzlement itself; this is Hamilton, the Democratic Golden Child. He may get in fights and have PR permanently cleaning up his messes, but the public loves him. Even your marriage didn't make his ratings drop. If he weren't foreign, he could run for the presidency himself and do a damn sight better than Adams. Any sort of criminal activity would be a blow to his reputation - and if he's using the new financial system as a facade for his own embezzlement..."
"It'd be tarnished," Aaron finishes. "Voted out before it ever began. Hamilton would probably be sacked."
"And you can get a nice, quiet divorce," Madison says. "Spin it so that you're so betrayed by Hamilton's fraud you couldn't bear to be married anymore. Play up the victimized spouse angle. 'We married too quickly and it was a mistake...' and so on. The press will be with you entirely. It's a win/win for everyone, Burr."
Except for Hamilton, thrown out of his office and tarnished, his great achievement burned to the ground all in one go. Aaron bites the inside of his cheek and takes the folder, flipping it open to look through the bank statements. There is almost 20,000 there, taken out in hundred dollar increments over the past ten years. But it seems insane. Hamilton is many things, but a crook isn't one of them.
"What do you need from me, then?" he asks.
"You're his husband," Madison says. "Legally even, which makes it easier. I need verification of his statements, proof inside his own bank account and the number and password for the Swiss account so we can start tracking who it belongs to."
They wanted him to build the bomb to put in Madison's hand, Aaron thinks. He looks back down at the statements. Even without verification, they're damning. They could just as easily send them out now. If Aaron pretends to play along, then he gets a little more time. Time to figure out if this is real, if Hamilton really is doing what Madison's accusing him of - and time to decide what to do depending on what the truth is.
"All right," he says. "The bank statements should be easy, but the Swiss account will take time."
"Take all the time you need," Madison says. "We want to sit on this until it's necessary anyway - it'll be more effectively used during the campaign, to discredit Hamilton's backing of Adams. Get what you can." He smiles. "And get your divorce papers ready."
Aaron remembers back when he first met Madison and Jefferson. Back then, he'd been more afraid of Jefferson, more intimidated by his flash and charm and power. Jefferson was a household name and he knew it and wasn't afraid about saying so. Madison, his soft-spoken sickly friend, hadn't caught Aaron's attention at first - and when he did, Aaron assumed, as many people did, that Jefferson was the real threat.
Aaron knows better now.
any sighting of #Bam yet at the #JohnAdamsGala? they're so cute but we never get to see them together anymore!!
@humdugbum someone just spotted them!!!!!!! they look gorgeous
Power Couple Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton arrive together at the #JohnAdamsGala arm in arm http://tinypic.org/jas2jfa
"I hate you," Hamilton mutters, pulling obstinately at his tie.
"This is your candidate," Aaron says, keeping his smile in place. "It's important to put in an appearance, Alexander."
"Well, I hate Adams too. Who throws something this huge just because he's turning 62? This isn't a birthday party, it's a schmooze-fest."
Aaron can't disagree; all around them are politicians of varying importance, shaking hands and laughing and networking. Adams isn't stupid - he knows what a good chance he has to get in some real legwork before he starts officially campaigning at the end of the year. Jefferson will probably do the same when his birthday rolls around, though Aaron's pretty sure Hamilton won't have to go to that party.
"Just smile," Aaron says. "Pretend like you're having the time of your life and you absolutely believe in your candidate."
Hamilton scowls at him. "I'm not and I don't," he mutters.
Aaron resists the urge to throw up his hands. "Well, that's all right," he murmurs. "I'm sure my candidate will be very comfortable in the White House."
Hamilton's scowl deepens, but he remains mercifully silent. Aaron glances down at him, then away again - it's been difficult all night to look at Hamilton. Hamilton usually wears suits - they all do - but most of them time they end up in some sort of crumpled mess; tie off, sleeves rolled up, jacket wrinkled, the works. But tonight, Hamilton's suit is pressed and tailored, impeccable, and even his hair seems to be cooperating. There's something strange about this put-together, cleaned-up Hamilton. Aaron can't seem to look at him without feeling odd.
At least Hamilton had seemed equally stupefied by Aaron's appearance - as Aaron had left the bedroom, fully ready for the party, Hamilton's jaw had dropped and he'd muttered something about a good suit and Aaron cleaning up well.
Hamilton turns and opens his arms just in time for a dramatic hug from Angelica. Over their heads, Aaron exchanges rueful smiles with Angelica's new husband.
"Nice to meet you," Aaron says, holding out a hand. "Aaron Burr."
"John Barker Church," the husband says. "Pleasure."
Angelica and Hamilton separate, smiling at each other. Hamilton looks much more at ease now that Angelica is here and Aaron stifles a hot, unwelcome surge of something suspiciously like jealousy. It would be absurd to be jealous; for one, he has no claim over Hamilton in any case and for two, Angelica is a happily married woman.
"It's been so long since I've seen you," Angelica says. "You look much better!" She gives Aaron a sly wink. "Married life agrees with you!"
"As it does with you," Hamilton says. "You must be John?"
He offers Church a hand and they shake. Church must know Angelica's history with Hamilton, but unlike most men faced with an ex, he doesn't seem disgruntled or unhappy. Instead, he smiles.
"Angelica's told me much about you," he says. "It's a pleasure to have a face to put with the stories."
Hamilton gives Angelica a look. "How many stories did you tell him?"
"Oh, just a few," Angelica says airily. "Like that time you went an entire finals week without sleep and passed out the moment your last test was in, right there at the desk. Or that time you nearly punched that ass Seabury in the face."
"Oh," Hamilton says, relaxing a little. "Well, that Seabury thing was--"
"There was also the time I caught you and the Marquis in flagrante," Angelica says.
Aaron, who had been sipping on his glass of champagne, nearly spits it out. Hamilton glares and Church chuckles.
"I admit, that was a particularly colorful story," he says. "I had no idea the Marquis had a fondness for bondage."
Aaron does choke a little then and Hamilton darts a look back at him. Aaron's face burns and he hopes nobody can tell that he's wondering who exactly was wearing the bondage during this supposed tryst. The thought makes him uncomfortably warm. Hamilton scowls and looks back at Angelica, who laughs.
"Oh, darling, there's no need to be shy. Surely Burr knows all about your little fetishes by now, hm?"
"Angelica," Hamilton says wearily. "If you could refrain from discussing my fetishes in the middle of galas attended by my peers... I would be most grateful."
