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God Save Our Foolish Sons

Chapter Text

Safe Harbors Catholic Church was a beautiful place, thought Father Christopher Monk from where he lay on the steps in front of his podium. The same podium where he would preach every mass, his Lord’s book on the dais before him, looking over the children his Father had sent to him for guidance. Stained glass windows spilling sunlight, tinted in vibrant colors, through the room. Gorgeous reds, blues and greens were cast across His bible and onto the faces of His devout. Oh, God, his beloved congregation, the twenty-seven people who came every Sunday at the crack of dawn to worship.

The same twenty-seven faces every week, smiling as they came up for communion. Their voices mingling in prayer or hymn, echoing around the chamber. Father Monk's family, His children.

Not that Father Monk ever turned away a new face, no, he actively welcomed the new members of his flock. Which is why he had said nothing as five boys in red coats—much too bright to be safe to wear down this street—shuffled into the farthest pew. Though his church was deep in Sons of Liberty territory, Safe Harbors had always been just that—a safe place. Too many of the gang boys’ mothers, girls, and girls’ mothers came here for anyone to bring violence into the white hall.

Father Monk had been welcoming, smiling warmly as a Redcoat looked up and made eye-contact. The boy—quite a large nose and full cheeks on him—had smiled weakly, and for a second Father Monk thought he recognized him, then the boy's eyes flicked back down to the bible in his hands.

He'd been unafraid when they approached the altar for communion. When the full-cheeked boy took the wafer from his hands, Father Monk almost didn't catch the hushed apology whispered to him. The boy kept his gaze glued to the wafer in his hands. Father Monk patted the boy’s arm and smiled, though the child moved on without looking up.

He'd watched with simple confusion as the Redcoats stopped in front of the altar, backs to him in a solid line. The truth of their presence at his mass was revealed as Father Monk processed the first gunshot.

From his place behind his podium, he watched as the front row of pews exploded in blood. People screamed as more rounds fired off. The congregation stood and tried to run, scrambling over pews and fallen loved ones. Something—maybe God’s word, maybe just his own wishful thinking—told Father Monk that if he just broke the line up, the slaughter would stop. As His children were cut down in front of him, Father Monk launched himself at the nearest Redcoat.

He dove for the one in the middle, a tall white fellow. Father Monk’s arms closed around the man’s chest, sending them both tumbling down the steps. The Redcoat cursed—a stream of fucks and shits—and pushed Father Monk off. He rolled sideways, landing on his side. Father Monk pushed himself to his feet, only to find himself face-to-face with another of the Redcoats. The look of spite and boredom caught Father Monk off guard, giving him little time to react when he felt the muzzle of the gun press into his chest.

In that moment, Father Monk knew he was going to die. His God called for him in the gunshot that sent his ears ringing, reached for him in the pain that blossomed in his chest. He felt his knees give out and he hit the stairs with a heavy thud. The gunshots continued over his head, but Father Monk focused on the remains of the stained glass window of Mary and baby Jesus. It has been shattered, but the Holy Virgin’s face had been spared. Her halo and gentle face had been shown mercy from the flying bullets.

Yes, Safe Harbors church had been beautiful once.

At some length, the gunshots stopped, as did the screaming. A Redcoat boy sighed, and let the ammo clip fall from his pistol.

“So, did we get ‘em?” one asked, walking out into the bleeding bodies.

“I don't know,” another said, the British accent surprising Father Monk. “Arnold?”

“Uh, I… maybe?” the apologetic one said.

“‘Maybe’ ain't cutting it for His Majesty,” the one standing over Father Monk said.

“Well,” Arnold said, his voice strained, “maybe that one is? But Washington isn't… He isn't here.”

“Washington isn't here?” the first one asked, “what do you mean, Washington isn't here?”

“He's not here,” Arnold repeated.

“The fuck, Arnold. You said he came here every Sunday.” The first one came back to the altar, and grabbed Arnold by the jacket. “You told us Washington and the rest of his little shit gang come for mass.”

“I-I thought,” Arnold stuttered, “he m-made us come with—” Arnold cut off, the sound of gagging and retching replacing his words. The scent of vomit hit Father Monk, mixing with the blood and gunpowder still in the air.

“Damn it,” the British one hissed, kicking one of the bodies. Father Monk shut his eyes, the room starting to spin and darken. He didn't want to be here anymore, in this hell. He was ready for his Heavenly reward. “We need to go,” the British one finished, his voice following a set of footsteps as they walked away.

“But—”

“Washington’s not here, James, but the cops will be soon. Let's go.”

Father Monk lost consciousness before the Redcoats even made it out of the door.

—————

Father Monk didn't think an incessant beeping would be part of Heaven, but apparently it was. He groaned, which perhaps was not the most graceful way to enter God’s kingdom, but it was all he could manage. The Angels would forgive him, surely. As the groan left his throat, it turned into a slight cough. His throat scratched and burned.

Odd. Pain had not been in his vision of Heaven. The beeping he could handle—pain, not so much.

Father Monk cracked open his eyes, and the blurred white above him made sense until his eyes focused, and he could see the drop-down ceiling and fluorescent lighting for what they were. He glanced to the right—the direction of the beeping—and found a little monitor beside his head. Behind it, a cheerful little painting of a boat on a tan wall.

He was in a hospital then, not Heaven.

He clenched his right hand, finding the remote he figured would be there. He felt around for the largest button, pressing it carefully when he found it. A few minutes later, a nurse came in, followed by a doctor.

“Father, how are you feeling?” the nurse asked, smile plastered across her face.

“Tired,” he answered, his voice scratchy and weak.

“You've been out for over a day,” the doctor remarked. The nurse asked if he would like to sit up, or if he wanted a glass of water. He nodded for both, and as the nurse adjusted his bed he looked back at the doctor.

“A day?” he asked. The doctor nodded.

“You gave us quite a scare, Father. You were in surgery for four hours yesterday morning.”

“What time is it?” Father Monk took a sip from the plastic cup the nurse offered. The doctor glanced at his watch.

“Almost 11:15. I'm Doctor James Warren, by the way.” The doctor came over to his bedside. “I'd like to perform a few tests, if that's alright?”

Father Monk nodded, and followed Warren’s instructions as best he could around the soreness in his lower chest. He figured he was on painkillers, which was why he wasn't in horrible, screaming pain. He'd been shot before, he knew how it felt. When Warren was finished, he wrote some things down on the chart that hung from the end of Father Monk’s bed.

“Early signs are good, Father. We expect a full recovery.” Warren said, sliding the clipboard back into its place. Warren looked at him from the end of the bed. “If you're feeling up to it, the police are here. They'd like to ask you a few questions, but only if you think you can handle it.”

Father Monk shut his eyes, steadied himself, and sent a silent prayer for strength. He nodded, and heard Warren open the door and speak softly to someone on the other side. He could hear them enter his room.

“Father Christopher Monk?” One of them asked in a southern drawl. Father Monk opened his eyes. There were three new people, two in sharp suits and the third in a cop’s uniform. He recognized the third, Police Captain Paul Revere. The other two were strangers, and exceedingly tall black man and another, exceedingly short black man. If he had seen them in any other context, the height difference might have amused him.

The tall one, the one with the large, curly Afro and purple suit jacket approached him. He reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a leather case. He flipped it open, flashing the badge and ID card to Father Monk.

“Thomas Jefferson, FBI,” he said, the southern accent peaking through. “And my partner, James Madison.” He pointed at the short man in the suit. “We have a few questions, if you don't mind, Father.”

Chapter Text

“So, what’d we miss?” Thomas asked as the trio left the hospital. Captain Revere looked at him questioningly.

“What do you mean?” Revere opened the door to his car and sat down. Thomas sighed, shot a look at James across the hood of the car and plopped down into the passenger seat.

“I mean, who’s this ‘Washington’ fellow and why were--what did Father Monk call ‘em?--these ‘Redcoat’ boys looking for him? Specifically, in a church, with automatic weapons.” Revere pulled out of the parking lot and stopped at the light before looking over at Thomas.

“Were you not briefed?” He asked. Thomas shrugged and looked back at his partner.

“I dunno about you James, but all I was told was that some gangbangers shot up a church and so I got on a plane and landed, expecting to be briefed here, but got rushed to a hospital to talk to some guy who barely told me anything, really.” Thomas looked at Revere again, “So, no. We don’t know much more than that. But they pulled me and my team from Virginia for this, so I assume it’s some pretty big shit.”

“Thomas,” James said, in the tone of voice he used when Thomas was getting out of hand.

“Yes, James?” Tomas said, innocently, and glanced back, only catching a glimpse of James’ scowl through his own hair.

Revere’s grip on the steering wheel tightened, his knuckles going pale.

“The long story short is we got a gang war brewing and Safe Harbors might just be the catalyst for it.”

“And the long story?” Thomas asked. He had no use for the short story.

Revere sighed, and forcefully relaxed his grip on the wheel. “For decades now, most of the city’s underworld has been run by one gang; The Redcoats. Their leader is this psychopath, George King. Calls himself the King of New York. And the Redcoats are huge. King runs a veritable army.

“But it's not just the Redcoats themselves. There's a whole bunch of them, sure, but King also runs these smaller gangs around NYC. Well, it's more of a “pay up or I kill you” type of scenario. Anyway, these smaller guys help push King’s drugs, boost his profits, and jump when he tells them too. In return, they make a little money. The big thing is protection though. King keeps these guys from slitting each other’s throats and keeps competition from moving into New York.”

“So what happened?” James asks. Revere shrugged.

“We’re not sure, but we think one of the gangs King holds power over got a little jumpy over the taxes King makes ‘em pay. Anyway, one thing leads to another and a bunch of King’s drugs end up in the Hudson. Now King’s calling for blood and he's shot up a previously neutral church in a revenge attempt.”

“Against this Washington guy,” Thomas finished. Revere nodded. “Who is he?”

“George Washington is the gang boss that’s defying King’s wishes.”

“Oh, great, two Georges.” Thomas muttered. Revere continued.

“His group calls themselves The Sons of Liberty. They’re all Harlem kids, the main guys in charge anyway. They've got like, thirteen different chapters, but it's all based in Harlem.”

“And where’s King?” James asked. Revere shrugged again.

“Queens, last I heard. But that was months ago. No one can find him and no one who knows is talking.”

Thomas twisted around in his seat. “Wanna do this like Richmond?” He asked. James thought for a moment, face turning defensively concerned.

“I was thinking Charleston,” he replied. Thomas shook his head.

“We had a guy on the inside in Charleston, it's impossible otherwise.”

“Who says we don't now?” James asked, “Revere, do we, by any chance, have an informant in the Sons of Liberty?”

“If we did, I'd have more information for you,” Revere said, pulling into a hotel parking lot. Thomas smirked.

“Richmond it is,” he said as Revere parked smoothly.

“We could do Charlotte,” James offered, climbing out of the backseat.

“You just don't want to do Richmond because then Ben’s gonna remember how you got shot in the-”

“Moving on,” James interrupted, ignoring the questioning look from Revere. He glanced up at the hotel, The Montpelier Hotel, and sighed. “Way too extravagant,” he muttered, grabbing his single suitcase from Revere’s trunk.

“It's Uncle Sam’s dime, my dear Jemmy,” Thomas said with a wink.

“I'm picking the next one,” James said, watching Thomas pull his luggage--two suitcases and a duffle--from the car. Obligingly, James held out an arm for the purple duffle bag and carried it as Thomas wheeled his suitcases behind him.

“Everyone else here?” Thomas asked. Revere nodded.

“Your team’s waiting for you in the lobby. You can give your stuff to a bellboy and we can all head down to the station.” The hotel’s automatic doors swished open and the cool air rushed out, a welcome change from the humidity of the early summer outside. His feet hit the plush carpeting and the ornate chandelier caught his eye as he entered the lobby. Thomas glanced around and--catching the eye of a bellboy--whistled to him and let go of his suitcase handles. One of the women on the plush couches looked up from her phone and stood.

“Thomas, James,” she said, “how was the hospital?”

“Uninformative, Martha.” Thomas scowled. “How’s the hotel?” Martha Wayles-Skelton reached into her suit pocket and pulled out a shiny wrapper.

“Got pillow candy. Grabbed yours,” she said, deftly tossing the sweet to him. Thomas caught it with minimal fumbling, unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth. Caramel, not bad. “Was the guy not awake or something?”

“No,” Thomas said, chewing around the thick caramel, “Just confirmed what we already thought--five gangbangers with automatics and a target.”

“At least it matches the other testimonies,” Sally Hemmings said, lowering the documents in front of her face, “We don’t have a ‘was it ten guys or two’ situation.” Though Thomas chuckled, it was mostly out of relief. When a powerful gang like the Redcoats does something like this, witnesses tend to contradict each other, everyone making up a fake story to protect themselves. “No one’s given any names though.”

“Father Monk gave three. The target was George--”

“Washington, yeah,” Louis Capet said, turning the corner and smacking gum. “Ludington briefed us about the Redcoat-slash-Sons of Liberty tensions.”

“Ludington?” Thomas asked.

“Lieutenant Sybil Ludington, at your service, Agent Jefferson,” said a young woman in police uniform said, coming around Louis and offering her hand. Jefferson shook it, warm smile slipping at the sheer strength of her grip.

“Good to meet you, call me Thomas,” he said, “and that’s James Madison.” Thomas motioned behind him.

“What were the other two names?” Louis asked.

“Calm down, we’re still doing introductions,” Thomas said. He glanced behind him, “James, come over here and meet Lieutenant Ludington.” James looked up from the bellboy he was tipping.

“Sorry, again, ‘bout him. Have a good one,” he said, and crossed the room to shake Ludington’s hand. Louis tapped his foot against the carpet impatiently. When James was done, Thomas spoke before Louis could.

“Wasn’t that pleasant? We’re all friends now.” Thomas motioned around the lobby.

“The names, Thomas,” Louis said. Thomas rolled his eyes.

“They weren’t full names, just two first names. Arnold and James.” Thomas said. Sally snorted.

“Who names their kid Arnold these days?” She asked.

“Who names their kid Friedrich these days?” Thomas asked, catching sight of the man himself exiting the elevator across the lobby. “Oh, wait, he’s old enough to have fought Alexander the Great. It was probably a common name back then.”

“I’m young enough for your mother, Thomas,” Friedrich Von Steuben called from across the lobby.

“Don’tcha mean his dad?” Sally said. Friedrich shrugged.

“Can’t really tell the difference between them anyway, so…”

“What...what is that even supposed to imply?” James asked.

“That his mom looks like a dude that I’d fu--”          

“That’s enough, boys.” Martha crossed her arms and glared at Friedrich. Thomas smirked until the glare was turned on him as well.

“Uh, oh, Momma Martha’s mad,” Louis stage-whispered to Ludington, earning his own glare from Martha.

“Hey, yo, Benny,” Steuben called to the last member of Thomas’ team, who was lumbering off the elevator in the odd, semi-graceful manner he had. “You missed it! I just roasted Tommy.”

“Except I didn't, Freddy my dude,” Ben Franklin said, tapping his ear where the earbud radio was. “And I must say,” he made an ‘okay’ sign with both of his hands. “Excellent roast. Thomas has been cooked to a crisp.”

“Shuddup you meme loving fuck,” Thomas said, “and toss me a radio.”

“I swear, we’re professionals,” Sally drawled to Revere, who chuckled. Ben pulled two radios with attached clear earbuds from his ratty messenger bag and tossed them to Thomas and James.

“At least you all get along,” Revere said.

“Well, color me surprised, you can actually be useful sometimes Ben.”

“Mostly,” Sally added. Thomas winked at Revere, adjusting the earbud and clipping the radio to his belt.

“Naw, don't let her fool you, I hate these nerds.” Thomas flipped his suit jacket over the radio, effectively hiding it from the world. “None of them deserve the honor of working with moi” Thomas put a hand on his chest, flashing what he knew to be the cockiest, flirtiest grin he could give in Ludington's direction. She blinked, blush creeping onto her face. Thomas winked, grin spreading wider as her cheeks turned bright red.

“Agent Jefferson, I--” her slightly stuttered protest was cut off as Friedrich clapped an arm around Thomas shoulders, pulling him off balance and causing him to stumble into the large German’s chest.

“Don’t let this one fluster you Sybil,” he said, ruffling Thomas’ curls, “He’s just a huge flirt, and one of the gayest men I’ve ever met.” He leaned closer to Ludington, hand still on Thomas’ head, “And I’ve met myself.”

Thomas pushed Friedrich’s hand off. “Hands off the hair! Fuck you Friedrich.” Thomas looked into one of the large mirrors on the lobby walls, patting down the fly-away curls caused by Friedrich’s transgression.

“Not in a million years, Tommy.” Friedrich shot back. Martha rolled her eyes.

“Are we going to actually start doing our jobs soon, or?” She said, glaring at Thomas in the mirror. Thomas placed the last few strands back into place and turned on one heel.

“Of course, Martha dear,” he said, taking her by the arm and pulling her towards the front doors. “If the rest of the children would like to join us?” James snorted as he fell into step beside Thomas. Sally packed away the files she’d been reading and Louis followed her out of the couch spaces. Revere and Ludington shared a look Thomas only caught in the mirror from his periphery.

“Where are you headed?” Revere asked, still standing in the hotel lobby.

“Your precinct, if you don’t mind,” Thomas called over his shoulder. “I’d like to go over the files of every Sons of Liberty member you’ve got.”

“Every single one?” Revere asked. James nodded. “Might take a while.”

“Well, without a pre-established contact--Friedrich, Ben, what are you doing? Catch up.” Thomas spun so he was walking backwards. Friedrich shook his head.

“I told the local SWAT boys assigned to us to meet me here,” He said.

“And you two took so long at the hospital I got set up back in my hotel room.” Ben jerked a thumb towards the elevator. “Gonna be working in the lap of luxury.”

“Yeah, yeah, just don’t seduce too many maids this time, okay?” Thomas said, shooting a friendly glare at Ben. Friedrich chucked.

“Told you they knew, Benny,” he said, clapping the chubby tech expert on the shoulder.

“They’re just jealous I’m getting laid and they’re not.” Ben grumbled, turning back for the elevator. Thomas threw his head back in a laugh, and turned back around. James was talking to Revere as the doors slid open with a swish.

“We’re going to have to pick someone to make first contact with--someone in the Sons who’ll help us talk to higher-ups in the gang, hopefully even Washington himself.”

“Going to send someone undercover, then,” Revere said, hushing his tone. Thomas stepped out into the heat, grimacing as he imagined what the humidity was going to do to his hair. Screw Friedrich for fucking it up in the first place.

“Yeah, hopefully,” he said, scanning the parking lot for the cars his team had been promised by the local FBI department. Martha pulled out a keyring and caused a surprisingly bright red Crown Victorian. Not his favorite model, but Thomas approved of the color.

“Why not talk to Burr?” Ludington suggested, jogging up beside Revere.

“Burr?” Thomas asked, and Revere sighed. “He part of the Sons?”

“No,” Revere said, shooting a glare at Ludington. She looked unapologetic. “And he’s not exactly a ‘reliable source.’”

“Who is he?” Sally asked.

“Well,” Ludington began, cutting off Revere, “his name is Aaron Burr and he’s managed to stay unaffiliated in the gang world. But he helps manage deals between gangs and sometimes helps people find information they’re looking for. And, occasionally--”

“If we’re lucky,” Revere muttered.

“He’ll even help us out.” Ludington finished, planting her hands on her hips. The group reached the car ‘donated’ to them, and Thomas noted that Revere had managed to park himself fairly close.

“Why?” James asked, “Why help out cops?”

“He says he likes to stay ‘neutral,’” Revere said, “That helping out everyone in equal measure keeps him safe.”

“He can be really helpful.” Ludington said. Revere snorted.

“If he’s in a good mood. Burr will either tell you everything you want and more, or...or he’ll slam the door in your face and tell all his contacts what you were looking for, thereby screwing you over so hard...” Revere threw his hands up in frustration. Ludington looked at him sympathetically.

“We were after someone for murder and went to Burr to find her. Burr not only didn’t tell us, but tipped her off so she and her sisters ran. The entire family just--poof, gone.” Ludington waved her hands in front of her face. Thomas whistled.

“Is it really worth risking talking to this guy, then?” James asked. Revere shook his head, but Ludington hesitated.

“Well, we haven’t spoken to him since that incident...and that was almost a year ago now. He might be willing to lend us a hand.” Ludington shrugged. “Might be better than picking a foot soldier and hoping for the best.”

Thomas cocked an eyebrow at James. “Aaron Burr or every file Revere’s got packed away in that precinct of his?”

“I vote files,” James said, opening the Crown Victoria’s passenger side door.

“Really?” Thomas asked, “I was going to say we talk to his Burr fella.”

“Sounds like a risk,” James said,

“I’m willing to take it.” Thomas glanced at the other three agents. Louis shrugged, popping a gum bubble.

“You’re the boss,” Sally said. Martha nodded.

“Aaron Burr it is.” Thomas opened his door and took the keys Martha offered.

“I can get his address back at the precinct,” Revere said, resigned to the idea of visiting Burr.

“Naw.” Thomas stepped into his car. “Ben can get it faster.”

“What can I get?” Ben’s voice came crackling over the radio, along with the sound of him chewing.

“Address. One Aaron Burr. Manhattan?” Thomas asked. Revere nodded. “Manhattan,” he repeated.

“Aaron Burr, Manhattan…” Ben trailed off, “Yeah, give me a moment…”

“Losing your touch, Ben?” Thomas asked, turning the ignition. The Crown Victoria groaned to life, protesting all the way. Thomas resolved to rent his own car as soon as possible.

“In your dreams,” Ben said, followed by the deafening sound of him shoveling more chips into his mouth, “I got him. Aaron Burr Jr. 22 years old, lives in an apartment in Morningside Heights. I’ll send his address to your phone.”

Thomas’ phone beeped as Sally, Martha and Louis all slipped in the backseat. He set the GPS and gripped the steering wheel. Next stop; Aaron Burr’s apartment.

“Let's see if New York traffic is as bad as they say,” Thomas said, shifting into reverse.

Chapter Text

Aaron Burr Jr. lived in one of the buildings that Columbia University hadn’t managed to buy up yet--and Thomas didn’t think they would anytime soon. Compared to its neighbors, Burr’s building looked sort of sad, not quite as clean and nice as the others they had passed. Better than a lot of buildings they had passed in Harlem going to the hospital, but dilapidated when compared to the surrounding neighborhood.

Thomas eyed the door warily. It was held to its hinges by duct tape and was an unpleasant shade of dark green. “Are you sure this is the place?” Thomas asked. Revere nodded. Thomas scanned the building up and down again. “Doesn’t really scream ‘trust-fund, Princeton graduate.’”

“Bright red Crown Victorias don’t scream ‘special FBI task force from Virginia’ either, but…” Ludington trailed off. Though Thomas sent her a glare, he decided he quite liked her. He liked spunk.

“Let’s get this show on the road then,” James said, jerking his head in the direction of the door. Thomas strode up the small staircase and quickly scanned the call board. He found Burr’s name halfway up, and reached for the button. Thomas pressed it without seeing the broken plastic cover. He jerked his thumb away as it dug into his skin. He tried again, avoiding the jagged edge. He could hear the buzzing sound as he kept the button pressed, waiting. Then the door buzzed and the lock unlatched. Thomas yanked it open before it could re-lock.

“Odd,” Revere said, eyebrow raised, “Normally he calls down before unlocking it.” Thomas and James exchanged a glance.

“Louis, Sally, Martha, Sybil,” Thomas said, “hold back, but be ready to provide backup. Two of you inside, two outside.” Sybil stepped forward eagerly and Martha followed. Louis smiled at Sally, who rolled her eyes and leaned against the Victoria.

Thomas led the way inside; marching up the stairs when a sign let them know the elevator was busted. The air conditioning seemed to be in the same state, and Thomas found himself starting to sweat halfway to Burr’s floor. God, his hair was going to be a mess.

They hit the fifth floor and Sybil and Martha hung back, twenty or so feet from Burr’s door. Thomas straightened his tie and pulled his badge from inside his breast pocket.

“We ready, gentlemen?” He asked. Getting an affirmative nod from both James and Revere, Thomas knocked briskly. Almost instantly, the door swung open to reveal a young man with close-shaven hair, a loose tan t-shirt and jeans.

“The-oh,” he said, grin falling. “Sorry, I thought you were someone else.” Instantly his posture changed, his arms crossed and shoulders straightened. He leaned against the doorframe, eyeing Thomas up and down, easy smile on his face.

“Aaron Burr?” Thomas asked. The young man nodded.

“How can I help you?” Burr smiled wider. Thomas flipped open his badge.

“Thomas Jefferson, FBI,” he said. Burr’s smile didn’t falter, but he examined the badge carefully. “My partner, James Madison, and I’ve been told you know Captain Revere already.”

“Yes, we’ve met,” Burr said, ignoring the narrow-eyed glare Revere was sending him. “I assume you’re here about Safe Harbors.”

“You’d be correct,” Thomas said, shoving the badge back into his pocket. Burr eyed him for a moment, lose smile still plastered across his face. After a moment, he came to a decision.

“Would you gentlemen like to come in?” Burr stood straight and turned away, walking into his apartment. “I’ve got water, tea, coffee...if you’d like.” Thomas followed Burr inside, avoiding the walls of Burr’s apartment. Who knew what kind of mold was hidden behind the beige paint.

“No, thanks,” Thomas said, followed by matching answers from James and Revere. Burr shrugged, leading them further into his apartment to a kitchenette.

“I ordered a pizza about twenty minutes go if you hang around long enough you can have some.” Burr hopped onto a counter, sitting up with his back against a wall.

“I don’t think we’ll be here that long,” James said, gaze trailing around the small apartment.

“Just thought I’d offer. Please, sit.” Burr motioned to the two chairs around a small table. “I’m sorry I don’t have much more room. One of you can take the couch…”

“I’ll stand, thanks,” Thomas said, eyeing the frankly wobbly-looking chairs. Burr kept his apartment in order, but it seemed he was living on the cheap. Everything in here was boringly, inoffensively plain. It looked like the world’s worst Martha Stewart catalog entry. A single couch, a small tv, and the table and chair set. The only thing with personality in sight was the front of Burr’s tiny fridge, and even then it was limited to a single photo of a woman and a shopping list.

“Looking for something?” Burr asked, dragging Thomas’ attention back to him.

“No, just wondering what someone like you is doing in an apartment like this,” Thomas said, earning a covert glare from James. Burr, on the other hand, laughed.

“The trust fund is only so deep, my friend,” Burr said.

“Do you not have an income?” James asked. Burr looked at him, smile still fixed in place.

“You came about Safe Harbors, yes?” He asked. Thomas thought about derailing Burr’s topic change but decided it was a waste of time. Whatever Burr did for money wasn’t really any of his business when Burr was his only connection to the Sons of Liberty.

“What do you know?” Thomas asked, pulling Burr’s gaze to him. Burr shrugged, smile turning apologetic.

“I doubt I know any more than the FBI,” Burr said.

“Just tell us anyway,” Revere said. Burr didn’t even look at him but continued to address Thomas.

“Five Redcoats walk into a church looking for George Washington and his higher-ups but only manage to shoot a bunch of civilians.” Burr’s gaze bored into Thomas as if trying to read his mind. “That’s about all I know, sorry.”

“No idea who those five Redcoats were?” Thomas stared back, leaning against the fridge. Burr shook his head, letting out a sigh.

“You’re sure you don’t know.” James leaned against a window, arms crossed.

“If I knew, I’d tell you, honest,” Burr said, shrugging, not looking away from Thomas. Thomas looked at James, who rolled his eyes. I don’t believe him, James’ look said. Thomas agreed; something in Burr’s demeanor was off.

“You’d be ready to testify you don’t know anything more?” Thomas asked. Burr’s smile didn’t falter, but he swore he saw something flicker in his eyes. Ah ha, Thomas thought, You do know something.

“I don’t see why I’d be called to testify about that,” Burr said, each word so obviously carefully chosen. Thomas shrugged.

“Just a question I ask most people,” he lied, “Burr if you even know a rumor, anything that might let us know who’s responsible…” Thomas trailed, watching Burr’s face carefully. Burr’s eye traveled down, behind Thomas. Thomas resisted the urge to look, to follow Burr’s gaze, waiting for Burr’s response instead.

“...I don’t know anything, I swear.” Burr’s eyes flicked back up to Thomas’. Thomas held the eye contact, but Burr wasn’t backing off. Thomas tried to read the man, find something in Burr’s face to use against him. But the longer he looked, the more Thomas realized that Burr was a blank canvas. There was nothing Thomas could see besides the same, easy-going, blank smile. Thomas felt a little ball of anger lodge in his chest.

The moment was broken by a chirping sound, the factory iPhone text alert. Burr blinked and pulled a phone from his back pocket. “Sorry, gotta answer this,” he said, holding the phone close to his face. Thomas stifled a sigh and walked to stand by James and Revere.

“Told you this was a waste of time,” Revere whispered.

“We’re not done yet,” Thomas whispered back. Burr turned towards them, so his screen was protected. As if we could even read it from the side, Thomas thought, how paranoid is this guy? After a moment, Burr stopped tapping and slid his phone back into his pocket.

“Sorry, again, important contacts I have to keep happy.” Burr smiled the same easy, placating smile. It was starting to lose its charm, in Thomas’ opinion.

“I’m sure,” he said, voice tight. If Burr noticed the shift in tone, he didn’t show it.

“Now, is there anything else I can help with?” Burr asked.

“Maybe you can,” Thomas said, “We need a contact, someone in the Sons of Liberty--”

“Let me stop you there,” Burr interrupted, raising his hand, “the Sons don’t like cops all that much. They’ll like feds even less. If I were you, I’d go talking to the Redcoats. They’re civil around law enforcement. Well, as civil as you can expect.”

“Well, while we appreciate the advice, we’d rather talk to the Sons, thanks,” Thomas said, gripping the back of one of Burr’s chairs. Breathe, Thomas, breathe. James’ hand came up and covered Thomas’. Burr eyed the two of them for a moment but shrugged.

“Your funeral,” he muttered, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“We won't,” Thomas said, voice growing harder. He was really starting to see why Revere disliked Burr as much as he did.

“As for contacts…” Burr trailed off, thinking. “There’s only one name I can really give you, and even then…”

“What?” James asked, cutting off Thomas before he could even speak.

“I’m not sure where they fit in the Sons, or even if they're in the Sons at all. But, word on the street is that they're the best way to contact them.”

“What’s the name?” James asked, squeezing Thomas’ hand to keep him quiet.

“Lafayette.” Burr drummed his fingers against his countertop. “They run a club in Harlem. That’s the best I’ve got for you.”

“What’s the full name?” Thomas asked. Burr shrugged.

“Honestly? I’m not sure. It’s really long, though. I think their first name is Gilbert?” Burr said, and for the first time, Thomas thought Burr was telling the honest truth.

“Gilbert Lafayette,” Revere said, “yeah, I’ve heard of him.” Burr nodded.

“Then I’m sure you’ve got it from here,” he said.

“Yeah, thanks,” Thomas said through clenched teeth. Burr just continued to smile. Thomas wanted to slap it off his face.

“I’m glad I could be of assistance.” Burr hopped off the table and offered his hand to Thomas. When Thomas didn’t take it, James reached out and shook Burr’s hand. “Come around anytime, please.”

“We’ll think about it,” James said. Burr opened his mouth to speak when something buzzed from by the door. A quick, short burst followed by a longer sound, drawing out until Burr rushed over to his door and hit a button.

“Looks like I’ve got another visitor,” Burr said, face turned away.

“You’re quite the popular man today, Mr. Burr,” Thomas remarked. Burr turned back around, the smile still in place.

“I’m sure you can all see yourselves out?” Burr asked, opening his door. Thomas caught his eye, and there was something almost desperate buried in the loose demeanor he had.

“I thought we could stay for pizza?” Thomas asked, tilting his head. He could almost see Burr blanch before regaining his composure.

“You have a club owner to talk to, no?” Burr said, the tightness in his voice betraying him. Thomas glanced at his watch.

“Eh, clubs don’t really open for a few more hours.” Thomas yawned, faking it until he managed to trick his brain into a real yawn. “I could use that coffee now, though.” Burr was nearly glaring at him, and Thomas swore he could see sweat begin to form on the man’s brow.

“There’s a Starbucks a block north of here. Might I suggest you go there instead? Brewing some here might take a while.”

“We can wait,” Thomas said, grateful James and Revere were letting him go like this.

Burr shifted in place, still holding his door open, knuckles going pale around the doorknob. Thomas watched him squirm, fighting down a satisfied smile.

“Look, gentlemen, I’ve got someone coming up in a moment and I’d really appreciate it if you left,” Burr said, the eternal smile turning apologetic again, though much more strained this time.

“That’s all you had to say, man.” Thomas sauntered slowly to Burr’s door, hearing James and Revere follow. “Call us if you hear anything about Safe Harbors, okay?” He pulled out his card and handed it to Burr. Burr took it and shoved it in his pocket.

“Will do, Agent,” Burr said, watching the three of them leave cautiously. As they approached Martha and Sybil, Thomas glanced back to catch Burr watching them carefully.

“How’d it go?” Martha asked.

“Tell you in the car,” James said, then dropped his volume to nearly a whisper, “Walk slow.” Sybil looked at them questioningly but followed their lead. When they reached the top of the stairs, Thomas looked down the staircase to find a young woman slowly limping towards them.

She held on to the railing tight with one arm, the other was clamped tightly around her stomach. She winced with almost every step, tall stiletto heels clicking against the tile. Her short skirt and low cut top left little to the imagination, but she kept her face down, concentrating on making it up the stairs. Thick dreadlocks hid her face as she half walked, half stumbled up the stairs. When she made it to the top, she stopped a moment, breathing heavily.

“Are you alright, ma’am?” Thomas asked, startling the poor thing. She looked up, glancing around her, gaze jumping between everyone behind Thomas. The large bruise on her left cheek and down her neck caught Thomas’ eye, deep purple against her dark skin. Her mascara was running down her cheeks and her eyes were still puffy.

“Y-yes, yes, thank you,” she stammered, shying away from Thomas’ gaze and slipping around the group despite the limp. Thomas could see she was shaking like a leaf as she made her way down the hallway, to Burr’s open door. Burr was still looking at him, eyes flicking back and forth between the woman and Thomas.

The woman said something to him, much too quiet for Thomas to hear. Burr responded, pulling her behind him--protectively, Thomas thought--and into his apartment. Burr sent one last look, one unreadable behind the carefully constructed neutral expression, and shut his door.

Revere whistled. “Wow. Looks like we know where his trust fund goes.”

“That...that didn’t seem right,” James said, slowly. “Not...normal.”

“Do you think he’s her pimp?” Martha asked.

“I didn’t peg him for the pimping type,” Thomas said.

“Would explain why he avoided the question about his income,” James suggested, but he didn’t sound convinced. Thomas shook his head.

“I don’t know,” he said, “But you’re right James. Something about that was...off.”

“I wonder who she is,” Sybil mused. Thomas nodded, gripping the hand railing. He filed the incident away into his memory, along with the image of the poor girl’s face. Who knew, it could be important one day.

“Well,” Thomas sighed, “We can hang around here and speculate all day, or we can go follow the one lead Burr did give us.” Thomas started down the stairs, hearing everyone follow behind.

“That lead being…?” Martha asked.

“Gilbert Lafayette, club owner, and possible Son of Liberty.”

Chapter Text

“Alrighty, listen up,” Ben’s voice came from James’ phone. Revere and Sybil were listening in from their own car, and the radios only had so much battery anyway, so James held his phone out to the middle of the car so everyone could hear. “I found your guy, Gilbert Lafayette. Wasn't hard, only one of them in Manhattan. Probably only one in the US, frankly. Anyway, ‘Gilbert Lafayette’ isn't his full name.”

“What is it?” James asked. Ben snickered.

“Okay, you're not going to believe this. His full name-oh my god-his full name is ‘Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette,’” Ben finished, enunciating every syllable in a staccato.

“Holy shit,” Louis muttered. Sally snorted in laughter.

Holy shit is right, my dude. God, what I would give to meet this guy’s parents. Ask them what the hell they were thinking. Gotta wonder what his siblings’ names are.” Ben gasped. “Bet I could find out--”

“Back on track, Ben,” James reminded him.

“Right, right, sorry,” Ben said, not sounding very sorry at all. “So Marie--screw it, I’m calling him Lafayette--is actually a French immigrant. Came over when he was 19 for school. Enrolled in Columbia, made it three weeks, dropped out and disappeared. Today, he's five years over his already violated visa, wanted for a couple of assault cases, and completely single, ladies!” Ben sang, drawing a groan from Thomas.

“Ben,” Martha said, disapproval growing in her voice. Ben chuckled again, the snickering laughter filling the car.

“Alright, mom,” Ben drawled. Thomas heard the sound of a soda can popping open from the other side of the phone. “Anyway, Lafayette’s one of two owners of the nightclub The Fighting Frenchman, the other being ex-con John Laurens. Lafayette has somehow managed to avoid arrest for the assaults, four of them by the way, but damn, you should see what he’s done to the other guy. These guys are really fu--”

“Ben,” Thomas cut in, “where’s this club?”

“Why aren’t you guys any fun?” Ben bemoaned.

“Well, we’re stuck in New York traffic with little idea where we’re actually going, listening to Ben “tumblr-AMA” Franklin drink a soda and ramble about some guy’s ridiculously long name,” Thomas drawled.

“I figured this would be the best time to laugh about poor Marie-Joseph’s name, but apparently not,” Ben sighed. “I’ve already sent you the address, Thomas. Check your texts more often, yeah?”

“Driving,” Thomas reminded him as he pulled out his phone and handed it to James. A few moments later, Martha had her GPS up and running, Siri’s voice calling out directions. The Fighting Frenchman was behind them somewhere. Grumbling, Thomas slid into the left-turn lane.

“Tell us about this Laurens guy,” Sally said.

“I know him,” Revere cut in. “He’s a piece of work.”

“No kidding,” Ben agreed, “His first arrest was in South Carolina during a gay pride protest at the capitol building. He punched a cop who supposedly used a homophobic slur. He was seventeen. Apparently, the charges were dropped. No idea why, court records are sealed...oh. Oh.”

“What?” Sally asked.

“Figured it out. John Laurens is the son of Henry Laurens. South Carolina Senator Henry Laurens,” Ben said.

“So, Politician Dad gets Violent Son cleared of all charges,” Louis said.

“Then Violent Son comes out as gay and Politician Dad kicks him out to retain Senate seat,” Ben said.

“Ouch.” James glanced in Thomas’ direction. Thomas shrugged, trying to relax his grip on the steering wheel.

“He’s from South Carolina. How’d Laurens end up here, running with gang boys?” Thomas said, deflecting.

“Dunno,” Ben said.

“Does it matter?” Revere cut in. “He’s a lieutenant for the Sons, and he’s been down in my precinct more times than I can count. He likes to try and punch his problems away.”

“He did spend time in Rikers for a minor assault charge. He’s been out for a couple of years now, though,” Ben said. Thomas hummed.

“There it is,” Martha said, pointing out the window to a large, grey building. A sign proclaiming it to be, indeed, The Fighting Frenchman hung in large lettering above the door. The neon lights were off, though, and the windows were dark. A row of pride flags hung from the top of the wall. Thomas whistled.

“It’s a gay bar,” Louis said.

“Surprised?” Sybil asked.

“Just stating a fact.” Louis shrugged, eyeing the row of flags.

“Welp, looks like we know who’s going undercover then,” Ben said. Sally laughed.

Just because it’s a gay bar doesn’t mean I have to be the one.” Thomas huffed, shooting a glare at her.

“Oh, come on. Go in there, meet a gang boss, pick up a cute boy and all in one night.” Sally’s eyes glimmered with laughter. Thomas glared.

“If you don’t want to, I could…” James trailed off. Thomas sighed.

“You all better be glad I wanted to do it anyway,” he said, pulling away from the building.

“Where are you going?” Martha asked.

“Back to the hotel. If I’m going undercover, I gotta look the part.”

-------------

“Finally! He emerges!” Louis said, throwing his hands into the air. Thomas strutted out of the elevator, hands in his pockets.

“Damn,” Sally whistled as he approached. Thomas grinned, threw his hands to the side and turned around. She clapped as he finished his turn with a little hip wiggle. Martha raised an eyebrow.

“You’re packing for a work trip and you decide to bring that?” She asked, eyeing the skin-tight purple pants. They matched the shimmery silk shirt he wore underneath a well-cut gray blazer.

“He brings his whole wardrobe,” James muttered.

“You gotta be ready for anything, my dear Martha. And this particular outfit turned out to be useful, didn’t it?” Thomas said, smirking and rolling his abs and hips for effect. He caught a glimpse of himself in one of the mirrors. Damn, he looked good. There was a reason this was his favorite shirt. Martha rolled her eyes.

“Tommy, looking good,” Freirich crooned from where he stood with his SWAT team.

“Why, thank you Freddy,” Thomas said, flashing another smile at the team as he walked past. “Someone here appreciates a good outfit.”

Louis sighed, fiddling with the car keys. “Let’s go. You took so long the bar’s probably open by now.”

As they all piled into the Crown Victoria yet again--they really needed a second car--Thomas watched the SWAT team load up in their vans behind them.

“Isn’t that a tad…conspicuous?” Sybil asked.

“Yes, but necessary,” James said, looking at her from across the hood. “Thomas is going to walk into a practically unknown scenario possibly involving violent gang members. Back up is important.”

“I know, but I thought you were going in with him.” Sybil leaned against the Crown Victoria. James nodded.

“But more is better in this case,” he said, sliding down into the back seat. Thomas slid in beside him.

“Nice outfit,” he said, eyeing James’ jeans and V-neck. James gave him a withering look.

“Not everyone packs their entire closet.” James glanced at his watch. Louis turned the car over--it took him two tries-- and pulled out of the hotel parking lot. The SWAT team vans followed some car lengths behind. They reached The Fighting Frenchman in seemingly record time for driving in the late New York rush hour. Martha twisted in the passenger seat to look at him.

“You got your radio on?” She asked. “Remember your cover? And you remember the code words?” Thomas nodded.

“Yes, mother. Roman for a stealth extraction, popsicle for SWAT and carousel for ‘holy fuck get in here right now.’”

“Good.” Martha nodded. “Now, go get ‘em.” Thomas smiled and slid out of the car, almost a block away from the club. The Fighting Frenchman sign was now lit up in bright red, white and blue. He could hear the base from whatever club anthem playing inside and the windows lit up with flashing lights. As he approached, Thomas jerked his head in a nod to the bouncer--a fellow with curly hair and freckles that scanned Thomas’ body before nodding back.

Let’s do this, he thought, throwing open the door.

-------------

If he wasn't here for work, Thomas thought The Fighting Frenchman would make for a fun Friday night. The typical club music blared--deafeningly loud--and the strobes flashed the same red, white and blue as the sign outside. The dance floor was covered in fog, the smoke creating interesting lighting effects that swirled and disappeared. The floor itself lit up in changing patterns, and it all combined to make it nearly impossible to see anyone on the floor from outside of the tangled, dancing mob. The DJ was a fresh-faced young thing who was obviously having just as much fun at the booth as everyone on the floor was. The dance floor was ringed with plush booths and tables, filled with people dressed in flashy outfits and nursing drinks.

But it was the bar that finally caught Thomas’ eye. Polished and clean, it sat some distance from the dance floor. People milled around it, but between the throngs of people Thomas caught glimpses of the bartender. A tall fellow, hair pulled back in a ponytail, moving efficiently between customers and drinks. It was almost like he had four arms with the speed he was turning out beverages. Seeing as he was the only employee he could find, Thomas resigned himself to small talk with the bartender.

He strutted over to the bar--glancing behind him to watch James slip in and find a corner booth to himself-- and sat himself down at one of the stools. As he waited for the bartender to make his way down to him, Thomas scanned the bottles of liquor, whiskey and vodka that lined the back wall. Besides the typical fair, there were some obviously imported French bottles tucked back there. Surprisingly pricey, good bottles of French wine.

Who goes to a bar and gets wine? Thomas asked himself, knowing full well that he, himself, did exactly that.

“And what may I get you tonight, sir?” The thick French accent surprised Thomas, and he blinked. The bartender smiled patiently.

“Uh, Pinot Noir,” Thomas said. The bartender nodded, ponytail bouncing. Moments later, Thomas found a wine glass pressed into his hands and the bartender was gone to help another customer. Thomas watched him serve the young woman in a sequined dress a rum and cola. Something about him was familiar.

Whatever, he thought, sipping on the wine. He resigned himself to waiting for the bar to calm down before getting a word in with the bartender. He scanned the crowd. It was early in the night, and the party was already in full swing. He made eye contact with James, who nodded. Thomas smiled at him over his wineglass.

“He is a cute one.” The French accent of the bartender came from over Thomas’ shoulder. He turned back around.

“Not really my type,” he said. The bartender’s eyes glimmered as he wiped down the bar top.

“But not a bad catch, no?

Thomas smirked. “Are you trying to get him laid or something?” Thomas leaned over the bar, forgetting the wine beside him. The bartender shook his head.

“I like to make connections between customers,” he said, the French tilt coming through despite the need for them both to yell. Thomas laughed.

“I appreciate it friend, but I'm not here to ‘make connections,’” Thomas said, wiggling an eyebrow. The bartender looked confused.

“Just here for the party, then?” He asked, pouring a drink for a man who had yelled for a shot of vodka. Thomas shrugged.

“Might have to be,” he said, looking back over the crowd. “I came to find someone, but no luck yet.”

“Perhaps I can help?” The bartender offered. Thomas pretended to consider it for a moment, eyeing the man. He was dressed in a casual black shirt and pants, but Thomas could see the tops of tattoos peeking out of his collar.

“Yeah, I'm looking for a guy named Lafayette. I was told he hangs around here.” Thomas took another drink of wine. The bartender stopped cleaning a glass, looking over at Thomas with a glint in his eye.

“Lafayette?” The name rolled off his tongue, sounding better with the French lilt than Thomas has heard it before.

“Know him?”

The bartender chuckled. “Yes, mon ami. I know Monsieur Lafayette.”

“Has he come in tonight?” Thomas asked, finishing off the wine. The bartender grabbed the bottle of Pinot Noir and offered a refill. As the wine poured into Thomas’ glass, he spoke.

“Yes, he is here tonight. He is one of the owners of this club.”

Thomas feigned surprise. “Well, I'm in the right place, then.”

“You certainly are.” The bartender chuckled again. Thomas got the feeling he wasn't getting the joke. “What is it that you want with Monsieur Lafayette?”

“He has some...friends I’d like to...do business with,” Thomas said, drumming his fingers on the stem of his glass.

“What kind of business?” The bartender tilted his head, arms crossed. Thomas pursed his lips.

“I'm a purveyor of...certain products his friends might be interested in.” Thomas watched the bartender’s eyes narrow. Thomas gently patted his breast pocket, before draining half his glass.

“That is...an interesting proposition, sir.” The bartender leaned down, elbows on the bar. The rest of the customer base seemed to be forgotten in the strange intimacy. “I might be interested,” he said, no longer shouting.

“Sorry, but I'm looking for your boss,” Thomas said, leaning back. The bartender grinned wickedly and stuck his hand out.

“Gilbert de Lafayette, at your service,” the bartender said. Thomas’ eyes widened. Considering the French accent, it made sense. Mentally kicking himself, Thomas grinned.

“Well, I really am in the right place,” Thomas said, taking Lafayette’s hand in his. The Frenchman’s grip was strong, but Thomas matched it. “Is there a place we can talk?”

Lafayette hesitated, pulling his hand away. “What...products do you have on you?”

“Not much,” Thomas shrugged. He reached into his blazer and flashed the small plastic bag at Lafayette. The Frenchman reached out and caught his wrist, pulling the bag back out. Lafayette looked at the powdered substance inside.

“Dust,” Thomas said, earning a nod from Lafayette. He released Thomas’ wrist, held up one finger and disappeared behind a door Thomas hadn't seen before. Thomas slipped the cocaine back into his pocket. He glanced at James.

“How's it going?” James’ voice crackled over the radio. Without looking at him again, Thomas flashed a very quick ‘thumbs up’ at James. A moment later, Lafayette reappeared, another man in black trailing behind him. The other man stayed behind the bar as Lafayette came around and grabbed Thomas’ shoulder.

“Come on, mon ami, the bar is no place for business deals,” Lafayette said, grinning. Thomas stood and reached for his wallet, but Lafayette shook his head. “Non, non. Let me treat a new friend, yes?”

Thomas decided not to argue. The more positive Lafayette felt towards him, the better. So he pocketed his wallet, drained the wine in a single gulp, and followed Lafayette away from the bar. But instead of leading Thomas to a back room, Lafayette was moving very decidedly towards the front door. Thomas tapped the other man on the shoulder.

“Where are we going?” He yelled. Lafayette said something that was drowned out by the music. Thomas leaned forward, motioning for him to repeat.

“My apartment,” Lafayette yelled into his ear. Thomas recoiled.

“I didn't agree to that.” Thomas glanced around, but James wasn't in sight any more.

“It is safe, secure, no one will bother us. It is quiet. What is the problem?” Lafayette asked, hands on his hips. Again, Thomas was struck with an odd familiarity.

“Isn't there a back room here or…?” But Lafayette was already shaking his head.

“Let's not mix business with….what's the phrase….pleasure.”

“That sounds a bit like--” Thomas said, but Lafayette was already laughing at himself.

“You know what I mean, you know what I mean,” he said, clapping Thomas on the back. “But this discussion, your...products should not be talked about here. Not at my place of business.” Lafayette looked him dead in the eyes, the determination leaving no room for Thomas to argue. He sighed.

“Alright, then.” Lafayette’s eyes lit up, a grin spreading across his face.

“Come on then, my friend.” Lafayette grabbed Thomas’ arm and pulled him out the door before he could change his mind.

They burst out of the nightclub and into the rapidly cooling night air. The bouncer jumped, coming off the wall by the door.

“Laf?” The man asked. Lafayette turned and winked at the freckled man.

Laurens, my friend,” Lafayette said in easy French. “I'm going out. Bar’s yours for the evening.” Lafayette turned and tossed him a set of keys on a ring.

Who’s that?” Laurens--John Laurens? Thomas wondered--replied.

A new friend!” Lafayette said. Laurens snorted.

Does he have a name?” Laurens said, pocketing the keys. Lafayette rolled his eyes, and turned back to Thomas, who painted on the best ‘I-don’t-understand-French-what-are-you-talking-about’ expression he could.

“Forgive me; I don’t think I caught your name.” Lafayette smiled.

“William Clark,” Thomas lied.

His name is William Clark.” Lafayette said, hands on his hips “Happy?

Laurens frowned. “Yeah, I know that now.” He crossed his arms and approached Lafayette. “Are you really going to go off this early with some toy?”

Thomas figured this was the point where he’d spit out his wine if he was still drinking it. As it was, he struggled to keep his face neutral, to not let on that he understood what they were saying. Lafayette sighed dramatically.

We are going to discuss business, my dear Laurens, get your mind out of the gutter.

Yeah, okay.” Laurens turned to Thomas, crossing the distance between them with easy strides. Though Thomas was taller than him, Laurens’ muscular frame was visible beneath the black suit jacket he wore, and Thomas was reminded of what Revere had said; this was a guy that liked to punch his problems away. Laurens glared him down, scanning his body with searching eyes. Thomas’ instincts kicked in, squaring his shoulders and readying his body for a fight. He tried his best to look as intimidating as possible. He wasn’t sure it was working.

He’s cute when he tries to look tough.” Laurens growled. Thomas fought the instinct to respond, to lean away, to do anything. Laurens glanced at Lafayette. “Almost looks like you, too.”

He does not,” Lafayette protested, but Thomas found himself agreeing. Lafayette looked familiar because he looked like Thomas himself. “He’s taller.”

Which makes him about ten times hotter.” Laurens said, finally cracking a smile in Lafayette’s direction. Lafayette flipped him off and reached for Thomas’ arm, pulling him away from Laurens. Laurens laughed. “Have fun, Laf. Don’t break him.

Business, Laurens, business.” Lafayette hissed back, dragging Thomas down the street. Thomas stumbled until he managed to catch up to Lafayette and match his pace. The Frenchman was gesturing dramatically, speaking in accented English. “Do not mind John, he does not mean harm. He is a good man.”

“Yeah, sure,” Thomas muttered.

“You will see, Monsieur Clark. When you do business with him, you will see.” Lafayette continued to lead him down the street, one hand clamped around his wrist in a vise-like grip. Thomas’ mind kept turning the french conversation over in his mind, the one neither gangster had thought he could understand. Laurens’ words echoed in his head; He’s cute when he tries to look tough. Thomas twisted his arm out of Lafayette’s hand, but if the Frenchman noticed, he did not say anything about it.

As Thomas absentmindedly rubbed his wrist where Lafayette had held it, he recognized the bright red of the Crown Victoria parked across the street. Though it drew Thomas’ eye, Lafayette paid it no mind. He continued to ramble on about how he and Laurens ran The Fighting Frenchman together, how Laurens was a great business partner or something. The windows were too tinted to see through at night, but Thomas glanced anyway, attempting to draw the attention of anyone in the car.

“Thomas,” Martha said, the radio in Thomas’ ear crackling to life. “Where are you going?” Thomas ran his hand up his neck, scratching at his ear to activate his microphone.

“So, uh,” Thomas said, interrupting Lafayette’s talk on picking barstool covers, “Where’s your apartment?”

Lafayette took the interruption in stride. “We take the next left, and then it is three buildings down.” He motioned to his left, as if Thomas could tell which obscure building in the darkness was his.

“The next left, three buildings down,” Thomas repeated. Lafayette nodded.

“Got it. We’re going to pick up James, then we’ll be there,” Martha said.

“I’ll get the SWAT boys moved as fast as possible,” Friedrich added. The knot of anxiety growing in Thomas’ chest loosened slightly, but did not disappear. Thomas scanned the street in front of him. The streetlights were popping on, the sun having disappeared behind the window skyscrapers to the west. He didn’t like the idea of following a gangster to his apartment in the dark without a partner or secured backup. As they reached the corner, Thomas started mapping which alleyways might make for a good escape, if needed.

“Monsieur Clark!” Lafayette waved a hand in Thomas’ face. “Come back to earth, yes?”

“Sorry,” he said, blinking.

“There you are,” Lafayette said, “welcome back. I asked you a question.”

“Hm?” Thomas glanced behind him. He could see the Crown Victoria in the distance, driving away from them.

“I asked where you were from. Your accent is new to me.”

“Charlotte,” he said, “North Carolina.”

“And what brings you to New York?” Lafayette asked, turning down the new street.

“I came up to find a friend, secure a business deal or two. See if I could find a new market.” The prepared statement rolled off his tongue. Sally and Revere had thought up his cover story, made him memorize it in the drive over to The Frenchman.

“Get pushed out of Charlotte?” Lafayette asked, a twinge of sympathy to his voice.

“Did you not hear about what went down back there?” Thomas asked. Lafayette shook his head. “Coupla gang leaders--Lincoln and Davis were their names, went head-to-head. Feds got involved. Anyway, Lincoln ended up dead and everyone who isn’t also dead ended up in prison.”

“But not you?”

Thomas shook his head. “Saw things were going down the drain, decided to skip town. Came up to find the guy who shipped my product down to me.”

“Ah,” Lafayette said, jumping up a set of stairs. “This is mine,” he said, leading Thomas inside. When Lafayette’s back was turned, Thomas glanced behind him one last time. No sign of James, the Crown Victoria or anything that might suggest he wasn’t alone. “Coming, Monsieur Clark?”

“Yeah, sorry.” Thomas slid inside the building--it looked worse than Burrs, chipping paint and drywall. The stairs creaked as Lafayette bounded up them, taking two or three at a time. Luckily, the Frenchman stopped at the second floor, and led Thomas to the back apartment. A French flag was painted on his door, stretching from just below the broken metal number to the floor.

“Here, we are, my friend. La maison de Lafayette.” Lafayette opened the door with a flourish. Thomas stepped inside and was blinded as Lafayette turned his lights on. Thomas could see which half of the Laurens/Lafayette business duo did the decorating for The Frenchman. Lafayette’s apartment was a miniature version of his beloved club, minus the smoke machines, dance floor and DJ. He even had a mini bar set up on one wall, this one chock full of French wine.

As Thomas took in the sight of plush couches and an entertainment system that rivaled his own, Lafayette slipped past him, laughing. “Impressive, no?”

“Very,” Thomas said. Lafayette ducked behind his bar and pulled out a bottle of wine.

“Pinot Noir?” Lafayette offered, eyes glimmering. Thomas smiled back, sitting on one of the barstools. They were better quality than the ones down at The Frenchman, softer and they didn’t give off that puff of air when he sat down. “So, you deal mostly in…”

“Cocaine, weed. Heroin if you’re willing to pay.” Thomas said.

“The big three, eh?” Lafayette chuckled, pouring Thomas another glass of wine. He shrugged, pulling it towards himself without drinking. He could already feel the last two glasses churning in his blood, and a third seemed like a really bad idea. “So, Monsieur Clark--”

“Will, please,” Thomas said. Lafayette’s eyes glinted as he poured himself wine.

“Will, you mentioned you wished to deal with ‘my friends.’ Which friends might those be?” Lafayette asked. But before Thomas could reply, another voice broke in, deep, commanding.

“Which friends, indeed?”

Thomas spun on his stool in the direction of the voice. A tall man in a tank top and jeans stood by Lafayette’s tv, an open door propped behind him. He was muscular, with a well-set jaw and large hands. Thomas had the odd thought that the man before him could likely snap his neck without thinking.

Mon général.” Lafayette said, reverence in his voice. Thomas glanced back at the Frenchman, who had frozen with the wineglass halfway to his lips. He could feel the larger man’s gaze on him, however, and Thomas turned back. A general, Thomas thought, Lafayette’s general. It didn’t take long for the pieces to fall into place.

That was easier than I thought, Thomas thought, locking gazes with George Washington himself.

Chapter Text

“Wine?” Lafayette offered, holding the bottle towards Washington sheepishly. The glare he received caused Lafayette to shrink back, sliding the bottle back into its place on the wall. Thomas found himself pinned under Washington’s gaze. He leaned back onto the bar top, trying to look somewhat more relaxed than he was feeling.

“Who are you?” Washington asked. Thomas cleared his throat.

“Will Clark,” he said, dead certain the cold, searching gaze saw right through him. Washington crossed the apartment in cool, confident strides. He carried himself like a soldier, shoulders straight and proud.

“Mr. Clark, I mean no offense to you when I tell you to get out.” Washington crossed his arms, looming over Thomas. Before Thomas had the chance to say ‘yes sir’ and scurry right out of Lafayette’s apartment, the Frenchman found his voice again.

“Boss, Will has--”

“I don’t care what he has, I came here to speak to you, Lafayette.” Washington turned his glare onto Lafayette. This time, Lafayette steeled himself against the bar top.

Oui, and whatever you wish to discuss, I am more than willing to talk about. But Will and I--”

“If you really think a one night stand is more important, go right ahead. I’ll leave,” Washington said. “But remember the choice you made.” With that, Washington stalked away, clipping Thomas on the shoulder as he passed. Thomas never felt smaller in his life than he did right here, right now. Lafayette, panic in his eyes, launched himself over the bar and ran to stop Washington before he could reach the front door.

“Boss, listen to me, Will has brought us a good thing,” Lafayette said, holding his hands out against Washington’s chest.

“What?” Washington asked. Lafayette swallowed.

“Will isn’t here for...fun. He’s willing to supply us with drugs. We came here to talk terms.” Lafayette looked at Thomas pleadingly. For a moment, Thomas considered playing dumb, wondering how bad Washington’s wrath could be to cow the flamboyant Frenchman. But when Washington looked back at him, Thomas pulled out the bag of cocaine and shook it gently. He smirked as something in Washington’s eyes flickered.

“Is that it?” Washington asked. Thomas snorted.

“‘Course not. I’ve got tons sitting around, waiting for a buyer.” Tons sitting in local police stations confiscated from men like you, Thomas thought. Washington turned around and made his way back to the bar. The relief emanating from Lafayette was nearly visible in actual waves off his body. Washington sat down two stools away from Thomas, still sizing him up with his eyes.

“I’ll take that wine now, Lafayette,” he said. Lafayette ducked behind the bar, and a moment later a wine glass was in Washington’s hands. It looked positively tiny in the large man’s grip. Thomas turned back to his wine glass, swirling it around as Washington drummed his fingers on the counter in thought. Lafayette was silent, eyes flicking back and forth between the two men.

It was moments like this that Thomas remembered exactly what he was wearing. Suddenly uncomfortable in his purple skinny jeans, Thomas crossed his legs. He tried to wait patiently for Washington’s examination to be over, but the longer it took, the more worried Thomas grew. Thomas did his best to project cool confidence, one elbow on the bar and a casual smile, but he was wondering where James and everyone else exactly was. He took a drink of wine, fuck it.