"So I shouldn't talk about the spanking thing either?"
She laughs again, then leans in to kiss his cheeks. "You've gotten boring in your old age," she says. "Five years ago, you would've been itching to loudly discuss your sex life at a government event to see all those old straight men go purple."
Hamilton favors her with a quick smile. "Ask me again after my plan is put into motion," he says. "And I would be happy to discuss bondage, spanking, and the like at the top of my lungs, regardless of who is in the room to hear."
Aaron finds some relief in the cold dread that covers him when Hamilton brings up the financial plan. It makes it easier to stop thinking about Hamilton being spanked (or was the Marquis the one being spanked..?) which can only lead down uncomfortable roads.
"Isn't that a done deal?" Church asks. "That's what the papers seem to think."
Hamilton's smile is grim. "Nothing here is a done deal," he says. "But until January, my financial plan is particularly fragile. It can be written out as easily as it was written in and one misstep..." He laughs and turns to Aaron. "You know I've never put much stock in that 'talk less, smile more' nonsense of yours, but it has its uses, doesn't it? Even if it means biting my tongue sometimes, I'll do whatever it takes to get my financial plan into motion."
"Marriage has changed you," Angelica says, but she's smiling. "The Alexander Hamilton I know would be even louder and more obnoxious in the face of opposition."
They're interrupted as John Adams approaches, clearly in the middle of doing his rounds. Aaron's never had much to do with Adams - different circles, different parties, and so on - and he doesn't think much of him, but he adopts a pleasant smile. Hamilton, on the other hand, scowls.
"I told you not to wear something like that," he says as Adams approaches.
Adams smoothes a hand over his velvet waistcoat self-consciously.
"And why not?" he asks. "It's my birthday, shouldn't I be allowed to wear what I like?"
"If this were actually your birthday party, you could run around naked," Hamilton says. "But you and I both know this is a precursor for your announcement and there are people here you're not going to convince if you parade around in clothes that say 'look at me, I'm made of money!'"
"Well, it's not like Jefferson will convince them either, then," Adams says, though he shoots a look at Aaron as he says it. "He dresses like this every day, not just for special occasions."
Hamilton frowns. "Then it's even more important to set you in opposition to him," he says. He, unlike Adams, doesn't seem to notice or care that Aaron is at his elbow listening. "The plainer you look, the more ostentacious he'll seem."
"Perhaps we should discuss this later," Adams says. "In less... mixed company."
Hamilton straightens, opening his mouth, and Aaron sighs. He takes Hamilton's elbow and leans in.
"Don't start something you don't need to," he murmurs in Hamilton's ear. He smirks at the little shiver it gets him. "This isn't the time and he's not wrong."
Hamilton pulls away and glares up at him. Aaron stares back, raising his eyebrows in clear challenge.
"Fine," Hamilton bites out. He turns to Adams. "I'll drop by your office tomorrow, all right? We can discuss it then."
"Very well," Adam says, and his look toward Aaron is more considering than suspicious now. "Angelica, it was lovely to see you again."
"And you," Angelica says.
Adams offers her a quick kiss to the hand and then he's gone. Hamilton sighs, rubbing a hand over his face.
"A velvet waistcoat," he mutters.
"At least it's not a velvet suit," Aaron offers.
Hamilton stares at him in horror. "Jefferson owns something like that?"
"It's purple," Aaron confirms and smiles when Hamilton begins to laugh.
Someone else comes up, one of Adams' people, to draw Hamilton away and talk to him. Angelica takes his place at Aaron's elbow and offers him a quiet smile.
"We were all worried about this, you know," she says.
"Oh, I know," Aaron says, remembering all the threats he'd gotten from all of Hamilton's inner circle.
"He's never been lucky in love," Angelica says. "Partly of his own doing."
Aaron considers her. "You've forgiven him for what he did to your sister?"
"I love my sister more than anything in this life," Angelica says. "For years I wouldn't even think about Alexander, let alone talk to him. He broke her heart. But we chanced upon each other after Washington began his second run and I just..." She sighs. "I'd forgotten how dear he was to me. How much he matched me, in a way few people had before or since. Eliza gave her blessing when I asked her if it was all right to talk to him again, and I found it in my heart to forgive him. He was young and stupid and he made a mistake. I can't condemn him for that forever."
Aaron almost dreads the answer to that. Eliza is the only person Aaron knows Hamilton loved; enough to want to marry her, enough that he still pines after her after ten years being apart.
"She's happy now," Angelica says. "That makes it easier to be kind. I don't think they'll ever be friends like they were before, but she doesn't hate him. Not that my dear Eliza could hate anyone."
"You know, I never got the fully story of what happened," Aaron says.
Angelica's softness vanishes. "It's not really my story to tell," she says. "Besides, it was years ago. What does it matter now?"
It didn't, but Aaron wonders at Angelica's defensiveness. Was it just a valid protectiveness over her sister, that she didn't want the story dragged up again? Before he can ask again, Hamilton reappears, even more aggravated than he'd been before.
"Come on," he says, grabbing Aaron's hand. "Let's get drinks. Lots of drinks."
Aaron watches, a little amused, as Angelica and Hamilton spin around the dance floor, both of them clearly wasted to an inch of their lives. Angelica has her shoes strung around her neck by their straps and Hamilton's impeccable suit is now as rumpled as ever - tie gone, cufflinks lost, shirt open at the collarbone.
It would be more noticeable if most of the other guests weren't as wasted by now - the late night and open bar have given the party a certain rowdiness. Aaron's one of the few people left sober. Hamilton had tried to get him to drink at first, but Aaron hates drinking. He hates the way it leaves his brain foggy and vulnerable, makes his tongue loose. He can't keep control of himself when he drank, so he rarely does it and never more than a single glass of wine.
The night they got wasted together in Vegas, he hadn't gotten drunk - truly, terribly drunk - since the night Theodosia left him. Angelica's wedding had brought up as many bad memories for him as it had for Hamilton, which is what made it so easy to decide to get wasted again, just to forget a little while.
And after the disaster that brought about, Aaron's probably never getting drunk again for the rest of his life.
"I should bring Angelica home," Church says. He's sober too. "She has an early meeting tomorrow and she should at least have a decent sleep, if she can't avoid the hangover."
"I'll help you separate her from Alexander," Aaron says. "At the rate they're going, you won't be enough."
Sure enough, Hamilton and Angelica are wound around each other as they approach, swaying drunkenly to the soft orchestral music in the background. Hamilton raises his head from Angelica's shoulder, blinking blearily.