“Why?” Washington asked suddenly. Thomas nearly choked on his mouthful of wine.

“Why, what?” He asked, lowering the glass, trying to play off his near-death-experience.

“Why Lafayette? Why not go to the Redcoats?” Washington asked. Thomas smiled.

“I don’t want to deal with King and his barbarians. I want to deal with you.” Thomas looked up from his wineglass. Washington looked decidedly unsatisfied with his answer.

“But why?”

“Long story, Mr. Washington,” Thomas said, the ‘Mr.’ slipping out without intention. Washington leaned back on the stool.

“I got time.”

Thomas sighed. He cracked his neck before launching into his cover story; “I told Lafayette, but I’m originally from Charlotte. Born and raised into the North Street gang down there.” Washington nodded, almost approvingly. “You know us?”

“I considered Abe a friend,” Washington said.

“Then you know what went down, then?” Thomas asked.

“Basic details.” Washington sipped his wine, motioning for Thomas to continue.

“Well, before everything went to shit, I used to run North Street’s cocaine business. All the coke in Charlotte ran through me first. My supplier was a guy from New York City. Things were good, then Lincoln came down with those bullshit rules and Davis started acting up. Then the feds started sticking their noses into places they don’t belong and, well…” Thomas shrugged, “I saw the writing on the wall.”

“You left,” Washington said, the smallest hint of disdain in his voice. Thomas frowned.

“Judge if you want, I got out of there with my skin intact as a free man. Not many others can say the same thing.” He crossed his arms, a dare for Washington to challenge him. But Washington was silent, and Thomas took that as his cue to keep talking.

“Anyway, I decided to come up here and find my supplier. Figured if anyone can find me a place to go, it’s him. But what do I find when I knock on by friend’s door? A fucking asshole in a bright red coat who tells me my friend is fucking dead and I can take my southern ass and--”

Thomas cuts himself off, hitting the counter and forcing himself to take a deep breath. He’s doing a good job; Lafayette is looking at him sympathy. He lets the breath go, ‘steadying’ himself and finding eye contact with Washington.

“Well, it turns out my guy wasn’t as independent as I originally thought. He was on King’s payroll the entire time. He wasn’t even the original supplier for what he sold me, just a middle-man. Also, he was a fucking idiot who didn’t understand basic security measures. King had him killed as an example after he let a group of hoodlums break into his warehouse and dump an entire shipment of cocaine into the Hudson River.” Thomas thinks he sees Lafayette wince out of the corner of his eye, and he briefly wonders if Lafayette was there for the dumping.

“I discover all of this while being told that, without my southern contacts, I’m useless to this fuck who decided to take over my buddy’s business. I punch him in the face, he threatens to kill me, and on my way out, I run into one of the suppliers that used to work with my friend. We get to talking, and turns out, he knows my name. Knows I’m trustworthy. He tells me he’d rather work with me instead of King. Gets his drug-making friends to agree, and suddenly I’m back in the game.

“So now, I’ve solved one problem, but now I got another. See, I’ve got all this product ready to be sold, but no one to sell it to. And I sure as hell ain’t selling to King. I’m just starting to think about going down to New Jersey and setting up shop there when I hear a story about a gang from Harlem that’s telling King to fuck off and doing a pretty good job at it. On top of that, they've been cut off from most of the drug trade thanks to the Redcoats. Then I get a name; Gilbert Lafayette. And here I am.” Thomas finishes, sweeping his arms around him. He grabs his wine and sips it as Washington thinks, mulling over Thomas’ story.

“And here you are.” Washington muses. Thomas smiles. “How much do you sell for?”

“How much are you willing to pay?” Thomas’ smile turns into a smirk. Washington’s jaw clenches.

“I told you this was a good thing, Boss,” Lafayette cuts in. Washington regards him for a moment, then the slightest flicker of a smile crosses his features. Lafayette breaks into a grin. “I was going to call some of the boys down, give Will’s product a spin.”

“If it was going to the Redcoats, it’s good,” Washington said, turning the ghost-smile on Thomas. Thomas smiles back.

“That reminds me…” he trails off, swirling the wine. Washington’s smile drops. “If we’re going to work together, I have one rule.” Washington makes a noncommittal noise. Thomas looks him dead in the eye and says: “You can’t sell my stuff to anyone, anyone, affiliated with the Redcoats.”

Washington’s smile returns. “That won’t be a problem. No Son of Liberty would think about doing that.”

“Then I’d say we have a deal,” Thomas says, “Or am I moving down to New Jersey?”

“What about payment?”

“We can discuss that later, over some better wine?” Thomas sticks his hand out. Washington regards it for a moment before reaching out himself. Their hands are moments away from touching when Lafayette’s door slams open with a bang.

Laf, we have a problem!” Someone shouts. The three men at the bar freeze, and Thomas wonders if this new someone had spotted the SWAT team hopefully sitting in the area. There’s a moment of silence, Lafayette glaring over Thomas’ shoulder at whoever just burst into his apartment. Thomas turns his head, eyes settling on a short Latino man who is standing in the doorway, panting heavily and looking about to burst. They make eye contact, and the man starts.

“Who the fuck are you?” The man spits, and it takes Thomas a moment to realize the man means him.

“Who the fuck are you?” Thomas replies, spinning around all the way and glaring. The man’s eyes widen slightly, and he slams the door shut. In a flash, the short man is against the bar top, shooting daggers at Thomas.

“Lafayette?” He asks, “Why is some country bumpkin in your apartment talking to the general?”

“Country bumpkin?” Thomas asks, the venom in his words not faked at all. “I'm sorry, what?”

“Shut up.” The man is looking at Lafayette now, not sparing Thomas even a glance. “Get him out of here.”

“I'm not going to kick him out,” Lafayette says, shaking his head. The little man’s face flushes and he looks as if he's going to explode.

“And why the fuck not?” He demands. “Who is he and why is he so goddamned important?”

“William Clark,” Thomas said, throwing his hand out for the smaller man to shake. “I'm your new dealer.” The brunette glared at his hand and slapped it away.

“Great. Good for you. Now get out.” The man hit the bar top with enough force to shake Thomas’ and Washington’s glasses. “We have a problem, Laf. Huge problem. You should know about this too, Boss,” he added, glancing around Thomas at Washington. Thomas’ blood was boiling, and not just because of the wine.

“If this is big enough for Washington, I ought to know,” Thomas said, crossing his arms. The man spun, eyes narrowing.

“And who you are again? Wilson Clank?”

William. Clark,” Thomas spat, “and I'm the only person in the city willing to sell you and your little gang any drugs.”

“Drugs?” The man repeated the word as if trying it out for the very first time. “I thought we weren't worrying about the drug trade, Boss?”

“Well, the opportunity has presented itself,” Washington said patiently, looking as if this fiery man with his exploding fury was an everyday occurrence. Perhaps it was. The man threw his arm out, nearly hitting Thomas in the face.

“In Mr. Southern Belle?”

“Excuse me?” Thomas asked.

“Shut up,” the man said, but Thomas was fed up. Something about this little man was twisting his stomach into little bunches of rage. He pushed the man’s hand away from his face roughly.

“Okay, fuck you, short stack,” Thomas snarled. “I don't think you understand who I am.”

Immediately the man whirled, eyes glittering in anger. “First of all: short stack? Fuck you. Secondly,” he pushed his face directly into Thomas’, “I don't think you understand who you are. Who do you think you are, walking in here with your poofy hair and purple pants. Who the fuck wears purple pants? What do you think this is, a goddamned comic book convention? You're not fucking Superman, or The Panther, or whoever the fuck. Thirdly, I don't give a shit if you literally shit weed. There are always other guys with drugs in this city. You ain't the only one, bro. So why don't you take your southern ass all the way back to whatever podunk little town you come from and stop trying to act like the big-city gangster you aren't. The big boys have something important to discuss, so bye-bye now.” The man plastered the most over-the-top, faked smile and waggled his fingers at Thomas.

Thomas sat stock-still, trying to decide if this little shit- who was still inches away from his nose- was serious or not. He was rendered speechless; partly out of shock, but partly out of the intense, burning hatred he felt for this man. This little man whom he had known for less than five whole minutes. Thomas felt Lafayette and Washington’s gazes boring into him, waiting to see what he'd do. Thomas took a deep breath and stood slowly.

“Well, then,” he said, keeping his voice as flat and calm as possible, all the while knowing he was failing. “I can see where I’m not wanted.” The smaller man stood back, grin spreading wider.

“Took you long enough,” he said, gesturing towards the door. Thomas still made it a point to run into him as he passed the smaller man. Halfway to the door, he looked over his shoulder at Washington.

“If you're ever in Jersey, look me up,” he said. Lafayette blanched. Washington stood, forgetting his wine on the bar top.

“What do you mean?” Washington asked. Thomas shrugged.

“I'm going to New Jersey. Good luck finding someone else to do business with.”

“I thought we had a deal!” Washington called, voice rising slightly. The power of Washington's voice sent a chill running down Thomas’ spine, and his feet stopped without command. Trying to play it off, Thomas turned back with another shrug, arms folded across his chest.

“We did, until your man here,” Thomas gestures vaguely to the Latino, “kindly let me know that I am neither needed nor wanted. But don't worry; he's confident that you can find another supplier. Maybe one that can actually shit weed. Meanwhile, I'm going to move my business to New Jersey.” And with that, Thomas turned on one heel and started to walk towards the door again.

“Have fun! Say hi to Snooki for me!” The loud, obnoxious voice of the small man grated against Thomas’ ears. “Goodbye!”

Alexander,” Washington growled, almost too low for Thomas to hear.

“What?” Came the reply. Thomas fought the urge to look back. He was almost to the door now. Fuck this shit, James or Louis can deal with these fuckers. Washington muttered something, and just as Thomas’ hand reached the doorknob someone grabbed him by the shoulder.

“Wait, Mr. Clark,” Washington said. Thomas slowly turned, finding himself face-to-face with Lafayette.

“What.” Thomas glared around the Frenchman.

“Don't go. We need to discuss payment.” Washington is still standing, Alexander looking decidedly put out beside him. Thomas’ brow furrowed.

“What payment? You're not interested in buying from me, as I understand.”

Washington let out a heavy sigh. “Mr. Clark, Alex didn't mean anything he said. He is obviously agitated about something. Sometimes our mouths work faster than our brains. Surely you understand?”

Lafayette’s grip on his shoulder tightened. Thomas let the silence hang for a moment, watching Washington grind his jaw. Then his gaze traveled to Alex, who looked a mixture of cowed and annoyed.

“Yeah, I understand,” Thomas said, glaring at the smaller man.

“Good, then we--”

“I want an apology, though.” Thomas cocked one eyebrow at Alex, who turned bright red.

“Fuck that,” Alex spat. Washington turned his piercing glare onto the man.

“Alexander.” It sounded like a command.

“No, I'm not--”

Alexander Hamilton.”

Hamilton let out the most exaggerated sigh Thomas had ever seen. “Fiiiiiine,” he said, eyes rolling so hard Thomas thought they were going to pop right out of Hamilton’s face. “Sorry,” he said. Thomas smirked.

“That wasn't so difficult--”

“Sorry that you're so sensitive, asshole.”

Thomas’ eyes widened. He wanted to throttle him, wrap his hands around Hamilton’s throat until the smaller man stopped breathing. He didn’t think it would be police brutality, just assault. He could get away with assault. Lafayette must have seen something in his face, as the grip on his shoulders tightened.

“Will, my friend, just calm down,” Lafayette murmured. Thomas let out the deep breath he didn’t know he was holding. Hamilton smiled, a devil’s smirk and Thomas knew, just knew, Hamilton was getting off by getting underneath his skin. Thomas was ready to punch the damn smile off his face

“Mr. Clark, will you accept an apology from me on Alex’s behalf?” Washington still looked calm, but the control of his voice gave away the livid rage that had to be boiling beneath his skin.

“Why yes, Mr. Washington,” Thomas said. Lafayette visibly relaxed, loosening his grip and patting Thomas on the shoulder. Thomas let Lafayette lead him back to the bar, and he smirked at Hamilton as he sat down where he had been earlier, stretching out by leaning sideways on the bar and putting a leg on the stool in front of him. His foot stopped just short of Washington’s lap. For a second, he thought the gang boss would push his leg off, but Washington just sat down and picked up his wine like nothing had happened.

“So, back to the matter of pricing,” Washington began, but Thomas shook his head. Time to test the amount of power he really had.

“I want to know what this huge problem of Alex’s is,” Thomas said. Hamilton’s eyes bugged out.

“Don’t call me Alex,” he said, running over Washington’s half-formed first word.

“What should I call you, then? Alexander? Alec? Lex?” Thomas tilted his head, eyeing the smaller man. He gasped. “Lexy! That’s cute, don’t you think, Laf?” Thomas looked at the Frenchman, borrowing the nickname he’d heard Hamilton use. “Lexy Hamilton. I like it.”

And the next thing Thomas knew, Hamilton’s fist was in his face and his face was hitting the countertop and Lafayette’s LED lights were spinning and blurring and Lafayette was yelling. Blinking his vision back in order, Thomas pushed himself off the counter, sat back up straight and calmly patted his hair down for signs of blood.

“Will--goddamn it Alex--Will, are you okay?” Lafayette reached over the counter and tried to examine Thomas’ head, but Thomas gently swatted his hand away. Hamilton was grinning, looking like he had won a million dollars. Without looking at him, Thomas stood. In one smooth motion, Thomas balled his fist and planted it with as much force as he could into Hamilton’s stomach. He felt the air rush from Hamilton’s lungs as Thomas reached back, grabbed Hamilton’s ponytail and slammed the man’s face nose-first into a bar stool. Hamilton slunk to the ground, groaning and holding his nose. Thomas sat back down, put his feet back up and crossed his arms.

“Why, yes, I’m just fine,” Thomas said, satisfaction blooming in his chest.

“I think you broke my fucking nose, man. You broke my nose!” Hamilton rocked back onto his haunches, leaning his head back in an attempt to stop the downpour of blood that was just beginning. Lafayette rushed from around the bar.

“I doubt it, mon petit lion,” he said as he knelt down and pushed Hamilton’s face forward. Despite his first-aid training, Thomas didn’t move to help as Lafayette examined Hamilton’s face. “Holy shit, you did break his nose.”

As Lafayette rushed around, collecting napkins and a bag of ice for Hamilton, Thomas bit down on the grin threatening to appear on his face. He really shouldn’t have done that, he knew, but damn did it feel good. Hamilton was holding his face, blood dribbling down his chin and onto the olive green shirt. Thomas hoped that was Hamilton’s favorite shirt, and that he didn’t know how to properly treat blood stains. Then he caught a glimpse of what might have been tears in Hamilton’s eyes, but Thomas would never know as Lafayette knelt between the two of them and started crooning in French.

I’m going to fucking kill him,” Hamilton said in surprisingly good French, “Grab one of your guns and just--”

Shoosh, my little lion. He is important, we need him. You don’t know what you almost cost us, Alex.

Thomas pretended not to understand, better to keep one more card up his sleeve. He wondered if Washington knew French as well, but the gang boss was paying no mind to his inferiors on the floor.

“More wine?” Thomas offered, reaching over the counter, grabbing the wine bottle and holding it out to Washington. The look of disdain and are-you-fucking-kidding-me he received shook him slightly, the high from breaking Hamilton’s nose starting to wear off. He put the bottle back down. “I would like to know why Lexy here is in the tiff he’s in, though.”

“Fuck you,” Hamilton said, voice nasal. “The feds are in town, looking for us.”

Thomas snapped his head in Hamilton’s direction, feeling his heart plummet. He hoped that any fear that might show on his face would be taken as fear of the FBI, not the truth of the matter. “For us?” Washington asked. Hamilton nodded, earning a reprimand from Lafayette.

“Laf specifically. But us, yeah.”

“Why Lafayette?” Washington asked. Hamilton shrugged, but Lafayette seemed surprisingly relaxed.

“Is that what’s gotten you all worked up, Alexander?” He asked, readjusting the ice pack he was pressing to Hamilton’s face. “Don’t worry about it, yes?”

“Don’t worry about it? Laf--” Hamilton protested, but Lafayette cut him off.

“They come around every so often. It is just the immigration people, no? Trying to deport me.” Lafayette chuckled. “I’ll be fine, Alex.”

But Hamilton was shaking his head. “They were asking about Safe Harbors, and where to find King or the General. They’re coming after us.”

Thomas hadn’t noticed the searching gaze Washington was leveling on him. The anxiety that had disappeared began to build again as he turned to face the gangster.

“Mr. Clark,” Washington began, voice tight and betraying no emotion, “Is this news going to change our deal?”

“Why would it?” Thomas asked, hands curling around his wine glass.

“You left Charlotte when the Feds started getting involved, didn’t you?”

Fuck, Thomas thought. “No, no, no! Feds, I can handle. The whole situation was going to shit. I was there until Booth shot Lincoln and then I got the hell out. No, Feds are good.” Thomas winced. “Well, not good, but…” Washington was still staring at him, almost suspiciously. Thomas swallowed. He needed to get what little trust he’d been building with Washington back.

“You were in Charlotte?” Hamilton’s strained question brought Thomas’ attention back to the little man.

“Yeah, saw the whole thing go down,” Thomas said.

“Huh, didn’t know they released the name of the guy who shot Lincoln,” Hamilton said. Thomas winced again, internally this time.

“I was there, Lexy,” Thomas scoffed. “I saw it.”

“You were in the theater?” Hamilton asked. Thomas nodded before he could stop himself. Hamilton's eyes narrowed. “How’d you get out? I thought that turned into a massacre-slash-arrest-fest.”

“I knew one of the actors. He slipped me out,” Thomas said, mouth dry. How the fuck did Hamilton know this much about the Ford’s Theatre Sting? That whole thing had been a disaster, sure, but Hamilton was right. Almost no one left the theater alive that night without a badge or handcuffs on their wrists.

Hamilton made a little noise in the back of his throat. He gave Thomas an odd look before reaching into his pocket and pulling out his phone. He started tapping furiously, and Thomas watched him with nothing less than the utmost suspicion.

“Mr. Clark,” Washington said.

“Yes?” Thomas replied, not taking his eyes off Hamilton and his damn phone. Washington tapped the countertop, slowly drawing Thomas’ gaze from the man on the floor. He and Lafayette were talking, hushed French that Thomas could almost understand, if they just talked a bit louder. But he couldn’t lean in without giving away that he was fluent in their second language.

“I hope you understand me when I say I’m going to need a show of faith before I lock myself into any deals,” Washington began.

“What kind of ‘show of faith?’” Thomas didn’t think the screaming voice in his head--the voice yelling at him to get out of there, get out of there now-- could get any louder, but he underestimated the power of fear.

“Just a small thing, a token.” Washington drummed his fingers on the counter. Thomas’ head filled with images of shooting civilians or offering up some precious collateral, like fingers. He swallowed, his dry throat choking him from the inside. “A small-scale deal. Just a couple of ounces of cocaine. We’ll pay, of course, but we need to know you can supply.”

“Oh, of course,” Thomas said, keeping his voice as cool and as confident as his shaking hands weren’t. “How much? Two, three ounces?”

“Two, tomorrow.” Washington grabbed a napkin from the end of the bar and scribbled on it. “Here’s the address I want it delivered too,” he said, sliding one napkin to Thomas. He glanced at it, David’s Diner it read, in large, scratchy handwriting, folded it, and shoved it into his breast pocket. Washington was already pushing another napkin to him, however. “My offer,” he said.

Thomas’ eyebrows skyrocketed. He had no idea the Sons had access to these kinds of funds. It was way over what anyone should pay for two ounces of cocaine, but Thomas figured Washington was desperate. He’d lower the price when a regular thing got settled, but until then…

“Cash?” Thomas asked. Washington nodded.

“If you wish.”

“Then we have a deal!” Thomas said, breaking out into a grin. He clapped his hands together and sat up straight, pulling his feet down to the floor. “Pleasure doing business, Mr. Washington.” Thomas stuck out his hand, hovering just over the stool between him and Washington. Washington returned the smile, a small thing that rarely graced his face, and moved to shake Thomas’ hand.

Just then, Lafayette was up and at Washington’s side, pressing Hamilton’s phone into his hand. Lafayette whispered something into Washington’s ear, and looked at Thomas sideways. Lafayette wasn’t smiling, he was almost glaring. Thomas’ stomach dropped through the floor. Carefully, moving ever-so-slightly, Thomas leaned forward and angled his head just right to see the screen.

It was a text log, with the name Asshole.Burr blazoned across the top. Thomas could see four messages. The first was a question from Burr: Which sisters, Hamilton?, the second one from Hamilton that read: All three. A, E, and P.

Underneath Hamilton’s message was a picture, a single image of Thomas, James, and Revere at Burr’s apartment. Underneath Burr had captioned the image: Left is Agent Thomas Jefferson, Right is James Madison. I assume you know Revere.

Chapter Text

“Mr. Clark?” Washington asks, his voice shaking from rage. His eyes glimmer with anger and there is murder painted across his face. Lafayette is glaring at him with barely-controlled rage. He shook, carefully placing Hamilton’s phone on the bar top and rolling up his sleeves.

Thomas however, sees none of that. He is already up, jumping away from Washington and Lafayette. His hand is already at his ear, his eyes on the front door. It wasn’t too far, a short sprint and Thomas is out. His feet are moving of their own accord, propelling him towards freedom and his SWAT team backup. “Carousel, Carousel, Caro-

Thomas had forgotten about Hamilton until a hand wrapped itself around his ankle and yanked. Thomas falls face-first into the hardwood flooring, hitting the ground with a heavy thud. For a moment, Thomas struggles to find his breath, kicking off the vice-like grip. His foot connects with something hard, Hamilton cries out, and Thomas’ ankle is freed. Just as Thomas is starting to push himself off the floor and to his feet, a hand tangles itself into his hair and pulls, hard.

Thomas’ head snaps back, and his hands are scrabbling for purchase against his assailant’s arm. Another arm snakes around his chest and Thomas is pulled to his feet. He’s trying to twist around, flailing for something to strike when he’s lifted completely into the air. A moment later his face is slammed down onto the bar top.

His head is lifted, and he manages to spot the forgotten wine bottle by his head. His head hits the bar again and his vision is sent swimming, but he thinks he spots a fleck or two of blood on the counter. His hand reaches out, closes around the wine bottle and Thomas swings it backwards, hoping for the best.

It connects with a shattering noise and a French curse. Lafayette’s grip falters and Thomas makes a break for it. His sight is still blurry, and his head feels like it’s about to split open, but he manages a run for the door. He almost makes it, hand just about to close over the doorknob when Hamilton slams into him from the side.

Thomas stumbles under Hamilton’s weight, and before he can get his bearings again, he’s being pressed into a wall. His hands come up to push back, but he hears the unmistakable click of a gun being cocked and Thomas freezes. Slowly, he turns his head and sees the muzzle of a gun inches away from his head, a fuzzy, scowling Hamilton behind it. His nose is still bleeding, Thomas notices, as is a new gash on his forehead.

Funny, Thomas can swear he feels blood dripping through his own hair and down his face.

“I swear to god if you so much as flinch, I will blow you to the ne-” Thomas doesn’t hear the remainder of Hamilton’s threat. The bang of the door being slammed open masks his words. Hamilton spins but doesn’t remove the gun. Thomas doesn’t think he’s ever been this grateful to see a short black man with a gun bust down a door.

James takes a total of three seconds to size up the situation and turn his already drawn pistol on Hamilton. “Put the gun down,” James commands, but the next second he’s forced to duck under a punch Lafayette throws in his direction. James throws his shoulder into Lafayette’s stomach, but Lafayette has a hand on James’ gun now and they’re wrestling for it. They stumble out of Thomas’ sight.

Thomas does some mental calculations; 5 ft 4, sickly James Madison against 5 ft 11 hardened gangster Lafayette.

When James is thrown against the wall beside him, Thomas is not surprised.

There is a moment of silence, permeated only by heavy breathing and a wheezing from James. Thomas considers the risk of turning his head to look at his partner, but Hamilton is staring him down the barrel of his gun again and Thomas does not want to push him.

“So, uh,” Thomas says, “One of you want to get James’ inhaler? It sounds like he needs it.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Hamilton snaps. His face is burning red, and he looks like he’s sizzling with anger. Thomas watches him drum his fingers against the gun grip. He’s breathing heavily, forced to use his mouth.

“The french one punched me in the throat. I’m okay,” James says, followed by a grunt of pain as Lafayette hits him with his newly-acquired gun.

“This isn’t going to be it, Boss. There’s probably SWAT around and--” Hamilton is rambling, eyes flicking between Washington and Thomas. Out of the corner of his eye, Thomas can just see that Washington has not moved from his stool. And he’s still sipping the last of the wine from his glass.

“Most certainly,” Washington cuts in. “Lafayette, call Laurens. He’s good with this sort of thing.”

“So, uh, how’s your day, James?” Thomas asks, earning a pistol but to the head.

I told you to shut up,” Hamilton says, but Thomas is more concerned with the darkness around the edge of his vision to care. He tries to count how many head injuries this makes, but he can’t remember how many times he hit the bar.

Thomas swears to every god in existence that if he lives, he’s going to kill Aaron Burr.

Laurens, come down to my place. Use the back way. We’ve got a problem.” Lafayette is speaking in French. Thomas bites down laughter. Now is not the time to bust himself even further, no matter how oddly giddy he suddenly feels. “Like, cops at gunpoint, bad….No, John, I am not exaggerating.

What are we going to do, Boss?” Hamilton asks. “We’re so fucking screwed. Screwed three ways to Sunday. We can’t kill them, they’re feds. Can’t let them go. And where the hell is their backup?” Washington is watching Hamilton ramble, almost fondly. “It’s been way too long. They should be here by now.”

You’re telling me, Thomas thought. He presses his face into the wall, hoping the pressure was enough to activate his microphone. “Gentlemen, now, why don’t we all just sit down, maybe get some popsicles, talk this out?”

What don’t you understand about ‘shut up?’” Hamilton screeches.

“We know boys, we’re coming,” Friedrich says, “we’re coming as fast as we can.”

There was a rapping on the window. Hamilton’s head jerks in that direction and Thomas used the momentary distraction to spin around, planting his back on the wall instead. He doesn’t get much further as Hamilton’s eyes were back on him in an instant. Thomas made doubly sure to keep his hands up where Hamilton could see them. No point getting shot if he could avoid it.

Washington strolls over to the window and throws it open. John Laurens crawls through, just barely keeping himself from hitting the floor face-first. Thomas snorts as the large man stumbles to his feet.

“Welcome, John,” Washington says, “thanks for coming so fast.”

“No problem Boss,” Laurens says, rolling his shoulders. “Now, what's the big problem?” Washington looks at Thomas and James; Laurens follows his gaze. His eyes widen.

“When you said ‘cops at gunpoint,” Laurens says, looking at Lafayette, “don't tell me you meant literally.” Lafayette’s smile says it all. Laurens sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Damn it, the tall one’s cute too,” he mutters in French. He looks at Washington. “Alright, what's the plan?”

“What ideas do you have?” Washington asks.

“Do they have backup on the way?” Laurens leans against the bar top. Hamilton shrugs.

“This guy definitely said a panic word.” Hamilton gestures to Thomas with his gun. Laurens eyes Thomas and James, working his jaw back and forth.

“So, I’m thinking we wait until their backup does show, and use these two to hostage-negotiate our way out of here.”

“And if backup doesn’t show?” Hamilton asks. Laurens shrugs.

“Kill ‘em,” he says flippantly. Thomas’ blood runs cold at how unfazed Laurens sounds; it is like he is deciding what to have for dinner or what shoes to wear.

“They’re federal agents,” Hamilton hisses. Laurens shrugs again.

“Then kill them ‘federally,’ what do you want me to say?”

“So we just wait,” Washington says. Laurens nods. Washington reaches over the bar and plucks another bottle of wine from the wall. He fills his glass as Laurens walks over to Lafayette.

“Why are you soaked in wine?” Laurens asks. Lafayette scowls. He jerks his head in Thomas’ direction. Thomas smiles sheepishly. “Gonna tell me he broke Alex’s nose too?”

“He did,” Hamilton growls. Laurens rolls his eyes.

“Lemme see,” he says, swatting to Hamilton’s height. Laurens starts to poke and prod at Hamilton’s nose, which is starting to turn purple and bruised. Hamilton winces as Laurens manipulates his nose, his hand instinctively tensing around his gun. For a second, Thomas is afraid Hamilton is going to accidentally squeeze the trigger. Laurens tutts. “What did I tell you about getting into fights?”

“Well, first, he’s cop so…” Hamilton scowls. “Secondly, he was being a dick.”
To be fair, Alexander started it,” Lafayette says in French.

What did you do?” Laurens asks, pulling a napkin from his pocket and pressing it to Hamilton’s face

Well, I walked in here--ow, fuck, Laurens, calm down,” Hamilton pulls away from Laurens’ hand. Laurens just chases him and presses with more force. “I come into this apartment, ready to warn Laf about the feds, and I see a man I don’t know with a southern accent talking to Washington. How am I supposed to react?”

You assumed he was a cop?” Lafayette asks, almost incredulously.

I assumed everyone I passed on the street on the way here was a cop,” Hamilton says. “Turns out, I was right, though.” Laurens smiles wryly.

Yeah, I suppose you were,” Laurens said, fondly. He pats Hamilton on the shoulder. Hamilton relaxes under the gesture. They share a smile, and Thomas feels something twist in his gut. Well, if Laurens was Hamilton's friend, fuck him too. Anyone who actually likes the little shit had to be just as bad.

You two want to stop being so gay?” Lafayette says. Laurens flips him off.

You want me to look at that head wound or not?” He asks. Thomas notices the blood dripping down Lafayette’s face for the first time. There’s shards of glass sparkling in his hair and his entire front is soaked with wine. Tendrils of his hair are still slightly dripping with it. Satisfaction rises in Thomas and he can’t stop the little chuckle that escapes him.

“What’s so fucking funny, huh?” Hamilton spins, shoving the gun closer to Thomas’ nose.

“Oh, I was just thinking…” Thomas snickers, “I did the thing in movies where you smash a bottle over someone’s head. I actually did it and it’s pretty cool.” One of Lafayette’s eyebrows shot up.

“Is he normally like this?” He asks James. James nods with a sigh.

“Oh, James. Forgot you were here. How’s your day?” Thomas turns his head against the wall to look at his partner. James is looking at him with concern.

“Thomas?” He asks. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. There’s a small gangster holding a gun in my face, but I’m okay, you?” Thomas says. Immediately, James' worried countenance drops.

“You’re okay.” He leans his face into the wall. “I could go for some popsicles, though.”

“We’re trying,” Martha says in Thomas’ ear. “We can’t find a good entry point and the building’s landlord is being uncooperative.” Meanwhile, Hamilton is looking at Thomas through narrowed eyes again.

“That’s the second time you two have brought up…” Hamilton’s eyes widened. “Oh shit. John, hold the gun.” Hamilton tosses the pistol at Laurens, who’s busy looking through Lafayette’s hair for more wounds, and only barely catches it. Thomas doesn’t get a chance to move before the muzzle is on him again and Hamilton’s running his hands up and down Thomas’ body anyway.

“Woah, woah,” Thomas says, “Take me to dinner first.” Hamilton responds by using the top of his head to slam into Thomas’ jaw, snapping Thomas’ head back and against the wall. He’s seeing stars and groaning when Hamilton reaches behind him and pulls the radio pack from under Thomas’ blazer.

“You fuckers,” Hamilton growls. He grabs Thomas’ hair and pulls his head down roughly. Thomas has a thought about making Hamilton pay for his next salon trip as Hamilton digs the earpiece out of his ear. Hamilton throws the pack and earpiece onto the floor. In a flash, James’ have joined them and Hamilton grabs the gun from John. He fires four rounds, two into each pack, and steps on what remains. The gunshots sent shooting pain through Thomas’ skull and his ears ring in the aftermath.

“Oh, come on,” Thomas wines, “those are expensive!”

Do you think I give a shit?” Hamilton explodes, whirling on Thomas, gun still in hand.

Merde, Alex,” Lafayette says, lowering his hands from his ears. James takes the opening, pushing himself off the wall and into Lafayette’s stomach. Lafayette isn’t ready for it, and James manages to wrestle the gun out of his hands before Laurens is on him. Laurens picks the smaller man up by the waist and slams him into the floor. He quickly pins James, straddling him and twisting James’ arm until he drops the gun. James is face-down into the floor now, Laurens leveling the gun at the back of his head.

“Nice try,” Thomas drawls. James grunts in response. There’s a moment of silence, no one sure how to proceed. Washington clears his throat.

“Are you boys finished?” He asks, swishing a mostly finished glass of wine around in one hand. “Because there are large black vans outside and people in body armor climbing out of them.” Washington is leaning on the wall next to the window, looking sideways out the blinds he’s drawn shut.

“Do you think they heard the gunshots?” Hamilton asks, with something akin to fear in his voice. Washington nods.

“I’ve been watching them. They heard the gunshots.”

Shit!” Hamilton yells. Washington levels a glare at him, but Hamilton is worked up now. “They probably think these two are dead and are going to come bursting through the windows and-”

A ringing interrupts him, the chirping of the American national anthem playing from Lafayette’s direction. Everyone’s eyes are on the Frenchman as he pulls a phone out of his pants pocket.

“The number is blocked,” Lafayette says.

“It’s probably them,” Laurens replied, nodding at James. Lafayette looks at Washington. There is a thick silence as Washington contemplates the phone in Lafayette’s hand. The Star Spangled Banner continues to play in bright, chirping tones, the only noise in the room. Just as the song is coming to a close, Washington nods.

“Pick it up,” he says. Lafayette presses down on the screen and lifts the phone to his face.

“Hello?” He asks, swallowing. Thomas makes eye contact with James as Lafayette listens to the other person on the line. Lafayette lowers the phone and says: “They want to be on speaker. They wish to speak with all of us.” Washington nods again, and Lafayette presses the screen and holds it out. “You’re on speaker,” Lafayette says.

“Thank you,” Louis’ voice, small and quiet comes through. Lafayette mashes the volume button and cups his hand around the speaker. “I’m Louis Capet, but you can call me Louis.” Louis pronounces is name in the French manner, Louie. “First things first. How are Thomas and James?” Washington nods again and Thomas clears his throat.

“Hey, Louis. We’re both okay. Well, we’re at gunpoint, James is on the floor, and I’m bleeding slightly, but otherwise okay,” Thomas says.

“James?” Louis asks.

“I’m here,” James grunts, his voice muffled from his position on the floor.

“Okay, good. That’s great. I was talking to Lafayette earlier, but I’m afraid I don’t know the rest of you?” Louis tilts his voice up. Washington nods and Lafayette speaks.

“John, Alex and George.”

“George?” Louis asks. Lafayette hesitates again, and Washington steps forward.

“Washington. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Capet.”

“Pleasure to meet you too, Mr. Washington.” If Louis is surprised to know that Washington is in the room, his voice doesn’t show it. “I’d like to discuss some things face-to-face with you if you don’t mind.”

“Actually, I do mind,” Washington says. Louis lets out a good-natured chuckle as if he was listening to a bad joke from a coworker.

“So, over the phone it is. What can I do for you to get you to send Thomas and James down to me unharmed?”

Washington folds his hands in front of his face. “I want two things,” he says, and waits.

“Alright, wh-”

“One,” he says, interrupting Louis, “I want a guarantee that me and my boys are walking out of here. Two, medical attention for my boys Agent Jefferson managed to injure.” Washington presses his lips to his knuckles as he waits for Louis’ reply.

“Well, we can send medical supplies in pretty soon, but any medical professionals won’t be able to come up,” Louis says. “As for the other thing...I’d have to talk to my superiors.”

“Understandable,” Washington says.

“May I inquire as to the medical state of Thomas and James?” Louis asks. Washington looks up at Laurens, who starts.

“Oh, uh. They’re fine. The tall one-”

“Thomas,” Louis corrects,

“Thomas, yeah,” Laurens says, “He’s got a little laceration on his head, and there’ll probably be a bump or two, but he’s fine.”

“Fucking shame,” Hamilton says. Laurens shoots him a look.

“Alex,” Washington warns.

“He broke my damn nose!” Hamilton gestures to his face. Thomas wonders if Louis can hear Hamilton’s outburst.

“Calm down, you’ll still be pretty,” Laurens says.

“Who’s got the broken nose?” Louis asks, feigning innocence. It’s only because Thomas knows him so well that he can hear the contained laughter in his voice.

“Alex,” Laurens says.

“So you must be John,” Louis says.

“Uh, yeah.” Laurens ducks his head as if embarrassed he gave up his identity.

“So we have Thomas’ injury, Alex’ nose, and…?” Louis asks.

“What does it matter?” Hamilton shouts, probably so Louis can hear him on speaker.

“I just want to send up all the right supplies, alright?” Louis says. “I’m talking to a medic right now. They’re assembling something based on what you tell me.”

“Alex has another laceration, and Laf’s got a million small ones. Can you send up some gloves and tweezers? I’ll need to pick some glass out of his cuts.” Laurens says. They can hear Louis repeat the information, and there’s a pause.

“Alright, here’s what we’ve got so far…” and Louis rattles off a list of medical supplies while Laurens listens intently. When Louis reaches the end of the list, he asks if they want anything more. Laurens thinks for a moment, but says no.

“Great. Glad we have that sorted,” Louis says. “How do you want to get this? We were thinking we would send an Agent up to your door and you could just grab it.”

“No,” Washington says immediately. “No direct hand-offs.”

“Alright. We could drop it off and walk away.”

“How do we know you’ll really walk away?” Hamilton asks.

“Don’t most apartments come with a peephole?” Louis asks. Lafayette clears his throat.

“No, not mine.” Thomas furrows his brow, there’s obviously a peephole on this side of the door--oh. The flag on the other side must cover it up.

“Well, then. You’ll just have to trust me,” Louis says.

“Fuck that,” Hamilton spits.

“I’m inclined to agree, fuck that,” Lafayette says. Laurens nods his agreement. Washington pauses.

“Ultimately, it is your choice,” Louis says, “but if you say no...I really hope Alex doesn’t have a sinus or eye injury.”

“What?” Hamilton asks. “My nose is broken.”

“Yes, and sometimes broken noses can mess up your sinus cavities or injure your eyes,” Louis says.

“John?” Hamilton asks.

“Yeah, he’s right,” Laurens says, voice suddenly hoarse as he spins around and starts frantically scanning Alex’s face. “But I can’t tell, not without an x-ray.” Hamilton’s eyes widen, his free hand flying to his still leaking nose. Thomas isn’t a medical expert, but he doesn’t think that this long of a bleed is a good thing. “Don’t touch it!” Laurens admonishes.

“So, do you want the supplies?” Louis asks.

“Alex?” Washington asks, after a beat of silence. Hamilton, breathing a little frantic, is still holding his nose. He swallows, taking a shaking breath.

“I think...I’ll be okay. I’m fine,” he says, slowly lowering his hand from his face.

“Then no, we’re fine,” Washington says. “Thank you for the offer, Mr. Capet.”

“Are you su--”

“If you would please,” Washington interrupts, “do speak to your superiors. I would like to sleep in my own bed tonight, thank you.” And with that, Washington takes Lafayette’s phone and hangs up. A silence settles on the group.

“Welp, that was a thing,” Laurens says, lowering his face into his hands.

“I told you, screwed three ways to Sunday.” Hamilton says, quietly “They’re not going to just let us go. That’s not how this ends.”

All of everyone’s previous bravado disappears. Lafayette deflates, slinking behind the bar and starts to drink directly from a bottle of Jack Daniels. Laurens asks for a Sam Adams. Lafayette pulls out three bottles for him.

“We’re so fucked,” Laurens says, popping the lid off with one hand and taking a swig.

“Can I have alcohol?” Thomas asks. He gets nothing but glares. Washington still somehow looks like a stone wall. Thomas cannot begin to guess what’s going on in his mind. Washington catches him looking. He sighs, shaking his head.

“I thought you sounded too good to be true,” he says. Thomas chuckles.

“It was going extremely well for me too, so…” he trails. He’s hoping for a laugh. Getting these guys to like him even a little might help Louis out. But Washington’s expression darkens.

“Hamilton,” he commands. The man in question smiles.

“With pleasure, sir.” Hamilton smirks at Thomas. For a second, Thomas is terrified that Hamilton is going to pull the trigger, send him directly to the afterlife; go not pass ‘Go,’ do not collect two hundred dollars. Instead, Hamilton winds his gun hand up and swings. It connects, the muzzle of the gun hitting Thomas on the temple, just below where he’s bleeding from. There’s a blinding flash of pain, then nothing but inky blackness.

Chapter Text

“Thomas, Thomas!” Someone is calling for him.

“Holy shit, holy fuck I--I--shitshitshitshit,” comes another voice. Or is it another voice? Thomas can’t place where it’s coming from. It all sounds like it’s coming from everywhere at once.

“Alex, calm down,” someone says. The voices are all muffled.

“I killed him, holy fuck, he’s de-”

“Thomas,” the first voice says again. He knows it’s the first one because it’s much closer than the others. His head is pounding. The stench of vomit hits his nose. Something’s patting him on the face, gently. Thomas moans, five more minutes.

“He made a noise, he made a noise!” Someone--the third? Is it someone else?--says.

“I didn’t kill him?” The second one, definitely the second one, says.

“Thomas, you need to open your eyes. Thomas, please,” the first voice says. It’s kind but worried. Though it feels like a million needles in his face, Thomas complies. At first, the light is blinding. His head is screaming. He wants to shut his eyes again.

“No, no, gotta keep your eyes open, come on.” The face patting intensifies. Thomas tries to move away from the contact. The impacts are sending ripples of fire across his face. He opens his eyes again, forcing them open all the way. The light is all he can see for a moment, but then a dark, blurry shape begins to form. It separates into two, slowly coming into focus.

“Thomas, can you hear me?” One of the voices says. Thomas has lost track of which is which. The shapes are solidifying into faces. They’re still blurry, but Thomas recognizes…

“James?” He asks. His own voice sounds strangely distant, despite the intense reverberations he feels in his skull. “What--where am I?” The stranger’s face frowns. James looks concerned. About what, Thomas wonders.

“Lafayette’s apartment. Can you tell me what day it is?” James asks. Thomas thinks for a moment, but there’s nothing in his mind but static.

“I...what day is it?” He asks. He doesn’t know. James will.

The second face talks: “Hey, now, can you follow my finger?” But Thomas can’t see a finger. He frowns. What kind of question is that if he can’t--oh, wait, there it is...what was he doing again?

“Where am I?” He asks.

“Shit,” the second face says, then disappears. “He’s got one hell of a concussion.”

“How do you know?” James asks.

“He can’t focus, his pupils are two different sizes, he vomited, do you want me to go on?”

“How hard did you hit him, Alex?” Someone asks. The voices are slowly becoming clearer.

“I didn’t--oh god, oh fuck.” That voice cuts off, the sound of heavy, panicked breathing follows. Thomas feels concerned. Alex has a concussion or something. Thomas isn’t sure. He’s very tired. The smell of vomit is getting stronger and his stomach heaves at it. The light hurts his eyes.  He shuts them. A nap sounds really good right now.

“No, Thomas, hey!” James says, almost yelling, “Don’t fall asleep, you gotta stay awake.”

Why?” Thomas wines. “I’m really tired.”

“I know, Thomas, but you have to stay awake.” James is gently shaking him. Thomas opens his eyes and tries to give him a withering glare. Fuck James for not letting him nap. But James isn’t even looking at him anymore. “He needs medical attention, now,” he says, talking to someone else. The reply is muddled, but the deep voice is slightly familiar.

“Hate to say it boss, but yeah,” says the second voice, which is also familiar now. Lucy? Laren? Laurens. It’s John Laurens. Who is John Laurens? Thomas can’t quite remember. “We might have a dead man on our hands, otherwise.”

“Oh, so I really did kill him. Didja hear that, Laf?” The second voice says, “I killed him.” That’s… the name is just there...Ham? Turkey? Jesus, he was tired. And nauseous, but mostly tired.

“James, can I please just take a nap?” Thomas asks.

“No, Thomas,” James says, patting his cheek again. “Washington, please, he needs help.” The deep rumble come again, and James looks down at Thomas. Thomas doesn’t like how troubled James looks. If him taking a nap really upsets James this much, Thomas figures he’ll just have to stay awake.

“Hey, James,” Thomas says, “I won’t go to sleep if you don’t want me too.”

“Good, Thomas. I’d really like that.” James smiles gently.

“All you gotta do is ask. You’re my best friend, you know that, yeah?” Thomas asks. James takes his hand and squeezes.

“Of course I know,” James says. Laurens is speaking again, but Thomas pays him no attention.

“You’ve been my best friend since...how long have we been friends?”

“Fifteen years.”

“Fifteen years. Jesus. How long is that?”

“A real long time, Thomas.” James says. He’s squeezing his hand really hard now. It's a little uncomfortable, but James still looks distressed. Thomas knows how useful squeezing something real tight can be, so he lets James do it. Suddenly, his stomach twists. James pushes his head to the side and Thomas vomits, adding to the pile that was already there. His vision swims and he groans.

“James, where am I?”

“Lafayette’s apartment.”

“Who’s Lafayette?”

“The man who owns this apartment.”

“Oh, okay,” Thomas says. James squeezes his hand one last time and lets it drop.

“Looks like we really are going to be doing this like Richmond.”

“Cool.” Thomas smiles. “Who’s Richmond?” He asks, but James is turned away from him now.

“Washington, you need to listen to me,” James is saying. “No, don’t interrupt me. I know we got off on the wrong foot. That’s our fault. But we really do want to help you. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Yeah? Well, this situation is kind of like that. I’ll be frank with you, Mr. Washington. We--Thomas, my team and I-- all know that the gang underworld isn’t going to just stop if you take out a few key players. People are just going to step up and fill those roles. You arrest one guy, three are ready to take his place.

“And on a list of people we really don’t want in power, George King is number one. We would really like it if he was off the streets. But just arresting King and letting it go means anyone could take his place. Someone who’s leagues worse than King. So we decided to pick someone to support, someone to take King’s place. We chose you, Washington.

“It makes sense, right? You already hate the guy. You know what it’s like to live under his rule and you’ve told him to fuck off. Everyone knows that you’re fighting him. No one thinks you’re going to win, but what if you do? Think about it. King’s gone and you and your boys rule New York City. Thomas here was going to help you. He was going to give you whatever you wanted; drugs, money, weapons. Anything you needed to win your little revolution.

“But now? We still want to help you, our plan hasn’t changed. You’re going to have to provide a couple of things for us, now that you know we’re here and helping you out, but our offer stays the same. The government is willing to help you win, Washington. All you gotta do is say yes.”

“And what if I say no?” The deep voice asks.

“We leave, find someone else to back. Someone will take our help. You’ll watch them skyrocket to power while you trail behind. That is if King hasn’t wiped you out by then. He came close, didn’t he? In Safe Harbors. He came real close to having your head on a platter. Washington, we’re offering you a huge advantage.”

There is a silence. Thomas isn’t sure how long it lasts, his head is spinning. James has one hand on his chest but is staring at something Thomas can’t see. He wonders how anyone can see anything with this blinding light in their faces.

“You can’t seriously be considering this, sir,” Laurens says.

“I think it’s a good idea,” someone else says, the French accent making it a little hard to understand.

“Laf!” Laurens says incredulously.

“What would you need?” The same, deep rumbling voice says. Thomas finally manages to put a name to it, Washing Machine. No, that’s wrong. Something about that seems...off.

“You’d need to accept one of us--Thomas, me, someone--into the Sons. We’d have to know what you’re doing, and be a part of your decision making. We’d need a guarantee that person would be safe. And you can’t lie to us. And you need to let me get Thomas to a doctor. Now.”

“I don’t need a doctor, James. I’m perfectly fine,” Thomas protests. James pats his chest.

“Of course you don’t. Washington?” James asks. Thomas picks up his head to see who he’s talking to. It’s spinning, everything’s spinning. Thomas lays back down, regretting his past decision to move. There’s a silence. James’ hand tenses, bunching the fabric of Thomas’ shirt in a fist.

“Alright. Call your Mr. Capet, get Agent Jefferson a medic. We’ll hash out the details.”

Laurens erupts into shouts, but James lets out a breath and his hand relaxes. He turns back to Thomas. “Did you hear that, Thomas?”

“I don’t need a medic,” Thomas grumbles. James is already pulling out his phone.

“Someone still needs to look at Alex’s nose.” The French voice says. James nods, the phone pressed to his ear.

“Louis, yeah, you’re not gonna believe what just happened up here,” James says, no small amount of relief in his voice. “No, no everyone’s still alive. They’re willing to talk to us though, we’re going to set up a Richmond situation...Yeah, but listen. Come on up here, bring Martha and some paramedics. Thomas has got one hell of a concussion, and we’ve still got that broken nose that needs looked at…. Yeah, you’ll know it. He’s painted a giant French flag on the outside. Can’t miss it.”

Thomas smiles into the lights, starts to giggle. “There's a giant French flag on the door,” he says to James’ questioning look. “France is so fucking cool. It's got Paris and Nice and-”

“Gotta go, he's rambling about France. Get the medics here ASAP.” James shoves his phone back into his pocket. Thomas is still talking, his hands starting to flail about as he describes the Eiffel Tower. James grabs them and forces them to his sides.

“-And the food! My god, the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had and vanilla ice cream--hey James? Can we get ice cream?”

“I'm sure you can get some at the hospital, Thomas,” James is smiling now, looking at the door as it swings open. Thomas looks up. Martha is upside down, looking down at him.

“Martha! What are you doing here?” Thomas’ eyes are glued on her as medics kneel by his side. His brows furrow. “Where is here?” One of the medics looks up at James.

“Yeah, he's asked like, four times,” James says. The medic nods, and tells the other one to stabilize Thomas’ head and neck. Before Thomas can complain about people touching his hair, he's being lifted onto a stretcher. The movement sends pain shooting through his head, and his vision blacks out again. Just before Thomas passes out, he wonders if James is going to be mad at him for falling asleep.

—————

Thomas wakes up to the worst headache he's ever had--and he suffers from migraines. He knows what he's talking about when he's whining to James in the hospital room.

“Take it from me, never get hit with the broad side of a gun. I don't recommend it,” Thomas is saying, bunching his bed sheet in his hands. He's sitting up, waiting on lunch. He's really hungry, he hasn't eaten since before he walked into The Frenchman last night. James laughs.

“You don't have to tell me twice,” he says. James’ laugh is quiet, a subdued chuckle. Thomas grins, but his smile turns into a wince as his head throbs. James’ smile falls.

“How are you feeling, for real?”

Thomas considers the question. “It’s like the worst migraine I’ve ever had.” James is silent for a moment.

“Maybe you should go back to Virginia, then,” he says. “Go home, get rest.” Thomas furrows his eyebrows.

“Doc says I can go back to work when I feel like it.”

“Thomas, concussions are nothing to laugh at. Another major injury could cost you your life.”

“So I won’t get injured,” Thomas says. “I’m staying here, James.”

“I’m just saying-”

“I’ll be fine. Consider the matter settled.”

“If Director Farnese finds out-”

“If no one tells him, he won’t find out.”

James opens his mouth to speak when a nurse comes in with food. Thomas digs into the pudding as the nurse asks him basic questions. She has him repeat the basic cognitive assessment he did when he first woke up, nods approvingly, then disappears.

“This tastes like shit,” Thomas says, shoveling another spoonful into his mouth.

“It's hospital food, Thomas. What do you expect?” James asks.

“Only the best cuisine for us sick, injured and infirm,” Thomas says, feigning offense. James shakes his head, a small smile on his face.

“Maybe I should call the nurse to run those logic tests again,” he says. “You do have three separate concussions.”

“Minor, James, minor.” Thomas shakes his spoon at his partner. James raises an eyebrow.

“You started ranting about the glories of France.”

“I do that anyways. If anything, you should have taken that as a good sign.” Thomas finishes the pudding. He eyes his soup warily, but the growling in his stomach wins out.

“Speaking of that, I've got a question,” James says. Thomas nods and he continues: “After you and Hamilton left and we got things sorted with Washington, Lafayette asked me if you had actually been to France or if it had been the concussion talking. I told him that you had actually studied in France for a year and you were fluent in French. Then Laurens got this mortified look on his face and Lafayette started mocking him in French but wouldn't tell me why.”

Thomas grins into his soup. “Laurens called me cute and teased Lafayette about taking me home for a one night stand, all in French.”

James' eyes light up. “You gotta tell Friedrich and Ben about that. They'll get a hoot out of that.”

“Aw, man. I wish I could have seen Laurens’ face.” Thomas imagines the freckled man’s shock and horror upon learning that Thomas was bilingual. He laughs at the cartoonish picture in his head. He shakes his head, as if to clear this image, then regrets it. Sudden movements still leave his head spinning. The doctors said that he was should be fine, to stay off electronics as much as possible and not to drive--Thomas was more pissed about that one--and time would heal the injuries to his head.

That didn't mean it didn't hurt like a bitch in the meantime.

“So, you never told me,” Thomas says, “Which one of us is the lucky bastard that gets to work with Washington directly?”

James’ smile fades a little. “No one,” he says. Thomas frowns.

“You said it was going to be like Richmond. One guy in the boss’ inner circle, help ‘em take down the big boys,” Thomas sticks another spoonful of soup in his mouth, “and then pull the smaller guy apart from the inside.”

James nods. “That's the plan, yeah. But Washington doesn't completely trust us yet.”

“So how is this gonna work?” Thomas asks around the spoon in his mouth. “If we can’t get to Washington, there’s no way we can destroy the Sons.”

“We’re going to meet with one of Washington’s boys who’ll act as a go-between until Washington feels comfortable letting us all the way in.”

“You can't be serious.” Thomas pulls the spoon from his mouth. “We’ll never get them to tell us what they're doing.”

“They're going to have to. They agreed: they do something without notifying us, the deal’s off.”

“If we find out about it, you mean,” Thomas mutters. James pats him on the hand, a resigned smile of his face.

“We’re just going to have to trust each other,” he says, “work our way to the top, then start sowing distrust among the Sons. Honestly, it might be better this way. They might trust us more by the time we make it back to Washington’s inner circle ourselves.”

“I don't like it,” Thomas says.

“Neither do I,” James replies. They sit in contemplative silence, the ticking of the wall clock the only noise. Thomas grunts, pulling his hand away from James and digging angrily back into his soup. It’s thin and doesn't give him the satisfaction he needs stabbing into the bottom of the bowl.

“So who’s going to be meeting this messenger boy?” He asks. James hesitates.

“We--Washington and I--were hoping you'd do it. If you were okay to work, that is.”

Thomas chokes on his soup. “Me? Why?”

“Well,” James begins, “people saw you leave The Frenchman with Lafayette, for one. Also, I think Washington secretly likes you.”

“Bullshit.”

“No, seriously. He complimented your bravery to risk walking into Lafayette’s apartment alone, and standing your ground against Hamilton.” James shrugs. “He said that you must be smart guy to almost pull off what you did. Not your fault Burr fucked you over.”

Fuck Burr,” Thomas all but growls. James nods in agreement. “Fuck me for deciding to speak to him.”

“You didn't know what would happen.”

“Fuck me all the same.” Thomas rubs his eyes. “I'll do it though. Should at least be interesting.”

“Thought you'd say that,” James smiles.

“Now, who am I going to be meeting with?”

Chapter Text

“Look at what the cat dragged in,” Hamilton says from the booth he's sitting in. Thomas glares at him, debating the actual need to sit down with the man. “Are bandages the hot new look?” Hamilton asks, smirking. Thomas still has a large gauze patch on his upper forehead from when Lafayette had slammed him into the bar.

“Well, if you’re rocking it, it’s already dead,” Thomas shoots back. Hamilton’s nose is covered in bandages. He glares, the look deadened by the fact he has to have his mouth open to breathe. He’s also got the cut on his forehead covered. Thomas can’t help the giddy satisfaction he feels looking at Hamilton’s injuries. It serves the bastard right.

“You going to sit, or stand there like an idiot?” Hamilton motions to the open booth across from him. Thomas glances around the diner, but no one’s paying attention to them. It really is a nice diner, with linoleum tiles and red pleather seating, like in old 50’s movies. There’s a buzzing from the kitchen window where someone is filling breakfast orders. Thomas sighs and slides into the booth. As he sits, he fights down a sudden dizzy spell. He folds his hands on the table in front of him, the pressure against his hands is grounding.

“So, what is this supposed to be?” Thomas asks.

“You’re not wired again, are you?” Hamilton asks, his voice dropping. Thomas cocks an eyebrow.

“Like I’m going to be the one to break the agreement,” he says. Hamilton’s eyes narrow.

“I’m not either,” he says.

“Good. The deal won’t be broken then.” Thomas smiles, but it’s strained.

Fantastic.” Hamilton spits. A tense silence falls, both men sizing the other up. Hamilton’s eyes are searching Thomas for who-knows-what, maybe the hint of a radio pack or some other such device.

“You’re not going to find anything. You shot my radio, remember?” Thomas says. Hamilton smiles to himself and grunts. There’s a silence again, and this time Thomas decides Hamilton is going to be the one to break it. He waits, starring the brunette down. Hamilton is spared, however, as the waitress comes over to take their orders. Thomas realizes he hasn’t even looked at the menu on the table in front of him, but orders a coffee and sunny-side eggs up anyway. Hamilton asks for a coffee and just some toast. The black-haired girl smiles politely, scribbling on her notepad and leaves.

“So,” Hamilton says, “what all do you want to know?”

“Who’s who, how you’re organized, why you hate King so much...Everything, basically.” The waitress comes back and pours their coffee. Hamilton waits until she’s gone before speaking again.

“That’s going to take a while.”

“Give me the cliff notes,” Thomas says, grabbing the creamer from the table and pouring multiple packets into it. The sugar follows as Hamilton rolls his eyes and drinks his coffee black.

“Washington’s the boss,” Hamilton begins, “he’s got some lieutenants and then a governor for every chapter. We hate King because he’s an asshole.” With that, Hamilton crosses his arms and sits back, apparently satisfied with his answer. Thomas lowers his coffee mug slowly, hearing it chink against the tabletop.

“Do you want to give me more details?” Thomas prompts. Hamilton shrugs.

“Not particularly,” he says with a smirk. Thomas puts his hands together and holds them up to pursed lips. He can’t believe this man. Hamilton just sits there with the same expression, looking almost innocent. Thomas lets his hands drop so they are pointed towards Hamilton and shakes his head.

“That’s not how this deal works,” Thomas says, “I need details.”

“And if I don’t give them to you?” Hamilton asks.

“I walk out of here, throw my support behind one of your enemies, and you never see me again until you’re on the other side of prison bars,” Thomas threatens. Hamilton pauses, and for a second, Thomas thinks he’s considering it. There’s a contemplative tilt to his head, a thoughtful gleam to his eye.

“I like the part about you walking out of here and me never seeing you again. What do I have to do to get that to happen?” Hamilton asks, and Thomas swears he’s almost legitimately curious.

“Beats me,” Thomas says, “I don’t particularly care for this arrangement either.”

“Then why did you even set this up in the first place?!”

“I wasn’t aware I was going to be meeting with Lexy ‘I pistol whip people for fun’ Hamilton.” Thomas stirs his coffee absentmindedly. No point getting worked up like Hamilton was, his face turning a shade of pink Thomas remembers from when he called the shorter man ‘short stack.’

“Yeah, well, if you hadn’t broken my nose or been talkin’ shit, I wouldn’t have done it,” Hamilton spits. “What kind of idiot asshole taunts the guys holding him at gunpoint? I’m honestly surprised someone hasn’t already shot you. In my opinion, you can take a cap in the ass and carry it all the way back to Alabama or wherever the fuck you’re from.” Hamilton takes a breath and continues, “And for another thing; you fight like a turkey without a head, wings or legs and can’t take a hit from a feather blowing in the damn breeze. It’s a wonder you made it out of childhood you p-”

“Eggs?” The waitress interrupts. Thomas nods and she puts the plate down in front of him. He smiles at her as Hamilton pouts, upset at being interrupted. He glowers at her as she puts his plate down, but she simply smiles back at Thomas.

“Thanks, darlin’,” Thomas says, and she giggles.

“No problem. Call if you need anything!” She says, not looking at Hamilton once. Hamilton’s gaze follows her, shooting daggers as she walks away.

“So, then, we’ve established we both don’t want to be here,” Thomas says, taking a bite of his breakfast. The eggs are greasy and don’t have any salt to them. He reaches for the salt shaker as he talks. “Why don’t you just tell me what I want to know, and we can get out of here.” Hamilton’s head snaps back around and he thumps down into his seat.

“What do you want to know?” He grumbles.

“Who are these ‘lieutenants’ and what do they do? And what about your governors?”