"Aaron!" he cries, untangling himself from Angelica so he can throw his arms around Aaron's shoulder. Aaron staggers under his sudden dead weight. "Dance with me!"
"Easier than I thought," Church says, tucking Angelica into his side. "We'll see you around, Burr."
"Sir," Aaron says, watching as Church leads Angelica off the dance floor. He turns back to his drunken mess of a husband. "We should go," he says.
Hamilton whines. "Dance!" he says again. He tugs at Aaron's waist. "Just one more dance."
Aaron glances around, but the couples around him are as drunk as Hamilton is. He catches a glimpse of Benjamin Franklin doing something someone his age should never do on a public dance floor and turns quickly away. In this crowd, hardly anyone will notice them.
He sighs and maneuvers Hamilton's hands. He's taller and not drunk, so he takes the lead - he folds Hamilton's arms around his neck and places his hands on Hamilton's waist. As Aaron pulls Hamilton in, he wonders if this might've been a bad idea. Hamilton is warm and limpid from the drink, flushed and drowsy against Aaron's shoulder. It makes something tight squeeze a vice around Aaron's heart.
A new song starts, something slow and drifting, and Aaron sways a little, moving in small circles. He doesn't think Hamilton is up to more than that and Hamilton doesn't protest the gentle treatment. If anything, he revels in it, burying his face into Aaron's shoulder and sighing. Aaron can feel the press of his mouth even through the fabric of his suit.
"Alexander?" he says.
Hamilton doesn't answer. Aaron sighs and gathers him closer, swaying still in loose time to the beat of the song. It's nice, he thinks. Hamilton is so charged, so full of movement and life, that it's hard to get close to him like this, to see him as open and vulnerable as this. And even when they share a bed, they rarely share space like this, burrowed up against one another. Aaron doesn't dislike it as much as he thought he would. Hamilton is warm and heavy in his arms and his hair smells of his woodsy shampoo and clean sweat.
"'m glad we got married," Hamilton mutters against Aaron's shoulder. He pats Aaron's back with a solid thump. "You're a good husband."
Aaron's throat is tight. "You're a better one," he murmurs.
On impulse, he kisses Hamilton's hair. He lingers there for a moment, then pulls away. Hamilton complains as they separate, but settles down as Aaron tucks him into his side, slinging Hamilton's arm over his shoulder.
"Come on, Alexander," he says. "Time to go home."
oh my GOD!!!! oh my GOD!!!!! http://tinypic.org/awi2l taken right after the gala!!!!!
@humdugbum thats so cute i cant breathe. burr is practically CARRYING him i cant
@humdugbum look at those husbands taking care of each other! who knew burr was so gentle???
@titansforever i sense a fan club in the works
@yodelehoo hamilton better watch out, he's going to have COMPETITION #bemyhusbandburr
and so the plot thickens.
the dc daily news does not (as far as i'm aware) exist. i just wanted something tabloid-y and gossipy about washington's political forces.
john adams was the one to do the alien and sedition acts when he was president, which severely limited immigration and made life pretty difficult for immigrants altogether (trying to stop immigrants from voting, stronger deportation laws, etc.) so i'm pretty sure adams would have a harder stance on immigration in current day politics than a lot of more liberal democrats do today. also his birthday is oct 30, so there's a bit of a time jump between this chapter and last chapter (a month or two, give or take).
1,000 dollars in 1781 would be like 20,000 today. honestly, it doesn't seem like a lot to me anymore considering some embezzlers go into the billions, but it's a big deal nonetheless.
john barker church is angelica's canon husband. fun fact: according to wikipedia, he was the owner of the guns that both hamilton and philip used in their duels. and apparently he had his own duel with burr.
sorry it's been so long guys (again) but hopefully the length of the chapter makes up for it a little bit! just a heads up that there's a lot of homophobic language in this chapter so if that's triggering for you, skip past the scene at the french restaurant.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aaron doesn’t really know where to start with Madison’s plan. The bank account records, as he thought, are easy enough to access—Hamilton has a laptop that he carts around with him, and all it really takes is one evening where they’re both at the apartment in the evening and waiting for Hamilton to go take a shower. The laptop isn’t locked and the bank account’s username and password are pre-loaded. Aaron searches through the accounts—checking, savings, CDs, and so on—with one ear on the sound of the shower, heart hammering.
What he learns isn’t exactly encouraging. Hamilton makes quite a bit of money as the Treasury Secretary, but there’s hardly any evidence of it in his accounts, which are sparse. There’s quite a bit in his savings, but not what Aaron would expect of someone who’s been working the job for three years.
Gambling debts maybe? But the thing is, Hamilton’s not just a good employee—he’s an obsessed employee. Aaron’s never seen someone so dedicated to their job. He works at the office almost all hours of the day, and even when he does come home, he often immediately goes immediately back into work or one of his million and a half projects. If he were gambling or wasting all his money on the normal things—drinks, prostitutes, drugs—Aaron’s not sure when he’d have time to enjoy them. And surely there’d be evidence of it somewhere, if it was a habit so bad that it emptied his savings.
There’s no evidence of the Swiss account. Aaron has no idea what to make of that. Perhaps Madison was wrong and it isn’t Hamilton’s money at all. Or perhaps Hamilton is just better at hiding that, for whatever reason.
What’s worse is the nagging voice in the back of his head, the one that demands he tell this to Hamilton. They’re not really married, but they’re friends again, and the least Aaron can do is let Hamilton know just how badly Madison and Jefferson have it out for him. From Hamilton’s careless way of stumbling into PR disasters, Aaron knows that he doesn’t care much about his personal reputation—it’s his professional one that matters the most to him, his legacy on the hill. If this kind of scandal were to get out, it would devastate him. He deserves to know.
But Aaron can’t tell him. Every day, he has a dozen of different reasons—he wants to stay on Madison’s good side for now, and there’s no telling what Hamilton will do when he knows what’s happening; it really isn’t bad enough to tell Hamilton; Aaron will come up with a way to stop it from blowing up, so there’s no point in worrying Hamilton; and so on. But sometimes he wonders if the reason is that he doesn’t want Hamilton’s little gestures of affection—a hand to the shoulder, bumping knees under the table, can-you-believe-he-said-that looks across the floor—to vanish. As they surely will the moment Hamilton finds out that his trust in Aaron was so badly abused.
“I need your help,” Hamilton says to him, a few weeks after Madison invited him to his house.
Aaron looks up from his iPad, eyes burning. He’s been going over the talking points for an interview he has in a few days, but reading on tablets always makes his head throb. He tosses it to the side, careless in his aggravation at it, and rubs at his temples.
“Help?” he asks. “With what?"
“My father is coming to town."
Aaron freezes, lowering his hands. “Your father?” he asks in confusion. “Isn’t he—"
“No,” Hamilton says, with a darkness to his tone that suggests a long story. “Not yet. He’s just heard about our marriage and he wants to come and meet you."
Aaron winces as his headache throbs. “Just heard? But it’s been months, Alexander—"
Hamilton makes an impatient sound and moves behind Aaron on the couch. Aaron tries to turn his head, startled at the sudden change, but Hamilton takes his head between his fingers and begins to rub cool circles between his ears and forehead.
“We don’t keep in contact,” Hamilton says. “He left us when I was ten and moved back to Scotland.”
Hamilton digs his fingers in more deeply and Aaron groans. There’s a pause, long enough that Aaron opens his eyes and cocks his head back to try to look at Hamilton’s face, but Hamilton just repositions him and begins rubbing again.
“He doesn’t follow you in the news?” Aaron asks.
Hamilton barks out a laugh. “The only time he acknowledges me is when he needs money,” he says.
Aaron tenses, then forces himself to relax. Perhaps…?
“How often is that?” he asks, hoping he sounds more casual than he feels.
“Oh, I’ve never given him any,” Hamilton says. Aaron doesn’t let his disappointment show. “He asks every few years, especially once Washington took me on, but I always refuse him."
Hamilton is silent for a long moment. Aaron almost falls into a doze between the quiet and the temple massage.
“He and my mother were never really married,” Hamilton says finally. “My mother’s first husband refused to sign the divorce papers, so she just ran away instead and lived with my father. Had me and my brother. He was always coming and going, never really there for any of us. And then he just vanished. Left my mother the debts he’d made on the island and two children to feed. And then, when I finally made it out and made contact with him…” Hamilton exhales, long and loud. “I was a nuisance to him. A reminder of a past he wanted to forget. My mother died and he didn’t even send a message."
Hamilton lifts his fingers from Aaron’s head and moves back to the front of the couch, dropping into the open space between Aaron and the arm. He’s closer than they usually are when they sit on the couch, both on their own separate sides, and it’s oddly difficult to ignore the warmth seeping into Aaron’s side, the woodsy smell of shampoo and cologne that Hamilton always seemed to have.
“I don’t like him, I guess,” Hamilton says. “He’s not my father in anything but biology. And usually he stays on his side of the ocean, so it’s easy enough to ignore him. But he’s insisting on coming to see us, to meet you, and I can’t exactly stop him."
“So what’s the favor, then?” Aaron asks. “Do you need me to leave town for a few days, pretend I’m on a business trip?"
“No,” Hamilton says, darting a fierce look his way. “I want you to meet him."
Aaron blinks. “Really?"
“Yes,” Hamilton says. “And I want you to be flagrantly, extravagantly, excessively affectionate with me."
Aaron swallows. “…What?"
Hamilton stiffens. “Just to keep in practice,” he says. “It’s been a while since we’ve needed to really convince someone we’re married."
The stern set of Hamilton’s mouth suggests some other reason, but Aaron doesn’t think Hamilton will tell him, so he lets it drop. He kind of wants to meet this father anyway—and the brother that Hamilton dropped so casually into that story. Hamilton’s close-mouthed about his past, to the point that Aaron has become very curious about it. Being raised in the Caribbean, Aaron knew about—the scholarship to Princeton, the dead mother. But he’d had no idea that Hamilton’s father was still alive or that he had a brother.
“All right,” he says. “Just let me know when and where."
do you need emotional support?? give me the word and i’ll be there to give you a big old kiss in front of the asshole
i know a few people that can put him on the no-fly list, no questions asked
“You still haven’t found anything on the Swiss account?” Madison asks, eyeing the statements Aaron brought him with a keen eye.
Jefferson, pacing near the windows, snorts. “I don’t know why we can’t just release this now,” he says. “Bury that motherfucker in the ground, you know what I’m saying?"
“We need to wait,” Madison says, patient as always. “It’d make a splash now, but the shit would only get on Hamilton. We want it to get on Adams too."
Jefferson scoffs. “Like he even has a chance,” he says, but he doesn’t argue about it. Instead, he drops into a chair and crosses his legs at the knee. “And why are we trusting Burr again?"
“As Hamilton’s husband, there’s no one better suited to get us what we need,” Madison says, though his tone suggests that he also doesn’t like the necessity.
Aaron bristles, but forces a smile. “I assure you both, I’m completely on board with your plan."
Jefferson makes a face and dramatically shudders. “That! That, there! You smile that skeevey-ass smile and no one can trust you, Burr."
Aaron bites the inside of his cheek hard enough to taste blood. He could walk away, he thinks with resigned despair. Tell them to go fuck themselves and walk away. But he won’t.
“We need that Swiss account,” Madison says, setting the bank statements aside. “That’s the only real way to connect it to Hamilton. I have a man working on it, but anything you can find, you bring to me right away. A statement, a number, anything. And any kind of reason he might have it would help with the paper trail too. Bribery, debts, a drug habit—?"
“Not a drug habit or bribery,” Aaron says, trying to sound decisive. He’d worked on this story on the way over. “But he said he’s loaned money to his father before."
Jefferson straightens. “I don’t even know who his father is,” he says. “Does he? Wasn’t his mother a whore?"
“They never married,” Aaron says, a bite in his voice. “But yes, he knows his father. James Alexander Hamilton. Son of some sort of Scottish laird?"
Both Madison and Jefferson startle. Aaron watches, a little smug at their overt surprise. He wonders why Hamilton never used his father against those accusations about his low-class birth—some of the old money types who campaigned against Hamilton so hard might have thought twice when they knew he had a wealthy father.
“I didn’t think he had a connection the Scottish Hamiltons,” Madison says thoughtfully. "James Hamilton is the laird of the Grange now, isn' the?"
“At least all those times I called him a bastard I was right,” Jefferson mutters.
“You say he’s loaning money to his father?” Madison asks. “Anything like the missing amount?"
“I’m not sure,” Aaron says. “Just that his father had some debts and Hamilton helped him out of them."
“Hm. Well the opposition could definitely spin that—using the funds for an ailing father, family loyalty, and so on. And considering his father's position... Try to find out if that’s where it really went or not."