Hamilton sighs. “There are five lieutenants,” he says, “Me,” Alex holds up his middle finger, and Thomas frowns. “Laurens, Lafayette,” Alex is ticking off more fingers now, “Benny A and Benny T. Laurens and Lafayette run The Fighting Frenchman together, but Laurens handles a lot of the businessy things and Lafayette handles our PR, so to speak. Benny A runs security and manages our boys. Benny T and I do...things.” Hamilton says without room for argument. Thomas argues anyway.

“Things?”

Things, yeah.”

“What kind of things?”

Things, things.”

Thomas rolls his eyes. “Hamilton, look. You have to be honest with me. We’re not going to get anywhere if you’re not.”

“I am being honest!” Hamilton protests, slamming his already empty mug onto the table.

“Then stop omitting important facts!”

“They’re not important facts.”

“Stop omitting facts at all then.” Thomas counters. Hamilton glares. If looks could kill, Thomas thinks.

“I help run communications, smuggle things, handle money, whatever needs to be done. Benny T…” Hamilton pauses, glances around and leans forward. He motions for Thomas to come closer, and Thomas does, leaning carefully over his meal so his shirt doesn’t fall into his eggs. Hamilton gets within inches of Thomas. He leans up and puts his mouth up to Thomas’ ear. “Benny T does some…things!” Hamilton shouts the last word, laughing as Thomas jerks backward and almost knocks his coffee off the table. Thomas glares at him, feeling the liquid egg on his right elbow soaking through his shirt.

“Fuck you,” Thomas says, snatching a napkin from the dispenser on the table. Hamilton’s prank has caused his headache to flare. He glares at the egg on his shirt and start to dab it up, pretending it’s Hamilton’s face and ends up using more force than he likely needs. Hamilton is cackling, bent over in his seat with laughter. The other patrons at the diner are looking at them and Thomas reaches over to shove Hamilton’s shoulder.

“Oh man,” Hamilton says, sitting up and wiping a goddamned tear from his eye, “You fucking fell for it.”

Thomas glances around the diner. All eyes are on them. “Hamilton, stop,” he says, lowering his voice.

“The look on your face, holy shit.”

Hamilton,” Thomas all but growls. Hamilton finally stops and looks around when he catches Thomas’ quick glances.

“What? Can’t stand a little attention?” Hamilton says, smirking. “Wouldn’t have thought it, considering those jeans you were wearing last night. You had it aaaalllll--”

“Hamilton would you shut up,” Thomas says. Something about his tone finally brings Hamilton down, his smirk falling. “You are aware of what we’re talking about, right? In public?” Thomas whispers.

“Alright then, stop asking ‘bout B.T, yeah?” Hamilton’s voice also drops to a whisper. “B.T. isn’t someone we talk about in public.”

Thomas considers this for a moment, still leaning halfway across the table. He scans Hamilton’s face and decides, that yes, whatever ‘Benny T’ does isn’t safe to talk about in a diner. With thoughts of contract killing and other unspeakable things, Thomas asks one last question:

“What’s his full name, at least?”

“Benjamin Tallmadge,” Hamilton says, voice barely above a whisper. Thomas nods and leans back, retracting his hand. He can still feel the stares of everyone around him. Hamilton glances around again. “Don’t worry everyone,” he calls, “Just tried to prank my boyfriend. Didn’t go so well, as you probably could tell.”

Hamilton earns a chuckle or two and people turn back to their meals, but Thomas still feels unsettled. It doesn’t matter that their heads are turned, or that they’re engaged in conversation, he still feels like someone is listening. He can’t quite shake it, and can’t stop himself from one more glance around. He catches the waitress’ eye, and she gives him a little eyebrow wiggle. Somehow, that grounds him slightly, enough to force himself to turn his attention back to Hamilton.

“So,” Thomas says, clutching his coffee mug tightly, “What’s Benny A’s name?”

“Benedict Arnold,” Hamilton says.

Arnold, Father Monk says in Thomas’ head, but Thomas shakes it off. There’s no way, Washington’s too smart. Still though, weird coincidence, Thomas’ brain supplies.

Hamilton is talking again--A common occurrence Thomas is coming to find--about the ‘governors’. A governor runs a district or neighborhood but reports to Washington, or so Thomas understands. He only catches a few names, Henry Knox, Philip Schuyler, Nathaniel Green, until Hamilton’s words get lost between his fast speech and Thomas’ mounting distractions. The name Arnold is still tugging at him when Hamilton snaps his fingers directly in front of Thomas’ face.

“Hello? Earth to Mr. Southern Belle, Earth to--”

Thomas grabs Hamilton’s hand and pushes it out of his face. Thomas crinkles his nose at the smirk he gets.

“If you’re not going to listen to me, then what’s the point of these meetings?” Hamilton asks.

“I was listening,” Thomas protests. Hamilton raises an eyebrow. Thomas wants to smack it off his face.

“I sure hope you were, I’m not repeating anything.”

“I don’t need you to,” Thomas snaps.

“Name the governors then.” Hamilton sneers. He's calling Thomas’ bluff, but Thomas decides he's not going to have it.

“Are you a child?” Thomas mocks. “Name the governors or you're not a real Sons of Liberty fan?”

“It's a reasonable question.”

“I don't think so.”

“Well, you're an asshole, so your opinion doesn't matter.”

“You're a bastard, so yours matters even less.” Thomas had meant it as a simple comeback, just another jab. But Hamilton’s sneer falls, his face turns an ugly shade of red and his knuckles turn white around the fork he's holding.

“I am not a bastard,” Hamilton spits, his eyes blown wide in rage. “Don't you fucking dare call me that!”

Hit a nerve, did I? Thomas files this away in his mind. He should let it go, but Thomas’ mouth is already working faster than his brain.

“Methinks he doth protest too much.” Thomas smirks as Hamilton’s face contorts in anger.

“Shut the fuck up,” Hamilton says, voice tight.

“Make me,” Thomas taunts. Hamilton stews, his shoulders drawing in tight. He looks down at the mug in his hands. He purses his lips and twists around in the booth.

“Hey, can I get some more coffee?” He asks, and their waitress smiles.

“‘Course darling,” she says, grabbing the coffee pot from the counter. She comes over and fills Hamilton’s mug, smiling amicably. Thomas is still smirking, and Hamilton still looks like he’s about to burst. “There you go,” the waitress says, topping off the mug, “anything el--”

Hamilton grabs his mug and throws the coffee directly onto Thomas. It splashes across his face and chest, the steaming liquid already burning into his skin. The waitress jumps back with a gasp, clutching the coffee to her chest as if Hamilton is reaching for it to make another attack. But he doesn’t. Instead, he slams his hands on the tabletop and stands.

Fuck you,” he spits, “how can one person be so fundamentally horrid? And I was worried about accidentally killing you. We’re done here.” With that, Hamilton throws his now empty mug at Thomas, striking him directly in the chest. He gets out of the booth, pushing past the waitress roughly.

“What are you all looking at?” He snaps at the other diner patrons as he stomps out, the door slamming open and shut behind him. As he passes Thomas in the window, he shoots him the bird and stalks off. Thomas watches him disappear down the street, feeling his hair drip with coffee.

“Towel?” The waitress offers, handing Thomas the white cloth from her apron. He takes it and rubs the coffee from his face. “Are you burned?”

“No, don’t think so. Not seriously anyway,” Thomas mutters, looking down at his shirt. This one was expensive and really soft. The regular diner chatter starts up again as Thomas digs out his wallet.

“If I were you, I’d start looking for a new boyfriend,” the waitress says. Thomas snorts and throws about thirty dollars on the table.

“No kidding,” he says, “This should cover everything.” He stands, forgetting about the mug in his lap. It tumbles and hits the floor before Thomas can catch it. He hears it shatter beneath the table. He throws another ten dollars onto the table and carefully extracts himself from the booth, ignoring the telltale crunch beneath his feet. “Tell your boss I’m sorry.”

Thomas tries not to react to the questioning looks the other customers are giving him. He walks out of the diner, each footfall sending spikes of pain through his skull, and out onto the street. Immediately, the red Crown Victoria in the parking lot roared to life and pulled up to the street. Thomas yanks the passenger side door open and site down.

“So, how’d it go?” Louis asks, innocently, from the backseat. James snorts as he pulls away. Thomas glares over his shoulder at Louis.

“Hamilton is paying for my dry-cleaning,” Thomas mutters, slouching down into his seat. Louis reaches up and pats him on the shoulder.

“Aww, don’t pout big guy, we’ll get you another playmate.”

“Oh, shut up.” Thomas opens the glove compartment and digs out a bottle of Tylenol. He swallows two with nothing but spit and glares out of the window.

“What did he tell you, though?” James asks, eyes glued to the road. Thomas explains what Hamilton had told him as James drives three blocks away, turns around and comes right on back to David’s Diner. He pulls up next to the restaurant and Sally comes out, sans her waitress uniform. She takes one look at Thomas and breaks out into laughter.

“Shut up, Sally. Not in the mood,” Thomas growls. Sally just laughs harder as she climbs into the backseat. She pulls her black hair out of it’s bun and shakes it loose.

“What happened? I’m no good at reading lips.” Louis asks.

--------------

“He threw coffee at you?” Friedrich says, guffawing. Thomas glowers, his way blocked by the SWAT commander and Ben.

“Yes, now, may I please get to my room so I can shower?” Thomas asks. Neither Friedrich or Ben move.

“Aw, is Tommy upset his new boyfriend broke up with him?” Ben teased.

“Only managed one date, poor boy,” Friedrich says, “you must really have scared him off.”

“I swear to god…!” Thomas says, shoving his way between them. Friedrich is a rock, but Ben is much physically weaker, shuffling his feet to avoid falling to the wall.

“He really is upset. Must have liked him a lot,” Friedrich says. Thomas ignores him, furiously swiping his hotel key and throwing his door open when he sees the green light. James is already inside, having avoided Friedrich and Ben’s taunting. Thomas rummages around in one of his suitcases and pulls out his shower bag.

“...yeah, okay. I’ll talk to him...No, I’m sure it’s fine.” James holds up one finger as Thomas is about to slip into their shared bathroom. He’s talking to someone on the phone. Thomas lets out a sigh, and pulls of his shirt. He examines the coffee and egg stains with a weary eye. “...You’re welcome. I’m glad you called. Get this all worked out.” James turns away when Thomas makes a ‘wrap it up’ sign. Thomas rolls his eyes and throws his shirt onto his bed. He’s got a stain-stick somewhere. He’ll deal with it after the shower. What’s an extra thirty minutes when it’s all already dry?

“James, I smell like bad coffee. It’s in my hair, hurry it up or let me shower,” Thomas complains. James rolls his eyes.

“...No, he’s fine. No burns...I’m glad too….mhm….We’ll call you back, okay?...Good talking to you too, Mr. Washington.” James hangs up his phone and tosses it on his bed. “That was Washington.”

“Yeah, I got that,” Thomas says, patience running thin. James continues:

“He apologized for Hamilton’s behavior--”

“A habit I’m sure he’s formed.”

And asked for a second chance,” James says.

“Tell him to send anyone else and I’m more than willing.” Thomas says, moving to shut the door. The look on James’ face stops him though. “What?”

“I told him that’s what you’d likely say. He said that there’s no one else to send.”

“Laurens or Lafayette.” Thomas counters.

“He says they can’t, not if we want regular meetings. They’re too busy doing other things.”

Thomas takes a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Let me guess, he doesn’t want anyone else but me either.”

“Thomas...” James says.

“So that’s a yes.”

“He knows it’s his side that screwed this up. He’s trying to fix it. You can’t shut down communication.”

“But-”

“No buts. This is our best shot, isn’t it? If you go back, it’s a sign of good faith. We’re willing to forgive. And, it's not us begging him for another meeting. Washington’s desperate, Thomas. You can’t throw this away.”

James is right, Thomas knows. He sighs and rubs his eyes. “Let me shower first, okay?”

“I’ll call him back, set something up.”

“You do that,” Thomas says, shutting the door. He looks at himself in the mirror, hair matted from the coffee. He looks like a limp poodle. He heard James speaking faintly from the other side of the door. Thomas leans against the mirror and shuts his eyes.

Just what has he gotten himself into?

Chapter Text

When Thomas returns to the diner, it is dinner time and Hamilton is nowhere to be seen. Sally--redressed in her uniform--got him a sandwich and an order of fries. He pushes the fries around on the plate and watches the clock, counting every minute that Hamilton was late.

Someone plays old Springsteen on the jukebox. Thomas looks over to the box, and saw Sally smiling. Thought you’d like it her expression read, then she went back to her job, serving sodas to teenagers who wolf-whistle her. A protective urge twists in Thomas’ stomach, and he has to remind himself that he was on the job. He couldn’t make a scene.

Save that for Hamilton, he thinks. He is sitting in the same booth as earlier--there’s a recording device under the little condiment tray by the window. Not that he’d tell Hamilton that, nor does he need to. He silently praises New York’s one party recording laws. But the booth still smells like spilled coffee and it is giving Thomas a headache.

I don’t need a babysitter!

Thomas can hear Hamilton shouting from the street outside. He groans, his head pounding. He looks out the window and sees Hamilton--doing what else?--arguing with someone. The other man looked serene despite Hamilton's spit-showering, red-faced yelling. His hair stuck out at an odd angle from the side of his head, as if a gust of wind was hitting him directly in the face. He was calmly walking behind Hamilton, who was practically stomping to the diner door.

“I swear to God if you follow me into this diner…!” Hamilton shouts, pushing open the diner door.

“Alexander, I am coming with you,” the man says, scanning the diner. “Washington’s orders.”

“Then go back and tell Washington that I don’t need a babysitter,” Hamilton hisses.

“So you’ve said. Repeatedly.” The man makes eye contact with Thomas and nods towards him. “That him?”

Hamilton glances at Thomas and scowls. “If it is?” Hamilton stomps over to the booth and throws himself into the seat across from Thomas. He scoots all the way to the window and pouts, crossing his arms and glaring out the window. The other man sighs and sits down next to Hamilton.

“John Adams, Washington’s second in command,” he says, offering a hand. Thomas takes it and finds Adam’s handshake to be surprisingly weak.

“Will Clark,” Thomas says with a smile. Adams retracts his hand much too quickly for a proper handshake.

“I was told your name was Jefferson,” Adams says.

“Oh?” Thomas raises an eyebrow, “by whom?”

“George,” Adams says. Thomas relaxes a little.

“Well, then, your information is correct, Mr. Adams.”

“John is fine, but don’t worry about me.” Adams looks over at Hamilton, who is currently giving him a death glare from his corner of their shared booth. “I’m just supposed to be a mediator.”

Hamilton mutters something about not needing a mediator, especially a motherfuckstick of a mediator. He’s shaking his leg under the table, looking as if he’s ready to reach over and slit Adams’ throat. Thomas can’t help but what Washington’s plan was. Surround Hamilton with people he doesn’t like! That’ll put him in a good mood. Adams looks at his watch.

“We’re late,” Adam says, but there is no apology in his voice.

“So you are,” Thomas replies, but there is no forgiveness in his voice.

His fault,” Hamilton mutters, jerking a thumb in Adams’ direction. Thomas doubts it, easily imagining Hamilton throwing a hissy-fit when he was told he had to come back to the diner. Adams rolls his eyes and leans back in the booth. Thomas takes the opportunity to pull a notepad out of his pocket.

“We’ve got a few questions,” Thomas says, throwing the pad onto the table.

“Shoot,” Hamilton grumbles. Thomas does, drawing information from Hamilton slowly, painfully. It’s like pulling teeth. Hamilton takes to answering Thomas as vaguely as possible, meaning Thomas had to take time and press for every detail specifically.

“What’s your territory?”

“Neighborhoods throughout the city.”

“Where in the city?”

“Manhattan.”

“What neighborhoods?”

“Harlem, a few others.”

“List them for me.”

“Where are your manners?”

Would you please list them for me?” He asks, false sincerity in his voice as he throws back another couple of Tylenol tablets.

When Thomas manages to cover the first page, he glances at the clock. It’s been over an hour and a half. Food has come and gone, and Thomas is exhausted. His headache has gotten progressively worse despite the Tylenol and all he wants to do is crash back at the hotel for a few days. He felt like his head had been steamrolled and covered in asphalt. Twice.

“We almost done here?” Hamilton asks.

Thomas nods. “One more question.” Hamilton huffs and drains his milkshake. “Benedict Arnold. I want to know more about him.” Hamilton’s eyes narrow.

“Why?”

“Benedict Arnold,” Ben says, eyes glued to his computer. The three-laptop setup has been spread over the small desk in the hotel room. Thomas leans over his shoulder and watches Ben fly through page after page of data. “Do you have any more information I can use?”

“He’s with the Sons, might have arrest records?” Thomas’ head is spinning, he knows he shouldn’t be looking at the LED display with his multiple concussions. Ben is working much too fast for Thomas to keep up anyway, so he turns away. He watches Friedrich unpack the last of his stuff and shove it into drawers.

“Nada, sorry,” Ben says, shoving popcorn into his mouth, “unless you’re looking for a serial litterer.” Thomas glances at the screen. This Arnold lives in queens anyway. Thomas sighs, trying to block out his growing headache. Ben spins around in his chair, wavy hair flying. He’s in one of the hotel’s soft robes. “You think ‘Benny A’ is Safe Harbors Arnold?”

“James does. I’m not convinced.” Thomas says, standing up straight.

“One hell of a coincidence if it’s not,” Friedrich comments.

“Because it’s my job to know about him,” Thomas says, in too much pain to come up with a witty retort.

“What do you want to know?”

“Who is he, what does he do, where does he live, that kind of thing,” Thomas shrugs, trying to act nonchalant.

“Uh, he’s alright, I guess. He’s like, in charge of the governors.” Hamilton makes a vague hand gesture. “Don’t talk to him much. He used to run around with Green, Knox and Schuyler a lot, then Washington promoted him. Like I said, he’s alright. Kinda quiet.” Hamilton scowls. “Pretty jumpy, actually. Doesn’t speak up much. Agrees with everything the boss says.”

“So he’s loyal to Washington?” Thomas asks.

“Yeah, of course, why wouldn’t he be?” Hamilton asks, bristling. “We’d know if he wasn’t.”

“What makes you say that?” Thomas asks. Hamilton starts and Adams shoots him a glare.

“We’d know,” Hamilton insists. “He’s a shit liar.”

Well there you go James, Thomas thinks. I was right. But something is still nagging at him, in the back of his mind.

“Where does he live?” Thomas asks. Hamilton shrugs. Adams rolls his eyes--his favorite thing to do, Thomas thinks--and writes an address on a napkin. Thomas pulls out his phone and texts Ben the address. That should be enough for Ben to work his magic.

“What was that?” Hamilton asks, eyes flicking between Thomas and the phone in his hand. Thomas holds up one finger, and a moment later Ben comes through. Thomas turns his phone around so Hamilton can see the picture Ben had sent him.

“This him?” Thomas asks. Hamilton's eyes widen.

“What the fuck?” He breathes. “I mean, yeah, that’s him. But how did you get that so quickly?”

“Governmental databases, Lexy.” Thomas smiles, “DMV records.”

“Just from your phone?” Hamilton asks, looking at Thomas’ phone like Thomas was holding a bar of solid gold. Thomas nods, more than willing to let Hamilton believe that. Thomas looks at the picture--a slightly chubby guy with the one of the largest noses Thomas has ever seen. He turns it off and pockets his phone.

“Well, gentlemen, this has been fun,” Thomas says, standing. Thomas is fishing his wallet out of his pocket when Hamilton grabs his arm.

“Wait,” Hamilton says. Thomas raises an eyebrow. “What if I have questions for you?”

“Do you?”

“Yes, obviously.”

“Too bad,” Thomas says with a smirk. Hamilton turns red.

“What do you mean ‘too bad?’’ Hamilton snarls.

“It’s late Hamilton,” Thomas says.

“We’re not done here, sit your ass down.” Hamilton’s grip on Thomas’ wrist tightens. Thomas does not sit. “I’ve got questions.”

“Hamilton,” Thomas says, “We are the last ones here. The diner is closing.”

“I don’t care. How many feds are here?”

“I’m sure the wait staff and cooks care,” Thomas retorts.

“They can shut up. They know who owns this street,” Hamilton says. “They know who I am.”

“They know who I am, Alexander,” Adam cuts in. Hamilton ignores him.

“Answer my question, Jefferson,” Hamilton says. “How many federal agents did you bring in?”

“You sure would like to know.” Thomas pulls his arm out of Hamilton’s grip.

“How many feds?” Hamilton spits each word out like they were burning peppers in his mouth. Thomas shrugs and goes to throw money on the table, but thinks better of it. Hamilton or Adams can pay, he paid for breakfast. Thomas slides out of the booth and slips his wallet into his pocket. He’s halfway out of the diner when Hamilton calls after him.

“I’ll tell Washington you aren’t cooperating. Adams will back me up. No more of your precious meetings.”

Thomas stops and looks up at the ceiling. He’s tempted to walk right out, not even respond. But James’ warning, you can’t just throw this away, rings in his mind. He sighs.

“Six. There are six of us, not including SWAT.” Thomas is glad no one but Hamilton, Adams, Sally and the last remaining chef is still in the diner. This is not the conversation he wants to have surrounded by strangers.

“Is Jefferson your real name?” Hamilton asks.

“No, because I'm going to give you two fake names,” Thomas drawls, rolling his eyes. Hamilton glares daggers at him.

“Are you really going to give us drugs?”

Give?” Thomas asks, “no. Not give. But we will sell them to you.” Thomas glances at his watch. It’s almost 8:00. “Tomorrow, breakfast? I’ve got things to do.” Thomas doesn’t give Hamilton the chance to protest, he’s out the diner door in a flash. As he walks to the car, he can’t help glancing over his shoulder. Hamilton is glaring at him as Adams throws some money on the table. There’s a curl of satisfaction in Thomas’ chest when he waves goodbye and Hamilton scowls. Thomas throws open the passenger door of the Crown Victoria and sits down next to James.

“What are you smiling at?” James asks. Thomas hadn’t even realized he was still smirking.

“Nothing,” he says, watching Hamilton pout as they drive away. They’re going to have to circle until Sally says it is safe to come get her, and Thomas fills the time by reading James everything Hamilton told him. Sally texts him halfway through describing drug distribution routes and they head back and pick her up.

“I figure we have enough to start a map,” Thomas says. James sighs.

“You and your damn maps,” he mutters. Sally chuckles.

——————

“You and your maps,” James says, nursing a coffee in the precinct the next morning, “they're gonna be the death of you.”

Thomas smiles at him over his shoulder, putting yet another red pushpin into the large fold-out map on the wall. He'd forced James to buy one of the old-fashioned road maps of New York City, and another of just Manhattan, all for Thomas’ little pet project. Sure, it was a legitimate technique they taught in the academy, but Thomas took it to an extreme. He had a system he knew by heart, a million colors of pushpins he traveled with, and a color for every significant possible event or piece of information he might come across. He kept rolls of string, again multi-colored, for his own personal use. He even had laminated cheat sheets for those unfamiliar with his system. He had a picture of every map he had ever created carefully stored away--sorted in order of objective perfection.

Thomas and his maps, indeed.

“So is that ‘bright red’ or ‘blood red?’” Revere asks, looking up from the chest sheet in his hands. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“Crimson, obviously. I included reference pictures for a reason.” Thomas points to the cluster of red pins where Safe Harbors church should be. “That’s blood red. Blood red for deaths.”

“Crimson for enemy turf,” Sally chimes in, not needing to look at one of the cheat sheets spread out on the table. “Light blue for friendly. Clear with colors painted on shows the boundaries between gangs.”

“Dark blue for law enforcement,” James grumbles.

“Green for money laundering,” Louis says, without missing a beat.

“Purple for drugs, type specified by shade,” Friedrich adds, walking into the room, sipping on coffee.

“Orange for the arms trade,” Martha says without looking up from her phone. “Yellow for theft.”

“And pink for prostitution,” Ben sings from the phone on the table. Thomas gasps.

“Ben! You learned my system!” Thomas grins. “He learned it, guys!”

“Naw, I just know pink. That's all I need to know.”

“You are a federal agent, Benjamin Franklin.”

“Not when I'm off duty I'm not.”

As Thomas continues to bicker with Ben, Revere looks from person to person, disbelief on his face. “You know all this?!” He says, hitting the laminated paper in his hand.

“Unfortunately,” James says, draining the rest of his coffee. “Just wait until he starts adding pictures, documents, and the string.”

Revere’s eyes go wide, taking in the stacks of files and pictures Thomas has gathered on the table.

“Thanks for giving him a windowless wall, by the way. He hates it when natural light messes up his colors.” James swirls the coffee in his mug. Revere looks back at Thomas dutifully pushing crimson pins into the Manhattan map.

“I need more coffee,” he mumbles and leaves the room. Sally chuckles as he leaves, nearly running Sybil over as she came in. Sybil looks the wall up and down, watching Thomas meticulous’ construction.

“Nice map,” she says. Thomas beams at her.

“Thank you, Sybil! I'm glad somebody appreciates a good map,” he adds, glaring at his fellow agents. Sybil picks up a cheat sheet and scans it. She looks back up at the map with a furrowed brow. She comes up next to Thomas and taps the purple pin denoting The Fighting Frenchman.

“Shouldn't that be green? The Frenchman is obviously a money-laundering operation.”

Thomas frowns. “Hamilton said they used to run ecstasy through there.”

“Yeah, but do you really think they don't run dirty money through there too?” Sybil asks. Thomas considers her point for a moment and grabs a green pin.

“Do you want a job, Sybil? Be a federal agent?” Thomas pushes the pin into The Fighting Frenchman next to the purple one. He grins at her, she smiles back.

“Paul needs me, sorry Agent Jefferson,” she teases. Thomas laughs.

“That he does, that he does.” Thomas puts the nearly empty crimson pin container down and steps back. It's not completed yet, Thomas still has to add the boundaries for each individual gang within King’s control, but he likes the way the colors follow the rigid lines of New York City’s grid of streets. He smiles contentedly.

“We should probably head out, Thomas,” James says, “Hamilton’s likely waiting for you at the diner.”

Thomas scowls.

—————

Thomas storms out of David’s Diner not five minutes into the meeting with Hamilton. There’s sugar in his hair and he's clutching his ruined notebook tightly.

“I hate him! I hate him, James!” Thomas shouts, waving the torn notebook in the air. James rolls down his window sighing.

“Thomas…”

“Don't you ‘Thomas’ me.” Thomas grips the bottom of James’ window. “I can't do it. He's insane, insufferable, and completely impossible to work with.”

“Impressive alliteration, but you still have to go back in there,” James says. Thomas’ knuckles turn pale.

“You don't understand! I walked in there, sat down and he just--he just throws sugar on me. Out of nowhere! And he just laughs, surrounded by dozens of open sugar packets, and tells me that's my punishment for being late. Meanwhile, he was thirteen minutes late last night!” Thomas is yelling now, attracting the attention of passers-by on the sidewalk.

“We were twenty minutes late,” James reminds him.

“Only because he was late first!” Thomas hits the car door. “Let me in, we’re leaving.”

“Thomas,” James warns. Thomas huffs. “What happened to your notebook?”

“He tried to stop me from leaving by grabbing it and it ripped,” Thomas mutters.

“Well, that means he's apologetic, then. He tried to stop you,” James says to Thomas’ disbelieving look. “Just go back in and say you forgive him. Be the bigger man.”

“I don't want to be the bigger man,” Thomas wines. James rolls his eyes.

“Goodbye, Thomas.” James rolls up his window suddenly, forcing Thomas to jerk his hands away quickly.

“James! Let me in the car!” Thoma calls, knocking on the tinted window. James doesn't respond and Thomas huffs loudly. “At least let me borrow a notebook? And give me some more Tylenol?”

James rolls down his window just far enough to stick a small, spiral-bound notebook through the slot and two white capsules on top. Thomas snatches it away and the window slides shut again. Grumbling about partners who don't understand the difficulties of working with certain annoying gang members, Thomas starts to stomp back to the diner but rethinks his approach. He throws the medicine in his mouth, relaxes his shoulders and loosens his stride, strolling back in without a care in the world.

“I have decided-” Thomas says, slapping his new notebook onto the usual table, “-to forgive you for your immature little prank.”

“Was that before or after your partner locked you out of the car?” Hamilton asks.

Thomas has steam pouring out of his ears as he charges Hamilton twice the price he had originally wanted for half the cocaine. The FBI only has so much to sell, he justifies to himself, but does not deny himself the satisfaction he gets from watching Hamilton sign his life away.

——————

“Then Hamilton asked me if I enjoyed sleeping with my sister,” Thomas says, three hours later, in the car with James. They're sat outside Benedict Arnold’s apartment building, shooting the breeze, just trying to get a glimpse of the man. The DMV photo was apparently a few years old, and Thomas wants to make sure he still looked the same before bringing the photo to Father Monk.

“Yeah?” James asks, sipping on the dregs of his soda. Martha had brought them food an hour ago. The rest of the team were spread throughout the city, talking to the survivors of Safe Harbors again.

“So I told him that just because I am from the south, I am not a hick, and if I did have any sisters, she would kick him in the teeth for suggesting that.”

James let out a quiet chuckle--his version of a barking laugh. “The funny thing is I could see all six doing it too. Lizzie especially.”

“Elizabeth would keep kicking until his teeth were gone,” Thomas adds, drawing another chuckle from his best friend.

“Anne would kick him as hard as possible, then apologize and fetch him ice.”

“You’re not wrong,” Thomas responds, laughing. “Speaking of family, have you called Dolley yet?”

“The night you were in the hospital,” James responds. “She told me to tell you to stop being an idiot.”

“You didn’t tell her what happened, did you?” Thomas asks. James shakes his head.

“Of course not. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how you are.”

Thomas rolls his eyes good-naturedly, a smile on his face. Dolley was too kind, really, but she had that little kick to her. Especially when it came to Thomas. If he didn’t know better, he’d say Dolley didn’t like him. But he’d spent too many friendly dinners and evenings with James’ wife to have any bad blood between them. Thomas looks out the window, remembering Dolley’s promise to send them care packages from Virginia when the apartment door opens.

Thomas perks his head up as a short, slightly pudgy man came out of the building. He shuts the door behind him firmly and glances furtively up and down the street before making a hard left and walking briskly away. Thomas gently swats James on the shoulder. There’s no denying it, Benedict Arnold looks just like the photo they have. He’s lost a little weight since the photo was taken, his cheeks aren’t as full, but it’s him. He says this much to James, who nods.

“Good enough for you? Can we go see Father Monk now?” James asks. Thomas hesitates. Arnold is walking quickly, shoulders drawn tight. He’s shooting glances around him, behind his shoulder and down every alley he passes. A man passes him on the street and Arnold shies away from him.

“Where do you figure he’s going?” Thomas asks. James shrugs, but he’s staring Arnold down with the same intensity as Thomas is. “Do we follow him?”

After a beat, James shifts the car into drive and slowly creeps down the street after Arnold. Thomas pretends to busy himself with his phone, so if Arnold glances back maybe he won’t be suspicious. As if anyone wouldn’t be suspicious of a bright red car that’s following them slowly down the street. Thomas curses the color of the car as they crawl forward.

It’s agonizingly slow, even with Arnold speed-walking down the street in his haste to get wherever he’s going. Thomas drums his fingers on his leg, watching Arnold from his peripheral vision. Arnold jogs across an intersection and makes a left turn. James follows, speeding up a bit too much through the turn and Arnold's head snaps around to look at them.

James mutters a quiet curse and grips the wheel. He keeps moving, though, even as Arnold looks at them wide-eyed and picks up the pace. Thomas bites his lip as James speeds up ever so slightly. Arnold fixates his gaze on the ground, almost breaking into a jog. He keeps glancing over his shoulder at them, and Thomas gives up any pretense of staring at his phone. He makes eye-contact with Arnold and the man spins.

I know!” Arnold shouts, fear written across his face. “I’m going! I’m going!” Arnold turns back around and pushes through a couple on the sidewalk ahead of him. They give him confused looks and look back at Thomas and James. The man’s eyes flash, and he pulls the girl with him quickly down the street until Thomas can’t see them anymore. Thomas looks at James quizzically. James works his jaw, eyes trained on Arnold ahead of them.

Thomas glances around. The street is far from deserted, and people keep looking at him strangely. The side-long glances and the quick flick of heads away as Thomas tries to make eye-contact starts to freak him out. People keep looking at Arnold with sympathy and fear as he pushes past them.

“I don’t like this,” Thomas mutters. James grunts in agreement. Thomas doesn’t know what to make of this. He’s never been in a situation like this before. An old woman quickly shuts the curtains of her window when Thomas looks a little too long at her. “It’s almost like they’re all scared of us,” Thomas says, not moving his mouth much. James presses his lips together and just keeps following Arnold.

Then Arnold stops suddenly, reaching the door to a small condo. He’s breathing heavily and looks back at Thomas and James. James slams on the break. Arnold gestures to the door and mouths something--see? James gives a curt nod and Arnold visibly relaxes. He still looks like a spring wound way too tight, but he sighs and opens the door. He glances one last time at James and Thomas before disappearing into the condo.

The moment the door shuts, James speeds away. They’re four or five blocks away before he slows down and parks beside the street. Thomas lets out a deep breath. People are still shooting them odd looks, but Thomas does not care. He puts his face in his hands.

“What the hell was that?” Thomas asks. James hums, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel.

“We need to go back to the precinct,” James replies, pulling back out onto the street.

Chapter Text

James stares intently at Thomas’ map, drawing his finger along the streets they had followed Arnold down. He traces the grid carefully, making the turn and running into the wall of crimson pins.

“He was in Redcoat territory,” James muses, planting his finger on the condo Arnold had gone into. He is right, but not by much. Arnold’s apartment is solidly in Sons turf, but where he had gone was inside Redcoat lines.

“Alright, boys.” Ben’s voice comes from Thomas’ phone on the table. “Your mystery apartment belongs to...drum roll please…” Thomas obligingly drums on the table. Ben held the silence for what Thomas thought was a dramatically suitable time before finishing, “Edward Shippen!”

“Who is he?” Thomas asks.

“The wonderful owner of the fine condo you are so interested in is a medical student, twenty-five years old, and completely clean and boring. He goes to King’s College and interns at a local hospital.”

“Oh, wow. Thanks, Ben.” Thomas drawls. “Almost thought you found someone we could actually be interested in for once.”

“Hold on, my dear Tommy-boy, Uncle Ben’s got you covered. The almost-doctor Shippen has a sister, Margarita ‘Peggy’ Shippen.”

“Lots of people have sisters,” Thomas says dryly.

“Ahh, yes, but do many people have sisters married to the very same Benedict Arnold you so sneakily followed this afternoon?”

Thomas’ eyebrows shoot up, and he looks up at James. James bites his lip, lost in thought.

“So Arnold visited his brother-in-law. So what?” Thomas asks.

“He wasn’t acting like someone who was just visiting his brother-in-law. Who just shouts ‘I know, I’m going, I’m going’ at random cars when you visit extended family?” James asks.

“Maybe when your extended family has ties to rival gangs that just tried to kill you and your boss?” Ben asks. “I mean, Arnold should have been in that church with Washington, no? All of the lieutenants should have been, Hamilton said so. Hey, did we ever find out why they weren’t in church that morning?”

“Must have slipped my mind,” Thomas says, “but back up there. Shippen has ties to the Redcoats?”

“Yeah, I’ve got court testimony he gave at a robbery trial about the medical care he gave to the Redcoat defendant. Also: his roomate is a guy named John Andre, who’s done time for assault and actively identifies as a Redcoat,” Ben says.

“Well that must have put a damper on the wedding ceremony,” Thomas says. Ben laughs, but James is silent, staring at the condo on the map. “James, what are you thinking?” James pauses, his forehead scrunched in the way Thomas knows means he’s thinking, hard.

“I’m thinking the more and more we learn about this Arnold guy, the more I can’t help but think he was the Arnold at Safe Harbors.”

“James, Hamilton said Arnold was loyal.”

“And you trust everything Hamilton says?” James asks. Thomas scoffs.

“Of course not.”

“Then why are you ignoring the obvious connections here?” James whirls on Thomas.

“It doesn’t explain everything.” Thomas shakes his head.

“What doesn’t it explain? If we assume Arnold was convinced to turn Washington in, then we know how the Redcoats knew where and when Washington goes to mass. Monk gave us the name ‘Arnold.’ We assumed it was a first name, but it might not be!’

“Well, why was Arnold acting so skittish? Why yell at random cars?”

“Well the assault failed, didn’t it? And Monk said the ‘James’ character seemed pretty angry about that. I’d be scared if I tried to murder my gang boss but it didn’t work out.” James crosses his arms. Thomas frowns. The more he thinks about it, the more James has a point. But Hamilton had been so convinced. And from what Thomas knew about Washington, he didn’t seem like the kind of guy to let possible traitors into his inner circle. But if Washington didn’t know, it was entirely possible Arnold had just slipped through the cracks.

“But if that’s the case, why didn’t Arnold know that Washington wasn’t going to mass that day? Shouldn’t that have been something Arnold would have known, being a lieutenant and all?” Thomas asks. James frowns.

“Luck, I guess.”

“I don’t like answers that include ‘luck.’”

“Half of them do, in our business,” James says.

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Thomas grumbles, scooping up his phone and his jacket. “Let’s go talk to Monk. I want to show him Arnold’s picture.”

------------

Father Monk flips through the book of pictures, scanning the pages carefully. Each of the pictures looked similar to Arnold in some shape or form, but Arnold’s face was buried in the pages too. Monk turns a page and barely glances at this set of photos before pointing at one.

“Him. That’s the one who apologized to me,” Monk says. James takes the book and grabs the photo.

“Are you sure,” James asks, holding the picture out to him. Monk nods, clutching the hospital bed sheets.

“I see his face in nightmares.”

James turns the photo around and hands it to Thomas. It’s Arnold. Thomas sighs.

“Thank you, Father.”

------------

“Convinced yet?” James asks as they walk through the parking lot. Thomas frowns. There are still loose questions rattling around in his head, and Thomas doesn’t like to end something with loose questions. Why would Arnold give Washington up? Why didn’t he know that Washington wasn’t going to church that morning? Why had Arnold been that afraid of them today on the street? Why had everyone else?

They reach the car, Thomas still lost in thoughts and half-formed theories. He tugs on the passenger door before James unlocks it and he looks down at the handle. The bright red shines against his dark skin. Thomas gasps, and starts laughing as James finally unlocks the car and swings his door open. James looks at him quizzically, and Thomas explains:

“The car is red James.” Thomas motions to the Crown Victoria, still laughing. James nods slowly.

“Yes, Thomas. The car is red.”

“No, no, no-” Thomas shakes his head “--Think about it. Arnold saw a bright red car following him down the street. A bright red car,” Thomas prompts. James’ eyes go wide in understanding.

“He thought we were Redcoats sent to watch him.”

Thomas nods, still laughing. “‘I know, I’m going?’ He was on his way to a meeting with Redcoats, and there we were, following him.”

James shakes his head and slides into the driver seat. “Does this mean you’re convinced?”

Before Thomas can answer, James’ phone rings. James fishes it out of his back pocket and hands it to Thomas. James turns the car on as Thomas picks up the phone.

“This is Thomas, James is driving.”

“Good to know our law officials practice safe driving techniques,” the French-accented voice of Lafayette says with a chuckle.

“Monsieur Lafayette!” Thomas exclaims, “What can I do for you?” Thomas is hoping for a little of the friendliness he and Lafayette had built that first night, but Lafayette is polite, yet cold in his response.

“Ahh, you see, our friend Alexander seems to have made you a promise without consulting the rest of us.”

“What promise are we talking about?” Thomas asks.

“His deal with you for coke,” Lafayette says, “is too steep for the rest of us.”

“That’s the deal Hamilton and I hashed out, Lafayette.”

“Perhaps, but it is not a deal we all agree to.”

Thomas is tempted to say ‘sucks for you’ and hang up. James must see it on his face, and hs gives Thomas’ free hand a squeeze. Thomas stifles a sigh, the groan dying in his throat.

“What do you want me to do about it?” Thomas asks.

“Renegotiate.” Lafayette must sense Thomas’ hesitation because he continues without pause: “Laurens, Benny A and I will all be there.”

Thomas’ brow furrows. What makes Lafayette think that putting him against four hardened gang members will open Thomas up? Does Lafayette think Thomas will be more relaxed with all of them there? Thomas opens his mouth to shut down the idea, then he remembers that Lafayette had mentioned a ‘Benny.’ Benny A. Benedict Arnold.

“Same diner?”

Oui, twenty minutes?”

“See you there.”

“Wait-” Thomas says before Lafayette hangs up, “Does Benny know I’m FBI?”

“No, not yet.”

“Good. Don’t tell him, okay?”

“Wh-”

“Thanks, Lafayette. See you soon.” Thomas hangs up with a breath of relief. This is going to be interesting.

---------------

Thomas is carrying his pistol strapped to his side when he walks into the diner. James had argued, told him not to take it, but Thomas--with backup from Steuben--had insisted. Sally wasn't in her usual waitress cover, there was no way to slip her in without the Sons members getting suspicious. He could remember the strength of Lafayette's grip from being slammed into the bar top all too well. He strolls in, the weight of the gun pressing into his side and scanned the diner. Thankfully, Hamilton and his cohorts have chosen the same booth as always.

Hamilton himself is sat next to the window, white shirt contrasting against the red leather seat. He is animatedly talking to Laurens beside him and Lafayette listens from the other side of the table, long arms leaning across the table like thin rails. Arnold is perched on the edge of the booth with Hamilton and Laurens on it, looking decidedly uncomfortable with half of his body hanging out into the open. Just as Thomas wonders if the pudgy man would recognize him, Arnold looks up. His eyes spread wide like saucers, and Thomas figures that Arnold does, indeed, recognize him. Thomas slides into the seat next to Lafayette--Arnold’s shocked gaze following him.

“So, gentlemen, we ready to talk? I’d like to get this over with. I agreed to once-a-day meetings, not twice a day.” Thomas snarks. Hamilton scowls at him.

“I was in the middle of a story,” he says.

“Oh?” Thomas asks, perfectly aware of Arnold’s struggle to maintain a straight face. He really is a bad liar. How he managed to betray Washington and get away with it so far is beyond Thomas.

“Yeah, about how I covered you in sugar this morning.”

Thomas lets out a chuckle, like he hadn't been infuriated by the incident, and adds: “Now all I need is creamer and you've made a full cup of coffee out of me.”

Lafayette laughs as Hamilton glares. Laurens watches, readjusting his ponytail and unintentionally hitting Arnold in the face with his elbow. He apologizes, Arnold mutters something back and glues his eyes to the tabletop.

“Will Clark, by the way. I don't think we've met,” Thomas says, sticking a hand out to Arnold. The man glances up quickly at Thomas, then back down at the table.

“Benedict Arnold,” he mutters, shifting in his seat. Lafayette frowns at him but turns a smile into Thomas.

“But that's a mouthful, no? Call him Benny A.,” Lafayette says. Thomas nods and smiles back.

“How are y’all doing this evening?” Thomas asks. Hamilton glares and Arnold’s response is barely audible, but Laurens and Lafayette are more personable. Laurens asks him about the concussions, but Thomas waves him off. Hamilton is still glowering in the corner, however.

“Well, since Hamilton over there seems particularly upset at being interrupted, and I already know the story, I'll let him finish. I'ma be right back, gents,” Thomas stands and makes his way to the men's bathroom, feeling both Hamilton and Arnold’s gazes follow him.

Inside, Thomas lets out a breath. Arnold’s shifting and jitteriness has left Thomas in a similar bundle of nerves. He considers the situation: Arnold thinks him to be a Redcoat, the other know him to be a cop. Thomas knows about Arnold’s betrayal, but Thomas isn't sure if the others would believe him if he said anything.

Thomas turns on the sink and splashes water on his face. His headache is growing again. He's alone in the diner tonight, James is a dangerous parking lot away, and Sally is hiding in the kitchen. There are no eyes on him directly, Lafayette is blocking the window and Sally is forced to stay down. The weight of the pistol drags on Thomas, the coolness almost like ice through his shirt. He's just about to open his jacket and play with it when the bathroom door swings open.

In an instant, Arnold is on him. Thomas is pushed into the wall next to the sink, the short little man surprisingly strong as he wraps his hand in Thomas’ shirt.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Arnold hisses, his face inches from Thomas. He’s forced to stand on his toes to look Thomas in the eye. This little fact strikes an odd chord in Thomas, and he can't keep the little smile of amusement off his face. “What’s so damn funny?”

“You,” Thomas says, and it isn't a lie. Arnold turns a deep shade of red and slams Thomas into the wall again.

“Are you here to replace me or something? Because I told His Majesty earlier, I’m trying.”

“Obviously not hard enough,” Thomas says, more than willing to let Arnold keep talking.

“How was I supposed to know Hamilton convinced Washington to go to a later mass? I was with Reynolds and Seabury when Washington made the decision, King knows that.”

Thomas files the names Reynolds and Seabury away, making a mental note to text Ben. Arnold is still ranting, however.

“I messed up once, okay? But it wasn’t my fault. I’ve got new information, a new plan. You people just gotta trust me.”

“Odd request coming from you,” Thomas says. Arnold stumbles over a few incomprehensible syllables then settles for shoving Thomas’ chest back into the wall. It’s fairly weak, Arnold’s nerve disappearing quickly by the second.

“Just get out of here, or I’m marching back down to Reynolds and complaining. I don’t need anyone watching me.” Arnold lets go of Thomas’ shirt and stands back. Thomas feels Arnold glaring at him as Thomas leaves the bathroom, the door swinging shut behind him. He looks over to the other Sons lieutenants, hunched over the table in a hushed conversation.

I’m just saying, I think Benny needs to know,” Hamilton says, in whispered french, just loud enough for Thomas to hear.

Thomas must have his reasons for the secrecy,” Lafayette responds.

Ask him what they are, then. I don’t like hiding it from Benny.” Hamilton huffs. Thomas sits down, figuring the conversation will die, but Hamilton continues. “I don’t trust Jefferson, Laf.” Lafayette shoots a warning look at Hamilton. “He’s a pig, and the worst man I’ve ever met. He called me a bastard and broke my nose.

You have to admit he’s attractive, though,” Laurens says, a twinkle in his eye. Hamilton huffs.

The Asshole of the Century happens to have pretty eyes, so what?” Hamilton rants. Lafayette makes a ‘cut it out’ motion, drawing his hand across his neck but Hamilton keeps going. “Fuck him for being handsome. It just makes him worse, he’s abrasive and condescending. He thinks he’s so perfect, riding in here with government backing. He probably wouldn’t be so brave if he didn’t have backup. He deserves every one of his three concussions.

That doesn’t mean we should go behind his back. He specifically requested we don’t tell Benny. We should ask him.” Lafayette says, pointedly. Thomas sits there, watching the exchange. There’s silent laughter in Laurens’ eyes, but Hamilton looks unperturbed.

Well, screw it. Benny’s our equal and deserves to know. I don’t see the problem in telling him.

If you hold on a moment,” Thomas says, still in French, “I might be able to show you why.” Hamilton starts, staring at him wide-eyed.

You speak French?!” He exclaims. Laurens breaks out into laughter as Hamilton sputters. “You two knew?” Lafayette nods, unable to keep a smile off his face. “Why didn’t you tell me?

Because The Asshole of the Century didn’t want to tell you,” Thomas comes back.

Slipped my mind,” Laurens says between laughter.

I tried to warn you, my friend. You would not shut up,” Lafayette says, breathless. Hamilton looks mortified.

Your eyes are ugly,” he mutters. Thomas grins as Laurens howls.

But I am handsome,” Thomas teases.

Never.” Hamilton glares.

Methinks he doth protest too much, Laf.” Thomas laughs and earns a clap on the back from the Frenchman.

Stop saying that!” Hamilton protests. The entire table is laughing at him as he turns a shade of bright red. He turns in his seat and pouts out the window. Thomas hears the bathroom door open and glances back. Arnold is staring at them, watching Laurens and Lafayette laugh and banter in French. Thomas winks at him. Arnold’s look darkens, and he stomps over.

Stop pouting, my friend,” Lafayette is saying as Arnold arrives.

“I have to go,” Arnold mutters, glaring at Thomas, and stomps out of the diner.

“What’s his problem?” Laurens asks. Thomas smirks and whips out his phone. He sents a quick text to James--someone follow him--and pockets the phone. Arnold stalks away, crossing the window and disappearing from sight. Louis and Martha slip out of the Crown Victoria and take off after him.

“What’s happening?” Hamilton asks, watching the two agents disappear. He looks at Thomas, suspicion in his eyes.

“Would you like to see?” Thomas asks. He’s counting on Arnold holding true to his threat, to go see Edward Shippen or another Redcoat to complain. Hamilton’s eyes narrow.

“See what?”

“Something to prove to you that you can trust me.”

Chapter Text

Thomas, Hamilton, Laurens and Lafayette catch up to Louis and Martha, having traveled deep into Redcoat territory. The trip had been silent, but Hamilton had thrown a fit when Thomas tried to lead them across turf lines.

“You’re trying to get us killed,’ Hamilton had screeched. “We cross this street, we are dead men.”

“Hamilton.”

“No, I refuse.” Hamilton had crossed his arms and planted himself on the sidewalk like a petulant child. Lafayette and Laurens had looked similarly hesitant to leave Sons territory, though Laurens had offered to beat up any Redcoats they ran across. Thomas and Hamilton had bickered, Thomas insisting they go and Hamilton insisting they stay.

The argument had ended when Thomas called James and offered to hide the men in the car. So all four of them had piled into the Crown Victoria, Hamilton squashed in the middle seat between Laurens and Lafayette. This time, as James drove through Redcoat-controlled streets people shied away from their car, but Thomas was expecting it now. He chuckled as a young woman averted her eyes and picked up her pace, trying to destroy the bundle of nerves the situation made him feel. Hamilton scowled at him, but Thomas paid him no mind.

James pulled up to the curbside where Louis and Martha were waiting. Thomas rolls down his window and Louis strolls up.

“How are we, gentlemen?” Louis asks, peering into the backseat. “How’s the broken nose Alexander?”

“Still broken,” Hamilton grumbles, shoulders crunched between his larger friends. Louis laughs gently, as if they were discussing the weather or a local sports game.

“Where’s Arnold?” James asks. Louis points down the street, at an alleyway a few buildings down.

“He followed a couple of boys in bright red jackets down there.”

“Thanks,” Thomas says, and opens his door. Louis stands back as Thomas climbs out of the car. The Sons boys are not far behind, Laurens almost falling over himself as he extracts himself from the backseat. “Let’s go,” Thomas says, starting off towards the alley.

“Woah, where are we going?” Hamilton asks, jogging a little to catch up to Thomas.

“To go see Benny and a few of his friends. I think one of them is named Reynolds?” Thomas offers. Hamilton pales.

“Reynolds?” Lafayette says, incredulously. “Not possible.” Thomas shrugs.

“That’s what who he told me he was going to see.” Thomas keeps walking, acting as casual as possible while walking towards a dark alley that held dangerous criminals, with dangerous criminals as his first line of backup. He was carrying a concealed weapon, having just come from a drug deal, to eavesdrop on possible mass murders.

Oh, if his momma could see him now.

Hamilton keeps shooting furtive glances around him, and glaring suspiciously at anyone that looked younger than thirty or so. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“If you're trying to be inconspicuous, you're failing,” Thomas says. “Stay relaxed. Stop looking around.” Hamilton huffs, but stills. His hand taps against his leg, but Thomas lets it go. At least he isn’t snapping his head around like a damn bird anymore. Laurens and Lafayette are talking in hushed tones, walking close behind. Laurens walks like he is ready to jump out of his skin, and Lafayette keeps working his jaw like he is trying to smooth his teeth by rubbing them against each other.

These are not the men Thomas should have picked for a stealth mission.

A few feet away from the alley, Thomas holds out a hand. Hamilton skids to a stop, his chest pushing into Thomas’ palm. In the second before Thomas snatched it away, he can feel Hamilton’s heart pounding like a jackhammer. “Don’t follow, but get close enough you can hear without being seen. Stay quiet, don’t draw attention,” Thomas instructs. He faintly hears Martha say something about an open window in a ice cream shop, but he doesn’t wait to see what she means.

He reaches the alley and peers around the corner. From halfway down the alley, up against the wall, there are voices, rough and angry. Arnold is arguing loudly with a man much taller than him, who has two or three men backing him up. Arnold is red in the face and visibly shaking, though from fear or anger Thomas cannot tell. The other man is calm, hands stuck in his pockets casually. Thomas can see the butt of a pistol sticking out from underneath the red jacket.

“I am sick and tired of telling you people I am on your side!” Arnold yells. “You refuse to believe me. If you don’t wise up and trust me, I will tell Washington exactly who shot up--”

Arnold lets out a little ‘eep’ as the other man suddenly rushes forward and throws Arnold against the brick wall. There’s a crunch, and Arnold cries out, clutching his side. As the other Redcoats cheer, the tall Recoat grabs Arnold by the throat, lifts him up into the air and slams Arnold into the wall. The Redcoat needs only one hand to wrap around Arnold’s neck, and Arnold's hands scrabble against his opponent's wrist weakly. His feet kick out, but any hit they land the Redcoat takes without flinching.

“Re-” Arnold chokes out before the Redcoat cuts off his air.

“Listen here, you little bitch,” the Redcoat snarls, “did you forget who I am? What makes you think you can step to me and deliver empty threats?”

Air-” Arnold gasps, and the Redcoat punches him in the stomach.

“I said listen!” The Redcoat shakes Arnold. “You’re just a little cunt who thinks he’s so much better by turning against his hood. You little fucking coward, don’t you dare try and threaten me. I can break you. You or that little bitch of a wife you’ve got. I don’t trust you because you’re a little traitor who failed me.”

Arnold’s eyes are bugging, his tugging at the hand pinning him to the wall is growing weaker. Arnold tries to speak, his mouth moving in silent pleas.

Speak up, you little shit. Can’t hear you!” The Redcoat taunts, but lessens the pressure slightly. Arnold gulps a mouthful of air.

Please-” Arnold pleads, eyes watering. “Reynolds, please!”

Reynolds laughs, and returns the pressure. Arnold gapes, struggling for breath. His lips are turning blue when Thomas realizes that Reynolds is really going to kill him. Thomas jumps out into the alley opening and starts to make his way down to the wall. Despite the urging in his body to draw his gun and rescue Arnold, Thomas forces his body to relax, to saunter down the alley like he was taking a Sunday stroll.

“Let him go, Reynolds,” Thomas says, voice far more confident than he feels. Reynolds looks over his shoulder and makes eye-contact with Thomas. There’s confusion in his eyes that quickly melts to anger.

“And who are you?” Reynolds spits. The other Redcoats glare at Thomas, one takes a threatening step forward. The three others are smaller than Reynolds, but larger than Laurens. One has a tattoo just below his eye, three dots on his left cheek. Another has the letters A.C.A.B. poking out of the top of his shirt. Three Dots takes a threatening step towards Thomas.

“Clark,” Thomas says, like it is supposed to mean something. “I said drop him.”

“Oh yeah? And why should I?” Reynolds turns, still keeping Arnold pinned to the wall. His face is surprisingly calm as Arnold’s kicks slow to a stop.

“Because I said so,” Thomas challenges. Reynolds sneers.

“Apparently, you weren’t listening to what I was telling Benny here. You do not threaten me.” Reynolds’ friends step closer to Thomas, but Thomas holds his ground. He looks at the three men approaching him with something akin to boredom on his face.

“So which one of you want to tell Seabury why I was forced to kick your asses?” Thomas asks, hoping for the best. The men stop, hesitating. Three Dots looks back at Reynolds, whose eyes are flashing dangerously.

“What do you mean?” Reynolds asks, leaning away from Arnold. Thomas shrugs.

“Seabury strikes me as the type to ask about any beatings I might receive...or dole out,” Thomas adds, almost as an afterthought. “Especially when he finds out you know who I am.”

“Remind me,” Reynolds growls.

“Will Clark?” Thomas asks. “The man Seabury sent to watch him.” Thomas nods in Arnold’s direction. “He should have told you…” Thomas trails. Reynolds glances between Thomas and his own men, and comes to a decision.

“Ah, I remember now,” Reynolds says, a fake look of realization on his face. “Yeah, Clark. Sam mentioned you once.”

“Good, good.” Thomas smiles. “So, drop our friend before he dies, yeah?”

Reynolds looks at Arnold, whose throat is working to take in air, eyes drooping. Reynolds gets go of his neck and Arnold drops to the ground. He gasps and sputters, gulping lungfuls of air. Arnold curls up and leans against the wall, coughing. Reynolds sneers at him, before turning back to Thomas.

“So you’re the little bitch stuck on babysitting duty?” Reynolds asks. It’s an attempt to establish dominance, Thomas knows, but he still feels slightly offended. William Clark is a powerful drug lord, damn it, not somebody’s little errand boy.

“No, that’s Lewis,” Thomas says, inventing ‘Lewis’ out of thin air. “I’m supposed to eventually replace Benny here.” Thomas nods at the man, who is starting to recover. Arnold looks up at him, the near-death experience having struck fear into his face.

“Oh, so we are getting rid of the little snot,” Reynolds says, eyeing the cowering man. Thomas frowns.

“No, I am.” Thomas crosses the remaining distance between him and Reynolds, but is blocked by the hulking Redcoat.

“Whadda mean, ‘I am?’ And who is Lewis?” Reynolds asks.

Lewis is the man that’s been trailing Benny since Safe Harbors. And I-” Thomas jerks a thumb at his chest, “-am going to be getting rid of the little snot. Not you-” Thomas jabs Reynolds in the chest with a finger, “-not we-” Thomas motions at the other Redcoats, “Me. It’s my job.”

Reynolds’ face contorts with anger, a snarl creeping across his face. Thomas’ eye flit down to the pistol sticking out of Reynold’s pants, but he tears his gaze away. He takes a risk--well, another one, thinking on it--and shifts so Reynolds can see that he’s armed too.

“What are you going to do?” Reynolds asks. Thomas tuts, sliding around Reynolds and walking up to Arnold. The man on the ground looks up at him in fear, a begging for mercy plastered across his face.

“Don’t you know how to properly dispose of someone? Never tell how you did it.” Thomas pulls Arnold up to a stand, grip tight around his arm like a vice. “But--hypothetically--I’d march this little man down to Washington, tell him what I, quote-unquote “overheard,” and this little shit would confess, because he knows what will happen if he doesn’t. Don’t you, Arnold?” Thomas sneers, leaning uncomfortably close to Arnold’s face. Arnold nods, his face gone pale. “Good, good. Now, that’s just a hypothetical, of course.”

“...so what are you going to do?” Reynolds asks, confusion plastered across his face. Thomas sighs.

“Don’t worry about it big guy,” Thomas rolls his eyes and leads Arnold down the alley back to where the Sons lieutenants are waiting, hopefully having heard and now exceedingly pissed.

“Hey, hey! You didn’t answer my question!” Reynolds calls. Thomas does not turn around, but simply waves.

“See you around, Reynolds,” Thomas says, pulling Arnold by one arm. Arnold stumbles along beside him, trembling slightly. Thomas does not know if it’s from fear or possible damage from oxygen deprivation. “Why did you decide to work with such an idiot?” Thomas asks him, his voice low so Reynolds does not hear.

“Why did you decide to work with King’s little whore?” Arnold shoots back, voice shaking despite his argumentative words. Thomas shrugs.

“I suppose you’ve got me there.” Thomas is continually amazed at what people will tell you if they think you already know. He assumes Arnold is talking about Seabury, whose first name is possibly Sam. Arnold is muttering, something about stupid southern Redcoats. He suppresses a giggle. Arnold is about to see just how wrong he is. He glances back, only to make eye contact with Reynolds, who is walking down the alley away from Thomas. Reynolds makes a little hand sign and turns around. Thomas smiles and turns away from the retreating Redcoats.

Thomas leads Arnold out of the alley and makes a left-hand turn towards where the Sons and his team should be waiting. For a moment, Thomas is confused. No one’s in sight. Then Hamilton comes barreling out of the ice cream shop to Thomas’ left, eyes blazing, followed close behind Laurens and Lafayette. Arnold’s eyes go wide, and he tugs on Thomas’ arm--pulling him along or just trying to get away, Thomas doesn’t know.

Hamilton grabs Arnold and rips him out of Thomas’ grasp. He pulls the traitor off balance, then winds up and lands a punch squarely on Arnold’ jaw. Arnold's head snaps to the right, and Hamilton knees him in the stomach.

“Hey!” Thomas calls, but is ignored as Hamilton starts yelling in Arnold’s ear.

“You fuck! You tried to fucking kill us? What happened, get too scared? Went crawling back to the Redcoats the first time they threatened us? Huh? Was it that wife of yours? Answer me you shit!” Hamilton is screaming, shaking Arnold, drawing the attention of passers-by. Thomas glances back at the alley, but none of the Redcoats have come running out onto the street yet.