Aaron nods, heart sinking. He’d hoped Madison would take that bait and release the story, which wouldn’t be true—at least that would let Hamilton combat it wth fraud charges and he could easily clear his name. He conceals his disappointment at the bait not being taken completely—if Madison gets wind that Aaron isn’t completely on board with their plan, it won’t just be Hamilton’s future going down.
“He’s coming to town this week,” Aaron says. “I can find out then."
“Hamilton’s old man is coming to visit, huh?” Jefferson says. “He must be pissed."
Aaron frowns. “Why—"
Jefferson waves a hand. “You know I spent a lot of time overseas, Burr,” he says. “France, mostly, but I visited Scotland a few times. Met the old laird, actually, James Hamilton's older brother. Not much goes on in Scotland without the Hamilton family having a finger in the pie."
“So?” Aaron asks. “I would think his father would be happy to have a son with a finger in some American pie."
Jefferson waggles his eyebrows. “Oh, he would be,” he says. “The problem isn’t the job, it’s the son."
“I don’t follow."
“The Hamiltons aren’t very fond of what you might call nontraditional marriage,” Madison says.
Aaron’s stomach fills with ice. “You’re saying his father…"
“Probably doesn’t want to be associated with his gay son?” Jefferson says. “No wonder they never asked after old Ham when I visited them."
No wonder Hamilton doesn’t associate with them, Aaron thinks.
“Keep an eye on them, Burr,” Madison says. “Whatever you can find out, make it quick. Adams is supposed to make his announcement of his candidacy soon and we want to drop the Hamilton bomb as quickly as possible after that."
Aaron forces a smile. “I’m on it."
FROM: His Excellency
Let me know if there’s anything I can do, Alexander.
Aaron watches as Hamilton paces and feels an odd sort of deja vu. Hamilton can never sit still, of course, but this reminds him particularly of the morning after Angelica’s wedding, when they’d woken up in bed together.
“Maybe you should sit down,” Aaron says.
“He’s late,” Hamilton says, grim as a war general. “His plane landed nearly an hour ago, why—"
“It can take ages to get out of the airport,” Aaron says. “You know that. Calm down."
Hamilton whirls on him, eyes fever bright and color high in his cheeks.
“I haven’t seen him for years,” Hamilton says. “We’ve barely spoken except for the occasional email. How am I supposed to be calm? I can’t be calm when the man who abandoned my mother to her death and all but disowned me could be walking through that door at any second now!"
A knock. They both freeze. Hamilton’s verve suddenly drains from him, leaving him wan and huge-eyed. He doesn’t look like he can breathe, let alone walk to the door, so Aaron stands.
“Sit down, Alexander,” he says and leads Hamilton to the couch.
Hamilton sinks into it without protest. Aaron watches him for a moment, worried, but there’s another knock, harder and more impatient, so he goes to the door and opens it.
James Hamilton doesn’t look much like his son. A white man in his early sixties, Mr. Hamilton is tall and straight-backed, with the bearing of a military man. His keen blue eyes take in Aaron and narrow.
“Is this Alexander Hamilton’s place of residence?” he says. His Scottish brogue is lighter than Aaron expected.
“Yes,” Aaron says, extending a hand and smiling. “I’m Aaron Burr, Alexander’s husband."
Mr. Hamilton’s lips thin. “Alexander!” he shouts. “Are you in there?"
Aaron doesn’t drop his hand or stop smiling. His parents died when he was young, but he was raised in high society, and he knows exactly how to use manners as a weapon. James Hamilton can stand on the stoop until he shakes Aaron’s hand.
“I’m in here,” Hamilton says. Aaron can feel his presence at his shoulder, but he doesn’t look around. “I see you’ve met Aaron, then."
“Your paramour, yes,” Mr. Hamilton says.
They all stand in silence for a moment. Aaron’s arm is beginning to hurt, but he doesn’t lower it. Mr. Hamilton looks from Aaron’s hand to where Hamilton stands over Aaron’s shoulder, then purses his lips. With obvious reluctance, he reaches out and takes Aaron’s hands, gives it a hard squeeze, and withdraws.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Aaron says, still smiling. He steps to the side. “Please, come in."
Mr. Hamilton enters, looking around. Aaron wonders exactly what he expected to see—bondage gear and sex toys? Something to confirm the depraved lifestyle he obviously thinks he son and paramour have?
“It’s a nice place,” Mr. Hamilton says. “A bit small, but of course even on a government salary you must have a hard time finding something affordable in the capital.”
Aaron hears the condescension and bites his tongue so he doesn’t make an incongruous remark on how hard it is for some people to manage their money no matter how much of it they have. He’d done some of his own digging on James Hamilton—the debts he’s piled up make some of their Wall Street fiends look like amateurs. Even the money off of the ancestral Hamilton home hasn't been enough to pay it off, so it's no wonder he was desperate enough to reach out to the son he despised for money.
“It was Aaron’s apartment before we got married,” Hamilton says. “We decided it’d be simpler to move in here instead of buying an entirely new place."
Hamilton hasn’t left Aaron’s side, radiating warmth and stress. Aaron eyes him and frowns at the tight, pinched look to his face, the thin, white line of his mouth. Without thinking, he reaches out and grabs Hamilton’s hand—slightly sweaty and warm, but solid, comforting. Hamilton gives him a little look, but the tension to his face eases.
“Well,” Mr. Hamilton says. “I don’t know about the two of you, but I’m starved. Is there a nearby place we could go for dinner?” He smiles and Aaron doesn’t trust it. “On me, of course."
Aaron and Hamilton exchange a look. Do what you want, Aaron thinks. Hamilton sighs.
“There’s a nice French place down the way,” he says, resigned. “How about we go there."
The nice French place is a hole in the wall, a tiny bistro with low lighting and private tables. The menu is entirely in French, which Aaron can only speak with passing ability, so he lets Hamilton order for him. Then, with a glance at his father, he takes Aaron’s hand and entwines their fingers, keeping their hands right in sight on the table.
Mr. Hamilton watches all of this with narrowed eyes, but he puts his own order in without a comment. Their waitress leaves them alone with their drinks and silence.
“How was the flight?” Aaron asks.
“Passable,” Mr. Hamilton says.
Silence again. Aaron clenches his fist under the table, but keeps smiling.
“The weather in Scotland must be lovely, this time of year,” he says.
“Cold, mostly,” Mr. Hamilton says. “Rain’ll be turning to snow soon."
“Oh for God’s sake,” Hamilton mutters. “You’re the one who contacted me,” he tells his father. “You’re the one who wanted to come all the way out here and talk. So talk."
Mr. Hamilton frowns at them for a long moment, as if he’s not quite sure where to start. He looks down at their joined hands and back up again.
“I have a wife,” he says. Hamilton flinches. “I’ve been married these past six years now. And she is expecting."
Hamilton’s grip on Aaron’s hand tightens.
“Oh?” he asks. “And you came all this way to tell me I’m to have a half-sibling? How thoughtful."
“I came all this way because I thought you deserved to hear it from me face-to-face,” Mr. Hamilton says. “You’ve been my heir, God help us, since your brother died.” Aaron startles, but Hamilton doesn’t react. “I am not the eldest son, but my older brothers have died off without heirs, leaving the Grange and all of its assets to me and, when I die, to you. I came here to tell you that my child, whether they be a girl or a boy, will be inheriting that grand estate instead of you."
A long silence. Around them, Aaron can hear the chink of chinaware and other patrons talking in low voices. A bit of movement catches his eye and when he sees the waitress coming back he gives her a tiny head shake. She frowns, but passes by their table without stopping.
“I see,” Hamilton says. His grip is crushing Aaron’s hand. “And why is that? I’m your eldest son, aren’t I?"
“You are a bastard,” Mr. Hamilton says and that gets a tiny flinch. “Your mother, god rest her soul, never got a divorce with that damned husband of hers. I broke with tradition once by naming first your brother and then you as my heirs, for I had no other choice if I was to leave some legacy in this world. But my wife is pregnant and I have a chance to leave something to my natural born children. And,” Mr. Hamilton’s face darkens with disgust, “I admit that even without another potential heir, I still would have taken the estate from you."
The waitress is back. Aaron frowns at her, but she stands nearby, watching, face full of concern.
“And that is because—"
“—of this abomination,” Mr. Hamilton finishes, gesturing between them. His voice rises. “This sham of a marriage that you have entered that is against both God and country. I have long despaired of your unnatural preferences, Alexander, but I never thought you had the impudence to do this. To marry another man, as if he were a woman! To live together in one home and call each other husband!” Mr. Hamilton shudders. “It’s ungodly. And disgusting."
Hamilton is shaking too, but Aaron can tell from one quick glance that it’s rage, not fright or even sadness. Hamilton’s eyes are fierce and bright, his color high, vivacity coming back to him.
Aaron glances around the restaurant. They’ve only attracted the attention of the people sitting closest to them, an attractive pair of women out on a date. The waitress is still watching too, and Aaron thinks that she might go run for the manager or some sort of security if this gets ugly. He’s grateful to her for it.
“And you would talk to me about godliness?” Hamilton says, voice shrill and loud. They attract more attention. “You, who spent years living with my mother, sharing her house and her bed despite her still being married to another man? You, who dallied with whores and gambled away any money that we had? You, who abandoned us and left us to die and then never had the common decency to even send a card when my mother died!"
“I don’t care about God,” Hamilton says. “I never have, not since my mother died in a pit with no one to save her. But you stand there and spit your sanctimonious bullshit at me as if you have a pedestal to stand on? Isn’t that in the Bible? About men in glass houses throwing stones?"
“This entire farce of a marriage is unnatural,” Mr. Hamilton says. He’s shouting now and their waitress has disappeared, probably to go get help. “Men cannot love men! Homosexuality is a perversion and the sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you can cleanse your life of it. Alexander, whatever else you may think of me, I do love you. I want what's best for you. If you renounce this life…” Mr. Hamilton sighs and his voice lowers. “If you could do that, I would be happy to leave you something in my will, perhaps some land off the Grange?"
Hamilton stares at his father for a long time. Aaron keeps quiet, keeps a tight grip on Hamilton’s hand, and wonders that he can’t quite make out what Hamilton is feeling. Usually Hamilton is all too open about his thoughts and feelings—not just with speech, but with his body and his face. Aaron’s rarely been unable to read Hamilton, even when Hamilton isn’t point-blank telling Aaron what he feels. But this narrow-eyed, stern-mouthed Hamilton is indecipherable. A mystery.
“You really think I’d do it,” Hamilton says finally, mouth curving in the mockery of a smile. “You really think I’d abandon everything I am, everything I stand for, for a bit of money?"
“Not money,” Mr. Hamilton says, straightening. “Your ancestral home! The place where Hamiltons have lived for generations!"
Hamilton barks out a laugh, then another one. Aaron starts to worry.
“Thank you for coming to tell me,” he says, cold as ice. “Leave whatever documents you need me to sign and I’ll see to it that they’re filled out and sent to the proper authorities. But right now, I need you to leave my city."
“Think about what you’re doing, Alexander!” Mr. Hamilton says urgently. “What future is there for the two of you? Divorce him and marry a nice girl instead! Live a life you can be proud of when you die and meet your maker."
“This isn’t about Aaron,” Hamilton says. “This is about me. If you think I would just… throw away a part of who I am, pretend to be something I’m not, all for the sake of this ancestral home you never wanted me to have in the first place, you’ve greatly misjudged my character. But then, why should I be surprised? You’ve never truly know it."
Hamilton stands. He still hasn’t released his grip on Aaron’s hand, so Aaron gets pulled up with him. Without warning, Hamilton reaches out with his free hand to take Aaron’s chin, turning his head so they’re face to face. Hamilton still looks half-mad with rage, but Aaron thinks that the flushed, bright-eyed look has always worked for Hamilton.
Then they’re kissing and Aaron can’t really think anymore.
Their previous kisses have been love taps compared to this one, which involves a lot of tongue and heat. Aaron’s brain stumbles to a halt and ceases to work again until Hamilton pulls away, breathing hard, lips stung and smug.
“And to answer your question,” he says to Mr. Hamilton without looking away from Aaron. “I think we’ve got plenty of a good future ahead of us."
“You’re no son of mine, you disgusting pervert,” Mr. Hamilton says. “From here on out, if you ever try to associate with us—"
“It’s okay, dad,” Hamilton says flippantly, pulling Aaron out of the booth. “I’m done with you."
They leave just as the waitress comes back with the manager. The manager opens his mouth as they pass, but closes it after one look from Hamilton. The rest of the tables are absolutely silent, staring at them as they pass.