“Hamilton, not here,” Thomas says, putting a hand on Hamilton’s shoulder. But Laurens is at Hamilton’s side.

“Lemme at him, Alex,” Laurens says ,”Me ‘n Laf will take care of this.”

“No you won’t,” Thomas protests, but he is ignored. Hamilton throws Arnold at Laurens, who immediately starts wailing on him. Lafayette comes around the other side, effectively blocking Thomas from any attempt to rescue Arnold. He glances around and sees Louis and Martha still standing in the doorway of the shop. “Don’t just stand there!” Thomas shouts, and Martha jerks into action. She comes down the steps and tries to get between Laurens and his helpless victim. Louis follows with a little ‘huff.’

Hamilton wheels on Thomas, glaring up at him. “You,” he spits, “what were you talking about? Working for Seabury? Are you trying to play us?”

“Calm down, Hamilton,” Thomas says, trying to see what’s going on with Laurens, Lafayette, and Arnold. “I don’t even know who Seabury is. I just heard the name, pulled it out and hoped for the best.” Thomas cranes his neck to find Arnold, who is buried beneath the shouting match breaking out between Laurens and Martha. They were practically nose-to-nose, and Lafayette is trying to pull them apart. Thomas loses sight of Louis for a moment, but he reappears, dragging Arnold from the fray by his shoulders.

“Got him,” Louis says, pulling Arnold to stand by Thomas. The traitor is now sporting a busted lip, his left eye swelling very quickly. Hamilton looks as if he’s ready to jump on Arnold again, but Thomas puts himself between the two of them.

“Thanks, Louis. Cuff him and stick him in the car,” Thomas says. Arnold’s eyes widen.

“Cuffs?” He asks, little flecks of blood flying from his lips. Louis pulls a pair of handcuffs and sets about securing Arnold’s wrists together. Arnold tries to pull away, but he’s trapped between Louis and Thomas.

“Hey, he’s ours,” Hamilton protests, trying to push past Thomas.

“No, he’s ours,” Thomas retorts. Arnold looks between the two of them, confusion evident on his face.

“Get off Laf,” Laurens yells from somewhere behind Thomas. He turns to find Lafayette holding Laurens back from Martha, who has jumped back from the freckled man and thrown her arms up defensively.

“Laurens, mon ami, you cannot hit a federal agent,” Lafayette says, holding Laurens tight to his chest despite his friend’s struggles.

“Federal agent…?” Arnold mutters. He looks up a Thomas. “You’re not a Redcoat. You’re a cop,” he whispers, eyes the size of planets. Thomas grimaces. He had wanted to get Arnold down to the precinct before he figured that out. “You’re working with cops?” Arnold asks Hamilton. Hamilton frowns and looks down at the sidewalk.

“Boss’ orders,” he says. Arnold stills, the shock rendering him paralyzed.

“Come on, then. In the car,” Louis says, pushing Arnold toward the waiting Crown Victoria. The movement jolts Arnold out of his surprise, and he renews his efforts to twist away from Louis. Louis is unfazed, keeping a tight grip on the struggling gangster.

Fuck!” Lafayette cries in French. He staggers back, Laurens surging out of his weakened grip and lunging for Martha. Thomas spins and jumps for Laurens, slamming into him sideways, pushing him to the ground and pinning his arms to his sides. Laurens wriggles under Thomas’ weight so that they’re chest-to-chest and snaps his head up. Thomas jerks back just in time to avoid the headbutt and Laurens growls at him. There’s unbridled anger in his eyes, the kind that drives men to stupid decisions and a chill runs down Thomas’ spine.

Lafayette, meanwhile, is doubled over at the waist, holding his stomach with both arms. In a flash, Arnold jerks away from Louis so their arms are straight out and he uses the space to move so Lafayette is hunched over between them. With Louis’ hands still gripping his wrists, Arnold brings his arms up and then pulls them down sharply over Lafayette’s back. He keeps pulling his arms down until Louis’ arms are bending backwards and he lets go. Arnold, now freed, pulls his arms into his chest and runs, booking it across the busy New York street. Cars honk angrily as Arnold dodges between them. Louis, cursing, tries to follow, but Lafayette falls to his knees and just manages to trip the blonde agent and send him sprawling to the ground.

Thomas, pushing himself up, catches a glimpse of Arnold halfway across the street. He dances out of the way of a taxi, mouthing an apology and glancing quickly about him. Thomas sees a white blur--Hamilton taking off after Arnold--before Laurens surges up beneath him and flips their positions so Thomas is staring up at the murder in Laurens’ eyes. Laurens raises a fist and Thomas shuts his eyes, says goodbye to his pretty face, and braces himself for the blow.

It never comes. Instead, Laurens twists above him, cursing. Thomas opens his eyes to watch James shove Laurens to the ground, hands cuffed behind his back. Laurens squirms and struggles until Lafayette appears and sits on his back. Pinned, Laurens looks up at his friend and tries to spit at him. Lafayette swats Laurens on the back of the head and starts to scold him in French. Thomas lets out a sigh of relief and takes the hand James offers.

“Thanks,” he says, as he’s helped to his feet. James gives him a withering glare, and Thomas shrinks beneath it.

“Don’t thank me yet,” James says, cold and unforgiving. Thomas swallows and looks around. Louis is sitting on the ground, examining his elbows, Lafayette and Laurens are still in their positions, Martha is trying to disperse the crowd that has formed and neither Hamilton or Arnold are in sight. Thomas’ neck twinges as his head swivels, and he winces and rubs at the sore spot. That’s when he notices the cameras--bystanders that have whipped out their phones and been filming for who knows how long. Thomas breathes a curse and tries not to look directly at any of them, but finds it near impossible due to the sheer number of them. James frowns and shoves the keys to the car in his hands.

“Go sit in the car and wait,” James hisses. He turns on one heel and starts to break up the crowd with Martha.

“‘Scuse me, excuse me,” someone says from the crowd behind Thomas. “Excuse me you fucks I’m trying to get through,” Hamilton screeches, drawing a groan from Thomas. He turns, hoping to see Hamilton coming through the ring of witnesses, dragging Arnold behind him. Instead, it is just Hamilton struggling and pushing his way past innocent civilians, cursing at them all the way. He limps out, shoulders drawn tight and scowling.

“Fucker got away,” he snarls. He’s struggling to walk, heavily favoring his right leg over his left.

“Obviously,” Thomas drawls, knowing he’s taking his frustration and embarrassment out on Hamilton. Hamilton glares at him and shoots him the bird. He limps to the Victoria, yanks the door open, and throws himself into the passenger seat. Thomas is just about to stomp over and drag Hamilton out of his seat when Thomas’ phone vibrates in his pocket. He fishes it out, wincing as he sees it’s Ben. He picks up the call and puts it to his ear.

“Hello?” Thomas asks, hoping.

“Tommy boy. Would you care to explain why a video of you almost getting your ass beat by John Laurens just popped up on my twitter feed?”

“...how is it online that quickly?” Thomas asks, awestruck. He glances around the crowd, trying to see if he can find the person responsible. “And I wouldn’t call it an ass beating.”

“Well, that’s what it looks like to me, from the multiple angles I’m finding. Because there are multiple videos Thomas, multiple videos from multiple people.”

“How did you even find it?”

“I’m tracking certain Sons-related hashtags and users. Which, by the way, someone just started a new hashtag for this. Would you like to know what it is?”

“Not pa-”

The sons are fighting again darling.

“Ben-”

“Thomas, I’d suggest getting your ass back to the hotel before this ends up on the news and the director himself calls me, because I’m going to forward him to you directly and I don’t think you’re going to want to get chewed out in public.”

Ben hangs up. Thomas grips his phone and thinks about smashing it against the pavement.

Chapter Text

“This is your last chance, Jefferson,” the director, Charles Farnese, warns.

“Yes, sir, I understand,” Thomas says through clenched teeth. He holds his head in his hand, squeezing his temples to try and alleviate the migraine coming on. It’s the next morning and Thomas only managed to get a few hours of sleep. “Goodbye,” he says, and lowers his phone from his ear. He lets out a sigh. James looks up from where he’s watching the news on Ben’s hotel room tv.

“How bad?” James asks.

“He yelled for a little bit, then got really calm when he told me he that he would have to disavow us if someone finds out we’re FBI.” Thomas throws himself on the bed beside James. The sudden shift in position is accompanied by a slight dizzy spell, but Thomas has gotten quite used to those recently. “Then he told me that I’m a disgrace to the agency and if I fuck up this bad again I’m fired.”

James pats Thomas on the knee. “Farnese would never fire you,” he says. Thomas picks his head up and gives James a withering look. “He’d make you resign.”

Thomas flops his head back down on the bed. “He just hates me because of what happened to Lincoln. He’s been looking for a reason to get rid of me ever since.”

“There’s no way-”

“He blames me for letting Booth in the theatre that night, James.”

James is quiet for a moment. “It was kind of your fault.”

“How was I supposed to know he was armed?” Thomas yells at the ceiling. “It’s not like he walked in waving a gun around.”

“You were supposed to protect Lincoln, Thomas. You were standing right there,” James reminds him. Thomas huffs, and rolls on his side away from James. From this angle, he can see the tv better. The news anchor is going through the video of Thomas and everyone else’s fight slowly, breaking down each event and drawing little diagrams.

“And here, this guy looks up to find Arnold and Laurens takes his opportunity--”

“Turn that off, will you?” Thomas asks.

“I want to know what she has to say about Hamilton,” Friedrich says. Thomas frowns and tries to pry the remote from him, but the large man dances away with surprising grace. Friedrich laughs as Thomas flips onto his stomach, grumbling about wanting a new team.

“Hey, Tommy,” Ben calls from the desk, “I got something that might cheer you up.”

“Tell me you found Arnold,” Thomas says, peeling himself from the bed and walking over, pointedly ignoring the tv as Friedrich turns up the volume.

“Even better,” Ben says, laughter in his voice. “Look at this.” Ben leans back from his laptop and Thomas looks down. His eyes narrow, reading the text and scanning the image in front of him. He pauses, unsure, then--

“You’re a meme, Thomas!” Ben practically squeals. “You’re an actual meme!”

“What?” Thomas asks. The picture on Ben’s screen is a still from one of the videos Thomas has already seen. Lafayette is sitting on Lauren’s back, mid-swat to the head, and Thomas, still on the ground, is looking at them with what looks like concern, confusion and a bit of disgust. Someone's captioned it “‘Join the Sons,’ they said. ‘We’re manly,’ they said. ‘We’re a serious gang’ they said.”

Ben scrolls down, the same image comes up with a different caption: “Alright, I’m kinkshaming.” Then another-- “Alternate me sure is into some weird stuff”--and another-- “*record scratch, freeze frame* yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got in this situation.

“Oh my god,” Thomas breathes. Ben laughs.

“You haven’t even seen the gifs yet.” Ben pulls up another tab and Thomas is treated to a looping shot of him tackling Laurens to the ground, except someone’s photoshopped a Batman mask onto his face and Joker makeup onto Laurens. Thomas hangs his head, not even looking up as Ben scrolls past more and more, guffawing. “Oh my god, you have to see this one!”

Thomas reluctantly picks up his head. This one is a sideways shot of Hamilton running across the street after Arnold. The words “My dreams” are across Arnold’s chest, and Hamilton is similarly labeled “Me.” Thomas is slightly confused until the car--labeled “Life” in the same text--comes screaming into frame and running directly into Hamilton. Hamilton goes flying to the right, Arnold runs out of frame and the gif starts over. Against his will, Thomas smirks a little. Hamilton is physically okay, he knows, but watching him disappear in a split second is satisfying and more than a little funny.

“I knew you’d like that one,” Ben says. Thomas pats him on the shoulder.

“Send that to me. I want Hamilton to see it,” Thomas says. Ben laughs and nods.

“Speaking of Hamilton,” James says, lowering his phone. “Revere says he’s down in the precinct looking for you.” Thomas lets out a dramatic groan and drops to the ground in a heap. “Thomas,” James says.

“Tell him I tripped down the elevator shaft and died,” Thomas says, screwing his eyes shut. He hears heavy footsteps and then suddenly large hands are on his shoulders.

“Your boyfriend is waiting for you, princess,” Friedrich says, scooping his arms under Thomas and lifting him up before Thomas has a chance to fight him. He throws Thomas over his shoulder, easily holding him with one arm. Head spinning, Thomas pounds his fists on Friedrich’s back, cursing and demanding to be put down. Friedrich ignores his threats, winking at James and carrying Thomas to the elevator.

-------------

Hamilton is sitting on the conference table in Thomas’ make-shift office, staring at the map on the wall. He kicks his legs, humming to himself as Thomas enters. Thomas steels himself, and walks in the door.

“Hamilton,” Thomas says, strolling into the room. His head is pounding behind his eyes and he knows there’s Tylenol somewhere in here underneath all the papers and files.

“This map is really cool,” Hamilton says, not even looking at Thomas. “Tell whoever made it that I like it.” Thomas cocks an eyebrow.

“Why, thank you Hamilton. I appreciate the compliment,” Thomas says, simply. Hamilton snaps his head around and frowns, nose scrunched up.

“Then I take it back. It’s horrible.”

Thomas rolls his eyes and pulls out a chair. Hamilton swings around so he’s sitting cross-legged on the table, and Thomas sees him wince as he pulls his right leg up stiffly.

“How’s the leg?” Thomas asks. Hamilton blinks, and glances down at his leg.

“Just fine. Why do you care?” Hamilton asks, eyes narrowing.

“You were hit by a car.” Thomas crosses his arms, almost surprised he has to defend himself. Then again, Hamilton seems to take everything as a challenge.

“It wasn’t going that fast.”

“You flew at least five feet.”

“That doesn’t mean it injured me.”

“You’re limping, Hamilton!”

“So it’s bruised, whatever.”

“Did you even get it medically looked at?”

“I had John check it out.”

“Because John Laurens is a doctor, yes.”

“He’s studying to be a nurse, excuse you.”

Thomas, slightly surprised, blinks. “Well, he’s not a nurse yet, is he?”

“If John says it’s fine, I trust him.” Hamilton hits the table with the palm of his hand. The stubborn look in his eyes tells Thomas it is useless to argue with him.

“What are you here for, anyway?” Thomas asks. Hamilton frowns.

“If you don’t want me here--”

“I don’t,” Thomas interrupts. “The diner is supposed to be our meeting place. People seeing you coming in and out of a police station might raise some questions.”

Hamilton opens his mouth, stops, closes it, and then opens it again. “Well, I couldn’t figure out a way to contact you.”

“Washington knows how,” Thomas points out. Hamilton grinds his jaw.

“Well, The General isn’t in the best of moods right now,” Hamilton says. Thomas raises an eyebrow. If Washington isn’t happy about what happened, he’s not surprised Washington’s first action wasn’t calling James.

“That’s what happens when you find out a friend tried to kill you,” Thomas says and Hamilton scowls. So he’s right, Washington isn’t just angry about Arnold.

“Have you found him yet?” Hamilton asks, the topic change almost too obvious for Thomas to pass up.

“Do you think I’d be sitting here talking to you if we had?” Thomas asks. Hamilton’s face turns a shade close to the Prostitution Pink pins on the map behind him.

“I just wanted to know.” Hamilton crosses his arms and looks down and away. “You don’t have to be a dick about it.”

Thomas bites his lip. There’s something about watching Hamilton pout like this that doesn’t sit right with Thomas. “Hey,” he says, voice sincere, “Thanks for running after Arnold.” If there’s a flicker of kindness in Thomas’ words, he’d deny it to the grave. Hamilton must hear it though, if the expression of confusion he looks up with is any indication. He opens his mouth but Thomas runs over his words quickly. “Even if you did let him get away,” he adds, killing any positive inflection he might have had. Hamilton’s face turns to a scowl almost instantly, and the moment is gone.

“I was hit by a car!” He shouts. Thomas smirks. This is better.

“You’re the one who claims it didn’t hurt,” he drawls. Hamilton huffs and climbs off the table. “Hold on, hold on!” Thomas digs his phone out of his pocket. “Have you seen-”

Yes I’ve seen the gif!” Hamilton hisses. “John won't let up about it.”

“There's a couple he's in too, if you wanna see?” Thomas offers his phone to Hamilton. Hamilton's eyes light up as he watches Joker-John hit the pavement.

“Oh my god,” he breathes, handing the phone back to him. Thomas takes it, his fingers brushing Hamilton’s hand for a brief moment before Hamilton snatches his hand away and shoves it into his pocket. Thomas is left holding the phone between them awkwardly. Hamilton looks down at the floor as Thomas puts his phone away.

“If you don’t know where Arnold is, there’s no point to me being here anymore,” he says, as if he’s trying to justify leaving. He turns and heads for the door. Thomas furrows his brow.

“Wait, Hamilton,” he says. Hamilton, halfway out the door, stops on a dime. He turns with a questioning look. Thomas hesitates, not quite sure why he stopped Hamilton in the first place, but quickly finds a scrap of paper and a pen. He scribbles his phone number down and holds the slip of paper out for Hamilton to take.

“What’s that?” Hamilton asks.

“My number,” Thomas says, waving the paper a little bit. “So you don’t have to come into the precinct again.”

Hamilton looks at the paper, expression unreadable, before taking it slowly. He folds the paper and sticks it in his pocket. “Don’t expect a call, asshole,” he says. Thomas scowls.

“Get out of my office, Hamilton,” he says, voice harder than he had meant it to be. Hamilton sticks his tongue out at him and leaves, slamming the door behind him. Thomas listens to his footsteps fade into the sounds of the police station. He falls into the chair he pulled out, and sighs.

“Knock knock,” James says, gently knocking on the door. He comes in before Thomas says anything. “We need to talk.”

“Do we?” Thomas asks. James pulls a chair out from the table and sits down. James sighs as Thomas rummages through the papers on the desk. He finds the small, white pill bottle and throws a couple Tylenol into his mouth.

“Yes, we do. About that,” James says, looking at the pill bottle in Thomas’ hands. Thomas swallows. He looks at James curiously, and then holds out the bottle.

“Do you need some?” He asks, but James is already shaking his head.

“Thomas, you should go home.”

“What?”

“It's been three days, and your concussion isn't getting any better.”

“Yes it-”

“You've been irrational, making stupid choices, taking Tylenol like candy, irritable --”

“I'm not irritable!” Thomas protests. James cocks an eyebrow, but continues:

“You’ve been making rash, illogical decisions. You walked right up to James Reynolds and bluffed your way out. You got so lucky, Thomas. You lead three dangerous men to a confrontation with someone you knew they were going to be pissed at. You let them attack him, which inevitably let Arnold get away. I mean, tell me what you were thinking when you pulled that shit today? What was going through your head?”

“I--” Thomas stutters. “I was just trying to…” what had he been trying to do? Catch Arnold red-handed? Prove himself to the Sons? To Hamilton? “I didn’t think anything would happen.”

“That’s right, Thomas. You didn’t think.” James crosses his arms. “If you had put even three seconds of thought into anything you did today, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Thomas…” James trails with a sigh. “This isn’t like you. I know you. You’re an irresponsible, know-it-all smartass, but you’re not rash. You’re not illogical. Thomas, you take stupid risks, but at least you think about them first. You come up with backup plans, you think things through. But ever since the concussions, you haven’t been thinking. You just...do.”

“That’s not true.”

“Really? Because the Thomas I know would never have walked down that alley without knowing someone was ready to go in after you. The Thomas I know would never have tried to tackle John Laurens. And he certainly would have found a way to at least be civil with Hamilton by now.” James leans forward, over the table. “I think you need to go home. Rest up, heal. In a couple of weeks, when you feel better, you’ll thank me.”

“I am not going home, James,” Thomas says, “I’m needed here. Who else is going to go meet Hamilton?”

“We can make arrangements-”

“I said no, James. I’m in charge here, and I’m not going home.”

“I just think-”

“My decision is final. I don’t want to hear you talk about it again.” Thomas knows he’s being a little unreasonable, but he locks his jaw and maintains eye-contact until James looks away. Thomas has never given up on an assignment before, and a little concussion is not going to put him out of commission.

“Then...we’re going to start sending someone else in undercover instead of you,” James says. “You’re okay with that, right? You won’t have to deal with Hamilton anymore.”

Thomas start, blinking in surprise. “Is it really smart to risk pissing Washington off now?”

“Maybe not, but Washington will just have to deal with it.” James stands, but Thomas grabs his wrist.

“Who? Who would we send? Sally can’t go, Hamilton would recognize her. Martha’s probably not on Lauren’s ‘favorites’ list, Louis is too busy running PR and media interference, Steuben can’t, and neither can Ben.”

“That leaves me, doesn’t it?” James asks, eyebrow cocked. Thomas stares, realizing that James is dead serious, and breaks out into laughter.

You?” Thomas asks, watching James’ expression collapse to dangerously neutral. “Don’t you remember the last time you tried to go undercover?”

“Yes, I remember,” James says through gritted teeth.

“It took you not ten minutes to get caught. Then you ended up in the hospital with a bullet in your-”

“That was two years ago.”

“And you haven’t gotten any better at lying since.”

James grinds his teeth. “Well you can’t go back in. Not with the way you’re acting.”

“I’m not acting any different than normal, James! Everything’s fine.” Thomas holds his ground. He can almost see the gears turning in James’ head.

“...at least take me with you. You can’t be on your own anymore.”

“James-”

“I am not bending on this. This is the compromise. I come with you...or I call Farnese and tell him about the concussions.”

This time, when Thomas tries to stare James into submission, he gets nothing but steel in return. He sighs, shoulders dropping.

“We’re going to work through your story first. And you're going to let me do most of the talking. You'll still be with me-” Thomas says to James’ oncoming protest- “but I'm leading things.”

“Fine,” James agreed. Thomas eyed him for a moment, and then settled back into a slouch. He kicked one foot up on the table and did his best “tough-man-fight-me-gangster” impression.

“And who are you?” He asked, gruff and unyielding.

“Lewis,” James says, with no hesitation. Thomas cocks and eyebrow and flicks his gaze up and down.

“You got a full name, Lewis?”

“Uh,” James stumbles over his words. Thomas stifles a sigh. If James can't even get through his name, he's going to have a bad time trying to get through a made-up history. “Ma-Meriwether Lewis.”

Thomas freezes. James is looking at him with barely concealed embarrassment and guilt, like he knows how horrible that answer is.

“Meriwether Lewis?” Thomas asks, disbelief in his voice. “Meriwether Lewis?

“I only thought up the Lewis part! I panicked.”

Meriwether? What about ‘Mathew’ or ‘Mike?’ Meriwether sounds like you time-traveled from the 1800’s.”

“I think Meriwether Lewis sounds just fine.”

“Yeah, well. You're Matt Lewis now.” Thomas says. “Okay, where are you from?”

“Charlotte, like you. Matt used to be-”

“No, you used to be. Matt is you, you are Matt.”

“Fine.” James let out a breath and kneaded his hands into the table. “I used to be your right-hand-man, worked distribution. Followed you when you left.”

“Why?”

“I thought that was good story-”

“No, why did you leave Charlotte with me?” Thomas asks. James’ eyes light up in understanding.

“Because you’re my boss.”

Thomas shook his head. “Not good enough. What made you leave everyone and everything you knew behind for a slim chance in New York?”

James sits in silence, thinking. Thomas waits, knowing this question will make or break James in the eyes of Sons that don't know his true identity.

“I owe you for saving my life the night of the Massacre,” James says. Thomas nods.

“Good. What else?”

“I have no family or friends left in Charlotte.”

“And?”

“I need a way to feed myself.”

And?”

Jesus Christ, how many reasons do I need?”

“You need enough reasons no one will doubt your loyalty to me, and by extension, The Sons Of Liberty.”

James looks down at the table, the same thoughtful expression Thomas has seen on his face a million times. He waits patiently until James glances up, sighs and says:

“I'm in love with you.”

Thomas’ eyebrows shoot up and for a second, he's transported back in time to a day when he said those words to James. College, sophomore year. Except they weren't developing a character, Thomas had been telling the truth. James must see the memory on his face, or be thinking of it himself because he opens his mouth presumably to apologize or retract. Before James can speak, Thomas says:

“Well, I was thinking ‘Best Friends Since Childhood,’ but ‘Unrequited Love’ works too. Do you think you could pull it off?”

There is a moment of silence between the two of them, each gauging the other’s faces in the way only best friends can. James opens his mouth to answer, but Thomas’ phone chimes in his pocket. It's a message from a number he doesn’t recognize.

From: UNKNOWN NUMBER

Boss is holding a meeting. Wants you there. Fighting Frenchman, one hour. -A.HAM

“Guess we’re going to find out,” Thomas says, holding his phone out for James to see.

Chapter Text

The Frenchman is dark, none of the neon lights shine in the mid-afternoon. Thomas has to heave the door open against a strong wind that's kicked up. James ducks inside and Thomas follows, letting the heavy door slam behind him. Now that the club’s lights are off and the smoke machines are down, Thomas can see around the near-empty floor. The dance floor is much smaller than he would have guessed, and there are more booths that ring the floor. The blue pleather on the seats is glaringly cheap under bright light. It really was a different place under fluorescent lighting and free of smoke.

In the center of the dance floor, there’s a ring of eighteen chairs, all but four filled by young men. They all turn their heads and look at Thomas and James as they enter, each expression carefully guarded and suspicious. Washington sits up at the DJ booth, and Adams is sat beside him. Washington looks down at Thomas, eyes flicking to James in confusion. Laurens and Lafayette are both in the circle, and Lafayette grins and waves. Thomas smiles back widely and struts around James to the circle.

“Well, good afternoon gentlemen,” he says, laying on his accent thick. He picks the open seat next to Lauren's and sits. Everyone’s gazes are on him and he has to work to stay relaxed, crossing his legs and leaning his head back. James comes up and stands behind him, hands curling around the top of the chair. Thomas looks around the circle, trying to quickly commit faces to memory.

“Boys, this is William Clark,” Washington says. “I believe I've mentioned him to most everyone here.” There are nods from everyone, and Washington continues. “He’ll be joining us in all meetings from now on, but we’ll discuss that more once everyone is here.”

Thomas looks at Washington, eyebrows shot up in surprise. Washington nods, almost imperceptibly, and Thomas relaxes further into the folding chair.

“And who’s that?” The man to Lafayette’s right asks, nodding his head at James.

“Matt Lewis,” Thomas says. “My second-in-command. My Vice-dealer, if you will.” He chuckles to himself, but no one else does. James’ grip tightens on the chair.

“Good for him. He can wait outside,” the same man says. Thomas’ smile falters.

“He stays.”

“He really should go, Mr. Clark,” Washington says, pointedly. Thomas shakes his head.

“You want me, you get him too.” Thomas doesn't break eye-contact until Washington gets the message, then drops his gaze. Washington is the ‘boss’ after all. The other men are looking at Thomas in surprise and distrust. He smiles as warmly as possible, then leans his head back in James’ arm. He feels James stiffen underneath him but resists the urge to look. He should trust James to play the part.

Adams clears his throat, gathering the attention of everyone. “Well, then. We’re just waiting on Schuyler, Tallmadge and Hamilton.”

“Just Schuyler,”” says someone from the back of the club. Thomas perks up and sees Hamilton and another, taller man coming in from what Thomas assumes to be a back entrance. Laurens cracks a grin.

“Yo, B.T.,” he calls, “been a while, man.”

So this is the elusive Benny T, Thomas thinks. Tallmadge strolls into the room, Hamilton following just behind. The man is exceedingly average in build, though kind of handsome with high cheekbones. Thin dreads hang neatly down his back and shoulders, and he has tattoos that cover his neck. Little ink flames lick all the way up to his cheeks. Thomas’ gut twists. What is it this guy does?

“Hey, John,” Tallmadge says, nodding to him. Tallmadge stops just outside the circle of chairs and plants his hands on his hips. “So, Alex tells me someone finally decided to listen to me about Arnold.”

Thomas blinks, brow furrowing. He glances between Tallmadge and Washington. There’s a thin frown on Washington’s face, but he nods.
“Yes, Tallmadge. You were correct in your suspicions,” Washington says. Tallmadge smiles, but there’s no teeth. It almost looks bitter.

“Sorry boss,” Tallmadge offers, then looks around the room. His gaze settles on Thomas and James and his smile falls. “Who are you?”

“William Clark.” Thomas offers his hand. Tallmadge takes it, his handshake firm but yielding.

“Clark, yes,” Tallmadge says, almost to himself. Then louder, he says to Thomas: “Ben Tallmadge. Call me Benny T.”

“You can just be Benny now,” one of the other men in the circle says. Tallmadge chuckles slightly. James sticks his hand out and introduces himself too. Tallmadge takes the seat to Thomas’ left, which leaves Hamilton standing in the center of the circle alone. He narrows his eyes at Thomas and opens his mouth to speak when the front door opens.

All heads snap to look as the door swings open slowly. From the outside emerges a young woman, holding the heavy door almost the whole way open on her own. She lets the door go and crosses the room, heels clicking against the floor. Her gaze is hard and determined until she sees Hamilton, and smiles.

“Angelica!” Hamilton exclaims, breaking out into a wide grin.

“Hello, Alexander,” Angelica says, reaching the circle. She puts her hands on the back of the open seat beside Tallmadge. “It’s good to see your face.”

“I knew you were back in the city, but I didn’t think you’d be around so soon!” Alexander says. “How’s Betsy and Peggs? And Phillip? And your father?”

“They’re fine, they’re all fine. We’ll catch up soon, Alex. I need to talk to the boss.”

“Of course, of course,” Alexander says, sheepishly. His eyes are still blazing, staring at the frankly beautiful woman in front of him. Angelica looks up at Washington.

“Miss Schuyler, welcome home,” Washington says, a faint but warm smile on his face.

“It’s good to be back, boss,” she says. Angelica straightens, putting her hands on her hips. “Might I say, you don’t look a day older than when I left.”

“Where’s your father, Angelica?” Washington asks, a slight chuckle in his voice. Angelica smiles and starts to walk, following the curve of the circle.

“Home.” Her hand trails behind the seats, and everyone keeps turning their heads to watch her move. “He sends his love.”

“Not really the answer I was looking for, Miss. Schuyler.”

Angelica smiles. Her ringlet hair bounces as she walks. Thomas is near mesmerized. She exudes confidence, and each sharp footsteps sends shivers down his spine. “I know, boss. But the thing is, Dad liked the vacation we took so much, he wants to make it permanent. He turned his governorship over to me.”

A mutter ripples across the circle. Angelica pays it no mind, coming to a stop behind the empty seat between two men and across the circle from Thomas. She keeps her gaze locked with Washington’s, obviously not willing to back down. Washington looks pensive, fingers drumming the turntables in front of him. Adams frowns and stands up so he’s level with Washington.

“Boss, I don’t know,” Thomas can hear Adams mutter, “A woman?”

“Angelica Schuyler would make a better boss than you would, Adams,” Hamilton snaps. “She should be in your position.” Adams glares at Hamilton, disgust across his face. Though it seems Adams is not alone in his opinion, if the expressions on some of the other men’s faces means anything. Angelica’s lips form a thin line, but she doesn’t look away from Washington.

Eventually, Washington speaks: “Let’s she how she does. Take a seat, Miss. Schuyler.” Angelica sits, legs crossed. The man to her right glares at her, but if she notices, she doesn’t do anything. She simply smiles and folds her hands in her lap. “Do you know what happened with Benedict Arnold today?” Washington asks. Angelica shakes her head and Adams begrudgingly launches into an explanation. Thomas glances around. There seems to be about a fifty-fifty split between the men who glare at Angelica and the men that look a bit more welcoming. Interesting, Thomas thinks. This kind of split in opinion he could use, pit some people against each other. His eyes flick back and forth between Adams and Angelica, thinking.

“You're in my seat.” Thomas blinks, jerked out of his plotting at Hamilton’s words. He looks at the man who is trying his best to loom over Thomas threateningly.

“Hm?” Thomas asks.

“You're in my seat,” Hamilton says, hitting each word in a harsh staccato. Thomas twists in the chair, looking at the seatback.

“Your name isn't on it.” Thomas looks back at Hamilton. Hamilton scowls.

“I sit next to John and B.T.”

“So?”

So? That’s the seat you’re in.”

“There’s an open one right over there, Hamilton.” Thomas motions to the last empty seat. Hamilton doesn’t even glance at it before he launches into another tirade.

“Yes, but that’s not my seat. That’s Arnold’s seat. Or it was. If anything, it’s appropriate that you sit there. You’re the great hero, aren’t you? Take the conquered man’s throne, sir. You deserve to sit in the seat of a traitor. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, why are you even sitting in the circle? You don’t belong here. You’re not a governor or a lieutenant, so you shouldn’t get a seat at all. For another thi-”

Washington clears his throat and Hamilton falls silent, still glaring at Thomas. “Well, about that,” he begins. “Since Arnold has so kindly provided a vacancy, I am going to promote Mr. Clark to a lieutenant position.”

“Say what now?” Thomas asks, but it’s lost underneath the muttering of the other men. Immediately, Hamilton whirls and is up against Washington’s podium in a blink.

“You can’t do that Boss!” He says, standing on his toes to try and look Washington in the eye. Washington’s face is impassive as Hamilton practically spits words at him. “He can’t be a lieutenant!”

“He can, and he is,” Washington replies. “We can talk about this later.”

“Sir, I don’t think you’ve thought this through!” Hamilton grips the top of Washington’s podium hard enough to turn his knuckles white. “Have you forgotten who he is? That he-”

“I think you’re forgetting who I am,” Thomas interrupts. Hamilton snaps his head to look at him, rage gleaming in his eyes. “Will Clark. Drug dealer.” Thomas puts as much emphasis on the words as he dares. He has no idea what Hamilton was about to say, but he does not want to be outed as a cop to everyone. “I suggest you watch yourself.”

“Well guess what Clark.” Hamilton spits the name out like it’s a curse word. “You’re in my house now. Not your fancy little office, or the diner, or even the street corner.” Hamilton takes slow steps back across the circle to Thomas. “This is my domain, and what I say goes.  So I suggest you don’t try to threaten me here. Recognize that here, in this place, I can kick your ass and have at least fourteen people back me up. If you’re not going to leave, then sit down, shut up, and-” Hamilton leans into Thomas’ face “-give me back my seat.”

James’ hands tense behind Thomas. The entire ring is silent and Thomas can feel everyone’s glares on him. Washington is watching from on high, his face betraying no emotion. Angelica sits across the circle with a curious smile on her face. Lafayette looks concerned, but doesn’t move. Thomas readies himself, looks Hamilton straight in the eye, and says:

“No.”

The word falls like a brick in the quiet. Thomas swears he can almost hear it echo in the empty club. James is squeezing the seat back so hard Thomas is afraid it is going to break in his hands. Hamilton’s expression of anger falls into one of pure disbelief and shock. Your turn, Thomas goads in his head. Almost as if Hamilton hears the challenge, his face hardens and he spins around. Before Thomas realizes what’s happening, Hamilton throws himself down onto Thomas’ lap and settles into him like Thomas was simply a seat cushion.

The sudden weight forces a bit of breath from Thomas’ lungs. Some of the men chuckle around them and Angelica smiles wide. Hamilton squirms in Thomas’ lap and looks at John.

“Did Laf get new seat covers? They’re not very comfortable,” he says. The chuckles turn to laughter as Thomas sputters.

“What the hell, Hamilton?” He says, spitting a mouthful of Hamilton’s hair from his mouth.

“Did you hear something, John?” Hamilton asks. “Thought I heard a fly or something.”

“Alexander,” Washington says. Hamilton looks up at Washington and, although Thomas cannot see it, he would bet his life savings that Hamilton’s expression is completely innocent.

“What, Boss?” Most of the men are outright laughing now. Thomas’ face starts to heat up. James shifts in place behind him as Thomas weighs his options. He needs to think of something, fast, before he loses all respect from the men around him. He catches sight of Lafayette in the corner of his eye. Lafayette hesitates, then reaches up and tugs on his own hair. When Thomas doesn’t understand, Lafayette does it again, gestures at Alex and winks.

Oh, Thomas thinks, looking at the back of Hamilton’s head. I wonder what this is going to do, then. Thomas reaches up, threads his fingers through the base of Hamilton’s ponytail. The man’s hair is surprisingly soft between his fingers, and Thomas has to grip hard to pull on it. He pulls hard--not hard enough to hurt, but enough to tug harshly at Hamilton’s scalp. Hamilton’s head falls back into Thomas’ chest and before Thomas can really wonder what that was supposed to do, Hamilton makes this noise.

It takes Thomas a moment to realize it was a moan. And not one of pain either. The circle falls silent for a moment as everyone processes what just happened. His eyes widen and he tugs again, experimentally. This time Hamilton stifles so it only rumbles a little and tears himself away. He stumbles into a standing position as the group bursts into laughter all around him. He glances back at Thomas and he’s blushing hard. Thomas has to bite down on a finger to stop the laughter from bursting out. Hamilton glares around the circle but even John is laughing at him.

Part of Thomas wonders how Lafayette knew that would happen, but another part realizes he doesn’t want to know the answer to that question. B.T. claps Thomas on the back and wipes a tear from his eye.

“Holy shit man,” he breathes, “holy shit.”

Thomas grins back at him and shrugs. “Took a wild guess.”

As the group--minus Angelica and Washington--guffaws around him, Hamilton stomps over to Arnold's seat and drops into it. He scowls, crosses his arms and slouches down into his seat.

Point one, me, Thomas thinks. He makes a mental note to thank Lafayette later, but he settles for a smile in the man’s direction for now. Lafayette shoots him a thumbs up and a grin. James still hasn’t relaxed behind him, and Thomas pats one of his hands gently. He leans his head up to talk in James’ ear. James leans down to hear.

“See,” he says, “I’ve got this.”

James makes a noncommittal grunt and stands back up. Thomas rolls his eyes. If James wants to be a spoil-sport, he can be. Thomas is having a good time.

Then Thomas feels his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulls it out just as Washington pulls everyone back to order. The frowns at the message he’s reading.

From MommaMartha:

There’s a guy down at the precinct looking for you. Says he knows something about Arnold. Won’t talk to anyone else but you. Asked for you by name.

“Mr. Clark, is everything okay?” Washington asks. Thomas looks up from his phone, then shows the message to James.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says, “I gotta go is all. Problem down at the...warehouse.” Thomas stands and takes his phone back from James.

“You can’t go,” John says. “We haven’t even started.”

“Lewis can stay,” Thomas says. James starts, looking at him sharply. “He’ll be my envoy, alright?” Thomas looks at James, motioning to his now-empty seat. “I want a full report. Detailed. And I trust you to speak for me, okay?”

James’ eyes widen. He nods, but his eyes read I’m not ready for this.

You have to be, Thomas replies. James takes a breath and smiles.

“Sure, Will. Anything,” he says, looking like he’s melting on the spot. Right, ‘Lewis’ is in love in ‘Clark.’ Thomas nearly forgot.

“Call me when it’s over,” he says, cold and flippant. He turns on one heel and makes his way out of the circle. As he passes Hamilton, the man shoots him the bird. Thomas just smiles and walks out.

Thomas starts making his way down the street, simultaneously trying to hail a cab. As he walks, however, his mind keeps traveling back to...things. Hamilton’s face just inches away from his own, the feeling of Hamilton in his lap, the moan--because it was a moan that fell out of Hamilton’s mouth--the feeling of soft hair in his hands-

Thomas shoves the thoughts away and starts waving for cabs harder.

Chapter Text

Thomas steps out of the cab and pays the driver a little extra for the speed he drove. The cab takes off and Thomas walks into the precinct. The receptionist waves him in and he walks onto a busy floor full of cops rushing around. Phones are ringing off the hook and people of all shapes and sizes are sitting around, some in handcuffs, all looking slightly lost. Martha flags him down from across the bullpen.

“What’s going on around here?” He asks, having to raise his voice over the din. A familiar ache is starting to return behind his temple.

“Friday night in New York City,” she says as an explanation. She looks calm, but there’s a glint in her eye that tells Thomas the hubbub and noise of the precinct is starting to wear on her. Louis, on the other hand, is casually reclining in a waiting chair and flicking through a magazine. His legs are kicked over the leg of his chair and he bounces them in time to a tune he’s humming.

“So where’s this fellow who asked for me?” Thomas asks. Louis motions vaguely in the direction of the meeting room with Thomas’ maps.

“Put him in there,” Louis says, not taking his eyes off the magazine. “Told him not to touch anything.”

“Thanks, guys,” Thomas drawls. “Leave the guy completely alone.” Louis drops the magazine on his lap.

“We left Sally in there with him!” Louis protests. “Besides, what would he do? This place is filled with cops. It is a police station, after all.” Thomas rolls his eyes and swats Louis on the head as he passes him on the way to the meeting room. He chuckles at Louis half-hearted protests of abuse and walks into his makeshift office/meeting room.

Inside, with the door shut, the noise of the precinct is deadened somewhat. Thomas revels in the quiet for a moment as he fishes his bottle of Tylenol from his pocket. Sally stands against the wall, gaze flicking between Thomas and the other man in the room. He’s got his back to her, examining the maps on the wall with a tilted head. If he heard Thomas come into the room, he hasn’t reacted. Thomas throws two tablets into his mouth, swallows with spit, and clears his throat.

“Good evening, Mr…?” Thomas trails. The man does not turn, does not flinch. His hands are clasped behind his back, white skin and golden watch accented against the bright red he’s wearing. Thomas frowns. “Sir?” He asks again, but get no response. Thomas glances as Sally, who shrugs.

“Hasn’t talked but to ask for you,” she explains. This finally seems to spark something in the man, who looks over his shoulder at Thomas. Hazel-green eyes pierce into Thomas, an odd coldness to the gaze. Gemstone earrings glitter under the fluorescent lights. Then the man smiles, a slow creeping thing that seems to take several moments to fully form.

“Agent Thomas Jefferson,” he says, a slight British lilt to his words. He says Thomas’ name as if it is a novelty all to its own. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Sorry I took so long, I was on the other side of town,” Thomas says. The man hums and looks back up at the map. He raises one hand and plants a finger on the little blue pin on the precinct they’re in. The man drags his finger up the street, then makes a turn at an intersection, and follows the grid until his finger finally lands on the multi-colored cluster that is The Fighting Frenchman.

“I suppose that really is a trip, especially in traffic,” he says lightly. “I forgive you, then.” He turns back to Thomas with that same, bright, white smile, though his eyes don’t smile with him. A chill travels down Thomas’ spine. The man finally turns all the way around, brunette hair bouncing slightly and lays his hands against the table. “We are going to talk, you and I.”

“Well, yes, that is what you came for.” Thomas crosses his arms over his chest. The man looks at him but says nothing. The silence stretches on, and Thomas feels the urge to squirm or look away. Instead, he motions for the man to start speaking. Still, the man says nothing, but his gaze does flick away from Thomas for a heartbeat. The man glances at Sally, and then looks back at Thomas. He tilts his head and one of his eyebrows inches up ever so slightly.

Thomas gets the message. Without looking away, he says: “Sally, why don’t you go see if Martha or Louis needs anything?”

“Hm?” Sally asks, coming off the wall. “Shouldn’t I say-”

“Listen to your boss, Agent Hemmings,” the man breaks in. Sally starts and looks at Thomas in concern. Thomas swallows.

“Go, Sally. Please,” he adds. Sally hesitates, then nods. She pats Thomas on the shoulder as she leaves. Thomas wants to look at her, but he feels that breaking eye-contact with the strange man in front of him is akin to losing this game they’ve started to play. Because Thomas can feel that this is a game, somehow. He just needs to figure out how to win.

The door clicks behind Sally and the man straightens. He rolls his head, Thomas can hear the bones crack in his neck, but only breaks eye-contact for a brief moment before his laser-like focus is back on Thomas. Thomas clears his throat again.

“You said you had information about Benedict Arnold?” Thomas prompts. He does not sit, will not give the height advantage to this man. Thomas may only be an inch or two taller, but he will take any advantage against him that he can. If this man wants to play a game, Thomas will play. Thomas will play to win.

The man nods. “I have been friends with Benedict for a while now, you see,” he says, his fingertips trailing back and forth on the table. “His brother-in-law’s roommate is a very good friend of mine, and he introduced us. I knew Benny was wrapped up in some...unsavory characters, but I never thought anything like this would happen.”

“That’s what happens when you run with criminals and thugs,” Thomas says, taking a stab in the dark. It must be the wrong thing to say as the man blinks and puts a hand to his chest.

“Why, Agent Jefferson. Some of those ‘criminals and thugs’ are my best friends, I’ll have you know.” The man clicks his tongue. “And that’s not even what I meant either.” He looks away, almost as if he’s disappointed in Thomas. Thomas swallows, knowing he has ground to make up now, and says:

“Well, then. You should know people like that occasionally run afoul of the law.” But the man is already sighing and shaking his head.

“No, no, no. You’re smarter than that, Agent Jefferson. Think,” he says, the word rolling off his tongue with a click. “Think about what I am saying to you.”

Thomas bites back a rude remark and grits his jaw. He’s already losing. The man keeps talking.

“Anyway, Benny comes to me yesterday, all upset and out of sorts and asks if he can borrow some cash. He tells me he’s in a tight spot and he and his wife need to get out of town. I tell him I can do him one better: enough money to get him, his wife, and his brother-in-law out. He asks me if I’m serious, and I say ‘of course, dear! You’ve been such a good friend, here’s the money, get yourself some train tickets.’ He thanks me and runs off. Imagine my shock when I turn on the news this morning and there’s a manhunt going on for my dear Benny. I just knew I had to come down here and tell someone about what happened.”

There is an innocent expression and tilt to the man’s voice that raises goosebumps on Thomas’ neck. It’s almost like the man isn’t even trying to disguise the fact that he’s lying. “So you didn’t know that Arnold was a wanted man when you gave him the money.”

“Of course not,” he says, mock-offended, “I would have marched him right down to the police myself if I had.”

Yeah, sure, Thomas thinks but doesn’t voice it. Instead, he says: “Did Arnold tell you where he was going?”

The man sighs, almost--but not quite--regretfully. “No, I afraid he didn’t. But wherever he is--” the man looks at Thomas with a sliver of a smile and a conspiratorial look “--I’m sure he’s perfectly safe, with good people to look after and protect him. And if I was going to put money on it, I’d say that Benny and his family aren’t ever going to be found.”

Thomas’ breath catches in his chest. If he’s understanding right, either this man helped Arnold escape...or killed him. Thomas forces himself to remain outwardly calm. He smiles back at the man. “And I would take you up on that bet,” he says. The man quirks an eyebrow.

“Oh, confident in that, are we?” The man asks, laughter in his voice. “Tell me, do you think you’re good at finding missing people?” He’s mocking Thomas, and Thomas decides to not let it slide.

“I’d say me and the rest of my team are very good at people we want to find.” Thomas looks pointedly at the maps behind the man. “We found Arnold once, didn’t we?”

The man looks over his shoulder at the map and hums. “I suppose you did, in a way…” He turns back to Thomas. “He certainly wasn’t expecting to be caught red-handed, as it were.” The man chuckles, but Thomas stays quiet. “Red-handed? Because he was working with Redcoats? No?” The man sighs. “Get a sense of humor, Agent Jefferson. That one was good.”

“Agree to disagree,” Thomas says. The man sighs again, shoulders raising and dropping dramatically.

“If you insist…” he trails, looking down at the table. Thomas bites the inside of his cheek and crosses his arms.

“Well, thank you for coming in Mr…”

“You’re very welcome, Agent Jefferson.” The man traces circles on the table with a finger. “But I have one more thing. A little...request if you will?”

Thomas debates the merits of humoring the man. Shutting him down might mean Thomas wins, but he gets the feeling the man should just override him and keep talking. Thomas settles for saying: “Depends on the favor.”

Immediately, the man looks up. The smirk is gone, replaced with a pleading expression that looks like the man is about to break out into tears. The sudden change in demeanor makes Thomas blink in shock, leaning back and away. Just like everything else the man has done, it sits just on the wrong side of genuine or convincing.

“Agent Jefferson, I am just fit to be tied,” he starts, his hand curling into a fist on the table. “A good friend of mine has gone missing and I am just so worried!”

“Have you filed a missing person’s report?” Thomas asks, terrified yet more than a little curious to see where this is going. The man shakes his head sadly.

“I’m not allowed to do that until he’s been gone for three days, and it’s only been about a day. But he won’t answer any calls or texts, and he’s normally so available! I even went by his place earlier and the whole place is trashed. It honestly looks like he got robbed or attacked and I’m so scared something bad happened to him.” Tears are gathering in the man’s eyes, though Thomas thinks they’re of the crocodile kind.

“If he’s only been missing for a day, he could easily show up soon,” Thomas says. The man’s face turns even more pathetic.

“But...but...I...please! You have to help find him!” The man begs, his hands curled around the table edge like he’s ready to break off a piece and beat Thomas with it. Thomas eyes him cautiously, then asks:

“What’s his name?”

The man’s face brightens, his hands relax and he reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a photograph of a young man with shaved hair that Thomas recognizes as-

“Aaron Burr Jr,” the man announces, handing the photo to Thomas. Thomas stares at it in the man’s outstretched hand. He slowly takes the picture, it’s a copy of Burr’s driver’s license photo. The man must see something on Thomas’ face because he gasps. “Do you know him?”

“Why are you looking for Burr?” Thomas asks instead of answering. The man blinks.

“Is friendship and worry not a good enough answer for you?” He asks. Thomas looks up at the man with the best ‘stop fucking with me’ expression he has. The man looks back for a moment, then drops the faux-upset expression and chuckles. “You’re starting to understand, Agent Jefferson. Good.”

“Why are you looking for Burr?” Thomas repeats, more insistent this time. He glances at the photo in his hand, hoping that Burr isn’t already at the bottom of the Hudson.

“If I’m honest with you, Thomas,” the man begins. Thomas frowns at the use of his first name, but the man goes on as if he doesn’t notice. “Aaron...stole something from me that I would really like back.”

Thomas knows it’s stupid to ask if this man has filed a robbery report or anything, so he simply asks: “What do you want me to do about that?” The man smiles.

“Well, I was thinking...you and I could do each other a favor. You and your team can start looking for Aaron, and I and my friends will too. If I find Burr, I’ll simply take my stuff back and then call you up. I’ll make sure you find Aaron with all the evidence you need to know that he was behind the Safe Harbors Massacre.”

“Was he?” Thomas asks. The man outright laughs.

“He can be,” he says, grin wide. “He can very easily be. However, if you and your team find him first, you give me a call. I come by, pick up my things, and tell you where the evidence you need is. No one has to know. I’m just taking something that was already mine back. Hell, it’ll cut down on your paperwork. Think about it, Thomas-” the man slowly walks around the table, his fingers trailing behind him. “-I get what my stuff, you get your killer, and we both get to go home happy, healthy and safe.” Thomas gets a chill on the last word, the man staring him directly in the eye. They’re mere steps away from each other now.

“And what if I don’t?” Thomas asks. “What if I find Burr and don’t tell you?”

The man’s smile does not slip, but it changes. Instead of the almost affable grin, it morphed into something decidedly unkind. Something dangerous. The man’s footsteps do not falter but become more pointed. “Well, Thomas, then you will have made me your enemy.” He takes one last step so that he is a hair's’ breadth away, their chests nearly touching. Thomas does not flinch as the man leans his face up into Thomas’. His smile disappears and his face goes neutral. “People who become my enemy do not stick around to be my enemy for very long.”

“Is that a threat?” Thomas asks, fighting the urge to lean away, to give in. The man chuckles, a gentle smile returning to his face.

“No, no of course not.” The man’s shoulders relax and he takes a single step backward. “I would never threaten you, Thomas.”

“Smart,” Thomas remarks.

“I am, however-” the man tilts his head down so he’s looking up at Thomas through his eyelashes. “-threatening Mr. William Clark.”

Thomas’ stomach drops. It lands on the floor at his feet and he prays that the man can’t see it. His prayers go unanswered as the man tilts his head, presses a finger to his chin and says: “Well, that might as well be that same thing.” Thomas swallows, unable to form words. The man giggles, and reaches into his pocket again.

“My card,” he says, handing Thomas a little paper square. It’s not a business card, per se, only a little torn strip of paper with a number and a little doodle of a crown. Thomas doesn’t move to take it, not wanting to let the man see his hands shake. The man tuts reaches down and pushes the paper into Thomas’ front pocket. He looks up, a satisfied smile on this face.

“Call me sometime, sugar.” The man reaches up and pats Thomas directly on the cheek gently. “Ask for Georgie.” Before Thomas can react, the man slips around him and to the meeting room door. Thomas turns, unable to find anything to say to this man. The man reaches the door, looks over his shoulder at Thomas, grins and blows a kiss. With that, he opens the door and slips out.

Just as Thomas figures it’s okay to breathe again, he hears the man speak from the other side of the open door.

“Why, Agent James Madison,” he says. Thomas lurches into action, crossing to the door and throwing it open. James is standing there, looking at the man with a confused expression on his face. The man, however, is smiling and tapping his fingers gently on James’ shoulder. “You look absolutely darling in that suit. You really must save it, wear it to a funeral.” The man walks away, polished shoes clicking against the tile. Before he’s too far away, he adds: “Or, maybe you could be buried in it.” With that, he looks at Thomas one last time, the look in his eyes nothing short of a promise.

When the man finally disappears around a corner, James turns to look at Thomas. “Who was that?” He asks. Thomas stares at the spot the man had just been, still not breathing.

“James,” he says, lowly, “I think George King just threatened your life.”

Chapter Text

Thomas is still shaking ten minutes later when all the available members of his team are gathered in the meeting room. Steuben is out and Ben’s still at the hotel, so it’s everyone else, plus Sybil, in the semi-quiet of the room. Thomas glares at the table, running his conversation with King in his mind over and over again. He’s seated now, not completely trusting his knees to hold him up.

The door opens and Revere enters, clutching a piece of paper. “Yep, that was George King,” he says, throwing the paper onto the table. It’s a print-out of a still from a security camera. King is looking directly at the camera, a calm smile on his face as Sally watches from the other side of the frame.

“King just waltzed into your precinct, threatened a federal agent, and waltzed right on out without anyone noticing?” James asks. Revere pinches his nose and sighs.

“We’re busy tonight,” he says, an apology in his voice.

“This isn’t completely our fault. How did none of you recognize him? You’ve all seen his picture!” Sybil exclaims.

“Sybil,” Revere says, but Sybil pushes on ahead.

“And, and, you let a strange man stay one-on-one with Agent Hemmings and Agent Jefferson?”

Sybil.”

“No, sir,” she whirls on Revere, ponytail flying. “If they’re going to accuse us of letting King slip through our fingers, they get some of the blame too.”

“No one’s accusing anyone of anything,” Louis says. Sybil snaps her head to look at him.

“Sure sounded like it,” she says. “Look, we’re having more dispatch calls than officers available to take them. We don’t have time to sit around and watch for King to just show up!”

“You were the one that shoved King into my arms and left me to fend for myself,” Martha says, glaring at Sybil. “If there’s anyone here that should have recognized him, it was you.”

I’ve lost two men tonight!” Sybil yells. “Two men! Shot dead! The best suspects, by the way, happen to be two of your little Sons of Liberty friends.” Revere puts a hand on Sybil’s shoulders, but she’s red-faced in rage and shaking almost as hard as Thomas is. “Two of my best men are dead, so forgive me for being a little all over the place.”

“Sybil, please,” Louis says. “Calm down.”

“No! I will not calm down until I can go back out there-” she points at the closed door “-and figure out who shot Cresston and Heins!”

“Enough!” Thomas says, hitting the table. Everyone jumps, and their head snaps to where he’s sitting at the table. His fists are clenched on the table, and he takes a deep breath. “We all messed up tonight. We’re all to blame for letting King just walk out. But that’s the past.” Thomas looks around the room, finding eye contact with everyone in turn. “It’s over and done with. We have to deal with it.”

“So what do we do?” Sally asks.

“First,” Thomas says, “we find Aaron Burr. Before King does.”

--------------

 “I swear, if Burr’s done somethin’ and ya’ll are just using me to get in his place I’m gonna sue you pig bastards,” Burr’s landlady mutters as she leads Thomas and James to Burr’s apartment.

“I told you the truth, Burr might be in danger,” Thomas says. James huffs along up the last portion of the stairs behind him. They reach the landing and watch the landlady reach for Burr’s doorknob. Her fingers just barely brush it and the door swings open.

“Huh,” the woman says, backing up from the door. “She’s all yours, I guess.” She watches Thomas and James like a hawk as they approach the door. Thomas frowns.

“The top hinges are broken,” he mutters to James. James follows his gaze, nods and pulls a gun out of his suit jacket.

“Woah, woah. Ya’ll didn’t say nothing about guns,” the woman says, backing away quickly.

“Just stay in the hall, ma’am,” Thomas says, drawing his own weapon. He looks at James, who nods, and steels himself. He pushes the door open slowly with one hand, the pistol stuck out in front of him. The door creaks on broken hinges as it opens. “Aaron Burr?” he calls. “FBI, Jefferson and Madison.”

There is no response from within. Thomas takes another steadying breath and pushes the door open all the way.

Burr’s apartment is wrecked. The careful organization is long gone beneath overturned chairs and broken glass. The hall is covered in shattered bottles of beer and whiskey, dried liquid staining the wooden floor. Further inside is not much better. Burr’s dining room table has been broken in half, the two chairs thrown across the living room. The tv is shattered and the couch is ripped to shreds.

He takes a step inside, hearing glass crunch beneath his feet. “Burr?” he calls again. “Answer if you’re here.” The only reply is silence. Thomas slowly makes his way to the kitchen/living room, James just behind him. If Thomas were to describe the status of the apartment, he’d say it was like a tornado full of broken glass and baseball bats tore through.

They check what remains of the greater apartment, finding no signs of life. No blood either, which is a good thing. Then, Thomas still leading the way, they move on to the small hall that juts off to the side. Thomas keeps his gun raised, careful. James pushes open the door on the right, and announces the bathroom inside to be clear. Thomas turns to the left, takes a breath and opens the door. The moment the door swings open, his hand is back on his gun. He nudges it all the way open with his shoulder and gasps.

The bedroom is worse than the living room. The furniture is relatively intact, but there’s a blood splatter on the opposite wall and a large patch on the ground by the foot of the bed. The comforter is stained as well, but most of it is soaked into the wooden floor. Thomas traces the dark splotch with his eyes, his gaze travelling across the entire room.

“Fuck,” he whispers. “What happened to Burr?”

------------

Within the hour, Burr’s apartment looks like a tv crime show set. There’s CSI crawling all over, slowly tagging and photographing the place. Thomas watches as a man takes measurements of the bedroom bloodstain and jots the numbers down.

“How long until we know how hold it is?” He asks. The man shrugs.

“Whenever the lab boys get back to you,” he says in a thick Brooklyn accent.

“Give me a guess.”

The man sighs, stands and eyes the bloodstain. “I’d say...this was left sometime last night.”

Thomas frowns and glances at his watch. It’s almost 3:00 in the afternoon. He does some mental calculations. Arnold disappeared this time yesterday, the Sons meeting had been this morning, and the conversation with King had been only an hour-and-a-half ago. His stomach grumbles and Thomas realizes he hasn’t eaten lunch. Hell, he barely remembers sleeping last night. His head is pounding and Thomas just wants five minutes alone, with nothing to worry about.

This is going to be a long day.

“Thanks,” he says, rubbing his temples. The man grunts and returns to his tape measure. Thomas turns away from the bedroom, trying not to imagine what happened to Burr to leave that much blood. He walks back into the living room where James is directing people and delegating tasks.

“Where’s everyone?” he mutters to James.

“Martha’s talking to the landlady and Sally’s going over all the security footage Ben found. Louis is canvassing the building with one of Sybil’s boys,” James says. He must see something on Thomas’ face because he asks: “Are you feeling okay?”

“Just worried,” Thomas lies. “There’s a whole lotta blood in there.” James looks like he doesn’t quite believe Thomas, but he doesn’t say anything. “His phone and his wallet are still on the counter.”

“Makes one wonder if Burr’s even still alive,” James says, lowly. Thomas swallows.

“He’s still alive. Why else would King approach us?” He whispers, turning his face away from the other people in the room.

“True,” James breathes. “Could be a bluff.”

“I don’t think it is, Jemmy.”

James rolls his shoulders and lets out a breath. “What’s our next move then?”

Thomas thinks for a moment, drumming his fingers against his thigh. “We could call Hamilton.”

“Hamilton? Why?” James asks, turning his head to look at Thomas. Thomas shrugs.

“Or any of the Sons, really. Hamilton’s just the first name I thought of. Someone might know where Burr is.”

James hums, then nods. “Worth a shot.”

Thomas whips out his phone and finds Hamilton’s text from earlier that day. He quickly stores the number--’Short Stack’ Thomas names him--and calls. The phone rings until a nice robotic lady informs him that the person he’s trying to reach hasn’t set up his voicemail yet. Thomas is automatically hung up on, but he tries again. The phone rings twice before going into the voicemail again.

Hamilton sent me into his non-existent voicemail, Thomas realizes as he pushes the ‘call’ button for a third time. That fucker. James raises an eyebrow as Thomas puts his phone up to his ear again. The phone rings once, twice, three times, then:

“‘Ello?” Lafayette’s voice comes over the phone.

“Laf, it’s...Clark,” Thomas says catching himself at the last second.

“Oh, Clark!” Laf says, his voice perking up. “No wonder Alex shoved his phone at me and told me to pick up for him.” Thomas hears Hamilton protesting in the background, something about ‘you weren’t supposed to let him know that!’

“Yeah, that would explain it,” Thomas chuckles. “By the way, thanks for the...tip. About the hair.”

“We all need to work together, no?” Laf says. “So, what is it you need?”

“I wanted to know if anyone has spoken to or seen Aaron Burr in the last 24 hours or so,” Thomas says. Laf hums, then says:

“Well, I have not, hold on a second.” Laf’s voice gets quieter as he asks if anyone around him knows where Aaron Burr is. There’s a silence, then: “No, sorry. Not even Alexander has talked to him.”

“Are you sure?” Thomas insists.

“Positively. Is Burr alright?” Laf asks. Thomas hesitates, considering his answer. The silence must be enough for Lafayette to draw his own conclusions though. “Can you not find him?”

“No, we...can’t.”

“Is he missing?” Lafayette asks. Before Thomas can answer, Lafayette shushes someone, then there’s a battering sound like someone is fighting him for the phone.

“Laf?” Thomas can hear nothing but a struggle.

Goddamnit, Laf, it’s my phone!” Hamilton says. “Give it.”

You gave it to me to talk.” Laf’s voice is muffled, like he’s holding the phone away from his face.

I’m taking it back!
Then there’s a sound like the phone hitting the floor. Thomas winces at the sudden noise but then Hamilton is speaking.

“What have you done with Burr?” He asks. Lafayette is saying something in the background but Alex shushes him.

“Nothing, Hamilton. We’re just looking for him,” Thomas says.

“Why? What do you want him for, huh?”

“Why are you so concerned?”

“Why are you looking for Burr?” Hamilton insists. Thomas sighs.

“We think he might be in danger and we’re trying to help him, okay Hamilton? Don’t get your panties in a twist.”

“He’s in danger?!” Hamilton yells. “What kind of danger?”

Thomas opens his mouth to reply when James is tapping on his shoulder. Thomas looks up, and finds that Sally, Martha and Louis have all returned. Sally is holding out her phone, presumably for Ben on the other side. “Gotta go Hamilton.”

“What?! No, wait! Tell me-”

Thomas hangs up and shoves his phone back into his pocket. Almost immediately, it rings, but Thomas ignores it in favor of his teammates. “What have we got?” He asks.

“Security footage and some witnesses that gave us enough information to put together a basic timeline.” James looks down at a pad of paper in his hand. “At 1:32 in the morning, a man with a baseball bat breaks the window leading to the basement of this building. A few minutes later, he opens the front door from the inside and lets three other men in. All four are wearing masks and jackets. The man above Burr’s apartment says he heard a commotion starting around 1:40ish that lasted about ten or fifteen minutes, then it went silent. At 1:46, all four men leave the building and head north. Skip ahead to 2:20 am, and Burr leaves the building going south and limping. He does not come back.” James shows Thomas the paper, which just details what James said.

“That’s it?” Thomas asks.

“Not quite,” Ben says. “I’m jumping around to CCTV cameras in the area, and I can track Burr for almost twelve blocks. He goes north, then east, cuts through Morningside Park, takes a few zig-zaggy turns and uses a few back alleys, but then I lose him after nearly 45 minutes of walking. Well, limping and bleeding all along New York streets.”

“So, Burr was last seen alive at...3:05 in the morning, give or take.” Thomas scrawls the timestamp down on James’ notepad.

“Note that Burr passed at least two cop cars and an Urgent Care. So I have no clue where he was going. Also: two sets of cops saw him walking down the street, heavily injured and didn’t do ja-”

“Well, wouldn’t you look at that, Ben. These police officers standing in earshot haven't heard you yet. Why don’t you speak louder?” Thomas hisses into the phone.

“Well I’m sorry,” Ben says, not sounding sorry at all. “Just stating the facts.”

“Would you just give me Burr’s last location you can confirm?”

---------------

Thomas and James stand on the intersection of 124th, Manhattan Ave. and St. Nicholas Ave. The five-way intersection is teeming with cars and pedestrians. Thomas looks around, but can’t find anything that would appeal to a wounded man at 3:05 in the morning.

“He wouldn’t go into a Chuck E. Cheese’s would he?” Thomas asks, eyeing the smiling mascot from across the street. “I mean, if I wanted to hide from violent criminals, I’d go to a Chuck E. Cheese’s. Hide right behind those fucking creepy robots. No one would dare come get me.”

James breathes a laugh. Thomas laughs with him, picturing Burr crouched behind an animatronic mouse, hiding for his life in the darkened play-space. He looks at his partner, mirth still dancing in James’ eyes. It’s moments like this that make the job bearable, why Thomas can face death and other unspeakables and still come into work each morning.

He opens his mouth to continue to joke when, over James’ head, he spots them. Hamilton and Laurens, walking down the street in their direction. “James,” he says, ducking his head. “Cross the street, quickly. Don’t look behind you, no-” James looks over his shoulder and spots the two gangsters. “-damnit James, let’s go before-”

“Jefferson and Madison, what are you two doing here?” Hamilton asks, stopping at the corner with Laurens.

“Things,” Thomas replies. “We were just leaving.”

“Shouldn’t you be looking for Burr?” Hamilton asks, frowning.

“We are, Hamilton.”

“Then what are you doing in the middle of a random intersection, huh? Trying to canvas New York by foot?” He asks, mockingly. Laurens snorts. Thomas glowers, but James slips his hand onto Thomas’ wrist and squeezes. Thomas takes a deep breath.

“No, this is the last confirmed place Burr was seen alive, if you need to know.”

Hamilton perks up at that, head snapping around and scanning the intersection like Burr was hiding behind a lamppost or something. “How do you know? Did you see him? Are there witnesses?” Hamilton shot off question after question, but left Thomas no time to answer any of them. “Was he hurt? Did he-?”

“Slow down, Hamilton,” Thomas broke in. “Take a breath.”

“Chill, Alex,” Laurens breaks in, putting a hand on Hamilton’s shoulder. “Burr’s going to be fine.”

“You don’t know that!” Hamilton exclaims. “Burr doesn’t just disappear. He’s not the type to!”

And idea occurs to Thomas. “I know, but-” Laurens begins, but Thomas breaks in.

“How well would you say you know Aaron Burr?” He takes a step closer to Hamilton. The shorter man narrows his eyes.

“Well enough,” he says. “We’re...close.”

“You say that with some hesitance.” Thomas frowns.

“Well, no one’s really ‘close’ to Burr.” Hamilton says the word ‘close’ with air quotes. Laurens rolls his eyes.

“You’re the only person he really talks to.” Laurens says. Hamilton looks like he’s about to protest, but shuts his mouth when Laurens teases: “I’m right and you know it.”

“Do you think you could help us out then?” Thomas asks, smile creeping across his face.

“What are you thinking?” James asks. Thomas flashes a grin at him quickly, then turns back to Hamilton. Hamilton is looking at him suspiciously, arms crossed.

“Maybe. Depends on what you want,” he says. Thomas takes a step forward, James trailing behind.

“If you were Aaron Burr, where would you go from here?” Thomas motions around him. Hamilton’s expression of suspicion changes to confusion.

“What? How am I supposed to know that?” He asks.

“Make a guess,” Thomas prompts. Hamilton glances around himself, peering over the heads of the crowd around him.

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t go into a chuck-e-cheese’s,” he drawls.

“Okay, keep going,” Thomas says. Hamilton sighs in exasperation, and looks back at him.

“He jumped down a manhole, how am I supposed to know?” He’s got one eyebrow cocked, and he’s looking at Thomas like he’s suggested that Hamilton try and describe what it’s like to be a hippogriff. Thomas stifles a sigh and slips around Hamilton so he’s standing behind him. Hamilton twists to keep Thomas in his sights. “What are you doing?”

“Helping you figure out where Burr would go. Stand still,” Thomas commands, and grabs Hamilton by the shoulders so that he’s facing away from Thomas. Hamilton grumbles and shrugs Thomas off. “Alright. Shut your eyes,” he says, reaching for Hamilton’s head. He gently cups his hands over Hamilton’s ears, trying not to dig his fingertips into the other man’s scalp as he violently twists away.

“What the hell?! Don’t touch me!” He says, jumping about a foot away and whirling on Thomas. “What is that for?” Thomas rolls his eyes.

“Do you want to help find Burr?” He asks. Hamilton nods jerkily.

“Of course.”

“Then let me hold your ears.” Hamilton looks at him incredulously, like he can’t quite believe what Thomas has asked of him. For a second, Thomas thinks Hamilton is going to refuse, but the Carribean marches back over to Thomas and turns around. Hamilton presses his back into Thomas’ chest. Laurens has this odd smirk on his face and Hamilton flips him off. Thomas returns his hands to their place on the sides of Hamilton's head, shifting them slightly until they’re placed just right. He opens one slightly so Hamilton can still hear him say: “Eyes shut, then.”

“Why?” Hamilton asks. Thomas makes a little noise of frustration in the back of his throat.

“Do it, Hamilton. It’ll make sense in a moment.” Thomas peers over Hamilton’s shoulders to find that Hamilton already has his eyes screwed shut tight. “Relax,” he says, leaning his head down close to the open hand. “You need to relax,” he all but whispers. Pressed up against Hamilton’s back, Thomas can feel his shoulders relax slowly, Hamilton taking deep breaths. He looks up to spot Laurens looking at him, lips pursed and eyebrows raised. James motions to the freckled man and Thomas can hear James’ explaination.

“Thomas is using a technique that we use to help witnesses recall details about whatever they saw. Isolate their senses and return them to the scene of the crime imaginatively. This is going to be a little different though. Thomas is going to try and put Hamilton into Burr’s frame of mind last night.”

“Does that really work?” Laurens asks.

“Sometimes.”

Laurens asks another question, but Thomas shuts it out. He needs to focus. He leans back down into Hamilton's ear but realizes he's too close to him to really simulate being alone. So Thomas takes a step back so their bodies are no longer touching. The slight warmth between their bodies disappears and Hamilton starts to lean back, almost as if he's searching for Thomas’ presence. Thomas steadies the man with his grip on his head, but leans his head in again.

Hovering just above Hamilton’s right shoulder, Thomas gets as close as he dares and begins to whisper:

“It is three o’clock in the morning. It's co-”

Thomas feels Hamilton shiver under his hands as he interrupts. “No it's not. It's almost f--”

“Hamilton. Go with it.”

“Fine.”

Thomas starts again. “It's three in the morning. It's cold, and wind pulls at you from down the street. The sky is clouded over and the only light is from the streetlights and a neon sign across the street.” Thomas feels Hamilton’s shoulders relax further. “You are alone, the street is deserted and there's no one in any of the shops. But you're scared. You keep glancing over your shoulder, looking for a tail. You're terrified because someone might be following you. Someone who means you harm.”

Hamilton tenses again, but doesn't interrupt, doesn't move out of Thomas’ grasp. Thomas takes this as a sign that Hamilton is buying into it. “You're injured. One of your eyes is swollen shut and there's a half-healed wound on your head. A rib or two is broken or bruised. Your left leg hurts to the point that it’s almost too much to stand on.” Hamilton’s weight shifts almost entirely to his right leg and Thomas smiles. “Despite that, you've limped almost twelve blocks to be here, and you've still got somewhere to go.

“The people you're watching out for are the ones who did this to you. They broke into your apartment and beat you until you were in this state. They were looking for something, something you stole from them. You're the only person who knows where it is and you are desperate to keep it that way. They can't find it, not while you're still alive.

“You don’t think they’re following you anymore. You're exhausted, hurting and terrified. You don't have your cell phone or your wallet. You might have some cash on you, you might not. It is three o’clock in the morning, you are standing at this intersection, your name is Aaron Burr. Where do you go and what do you do?”

Thomas holds his breath, closing up Hamilton's ear again, and hopes for the best. Hamilton breathes raggedly, swallows and says:

“I...I...I take a left.” Hamilton’s voice is soft, softer than Thomas has ever heard him speak before. “I take a left and head down the street. I follow the sidewalk for four blocks until I hit an apartment building. I limp up the stairs, hit the call for Abigail Smith. When she lets me in I pay her fifty dollars for a place to sleep. If I have it, I give her another fifty for her silence.”

“And if you don’t have cash on you?” Thomas asks. Hamilton takes another breath.

“I knock on her door anyway. Promise a favor. I don’t like promising favors, but I’m desperate.”

“Does she give you a bed for a promise?”

“Yes. She knows I would be good for it. But I don’t get a promise of silence.”

Thomas smiles and pulls his hands away from Hamilton’s head. He takes a step back as Hamilton turns around. He blinks, looking around himself like he legitimately forgot it wasn’t early in the morning. “That was...weird,” he says, slowly. Thomas chuckles.

“So I’ve been told,” Thomas says. “Can you take us to this Smith lady?”

Hamilton frowns. “If I...Burr had enough money on him, you’re not getting any information out of her.”

“Can’t hurt to try.” Thomas motions to the left. Hamilton sighs, rolls his eyes and sets off through the crowd. Thomas follows behind, James coming up to walk beside him. Laurens pushes past them and reaches Hamilton.“

Apuesto a que disfrutaste.” Laurens says. Thomas blinks. It’s not French...Spanish maybe?

Vete a la mierda, John.” Hamilton spits. It’s most certainly Spanish. If Thomas had to take a guess, Hamilton had told John to fuck off, but that’s only because one of the words he used almost sounded like “merde,” which was French for ‘fuck.’ He explains his guess to James in a whisper, and his partner nods.

“I don’t know Spanish,” he says.

“Neither do I, but maybe I can take a few guesses…” Thomas trailed, focusing again on the conversation ahead of them.

"No no! Es lindo. Alexander Hamilton, enamorándose del asombroso-"

"No estoy ‘enamorado.’” Hamilton glares at the taller man, who laughs.“

Ah, vale. Por supuesto.

“¡John!

Thomas is lost, only picking up something that sounded like ‘love.’“

Sólo digo que tienes el hábito de enamorarte de alguien que es vago e inteligente y te antagoniza.

Thomas catches the word ‘intelligent.’“

“Mentira. Dame un ejemplo.”“

Angelica.

“Falso. Estaba con Eliza.”“

“Porque Angelica no te tocaría, pero Eliza estaba interesada.”

They have to be talking about Angelica Schuyler, Thomas thinks. But who’s Eliza?“

Otro ejemplo.”“

Samu-

Hamilton swats John on the shoulder and shrieks: “Estaba borracho cuando dije eso! No puedes echármelo en cara.”

Las palabras de un hombre borracho son los pensamientos de un hombre sobrio, Alex.”“

Era un idiota,” Hamilton grumbles. Laurens laughs.

"Es por eso que dejaste de llorar después de el. Pero esso fue lo que pasó con Adams, y Lee y Knox y…”

“Cállate,” Hamilton spits.

“Cuando vas a admitir que te enamoraste con un  T-”“

“Vete a la mierda, John. He terminado de hablar contigo. Adiós. Cáete en una alcantarilla y muere" Hamilton whirls around and stops in his tracks. Laurens just laughs at him standing a few paces ahead. When Thomas and James reach them, Hamilton latches onto Thomas and pulls him ahead of Laurens.

“Abigail Smith’ place is just up ahead,” he says, pulling Thomas along by his wrist. Thomas stares at the spot where Hamilton’s hand is closed over his wrist and he finds he can’t form words. He’s only focusing on the warmth on his arm. “...You don’t speak Spanish, do you?”

“Huh?” Thomas says, looking up. Hamilton glances back at him, looks down at where he’s holding Thomas’ wrist and lets go with a wince.

“Do you speak Spanish?” Hamilton asks again, looking determinedly ahead. Laurens snorts behind them.

“No,” Thomas says.

“I’m going to assume you meant the English ‘no,’” Hamilton says.

“What?”

“‘No’ is Spanish is just ‘no,’” Hamilton explains.

“Oh,” Thomas says. “I didn’t even know that so…”

“Good,” Hamilton says. His fists are clenched at his sides as he marches along. Thomas slows his steps to let Hamilton stay even with him. “How do you even know French?”

“Minored in it in college,” Thomas says. “Spent a year studying in Paris.”

“Why?”

“I...I want to work for Interpol one day.” Thomas drops his voice, though he doesn’t think anyone around them in the bustling crowd is even listening. He doesn’t know why he’s telling Hamilton this, he could have just lied. Hamilton pauses for a moment.

“That’s...actually kind of awesome,” Hamilton says. “Chasing down bad guys across the world.”

“Hence why I want to do it,” Thomas replies, a smile across his face.

“I could see you doing that. Running down a street in China after some sort of hacker or something. In this big ol’ trench coat and whispering to your team through a hidden radio. I bet you’d get all sorts of cool gadgets and--”

“Do you think Interpol is the CIA or something?” Thomas interrupts.

“Well, no.” Hamilton scans a building to their right, then keeps moving. “But what else would they do?”

Thomas thinks for a moment. “Probably not anything different than what I do now, just...across the world.”

“...that’s still pretty cool,” Hamilton says. “I always figured myself as more of an Army guy than a policeman or a spy.”

“Really?” Thomas asks. Hamilton’s a scrawny fellow, without much muscle or fat on his bones. It honestly doesn’t look like the man has ever had a decent meal in his life.

“Yeah. Wanted to join up, originally. Tried to enlist in high school, wasn’t a US citizen yet. Tried again after I got my green card, got to boot camp…” Hamilton trails. “Drill Sargent was an idiot. They said that if I couldn’t hold my tongue and respect my first commander, there was no place for me in the armed forces.”

Thomas can imagine a younger Hamilton trying to fight a hardened drill sergeant. It’s almost a funny scene, Hamilton being held back by another trainee, scrabbling to get free and yelling.

“I told them-” Hamilton is still talking, leading Thomas across a street “-that if they didn’t want people who spoke their minds against stupidity, then there really was no place for me in the armed forces. Anyway, I ended up trying to appeal the decision at a VA office here in New York, and that’s where I met the Boss.” Hamilton stops, looking up at an apartment building. “Here we go, Smith’ place. Apartment 304.”

Thomas almost wants to stop and ask Hamilton to explain, to keep telling his story, but James is already walking up to the door and pressing the call button.

“Thanks, boys,” Thomas says as James pushes the door open. Hamilton nods, and then Thomas turns and walks inside the brightly lit hallway.

Chapter Text

Abigail Smith is a kind, elderly woman with three cats and a large sewing machine. She offers Thomas and James tea and a place on her couch. Thomas sits awkwardly on the knitted throw as a large, graying calico circles on his lap and lies across his knees. Mrs. Smith shuffles around her tiny kitchen, pouring herself a small cup of tea.

“And what can I help you boys with today?” She asks, her voice creaky with age, but still strong.

“We were hoping you could tell us something about the whereabouts of Aaron Burr,” Thomas says. Mrs. Smith hums to herself, slippered feet scuffing the floor as she crosses to a well-loved armchair. James shifts in his seat, waiting for Mrs. Smith to take a seat. Thomas raises his hand and pets the cat on his lap. The creature hisses at him and Thomas jerks his hand away.

“Oh, don’t mind Nabby,” Mrs. Smith chuckles. “She’s an old thing, just like her momma.” Harriet the cat glares at Thomas before settling back down further into his lap. “Doesn’t like to be touched.”

“I noticed,” Thomas says. James clears his throat.

“Mrs. Smith, we have reason to believe that Mr. Burr may have stayed with you last night. Is that true?”

Mrs. Smith peers at James over her glasses. “Aaron is such a sweet boy, Agent Madison. So very kind. Sometimes, he brings me tea and gossips with me. I can’t fathom why he would want to spend his afternoons with an old hag like me, but I don’t question it. Sometimes, that man is the only human contact I ever get.”

“That’s very nice, Mrs. Smith-” Thomas starts.

“Abigail, please.”

“Okay, Abigail. It's very nice that Mr. Burr-”

“Aaron.”

Aaron spends his time with you, but you didn't answer my question,” Thomas says. Nabby shifts on his lap and he forces himself to relax. Mrs. Smith blinks, settling back down into her chair and folding her hands on her lap.

“What was the question, again?” She asks in a rickety voice that's starting to grate on Thomas’ ears.

“Did Aaron sleep here last night?” James asks. Mrs. Smith tilts her head curiously.

“Aaron? Aaron who?”

Thomas sighs. “Alright, we’re done here. Thank you Abigail.” He stands, and Nabby falls off his lap in an ungraceful lump. The cat screeches and writhes on the ground.

“That's Mrs. Smith to you boy,” she says. Nabby scrambles to her feet and takes off like a rocket to Mrs. Smith’ side. She leans forward in her upholstery chair and pets Nabby on the head. “There, there little John. The nice man didn't mean to hurt you, did you...what's your name again son?”

But Thomas is already halfway to the apartment door, James trailing behind. “Thank you for your time Mrs. Smith, we’ll be on our way.”

“But you just arrived! Sit, have tea with me!” She says. But James shakes his heads, says their goodbyes and follows Thomas out the door.

“Well, that was a bust,” Thomas says, practically stomping down the staircase. James walks dutifully behind. “Just a damn senile old lady and her damn cats.” Thomas tries to pat the cat fur from his pants as best he can.

“Why would Hamilton send us to an aging old woman?” James asks.

“To laugh at us,” Thomas replies. “I bet him and Laurens are laughing their asses off at us right now.”

Thomas comes out of the apartment building, letting James slip out and the door slam behind them. Hamilton and Laurens are sitting on the curb.

“...I know John. So shut up about it,” Hamilton says. John goes to reply but the sound of the door shutting alerts the two to his and James’ presence. Their heads whip around, and Hamilton’s face is bright red.

“What the hell was that?” Thomas asks, expecting the two men to break out into laughter. Instead, both of them simply look confused.

“What do you mean?” Laurens asks.

“You think wasting our time with a senile old codger is funny?” Thomas looks at them expectantly. Laurens and Hamilton share a look of bewilderment.

“Mrs. Smith isn't senile, far from it actually,” Hamilton says, slowly. “She’s one of the brightest women I’ve ever met.”

“When was the last time you talked to her?” Thomas asks.

“It couldn’t have been a long time ago,” John muses. “No more than a month.” Hamilton stands up suddenly from the curb and hits Mrs. Smith’ buzzer repeatedly. He gets buzzed in and he disappears into the building. Thomas stares at the door for a moment.

“Should one of us follow?” James asks. Laurens shakes his head.

“Alex can handle it,” he says. Laurens scratches the back of his head and peers at Thomas. They stand in silence, Thomas pretending he doesn’t notice Laurens examining him. There’s a curious glint in Laurens’ eyes, one reminiscent of the first time Thomas had met him, just outside The Fighting Frenchman. James takes out his phone and starts typing. Thomas fidgets, looking up Mrs. Smith’ apartment building and feeling all sorts of uncomfortable under Laurens’ gaze. Laurens hums to himself, and Thomas can’t take it anymore. He whips his head around to see Laurens holding his chin and smiling at him.

“Can I help you?” Thomas asks, ice in his voice

“Just admiring the view,” Laurens says, just short of flirtatiously. There's a hint of southern in Laurens’ voice that Thomas has never really noticed before but now, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Thomas recoils, his stomach churning. He hides the flash of fear with a sneer of disgust. Laruens rolls his eyes. “Lighten up, man. I’m giving you a compliment.”

“I don’t want a compliment from you,” Thomas spits. James looks up from his phone in shock and Laurens’ smile falls at Thomas’ harsh words. Thomas’ heart is pounding in his chest and he's not sure why he's reacting like this. He’s fine. He’s okay. Laurens is gay. This is New York.

“You got a problem with me?” Laurens says, the challenge evident in his words. Now that he’s serious, the southern drawl is more pronounced.

“Maybe I do.” Thomas grits his jaw. James’ hand is on his elbow in a flash and he's squeezing tight. James is here. Thomas is safe. This isn't Virginia, this is NYC. Laurens rises from his place on the stoop, eyes lighting up in anger.

“You wanna go? Huh?” Laurens takes a threatening step forward. Thomas squares his shoulders. He's no pussy. Laurens doesn't know. Laurens can fight him, Thomas will fight back.

James is holding onto Thomas' arm now, one hand intertwining with Thomas’ and squeezing. “Thomas,” he hisses. “Stop.”

“You don't scare me, Mr. Cop Man. I'll take you down like I've taken every other homophobic piece of shit down,” Laurens is practically on top of them now. Laurens is shorter than him, but in Thomas’ mind, Laurens looms over him like his father used to. Thomas swallows, clenches his fists and gets ready to defend himself. His breathing turns rapid, his mind racing in a thousand different places at once and he can't focus on Laurens, can't defend himself, can’t fight, can’t run can’t-

Can’t say it. Can’t defend himself. He has to deny it. He has to lie. Laurens can’t know. No one can know. He’ll take this beating, better than what would happen if Laurens knew.

“I’m not...I’m not a fa-” Thomas stutters.

James throws himself between them. “Call down, the two of you. Laurens, step back.” When Laurens doesn’t move, James tries again with more force. “John Laurens take three steps back right now. There’s been a misunderstanding.” James puts a hand on Laurens’ chest and must push slightly because Laurens takes a step back, still glaring at Thomas. Thomas can’t look away from the rage in his face, not even as James pulls him aside and grabs on to Thomas’ shoulders.

“Thomas, what’s gotten into you?” He asks, though the real question is just beneath. Thomas knows it. Why aren’t you fighting, you damn fairy? Why didn’t you throw a punch? His father’s words echo in his head. James grips his shoulders tighter. “Breathe, Thomas. Breathe, come on.”

Breathe? He is breathing, quickly in fact. Erratically. It catches and hitches as Thomas finally drags his eyes to James. James starts counting, and Thomas tries to pull his scattered thoughts to the numbers. Tries to slow his breaths to the beat James is giving him. But his father’s voice, thick with both hatred and his accent is the only thing Thomas can hear.

“One.”

Man up, Thomas, and stop dressing like a girl.

“Two.”

What the hell is wrong with you?

“Three.”

No son of mine is a faggot piece of-

“Four.”

No.

“Five.”

Thomas realizes he’s shaking. He mouths the next number with James, trying to get his voice to work.

“Six.”

“I’m not your son, then.”

“Seven.”

James’ hands are warm against his shoulders. Thomas focuses on that.

“Eight.”

Thomas lets out his first full breath.

“Nine.”

Thomas finds James’ eyes for the first time and his brain settles. He grabs onto James arms and breathes deeply.

“Ten,” he says. James smiles and nods.

“Ten. Welcome back, Thomas,” James says. Thomas swallows and looks around. He’s on the New York City sidewalk he always on. Laurens is looking at him with concern, the anger either gone or gone dormant. Thomas looks down at himself, shame bubbling under his skin. He catches sight of his jacket, pink and bright and feminine. He shrugs out of James’ grasp and almost tears the fabric of the jacket as he rips it off. He can’t wear it. Not now. He feels too out in it. He throws it at James.

“Thomas?” James asks, holding the jacket. How ironic that it’s that jacket. It’s an old one; a gift James had given Thomas back when-

“I can’t, James. I--” Thomas stared down at the pink jacket in is hands.

“You said you liked it at the store,” James says.

“Yeah, but… I can’t wear it. Not around other people.” Thomas tries to shove it at James, holding the gift as far from his body as he can.

“Yes you can, Thomas.”

“But-”

“No buts. Put it on, just once.” James pushes the jacket back to Thomas, waiting patiently as Thomas stares at it for a long moment. Then, slowly, he slides one arm on, then the other. He shuts his eyes, screwing them closed tightly the entire time, settling it around his torso by touch alone. “There, see? You’re wearing it around me.”

“Yeah, but...you’re different. You...know.”

“I’m no different than anyone you’ll see around campus, Thomas. No one is going to say anything. If they do, it’ll be compliments. Come, see.” Thomas feels James’ hand wrap around his own, then he’s pulled gently to his feet and led out of their dorm. As they travel down the hall, Thomas still doesn’t open his eyes. He can’t look. This way, he can still pretend that no one can see him.

James pulls him into the bathroom, Thomas can tell because he’s stepping on tile now. Thomas lets James move him around until James is satisfied. “Open your eyes, Thomas. Please.”

Thomas takes a deep breath. He forces his eyes open and finds himself standing in front of a mirror. The jacket looks as good on him now as it did in the secrecy of the mall dressing room. The color contrasts against his dark skin and Thomas can’t help but love how it looks.

He smiles at himself in the mirror and James smiles too.

“See, you look great.” James pats Thomas on the arm. “And you’re no less a man for that fact.”

For the first time, Thomas believes James.

“James, it’s too much. I can’t,” Thomas says.

“Yes, yes you can,” James says, pressing the jacket back into Thomas’ hands. “What happened just now to make you think that?”

“I…” Thomas swallows, his throat dry and scratchy. “I heard him. In my head. Told me I wasn’t a man.”

“That’s not true and you know it Thomas.”

“I know, James. But-”

“But what?”

But what? Thomas looks at the ball of fabric in his hands. He clenches his jaw. But what exactly. He slides the jacket back on quickly, smoothing out the creases with his hands. When it’s all back and orderly, he looks up to find James smiling at him.

“I am a man, no matter how I look,” Thomas says, “or who I want to kiss.”

“Good.” James pats Thomas on the shoulder. “Now, what made you flashback?”

“...Laurens’ accent.” Thomas says, after a moment of thought. “Definitely the accent.”

James nods. “Okay. We know now.”

“We know now,” Thomas says. He takes James’ hand and squeezes. It’s okay, I can deal with an accent, Thomas thinks. He looks up at Laurens again, who has stepped away and turned his back. Thomas grits his teeth, walks up behind the gangster and taps him on the shoulder. When Laurens looks at him, Thomas says: “Sorry ‘bout that. I don’t have a problem with you, Laurens.”

Laurens eyes Thomas for a moment, then nods. “A’ight.” Maybe Laurens heard something about his accent, but the southern in his voice is all but squashed now. “You got a problem with somebody, and it’s not my business, but you freaked me out there. Thought I was gonna have to deck you.”

“Thought you were going to ‘deck’ me,” Thomas says with a smile. Laurens breaks out into a grin as well, a blinding one that shines between freckled skin.

“I woulda done it. I still have to get you back, Batman,” Laurens says. Thomas snorts.

“Any day, Joker.”

Laurens laughs, clapping Thomas on the back. “You know, I’m starting to think you’re not horrible.”

“I beg to differ,” Hamilton breaks in, finally emerging from the apartment building. Thomas rolls his eyes. He waves a piece of paper in one hand. “Got some information you want.”

“What? How?” Thomas asks, snatching the paper from Hamilton. It’s an address, one for a motel.

“Mrs. Smith gave it to me, duh.” Hamilton says.

“But-”

“You two introduced yourselves as cops, dumbasses. There was no way she was going to help you. I told you, smart old lady,” Hamilton says, smirking. Thomas scowls. He shoves the paper at James, who starts plugging the address into his phone. “Once I explained the situation, she willingly told me everything I wanted to know. If you had just gone up there as Will Clark and Matt Lewis, you probably wouldn’t have needed me.”

“Great to know,” Thomas drawls.

“But you might be out of luck. When Burr was here, he told her to call him at that motel if anyone came looking for him. She was getting off the phone when I got to her apartment.

“I have directions. It’s not far,” James says, holding out his phone.

“Great!” Hamilton says. He glances at the map and starts heading down the street in the right direction.

“Excuse me, where are you going?” Thomas asks.

“To help you find Burr,” Hamilton replies. Thomas looks at James in disbelief.

“Oh no you’re not.” Thomas catches up to Hamilton in three easy strides and stops him with a hand to his shoulder. “You are not coming with us.”

“Like hell I’m not,” Hamilton says.

“Hamilton-”

“You wouldn’t have gotten this far without me, Jefferson.”

Thomas bites down on a scathing remark. He’s still on edge from earlier and blowing up at Hamilton won’t help him. “You can’t come with us. It’s not proper protocol.”

“That wasn’t a problem up until now,” Hamilton says. “Now, I’m going to that motel and you can either come with me or try and stop me.” Hamilton shrugs off Thomas’ hand and starts down the street again. Thomas sighs, sends a prayer to whatever heavenly being is listening, and starts after him.

“Are you coming too, Laurens?” James asks.

“Sure, why not,” Laurens responds.

Thomas draws even with Hamilton, already planning out what to say. He can’t have two gangsters following him around on official business. It’s dangerous. The wrong person overhears the wrong thing and Thomas’ cover is blown. “Hamilton, look-”

“Who are you voting for?” Hamilton asks, suddenly. Thomas blinks, his entire argument for Hamilton staying behind forgotten.

“That’s a personal question,” Thomas says.

“Okay, but who are you voting for?” Hamilton asks again, more insistently this time. “Republican or Democrat?”

“Is this really the time for politics?” Thomas asks.

“It’s always the time for politics, Jefferson.”

“I don’t think that’s true-”

“Just answer the question. Republican or Democrat?”

“I don’t want to answer the question,” Thomas says. Hamilton looks at him, narrows his eyes and says:

“You vote Republican.”

Thomas sputters. “What makes you think that?”

“Everything about you,” Hamilton responds. “You haven’t dropped that accent, so I assume that’s real, which means you’re southern. You smell like you come from money, and you’re already insufferable, so why not add your political preferences to the pile?”

Thomas starts, mouth gaped open. “I...I am not Republican.”

“Really?”

“Really, Hamilton. I’m black, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“There are black Republicans-”

“I have my reasons for not being a Republican. Personal reasons,” he says to Hamilton’s questioning look. He grits his jaw, waiting for Hamilton to push. To his surprise, something flits across Hamilton’s face, and then he lights up and exclaims:

“So you’re Democrat!”

“No, oh god no,” Thomas says, indignantly. Hamilton’s grin falls.

“Then what…”

“I am a Libertarian,” Thomas says, proudly.

“...You’re third party?” Hamilton asks, incredulously. “You’re third party?”

“Why, yes, Hamilton. There are more than two options in our political system,” Thomas says. Hamilton gapes at him

“Holy shit, you’re serious. You’re actually a third party voter.” Hamilton starts laughing. “And here I thought you couldn’t get any stupider.” Thomas frowns. “Throwing away your vote. Thomas Jefferson, throwing away his vote-”

“I am not throwing away my vote.” Thomas protests, but Hamilton ignores him. He spins so he’s walking backwards.

“John! Did you hear that? He’s a Libertarian!

“I heard, Alex,” Laurens says. But he’s eyeing Thomas, possibly replaying the argument in his head, trying to put the pieces together. Thomas looks away before Laurens can say anything, however, and interjects:

“I only vote Libertarian when my vote doesn’t matter or it’s a local election,” Thomas justifies. “I’d never vote Gary Johnson.”

Hamilton looks up at him again, the open, curious expression on his face striking an odd chord in Thomas. “So then, how do you vote in a presidential election?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Thomas says. He has the strange urge to reach out and flick Hamilton on the nose. Before he can stop himself, he does exactly that. Hamilton stiffens, and his hand flies to his nose. Oh shit, it’s broken, Thomas remembers. He immediately feels guilty as Hamilton pokes and rubs his nose.

“Asshole,” Hamilton mutters, gently feeling his nose.

“Why aren’t you wearing your bandages?” Thomas asks, realizing that he hasn’t seen Hamilton in them for days now.

“They were uncomfortable and weren’t helping anyway,” Hamilton says.

“Hamilton.”

“What? I don’t want to wear them.”

“You should!” Thomas exclaims.

“Don’t bother. He won’t even listen to me,” Laurens breaks in.

“Hamilton, you need to protect your nose while it heals.”

“It’s fine.” Hamilton waves his free hand dismissively.

“No, it’s not,” Thomas protests. “You could really hurt it without proper treatment.” Thomas reaches out at catches Hamilton by the chin. They stop there, in the middle of the sidewalk as Thomas turns Hamilton’s head about, examining his nose. The swelling has gone down, but it’s still bruised, giving Hamilton a Rudolph the Purple Nosed Reindeer look. Thomas can see where it broke, the bump and kink in the cartilage is about halfway up. He straightens out Hamilton’s face to get a head-on look but just ends up making eye-contact instead. Hamilton’s eyes are wide, pupils small as he stares back at Thomas. Like this, Thomas can see the deep brown, just how dark and near mesmerizing Hamilton’s eyes are. They are inches apart, and Thomas can feel Hamilton’s breath on his face.

“Hey, look, we’re here!” Hamilton says quickly. He pulls his face from Thomas’ hand and points to the building behind Thomas. Thomas looks over his shoulder.

“No we’re not. That’s a laundromat.” Thomas turns back around. Hamilton laughs, looking anywhere but Thomas.

“Wow, you’re right. Look at that. That is certainly a laundromat and not a motel. Good job. I can see why you work for the FBI. Top-notch observational skills. Hey, John! Did you see this? We found a laundromat!”

“We certainly did, Alex,” Laurens says, laughter in his voice. Thomas looks between the two of them, bewildered. Hamilton surges forward and grabs Laurens by the wrist.

“Seeing as I cannot tell the difference between a motel and a laundromat, why don’t you walk with me to make sure I don’t make that mistake again John.” Hamilton pulls Laurens down the street, leaving Thomas and James behind.

“What...the fuck?” Thomas mutters. James simply looks up at him and shrugs.

“We should follow them,” James says, nodding in at Hamilton and Laurens’ backs. Laurens is cackling, leaning against Hamilton as they walk.

“Hey,” James says as they start to follow. “You okay? After earlier?”

“...yeah. I'm fine. Caught me off guard is all,” Thomas replies, gaze affixed to Hamilton’s back.

“You know, if there's anyone who would understand what you've been through, it would be Laurens.”

Thomas thinks for a second. “Yeah. He might. He’d be a member of the HDC in any case.”’

“If he went to college with us, you mean.”

“Or worked with us. Steuben’s an honorary member.”

James cocked an eyebrow. “Is he now?”

Thomas laughs. “Yeah. Got the club to send him a letter and everything. It's hanging on his office wall next to his dishonorable discharge paper.”

James just chuckles. He nods at Hamilton and Laurens’ figures ahead of them. “They're getting too far ahead of us. We need to catch up.”

-------------

They reach the motel without further incident. The woman inside acquiesces to Thomas’ badge and his requests. She tells them that Burr arrived sometime early this morning, around 8:00 or so. He got a key and a first-aid kit from the front desk and disappeared into his room. About half an hour ago, Burr got a call at the front desk. He talked for barely a minute, then he and his lady friend turned in their keys and left. They just missed him by maybe fifteen minutes.

“Lady friend?” Thomas asks. James looks up from where he’s taking notes on a notepad as the woman nods.

“Yeah. The woman he was staying with.”

“He was staying with a woman?”

The woman nods again, but then hesitates, frowning slightly. “At least, I think so. She showed up around 2:50 in the morning, checked in under his name. I remember because she woke me up,” she says. “Didn’t see her again until she left.”

“Did you get her name?” James asks. The woman shakes her head.

“No, but I caught the kid’s name.”

“The kid? She had a child with her?” James asks. Thomas looks at his partner in surprise. The woman looks nonplussed, however.

“Yeah. Just a little thing, couldn’t have been more than two months old. Teddy was her name.”

“Do you think you could describe her?” Thomas asks.

“The kid or the woman?”

“The woman.”

The woman thinks, tilts her head and says: “She was ‘bout my height. Black. Thick dreadlocks. She had this ring of bruises around her neck.”

Thomas is struck with a memory. A young woman limping up the staircase to Burr’s apartment with thick dreadlocks and bruises. His eyes widen, and he goes to say something to James, but his partner is looking at the motel manager with concern.

“Two people show up together, obviously injured, with a baby and you don’t say anything? Don’t offer them help or call the cops?”

The woman shrugs. “Wasn’t my business.”

James grits his jaw and Thomas pulls him aside quickly, thanking the woman. “James, do you think this mystery woman is the same one we saw visiting Burr?” He asks. James thinks for a second, then his eyes light up.

“Could be,” James says. “We could get a sketch artist down here.”

Thomas nods, then gets a better idea. He turns back to the woman. “Excuse me Miss, but do you have security cameras on the premises?”

“Just one, there.” The woman points behind her to the wall above the check-in desk. A cctv camera blinks a little red light at them. “I could pull footage, if you’d like.”

----------

Thomas leaves the motel with the best picture of the woman he could get from the grainy security tape. It’s not great, but she’s almost looking dead into the camera. From the blurry image, Thomas can tell that the woman is the one from Burr’s apartment. As he exits the building, he’s hoping Hamilton and Laurens have left, but no such luck. They’re milling about the front sidewalk, arguing in Spanish. Thomas sighs.

“And you two are still here because…?” He asks. They both roll their eyes at him.

“Where to next on this goose-chase?” Laurens asks.

“I don’t know. Burr didn’t say anything about where he was going.” Thomas glances at his watch. It’s getting late. They should stop for dinner soon. “All we got was…” Thomas trails, realizing he was about to bring the two gangsters even further into the loop.

“Was?” Hamilton prompts. Thomas looks at him, and knows in that moment Hamilton will never let it go.

“Burr met up with a woman. This woman-” Thomas holds out the picture for Hamilton and Laurens to see. “-and the newborn kid with her. Do either of you happen to know this woman?”

Hamilton and Laurens examine the picture, look at each other for a moment, and Laurens shrugs. “No, I...I don’t know her.” The taller man says. Hamilton shakes his head.

“Are you sure?” Thomas asks. Laurens peers down at the photo again, and starts to shake his head. Then he stops, grabs the picture from Thomas and pulls it really close to his face.

“Alex, do you see it?” He asks, holding the photo out. “On her collarbone.”

Hamilton takes the photo and examines it, eyes flicking back and forth quickly. Then, he gasps. “A crown.”

“Yeah,” Laurens nods.

“What?” Thomas asks. “A crown?”

Hamilton turns the picture around and points to the woman’s chest where her shirt has slid down her shoulder. “There. See it?” Thomas looks closer. The picture is blurry, yes, but there, almost unrecognizable, is a little crown tattooed into the woman’s skin.

“Yeah, but what does it mean?” Thomas asks. Laurens glances at Hamilton before he says:

“That woman belongs to the Redcoats.” Laurens scowls. “The crown is their...brand.”

“‘Belongs’ to the Redcoats?” Thomas asks. Hamilton nods.

“She...she’s one of their working girls.”

“A prostitute,” Thomas clarifies. Both men wince, but nod their heads. He calls Ben, gets confirmation that a woman with a child had entered Burr’s building late last night, and had left about fifteen minutes after Burr had. Thomas looks down at the picture again. Burr’s on the run from the Redcoats, and he takes one of their prostitutes and a child with him? It doesn’t make sense. Thomas bites his lip.

“Burr stole something from me,” King’s voice echoes in Thomas’ head. His eyes widen and his breath hitches. He scans the photo quickly. He sees the woman, the crown, the kid, and everything falls into place.

James!’ He calls, running into the motel where James still was. He drags James away from the motel guest he was interviewing. “James, I figured it out. I figured out what Burr stole from the Redcoats.” Thomas shows him the crown on the woman’s collarbone and explains what Laurens and Hamilton told him. “It’s her, James. Burr stole her.”

“But why?” James asks, eyes flicking from Thomas to the picture quickly. “Burr has always been neutral, why throw it all away for one woman?”

“The kid, James. The kid! It’s gotta be the kid.”

“What are you saying Thomas?”

“I think Burr’s a father.”

Chapter Text

“A father,” Hamilton repeats. Thomas nods quickly, talking into his phone. They’re almost running down the sidewalk now, the two of them weaving between people as Thomas talks.

“Yeah, freeze his assets, look for hospital records, recent payments to hotels, we gotta hind him. There’s a child involved now,” Thomas says.

“I hear you, I hear you,” Ben says. “But without this woman’s name I can’t get hospital records for the birth or-”

“There’s gotta be something you can do, Ben!” Thomas exclaims. “There’s an innocent woman and a child running from King and all they’ve got is Burr and we need to help them!

“I’m trying my damned best, Thomas, please. Take a breath.”

Thomas gulps in air as he runs, Hamilton following at his heels. “Where are we going?” Hamilton asks.

The Frenchman,” Thomas replies, over his shoulder. “See if someone there knows anything that can help.” Hamilton nods and speeds up so that he’s side-by-side with Thomas.

“Ben?” Thomas asks.

“Jesus, Thomas. I’m working as fast as possible.” Ben’s voice is slightly masked by the sounds of furious typing. “Okay, following Burr’s expenses over the last month...there’s nothing out of the ordinary...wait. Waitwaitwaitwait.”

“What, Ben?”

“There’s a charge from St. Nicholas Hospital. Two months ago Burr paid for services rendered in childbirth and postnatal care.” Ben’s voice gets louder, he’s excited. “And before that! Prenatal care, twice a month for...seven months. And! And! And! Every time Burr is billed for health services, he also withdraws about $500 before that in cash. Oh my god how did I miss this?”

“Ben, keep digging. Find her name.” Thomas keeps running, Hamilton trying to keep up beside him.

“Right! To the right! It’s faster,” Hamilton says, pulling Thomas across an intersection. They dash across the street, pushing through the crowd of pedestrians ahead of them.

“I’m going through birth records, hold on. Lots of kids are born each day in St. Nicholas apparently!”

“Would she even use a real name?” Hamilton asks. Thomas glances at him, and growls.

“Damn it, you’re right. She wouldn’t,” he mutters. “Ben, is Burr’s name attached to any of-”

“Don’t you think I already checked that!?”

“Then what are you even looking for!?” Thomas shouts back.

The woman’s name, Thomas! If you would stop yelling at me, maybe I could find it faster!”

“Through here.” Hamilton pulls Thomas through an alley.

“How are you supposed to find it if Burr isn’t attached to the records?”

I don’t know!

“Oh my god,” Hamilton says. As he pulls Thomas out of the alley, he yanks Thomas’ phone from his hand. “Can you access anything about the mother’s condition at the time of birth?”

“Hey!” Thomas protests, but Hamilton dances away from his attempt to reclaim his phone.

“No, that’s all doctor-patient confidentiality,” Ben says. Thomas can hear the communications expert’s voice through the phone. Hamilton is still moving, leading Thomas in the direction of The Frenchman.

“Are there any police reports connected to any of the births?”

“What? Why?” Ben’s voice is muffled through the phone and over the distance. “I doubt- Oh. There’s one.”

“What does it say?” Hamilton asks. Thomas reaches around and manages to pluck his phone from Hamilton. He presses it to his ear just as Ben starts talking again.

“The mother in question- oh my god. The nurse filed a police report because she noticed the crown-shaped brand on the mother’s collarbone and knew what it meant. Neither the mother or father commented on it, and avoided any questions regarding anything apparently. They were emergency emits from a local clinic, and were long gone before the nurse got a chance to actually make the report.”

“That’s her. It’s gotta be,” Thomas says. Hamilton gives a little whoop as he leads Thomas down the street.

“The names the parents gave were John and Betsy Ross.”

“What did they name the kid?”

“Theodosia.”

“Good job, Ben,” Thomas says, smiling.

“I live to serve.”

“Send copies of the report to everyone, get them up to speed.”

“Godspeed, Tommy boy.” Ben hangs up, and Thomas shoves his phone into his pocket. Hamilton breathes heavily from exertion beside him. Thomas keeps moving, despite the fact that his legs and lungs are starting to burn. His feet complain with every step, Thomas is not wearing the right shoes for this, but he keeps running.

“Jefferson, hold up!” Hamilton gasps, struggling to keep up with Thomas’ longer strides.

“No!” Thomas says over his shoulder. “Minutes are precious when you’re talking about children, especially babies.”

The Frenchman is literally right there!” Hamilton exclaims, throwing his hand out in front of him. “It’s won’t kill you to jog.”

“It could kill Theodosia,” Thomas says. He bites down on a harsher retort, glaring at Hamilton. The other man must see something on his face because he nods and picks up the pace. When they reach the darkened club, Thomas throws himself against the door, pulling it open as fast as he can.

The two men slip inside to almost pitch darkness. The door swings shut behind them and Thomas can’t see anything anymore. “Hello?” He calls out, standing stock still, willing his eyes to adjust faster. “Lafayette?”

“Everyone’s gone, off doing things we discussed in the meeting,” Hamilton says. Thomas can hear him moving about, fumbling for a light switch.

“Why didn’t you say anything earlier?”

“I thought maybe Laf was here, and they’re the person you want to talk to. They know everyone. If anyone can find Burr and his girls, it’s them.” Hamilton’s voice is moving in the darkness, following his footsteps. “Damnit, Laf. Where’s your damn flashlight?” Even though Hamilton is muttering, his voice almost booms in the silence. His footsteps are deafening.

Thomas pulls his phone out and switches on the light. Immediately, it illuminates the surrounding area. He swings it around until he finds Hamilton, hidden in shadow, rummaging through the back of the bar. He looks up when he notices the light, and it reflects off his eyes. They look absolutely huge shining like they are now.

“Hey, bring that over here so I can see,” Hamilton says. “I gotta find Laf’s flashlight or something. So we can find our way to the light controls.” Thomas crosses the room obediently, and squats down next to Hamilton. He moves the light over the inside of the bar shelves, but only finds glasses and rags. Hamilton mutters another curse, and then is suddenly grabbing Thomas’ hand and dragging it around so the light goes where Hamilton wants it- in the nooks and crannies.

“Hamilton, let’s go. We’re wasting time,” Thomas says, struggling to pull his hand from Hamilton’s grip.

“No, no. We should stay here. Find the lights, start calling people in.” Hamilton stands, brushing against Thomas’ side and lets go of his hand. “Maybe it’s in their office?”

“Hamilton, we should leave. Reconnect with James and Laurens. Figure out a game plan.”

“Hey, you’re the one who wanted to come here in the first place,” Hamilton retorts. “Shine the light over there, on the door.”

Thomas obliges, turning his phone light to the wooden door behind the bar. “And it was a mistake. We should go-” Thomas cuts off. “Hamilton,” he whispers, swallowing.

“What?” Hamilton whispers back.

“Look at the door.”

The door to Lafayette’s office has no doorknob. Which is odd, because there’s obviously a hole where a doorknob should be. Thomas catches a glint of metal off to the side, and turns the light to find a dented-up doorknob on the ground. He turns the light back on the door, seeing the scratches and dents in the wood where somebody beat the knob off.

“That’s not right,” Hamilton breathes.

“No,” Thomas agrees. They stand there for a moment, both unsure of what to do. Then Hamilton grabs a bottle of liquor from the bar and reaches for the door. “Hamilton, no. We don’t know if anyone’s in there.”

“It’s pitch black inside, Jefferson,” Hamilton replies, fingers hooking into the hole in the door and pulling gently. It swings open toward them, revealing nothing but blackness. Thomas lights up the doorway, but he can’t see anything but a filing cabinet and a calendar on the wall. “On the count of three,” Hamilton whispers, “we go in. You hold the light steady.”

“What? No!”

“One.”

“Hamilton!”

“Two.”

“Jesus Christ, fine.”

“Three!”

Hamilton runs through the door, brandishing the bottle as a weapon. Thomas is right behind, using his phone to light up the office the best he can. There’s a glint of light on metal, and Thomas focuses on that. Just as he registers the object as a crowbar, it disappears, dropping through the air and hitting the ground with a clang. The person who had been holding the crowbar puts his hands up in surrender, and Thomas moves the light over their face.

“Please,” Aaron Burr says, “you have to help us.”

Burr holds his hands up in the air, palms open. He squints into the light, moving one hand slightly to help shield his eyes. Even in the dark, Thomas can tell Burr is all sorts of awful, one eye swollen almost shut and what looks to be a still fairly fresh blossom of bruises across his jawline.

“Burr?” Hamilton asks.

“Hamilton? Lafayette?” Burr asks, trying to peer through the light in his face. Thomas lowers the light slightly.

“Us?” He asks. Burr nods, and opens his mouth only to be interrupted by a baby cry. He whips his head around, and runs around Lafayette’s desk to the other side. Thomas follows, training the light on the ground to avoid tripping. When he reaches the other side, he slowly raises the light. There’s a young woman, the woman, huddled in the leg space and cradling a baby. She gently shushes the child, bouncing and rocking it as best she can in the cramped space.

“Us,” Burr confirms before kneeling down beside the woman and joining in her ministrations. He pets the child on the head, gentle with the wisp of hair that’s just start thicken out. “Please,” he whispers, “you’re our last option.”

“Lemme call the boss,” Hamilton says, quietly. Thomas jumps, he hadn’t heard Hamilton come up beside him. He looks up at the smaller man. Hamilton tears his eyes away from the woman and child on the floor briefly to smile at Thomas. “We found them.”

Thomas just nods, and looks at little Theodosia, watching as her cries turn to giggles in her mother’s arms.

-------------

The woman’s name is Theodosia too, Thomas comes to learn. Theodosia Prevost, to be exact. Her daughter is named after her, though Theodosia has come to call the girl Teddy.

Given Theodosia’s full name, Ben quickly pulls up a missing person’s report from Georgia bearing her name and photo. The report is a few years old, filed by a Sergeant Jacques Prevost. Apparently, Theodosia disappeared from a city street in Atlanta while her husband had been deployed overseas. There’s a note from an officer that states Theodosia has been labeled ‘legally dead,’ and Ben finds the obituary and notice for a memorial Mr. Prevost held. The picture that had been used for Theodosia’s missing persons and her memorial show a healthy, beautiful, smiling young woman. Her eyes twinkle even through the digital photo.

Looking at her now, Thomas realizes he finally knows the rest of Theodosia’s story. Kidnapped, trafficked and sold to men on the streets of New York City. Long gone is the woman from the picture, in her place is a frail, shaking, nearly broken thing that almost doesn’t look human she’s so gaunt and thin.

Theodosia holds her daughter to her chest, unwilling to let anyone but Burr touch her child. She doesn’t speak, even as Burr and Thomas help her out of the desk. Hamilton finds the light board and turns on the ceiling lights. Burr holds Theodosia to his side and helps her walk out of the office and to a booth in the bar proper. She walks on thin legs, ankles shaking in heels. When she sits, Burr slips off her shoes and holds her to his chest.

How on earth did this woman survive childbirth? Thomas wonders. She trembles even in Burr’s embrace and Thomas realizes she probably hasn’t eaten in at least a day. Without a word, Thomas slips into the kitchen, digs through Lafayette's walk-in fridge and finds some fresh fruit. He grabs knives, bread and some peanut butter too. Balancing it all as best he can, he walks back to the booth and dumps it all on the table.

“No one’s allergic to peanuts, are they?” He asks, quietly. Teddy is asleep again, and Thomas doesn’t want to wake her. Burr shakes his head and Thomas goes about fixing peanut-butter and banana sandwiches, tossing Burr the bag of grapes in the meanwhile.

“Thank you, Laf,” Burr says, pulling grapes off the bunch and offering them to Theodosia. Thomas frowns, focusing on spreading the peanut butter without tearing the bread.

“I’m not Lafayette,” he says. There’s a silence, then:

“Jefferson?” Burr asks. Thomas nods.

“Though, to most of the boys here I’m Will Clark.” Thomas holds out the first sandwich. Burr takes it and gives it to Theodosia, who nibbles on the crust. Burr glances at Hamilton, who is standing in the corner and talking on the phone in hushed tones.

“Does he know?” Burr asks. Thomas nods again.

“So does Washington, Laf, Laurens and Adams. Thanks for that, by the way.” Thomas slices through the rest of the banana he’s working on. “No one else. Madison is Matt Lewis, by the way.”

Burr nods, then turns back to the woman in his arms. “C’mon Theo, you need food,” he whispers, holding her hand and pushing the sandwich closer to her face. As they shift, Theodosia’s shirt slides and Thomas gets a look at the crown on her collarbone. It’s not a tattoo, Thomas realizes, it’s a burn scar. It really is a brand, Thomas thinks. He finishes Burr’s sandwich and offers it to him. Burr takes it with a ‘thanks,’ and puts it in his lap, more focused on Theodosia.

“King is looking for you three,” Thomas says. Burr doesn’t even look up when he says:

“We know.”

“You had my card, you could have called me.” Thomas sits on the opposite side of the table, hands folded patiently in front of him. Burr just sighs and tears Theodosia’s sandwich into parts.

“Babe, please. Just a little more,” he says.

“When you eat,” Theodosia mutters, voice weak yet gentle. Burr sighs and takes a bite of his own sandwich. Theodosia reciprocates by biting into her food, then waiting for Burr to eat again.

“King contacted me, you should know,” Thomas starts. “He said that if I found you two, and let him take Mrs. Prevost back, he would set Burr up for Safe Harbors.” Burr looks up at Thomas, almost surprised.

“That bastard,” he mutters.

“Why did you tell us that?” Theodosia asks, eyes shining.

“So you know I won’t do it.” Thomas smiles gently. Teddy coos from Theodosia’s arms, and suddenly both of her parents’ attention is deadlocked onto her. Thomas considers asking how Teddy is doing, but he just finishes off the banana he had cut up. In the light, Burr looks a lot worse. His shirt is bloodstained and sticking to his skin. The bruises across his face trail down his neck and disappear under his shirt. His movements are stiff, and Thomas can almost see him wince every time he moves.

“John and Laf are on their way,” Hamilton says, coming up to the table. “The General and B.T. are coming too.”

“So all the lieutenants, then,” Thomas says. Hamilton nods, then turns his attention to Burr and Theodosia.

“You’re going to keep this secret, right?” Hamilton asks, motioning towards Thomas. Burr looks up momentarily.

“Yes, yes of course,” he says, and then he’s back to his daughter, letting her hold onto one of his fingers. Hamilton looks at Thomas, lips pressed together in concern. Thomas sighs and glances at his watch. He realizes, almost belatedly, that he should probably call James. He excuses himself from the table and pulls out his phone.

-------------

In the end, it’s decided that the Sons of Liberty will harbor Burr, Theodosia and Teddy. It’s an unanimous vote amongst the lieutenants, Thomas included. It’s Hamilton’s idea to call up Abigail Smith and ask if she can take the trio in and keep silent. Once Mrs. Smith learns about the child, she agrees wholeheartedly.

When James shows up, he and Thomas take Burr, Theodosia and Teddy in the car to Mrs. Smith’s. The car ride is silent save Teddy’s babbling and quiet whispers between the two parents. Thomas catches a little of the conversation.

“Aaron, I-”

“I know, Theo. But please. We can trust them.”

“I hope so.”

James is also quiet, driving through the dark. Light from the street lights pass over them and it’s the only thing keeping Thomas awake at this point. He feels exhausted. Completely drained. Now that it’s quiet and Thomas can take a minute, his head has started screaming at him. There’s Tylenol in the glove compartment, but he doesn’t want to take any with James around. Not after their talk this morning.

Goddamn, this morning feels like a century ago, Thomas thinks.

James pulls up to Mrs. Smith’s apartment building. Mrs. Smith is standing at the door, waiting for them. Thomas gets out of the car and helps usher Theodosia, Teddy and Burr inside. The elder Theo struggles up the stairs, eventually having to take her heels off and risk stepping on some nasty things. When Mrs. Smith lets them into her apartment, she immediately takes Theodosia’s hand and pulls her into a room saying something about a ‘guest bedroom.’ Burr watches them go, and Thomas can feel him itching to follow.

“They’ll be okay, Burr. They’re just in the other room, and Mrs. Smith is a good lady,” Thomas says.

“I know,” Burr says. “But…” Burr bites his lip, staring at the door his girl and daughter disappeared behind. They stand there in silence for a moment before Mrs. Smith reappears.

“The girls are asleep. The little one’s curled up with her momma and they were both out the second they hit the bed,” she says. Gone is the old age in her voice, and Mrs. Smith walks like a young woman, not hunched over like she had the last time Thomas had seen her.

At her words, Burr collapses. His knees give out and he falls against a countertop. Thomas catches him and when he looks at Burr he can see how exhausted the man is. There are bags under his eyes and suddenly Thomas remembers just how badly he had been beaten. The image of Burr’s bedroom with all the blood flashes before his eyes and Thomas pulls Burr to the couch.

Mrs. Smith is at Thomas’ side in a split second, already carrying medical supplies. She tries to tug Burr’s shirt off, but it sticks and can’t be moved. She’s forced to cut it open and when Thomas gets a look at the extent of Burr’s injuries, he feels sick. He has to turn away as Mrs. Smith starts to poke and prod, looking for the worst of the worst and Burr groans.