As they exit, Aaron has a mind to look back. Mr. Hamilton stares back at him, flint-eyed and thin-lipped. Aaron, perhaps still dizzy from the kiss and the general drama, does something a little stupid. A little Hamilton.
He blows the bastard a kiss.
Subject: Something new for you
Hamilton, Burr, and guest all went ballistic at my job today. Caught most of it on film, but a few other guests managed to get what I didn’t - the compiled video is attached. I expect the usual payment in my account by Monday.
The ride back to the apartment is quiet, to Aaron’s surprise. Hamilton broods in the passenger seat, watching the lights of the city outside of the window. When they pull into their parking garage and Aaron stops the car, Hamilton doesn’t get out so Aaron waits, hesitant and a little worried.
“I used to hope he wasn’t my father,” Hamilton says. “My mother, she was friends with this clerk in St. Croix - Thomas Stevens. He took me on as a clerk after she died. I used to wish he was my father instead. His son and I, we looked quite a bit alike. More than me and my own brother did, at any rate."
Aaron hesitates, then says, “You don’t talk much about him. Your brother."
Hamilton turns to him. In the dim light, his eyes are unreadable.
“I’m sorry,” Hamilton says. “I knew he wasn’t going to pleasant, but I had no idea that he was going to… You didn’t deserve to be dragged into that."
Aaron almost presses the question of Hamilton’s brother, but decides to leave it alone instead. Hamilton’s been through enough family drama tonight—there’s no need to force more of it out into the open.
“I’m fine, Alexander,” he says, smiling. “One old bitter man isn’t enough to hurt me."
Hamilton reaches out and touches Aaron’s face—softly at first, then with a firm grip to his chin. Aaron blinks, confused, and then they are kissing again.
Like the restaurant, the kiss is enough to bruise—Aaron too’s startled to respond to at first, but Hamilton’s tongue is in his mouth and he finds his hands are tangled in Hamilton’s hair before he quite knows what he’s doing. Hamilton’s mouth tastes of their Thai food and his tongue is tracing random patterns on the back of Aaron’s teeth and it’s all too much--
Hamilton breaks away, panting. “Come on,” he says.
Aaron follows him out of the car, too muddle-headed to question as Hamilton grabs his hand and practically runs them back up to their apartment. It takes Hamilton three tries to get the keys in the door, but the moment they’re inside, Hamilton wedges Aaron against the wall and they’re kissing again.
“Alexander—“ Aaron tries between kisses.
Hamilton’s look is more of a challenge. “If you don’t want this, say so,” he says. “Say so at any time and I’ll stop. Otherwise, shut up.”
He waits as Aaron opens and closes his mouth. Aaron can’t think with Hamilton’s hands on his hips, his mouth so distractingly close, those eyes of his focused intently on Aaron’s face, all that attention just on him and him alone. Aaron knows there’s a hundred reasons why he shouldn’t do this—they’re both just emotional after a hard day, this isn’t even a real marriage, Hamilton doesn’t even really like him all that much, Aaron has been betraying Hamilton to his political enemies—but all of them seem weak right now, in the face of Hamilton’s body against his own.
“Yes,” he says. “I want this."
Hamilton’s smile makes Aaron’s chest tighten. “Well, that’s fine then,” he says and he takes Aaron’s hand and leads him into their bedroom.
Aaron stares at the ceiling, wondering when it was that his life went wildly out of his control. He can hear Hamilton humming, loudly and off-key, in the shower. His body is pleasantly sore and the buzz of endorphins hasn’t quite worn off yet, but the pretzel his stomach is tying itself into is hard to ignore. In the heat of the moment, it was easy to forget why sex with Hamilton was such a bad idea. Now, in the aftermath, all of those reasons are floating to the forefront again.
His phone buzzes on the bedside table. He picks it up without looking, still preoccupied with the Hamilton problem.
“Burr,” the President says. Aaron goes cold all over and wonders, in momentary panic, if the President can somehow know that he just slept with the President’s pseudo-son and protege. “Is Alexander there? I need to speak with him and he’s not picking up his phone."
Hamilton’s phone was abandoned on the same table—as Aaron glances at it, it flashes and he grimaces at the twenty missed calls and dozens of missed texts. Something must have happened.
“He’s in the shower,” Aaron says. “What is all this—"
“You need to get on a computer,” the President says, grim. “Are you at home?"
“Yes,” Aaron says, tucking the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he stands to get his ancient laptop.
His nudity is a little uncomfortable—he hasn’t had a chance to wash up and he’s covered in all sorts of drying fluids—so he throws on a pair of loose pants and pads into the living room, sitting at the couch with the laptop.
“What is all of this about?"
“You’ll see,” the President says. “Go to the Daily DC news page."
Aaron’s heart sinks in his chest as he painstakingly types out the web address. He doesn’t pay much attention to the Daily DC, a rag of a paper if he’s ever seen one, but he knows their ilk; tabloid news, gossip about anyone and everyone on the hill. If it had been any other day Aaron might not have guessed, but considering what just went down in a very public space...
And there it is. Front page, even.
SECRETARY HAMILTON ARGUES WITH FATHER the headline reads.
“Oh god,” Aaron says.
“It’s the Daily, but my press secretary keeps an alert for Hamilton’s name in all the papers,” the President says. “She doesn’t think anyone else will really pick it up, but I just wanted Hamilton to be aware.” His voice softens. “And to check in on him. That was a hell of a thing to go through."
There’s a video attached to the fairly ludicrous article. Aaron remembers the waitress, all of the patrons. One of them definitely took it, he thinks. And then turned around and sold it to the Daily. God, this town.
“I’ll be sure to let him know you called, sir,” Aaron says. “But I’m not sure he’ll be in the mood to talk to anyone for a while."
The President is silent for a long time. “I had my doubts about you two, you know,” he says finally. “Well, about you mostly, Burr. But you’ve proven yourself to be a good husband, even if you’re not a politician I would trust."
Aaron’s stomach cramps with guilt. If Washington knew half of the shit he got up to, he wouldn’t be saying that.
“I’m glad you think so, sir,” Aaron says, keeping his voice even.
“Take care of him, Burr."
“Yes, Mr. President."
They hang up. Aaron stares at the news article the entire time Hamilton is in the shower, mind racing. He might call up the Daily tomorrow and see if he can’t get a quick word with Roger Marx. He’d never really been bothered by the Daily before—indeed, sometimes they were a useful source of gossip—but it galls him to think of so many people witnessing and talking about Hamilton’s painful family business.
“What’s that?” Hamilton asks and Aaron nearly jumps out of his skin.