“I’d suggest a hospital, but…” Mrs. Smith trails, already working on disinfecting what she can reach.

“Not that bad,” Burr mutters.

“Yeah, yeah it is,” Thomas says. “How have you been on your feet all day?”

“Had too.”

Mrs. Smith tuts. “You should have told me about this last night, Aaron.”

“Didn’t have time.”

“Yes, yes you did,” Mrs. Smith admonishes. She reaches for bandages, thinks better of it and goes for tweezers instead. Despite her age, her hands don’t shake as she starts pulling thread and splinters of wood from Burr’s wounds.

“Just wanted sleep,” Burr says, wincing as Mrs. Smith digs around in what looks to Thomas like stab wounds.

“Is he going to be okay?” Thomas asks.

“If nothing gets infected, then yeah. Probably.” Mrs. Smith finally drops the tweezers and reaches for bandages with bloodied fingers. Now that she had to open most of the wounds, Burr is bleeding onto the couch. “I’ve got him, promise. Nothing’s going to happen to any of them, not while I’m kicking.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Smith,” Thomas says.

“Abigail.” Abigail lifts Burr off the back of the couch to wrap the bandage around his back.

“You keep changing what I’m supposed to call you,” Thomas chuckles.

“Yes, well. That’s before I knew you and Alexander were friends.”

Thomas sputters. “What?”

“You two are working together against King, right?”

“Yes, but- but we’re...we’re not friends.”

Abigail looks up at him with a questioning brow. “Aren’t you, love?”

“No, absolutely not. He’s insufferable,” Thomas says, though a small corner of his mind protests. He stomps down on that corner, refusing to listen to it. Abigail hums, almost like she doesn’t believe him,

“Well, call me Abigail anyway.” Abigail examines her work. “That’s all I can do for tonight. We’ll see what happens in the morning.” She lays Burr down on the couch throws a blanket over him and slides a pillow under his head.

“Theo-” Burr mutters.

“Hush, dear. They’re safe. I promise,” Abigail says, running her hand over Burr’s head. “Sleep, okay?” Just like that, Burr’s eyes shut and he’s gone, snoring slightly. Abigail stands, planting her hands on her hips.

“I’m going to let all three sleep as long as they wish,” she says. “I won’t wake them for anything, do you hear me?” She looks over her shoulder at Thomas. Thomas nods. “Good. I assume you can see yourself out.”

“There’s nothing I can do for you?” Thomas asks, but Abigail is shaking her head.

“Go, you have a job to do, Agent Jefferson. Find the bastards who would do this to such a young couple.”

-----------

James is waiting in the car. Thomas slides into the passenger seat and sighs. Exhaustion pulls as his very bones as he practically collapses into the car.

“How was your day today, James?” Thomas asks.

“Peachy, you?” James replies, pulling out into evening traffic.

“Fan-flipping-tastic.”

There’s a beat of silence before James starts to laugh. Thomas follows and he feels the weight of the day’s events fall from his shoulders. He stares out the window and just laughs.

“Do you wanna go back to The Frenchman?” James asks. Thomas shakes his head.

“Just go back to the hotel. I’ll text Hamilton.” Thomas pulls out his phone.

To: Short Stack

Took BT&T to Abigail’s. They’re safe. Going to my hotel.

From: Short Stack

good thanks

From: Short Stack

goodnight

Thomas puts his phone back into his pocket. James starts to talk: “I just realized, I never told you how the meeting went.” Thomas hums, and James keeps going. “They all mostly talked about patching up the damages from Arnold's betrayal, but they did ask me a few questions about our ‘operation.’ I just sort of told them that you could answer things better than I could and kept my mouth shut.”

“Good, good.” Thomas sighs, rubbing his face with his hands. “I’ll deal with it in the morning.”

The rest of the ride is silent, Thomas just watching the buildings go by. When they get to the hotel, he rides the elevator up with James, keys into his room and collapses onto his bed. He manages to crawl his way under the sheets and shuts his eyes. Trying not to think of what tomorrow will bring, Thomas falls asleep.

Chapter Text

“Why are we still meeting here?” Thomas asks, motioning around the diner. “Why not The Frenchman?”

“Because,” Hamilton says, digging into his club sandwich, “The Frenchman is for whole Leadership meetings and ‘holy-shit-everyone-drop-your-things-and-get-here’ emergency meetings. David’s Diner is for everything else.”

“It’s a pain to setup and teardown for meetings on busy days,” Laurens ads. Lafayette nods, mouth full of greasy french fries.

“It’s just a couple of chairs,” Thomas points out.

“Yes, but one must dig those chairs out of the back room,” Lafayette says. “And then put them back.”

“Oh, wow. That’s a lot of work,” Thomas drawls. Hamilton glares.

“Look, we get food here. These two won’t feed anyone.” Hamilton jerks his head at his two friends across the booth.

“Ahh, so the truth comes out.” Thomas smirks. Hamilton flips him off, stuffing another bite into his mouth.

“Speaking of which, you-” Laurens points at Thomas “-owe me about fifteen bucks.”

“What? Why?”

“For the food you gave Burr and Theo two nights ago.”

“Seriously?” Thomas asks. Lafayette and Laurens both nod, solemnly. “It was just peanut butter and banana.”

“And a loaf of bread,” Laurens ads.

“And a whole bag of grapes.” Lafayette swirls another handful of fries in ketchup.

“We only had like a handful, tops,” Thomas protests. Lafayette shakes his head.

“Once something leaves the kitchen, you cannot take it back. Food safety, mon ami.”

Thomas stops, looking at the Frenchman in disbelief. “Why do you care about food safety?”

“Waddya mean?” Laurens asks, sipping on a milkshake.

“Well, you’re already operating on the other side of the law. What’s a few health code violations to you?”

“Well, that’s exactly it, monsieur. We don’t want health department officials sticking their nose into our business.”

Thomas thinks for a moment, considering the implications of a health inspection gone wrong. “Fair enough,” he says, nodding. He glances around the diner. “So, is Tallmadge coming?”

“‘Course,” Hamilton says. “This is the weekly lieutenant's meeting. He better fucking show.”

“Does he know about me yet?” Thomas asks, glancing over Hamilton's head and out the window. James is leaning against the glass just beside their seats, his back to them. The Sons lieutenants had refused to let James into their meeting, and this was the compromise reached.

“Well, after what happened with Arnold-” Laurens stirs his shake “-we figured we should wait and clear it with you.”

“Thanks,” Thomas says. He spots Tallmadge coming down the street, hands casually in his pockets.

“Besides, B.T. doesn’t have the best impression of cops,” Hamilton adds.

“Neither do any of you.” Thomas watches Tallmadge nod in greeting at James. Tallmadge disappears as he gets closer to the diner door.

“Yeah, but he’s worse,” Hamilton says, mouth full of sandwich. “He wouldn’t talk to ya’, just put a bullet in y-- Benny! Over here!” He waves at Tallmadge, who chuckles and takes a seat next to Lafayette. All three men squeeze together, Laurens trapped by the glass.

“C’mon man,” Laurens complains, “you couldn’t have sat on the other side?”

“Do you really think shoving Alex and Will together physically is a good idea? After last time?” Tallmadge replies. Hamilton turns tomato red as Laurens and Lafayette burst into laughter. Thomas smirks and examines his nails, trying to keep his own blush from showing.

Goddamnit,” Hamilton mutters in French.

“Oh, Alex, it’s okay,” Laurens says, eyes glimmering with mischief. “Anyone would love it if someone that looks like Clark had his hands on them. You just happened to make a very loud noise.” Tallmadge snorts a laugh, Lafayette almost falling apart beside him.

Merde, I nearly forgot about that,” Lafayette gasps.

John Laurens I swear to god I will kill you,” Hamilton threatens in low French.

You’re never gonna live that down. I heard Green and Knox talking about it after the meeting.” John replies.

Someone kill me,” Hamilton groans. Thomas catches Tallmadge’s eye and the man smiles sympathetically at him.

Bet if Clark-” Laurens’ words are covered up as Tallmadge starts to speak.

“Don’t mind them, they do this all the time. I’ll nudge them in a bit to remind them that not everyone speaks their damn language.”

It was a reflex action! It meant nothing!” Hamilton protests. Thomas smirks.

Certainly sounded like it did,” He says. Laurens snorts into his milkshake and Lafayette absolutely loses it. Hamilton looks absolutely mortified, dropping his head so it hits the table and looking out the window forlornly.

“Goddamnit,” Tallmadge says, rubbing his face with one hand. Thomas mouths an apology, then turns back to the other three.

“English, boys. Benny’s missing out over here.” Thomas jerks a thumb in Tallmadge’s direction. Tallmadge waves, smiling bitterly.

“Sorry, B.T.,” Laurens says, not sounding very sorry at all. Tallmadge rolls his eyes.

“At this rate, I’m actually going to have to learn French, aren’t I?”

“It could help,” Lafayette says, wiping away tears from his eyes. “Oh, merde, Clark. Holy shit.”

“I bet Lewis wouldn’t mock me,” Hamilton mutters. “He’s officially my favorite. My new best friend.” James chooses that moment to glance over his shoulder at them. He spots Hamilton looking at him, pouting, and raises a single eyebrow. Hamilton picks up his head and shouts so James can hear him. “You like me, don’t you Lewis?”

James shrugs and turns around. Laurens breaks out into laughter again. Hamilton’s head falls back onto the table for a heartbeat, but then he shoot up straight.

“Guys! Look!” He points down the street behind Laurens, Lafayette and Tallmadge’s booth. Thomas cranes his head to see what Hamilton is looking at as the others turn around. Angelica Schuyler, along with two other women and a young man are walking down the street towards the diner. The other women, one in a blue coat and one in what looks like a bright yellow rain jacket, and the man are talking excitedly amongst themselves, with Angelica leading the way silently. As they pass the window, Hamilton knocks on the glass, and all four heads turn. Angelica smiles daintily, but the other three practically beam as Hamilton waves frantically at them. James nods as they pass, and they disappear.

“Well, look at that,” Laurens muses. “The Schuyler siblings and little Philip.” Hamilton turns so he’s kneeling, leaning backwards over the booth.

“He’s not so little anymore,” Lafayette points out. The diner door jingles as they enter, and Hamilton bounces in his seat.

“Alexander, calm down,” Angelica says. Hamilton does not calm down, and instead starts trying to climb over Thomas.

“Hey!” Thomas shoves Hamilton’s hand off his head, feeling Hamilton’s foot catch on his thigh as the shorter man scrambles out of the booth. “You could have asked me to move, asshole.” But Thomas goes ignored as Angelica and her group reach the booth. Almost instantly, Hamilton throws his arms around the woman in blue.

“Eliza, it’s been too long!” He says. Eliza laughs, pats him on the head and then returns the hug.

“You haven’t been eating, I see.” Eliza pats Alexander’s sides as he leans back to look at her.

“Who needs food?” Hamilton says. Eliza frowns.

“You do, Alexander,” she says, letting go of the man. Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“I think you’ve got the wrong man. Alexander Hamilton doesn’t need such trivial things as food,” the young man with her teases. Hamilton turns his attention to him, eyes lit up in joy.

“Philip, my little man,” he says, holding out his fist. Philip completes the fist-bump.

“What’s happening, pops?” He says, grinning. Hamilton pulls him into a hug.

“You got tall.” Hamilton looks up at Philip, who stands a few inches taller than Hamilton.

“Yeah I did, whatcha gonna do about it?” Philip challenges, but his tone is friendly.

“Them’s fightin words,” Hamilton says. “I taught you well.”

Thomas looks between the two embracing men in bewilderment. Philip doesn’t look like he could be any younger than sixteen, but Hamilton doesn’t look old enough to be a father. He looks twenty-five, max. An exhausted twenty-five, but twenty-five nonetheless. Before Thomas can ask, the other woman buts in.

“What am I, chopped liver?” She asks. Philip rolls his eyes and Hamilton pulls out of the hug.

“The finest chopped liver this side of the Mississippi,” Hamilton says. She makes and exaggerated frown and throws her fists up.

“I’ll fight you, Hamilton,” she says, hopping back and forth in a mock boxer’s stance. Hamilton grins and puts his fists up too.

“Anytime Peggy, let’s go.”

“And that’s enough of that.” Eliza steps between Hamilton and Peggy, drawing groans from the woman.

“C’mon Lizzie, let Pegs have zir fun,” Lafayette says.

“We’ve only been back for a week,” Eliza says, “ze can wait to stir up trouble again.” Eliza looks at Peggy with a look of warning, and Peggy drops her fighting stance.

“You kill two men and you never live it down,” she mutters, earning a hair ruffle from Philip. Thomas starts, looking at Peggy in shock. She’s short, just a little taller than Hamilton, and doesn’t look like she could take a punch.

“Is she serious?” Thomas mutters to Tallmadge. “Two men?”

“It’s ze not she, thank you very much,” Peggy breaks in, “And yes. I am serious.” Thomas sees Laurens stiffen, hears the sharp intake of breath he makes. Lafayette watches him carefully from over a soda. Everyone’s eyes are on him but Thomas is drowning in embarrassment.

“Sorry,” Thomas breathes, finally catching on. Shit. “I didn’t mean-”

“You’re fine, you’re fine,” Peggy reassures him. “I didn’t kill because of pronouns.”

“Good to know,” Thomas says, sinking down into his seat. He spots Laurens looking at him thoughtfully, and Lafayette is beaming in his direction.

“In that case, I prefer they/them,” Lafayette says. Thomas’ eyes widen.

“Oh my god, I...fuck, sorry.” Thomas winces. “Should have asked.”

“No, no mon ami. You’re from the south, I assumed…” Lafayette trails. Thomas swallows thickly. He catches Laurens’ eye, who is still looking at Thomas like he can’t put the puzzle together. Thomas bites his lip.

“Fair assumption, in my own experience,” Thomas mutters. Lafayette gasps.

“Do you not use male pronouns?” Lafayette asks quickly. Thomas starts.

“Yes! No! I--I do. Male.”

“Are you okay?” Laurens asks. Thomas glances at him quickly.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine.” Thomas fidgets with his shirt, feeling the silken, sparkling fabric slide between his fingers. Laurens is still looking at him suspiciously, and starts to speak again, but Thomas rushes to speak first.

“Anyway, it’s good to meet you...Peggy? Right?” Thomas holds his hand out to zir, who take is and pumps it enthusiastically.

“You must be Will,” ze says. Thomas smiles.

“I see my name precedes me.” Thomas looks at the others standing at the head of the table. Angelica is watching everything from where she stands against Tallmadge’s booth.

“Your reputation as an asshole does too,” Hamilton adds.

“It does not,” Eliza says, taking Thomas’ hand once her sibling lets go. “Elizabeth Schuyler. Angelica told me you managed to embarrass Alex in front of Leadership?” Eliza’s handshake is soft without being weak. Thomas can see that she’s beautiful with doe eyes and pronounced cheeks.

“That was me, indeed.” Thomas lifts her hand to his mouth and plants a little kiss there. Eliza giggles. Hamilton glares at him, fists clenched at his sides. Thomas glances between the two of them, watching the way Hamilton grabs onto her arm when Thomas lets go of her hand.

Hamilton’s got a girl, has he? Thomas thinks to himself. There’s a pang somewhere in his stomach at the thought, but Thomas forgets about it as Philip shakes his hand as well. His handshake is crushing, and Thomas swears he can feel his hand bones shift under it.

“To what do we owe this visit?” Lafayette asks.

“I need to ask you all something,” Angelica says. She puts her hands on the table so that she’s leaning down to be eye-level with Thomas and the others that are sitting. Eliza, Peggy and Philip all look at one another and sigh. “Something happened two days ago involving Aaron Burr and Abigail Smith and I want to know what it was.”

“What makes you think we’ll tell you?” Tallmadge asks. “Who says we even know?”

“One, everything that happened went down in my territory. I should know. Two, you guys know. Everyone knows there was an emergency lieutenant meeting two days ago. What else would it be about?”

“You run Morningside Heights?” Thomas asks.

“Part of it, and the areas just east and north of it. Those have always been Schuyler streets,” Angelica says. “So, what happened?”

Thomas looks at Laurens, Lafayette and Tallmadge. “Do any of them speak French?” He asks in French. He gets nothing but head-shakes, so he continues: “What do we tell her?” Lafayette leans over to Tallmadge and interprets in a hushed tone.

I wouldn’t lie to Angelica Schuyler if my life depended on it,” Laurens replies.

Well, she can’t know about me or Lewis,” Thomas insists. Lafayette stutters in his translation and makes something up.

Of course not,” Hamilton says. “We just...omit that part.” Angelica watches the conversation, eyes flicking between whoever’s speaking. Tallmadge rolls his eyes.

“You now know my frustration,” he says, leaning into Lafayette to hear the translation better.

How do we explain why King approached me?

“Um, say that-

Angelica interrupts Laurens. “Alright, enough discussion. What happened with Burr?” Thomas starts, blinking.

“Burr...helped one of King’s working girls run away,” Lafayette says. “He got beaten up, but everyone escaped. King approached Clark and offered him...uh…”

“Cash,” Thomas says, “cash, business and safety if I found them and turned them in.”

“And?” Angelica prompts. Hamilton sighs.

“Clark called me, let me know what was going on. We found Burr, the girl and their daughter and took them someplace safe.”

“Someplace safe,” Angelica mutters. “Abigail’s?” Laurens nods. Suddenly, Thomas remembers they’re in public and snaps his head around to scan the diner. He hears Tallmadge chuckle.

“Calm down, there’s no one here that would listen in,” he says. Thomas looks at him, confusion plastered across his face. “The Sons own this diner, remember? It’s safe here.”

Thomas blinks, understanding beginning to dawn. No wonder everyone’s so relaxed here, he thinks. “You own the diner?”

Lafayette nods, the winces. “We don’t own own David’s, we just own the surrounding area. David knows who’s in charge around here.”

“You didn’t know that?” Laurens asks. Thomas shakes his head. “Don’t tell me you’ve been paying for food here.”

“Do I not have too?” Thomas asks, doing the mental calculations of just how much he’s spent here. “I’ve been paying for nothing?”

Hamilton groans. “Thanks, John. I was taking that money for myself.” Thomas glares at the shorter man.

“You fucking what?” Thomas starts to rise from his seat.

“Back to Burr,” Angelica butts in. “You said something about a ‘daughter?’”

“Yeah, Burr and the girl have a kid. Hamilton, how much money have you gotten from me?” Thomas slides out of the booth. Hamilton smirks.

“Enough to buy myself a new coat, thank you very much.”

“And you all thought Abigail Smith’s apartment was the safest place to put them.”

“Yep,” Laurens says, watching Thomas advance on Hamilton.

“I want that money back, now,” Thomas demands.

Hamilton winces, but it’s over-exaggerated. “Too late. Already spent it.”

Hamilton!” Thomas snaps. “I billed--” he stops, realizing what he was about to say, and switches to French. “I billed my agency for that money. I could get in serious trouble for this!

That sounds like a you problem,” Hamilton says. Thomas stops, his vision turning red.

I’m going to kill you,” he says. Before anyone can react, he repeats in English: “I’m going to kill you!” Thomas lunges for Hamilton, but the infuriating man dances backwards.

“Whoops, gotta bounce,” he says, turning to make a run for it. He runs directly into Philip, however, and the younger man stops Hamilton from getting any further. Thomas smiles and reaches for Hamilton, only to have his hand snatched back and his whole body pulled backwards.

“Oh no you don’t,” Peggy says, easily holding Thomas back from Hamilton. Philip grabs a hold of Hamilton before he takes off and they’re both left staring at each other.

“Are they normally like this around each other?” Eliza asks, gaze flicking back and forth between them. Laurens nods.

“Unfortunately,” Lafayette mutters.

“Let me go, Peggy,” Thomas says.

“Nuh uh,” Ze replies, tightening zir hold on him. Thomas scowls. Hamilton sticks his tongue out at him and Thomas’ gut flips in rage.

Si quieres meterte en los pantalones no es la forma de hacerlo.” Laurens says. Hamilton whips his head to glare at John, a blush rising to his cheeks. Laurens shrugs. “I’m not wrong.”

“Shut up, John!” Hamilton shouts.

“If everyone’s done trying to kill each other,” Angelica breaks in, sounding equal parts bored and angry, “I want to talk about where Burr and his family should be kept.”

“They’re fine where they are,” Hamilton says. Thomas scoffs.

“Because one old lady is going to stop angry Redcoats.”

“You seemed perfectly okay with the idea when you took them over there,” Hamilton protests.

“Because I thought it would be a temporary thing,” Thomas confesses. “I want to move them soon.”

“Why would we move them if they’re safe at Mrs. Smith’s?” Hamilton asks. He slips out of Philip’s grip and stands straight. Thomas strains against Peggy’s hold, hating the way he’s forced to slump in zir arms.

“We don’t know if they’re safe at Abigail’s,” Thomas retorts. “They need to be some place where know they’re protected.”

“Moving them puts them in danger of being found.”

“Not if we’re careful.” Thomas pauses, then switches to French. “Me and my team are trained in this kind of thing, Hamilton. I know what I’m talking about.

“This whole ‘second language’ thing is awfully convenient for you four, isn’t it?” Peggy says.

Because I trust cops, yeah.” Hamilton shoots back.

You’re going to have to.” Thomas switches back to English. “Burr and his family should be moved.”

“And where would you take them?”

“I was thinking we could help out with that,” Eliza says.

-----------

Abigail protested the move up until Thomas rolled up his window and blocked her out. He felt bad, the woman obviously thought she could care for and protect Burr, Theodosia and Teddy. But this was for the best, Thomas knew.

Angelica is driving the Crown Victoria, James left behind to find another ride. If Thomas turns around, he can spot Sally and James following some distance behind in an unmarked black car. The fugitive family is in the backseat, Theodosia in the middle and holding Teddy in lieu of a car seat. Burr and Hamilton sit on either side, Hamilton clutching the single bag of belongings that Burr and Theodosia have. Burr’s face as hidden as possible. The ride is silent, save for Teddy’s babbling.

“She is a talker,” Thomas remarks. Burr chuckles.

“She is indeed.”

“She must get it from Theo,” Hamilton says. Burr rolls his eyes and goes back to playing with Teddy, letting her grab onto his finger and bouncing her hand up and down. Thomas watches them in the rearview, marveling at the change in Burr. gone is the cold, weaselly man from a week ago, in his place is a devoted father absolutely in love with his child.

Angelica pulls up to the curb and turns the car off. “We’re here,” she says. Thomas slides out of the Victoria and looks up. Angelica has brought them to an apartment building in Morningside Heights. Unlike Burr’s old building, Angelica’s looks new, modern, and slick. The front door is glass, and slides open as they approach.

“This is supposed to be ‘safer?’” Hamilton mutters, eyeing the transparent front of the building. Angelica scoffs.

“The entire place is staffed by people on my payroll. Strong security and cameras everywhere. This place is loads safer.” Angelica leads them across the lobby to a set of elevators. One opens with a satisfying ‘ding,’ and the ride up is smooth.

“What’s your apartment number?” Thomas asks.

“Floors 14 and 15,” Angelica says.

“What?” Burr asks, but Angelica doesn’t get a chance to answer before the door sides open again into a hallway. There’s a single door just a few steps away from the elevator. Angelica walks over to it and unlocks it with a key. She swings the door open and steps inside. Thomas and the others follow, a collective gasp rippling across the group as they all get a look at the Schuyler apartment.

The room sprawls in front of them all plush red carpeting and dark wood. To the right is a large staircase leading to a loft area with a solid railing. To the left the carpet gives way to wood flooring and a large dining room table. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling, with glittering glass bulbs twinkling from silver arms.

“The top two floors are ours.” Angelica leads the way into the apartment, Thomas and the others following behind, awestruck.

“Took you long enough,” Peggy says from the second floor landing, leaning over the opaque banister. “Philip, ‘Liza and I set up the guest rooms already.”

“This is too much,” Theodosia breathes, eyes wide. She clutches Teddy to her chest despite the babe’s protests.

“Nonsense!” Peggy exclaims. Ze runs around to the staircase and hops onto the handrail. “Welcome-” ze pushes off and slides down the rail a flurry of fabric and hair. Ze lands at the bottom with a little flourish, bowing deeply. “-to la casa Schuyler.” Ze looks up and winks. “John taught me that phrase.”

Thomas sees Hamilton roll his eyes. “Here, take their damn bottles and diapers.” He shoves the bag he’s holding into Peggy’s arms.

“Rude,” ze teases. Peggy glances into the bag, and frowns. “This all you got?” Ze asks Burr.

“I didn’t exactly have time to pack when I left my apartment,” Burr says, bitterly.

“Well, we’ll rectify that! Think of it as my ‘thank you’ for tipping me off about Revere last year, Burr.” Peggy throws the bag onto the brown leather couch and runs back upstairs. At the tops, ze turns around. “What are you three waiting for? Come see your new rooms!”

Theodosia looks at Burr, unsure. Burr hesitates, lips in a shallow, thin line. He looks at Angelica. “You really don’t have to do this,” he says. “You could just give us a few train tickets and wave us off.”

“And risk you getting hurt? Never.” Angelica starts rooting through her cabinets. “Go see your rooms. I’ll make dinner.”

“You don’t-” Theodosia starts, but Angelica whips her head around and glares.

“I am and I will. Don’t argue with me again.” There’s something in her tone that makes a chill run down Thomas’ spine. Even Burr looks slightly cowed. Angelica smiles again, and turns back to her pantry. “Go.” Burr grabs Theodosia by the waist and pulls her up the stairs. Peggy greets them at the landing and they disappear down a hallway. Thomas sighs, looks about and says:

“Well, that’s that. We’ll be off.” Thomas turns to go, grabbing Hamilton by the shoulder and pulling him along. He drags Hamilton out of the apartment and back to the elevator. It’s only when the door slides shut behind them that Thomas realizes that he is now alone with Hamilton for the next few moments.

Chapter Text

Hamilton must come to the same conclusion, and he awkwardly shuffles away from Thomas, putting as much distance between the two of them as possible. That’s fine with Thomas, really, it’s fine. Thomas clears his throat.

“So,” he says, breaking the silence. “You and Eliza. Is that a thing?”

Hamilton sighs. “Used to be.” There’s a regret in his voice that bothers Thomas, but he doesn’t push. It’s not his business. If he pushes, he gets to know Hamilton. If he gets to know Hamilton, he gets attached. If he gets attached…

Thomas doesn’t want another Booth incident.

So he goes another tack. Part of him protests that he shouldn’t be asking at all, but he needs to know, he reasons. As much information as possible without getting attached. “And your relationship to Philip?”

“He’s my son,” Hamilton says. Thomas starts.

“How old are you?” He asks.

“Twenty-four.”

“How old is Philip!?” Thomas tries to do the math in his head.

Hamilton chuckles. “Nineteen, tomorrow.” He looks at Thomas, must see the confusion and concern on his face because he continues: “He’s not my biological son, Jefferson.”

Thomas lets out a breath. “Okay, good.” Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“I met him on the streets when he was thirteen. Took him under my wing. He calls me pops for the hell of it.”

“That makes much more sense,” Thomas says, relieved. “Didn’t peg you for the ‘fathering’ type though.”

“I’m not,” Hamilton snorts. “I’m awful with kids.”

“Don’t know how he survived then, being ‘under your wing’ and all.’”

Hamilton looks at him sharply. “I could be a good father if I tried.”

Thomas barks a laugh “Yeah, sure you could.”

“I could!’ Hamilton protests, stepping towards Thomas. “I just don’t want to be.”

“You’d be more likely to throw a kid out a window than actually raise it right,” Thomas retorts. Hamilton scowls, and takes another step forward. They’re almost chest-to-chest now, in the tiny space of the elevator.

“Excuse you, I would raise the best damn kid this world has ever seen.”

“Depends on your definition of ‘best.’’ Thomas looks down at the man, locks gazes with his huge brown eyes. There’s a defiant fire in them that makes Thomas’ stomach flip. He finds himself frozen, wanting to take a step back and break this odd tension he finds himself in, but unable to move. There’s nowhere to really go in the elevator anyway. Nowhere to escape to, nowhere to hide. He feels himself being drawn into the dark pits of Hamilton’s eyes. They’re somehow mesmerizing, now that they’re this close and Thomas can’t look away. Hamilton opens his mouth again when the elevator stops moving and the doors open with a ‘ding.’

“Arguing again?” James sighs. And just like that, the spell is broken. Thomas snaps his head to look at his friend and quickly scoots sideways out of the elevator.

“What else?” Thomas replies. “He can’t keep his damn mouth shut.” He can feel Hamilton’s eyes on his back, following as he walks out into the lobby.  Hamilton takes another breath, and Thomas can just feel the oncoming tirade. Just as Hamilton starts to speak, he’s interrupted by Thomas’ phone as it starts to ring. Sending a thankful prayer, he whips out his phone and walks away from Hamilton without a word. He doesn’t recognize the number, but picks up anyway.

“Hello,” Thomas says, pressing the phone to his face.

“Thomas Jefferson! I did get the right number!” Says the voice on the other side, giddy and overjoyed. Thomas frowns.

“Who is this?” He asks. He follows James out of the lobby. Thomas gives James the keys to the Victoria.

“Don’t tell me you don’t recognize my voice,” says the person. Thomas grits his jaw. There’s a familiar British lilt that sends chills down his spine.

“King,” he mutters. James looks at him in shock from across the car. Thomas slides into the passenger seat, slamming the door shut.

“Good job, Thomas! I knew you’d figure it out!” King says. “Now, how’s the search for Aaron going?”

“Do you honestly expect me to tell you?” Thomas asks. King chuckles.

“Well, I can’t find him or my things.”

“Theodosia and Teddy are not things,” Thomas spits, realizing his mistake too late. King gasps.

“Color me impressed, Thomas,” he says. “You know about the girl and the child.”

“Of course,” Thomas says, cursing himself. “Did you really think we wouldn’t find out?”

“Well of course you would find out. I just thought it would take more than two days.” King pauses for a second.

“You underestimate the FBI, Mr. King.”

“I suppose I did. Though, how do you know her name?” Thomas feels his stomach drop and before he can come up with a plausible story, King gasps again. “You found them, didn’t you.”

“No,” Thomas says, much too quickly.

“You have, you’ve found them already!” Kings squeals. “Oh, I knew getting you involved was a good choice. So, where are they?”

“I don’t know.” Thomas swallows. James puts a hand on his shoulder and squeezes.

“Oh, but you must! If you found them you wouldn’t have let them go, would you?”

“We haven’t found them, so I don’t know where they are,” Thomas insists. He feels like the ground has been yanked out from underneath him. King tuts.

“Thomas, I don’t like liars,” King warns.

“I’m not lying.” Thomas clutches his phone like a lifeline, trying to find something to say.

“And that’s the second lie you’ve told me,” Kings sighs. “Tell me where they are, Thomas.”

“No, I won’t because I can’t. I don’t know.” Thomas’ heart is pounding away in his chest. He swears King can hear it through the phone.

“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine,” King says, tersely. “Well, it’s not fine, I’ll still be angry. But lies are just going to make it worse.”

“I do not know where they are,” Thomas says. King is silent for a moment. He shuts his eyes and holds his breath. Seconds pass before King speaks again. When he talks, all sense of friendliness is gone, and in its place is nothing but coldness and venom.

“Well then. I guess I’ll just have to give you a little motivation.” The line goes dead. Thomas lowers his phone and stares it.

“Thomas?” James asks. Thomas realizes he’s shaking.

“Hold on. Gotta call Ben.” Thomas searches the car and comes up with a piece of paper and a pen. He jots down King’s number and calls Ben.

“Yo yo yo, what can Uncle Ben do for you?”

“Ben. I just got a call from George King,” Thomas says.

“Well shit,” is Ben’s reply. Thomas gives Ben the phone number and Ben says he’ll start tracking it as best as possible. “If it’s a burner, though, we’re out of luck,” he says.

“I know,” Thomas says. “Where are you?”

“My hotel room. Should I go down to the station?”

“No, you should be safe there. Contact everyone, tell them to get back to the precinct or get somewhere safe.”

“Did King threaten us?” Ben asks.

“Maybe, yeah. I want to play it safe. I’m calling Washington after this.”

“Alright, dude. Where are you going?”

“The precinct.”

“Text me when you get there, yeah?”

“Course. Talk to you later.”

“Godspeed, Tommy boy.”

Ben hangs up. James looks at Thomas quickly, a glance of worry before turning back to the road. “Do you think King is really going to do something? Is he serious?” His phone buzzes, a text from Ben.

From: UncleBen:

cant trace it burner txt me locations of sons want 2 put 2gether list

“I don’t know. But we’re going to treat it like he is.” Thomas is dials Washington’s number.

“Washington, yeah. I need to you to contact everyone in leadership and give them my number. Tell them to text me their current locations, then get down to The Frenchman. We might have a problem.”

-----------

From: Unknown number:

McDonald’s on 23rd. What’s going on Clark? ~Knox

Thomas saves Henry Knox’s number and writes down the location. It’s the latest on a long sheet of names and places. Just about every Sons member is accounted for and the team- minus Ben- are all gathered in the precinct. Looking at the text again, he knows he’s going to have to come up with some explanation for everyone, but know is not the time. Once everyone confirmed safe, Thomas will deal with it.

Right now, though, everything feels like it’s exploding.

“You need to calm down, Thomas,” Martha says. “King was probably just talking a big game.”

“He knows my cover, knows my cell number. You weren’t in this room two days ago when he was here.” Thomas sends Ben a copy of Knox’s text and number, just to confirm his location. “He’s terrifying, Martha. King is serious.”

“What would he do, huh? Who would he attack?” Louis asks. “He gave you a warning, maybe he won’t follow through. Maybe he just wants to scare you.”

Thomas stares at his phone. Ben hasn’t replied to the last four or so messages, not even to let Thomas know he got them. “He’s going to follow through.”

“If he is, getting worked up isn’t going to help anyone,” Martha says. She puts a hand on Thomas shoulder, trying to comfort him.

“Do you think he was watching? Does he know we were at the Schuylers?” Thomas asks.

“If someone was watching you, King would know where Burr, Prevost and Teddy all are. He wouldn’t have to threaten you,” Martha says. Thomas bites at his lip. He knows Martha is being logical, but it doesn’t help the racing thoughts in his head. Part of him wants to move the young family again, but it’s too risky right now. He feels powerless, just waiting to see what King is going to do. His phone goes off.

From: Unknown Number:

It's Laurens. I’m at home. I can't leave. There's a group of Redcoats across the street.

Shit,” Thomas hisses. He tells Laurens to stay where he is, stay away from any windows and hide. “I know who King’s targeting.”

“Who?” Martha asks.

“Laurens,” Thomas replies. “We need to go. He's surrounded.”

“I never thought I'd see the day where I have to go to John Laurens’ rescue,” Revere mutters. Thomas starts to lead the way out of the meeting room, a plan formulating in his head when Louis speaks up.

“What if we didn't?” He asks. Thomas stops dead in his tracks.

“What do you mean?” James asks.

“What if we didn't go rescue Laurens? Tell Washington we got there too late.”

“And leave him to die?” Thomas asks, disbelief swirling around in his head. Louis nods calmly.

“Yeah, why not? We've got him marked as a threat for when we turn on the Sons. Him dying now would help destabilize things and boost the animosity between the Sons and the Redcoats. We could use this.”

There's a silence in the meeting room as everyone digests what Louis said. Thomas can't quite process what Louis is suggesting, can't comprehend the idea of leaving Laurens to fend for himself.

“No, we can't do that. We can't abandon Laurens,” Thomas says.

“Yes we can. It's not hard,” Louis counters. “We abandoned Davis, back in Charlotte.”

“That was different!” Thomas protests. “It was a mistake.”

“Was it?” Louis asks, one eyebrow cocked.

No, a voice in Thomas’ head answers. We only consider it a mistake because of Booth. We could have stopped Booth. Leaving Davis to die had been the right choice. The voice is urging, telling Thomas to consider it.

You leave John and we’ll never forgive you, says another voice, one that sounds suspiciously like Hamilton’s. I’ll never forgive you.

“We’re going to help Laurens, and that's final.” Thomas throws open the door. He hears Louis sigh behind him, but they all follow.

-------------

“Alright, what's the ‘grand plan’ for once we get there?” Friedrich asks, voice coming from Martha’s’ phone. Revere, Friedrich, and Louis are all in Revere’s unmarked car while the rest of them are in the Victoria. “You know, once we find out where we’re going and get there.”

“It's not my fault Ben hasn't responded!” Thomas protests. When Laurens hadn’t given Thomas his address over text, he'd texted Ben with a request for Laurens’ address but had gotten no response. Revere had made Louis call Sybil and make her dig through the police records. She was trying her best, according to Louis, but systems were slow back at the station.

“The best she’s got is an address from his last arrest three years ago. He wasn't jailed, but it's entirely possible he moved,” Louis says.

“And you won't call any of the Sons?” Sally asks from the backseat.

“I don't want them taking things into their own hands again.” Thomas shakes his head. “Hamilton and Laurens got involved in the hunt for Burr. We let them know something’s up, we’ll have a gunfight on our hands.”

“Who says Laurens hasn't already contacted Hamilton or something?” She asks.

“Let's hope not, but deal with it when we get there.”

“Sybil’s got the current address!” Louis pipes up. Thomas lets out a sigh of relief.

“Get her to send it to me,” Thomas says. A few moments later, his phone buzzes and he reads the address aloud.

“I know where that is. Let me pull ahead of you,” Revere says. James dutifully lets Revere past him, then follows him down countless city streets until Revere pulls over and parks by an intersection. “His place is to the right and down the street,” Revere says. “You all stay here, I’ll troll down and see if I can spot how many there are.”

Thomas glances down Laurens’ street, trying to catch a glimpse of red jackets. “Stay on the phone, we need-” he stops, blinking in shock. “Holy shit,” he mutters.

“What?” Martha asks, peering down the street. Thomas can’t believe what he’s seeing. John Laurens is walking down the street, casually, hands in his pockets like he doesn’t have a care in the world. He’s even whistling to himself as he walks, with slow, languid steps.

“What the fuck is he doing?!” Thomas exclaims. “James, go get him!” James shifts the car into gear, turns the corner and almost flies down the street. The moment Laurens spots them, he stops, a look of confusion spreading across his face. James pulls up to him, stopping just beside the curb. Sally throws open her door quickly. Laurens opens his mouth to speak, but Sally grabs him by the arms and pulls him into the car. Laurens stumbles and falls to the car floor with a curse.

“What the fuck?!” Laurens says, trying to push himself up. Martha puts her hands on his shoulders and shoves him back down.

“Stay down,” she hisses, looking out her window for any signs of Redcoats. Thomas twists in his seat, turned almost completely around as James guns it. The car lurches into forward motion, taking off down the street.

“Are you stupid?” Thomas spits. “Just walking around?

“Well, I’m sorry I don’t own my own car. It’s not like I’m poor in New York or anything,” Laurens replies, looking up at him from the floor. “What’s the big deal?”

“You fucking tell me!” Thomas shrieks.

“Calm down Thomas,” James says, but he’s gripping the steering wheel hard enough to turn his knuckles white.

“What’s got you all worked up? I know I was supposed to be at the club a bit ago, but I was asleep okay?” Laurens wiggles around so he’s on his back. “Jesus.”

“What do you mean, you were asleep?” Sally asks.

“I was asleep, how is that confusing?” Laurens asks. He blinks. “Hey, you work at the diner.”

“Not really,” she says.

“Yeah, I see that now,” Laurens grumbles. Thomas grabs his phone from the cup holder. He finds Laurens’ text and holds the phone out to him.

“Did you or did you not send me this text?” Thomas asks. Laurens frowns, takes the phone from his hands and studies the screen.

“That’s not even my number, dude,” he says.

“What?” Thomas snatches his phone back, practically throwing himself into the back seat to get it.

“Not my number, not my text. Can I sit up now?”

“Yeah, sure,” Thomas mutters, staring at the message on his screen. Laurens sits up on the floor of the Victoria, rubbing his chin where he had hit the floor.

“So we freaked out for nothing,” Revere says.

“Is that Revere?’ Laurens asks. Thomas nods. “‘Sup, Paul?”

“Hello, Mr. Laurens. Do not think I haven’t forgotten about your or Lafayette’s assault warrants.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

Thomas turns back around, staring at his phone like it might give him answers. Why would someone pretend to be Laurens? Thomas chews his bottom lip. A distraction. It has to have been a distraction. But what for?

“Louis, are you still on the phone with Sybil?” Thomas asks.

“Yep,” comes Louis’ reply.

“Is...no, that’s stupid. King’s too smart to attack a police station,” Thomas mutters.

“Woah, woah, woah. Is King doing something?” Laurens asks.

“Maybe,” is James’ reply. Thomas thinks, tries to find a reason for it all. Almost without thinking, he sends Ben a text with the strange number, and lets him know what’s going on. A few seconds later, he finally gets a response from Ben.

From: UncleBen:

Good to hear. Can you stop by my room? I got something you need to see.

Thomas’ blood runs cold.

That’s not how Ben texts.

“Hotel, now,” he commands.

------------

They make it to the hotel in record time. It’s not fast enough.

-------------

Ben is still wearing the same bathrobe he had been in for the entire assignment when the paramedics put him in the body bag and close it up. Thomas watches them wheel the body away down the hall. There’s a hollow feeling in his stomach. Ben was the one person Thomas hadn’t been concerned about. He was safe, should have been safe.

The security footage tells a different story. A bellboy, one now in custody and a confirmed Redcoat, had let James Reynolds and a gang of boys into Ben’s hotel room. Thomas feels sick. He should have checked the hotel’s employees. He should have told Ben to come down to the station. He should have done a thousand things. It’s all his fault.

But Benjamin Franklin is dead now, shot to death in his hotel room. His phone is gone too, laptops and computer systems trashed. His and Steuben's things are all tossed about, likely having been rifled through for valuables or information.

Friedrich stands in the middle of it all, staring at the blood splatter and bits of brain matter that are the only remains of his best friend still in the room. For the first time ever, Thomas realizes how old Friedrich really is. Thomas knew the man was almost 50, but this is the first time he’s ever looked it.

“Are you okay?” Thomas asks. Friedrich takes a slow breath.

“We’re going to find King, and when we do, I’m going to kill him.”

Chapter Text

There’s a little ball of fire that Friedrich’s vow of vengeance lit that’s grown into an all out bonfire in Thomas’ chest. The heat boils his blood and smoke rises from his ears, he can feel it. He’s roasting from the inside out, pure rage burning in every fiber of his being. He thinks it’s only a matter of time before his skin crisps and he starts breathing fire.

Thomas hauls open the front door of The Fighting Frenchman with one arm. It feels like a piece of paper for all the resistance it has against his adrenaline-fueled movements. Thomas walks into the club, glaring at the gathering of men like he’s ready to snap the neck of the first man that speaks to him.

“What kind of bullshit are you pul-” Hamilton starts, but he freezes. Silence descends, broken only by Thomas’ footsteps. He hears Laurens and James walk in behind him, but does not turn around. Thomas stalks over to the circle of chairs, his breathing deep and heavy. He stops behind one of the two empty chairs. Laurens slides into his seat next to Hamilton and all eyes are on Thomas. Waiting.

Thomas realizes the chair in front of him had once been Arnold’s. Benedict Arnold, the man who likely tipped King off to the presence of FBI. Arnold, who started this whole fucking thing. Though the traitor is not in the seat, the sight of the chair is enough to send Thomas over the edge.

Thomas kicks the back of the chair hard. It topples forward, hits the ground with a thud and skids into the center of the circle. The legs scrape the dancefloor and Lafayette winces. When it stops, Thomas has half a mind to grab it and throw it at the darkened LED lights that ring the dancefloor. He wants to see something break, hear the sound of shattering glass and crashing metal. But he doesn’t. He stands there, fists clenched until his knuckles are white and nails dig into his own palms.

“King went after one of my friends,” he hisses. His accent is thicker than it normally is, even Thomas can tell. He picks his head up to glare at Washington. “He’s dead.”

There’s a ripple of solemn surprise across the group, but on the faces of those who know that Thomas is a cop, a federal agent no less, are worse. Deep fear, shock and dark realization play across Hamilton, Lafayette, Adams and Washington’s faces.

“He…” Lafayette starts, their mouth agape. Thomas growls, nodding. James puts a hand on Thomas’ arm, trying to comfort him.

“I was too busy trying to make sure y’all were safe.” Thomas looks around the gathering. “I didn’t even think…” Thomas has to hit something else. He settles for punching his own hand and trying to steady his breathing. James slips around him and picks up the chair he had kicked. Silently, James replaces it and sits Thomas down.

“We’re...reeling,” James says, not taking his eyes off Thomas.

“I can imagine,” Hamilton says, voice hoarse and quiet. Thomas glares at him.

“I don’t want your pity,” Thomas spits. James shushes him, rubbing little circles into Thomas’ arm with his thumb.

“Alright then. Welcome to the party,” one of the men says. Thomas snaps his head to look at him. Henry Knox, his mind supplies. “All of us have lost men to the Redcoats. Grieve, but move on. Quickly. We’ve got a war to fight, let’s move along.”

The thought of running and getting his badge from the car occurs to Thomas, to blow his own cover so that Knox and everyone else knows just how serious Ben’s death is. So they know King went and killed a federal agent. But James grips Thomas’ arm harder and Thomas manages another deep breath.

“I suppose we do,” he says.

“Clark…?” Lafayette asks, trepidation in their voice.

“The gloves are coming off. King made a fucking mistake.” Thomas looks back up at the groups as a whole. “What do y’all need? Drugs? Money? Guns?” Thomas ticks off things with his fingers. “I can get it. Whatever you need, whenever you need. No questions asked. No payment needed.”

“Will!” James says, looking down at Thomas with wide eyes. The other men are looking at him in the same shock.

“Are you serious?” The man to Knox’s right asks. Nathaniel Green.

“Deadly,” Thomas replies. A muttering kicks up, but Thomas just glares at a spot on the floor.

“Will,” James says, kneeling down to match Thomas’ sitting height. “We can’t-”

“We can and we will,” Thomas says. “Ben is dead, Matt.”

“I know, but-”

“No buts.”

“Listen to me!” James grabs Thomas’ face so that they’re looking at each other. His voice is low and barely audible over the other men talking amongst themselves. “This is what I was talking about when I said you are making irrational decisions. You can’t just promise free weapons and drugs to a gang.”

“I can, I did, and I will be following through.” Thomas matches James’ glare. “It’s too late now. I already said it.”

“You could have talked to me about this! Run this by me first!” James insists. The fire inside Thomas is blazing and it needs someone to lash out on so it chooses the most available target.

“I don’t have to run anything by your first,” Thomas says slowly, rising from his seat. “You’re my second-in-command. I am the team leader and you are not!” He’s shouting now, yelling down at James’ crouching form. “You will not question me, do you understand?!” Thomas knows he’s overreacting, that James is the only person in this room that’s truly on his side, but he’s breathing fire now and it doesn’t stop burning.

“Clark! You need to calm down!” Hamilton says. Thomas whips around to glare at him now. He registers that Hamilton is a much more acceptable target than James is, and lets loose.

“I am calm,” Thomas roars. “Don’t stick your nose into my business.”

“Bullshit. Take some deep breaths and listen to whatever Lewis is trying to tell you.”

“You don’t tell me what to do either,” Thomas yells. “You...you bastard.”

The room goes dead silent. Thomas can feel everyone’s eyes on him and Hamilton, who is turning a brighter shade of red every second that goes by.

“Well you know what?” Hamilton spits. “You’re nothing but an entitled, piece of shit asshole who can’t tell his head from his ass. What did you think was going to happen, crossing King? He was just going to turn over and surrender? Because you’re the great ‘Will Clark’ and we all should bow down to you?” Hamilton uses air quotes around Thomas’ fake name. “You lost someone, I get it. We all have. That doesn’t mean you get to be a pissy little shit. Mourn. Punch things, kick chairs, do whatever you need to do but don’t you fucking dare take it out on any of us or your men.” Hamilton gestures at James, who looks faintly like a kicked puppy. “Especially your men.”

“I can treat my men however I want,” Thomas snarls. “I am in control, I lead them and I will not be questioned.”

“You sure need to be, if that’s your attitude!” Hamilton’s gaze is made of steel, piercing Thomas and pinning him in place. “Guess what Clark: not everything is about you. I’m sick and tired of this ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude of yours. This anger, the way you’re lashing out, it’s selfish. You’re trapped in your own damn head and not thinking straight. All you want to do is make yourself feel better about a shitty thing. And this bullshit about free drugs and things? Shut the fuck up. You’re not doing this to help any of us. You’re doing it to sooth your own anger. Stop acting like you’re doing us a damn favor or pitying us. I, for one, am not going to take you up on your ‘offer.’ I don’t need your charity to exact your revenge for you. Come back in a week. Still want to give us free shit, fine. I’ll take it then. But not when it’s a gift for your own damn ego.”

When Hamilton falls silent, Thomas is in shock. The entire room is wide-eyed in silence.

“I think what Alexander is saying-” Washington clears his throat, “-is that we understand you just lost someone, but maybe you need to take a step back. Take a walk. Sit for a minute.’

“I stop and more people get hurt,” Thomas growls back, but most of the fight is gone. Hamilton’s explosion has cowed Thomas’ fire by sheer force of will.

“Washington’s right, Will. Let’s go. We need to go figure out where we’re staying now anyway.” James latches onto Thomas’ arm and pulls. Thomas lets him lead him away.

“Alexander, you too. Take a walk,” Thomas hears Washington say.

“I-”

“Go.”

“But!”

James pulls Thomas out onto the street before anything else happens. He opens Thomas’ door and almost pushes him inside. James walks to the other side of the car and sits down. For a second, he does nothing, not even turn the car on. The only sound is their breathing. It’s stifling hot in the car, like the escaping heat from Thomas’ anger is collecting in the air around them.

“Do you figure I’ll ever get to stay an entire meeting?” Thomas asks, looking to break the tension. James hits the steering wheel and Thomas falls silent.

“Give me one good reason not to call Farnese right now,” James says, slowly. “Tell me why I shouldn’t send your ass home.”

Thomas swallows. “They respect me now. Want to work with me.”

“Because you promised them free shit!” James says, finally looking at Thomas for the first time.

“If you send me away, you have to make up all the favor you’ll lose by doing it.”

“I can do that.”

“Because I’m asking you not to.”

James scoffs. “That’s not good enough.”

“Ben is dead, and it’s my fault, James. I told him to stay where he was. Let me find the men who killed him.”

“Working out of revenge isn’t going to make things better!”

“I don’t see you questioning Friedrich!”

Friedrich doesn’t have three concussions. Friedrich didn’t scream at me in a room full of gangsters. Friedrich isn’t blaming himself for something he couldn’t have prevented.”

“I could have prevented it! I could’ve-”

“Could’ve done what? Given Theodosia and Burr and Teddy up? Unlocked the ability to tell the future? What could you have done, Thomas?

“...I could have brought Ben down to the station.” Thomas mutters. “Could’ve sent him a protection detail.”

“You could have, yes,” James says. “But you didn’t. Because you didn’t know. No one could have guessed that King had a bellboy on his payroll. No one knew that King even knew where we were staying. You did what anyone would have done: focused on the more prevalent targets.” He sighs. “You did everything right, Thomas. You tried to help Laurens, who you believed what in danger. We all underestimated King. We all have to deal with the consequences. And- I don’t believe I’m saying this- you need to listen to Hamilton.”

“What?”

“He was right. You’re stuck in this angry headspace and…” he lets out a breath. “I don't know if I can trust you to make good, logical choices right now.”

Thomas bites his lip. “James, please.”

“I'm trying Thomas. Help me find one reason to let you stay.”

“We just lost one team member. Sending me home just makes it worse. We can't drop another person, especially the assignment leader.”

James is silent for a moment, his internal conflict playing out across his face in tiny twitches only Thomas knows how to look for. “This is your last chance, Thomas.”

“Thank you,” he breathes. He opens his mouth to say something else, but is distracted as the door to The Frenchman opens. Hamilton steps out onto the sidewalk, still fuming. Thomas feels a pang of guilt watching him frown and stalk away from the club. Thomas puts a hand on the door handle and swings it open.

“Where are you going?” James asks, grabbing onto Thomas’ sleeve. “We need to figure out a new place to sleep. We can’t stay at The Montpelier anymore. And there’s something about Burr-”

“I know, but I...I have to go talk to him.” Thomas slides out of the car. James opens his mouth to protest, but Thomas says “I’ll be right back, promise,” and shuts the door. He turns and jogs after Hamilton. “Hey, hold up.”

Hamilton’s shoulders scrunch, and he keeps walking. “What.”

“I- stop walking, I’m trying to talk to you.” Thomas grabs onto Hamilton’s shoulder to stop the smaller man. Hamilton rolls his eyes. “I wanted to… apologize. I said some shitty things.”

“Yeah you did,” Hamilton throws Thomas’ hand off. He won’t look up at Thomas, keeps his eyes glued on Thomas’ chest.

“Hamilton, I’m trying-” Thomas can feel the anger resurfacing “-to be civil here, okay? Accept the damn apology.”

“Fine. Accepted. Can I go now?” Hamilton turns his back on Thomas. There’s an odd sadness, almost disappointment, to Hamilton’s words. Thomas grabs a hold of Hamilton’s arm again.

“I-” Thomas stutters, unsure of what he’s going to say. But the forlorn look doesn’t suit Hamilton, so he has to come up with something. “Do you know of anywhere we can house six- I mean five people? We can’t exactly stay at the hotel where…” Thomas swallows “We can’t stay where we were.”

Hamilton bites his lip, sighs and says “I know Green’s got a condo or two he owns but isn’t using. I’ll see if he’ll rent them out or something.”

“Okay,” Thomas says. Hamilton nods and tries to walk away again. “Hey!”

“What now?”

“I...I need to talk to Burr. Soon.”

“Talk to Angelica about that.”

“I can’t stick around, Hamilton. There’s paperwork I need to do.”

Hamilton sighs again and rubs the back of his neck. He turns to look at Thomas. “Look, we’re having a party for Philip tomorrow at six. Show up at the Schuyler's at five, I’ll let you in. You can talk to Burr then. But you’re gone by six, got it?”

“Of course,” Thomas says. “Schuyler’s, five o’clock.”

“Yeah, see you then,” Hamilton says. Thomas breathes a sigh through his teeth.

“Are you okay Hamilton?” He calls.

“I’m just pissed I’m still talking to you and your stupid face,” Hamilton says over his shoulder. Thomas snorts.

“You’re just sad I didn’t pull your hair again,” he says, hoping for a reaction. He gets it: Hamilton sticks his hands up in the air in a double middle-finger salute. Thomas laughs. That’s more like it, he thinks fondly.

Accept he most certainly doesn’t think it fondly. No siree he thinks it with vile and hatred. Thomas is not getting attached to Hamilton. Never. That’s more like it, he repeats in his head sternly, though it’s more about himself than Hamilton.

--------------

The rest of the day is spent dodging Farnese and doing mountains of paperwork. Martha and James both tell him that the paperwork can wait. That everyone needs an evening off. Hell, they need to take the week off but they're too far entrenched in this assignment to be replaced now.

Too far entrenched, Thomas laughs. It's only been a week but it feels like the longest week of his life. He focuses on the form in front of him. It's some bullshit dealing with getting Ben’s body back to Virginia. He's halfway through it when he remembers that Ben is- was- from Massachusetts. He tries to remember where Ben’s wife lives but he only starts thinking about how nobody’s called her yet.

Thomas sighs. He does not want to be the one to make that call. Thomas can count on one hand the amount of times he's had to tell people that their loved ones are dead and he doesn't want that count to increase. There's a quiet knock at the door, then it opens.

“Everything okay in here?” Sybil asks, sticking her head inside. Thomas gives her a withering look and motions to the array of papers on the table. She smiles sympathetically. Though all Thomas wants is to be alone, she comes into the room anyway, carrying two mugs. “Tea? It’s peppermint.” Thomas grunts and she sets the a mug down on the table for him. Thomas doesn’t touch it, he can see it’s steaming hot.

Sybil thumbs through the stack of papers Thomas has already completed. It’s thick, but the stack of things still needing to be done is thicker. She sighs, dropping the stack back onto the table.

“If you’re going to tell me to quit and do this in the morning, save your breath,” Thomas says.

“I wasn’t going to,” Sybil replies. She takes a seat on the opposite side of Thomas, gently sipping on her tea. “This is what I do when…” She trails. “I’ve already finished Cresston and Heins’ paperwork. They’re not even buried yet, you know.”

“What even happened?” Thomas asks. She sighs again.

“They got caught up in a gunfight between a couple of Sons and Redcoat boys. They weren’t even supposed to be there, they were on patrol! They just responded to a call and got caught in the crossfire.” Sybil swirls her tea with her teabag. Thomas frowns.

“It’s not just Safe Harbors, is it?” Thomas asks. “There’s been other deaths, haven’t there?”

“Too many,” she says. “But Paul didn’t think we needed any help. He always thought we could handle this on our own.”

“Most police we work with think that. No one ever needs the FBI until they do and even then, they try and act like they don’t.” Thomas scratches out another line of information and pushes a finished form aside. “It’s part of the job.”

“Sounds like a sucky job.”

Thomas smiles. “You just say that because you don’t have it.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You only think it sucks because you…” Thomas trails, trying to find the words he wants. “Working for the FBI is taxing. You’re right, it does suck. If you think about it logically, who would ever want to do what I do? Travel around the country, stick my nose into gangs and mess with criminals, put my life on the line just to put a few boys behind bars. Most people don’t think what I do makes any difference.  I clean up an area, and the moment I’m gone it all goes to hell again.

“And sometimes they’re right. Charlotte’s a bigger mess now compared to when we showed up. But sometimes,” Thomas smiles, “sometimes, it doesn’t. I get to save lives and help people. I’ve met some of the most incredible people in this line of work. There was this boy in Richmond that was getting involved in the drug rings down there, but I helped get him out and now he’s a pre-law student. Wants to work for the FBI too. Brilliant, genius kid that would have been lost to cocaine or meth otherwise.

“So it doesn’t suck. I can’t describe the feeling of knowing I helped people. That I did something good. This job is hell, but it’s so rewarding.” Thomas looks down at the papers in front of him. “Most of the time,” he mutters. There’s a silence for a moment, Thomas just staring at the papers, then:

“If you were trying to get me to join the FBI, you didn't sell it very well,” Sybil says, dry as a desert in drought. Thomas snorts. He makes eye contact, and for the first time, he really looks at her. There's a fire in her eyes that reminds him of…

Thomas starts to laugh, wondering how he never noticed before. Sybil’s face scrunches up in an oh-so-familiar way. “It wasn't that funny,” she says. Thomas shakes his head.

“No, no. You just...remind me of someone.”

“Who?”

“Hamilton,” Thomas says. Sybil’s eyebrows shoot up.

“The Sons lieutenant?” She asks.

“Yeah, you've got…” Thomas thinks for a moment. “The same sort of...energy, I’d call it. The same general attitude.”

Sybil chuckles. “Do we now? I have a gangster doppelgänger?”

“Not a doppelgänger, per se,” Thomas says. “There are differences.”

“Like what?”

“Well, for starters, I actually like you.” Thomas smirks. Sybil barks a laugh, loud and ugly but in an endearing way.

“So what’s the difference? Why do you like me and not him?” Sybil asks. Thomas pauses. Why does he dislike Hamilton? He's loud, argumentative, sassy, and downright insubordinate. But Sybil is all those things too.

“Maybe it has something to do with those concussions he gave me,” Thomas says. Sybil snorts.

“He was just scared, freaked out that you were a cop and that close to Washington,” Sybil says. Thoughtfully, she adds: “Maybe if the two of you weren't on fundamentally opposing teams, you'd be friends.”

“Friends? With Hamilton?” Thomas asks. But it's not filled with disgust as it had been when Abigail had brought it up. There’s a curiosity to it this time. What would it be like to be friends with Hamilton? He shakes the thought away. Sybil was right. Thomas was a cop, an FBI agent. Who knew what kind of things Hamilton’s done in the name of The Sons Of Liberty.

“A nice thought, but you said it yourself. We oppose each other at the most basic level. Friendship isn't possible.” Thomas puts his pen back to the paper, pushing all wishes of a positive relationship with Hamilton away. “If this whole operation didn’t end with Hamilton behind bars maybe, just maybe, then we could be friends”

Sybil shrugs. “In another lifetime, then.” She glances around the table. “Anything I can help you with?” She asks. Thomas shakes his head.

“I think I'd rather do this alone, Sybil,” he says. “Thanks for the tea, though.”

“Yeah yeah. Just make sure you sleep sometime, okay?” Sybil asks.

“Okay mom,” Thomas teases. She sticks her tongue out at him and leaves, the meeting door shutting behind her with a soft click. Thomas looks down at the papers in front of him. In the silence, Thomas finds he immediately misses Sybil’s presence. Just having her here, gentle teasing and sass included, had made him feel better. For a split second, Thomas considers calling her back in, but he decides against it. She has things to do herself, and comforting him was not one of those things.

Thomas leans over the table, trying to ignore how suddenly lonely he is. He wishes someone were here with him. Ben, James, Sybil, anyone. Hamilton, even. Yeah, it would be nice to have Hamilton here, part of him thinks. He’s too tired to really argue with his brain, so he lets whatever part of him not focused on the paperwork think about what would happen if Hamilton were here.

As he scribbles in more information, he plays out dumb arguments in his head until he falls asleep against the desk.

Chapter Text

“Thomas, wake up.” Someone’s shaking him.

“Go away,” Thomas slurs, curling his head further into his arms.

“Wakey-wakey, eggs-and-bacy,” Steuben teases. Thomas groans.

Shut up,” he mutters, but he opens his eyes. He’s greeted by the blur of slept-in-contacts and the accompanying headache. He sits up and hears the bones in his back and neck crack up and down.

“Good morning, sleeping beauty.” Steuben offers Thomas a coffee cup. At least, Thomas thinks it’s a coffee cup. He really can't see anything. He rubs at his eyes, yawning and stretching a crick in his neck.

“Brought your contact stuff from the hotel,” James says from beside Thomas. “And your glasses.”

“Thanks,” he says. “Walk me to a bathroom?” Steuben laughs at him as he flails about for James’ arm, latching on and stumbling to the bathroom. Inside the brightly lit precinct bathroom, Thomas pulls his contacts out of his eyes and fumbles with the solution.

“How late were you up?” James asks.

“Late enough to get most of it done,” Thomas replies. James just sighs. He hands Thomas his glasses when the taller man reaches for them blindly. Slept-in contacts give him just as much vision as his normal sight, so when he settles the glasses on his face it's a relief.

Until he looks at his face as sees the haggard, barely slept look he's wearing. He groans, pushed his glasses up his face and slashes water on himself.

“How are you holding up?” James asks.

“Like a damn umbrella in a hurricane,” he replies. “You?”

“That sounds just about right,” James chuckles. Thomas offers a weak smile. There's a silence as Thomas readjusts his glasses.

“Ben is dead, James,” Thomas says.

“I know.”

And that's all there is to say on the matter.

“So, about Burr, I’ve been thinking…” James trails. Thomas cocks an eyebrow in the mirror.

--------------

Thomas doesn't know how five o’clock rolls around, the time drags on as the team goes through the homicide investigation routine, the familiar motions colored a little differently now that it's Ben and not a faceless victim. But the world still spins, and Thomas finds himself at the Schuyler apartment with James at Hamilton’s appointed time. He’s carrying his weapon again, Steuben having insisted that everyone stays armed from now on. The safety’s on, but it’s cold and uncomfortable against Thomas’ skin.

Philip opens the door, a mess of freckles and curly hair. He's got a little paper hat seated in the giant mane of hair and a lea draped around his neck. Right, it's this kid’s birthday, Thomas remembers. He says something to that effect, and Philip beams at him.

“Thanks!” He chirps. He turns his head and calls: “Dad! Clark and Lewis are here!”

“Tell them I'm not here,” Hamilton calls back. Philip rolls his eyes and moves away from the door. As Thomas and James walk in, Hamilton looks over the back of the couch he’s sitting on. A half-formed word dies on his lips as he freezes, looking at Thomas with wide eyes. His mouth hangs open for a second, “I-uh, wow. Uh, you…” Hamilton coughs. “You look awful.”

Thomas scowls. “Unlike some of us, I have an actual job to do,” he says by way of explanation. Hamilton huffs, standing up from the couch.

“Speaking of which,” he says, “Green says he’s got two condos he’s willing to get you use, free of charge.”

“We’ll take both,” James says. Thomas looks at him. “One for the ladies, one for the rest of us,” James explains. Thomas, shocked, grabs James’ shoulder.

“Should we split up?” he asks. James nods, reaching up and squeezing Thomas’ hand.

“Might be safer,” he says.

“Whatever you want,” Thomas concedes. Hamilton glares at them, lip curled slightly.

“I’ll get Burr,” he says, turning away quickly. He disappears behind the staircase, and Thomas hears him open a door. Thomas glances around, and spots Philip loading beer into the fridge.

“I thought they were all upstairs?” Thomas asks. Philip shrugs.

“They didn’t want to keep Teddy upstairs. Aunt Angelica gave them her bedroom,” he says, focusing on packing the fridge as full as possible. There are boxes of empty twelve packs in a pile next to him. Philip pulls the last one out of the last box, eyes the fridge, then pops it open and takes a huge swig of it. Thomas cocks an eyebrow.

“Aren’t you nineteen?” He asks. Without missing a beat, Philip replies:

“Don’t you sell drugs for a living?”

Thomas snorts. “Touché kid.” Philip smirks at him and takes another drink. Thomas opens his mouth to tease him a bit more but Hamilton appears from under the stairs. Without Burr.

“He doesn’t want to talk to you,” Hamilton announces.

“Uhh...not really the issue?” Thomas says. “I need to talk to him.”

“You didn’t let me finish,” Hamilton says. “He doesn’t want to talk to you while Lewis is here.” Hamilton looks pointedly at James. “He’s only comfortable talking to Clark.”

“So what does he want?” Thomas asks, squeezing James’ hand.

“Lewis goes. Leaves the building and fucks off,” Hamilton spits. Thomas’ grip on James’ hand turns white-knuckled.

“Not gonna happen.” Thomas shakes his head. “Lewis and I are a package deal.”

“Then Burr’s not coming out,” Hamilton counters. Thomas scowls and takes a step forward.

“I’ll just go to him, then,” Thomas says haughtily. Hamilton puts himself between Thomas and the staircase.

“No you aren’t.” Hamilton plants his hands on Thomas’ chest to stop him. Thomas tries to dodge to the side but Hamilton is an agile little man. “You try and bust your way back there, you’re just gonna get yourself shot,” Hamilton explains. Thomas huffs.

“We’re at an impasse then. Lewis isn’t-”

“It’s okay Will,” James interrupts. Thomas snaps his head around in shock. James has his hands stuck in his pockets, already pulling out his phone.

“Matt?” Thomas asks, confusion written across his face. “What happened to-”

“It’ll be fine. You’re just talking to Burr, then coming right down.” James shrugs. “This is too important.” Thomas blinks, taken aback.

“If you’re sure…” Thomas trails. James nods and heads for the door. It's

“See ya around, Lewis,” Philip calls. James waves his goodbye and steps out. Thomas just watches him go, shocked and more than a little confused. Hamilton looks just as surprised, though the look on his face reads I can’t believe that worked. Thomas’ phone buzzes and it’s a text from James.

From: Jemmy:

I’m trying to trust you Thomas. Don’t fuck this up.

Oh, Thomas smiles. He sends a quick ‘thank you,’ and turns back to Hamilton.

“Alright, bring the man out,” Thomas commands. Hamilton’s expression morphs into anger.

“Yes your majesty, “ he drawls, heading back behind the stairs. A second later, he reappears, Burr and Theodosia in tow. Teddy is in her mother’s arms, tiny hands tangling in Theodosia’s thick dreadlocks. Theodosia winces when the child pulls too hard, but she smiles at Teddy anyway.

“Afternoon,” Burr says, a nod as the rest of his greeting. Thomas smiles.

“How’s the happy family?” He asks. Theodosia smiles up at him, but Burr’s face stays neutral.

“Been better, been worse,” he states. Thomas flinches internally. “What is it you need?”

Thomas glances back at Philip, who’s leaning against the counter and taking long swigs of beer from the bottle. Hamilton says his name like a command. Philip’s eyebrows shoot up, but he gets the message. Muttering something about ‘never getting to be a part of the fun stuff,’ Philip heads up the stairs and disappears down the second floor hallway. Once he’s gone, Thomas gestures to the kitchen table and they all find a seat. Thomas folds his hand on the table in front of him, letting the silence sit for a minute.

“Has Hamilton told you what happened yesterday?” He asks. Burr and Theodosia glance at one another.

“Just that someone’s died, why?” Burr asks carefully. Thomas looks at Hamilton, who shrugs.

“Figured you should tell them,” he says. Thomas sighs.

“King called me after we moved the three of you.” Theodosia gets a panicked look on her face and Thomas rushes to console her. “He doesn’t know where you are, you’re still safe. In fact, he called me to ask where you were. He assumed I would tell him, but I didn’t. In retribution, he had James Reynolds attack and kill one of my agents,” Thomas finishes quietly. Theodosia gasps and Burr grabs onto her free hand.

“Over us?” Burr asks, his voice straining under pressure to stay even. Thomas nods.

“Over you.” Thomas looks between them, watching Theodosia’s face run a gambit of emotions while Burr’s stays worryingly neutral. “Which brings me to why I’m here. I, and the rest of my remaining team, are finding it very hard to believe that King would order a hit on a federal agent over a single working girl. No offence, Mrs. Prevost,” he adds, “but it seems to me he’s more concerned about the whereabouts of Burr than he is you.”

“What are you saying?” Hamilton asks. Thomas turns to Burr, hoping to catch any flicker of emotion in his face.

“King isn’t after Mrs. Prevost, is he, Mr. Burr?” Thomas asks. “He’s after you.”

Burr stiffens, his grip on Theodosia’s hand tightens and Theodosia squeezes back. Burr’s lips form a thin, white line. Hamilton watches him, his eyes alight in concern.

“I have no idea, Mr. Clark,” Burr says, voice tight. “If he is, I have no idea why.”

“Bullshit,” Hamilton bursts out before Thomas can say anything. Thomas sends him a glare, though he’s grateful Hamilton has decided to throw his support behind Thomas.

“Mr. Burr,” Thomas warns, “I lost a very good friend defending you. I suggest you tell me the truth.” He stares Burr down, silently demanding Burr speak. The man in question looks at Theodosia, a silent conversation playing between the two of them. Theodosia ends it with a very pointed look and Burr deflates.

“You’re right, King is after me.” Burr doesn’t look away from Theodosia, almost like he needs her support to be honest for once. “Before I met Theo...you know how I lived between gangs. Trading information for money, favors or safety. Sometimes, most of the time, information for information. I know a lot about King’s operation, setup, and plans. Information he wouldn’t want getting out, especially if I told the Sons.”

Thomas grits his jaw. James had thought it might be something like that. He opens his mouth to respond, a thank you for telling me on his lips-

“You’ve been holding out on us!?” Hamilton exclaims. Burr’s head snaps around to look at the smaller man, Hamilton now turning a familiar shade of pink. “What the hell man? After we take you in?”

“It’s a precaution,” Burr says.

“Against what? King’s already after you!” Hamilton throws his hands out in front of him in disbelief, rising from his seat. “What do you have to be cautious about?”

“When King gets his hands on us, I want to be able to say I never told any of his secrets. He might show us some mercy then,” Burr explains. Thomas’ brow furrows, but Hamilton is already speaking.

“Do you really think that’ll save you?!” He asks, disbelief rolling from him in waves. Burr shakes his head.

“No, but maybe our deaths won’t be as painful.” Burr squeezes Theodosia’s hand. Everyone, even Teddy, possibly sensing the mood of the room, falls silent. Thomas leans forward in his seat.

“What do you mean, when King finds you?” he asks. Burr sighs, and gives him a withering look.

“We know we’re living on borrowed time, Mr. Clark. George King always wins in the end.” Burr says it like a universal truth, something that Thomas cannot argue. But he does, overriding Hamilton’s repeating “Bullshit!” exclamation.

“That's not true, Mr. Burr,” Thomas says. “I can get the entirety of the-” he lowers his voice a little “-US government to protect you. Witness protection is something we can explore.”

“When? At what cost?” Burr asks, matching Thomas’ volume. “My testimony against King? My help taking him down? The information I have?” Burr shakes his head. “If you could guarantee me that King and every single one of his followers would be behind bars tomorrow, then maybe I’d consider telling you what I know. But as it stands? We’d be dead before Witness Protection could even process our case.”

“You have no faith in-” Thomas begins to say, to be interrupted by a knock at the door. Grumbling, Hamilton stands and marches over to the door. He has to stand on his toes to look through the peephole, and if Thomas weren’t busy having a stare-down with Burr he would have laughed. Hamilton lets out a noise somewhere between relief and annoyance and swings open the door.

“Yo, Alex!” Laurens exclaims. He’s holding a box under one arm, leaning against the doorframe.

“We brought the wine bottles!” Lafayette’s voice comes from the hallway. Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“Only you two would show forty-five minutes early to a nineteen-year-old’s birthday party,” he says. Lafayette pushes past Laurens and winks at Hamilton, shaking the three bottles of wine they have.

“And the birthday boy is-” Lafayette trails as they look around the apartment. Their joyous tone and expression is dropped when they sees the locked staring competition going on over the kitchen table.

“Upstairs while we take care of business,” Hamilton explains. Laurens looks between them, hands in his pockets.

“Should we be involved?” Laurens jerks his head to indicate Lafayette. Thomas bites the inside of his cheek, the other Sons might be able to help convince Burr to spill what he’s got, but…

“It doesn’t matter,” Burr says, standing. “Because this conversation is over.”

“Burr?” Hamilton whips his head back around to look at the man in question.

“My answer is no, Hamilton.”

“You really should reconsider-” Thomas starts, but Burr shakes his head.

“I would rather spend my last days with the person I love and my daughter, not carted around by you and your people,” he insists.

“If you would just trust me, you wouldn’t have to worry about dying!” Thomas exclaims, standing to glare at Burr. He puts his hands over the table and leans towards the man. “Burr, I can help keep you safe!”

“But you can’t guarantee anything,” he retorts.

“Well, no, but no one can guarantee anything in this world,” Thomas counters.

“Then there’s no reason to discuss this further. My answer is no.” Burr puts a hand on Theodosia’s shoulder. Thomas, halfway through an idea about a subpoena, gets a flash of inspiration.

“Mrs. Prevost, you cannot possibly agree! Think of Teddy,” he begs. Theodosia’s expression hardens and Thomas knows he’s said the wrong thing.

“I am, Mr. Clark. You do not know George King like I do. The best way to protect my daughter is to keep her here, with us, stay silent and wait for retribution.” Theodosia holds her daughter close to her chest, as if Thomas is going to reach out and take the child from her. Thomas just stares at her, unbelieving.

“You’d rather just wait and condemn yourselves to death then do the logical thing and save yourselves.”

“We are dead either way, Mr. Clark. The answer is no,” Theodosia says, cooly. Burr nods. Thomas doesn’t fight the disbelief on his face. Hamilton is wide-eyed as well, stunned into silence for once in his life. Theodosia stands, moving carefully so as not to jostle Teddy.

“I believe we have reached an understanding,” Burr says cooly.

“Fine,” Thomas breathes. “I can’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“There’s gotta be something you can do!” Hamilton whirls on Thomas. “Make him talk.”

“I appreciate your confidence in me, Hamilton, but you overestimate my power.” Thomas stalks around Burr, feet hitting harshly against the floor.

“But!” Hamilton exclaims. Thomas shakes his head.

“That’s that. I’m off.” Thomas stops to call up the stairs. “Happy Birthday Philip, have a good one.” Not a second later, Philip appears at the banister, hair in a large poof around his head.

“Y’all done?” He asks, eyes alight and grinning. Then he spots Laurens and Lafayette and his grin gets bigger. “John! Laf! Did you bring the stuff?” Lafayette holds the bottles up and Laurens holds the box up for Philip to see. Philip laughs, whooping. Thomas cracks a smile, then turns to the door. He’s halfway to the door when Philips calls down again. “Leaving already Clark?”

“Yeah, see you around,” Thomas says, hand outstretched towards the doorknob.

“You’re not gonna stay?” Philip sounds confused, almost disappointed.

“Didn’t think I was invited,” Thomas snorts.

“You’re not,” Hamilton grunts. Philip frowns.

“You’re invited if I say you are, so you’re invited.”

“Well, I’ll have to respectfully decline,” Thomas says, over Hamilton’s exclamation of ‘Philip!’

“What, pops? It’s my birthday. B.T. just cancelled, so we’re down a man. If Clark’s already here…” Philips trails, looking at Thomas hopefully. Thomas shakes his head.

“I really shouldn’t stay,” he says, but part of him wants to.

“That’s the single thing we agree on,” Hamilton interjects, “so get outta here.” Thomas rolls his eyes, catching sight of Lauren’s growing grin.

“Bet you couldn’t spend the evening with Clark and not gripe the whole time,” Laurens challenges. Hamilton scoffs.

“I could!”

Lafayette rolls their eyes, but Laurens’ shit-eating grin doesn’t falter. “Twenty bucks says otherwise.”

“Twenty bucks wouldn’t get you-”

“Fifty.”

Hamilton pauses, working his jaw. He turns to Thomas and points to him. “You. Stay. Party.” Hamilton points at the ground. Thomas cocks one eyebrow.

“One, that wasn’t a full sentence,” he teases, “two, that’s not your decision to make.”

“Oh, but won’t you stay? Please?” Philip begs, eyes wide as saucers. Thomas wonders where he got that puppy-dog look from. “For me?”

Thomas hesitates. He shouldn’t. He really shouldn’t. This is how he gets attached. But Philip looks absolutely pitiful, Hamilton is glaring at him and Laurens is grinning wickedly and now Thomas can’t help but wonder what an evening with the Sons would really be like. No work, no worries, just a birthday party. He’s been lonely today, drowning in the fallout of Ben’s death and he’s tired of being serious all the time.

Besides, gotta build trust somehow, he justifies. Maybe I can even convince Burr and Theodosia to change their minds. With the logical part of him satisfied, the emotional part erupts into cheers and Thomas already feels satisfied with his choice.

“I’ll text Lewis, tell him I’ll be late,” he grunts, trying to sound as gruff as possible. Philip cheers, and Thomas can’t help but smile. He hides it in his phone screen, sending James a quick ‘hey-burr’s-being-stubborn-gonna-be-a-while-don’t-wait-up’ text, then pockets his phone before James can respond. The second it’s away, Lafayette grabs his arm and drags Thomas to the couch.

“You’re not going to regret this, mon ami,” they say.

“I already am,” Thomas retorts.

Chapter Text

Thomas thinks he sees Laurens and Philip share a discreet high-five, but then Hamilton is shoving a beer in his hand and Thomas’ attention snaps to him. “Uh, excuse me? What if I don’t want this?” He asks, waving the bottle in the air. Hamilton rolls his eyes, snaps open his own beer and takes a swing.

“You’re going to need it,” he says. Thomas doesn’t understand, but before he can ask Hamilton to elaborate, the Schuyler siblings are running down the stairs, six sets of feet creating a cacophony that makes Thomas wince.

“What I need is Tylenol,” he says.

“Are you okay?” Eliza asks, coming to a stop by the couch. Thomas nods.

“Yeah, leftover headaches from the concussions, is all. No biggy.” Thomas shrugs. Eliza looks at him in concern.

“Concussions?” She asks. Laurens breaks out into laughter.

“Oh shit, you guys haven’t heard the story yet, have you?” He asks. Hamilton glowers as Eliza shakes her head. “Well, lemme tell you what happened the first time Clark here met good ol’ Alexander.”

By the time Laurens finishes an edited version story- omitting any mention of Thomas’ true profession and complete with interruptions from Hamilton and Thomas arguing about the details- Thomas has had both his Tylenol and a bottle and a half of beer. It’s not very good, Thomas would prefer wine, but Lafayette has hidden the bottles they brought and Thomas is not about to ask.

Burr and Theodosia had excused themselves at some point, disappearing behind the staircase. Despite the two being half of Thomas’ reasoning to stay, he made no move to stop them.

Peggy is dying of laughter, leaning over the couch armrest. “You said-” ze struggles to speak between giggles, “you said you broke your nose on a door!” Hamilton scowls, turning a light shade of pink.

“Less embarrassing than getting beaten up by some southern prick,” he says. Laurens tutts.

“Remarks like that are going to cost you fifty big ones,” Laurens reminds him. Hamilton just scowls further.

“Is everyone sufficiently buzzed yet?” Hamilton grumbles, finishing off the last of his second bottle. Thomas can feel the alcohol turning the edges of his brain fuzzy, but he doesn’t know if ‘buzzed’ is the right word. He’s probably not there yet, but he nods anyway as everyone else around him does. Philip beams from where he’s surrounded by three empty bottles already.

“Lafayette! Get the goods!” He commands, giggling a little. Lafayette chuckles and puts their drink down. They reach around the back of the couch and pulls out the box Laurens had brought with them. It’s covered in duct tape to hold it together, but Thomas can see bits of white, green and blue. Someone’s scrawled something on the top in sharpie, but Thomas can’t see what it says.

He leans towards Lafayette, curious. The others ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ as Laf shakes the box in their hands. Thomas glances around the circle, hoping for some sort of hint as to what he’s gotten himself into. “Ladies, gents, and Peggy, behold!” Lafayette whisks the top of the box off and Thomas peers inside.

Oh no.

Thomas recognizes that plastic white mat and the accompanying spinner of death and destruction. He recoils from the box and assumes the laughter he hears is at him. “No, no fuckin way,” he breathes. “I am not playing-”

Birthday Twister!” Lafayette exclaims, dumping the devil’s mat onto the ground. Immediately, Angelica and Hamilton both dive for it, arguing about who gets to set it up. Thomas just watches in mounting horror.

“Clark?” Eliza giggles. Thomas just shakes his head.

“I am not playing Twister.” Thomas swears he shudders when he says the name, feeling the cursed word pass his lips.

“Oh yeah you are!” Laurens exclaims.

“I’ll spin the spinner,” Thomas offers, reaching out for it. Lafayette jerks it away from him and tosses it to Laurens.

“Oh no you aren’t!” Laurens flicks the black arm of doom. “That’s my job.”

“Why?!” Thomas practically shrieks.

“Because I said so,” Laurens teases. Thomas considers launching himself at Laurens, determined to get his hands on that spinner. He’ll be damned if he sets foot on that mat.

“Oh, come on Clark, it’s fun!” Philip says. “Even better when everyone’s buzzed.”

“I would need to be blackout drunk before you could convince me to play,” Thomas retorts.

“We tried playing drunk once…” Eliza says, sadly. “Only Peggs remembers it.”

“And I ain’t tellin!” Peggy informs Thomas gleefully.

“Just one round?” Hamilton asks, straightening the last corner of the mat out. “It’s tradition everyone goes one round.” Hamilton looks up at him, and Thomas knows who taught Philip to look so damn pathetic. Even on Hamilton, the look works.

“Fine,” Thomas sighs. “But I’m not going first!”

Round one is Lafayette, Angelica, Philip and Hamilton. Philip falls almost immediately, three beers having hit him harder than most of the others. Lafayette goes next, unable to tuck their leg under Hamilton for a tricky ‘right-foot-red’ move and unintentionally takes the smaller man with them. Angelica cheers her victory, chugging a bottle in celebration. Thomas manages to avoid the second round, watching the Schuyler siblings go up against Hamilton. A few turns pass before Angelica ‘accidentally’ knocks Hamilton down, leaving the mat with him. For a while, it looks like Peggy is going to take it, but Eliza is surprisingly flexible and she pulls it out.

The third round looks like it’s going to be Peggy, Philip and Hamilton. Little guy really likes twister, he thinks, not noticing Peggy’s hand around his wrist until it’s too late. Ze pulls him off the couch and to the edge of the mat. “Shoes and socks off,” ze commands, glaring at him until Thomas swallows his pride and strips his feet bare.

“Right hand blue!” Laurens calls. I can’t believe I’m doing this, Thomas thinks as he bends down and places his hand on a blue circle. He’s starting on one of the smaller sides, Hamilton opposite him. He catches the competitive glint in Hamilton’s eye and suddenly Thomas wants nothing more than to beat him. Not even win, just beat Hamilton.

They’re ten calls into the game before Thomas remembers that- despite his hatred for it- he’s really good at Twister. Unlike Lafayette, who had been slightly gangly and unwieldy, Thomas is agile as he slides an arm around one of Peggy’s to complete a “left-hand-green” call. Ze looks at him in surprise, he’s bent over backwards and almost wrapped around zir middle. He winks at zir and smirks.

“For someone who hates this game, you’re damn good,” Angelica remarks. Thomas twists his head to look at her.

“Why thank you darlin’. I have lots of practice bending my body around.”

“Playing a game you don’t like?” Eliza asks. Lafayette lets out a little ‘oh no, honey,’ under their breath.

Other things, ‘Liza dear.” Thomas smirks as she turns a shade of bright red. Hamilton makes an odd little noise from the other side of the mat, but it’s masked by Philip understanding the joke a half-second later and breaking out into giggles. He’s bent over in such a way that the slight movement his laughter causes sends him tumbling to the ground. His back hits the mat and one of his shoulders goes right into Peggy’s leg. For a second, Thomas thinks ze’s going to recover, but ze folds under the impact and Thomas only barely manages to stay up. Peggy grumbles about drunk children as ze extracts zirself from underneath Thomas.

It is at this particular moment that Thomas realizes he’s facing Hamilton and Hamilton alone. The determination to beat the shorter man comes back in force and Thomas can’t help the smile that crawls across his face. Laurens makes a couple of calls that end up flipping Thomas over and stretching him out towards Hamilton. Hamilton, on the other hand, is straining, awkwardly almost sideways with his back to Thomas.

Thomas eyes the other man’s position. The wrong spin and Hamilton is done for. Meanwhile, Thomas is in an amazing position, limbs untangled and spread. Holding his breath, Thomas waits for what he hopes is the final call. It doesn’t come, Hamilton breathing a sigh of relief as he manages to put himself into a crab position and settle himself. Thomas frowns. Victory isn’t coming yet.

“Right hand green.” Thomas shifts his right hand over one. “Left hand green. Right foot red.” It's almost like Thomas is bear-walking down the mat even closer to Hamilton, and Hamilton is coming in his direction. Too late does Thomas realize what’s happening. Oh no, he thinks, hoping the next call won’t-

“Left foot red.” Thomas tries to back out of what he sees coming, but Hamilton hasn’t noticed and blocked the one safe move Thomas can make. No, no no nononono- but Thomas can’t avoid it. He puts his foot down and prays. No right hand green, literally anything else, please god, no-

“Right hand green.” Thomas can hear the smirk in Laurens’ voice. He snaps his head up.

“You can’t be fucking serious!” He exclaims. Laurens grins wickedly and shows him the spinner board.

“I’m sorry my dude,” he says unapologetically. “Gotta fulfil it.” Thomas looks down, trying to find a way out of this, but Hamilton has already moved.

“What’s the big deal?” Hamilton asks, his head tilted back and not seeing what’s about to happen. Thomas winces, bites the bullet and puts his hand down. The moment Thomas centers his weight, Hamilton snaps his head up, now perfectly aware of the ‘big deal.’

They are right on top of one another, their hands and feet next to each other and- thanks to Hamilton’s back-bend- their chests are touching. Hamilton looks up at him, eyes full of some emotion Thomas can’t place but he’s struck again by how fucking pretty they are.

“Hey,” Thomas breathes, wincing. Hamilton gulps, and the room erupts into laughter. But Thomas barely hears them, the pressure of the other man’s chest against his is too distracting, the way Hamilton’s face looks framed by Thomas’ own curls draping downwards is doing something to Thomas he really doesn’t want to happen. Something flares in the bottom of his stomach and no this is not happening not now not here. Thomas tries to arch his back away from Hamilton as best he can but this round has been going on pretty long and his arms and legs are starting to shake.

“John spin the damn thing, would you?” Hamilton asks, his voice oddly tight. Laurens hums.

“Nah. We’re going to take a drink break. You two stay right there,” he says. Thomas snaps his head up to glare at him. There’s barely-contained mirth on his face and Thomas wants to slap it off.

“John Laurens I swear to god!” Hamilton exclaims, voice shaking. From the exertion of the game, Thomas reasons.

“Did you say something Alex?” Laurens asks, false innocence in his voice. “Can’t hear you over this beer I’m drinking.”

That doesn’t even make any sense, spin the damn thing before I kill you!” Hamilton is looking anywhere but Thomas right now and Thomas is infinitely grateful for that.

Disfruta de la vista por un tiempo, Alex,” Laurens mocks. Hamilton shrieks, dropping his position and landing with a thud. Before Thomas can even process his victory, however, Hamilton is struggling to get out from under him and Thomas doesn’t have time to move or react when Hamilton’s arm hits the inside of his elbow. Thomas’ arm crumples and a second later his body is following suit, falling down and pinning Hamilton to the ground. Thomas’ chin hits Hamilton’s nose and soon their limbs are all tangled together on the ground.

The entire room is echoing in laughter as Thomas struggles to pull himself off Hamilton. Hamilton is cursing and he pushes himself into a sitting position as soon as he can. Thomas falls backwards, the speed of Hamilton popping up taking him by surprise. Then he sees Hamilton clutching his nose and oh fuck right it’s broken.

“Shit, you okay?” He asks. Hamilton pulls his hands away from his face to reveal a torrent of blood gushing down his face.

“John!” Hamilton calls, voice nasal and wet. John is off the couch in a flash and trying to examine Hamilton’s nose from the side. Thomas just sits on his knees and watches. After a second, John lets out a sigh.

“Nothing shifted, nothing re-broke. You probably just burst a healing blood vessel.” John sits back on his haunches. “I’ll get the first-aid kit.”

“Bathroom,” Angelica offers. “Quickly, before he bleeds on the carpet.”

“Thanks for the concern,” Hamilton mutters, drawing a bark of laughter from the woman. John goes to stand, then seemingly gets a better idea.

“Actually, Clark, why don’t you take Alex to the bathroom and patch him up?” John smiles at Thomas. Thomas blinks, then frowns.

“Why?” he and Hamilton say simultaneously. Hamilton is trying to staunch some of the blood with his shirt.

“Because you’re the one who fell on him,” John says simply, seemingly leaving no room for argument.

“What if I don’t know first-aid?” Thomas protests. Laurens cocks an eyebrow and damn that smirk is infuriating.

“You do know how to deal with a bloody nose, right?” He asks. Hamilton is glaring at Laurens like he wants to throttle the freckled man.

“Just go fix papa,” Philip slurs “and we can get back to the game.” Thomas huffs and grabs Hamilton by the arm. He hauls the man to his feet, a little surprised at how light Hamilton is, and pulls him in the direction of the kitchen bathroom. Hamilton stumbles along behind him, glaring and making gestures at Laurens, who just shoots him a thumbs up in response. Thomas shoves Hamilton inside the bathroom and turns to shut the door.

“Alright John, what do you know that we don’t?” is the last thing Thomas hears before the door is shut and the conversation is muffled. Hamilton awkwardly stands on the bathroom rug, holding his nose in his shirt and looking at the ground. Thomas glances around the bathroom, realizing he doesn’t know where the first aid kit is.

“In the cabinet,” Hamilton tells him, voice quiet from under his shirt. Thomas throws open the medicine cabinet and grabs the small box and shuts the mirror door before he can see anything else. Medicine cabinets always make him nervous, even when searching one with a warrant. He turns back to Hamilton, who shifts awkwardly on his feet. Thomas motions to the toilet.

“Sit,” he commands. Hamilton hesitates, then does as Thomas instructed, still holding his shirt to his face. It’s bloodied all to hell and Thomas hopes the Schuylers have something he can wear. A topless Hamilton is not something Thomas wants to deal with all night. Thomas puts the first-aid kit and roots around for gauze.

Do you know first-aid?” Hamilton asks. Thomas nods.

“Of course I do.” Thomas debates the need for the rubber gloves and decides against it. He’d rather not waste them for a bloody nose. “You know what I do for a living.”

Hamilton frowns, but winces when the motion moves his nose. “I don’t know what they teach you at the FBI.”

“Say it a little louder, I don’t think the Schuylers heard you,” Thomas snaps back. Hamilton flinches.

“You brought it up.”

“But I was vague about it.” Thomas grabs everything he needs and kneels in front of Hamilton. “Lower your shirt.”

Hamilton does, revealing the trails of blood still gushing from his nose and a slight flush to his cheeks. Thomas presses a handful of gauze to Hamilton’s face and the shorter man tilts his head back with the pressure. Thomas frowns.

“Head forward,” he says, slipping a hand behind Hamilton’s head and tipping his face forward. The flush on Hamilton’s face deepens. Thomas suddenly remembers the last time he had a hand in Hamilton’s hair and feels a blush come to his face too. They sit in awkward silence for a minute. Thomas coughs.

‘Uh, sorry about…” he trails, feeling the silken strands between his fingers.

“About what?” Hamilton asks, through the look on his face says he knows exactly what Thomas is talking about. Thomas drums his fingers on the back of Hamilton’s scalp as an answer before removing his hand entirely.

“I didn’t know that, uh, you’d…”

“Don’t know how you would,” Hamilton says quickly and Thomas nods.

“Obviously, no way, it was just a guess,” Thomas says just as fast.

“Took me by surprise, is all.”

“Nothing meant by it.”

“Absolutely not.”

Silence falls again. Thomas can feel the blood seep through the first layer of gauze and starts to prepare another press in his lap. He doesn’t remove the hand from Hamilton’s face though. Thomas looks around the bathroom, hoping to find anything to comment on but Hamilton beats him to it.

“Can I...ask you a question?” He says, hesitantly. Thomas cocks an eyebrow.

“You just did.” Thomas smirks. Hamilton flips him off but continues:

“The man you lost...what was he like?”

Thomas blinks, caught completely off guard by the question. “Why?” He manages to stutter out. Hamilton looks at the shower curtain.

“Well, if he died trying to help a friend of mine I’d like to know who he was,” Hamilton explains. “Everyone deserves to be remembered.”

“So you decide that now is the best time to ask,” Thomas drawls. Hamilton winces, crosses his arms.

“You weren’t saying anything and I- you know what? Nevermind. Forget I asked.”

Thomas grits his jaw and looks down. There’s a beat of silence as Thomas changes out the soaked gauze with a new bunch. Thomas lets out a breath.

“His name is- was Benjamin Franklin.” Thomas doesn’t look up, choosing to stare directly at Hamilton’s stomach, but he feels Hamilton’s gaze snap to him. “But I called him Uncle Ben. He was...he was fifty-eight but knew his way around computers better than anyone I know. Funny as hell, talked almost exclusively in memes. I swear he ran half of reddit himself. Really cared, though. Smart, kind of an asshole, but really gave a damn about everything. He wouldn’t have ever admitted it to you, though.”

“Sounds like a good man,” Hamilton breathes. Thomas nods, feeling his throat start to close up.

“He was. You talked to him, once.” Thomas looks down at his lap and starts to fold another sheet of gauze. “When we were looking for Burr and you took my phone from me? That was Ben on the other side of the line.” Thomas sighs. He can feel the tears starting to come but he tries to stamp them down. Crying, especially in front of Hamilton, is not allowed.

“I met him my first day of work,” Thomas mutters, just loud enough for Hamilton to hear. “Me ‘n James- Lewis, you know him as- and I show up for our first day, fresh out of college and ready to go. We’ve been dreaming of this since high school and here we finally are. We walk up to the receptionist and tell her our names. She gives James his ID, but says I’m not in her system. I’m confused, I have the job offer letter in my pocket and I show it to her. She points me in the direction of security and James to where he needs to go.

“Over the course of the morning, I get shuffled between so many different offices and people, but no one can explain what’s happened to my information. Every time I get sent to another office, I get a little more scared that something’s gone wrong. That they never hired me or they fired me before my first day or I’m just going to walk into an office and they’re going to shoot me or something. By the time I walk into this one HR guy’s office I am dead certain that I am out of a job and they’re going to haul me out of the building when they figure it out.

“But this last guy recognizes me because he did my interview and he’s like ‘no no, you should be okay, I definitely hired you,’ and I’m like ‘oh thank fucking god’ and he’s like ‘there must have been a mistake in putting you in the computer. Here, here’s the office number of the guy you need to talk to,’ and he sends me on my way. I have to walk down into the fucking basement and through these dark hallways but I’m just so grateful and sending thanks to every god I can think off.

“I get to the office and I knock and the guy inside tells me to come in and the first thing I see, the first thing, is a collection of goddamned Furbies on top of a filing cabinet. The guy spins around in his chair like a movie villain, but he’s absolutely covered in Cheetos dust. And he’s got this long silver hair in a ponytail and glasses with the strap around his neck. He looks at me and just grunts like ‘what do you want?’ I tell him the problem and he breaks out into this huge grin.

“‘Thomas Jefferson, right?’” Thomas tries to imitate Ben’s Boston accent. “I nod and he looks at his phone and says ‘damn. Took ‘em five hours to send you down here. Sad part is that’s a record. Fastest it’s ever happened.’ And I just look at him, not understanding and he goes: ‘I erased your files as an experiment. Sorry about any inconvenience, I owe ya one. I’ll put it all back.’” Thomas chuckles to himself. “And it takes me a second, but I just fucking lose it. I’m crying I’m laughing so hard. It’s this huge rush of relief and I can’t even breathe.

“Ben looks at me just so concerned, like this is the first time someone’s broken down laughing, which maybe it was, I dunno how other people reacted to Ben’s ‘experiments.’ He doesn’t know what to say, and I can’t speak, so he leans over to a drawer in his desk and pulls out three bags of Cheetos and offers them to me like it’s going to make me calm down. Which is how I got three free bags of Cheetos from the FBI, but I can’t even take them I’m just...broken. I manage to get under myself under control eventually, and he’s just like ‘are you okay, my dude?’

“And I’m like ‘yeah, yeah man, I’m great. Spent the whole morning thinking I got fired and no one told me, but I’m fantastic.’ Ben looks at me like I’m speaking crazy and he goes ‘why the hell would they fire you before you even started the job?’ and I’m like ‘I don’t know, man. Maybe my father called and told y’all I was gay and that was a dealbreaker.’ And Ben just freezes and for a second I’m scared I said something wrong and he just goes ‘I promise you, no one here gives a shit. No one’ll say anything. If they do, I’ve got a friend who’s a SWAT captain who’ll break their necks for you.’

“Which is how I met Steuben, who got me put on this team with James when my boss wanted to set up another gang-specialized group. Steuben didn’t break necks for me, don’t worry, but he’s got the pride flag hanging up in his office and he’s really chill about it. Anyway, Ben felt bad about what he accidentally put me through so he let me stay in his office the rest of the day and just shot the breeze. Best first day I could have ever had. James had all these orientation meetings and I watched The Bee Movie with Uncle Ben.” Thomas stops, feeling the smile fade as he looks down at the gauze in his hand.

“I’m going to miss him so much,” Thomas mutters. That’s when he feels a warm wetness on his hand and he remembers what he’s doing. He immediately looks up, seeing the gauze in his hand is completely soaked through. “Shit, sorry,” he says, quickly changing it out for the clean pile. He stops when he sees Hamilton’s expression. His eyes are wide, sympathy etched across his face and Thomas swears he can almost see tears. “Hey, man, don’t worry about it. I’m fine,” Thomas reassures, but Hamilton takes his free hand and grabs Thomas’.

“I’m so sorry,” he says, and Hamilton means it. Thomas inhales sharply, which turns into a sniffle, which threatens to turn into a sob but Thomas cuts it off there. He squeezes Hamilton’s hand.

“Thank you,” he says. There’s a moment of silence, then Thomas coughs. “Ben showed me the gif of you getting hit by the car.” Hamilton scowls.

“That fucking thing is the best thing that ever happened to John, I swear,” he grumbles. Thomas laughs. He pulls the gauze away from Hamilton’s nose and checks for spots. It’s clean, and Thomas dabs at it a few times.

“Okay, I think your nose is done trying to recreate The Shining.” Thomas gathers all the bloodied gauze and starts putting it into a plastic bag.

“The...what?” Hamilton asks. Thomas freezes.

“You’ve never seen The Shining?” Thomas asks. Hamilton shakes his head. “Well, first, don’t do that. You could aggravate your nose. Secondly, that is a tragedy and we are going to fix that.”

“We are, are we?” Hamilton asks, eyebrows wiggling. Thomas frowns.

“You and Laurens will fix that,” he amends. Hamilton barks a laugh.

“That’s more like it.” Thomas stands up from the floor to let Hamilton up and the shorter man stands. They awkwardly shuffle around one another as Thomas reorganizes the first-aid kit and tosses the bag of gauze into the trash. Hamilton puts a hand on the doorknob, but stops. He looks back at Thomas- who is now washing the blood off his hands- the urge to ask another question painted across the Caribbean’s face. Thomas sighs, looking at him in the mirror.

“What is it?” Thomas asks. Hamilton worries his bottom lip, and just when Thomas figure Hamilton isn’t going to ask, he blurts:

“Are you really gay?”

Thomas freezes. Shit. Shitshitshitshitfuck. He had come out, hadn’t he, when he’d been telling the story. The water runs over his hands and Thomas’ chest feels like it’s going to burst. He could just deny it, say it was a hypothetical, laugh about it. But Steuben’s voice- it’s okay Thomas, if they don’t like it it’s their problem- echoes in his head and he decides fuck it. Hamilton’s friends with Laurens, Lafayette and Peggy, so there’s no big risk, right?

The pounding in Thomas’ ears says otherwise as he struggles to form the admission. Hamilton is waiting, the silence stretching on before Thomas takes a breath, looks at himself in the mirror and starts scrubbing his hands again.

“Yeah,” he says. He swallows, like he can take the word back but now it hangs in the small space between them. Steeling himself, Thomas looks at Hamilton’s face. There’s a hint of a smile there, but Hamilton just shrugs.

“Cool, man,” and before Thomas can say anything Hamilton dashes out of the bathroom. Thomas feels his legs almost collapse underneath him, but he holds himself up and leans against the mirror. Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? He asks himself. Friedrich didn’t even have to do it for you this time.

It takes Thomas a minute to collect himself, his emotions a tumbling ball in his stomach after what just happened. When he walks back out into the living room, the Twister mat is gone, thank god. The couch has been pushed back to the wall and everyone is sitting in a circle on the carpet. Lafayette perks up when they seem him reemerge.

“Clark! Come! We were waiting for you!” Lafayette pats the empty spot next to them. Thomas makes his way back over, confusion growing until he spots the wine bottle lying in the center of the circle.

“...spin the bottle.” Thomas drawls. “Are you serious?” Everyone nods.

“Deadly,” Laurens says. Thomas shakes his head, eyeing the bottle again.

“This means that there’s no wine, is there?” Thomas asks. Lafayette chuckles.

“No, merci. All three bottles are already empty.”

“Why do we need three bottles?” Thomas asks, growing concerned. He eyes the spot Lafayette left for him, debating if he really wants to sit down or not.

“Someone inevitably breaks the first two,” Eliza explains. Thomas sighs.

“You are all children,” he says, but sits down anyway. Hamilton is to his left, apparently haven chosen to spend the rest of the night in a blood soaked shirt, and Lafayette to his right.

“Hey,” Laurens protests. “Children play spin the bottle. We play truth or dare spin the bottle.”

Thomas groans, putting his face in his hands. “I was wrong. Y’all are middle schoolers.”

“Drunk middle schoolers!” Peggy exclaims, waving a bottle in zir hand.

“But why the bottle?” Thomas asks.

“So, statistically, everyone gets about the same number of turns,” Angelica says.

Masochistic, drunk middle schoolers then,” Thomas grumbles.

“Enough stalling!” Philip shouts. His face is flushed and he’s having trouble sitting up straight. How much has he had tonight? Thomas wonders, but before he can ask Philip reaches for the bottle and spins it. Or rather, he tries. His hands don’t seem to be working the way he wants them to and it takes him multiple tries to get it right. But get it right he does and the neck of the bottle rotates until…

God-fucking-damnnit why God do you do these things to me? Thomas wonders, staring down the mouth of the bottle. Philip grins.

“Truf or dare, Will?” He slurs. In that moment, Thomas realizes he has two very shitty options. He wouldn’t put it past them to try and make him do something illegal. But truth is risky too. Praying the question isn’t ‘do you work for the FBI?’ Thomas bites the bullet and chooses truth. Philip hums to himself, tapping his chin with his fingers. Thomas’ anxiety grows by the second and he’s thinking about throwing himself out of a window when Philip opens his mouth.

“Are you in- in love with Lewis?” He asks. Thomas lets out an internal breath. That’s a safe question, or so he thinks. Suddenly, everyone’s eyes are on him, expectant. He feels like he’s on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and he’s hit the million-dollar question. Half look hopeful, half are glaring but Hamilton has this odd expression that Thomas can’t quite read. Hamilton catches him looking and ducks his head, giving Philip a death glare. Thomas clears his throat.

“No, absolutely not,” he says dismissively. Eliza lets out a breath, one hand pressed against her heart. Laurens bounces in his seat and Philip grins at him. Hamilton looks up at him slowly, an odd twinkle in his eyes. The others share an excited look, but Thomas is hopelessly confused. He feels like he’s the only one not in on the joke. “What on earth made you think that?”

“Not your turn!” Philip shouts, completely unaware of his volume in his drunk state.

“It is his turn,” Angelica says. “Spin the thing, Clark. Get your victim.”

Thomas grabs the two ends of the bottle, looking between the members of the circle, hoping for some kind of hint to the intention behind Philip’s question. He flicks it hard enough to spin for a few seconds before landing on Laurens. Thomas grins. Laurens, the ringleader of this whole bullshit, at his mercy. He starts wording the question in his mind: how to get the most information from a single turn, and he’s almost got it-

“Dare.” Laurens smirks, looking pleased with himself. Thomas’ eye twitches. Of course. Dare. Smart bastard. Probably knows I won’t ask him to do anything outrageous or illegal. Fine.

“I dare you to spend the rest of this game upside down,” Thomas says. It’s an old fallback from his own childhood, a quick way to put a timer on the game.

“How?” Laurens asks. “Want me to do a handstand? I have no balance.”

“Grab a chair and sit upside down,” Peggy suggests. Laurens thinks about it, shrugs and does exactly that, pulling a chair from the dining table and swinging his legs up and over the back. His head dangles by the floor, curly hair pooling on the ground below him.

“Someone hand me the bottle, I can’t reach properly.” Laurens spins, Peggy has to join him upside down. Eliza does her best belly-dance on the table and Lafayette admits that once, when a girl asked them to dance, they tripped over their feet and got laughed out of the party. Angelica chugs a mixture of beer, hot sauce and pickle juice Laf makes for her.

And so the game goes on. Thomas learns his lesson and takes a dare his second go-around, then immediately regrets it when Eliza makes him a similar drink as Angelica’s, but with more beer. The buzz from earlier had been wearing off, but it comes back in full force as Thomas chokes the connection down.

“Did you put salt in this?” He asks, feeling like he’s going to be sick.

“Ayep!” Eliza grins. “And you should be thankful that drink is all I made you do.”

Thomas wants to question what she means, but Laurens gives her a glare and she shrugs. Thomas makes Lafayette join the two already upside down, the fact both Peggy and Laurens have lasted as long as they have is making him angry. Lauren’s face is a bright pink and Peggy keeps complaining of the effort required to keep zirself in position.

And then Lafayette’s spin lands on Hamilton.

Hamilton’s eyes light up. He’s been sitting in the circle without a turn for too long, if his incessant griping is anything to go by. He bounces in place and Thomas can’t believe anyone would be excited to have a turn in this damned game. “Dare!” He exclaims before Lafayette can even ask the prerequisite question. Lafayette and Laurens share a wicked upside-down grin and Hamilton’s smile falls.

“I dare you…” Lafayette pauses, everyone in the circle catching on. Only Eliza doesn’t look happy about whatever Lafayette is about to say and Thomas once again feels like he’s missing out on an inside joke. It looks like Hamilton is feeling the same way from how he starts glancing around the circle suspiciously. Lafayette smirks. “I dare you to kiss Clark.”

Both Thomas and Hamilton freeze, Thomas suddenly highly aware of how close the shorter man is to him physically. They look at each other, Hamilton’s expression shocked, perhaps a little scared, and is that...no, it can't be hopeful. Thomas feels his automatic response kick in and the disgust spread across his face. Almost immediately, Hamilton’s face collapses into a similar look and Thomas justifies the earlier expression as Hamilton simply not knowing how to properly express his revulsion at the idea.

Yeah, that's gotta be it, Thomas thinks to himself. No other reason, don't think about it don't think about it. Thomas stands, practically jumping away from Hamilton in his desire to put as much space between Hamilton and himself as possible, trying to leave behind the little portion of himself that says maybe I should let him kiss me.

“Ha ha, guys,” Thomas says. He goes to cross his arms but just ends up sort of holding himself instead. “Don'tcha think that's something you should run by me first?” Laurens shrugs as best he can upside down.

“It's the game, Clark.”

“If he doesn't want to I'm not doing it,” Hamilton protests. The wording of the protest confuses Thomas. It doesn't sound like he doesn't want to.

¡Podría ser tu única oportunidad!” Laurens sings. Hamilton scowls.

“I said not if he’s not cool with it,” Hamilton insists. Philip and Peggy both deflate, but Laurens doesn't give up. He looks at Thomas, his eyebrows crawling up his forehead.

“Well, what do you say Clark?”

Silence descends, every eye on Thomas. He bites his lip, letting his gaze travel down to Hamilton, who is still sitting cross-legged on the floor. Hamilton looks up at him, jaw clenched and expression near unreadable. Thomas can see he's trying so hard to stay neutral but there's a conflict playing out under Hamilton’s features. There's yet another flash of what Thomas can only call hope and he can't silence the voice in his head that asks:

Does Hamilton want to kiss me?

More importantly, do I want to kiss him?

The fact that not every atom in Thomas’ body screams no at the thought terrifies him.

When Thomas opens his mouth he's not sure what he's going to say even as his mouth starts forming the first word. “I-”

Knock knock knock.

The pounding at the front door startles everyone, Eliza just about jumping out of her skin and Angelica spills a little beer on her shirt. The pounding continues and Thomas finds himself able to breathe again.

“I'll get it,” he says, finally breaking eye contact with Hamilton and crossing to the door. He hears Hamilton hiss something in Spanish and Laurens reply, but Thomas is too busy struggling with the knowledge that he might have said yes to pay any attention. Fighting down the blush threatening to rise, Thomas throws open the door.

“Schuyler residence, how can I-” Thomas’ words die in his throat when he takes in the sight of the man in front of him. He huge, a hulking sort of man with dark skin and broad shoulders. But none of the man’s threatening demeanor or build is what chills Thomas to the bone. It's what he's wearing:

A bright red jacket with a little crown stitched on the right breast.

Chapter Text

Thomas slams the door shut, spins around and throws his back against it. Every head snaps to look at him. “Redcoats,” he gasps, “Redcoat at the door.”

“Burr and Theo!” Peggy breathes. In a flash, ze’s running for the staircase, vanishing behind it.

“Is there another way out of this apartment?” Laurens asks, flipping himself upright again. Angelica nods.

“Fire escape. But it’s rickety and they’ll see us moving.”

The Redcoat pounds on the door again and Thomas braces himself as best he can. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Thomas tries to fish his phone out of his pocket but when he reaches in, it’s not there. What the hell? Thomas can feel his breathing speed up. No, stay calm. You probably just put it somewhere for Twister.

“Guns?” Lafayette asks. Again, Angelica nods.

“Upstairs.”

“Has anyone-” he tries to speak, but the Redcoat somehow manages to cut him off.

“Laf, what the hell?” The voice is deep and carries through the door easily. All three lieutenants freeze, share a look and then Hamilton lets out a breath and the other two relax.

“What’s going on?” Burr comes running into the living room, Theodosia just behind. Hamilton waves in his direction.

“False alarm. Everything’s fine.” Hamilton approaches the door, hands stuck in his pockets.

Everything’s fine?” Thomas hisses. Hamilton nods. He pushes Thomas away from the door and swings it open.

“Yo, Herc, man, what are you doing here?” Hamilton asks. Thomas watches, feeling like a wound spring, as Hamilton casually leans against the doorframe and talks to the hulking Redcoat. “Thought you said you couldn’t make it!”

“I couldn’t,” Herc grunts. “But no one was answering their phone and you got a problem.”

“A problem?” Hamilton frowns. Herc nods.

“Reynolds, Seabury and a whole squad of other guys are on their way here now,” Herc says. Hamilton straightens, and suddenly the entire apartment is on alert again.

“You can’t be serious!” Lafayette exclaims. Herc looks at the Frenchman, confusion on his face as he glances back and forth between them and Thomas. Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“Lafayette-” he points at the lieutenant, still sideways on their chair, “-Will Clark.” Hamilton points at Thomas.

“Who is this, Hamilton?” Thomas motions to Herc, feeling his heartbeat hammer through his chest.

“Later,” Hamilton grunts. “How far away are they?” He asks Herc.

“Not far. They’re coming to try and get information on Burr and his girl.” Herc glances around the apartment. “All of you in once place, someone’ll squeal- they’re right there.”

“Hello Mr. Mulligan,” Burr says, amicably. Mulligan sighs, fists clenching. He looks back at Hamilton.

“B.T. said they were at Abigail’s!

“They were,’ Hamilton counters, “then Clark and Angelica wanted to move them.”

“Well now we’re fucked!” Mulligan exclaims.

“No, we know they’re coming,” Angelica counters. “We have guns. We can handle this.” Mulligan shakes his head.

“They’re bringing enough to outnumber us all. Fighting means we all die.”

“We hide then,” Peggy says. Ze grabs Burr and Theo’s wrists and pulls them up the stairs.

“Where?” Mulligan calls. Eliza, already heading up the stairs after the trio turns.

“Guest room closet’s got a fake back. There’s a whole panic room back there.”

“Of course there is,” Mulligan breathes. He looks around the apartment at everyone standing still. “You heard the people, up the stairs. We hide.”

Hamilton nods, and starts jogging up the stairs. Mulligan and the rest follow, Thomas hanging behind long enough to shut the door and slide every lock home. It probably won’t do much, he knows, but it’s something. Thomas is the last one up the stairs and into the bedroom. Mulligan disappears into a black hole that is the back of the closet, Hamilton holding open what appears to be a door of some sort.

“In, Clark,” Hamilton motions to where Mulligan had just gone. Thomas shakes his head, grabbing the door.

“You first,” he counters. Hamilton frowns.

“Why?” He shoots back.

“Because I said so, now get in.”

“What does it matter if I get in first or you?” Hamilton asks.

“It doesn’t, now get in,” Thomas insists.

“If it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be arguing, so get the fuck in there!”

“Hamilton, just go.”

“You first.”

“I swear to god,” Thomas breathes. “Get in. I’m going to be closest to the door.”

“Why?” Hamilton asks. Thomas inhales sharply.

“So that, if worst comes to worst, I can protect you all.”

Hamilton starts, blinking in shock. “Protect us? If they were to find us, what are you going to do? Get shot first?

“Hamilton, it is literally my job to put myself between you-” Thomas points at the shorter man. “- and harm’s way.” He points in the direction of the staircase. “So get in the damn closet.” Thomas points into the panic room, glaring at Hamilton the whole while. Hamilton opens his mouth to argue, but Thomas can practically feel time running out. So, letting out a noise of exasperation, he grabs Hamilton by the shoulder and forcibly shoves him into the closet.

Thomas is inside the panic room a second later, letting the door slide closed behind him. The others are already gathered, some sitting on the floor. It’s cramped, but not claustrophobically.  Hamilton glares at Thomas, rubbing his arm where Thomas had grabbed him. Muttering something in Spanish, he crosses the room to Laurens. They strike up a muttered conversation, and Thomas glances around. Mulligan has already sat down on the ground, drawing his jacket around his large frame.

“If everyone’s done arguing about bullshit,” Burr breaks the silence, “I would like to remind you all that we left my daughter downstairs.” His voice sounds calm, but Burr looks about ready to kill the next person who speaks. Thomas’ breath catches in his throat.

“Fuck!” he mutters. Thomas slides open the door and moves to leave, to go retrieve Teddy, but Peggy stops him.

“Wait!” Ze calls, coming up beside him and slipping out the door. “I’ll go.”

“No, Peggy, get in the-”

“It’s my apartment, I know where she is, if they see me, it won’t be as suspicious.” Peggy rattles this off like ze had a million years to think about it. “I’ll be back before you know I’m gone.” Before Thomas can stop zir, Peggy is running out of the room and out of his sight.

Thomas lets the door slide shut again, kicking himself. Silence descends on the room, everyone looking at each other awkwardly. Philip seems to have sobered up some, though his face is still as red as a tomato. Thomas plants his back against the door and lets himself slide down it.

God, let Peggy return soon, he prays. He catches Mulligan’s eye. The larger man clears his throat and holds out a hand.

“Hercules Mulligan,” he says. Thomas takes it, shakes it firmly. Mulligan’s handshake is just right, Thomas thinks.

“Will Clark,” he replies, voice hushed. Mulligan nods.

“Well, if we die today, know it was good meeting you.”

“You too,” is all Thomas can think to say. Silence returns, the only break from it is Laurens’ and Hamilton’s Spanish mutterings. Eliza sits in Angelica’s lap, the sisters holding each other tightly. Lafayette leans against the wall, their eyes downcast. Thomas realizes he’s counting his breaths in his head, but keeps doing it, if just to fill his thoughts. In, one, out, two, in, three, out, four, in-

SLAM

Thomas jumps, standing up and away from the door. Everyone else looks up. Fear is painted across Eliza’s face, but everyone else seems to hold it back.

SLAM

“Peggy and Teddy,” Hamilton breathes.

SLAM SLAM

CRASH

The sound of wood hitting the floor churns Thomas’ stomach. Peggy has to be right outside the closet door, has to be-

“Well, what do we have here?” Reynolds’ voice booms. “A Schuyler slut and a baby.”

Thomas’ breath gets stuck in his throat. Before he can act, both Angelica and Hamilton are beside him, scrabbling over the little divot in the door to slide it open. Their struggle is silent, both huffing and glaring at each other. Thomas dives between them, forcing them away from the door and each other. He holds his hands out towards them, creating space between them and the door. Then, slowly, Thomas taps himself twice on the chest. He watches both of their faces contort in understanding, then anger, but Thomas doesn’t give them a chance to protest. He slides open the door and slips out backwards.

He goes to shut to door on them, but a set of caramel fingers stick themselves in the way. Hamilton shoves his way out of the closet, Thomas too afraid to make noise to fight back. The shorter man gets up close to Thomas, even going as far to get up on his toes.

“I know where the weapons are, you’re unarmed. Get in the closet,” he hisses. Thomas smirks, taking a step back.

“Who says I’m unarmed?” He asks, reaching up the back of his shirt and pulling out his pistol. Hamilton’s eyes go wide.

“You’ve had that on you this entire time?” he breathes, voice just below a murmur. Thomas nods. “You played Twister with a gun?!” Thomas winces, nodding again.

“You mean to tell me that’s your kid?” Reynolds says. Thomas stiffens, glancing at the bedroom door.

Closet. Now, he mouths, and turns before Hamilton can argue. Thomas, stepping silently, crosses the room, pushes the door open and creeps out onto the second floor landing. As he gets closer to the staircase, Thomas drops to his knees so he’s covered by the banister. He holds his pistol to his chest and peeks out over the rail.

“Yep. Had her while we were away,” Peggy lies. In zir arms is a sleeping Teddy, and ze’s glaring at the hulking figure of Reynolds. There are eleven other men in red coats in the apartment, all but one surrounding Peggy in the center of the living room. The last one leans against the dining room table, watching everything with barely interested eyes. Thomas sits back down before any of them spot him, listening hard.

“You can’t expect me to believe that,” Reynolds spits.

“Believe it or not, it’s true,” Peggy counters.

“Look slut,” Reynolds growls. “We were told you were having a party for that tranny. Where is everyone?”

“First, don’t you fucking dare call Philip that,” Peggy spits. “Secondly, the party’s over. Everyone’s gone home.”

“Bullshit,” someone says. There’s a mutter of agreement among the redcoats. “We didn’t see anyone leave.”

“Not my fault you’re unobservant,” Peggy shoots back. Thomas peeks over again, but nobody’s moved. There’s a flash of movement in the corner of his eye, and Thomas sits back down, snapping his head in that direction. There, next the banister on the other side of the stairs, is Hamilton.

The man grins at him, flashes his pistol so Thomas can see, then glances over the railing. When Hamilton squats back down, Thomas is glaring at him with wide eyes.

What are you doing? Thomas mouths.

Backup, Hamilton replies, his mouth over exaggerating the word so Thomas can understand. Thomas shakes his head.

Go back.

No, is Hamilton’s response.

“Even your sisters left?” Reynolds asks.

“Yeah.”

There’s a pause, then the sound of something shattering. Thomas and Hamilton both glance over. Reynolds stands by a broken vase, glaring at Peggy. Teddy stirs in zir arms, but Peggy doesn’t react to either thing.

“Okay, now. You better start telling me the goddamned truth right now,” Reynolds growls. Peggy shifts zir weight, pulling Teddy’s head up closer to zir shoulder. Thomas and Hamilton both retreat again, leaning as close as they dare to the stairs to listen.