He turns his head and his brain stutters to a halt. Hamilton is leaning over his shoulder, hair unbound and dripping, towel slung over his hips. He’s a little too skinny—even with Aaron’s meals, he never eats enough—but he’s got more muscle than Aaron expects in his shoulders and arms, and his skin glistens. Aaron’s already seen all of this—more even—and yet he is unexpectedly undone by the sight. Hamilton has a lovebite in the meat of his shoulder. Aaron can’t take his eyes from it.
“Aaron?” Hamilton asks. His eyes are huge in his face, luminous.
“Sorry,” Aaron says, but his voice is faint. He clears his throat. “Sorry. It’s—someone recorded you. At the restaurant."
Hamilton’s face darkens. “Of course they did,” he mutters.
He straightens and comes around, sitting down next Aaron. Aaron sits very still and tries not to think about how nice Hamilton smells. A little citrus-y. He must’ve used Aaron’s shampoo.
“Well, go on,” he says, gesturing at the laptop. “And I’ll say it again—my god, Aaron, you need to get a new laptop. This one might as well be from the dark ages."
“It works fine,” Aaron says.
“It’s running mid-2000s Windows."
“It works fine."
“You’re using Internet Explorer. It hurts my heart, Burr."
The video loads and they fall silent. Whoever filmed it—and Aaron will put his bets on the waitress, given the position—caught most of the argument, including them storming out. Hamilton gives him a fond pat on the knee when the camera catches Aaron blowing Mr. Hamilton a kiss, but his face is tense and harried.
“Might as well face the consequences,” Hamilton says.
He goes back into the bedroom and comes out with his phone, sitting back down next to Aaron. He flicks it open and spends a few silent minutes scrolling. His face lightens.
“We’re trending again,” he says, showing Aaron. “#WeLoveYouBam. And there’s one for me too,” he says, a little more surprised. “#ISupportHam."
“The comments on the article are pretty nasty,” Aaron says.
Hamilton makes a dismissive noise. “That’s why you never look at the comments, Aaron. Here, put it away."
He shuts Aaron’s computer. For a moment, they sit in silence. Hamilton sighs and shuts off his phone.
“I don’t know what I thought would happen,” he says. “I’ve spent years hating him. I knew he didn’t like… who I am. And yet some small part of him still hoped—“ He shakes his head. “It was stupid of me."
“It’s not stupid,” Aaron says.
Hamilton looks up at him and he seems smaller somehow, and vulnerable. There was a time that Aaron thought nothing could undercut Alexander Hamilton. He seemed to exist outside of rules, outside of logic—he went after what he wanted and, more often than not, he got it. He had every insult in the book handed to him and he just turned them around on his bullies, usually more with more style and substance.
But now, sitting on Aaron’s couch, a little lost and sad, he is touchable. Just a man after all.
Aaron reaches out and puts his arm around Hamilton’s bare shoulders, tugging him into Aaron’s side. Hamilton’s a little shorter than him and they fit together neatly.
“He’s a nasty old man,” Aaron says. “He doesn’t deserve you."
Hamilton laughs. “Listen to you, Burr. You almost sound like a husband."
Aaron almost lets Hamilton go. He’d forgotten for a moment that he wasn’t really and his ears burn.
“We’re friends, I’d hoped,” he says."
Hamilton wiggles his eyebrows. “More than that, after the last few hours, I’d imagine,” he says.
Aaron flushes. “That wasn’t—"
Hamilton’s face shutters. The vulnerability is packed away without warning and Aaron is once again facing the man he sees on the hill; competant, untouchable.
“Stress relief, I know,” Hamilton says. “It’s fine. It’s been a rough day, we both haven’t had sex in a while. It’s to be expected, really."
He stands before Aaron can stop him, not that Aaron really knows how to stop him. His own guilt is an anchor, dragging him down, and he can’t quite get the words out that he wants to—that it wasn’t stress relief for him, that he found the permission to touch and worship Hamilton’s body awe-inspiring.
“I’d better get dressed,” Hamilton says, disappearing into the bedroom. He’s all business now. “Would you get the mail, Burr? I’d like to see if my father sent those documents or if I’ll need to go to his lawyer to get them."
Aaron sighs and stands. He ducks into the bedroom to find a shirt, studiously ignoring the amount of naked skin on display as Hamilton changes, and ducks out again, leaving the apartment to go downstairs to the mail boxes.
What could he have even said? I don’t want this to just be a convenience, but I’ve spent every day since our marriage trying to undermine you behind your back so I could get a chance at the Presidency?
The mail pile is small, but there’s a thick folder there that might be the documents in question. Aaron flips through it, mostly uninterestedly, still preoccupied by the events of the day, then pauses as he hits the last envelope. The return address on it is familiar. He stares then turns and runs back up the stairs.
Hamilton is still changing. Aaron hurriedly goes back on the computer to check the documents Madison gave him a copy of, scanned into a locked folder hidden amongst his taxes. He holds the envelope up and lets out a long breath.
The bank seal for the missing account—the one that Aaron has been trying to access for weeks—is the same as the one on the envelope. Whatever is inside must have to do with that account.
“Burr, do you mind if I borrow some socks? Mine are all dirty."
Aaron shoves the envelope into the pocket of his sweatpants and turns to see Hamilton coming out of the bedroom fully dressed except for socks.
“Your father sent the documents,” Aaron says. His voice is too high, too fast, but Hamilton doesn’t seem to notice.
“Oh,” Hamilton says. “Can I borrow the socks?"
Aaron nods and Hamilton disappears again. Aaron sinks back down into the couch, the envelope giving a damning crinkle. He doesn’t want to look at it. He wants to look at it.
He buries his face in his hands. What is he going to do now?
as i was writing this i debated for a long time on how explicit i wanted the sex scene to be.... and then i decided that i was more comfortable with a fade to black versus a graphic description. sorry if that disappoints! i may change my mind later and have actual sex scenes.
in any case, a few details: james hamilton sr and hamilton exchanged some letters in ham's adult life, but i actually didn't remember how long he lived - it's possible that he was dead by the time ham hit 30ish. he's also the fourth son, so it's unlikely he managed to get the grange, but let's just say all his older brothers died without children, shall we?
re: thomas stevens - people really did think ham was his son, considering how much he looked like stevens' son. ham stayed close friends with the son for years and many people remarked on their uncanny resemblance. stevens was also the one to get ham a clerking job in st. croix after his cousin killed himself.