“I did. They’re all gone. They walked right down the fire escape and I bet they’re all halfway to Washington right now.” Peggy sounds confident, zir voice steady despite the complete lie. “Gone to get backup, so we can kick your asses.”

There’s another muttering from the group, one much more concerned this time. Even Reynolds pauses, and Thomas can’t believe that the Redcoats are buying it. Peggy might actually pull this off!

“That’s all very well and good,” comes another voice, just as calm and collected as Peggy’s, “I suppose they left you to care for the child then?”

“Yep, who better than her bubba?” Peggy replied. The cool voice hums. Thomas peeks over the railing. The man by the table is standing now, making his way slowly to the circle of Redcoats. He chuckles.

“That’s just as well for us. Two Schuylers in our custody should make the other two talk. Reynolds, Eacker.” Thomas peeks over again to see Reynolds and another man approach Peggy. Ze takes a step back.

“If you think I’ll go quietly with you, you’re fucking mistaken,” ze challenges.

“Ah, come on pretty lady,” Reynolds taunts, “I’ll carry you out like a-” Reynolds grunts, doubling over. Peggy steps back, lowering zir knee from where ze had slammed into the man’s stomach.

“I am no lady,” ze says. Reynolds glares up at zir, reaches behind him and suddenly there’s a gun being pressed against Peggy’s forehead. Thomas stifles a gasp, his hand tightening around the handle of his gun.

“What?” Hamilton breathes. Thomas grits his jaw, trying to think, trying to find a way out of this for everyone.

“You bitch,” Reynolds growls.

“James, let’s not be hasty,” the calm man says.

“Fuck this, Sam. We only need the kid.” Reynolds rolls his head on his shoulders. Peggy looks back at him, in zir eyes is a challenge.

“You shoot me, you will have the entire wrath of the Schuyler family come down on you,” ze threatens. Reynolds smirks.

“I can handle two whores, some fags and a tranny,” he spits. Reynolds cocks the gun with a click. Thomas goes to stand, an idea forming in his head, but Hamilton is faster. The other man pops up from behind his cover and starts firing round after round. The gunshots send Thomas’ ears ringing.

“Goddamnit, Hamilton!” He shouts, fumbling the safety on his gun off. Thomas aims at the man closest to him, and squeezes the trigger. The gun jumps in his hand as the Redcoats scatter. Peggy dances away from Reynolds before he can grab zir, and ze takes off up the stairs.

“Like hell I’m letting zir get shot,” Hamilton counters. Thomas growls, but keeps firing. He aims for legs, arms, non-lethal disabling shots. The Redcoats all dive for cover, using the table, couch and whatever they can. A few pull out their own weapons and start firing back. Peggy ducks zir head and pulls Teddy as close to zir chest as ze can. Ze hits the top of the stairs and takes off down the hallway.

Thomas is slow, measured in his shots. He can’t afford to make a mistake. Hamilton, on the other hand, is firing wildly, seemingly at whatever he wants to. A few of his shots, possibly meant for Reynolds, hit and shatter the tv. Thomas winces as Hamilton shatters another vase.

A bullet whizzes past Thomas’ head and he ducks, diving back behind the banister for cover. Bullets slam into the Plexiglas, but it doesn’t break. Thomas takes a moment to count his bullets, he’s probably got three shots left. Hamilton just keeps going, only stopping to duck down, pull an extra ammo clip from his belt and reload. Then the shorter man is back on his feet and firing. Thomas sends a prayer to whoever is listening and pops back up himself.

As he tries to line up a shot at one of the men’s legs, Thomas sees what Hamilton is doing. Or rather, trying to do, because he’s failing at it spectacularly. Hamilton unloads rounds aimed at the Eacker fellow’s head, but none of them hit their mark.

“Legs and bodies, Hamilton!” He shouts, keeping his eyes locked on his target.

“What?” Hamilton calls back. Thomas pulls the trigger, and finally he lands a hit. The man cries out in pain and collapses against the wall.

“Headshots aren’t accurate. Bodies and legs!” He replies. Hamilton pauses in his shooting.

“You’re criticizing my shooting now?” He shrieks. Thomas lines up another shot and goes for it, cursing mentally when he misses.

“If you want to be effective and not die, I suggest aiming for bodies and legs.” Thomas has one shot left, at best. He readjusts for his missed shot, his hands shaking from firing so much.

“I can’t believe you wou-ack,” Hamilton cries out in pain and hits the floor. Thomas jerks his head to the side, unintentionally firing his last bullet into a wall. There’s blood splattered across the carpet and Hamilton isn’t moving.

“Hamilton!” Thomas sprints across the stairway, hearing bullets fly around him. He drops to his knees, making double sure his head is below the railing. Thomas puts his hand on Hamilton’s shoulder, turning the man onto his back, fearing the worst. Hamilton’s left shoulder is soaked in blood, it’s soaking into the carpet at an alarming rate. Hamilton’s face is frozen in a grimace of pain and for a second Thomas thinks Hamilton is already dead.

I didn’t kiss him is the odd thought that flashes through Thomas’ head.

But Hamilton groans a second later, and Thomas lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. The man on the ground blinks his eyes open, gaze locking on Thomas.

“You distracted me!” He hisses. Thomas ignores him. There will be time to argue later.

“Did it go through?” Thomas asks, trying to pull Hamilton’s shirt from the wound. “The bullet, did it go through you or get stuck?” He answers Hamilton’s unasked question.

“How am I supposed to know?!” Hamilton shoots back. Thomas bites his lip, and eyes Hamilton’s shirt collar. It’s already coated in blood from his nose and stiff. From the bottom it is. He steps over Hamilton, keeping his head down and kneels in back down.

“I’m going to slide my hands under your shirt, okay?” He warns. Before Hamilton can respond, Thomas shoves his hand up Hamilton’s shirt. Without looking at the other man, Thomas searches Hamilton’s shoulder until he finds what feels like the wound.

“Wha- shit!” Hamilton cries as Thomas’ fingertips scrape against what feels like torn flesh. He nods to himself, then slides his other hand up Hamilton’s shirt and under his shoulder. Hand splayed across Hamilton’s back, he can’t find anything that feels like an exit wound. Exits wounds mean more blood, but less trauma. If the bullet is still inside Hamilton, then the man has more of a chance to survive to get to a doctor, but-

Then Thomas hears footsteps on the stairs and suddenly remembers that they’re not alone, and the men who shot Hamilton are still here. With guns. On their way up the stairs to where they are. Thomas feels Hamilton bleed from under his hand and he presses down, slipping the other hand out and adding to the pressure.

The footsteps are getting closer, and Thomas can hear them talking to one another. He keeps his eyes glued to Hamilton’s shoulder. He doesn’t want to see how close the Redcoats are. Hamilton is squirming under Thomas’ hand, cursing quietly at the pain. Hamilton’s gun is gone, possibly dropped over the banister, but is nowhere to be found.

This is where I die, Thomas realizes. Right here, right now, I am about to die.

The Redcoats are getting closer. Thomas presses down on Hamilton’s shoulder harder. He has no idea if Hamilton has drawn the same conclusions about their survival chances, but he doesn’t look at his face. There’s nothing Thomas can do to save either of them. He shuts his eyes tight.

“Almighty God,” Thomas mutters under his breath, “look on this your servant, lying in great weakness, and comfort him with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

“Are you praying?” Hamilton chokes out. Thomas nods, continuing his prayer through clenched teeth.

“Almighty God, look on this your servant-” Thomas swallows, throat going dry. “-lying in great weakness, and comfort him-” he makes the decision to look up when the Redcoats get here. Make them watch him die. “-with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection-” The footsteps are getting louder, moving faster and faster. “-Of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Thomas takes a breath to start over again, but the footsteps are almost on him now, thundering from the direction of the… the hallway?

Thomas opens his eyes just in time to see Peggy rocket out of the hallway, an automatic rifle on zir hip. Angelica, Laurens and Lafayette are on zir heels, all carrying their own weapons.

“Backup’s here, motherfuckers!” Peggy screams, letting rip and showering bullets down the stairs. Angelica stops at the top of the stairs beside zir, shotgun in her hands and death in her eyes. Laurens and Lafayette both take up positions on either side of the two siblings, pistols flashing.

A series of screams and curses come from downstairs, but Thomas lets out a breath of relief. His head drops, and he mutters another prayer, but one of thanks. The sheer number of gunshots are sending his ears ringing, and he feels like he’s ready to pass out, but he stays up, pressing his hands into Hamilton's shoulder.

Someone slams a door and the gunshots stop. For a second, there is only heavy breathing and the high-pitched ringing in Thomas’ ears. Then Peggy whoops, dropping zir weapon and pulling zir sister into a crushing hug.

“Fuck yeah!” Laurens yells. “Suck it!”

“Is everyone okay?” Eliza pokes her head out of the hallway cautiously. Angelica nods and smiles, Peggy finally disengaging and rushing down the stairs. Lafayette follows, pistols still locked and ready to fire.

“Uh… did you forget about me?” Hamilton grunts out. “I got shot!

Laurens looks over, sees Thomas putting pressure on Hamilton’s shoulder and the indignant expression on the Caribbean’s face, and snorts. “You’re fine.”

“I’ve been shot, John Laurens,” Hamilton hisses. He tries to sit up, only to be pushed back down by Thomas.

“Don’t move, idiot,” Thomas admonishes. “You don’t want to make it worse, do you?” Hamilton glares up at Thomas.

“Maybe I do, Clark. Maybe I want to die now that I owe you.”

“For what?”

Hamilton rolls his eyes, motions to where Thomas is still holding his shoulder down, and throws his head back onto the floor.

“We got a live one!” Peggy sings from downstairs.

“Kill him,” Laurens says.

“Keep him,” Angelica says at the same time.

“I vote keep,” Lafayette chimes in.

“Keep,” Eliza shouts, from where she’s disappeared back into the guest room.

“Kill,” Peggy counters.

“Kill the fucker,” Hamilton calls, pain in his voice. There’s a beat of silence, then-

“Clark,” Angelica barks. Thomas jumps, his body jerking awkwardly to keep pressure on Hamilton’s wound. “Kill or keep. Up to you.”

That’s not really a choice, Thomas thinks. “Keep,” he replies. Angelica nods as Hamilton groans.

“Mr. Goody-two-shoes, are we?” Hamilton mutters. Thomas presses a little harder and Hamilton groans.

“Aren’t you lucky,” Peggy is saying. “You get to hang out with me and my friends for a while. Up you get, now.”

“Does anyone know where my phone is?” Thomas asks, suddenly remembering it’s MIA. Hamilton mutters something in response. “What?”

“My back pocket,” Hamilton admits. Thomas blinks.

“Why do you-”

“Stole it for fun,” Hamilton grumbles. Thomas stares, feeling anger start to crawl across his face. “I was going to give it back!” Hamilton protests. “I don’t even know your passcode.” Thomas scowls. Before he can think about what he’s about to do, Thomas takes one of his hands away from Hamilton’s shoulder to slide it under the man’s ass and pull his phone from Hamilton’s pocket.

Thomas looks at it, lips pursed as he thinks about all the backup he could have called and all the lives he could have saved with this thing. “How many are dead?” he asks, tersely.

“Uh… un, du, trois…” Lafayette trails, counting to themself. “Six? Seven. Definitely seven. Reynolds and Seabury both got away.”

“Of course they did. Life can’t ever be that convenient,” Angelica says. Thomas wants to punch Hamilton in the throat. Seven lives. Seven lives lost because Hamilton stole his fucking phone. They might have still died, Thomas reluctantly thinks. Just would have been shot by cops and not gangsters. And the leaders got away. He tries to breathe deep. It’s over now, people are dead and Thomas has got to deal with this.

Angelica is still talking, giving orders for clean-up. She looks back at Thomas and Hamilton. “You two okay?” She asks. “Besides Alexander being shot,” she adds before Hamilton can speak.

“I’m fine,” Thomas says. He hesitates, then looks up at Angelica. “No one tells Lewis about this.” James finding out Thomas was in a shootout would not help matters.

Both Angelica and Hamilton shoot him an odd look, but Angelica nods. “I’ll tell the others.” Hamilton’s eyes just glitter with some unreadable emotion, and Thomas looks down at him. His hair is fanned out around his face, some of it plastered to his skin with blood. Blood, right. He’s still bleeding, even though Thomas’ hand.

“You and I are going to the hospital,” Thomas says. Hamilton starts, his whole body jerking at the notion.

“No,” Hamilton says. “No hospitals.”

“You need to get this looked at-”

“No hospitals, no doctors, no nothing, you got me?” Hamilton insists. Thomas’ brow furrows.

“Yes hospitals and yes doctors. Hamilton, you’ve been shot!”

“John can take care of me just fine.”

“What if you need surgery?” Thomas challenges. Hamilton shrugs with his good shoulder. “You’d rather lose the arm or die than see a doctor.”

“Hell yeah,” Hamilton spits back. “Fuck hospitals.” Thomas lets out an angry breath, feeling his frustration mount.

“You are going to see a doctor, that’s final,” Thomas says. He picks his head up. “Somebody lend me a car and let me drive Hamilton to a doctor in it.”

“Take mine,” Angelica says. Hamilton’s head shoots up so he can look at her.

“No! I’m not going to see a damn doctor!”

“I’ll pay for it if you’re-”

“Shut your damn mouth Clark,” Hamilton hisses. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“What about an urgent care? Just get an x-ray and see if that bullet did damage to your arm,” Thomas urges. Hamilton looks as if he’s going to argue, the fire building in his eyes but something in them changes, dousing slightly.

“Fine,” he grumbles. “Just the x-ray though.”

Thomas feels like he might cry from relief. Something went right tonight.

Chapter Text

Hamilton holds his shoulder, glaring out the window, as Thomas drives them to the nearest urgent care. Hamilton scowls, muttering angrily about getting ‘dragged to a damn doctor when he obviously doesn’t need one.’ Thomas doesn’t think he can roll his eyes any harder.

“What’s the big deal?” Thomas asks. “If it’s money-”

“I told you to shut up about that,” Hamilton grumbles.

“I thought you just wanted me to shut up in general,” Thomas replies, biting down a harsher retort.

“Well, yeah,” Hamilton drawls. “But especially about the money.”

“Health care’s expensive. If you can’t pay for it, I am-”

I don’t need your damn charity,” Hamilton spits. His head whips around to glare at Thomas, eyes daring him to protest.

“It’s not charity if I bill the agency,” Thomas counters. Hamilton huffs, leaning back into the car seat.

“I don’t want government money.”

Thomas wants to throttle him. “Then what do you want, Hamilton?” He asks, tersely.

“For you to drop me off at home.”

“We’re going to see a doctor, that’s final.” Thomas drums his fingers on the steering wheel. He realizes, belatedly, that he’s still hasn’t been cleared to drive. Too late now. Hamilton grumbles something inaudible and glares at passing streetlights. Thomas lets the silence sit for a moment, waiting for Hamilton to speak up. But the shorter man never does.

“Seriously, though. What’s your problem?” Thomas asks. “Didn’t you to go a doctor when you broke your nose?”

“When you broke my nose, you mean,” Hamilton grumbles. Thomas takes a deep breath.

“Sure,” he replies, scanning the street ahead.

“You did,” Hamilton insists. “But no. I didn’t see a doctor. John took care of me just fine.”

“John and his half-finished nursing degree,” Thomas reminds him. Hamilton nods.

“He knows first aid. Good enough for me.”

“First aid doesn’t cover bullets.” Thomas turns a little sharper than he intended, frustration taking itself out on his driving.

“I don’t like doctors, okay?” Hamilton admits. “They killed my mom.”

Thomas starts. His foot jerks against the pedal and nearly sends them into the car ahead of them. He slams on the break and just manages to keep from a collision.

“Hey! What the fuck?!” Hamilton yells, body thrown forward in the sudden stop. Thomas looks at him, wide-eyed, speechless.

“Your mom?” He asks. Hamilton blinks, suddenly realizing what he said. The shorter man looks away, out the passenger side window, and curls in on himself.

“Yeah. How much farther?” He asks. Thomas frowns, eyes going back to the road.

“Not much longer,” he says. Thomas hesitates, the tension in the car suddenly shifted from anger and into territory Thomas isn’t used to. “Can I ask what happened?”

“Hm?” Hamilton hums, giving Thomas one last chance to back out.

“What happened to your mom?” Out of the corner of Thomas’ eye, he sees Hamilton stiffen, shift a little in his seat and wince as the seat belt rubs against his shoulder.

“She got sick. We both did, actually. I lived, she didn’t.” Hamilton speaks in short bursts, words hollow and bitter.

“That can’t be the doctors’ fault…”

Hamilton snorts. “What is it you said? Health care’s expensive? When your mom has to pick between treating her kid or herself it’s the doctors’ fault for putting her in that situation.”

Silence resumes because Thomas honestly has no fucking idea what to say to that. So he says nothing, lets Hamilton stew in silence until they pull into the urgent care parking lot. Thomas turns off the car, gets out and is honestly surprised to see Hamilton following with little complaint. He holds his hurt shoulder with his opposite hand and glares at Thomas over the hood of the car when he sees Thomas staring.

“What?” Hamilton snaps. It’s gotten dark, but the street lights and lit up urgent care sign leave enough light to see by. Wisps of Hamilton’s hair flutter around his face as he turns and starts to walk towards the building. Thomas has to speed walk to catch up to him.

“Surprised you’re not complaining anymore,” Thomas remarks.

“Too far to walk home and this thing fucking hurts,” Hamilton explains, grumbling. Thomas smiles, satisfied. He holds the door open for Hamilton and follows him inside. The lady at the front desk takes one look at Hamilton’s blood soaked shirt and her eyes go wide. Thomas fishes his badge out of his pocket and shows it to the lady.

“We need an x-ray. The sooner the better, thanks,” he says. The nurse nods, and goes about pulling documents from a drawer.

“Do you just carry that thing everywhere?” Hamilton asks, looking at Thomas’ badge as he pockets it.

“Yeah. Have too, now that I don’t have a place to keep it at.” Thomas replies.

“I can’t believe you played Twister with a gun and your badge,” Hamilton mutters. The nurse shoots Thomas an alarmed look. Thomas smiles at her, and kicks Hamilton in the leg. “Ow! What’d you do that for?” Hamilton spits. Thomas gives him his best ‘shut the fuck up’ look, and turns back to the nurse.

“He’s joking,” Thomas says. The lady doesn’t look like she believes him, but turns to Hamilton anyway. She asks him the basic questions, has him fill out some forms, and it’s not long before she leads them back to an observation room to wait. Hamilton hops up on the padded table and Thomas takes one of the seats in the corner.

Hamilton fidgets with the sheet of parchment paper he’s sitting on, fiddling with the edge until it rips, then making more rips until he’s got a pile of shredded paper on his lap. Thomas can feel his nervous energy from across the room. The sound of tearing paper is starting to drive him a little crazy, but if Hamilton needs to do it, he needs to do it.

The door opens, a man in scrubs sticks his head in. “I heard something about Twister with a gun?” He asks, grinning. Thomas groans, rubbing his face in his hands. Well, better than dragging this guy into a gang war, he thinks.

“Yep,” he breathes. The doctor sighs and shuts the door. He starts to ramble about gun safety, digging in a cabinet with his back to the other two men. Hamilton gives Thomas a confused look. Thomas mouths back ‘go with it.’ Hamilton rolls his eyes, but nods. The doctor turns back around.

“Alright, let me see it,” he says. Hamilton sighs, and does his best to peel off his shirt one-handed. He winces as he’s forced to move his injured arm, taking that sleeve off last. Now that Thomas can see the wound, it’s fairly clean for a bullet wound. It’s closer to the top of Hamilton’s shoulder than Thomas had guessed, farther down his arm too. The doctor gets in close, carefully shining a light and examining by eye.

“The very fact you only felt the need to come here, and didn’t bleed out, are good signs,” the doctor says. Hamilton watches him carefully, not saying a word. “We should get an x-ray though.”

“That’s what I said,” Thomas interjects. The doctor glances at him, and nods.

“And who are you?” He asks.

“The idiot with the gun,” Thomas replies. Hamilton smirks.

“You finally admit you’re an idiot,” Hamilton teases. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“Hardy-har-har, who’s the one with a bullet in them?” Thomas asks. Hamilton scowls. The doctor is just as unamused as he calls for a nurse to set up the x-ray machine. While they wait, he runs Hamilton through a series of tests to see what Hamilton can move and feel through his arm. Eventually, the nurse signals that she’s ready.

The doctor leads the Thomas and Hamilton down a hallway and into a secluded room. It’s dark, just a single fluorescent light and the giant x-ray machine. Thomas pays it almost no mind, but the way Hamilton stares at the hulking metal makes Thomas’ chest tight. There’s barely contained fear in the shorter man’s face.

“Alright,” the doctor says, “any piece of clothing with metal needs to come off. There’s a gown on the chair over there.” Hamilton hesitates, unable to tear his gaze away from the machine. Thomas, moving slowly so as not to startle the man, puts a hand on his good shoulder. Hamilton flinches and looks up at him. Thomas paints what he hopes is a reassuring smile on his face.

“It’s okay,” he says. Hamilton’s eyes flick back and forth, as if searching Thomas’ face for something. The man takes a deep breath.

“Yeah, yeah, okay. I’m fine,” he mutters. “Could you… go away?”

Thomas blinks, a little taken aback by Hamilton’s request. He had thought, felt, that Hamilton had wanted someone here, but maybe not. Thomas snatches his hand away and steps back quickly. “Yeah, sure,” Thomas says. “Do you want me to wait in the car, or…”

“You can… do what you want, I…” Hamilton trails, a blush creeping onto his cheeks. “No, I just gotta take my pants off,” he explains.

Understanding flashes through Thomas. “Oh, right, okay,” he says, turning quickly around. He has to bite his lip to keep from laughing. As he crosses to the door to slip out, he can hear Hamilton struggling with his belt. Thomas realizes he must be doing it one-handed, it’s taking far too long to just take off a pair of pants.

Suddenly the awkward tension is back and Thomas’ gut twists. Without turning around, he coughs. “So, uh, do you need any help?”

Hamilton freezes, if the sudden absence of noise is any indication. “What?” He squeaks. Thomas shifts in place a little, trying to find a way to relieve the sudden tension in his body.

“You’ve only got one good hand,” he rushes, not sure why he’s speaking so quickly, “do you need help?” The question hangs in the resulting silence, and Thomas kicks himself. Way to go, you just made him more uncomfortable.

“Uhhhh, no?” Hamilton’s voice is tight. “I’m, uh, I’m good.”

“Just thought I’d offer.” Thomas practically flees from the room. The moment the door shuts behind him Thomas starts to breathe again. He puts his face in his hands, feeling his face burn.

What the fuck was that, Thomas? He asks himself. No, seriously. What. The. Fuck? Offering to help him undress, what in the ever loveing fuck? Why? Why did you do that? What possessed you to do that?

Thomas continues to berate himself, muttering and leaning up against the wall. A passing nurse shoots him a glare, but he’s too busy trying to calm himself again. There’s an odd fluttering in his chest that won’t go away, no matter how many counting breaths he does. Logically, he knows it’s not a panic attack, but it just about feels like one.

At some length, the door to the x-ray room opens and the doctor emerges into the hallway. Hamilton follows a second later, doing a double-take when he sees Thomas still standing there. Thomas comes off the wall, following the other two men back down the hall. Hamilton won’t stop glancing at him, surprise in his eyes.

When they return to the observation room, the doctor says something about waiting for the pictures to develop and leaves them alone. Hamilton, back up on the table, stares at Thomas. Thomas, for his part, can see the millions of questions on the man’s face.

“What?” He asks, trying to be as casual as possible, like he didn’t just offer to help the man take off his pants. Why the hell can’t I stop fixating on that?

“You’re still here,” Hamilton says. Thomas nods. Hamilton’s brow furrows slightly. “Why?”

“I’m your ride home, aren’t I?”

Hamilton fidgets with the paper again, twisting his feet in little circles. “You could call someone to come get me. You don’t have to stay.”

Thomas cocks an eyebrow. “Do you not want me to stay?” He asks. Hamilton curls on himself like his stomach hurts and that’s the reason he’s seeing a doctor, not a bullet to the shoulder.

“I mean, I don’t care,” Hamilton stressed. “I just figured you would want to leave, being a busy Agent or whatever.”

“I can leave if you want me to,” Thomas offers. Hamilton frowns like he just ate a lemon.

“I’m just saying you can leave if you want to.” Hamilton kicks his feet in the air, looking anywhere but Thomas.

“And if I want to stay, I can?” Thomas asks. Hamilton starts, eyes glancing up to Thomas’ for a fraction of a second before looking away again.

“I guess.” Hamilton pokes at his injured shoulder, wincing and hissing as he does so. Thomas stifles a sigh.

“Don’t do that,” Thomas commands. Hamilton freezes for a second, then goes back to it. Blood starts dripping down his chest and Thomas rolls his eyes. “See, you made it bleed again.” He glances around, but there’s no paper towels or anything, so he settles for grabbing Hamilton’s ruined shirt. He stands, crossing the room and swats Hamilton’s hand away from his shoulder. Pressing the shirt back to the wound, Thomas feels Hamilton flinch and shudder slightly under his hands. Thomas can feel the goosebumps on his flesh, feel how clammy the other man’s skin feels.

“I can hold it,” Hamilton offers. Thomas shakes his head.

“Don’t trust you to, not after you just aggravated it.”

Hamilton huffs, Thomas can feel the rise and fall of his chest. “Maybe I wouldn’t have if you-” He cuts himself off. Thomas turns his head to look at the man.

“If I what?” He prompts.

“...Would just listen to me for once.”

Thomas hits the cushioned table, the thudding noise deadened somewhat but was still loud enough to make Hamilton jerk back. “Hamilton. I swear to god. Do you want me to leave or not?”

“No!” he blurts. Then his eyes go wide like he hadn’t intended on saying it. He bites into his lip so hard Thomas thinks it’s going to start bleeding too. “I- I mean-”

“That’s all you had to say.” Thomas shakes his head, checking to see if the bleeding’s stopped yet. He reapplies a clean section of shirt, trying not to touch any of the already bloodied parts. Not that it matters, Thomas thinks, I practically stuck my fingers in the wound earlier.

Hamilton takes a breath, free hand playing with the paper again. He squirms a little as he speaks. “I don’t want you to leave,” he admits, “but you can if you want too. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”

Thomas glances at the man; Hamilton’s face is completely flushed, and he’s still fidgeting like he’s on ten cups of caffeine. Thomas rolls his eyes. “I’m not leaving if you don’t want me to,” he says.

Hamilton swallows, and Thomas realizes how physically close they are. “But why? We hate each other.”

Thomas sighs, readjusting his grip on the shirt. Why is his hand so suddenly sweaty? “Well, I figure, after what we’ve been through tonight, you could call us friends.”

“Friends?” Hamilton asks, obviously caught off guard by Thomas’ statement. Thomas nods.

“Yeah,” he says. “Unless you’ve got a problem with that?”

“No! No, friends is… is good.” Hamilton looks away, free hand coming up to twirl his ponytail. “Friends,” he repeats. “Friends.”

Thomas eyes him warily. There’s something in Hamilton’s tone that gives him pause and raises little flags in his head. Not necessarily warning flags, but flags nonetheless. Thomas opens his mouth to speak again when the door opens.

“Well, I’d say you’re one lucky man, Mr. Hamilton,” the doctor says. He stops when he sees what Thomas is doing, eyebrows raising slightly.

“It started bleeding again,” Thomas explains. He leans away from Hamilton, taking the shirt with him and sitting back down. The doctor watches him, almost thoughtfully, then nods.

“That’s fine, as long as you’re not gushing blood...” the doctor trails, eyeing Hamilton’s shoulder. “Anyway, the x-rays show the bullet lodged itself right up against your shoulder blade. But it’s intact, and your nerve function seems to be fine. Honestly, I’d feel comfortable stitching you up, giving you some pain meds and sending you on your way. After we contact the authorities, of course.” The doctor says it so simply, but it makes both men jump.

“How about we don’t do that?” Hamilton asks. The doctor turns from where he’s rifling through a cabinet.

“Do what?”

Any of what you just said. How about I just leave instead?” Hamilton hops down from the table, wincing as he jams his hurt arm on the side of the cushioned surface. The doctor blinks, freezing in place as he watches Hamilton rub at his wound.

“Well, I can’t force any treatment on you, but I do need to call the police. You were shot. Gunshot wounds mean the police get involved, no exceptions. But I really do think we should close the wound,” the doctor insists. Hamilton shakes his head, and holds out his good hand to Thomas.

“Shirt, now,” he commands. Thomas clutches the fabric tighter, glancing between the gangster and the doctor.

“You do need stitches,” Thomas agrees, “but calling the cops isn’t necessary.” Before the doctor can protest, Thomas slips his badge out of his pocket. The doctor eyes it, and Thomas keeps talking. “I swear I’ll deal with it. Just, stitch him up, alright?”

“I don’t want stitches,” Hamilton insists. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“So you want to just go around with a hole in your shoulder?”

“I’ll bandage it up, it’ll heal on it’s own. Give me my shirt.” Hamilton reaches for it, but Thomas holds it out of his grip. The shorter man lunges over Thomas’ lap, but Thomas stands and holds it far above Hamilton’s head. Hamilton jumps a little, wincing each time he hits the floor. “Aw, come on, asshole!”

Thomas lowers the shirt a little, an idea forming in his head. “Grab it with your injured arm and I won’t make you get stitches.”

“Fine,” Hamilton spits. His face screws up in determination, and he reaches up with his bad arm. Or tries to anyway, as his hand starts shaking only part of the way up. Thomas can see the pain take over the expression on Hamilton’s face. He can’t even get his arm to raise past his elbow and Thomas cocks an eyebrow. “Just give me a second,” Hamilton grunts, pressing his good hand to the wound to try and help himself out.

Thomas sighs and pulls the shirt up higher. “Nope, you’re getting stitches.”

“You didn’t give me enough time!” Hamilton exclaims. Thomas rolls his eyes and tosses the shirt into the corner of the room. Before Hamilton run for it, Thomas grabs him by the waist and picks him up. The man is surprisingly light, and lifting him onto the table is easier than it should be. He should be eating more, Thomas thinks. Hamilton struggles to escape Thomas’ grip, but Thomas keeps him in place.

“Stop struggling or they’ll sedate you,” Thomas threatens. He glances at the doctor, who has been watching with wide, hesitant eyes. When he meets Thomas’ gaze, he nods quickly.

“I’ll call a nurse,” he says, reaching for the door. Instantly, Hamilton freezes.

“No!” He says, breathless. Thomas can see the fear buried in his eyes. I don’t like doctors, okay? Hamilton’s admission come back to him, They killed my mom. “I’ll get the stitches, just no sedatives.”

“Don’t you want something while I sew you up?” The doctor offers. Hamilton shakes his head wildly.

“No, just fucking do it. And fast,” Hamilton insists. The doctor hesitates, but collects everything he needs. Hamilton’s breathing picks up as the doctor approaches, his muscles tense under Thomas’ hands.

“Alright, lay down then.” Hamilton complies with the doctor’s request. He’s starting to shake, trembling under where Thomas still holds his good shoulder. The doctor pulls up his rolling chair to Hamilton’s injured side. “You’re going to have to be as still as possible,” the doctor instructs. “Are you sure you don’t want any painkillers?”

“Yes, get on with it,” Hamilton says through clenched teeth. The doctor sighs, glances at Thomas, and starts to work. The moment the needle punctures Hamilton’s skin, the injured man jerks. His free hand flails, grabbing at the air. It finds its’ way to Thomas’ shirt, and Hamilton twists the fabric in his fist. The doctor stops, hands letting go of the needle.

“I can get you some-”

“I don’t want any damn sedatives, just hurry up.”

The doctor sighs, then pins Hamilton’s arm with his own to steady the man’s shoulder. He pulls the needle through Hamilton’s skin as fast as possible while still being careful. Hamilton breathes in hisses through his teeth. His hand tightens further in Thomas’ shirt, almost pulling the taller man over.

Thomas, leaning slightly over the examination table, grabs Hamilton’s hand with his free one. He works Hamilton’s hand free from his shirt and instead lets Hamilton hold onto his hand. Hamilton’s grip is excruciatingly tight, and it spasms each time another stitch goes through. The smaller man breaks out into a cold sweat, his breathing shallow and quick.

“Breathe, Hamilton. Deep breaths,” Thomas instructs. Hamilton nods jerkily, gasping slightly as the doctor does something, Thomas doesn’t want to look. Hamilton does though, and blanches. Thomas squeezes his hand. “Look at me. It’ll be done soon.”

Hamilton tears his eyes away from the procedure on his shoulder and locks eyes with Thomas. His face has gone deathly pale, and the pain is etched deeply across his face. That’s how they stay, gazes locked, Hamilton breathing hard, until the doctor pulls the final stitch through and sits back.

“Alright,” the doctor says, his own voice shaking a little. “Bandages and we’re done.” Hamilton’s shoulder is a bloody mess again, the sewn skin red and angry. The moment the doctor secures the last strip of gauze to Hamilton’s shoulder, the little man practically flies from the examination table. He grabs his shirt from the corner of the room and slides it on, fabric stiff from the sheer amount of dried blood on it.

“Thank you.” Thomas nods at the doctor, though doesn’t get to hear what he responds with because Hamilton is dragging him out of the room at a lightning fast pace. The door slams behind them and Hamilton almost manages to escape the urgent care without paying. Thomas digs in his heels and cuts a check for whatever amount the desk nurse tells him to. Hamilton glares at him, squeezing Thomas’ hand tight, while he pays for the procedure.

If he’s really angry about me paying, he’ll pay me back, Thomas thinks. The second he’s done Hamilton is pulling him out of the building and into the warm night air. Hamilton gasps in fresh air, like he had been holding his breath the entire way out. He looks as if he’s about ready to collapse onto the sidewalk.

“That,” Hamilton breathes, “fucking sucked.”

“You’re the one who didn’t want anesthetic,” Thomas reminds him. Hamilton turns his head to glare at him, and Thomas suddenly remembers they’re still holding hands. The thought makes his heart so a little somersault, and Thomas quickly lets go, jamming his hands into his jeans pockets. “You didn’t even stick around to get painkillers.”

“Don’t need them,” Hamilton says, his own hand coming down to rest at his side. Thomas realizes his own hand feels cold without Hamilton’s hand in his, and he’s tempted to reach out and take it again. He shoves the thought away.

“Then don’t complain about pain.” Thomas takes off across the parking lot before his impulse control fails him. Helping him undress, holding his hand, what’s next Thomas? Gonna want to kiss him? Thomas throws open the door to Angelica’s car, belatedly remembering that he’s not supposed to drive. “Oops,” he mutters.

“What?” Hamilton asks, eyeing him suspiciously from just outside the passenger side door. Thomas grimaces.

“Don’t tell Lewis I drove?” He asks, hoping.

“Why?” Hamilton’s eyes narrow.

“I’m not technically supposed to drive with three concussions…” Thomas rubs the steering wheel awkwardly. Hamilton rolls his eyes, grumbles something to himself, but slides into the seat anyway.

“Well?” He asks when Thomas doesn’t move. “Let’s get a move on.” Thomas grits his jaw and turns the car over. As he pulls away from the parking lot, Thomas is already trying to concoct a story for James. This could be bad.

“...tell Lewis?” Hamilton is talking, Thomas catches just the tail end of it.

“Hm?” he asks. Hamilton huffs.

“Why don’t you want to tell Lewis? You had to drive, so what?”

“I’m not supposed to be driving, Hamilton,” Thomas says. Hamilton nods.

“I get that, but you don’t seem to want to tell Lewis anything about what happened tonight. You two are supposed to be on the same team, right?”

Thomas bites his lip. “Yeah, but…”

“But what?”

“I… we… it’s complicated,” Thomas says lamely. He can feel Hamilton’s disbelieving glare without even having to really look at him.

“Dontcha think not telling him about the Redcoats would make things more complicated?”

“I already lied to him about the party, though,” Thomas admits. “He thinks I’m still trying to talk to Burr.”

Hamilton’s eyes bug out. “It’s been hours!”

Thomas winces, but nods. “I don’t really want to check my phone.”

“Why did you lie to him in the first place?” Hamilton asks. Thomas shrugs, not exactly sure himself. It seemed like the best thing at the time, he thinks. Out loud he says:

“Where do you want to go?”

“John’s apartment,” Hamilton says. Thomas nods. He thinks he remembers where that is. “Why are you going left?” Okay, maybe I don’t, he thinks, sliding out of the left-turn lane. “You should tell Lewis what happened.”

Thomas sighs. “Should I?”

Hamilton nods. “You don’t have to mention anything about the party, just tell him you got shot at.”

“Because on a list of things, getting shot at is the least serious thing,” Thomas drawls. Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“You should still tell him,” Hamilton insists. Thomas sighs, knowing Hamilton is right. It’s not much longer before Hamilton tells him to pull over. Hamilton goes to get out, but hesitates. “I, um…”

“Yes?” Thomas asks, tersely. Hamilton swallows, drumming his hands on the car door.

“Burr didn’t send Lewis away, I did,” he admits. Thomas blinks, his confusion must show on his face because Hamilton keeps talking. “When I said Burr didn’t want to talk to Lewis? That was complete bullshit. It was me, I didn’t want him there.”

“Why?” Thomas asks. Hamilton slides down in his seat, chin tucked into his chest.

“Reasons,” he grumbles. Thomas puts the car in park and twists to face Hamilton. He cocks an eyebrow, and Hamilton turns bright red. “I… you two were acting so… so….!” Hamilton’s good hand motions vaguely in the air in front of him. “And I- I-” Hamilton sighs. “I thought that only having one of you around would be better. To put Burr more at ease!”

Thomas’ eyes narrow. “Is that really why?” Hamilton flinches.

“Yes!” He insists.

“And you chose me over Lewis,” Thomas presses. “I thought Lewis was your favorite?” Hamilton looks like he’s about to smash the car door open and run away.

“That was a joke,” Hamilton hisses. “I made a split-second decision and made you stay. That’s all.” Hamilton punctuates his words by hitting the dashboard with his good hand. Thomas screws his eyes shut, stifling one last sigh.

“You, Mr. Hamilton, are a strange little man.” Thomas rights himself in his chair.

“I’m not little,” Hamilton grumbles. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“Whatever you say, short stack.”

“Fuck you.” Hamilton finally climbs out of the car, moving carefully so as to not jostle his bad shoulder. It takes him a little longer than it should, but eventually he stands and turns to shut the door. Hamilton’s fingers curl around the door frame, but stands there for a second. Thomas looks out at him.

“What now, Hamilton?” Thomas asks. “Shouldn’t you get inside? Rest your shoulder?” Hamilton nods, deflating a little. But then he takes a deep breath, puffs out his chest and speaks.

“Wouldyouhavekissedme?” Hamilton blurts. Thomas starts.

“What?” Thomas doesn’t think he heard Hamilton right. The other man grits his teeth, gripping the car door tightly.

“During truth or dare. Would you have let me kiss you?” Hamilton’s expression is unreadable, his eyes alight in something that Thomas has seen before; on his face during the actual game. It looks like a flicker of hope and want, but for what Thomas doesn’t know. Thomas drums his fingers against the steering wheel, feeling the seconds tick buy slowly.

Thomas puts himself back in that moment: slightly buzzed, all eyes on him but Hamilton’s face is the only thing he’s focusing on. The same flicker of hope in his eyes, lips slightly parted, expression so carefully guarded. It’s all too easy to imagine: nodding, kneeling down to be on Hamilton’s level, leaning over and...

“Yeah,” Thomas finds himself saying. “Yeah I probably would have.”

Hamilton inhales sharply, the blush returning to his face. His nods jerkily, but before Thomas can say anything else, Hamilton slams the door hard enough to shake the car frame and runs inside John’s apartment building. Thomas is left alone in the running car, staring at the door Hamilton disappeared behind.

On the drive back over to the Schuyler apartment, Thomas mulls over everything. Imagining kissing Hamilton… what the fuck is wrong with me? I only said that to appease him. Appease him? No, god no. He probably was hoping I wouldn’t. That’s it. Thomas nods to himself. Yeah. I said the wrong thing. He’s gonna hate me now. Fine, that’s… that’s absolutely fine. Exactly what I want.

Thomas delivers Angelica’s car to the valet and plants himself on the sidewalk outside. Internally consoling himself that Hamilton hates him now, Thomas pulls out his phone and bites the bullet. Surprisingly, James only texted him three times.

From: Jemmy:

Called Green, got the condos. We’re setting ourselves up right now.

Text me when you’re done.

How much longer is this going to take?

The final message is timestamped around when Hamilton was getting his stitches done. Thomas sighs and calls James.

“Thomas, finally!” James breathes when he picks up. “What took so long?”

“Well…” Thomas sighs. “Something happened.”

“What?”

“Just… just come get me at the Schuyler place? I’ve got a story to tell.”

Chapter Text

James drops his keys on the counter and marches up the carpeted stairs. Thomas shuts the condo door behind him and looks around the small kitchen. It’s furnished, and the table and chair set is pretty nice. Nathan Green apparently keeps his meth labs pretty clean. There’s only the faint smell of chemicals and burnt plastic, most of it covered by a gag-inducing level of Febreeze. James told Thomas that when he arrived, the place had been filled with beakers and burners.

Hamilton had obviously skipped over the part where Green’s charitably offered condos were occasionally used to cook drugs. Supposedly, they hadn’t been used in a while, but Thomas wondered exactly how long it had been if the stench was still present. They can’t complain, of course, they’ve got nowhere else to go, and why would Will Clark and Matt Lewis complain about living in a drug den anyway? It’s not like we’re cops or anything, Thomas thinks, eyeing a particularly deep and suspicious scratch in the table top.

Thomas hears James pound on a door upstairs. “Boys, get up. Thomas is back and we got something to deal with,” he calls, presumably to Louis and Steuben. A second later, James is coming back down the stairs, laptop and phone in hand. James slides off his coat and throws it on the back of a chair, taking a seat and booting up the computer.

“Do we have food yet?” Thomas asks. “Haven’t eaten since lunch.” James nods, and points at a what looks to be a pantry.

“Good luck,” he says, typing something into his phone. Before Thomas can go, however, Louis blearily stumbles down the stairs. Steuben is just behind him, looking all sorts of grumpy. Louis’ hair is still mussed, and a trail of half-dried drool runs down his chin. Thomas almost doesn’t recognize the man so unkempt.

“That’s why you never wanted to share a room!” Thomas exclaims, staring at Louis. The man glares sleepily at Thomas, before shoving past him and starting to dig around in the cabinets. Steuben takes one look at Thomas and his angry expression quickly morphs into one of concern.

“Who’s blood is that?!” He asks, pointing at Thomas’ shirt sleeves and hands.

“It’s not mine,” Thomas explains. “It’s Hamilton’s.” That doesn’t seem to help matters, as Steuben’s expression just turns more alarmed. He opens his mouth to speak again, but is cut off by a sleepy voice.

“James?” Martha breathes. “What… what time is it?” Thomas looks over, to find James putting his phone down on the table.

“Early, Thomas is back,” James says, turning his attention back to his laptop. Martha groans, and there’s the sound of rustling fabric.

“And you called me because…?” She asks.

“Thomas got shot at,” James explains. Louis nearly drops the mug in his hands on the counter top.

What?” Steuben demands, eyes bugging out of his head.

“...I’ll get Sally up,” Martha sighs. There’s feedback as Martha gets out of bed. Thomas looks back at Steuben and smiles weakly.

“A group of Redcoats broke into the Schuyler apartment and tried to shoot us? It’s not bad! No one got hurt… majorly…” he trails. James turns completely around in his seat to glare at Thomas.

“You said seven people died,” he says. Thomas winces.

“Seven Redcoats,” he counters. James gives a heavy sigh and turns back around. Steuben is still staring at Thomas, wide-eyed. Thomas can hear Louis grumble something to himself about preferring Thomas’ death if it meant he could sleep in as he jabs buttons on a coffee machine.

“Why are you covered in blood then?!” Steuben insists.

“That’s not a sentence I want to wake up to,” Sally mumbles on the phone.

Hamilton got shot, not me,” Thomas snaps. “I took him to the emergency room. He’s fine. Probably.” Thomas crosses his arms, huffing. Louis comes back in the kitchen, nursing a full mug of steaming coffee. He takes a seat at the table, plaid pj pants flaring around his legs. He glares at Thomas.

“From the beginning,” he commands. Thomas’ eyes narrow, eyeing the man, considering him. Louis rolls his eyes. “I'm not ordering you, I'm just tired and asking you to tell the fucking story.”

Thomas huffs again, but launches into it. He leaves out any hint of partying, just pretends he had been trying to convince Burr to talk while the others had celebrated. He runs through the actual conflict as quickly as possible, making sure to stress that it was Hamilton that fired first. Even if Louis hums suspiciously, Thomas knows Hamilton and the rest will back him up.

“...I took Hamilton to get some stitches and dropped him off at Laurens’ apartment. And that’s the end of the story,” Thomas finishes. James types furiously, trying his best to write down Thomas’ statement as best as possible. Louis drains the rest of his coffee, and Steuben looks like he’s ready to throw his head through the nearest window.

“If I understand you correctly,” the German starts, “you trusted a Redcoat to hide with from other Redcoats, then got in a gunfight while severely outnumbered, possibly killed a couple of people, let the Sons take a prisoner, and took one of them to get medical help but didn’t call for backup?! Not once?!”

“Hamilton had my phone the whole time!” Thomas counters. “I would have, if I could have.”

“You didn’t notice Hamilton pick-pocketing you?” Steuben asks, incredulously.

“That’s typically how pick-pocketing works, the victim doesn’t notice!” Thomas scoffs and glares at the man. “I’m sorry I was preoccupied with Burr! What’s your problem?”

“What’s my problem?” Steuben shouts. “My problem is that you got in a gunfight! You could have been hurt! We just lost Ben and you almost died!

Thomas blinks, takes a step back. “I didn’t…” he trails. Suddenly, it hits him like a two ton weight. He had been shot at. There had been a moment, at the top of the stairs, right before the others had come to his rescue that Thomas had thought he was going to die. He should have died. If Peggy, Laurens, Lafayette, and Angelica hadn’t decided to disobey Thomas’ order to stay hidden, Thomas would be dead right now. Thomas, and everyone else who was in that apartment. Thomas lets out shuddering breath, the thought I should be dead right now repeating over and over in his mind.

“Thomas, are you alright?” James asks, suddenly concerned. Thomas stares at the floor with wide eyes.

“Oh my god,” he breathes. “I almost died. We all almost died.” He clamps one hand over his mouth, feeling his stomach churn. “I’m gonna vomit.”

“Trash can.” Louis points towards a small plastic pin tucked in the corner of the kitchen. Thomas almost trips over himself in his rush to reach it in time. He falls to his knees and his stomach empties itself, though there wasn’t much to empty in the first place. Thomas ends up dry-heaving instead, choking on air the entire time.

A hand comes down on his back and starts rubbing little circles into it, and Thomas looks up long enough to see that it’s James that’s come to comfort him. He makes little shushing noises as Thomas retches, clutching the sides of the trash can for dear life. The others talk quietly in the background, but Thomas is too preoccupied with his heaving stomach to pay any attention.

At some length, his stomach stops trying to leave his body via his mouth and Thomas rests his forehead against the plastic container. “Sorry,” he mutters. James sighs.

“You’ve had a shock. Vomiting is okay.” James keeps rubbing Thomas’ back, even as Thomas shakes his head.

“No, I put myself in danger and-” he clamps his mouth shut, his stomach doing another little acrobatic routine. James is silent for a moment, as if waiting for Thomas to get sick again.

“Well, if you’re telling me the truth about what happened tonight…” James trails, thinking. Thomas feels his breath catch, his chest tighten. James is going to try and send me away. This is it. This is- “I think you handled yourself right.”

Thomas blinks, looking up at James. “What?”

“Well, you did everything you could do right. Hamilton shot first. You backed him up. Everything else was self-defense. You were protecting innocents and did a pretty damn good job at it.” James pats Thomas on the back. “As for the Redcoat, there was nothing to do besides keep him alive. We’ll have to deal with it, but… all in all, good job Thomas.”

Thomas lets out a breath of relief and James smiles. James stands, offering a hand to help Thomas up.

“Still should have called for backup,” Louis grumbles. Thomas opens his mouth to protest, but James just rolls his eyes and walks back to the table.

Thomas shoots Louis one more glare. “Now, we gotta come up with a plan as to how to get that Redcoat in our custody,” Thomas says, straightening his shirt.

------------

James nudges on the shoulder. “Wake up, Thomas.”

Thomas groans and picks his head up from where it had been resting against the window of the car. He looks at James, head pounding. “Are we there?”

“Yep,” James says, shutting off the car. Thomas groans again and glances at his phone. Twenty minutes, that’s all the sleep I got. He feels like crying, he’s so exhausted. The team had spent the entire early morning planning, and then Hamilton had to text him about another Sons meeting. Thomas practically falls out of the car, and when he stands he feels the world spin around him. Jesus H. Christ I just need one good night’s sleep, he internally moans.

James opens the door for him. Thomas stumbles inside, feeling like he’s moving through molasses. He manages to get his feet to clod all the way over to the circle of chairs already set up and he collapses in one. It’s metal and uncomfortable and before he can stop himself, Thomas lets out a little whine.

“Awww, what’s wrong?” Hamilton sings from across the room. Thomas cracks an eye open to glare at him while he continues to tease. “Baby want a cusion? Or a high chair?” Thomas feels like his eyes want to roll into the back of his head. He drops his head against James’ stomach behind him. Slowly, as if using the last of his energy, Thomas raises his right hand and flips Hamilton off. Hamilton sticks his lower lip and gives Thomas the biggest puppy eyes. “Oh, he’s grumpy. Lewis, did you bring his bottles or binkies?”

“Hamilton,” Thomas groans. “I have not slept but twenty minutes in the last twenty-four hours.”

Hamilton scoffs. “I’ve gone longer.” Thomas picks his head up and cocks an eyebrow.

“Congratulations,” he retorts, then lets his head fall back again. Hamilton starts to rant again, but Thomas’ eyes slide shut and he feels James start to run a hand through his hair. It’s comforting, relaxing, and Thomas feels like he could just drift off to sleep right here. James’ fingertips rubbing his scalp is so familiar and safe, Thomas can feel himself smile despite it all. James is here. James supports him.

“Yo, you two wanna stop making googly-eyes and actually pay attention?” Hamilton snaps. Thomas’ smile falls as James’ hands falter and quickly disappear from his head. Thomas raises his head to glare at the shorter man, who has crossed the circle to stand in front of them. He glances around the brightly lit dance floor.

“There’s practically no one here yet,” he observes. Hamilton scowls.

“Yeah, well, I was talking!” He exclaims. Thomas rolls his eyes.

“That’s the most ‘you’ thing you could ever way,” he retorts. “Were you saying anything important?” Hamilton flushes red, and he bites at his lip. Thomas takes the silence as his answer. “Thought so.” He leans back into James, hoping he’ll start playing with his hair again.

“Keep your PDA out of our meetings,” Hamilton shoots back. “Go be in love somewhere else.” Thomas lets out a sigh.

“I told you last night, Hamilton,” he mutters, eyes still shut, “I am not in love with Lewis. We are good friends, that’s it.” He peeks just in time to see Hamilton eye James’ face curiously. Thomas feels James shift under his head and he feels a swell of pride. James is actually selling it.

“Yeah, sure.” Hamilton glances around the space, as if looking for something else to talk about. Thomas shuts his eyes again, mentally daring Hamilton to say anything else. But the other man is silent. Thomas almost falls asleep again, but the noises of various people entering and talking around him keep him frustratingly awake.

When Washington finally calls the meeting to order, Thomas sits up and spends almost the entire meeting dead silent. The others tell the story for him, and he grunts when someone asks him a question.

“Clark, are you alright?” Washington asks, concern actually in his voice. Thomas rubs at his face.

“I haven’t slept in twenty-four hours, I’ve got an exhaustion headache, and I almost got killed last night,” he grumbles. “Add on Ben and all the other shit… yeah, I’m peachy keen. What do you fucking think?” Thomas plants his cheek in his palm, elbow on his knee, and looks up at Washington. The look he’s going for is ruined by the yawn that follows a second later. Washington frowns, but it’s not angry, just worried.

“This will be over soon. You can go take a nap then,” he says. Thomas nods and sighs. “Now, about the Redcoat in the basement…”

Instantly, Thomas’ head shoots up. “He’s in the basement? This place has a basement?!”

Washington nods. “We put him down there for the time being, yes.” He points at Lafayette’s office door. “It’s that way. Do we have a name for him?”

Hamilton nods. “Eaker.”

“First name?” Washington prompts. Hamilton shrugs.

“Won’t tell us. Does it matter?” The Latino asks.

“Why the hell is he even still alive?” Knox asks. “What use is he alive? We should just kill him.” Green nods, and other men mutter their agreements.

“Is anyone watching him?” Thomas asks. Angelica nods.

“Philip and Eliza, currently,” she says, then turns to Knox. “He’s alive because he might have valuable information.”

“He’s never going to talk,” Knox counters.

“You don’t know that. Besides, he could be used as a hostage or a trade. This is war, after all,” Angelica retorts. Thomas watches the exchange, grateful it's not him and Hamilton going at it for once.

“King doesn’t care about foot soldiers.” Knox crosses his arms, frowning at Angelica. The woman just keeps smiling.

“Maybe he doesn't, but perhaps Reynolds or Seabury or hell, the kid’s family might want to discuss terms.”

“Do we know anything about this Eaker punk?” Green asks. The circle is silent for a moment, giving Green his answer. “So, we’ve got nothing on him. May I ask again, why is he still alive?”

“Because he’s useful alive!” Angelica insists. She’s met with cries of ‘bullshit’ and ‘he’s more trouble alive,’ and other various disagreements from the circle. Lafayette shifts uncomfortably in their seat, and glances at Thomas. They look hesitant, cautious. Are you going to say anything? Their expression reads.

Thomas grits his jaw. “I agree with Angelica,” he says over the din. He’s met with glares, but generally ignored. He glances around the circle, trying to find another ally. The other governors are grumbling amongst themselves, and even Hamilton looks reluctant to jump in. Washington pounds on his booth.

“Quiet everyone.” His voice booms over the chatter, and instantly silence falls on the group of men. Washington lets the quiet reign for a moment, working his jaw. He glances to the section of the circle where the other lieutenants are. “Lafayette, Laurens, Tallmadge, Hamilton, your opinions?”

“We should kill the fuck,” Laurens says immediately. Knox, Green and the other vocal governors erupt into cheers. Washington has to hit the booth again to get them quiet. Lafayette shakes their head.

“I hate to disagree, but we cannot kill him in cold blood.”

“And why not?” Knox demands. Lafayette levels him with a cold glare.

“Because that is something King would do if he had any of us in his possession. I do not wish to deign to his level.” The silence following Lafayette’s words is tense, awkward. Green shifts uncomfortably in his seat and Knox lowers his gaze.

“I just think he’s a danger…” Knox mutters. Lafayette nods.

“And I think he’s contained, and therefore not a danger.”

Washington hums, and turns to Tallmadge. The large man, who had been silent up until now, sighs. “Until we prove him not useful, he should live.” Thomas eyes Tallmadge from the side. He still doesn’t know for sure what the man does, but now he’s got some guesses. Pretty good ones too.

Thomas is pulled back into the conversation as Washington asks Hamilton his opinion. The shorter man fidgets in his seat, eyes flicking back and forth between Angelica and Laurens. He bites at his lip, worrying it between his teeth. The group is quiet, all eyes on Hamilton. Thomas leans forward in his seat, just far enough to really look at the other man directly.

Hamilton makes eye contact with Thomas and freezes. Thomas feels his eyebrows raise of their own accord. He doesn’t know if his own expression reads I’ll fight you on this or don’t you fucking dare say what I think you’re going to say or even just please, but it must send a message because he sees Hamilton swallow. Hamilton’s expression softens, just a bit, and Thomas is seized with this feeling in his chest that he can’t describe. Then Hamilton’s face hardens in determination, and he turns back to Washington.

“At this point, I think we have to keep him alive,” Hamilton says. Thomas blinks, feeling the shock spread across his face like it spreads across the circle. Angelica beams at Hamilton, then turns her smile on Thomas. Laurens grumbles, but shares a little knowing look with Lafayette. Thomas glances up at Washington, whose expression has turned thoughtful. The leader of the Sons looks back and forth between Thomas and Hamilton curiously, then nods.

“Alright. The Redcoat lives,” Washington says. Knox jumps to his feet.

“George!” He exclaims. Washington is already shaking his head however.

“It’s my decision, he lives.” Washington looks around the circle. “But I’m not sure I’m comfortable keeping him in the basement.” Knox huffs, scowling as he drops back down in his seat. Green reaches over and puts a hand on his shoulder.

“I ain’t taking him,” Knox grumbles. Green shakes his head, frowning.

“I really don’t mind keeping him,” Lafayette says. “It would be difficult for him to sneak out of here.”

Laurens speaks up. “What about-” the rest of his suggestion is lost as someone else starts to speak over him. Arguments erupt, the gang members sniping at each other. Someone starts to raise their voice- Hamilton, from the look of how he’s turning beet red and glaring at Adams. Thomas looks up at James, and clears his throat.

“I’ll take him.” Thomas sticks his hand into the air. The arguments cease instantly, Hamilton whipping his head around to look at Thomas wide-eyed.

“What do you want with him,” Tallmadge asks, face neutral. Thomas lets his hand fall.

“It’s like Angelica said: he might have some information. I can get him to talk.” Thomas leaves the rest of the men to imagine what he might possibly mean, but Hamilton’s eyes narrow.

“What if he doesn’t talk?” he challenges. Thomas shrugs.

“I’ll use him as a drug mule, I don’t know,” he drawls. He looks up at Washington. “How about it? I’ll take him off your hands.” Thomas tries to give him the most charming smile possible. Washington pauses, then shakes his head.

“No, you don’t get him.”

Thomas blinks. “But I think I should take him,” he insists. “Out of everyone here, I’m the only one offering.”

“You’re not taking him. I don’t think we’d ever see him again if you did. I want him in my custody, Washington counters. Thomas scowls.

“In complete honesty-” he starts.

“In complete honesty, he’s ours and you can keep your nose out of it,” Hamilton snaps. Thomas grits his jaw. Knox’ eyebrows are starting to furrow, and James coughs behind Thomas.

“If he’s ours,” Thomas puts as much stress on the word as he dares, “then he’s just as much mine as he is yours.” Hamilton flinches as he processes what almost just happened. Knox is still glancing between them, but he’s seemingly the only one that caught Hamilton’s slip. Well fuck, Thomas thinks, now Knox is suspicious. The others must still consider Thomas enough of an outsider not to question it.

“I’m offering to keep him here,” Lafayette reminds Washington. The gang leader hums, and looks at Laurens questioningly. The freckled man huffs.

“Whatever, I don’t care,” he grumbles. Washington nods.

“If no one protests…”

“I still think-” Thomas is cut off by a wave of Washington’s hand.

“If no one besides Clark protests,” Washington amends. Thomas scowls and glances up at James, hoping the other man had an idea. But James just sighs and shakes his head. “Alright, Eaker is living in the basement. Tallmadge can start working on him whenever he wants. If no one else has got anything to talk about…” he pauses, waiting for anyone to jump in. “Meeting adjourned.”

Tallmadge nods, a flicker of a smile on his face. Thomas’ stomach drops. He really needs to talk to Hamilton about that man. Speaking of which, Hamilton is already up from his seat and and crossing the room to Lafayette’s office. As the other men mill about and chat, Thomas watches Hamilton stride over to the open door. Eliza stands in the doorway, leaning against the wall and waiting for the man to reach her.

I thought she was watching Eaker, Thomas thinks. Someone calls for Lewis, and James slinks off to a small group of governors in the corner. Thomas sees Eliza say something to Hamilton, her words too quiet and the room too loud for him to hear. Hamilton breaks out into a grin, his face lighting up in joy and pride. He responds, and Eliza giggles, a tinkle of laughter than manages to cut through the noise.

The sound of it does something to Thomas. It sends a strange flash of anger through his body, and before he knows what’s happening, Thomas is rising from his chair and crossing the room. He shoves his hands in his pockets and tries to keep him face neutral, tries to hide the fact his blood is churning in his veins. As Thomas approaches, Hamilton glances at him over his shoulder, but immediately goes back to Eliza.

“I do like what you’ve done with your hair since you’ve been gone,” he says, smiling. Eliza blushes and runs her fingers through her hair.

“I just let it grow a little,” she says modestly, playing with her raven hair with one hand. Thomas clears his throat, coming to a stop next to Hamilton.

“Hamilton,” he says, voice hard and commanding. “I need to speak with you.” Hamilton frowns at him.

“I’m talking to Betsy, chill out a second,” he says. Thomas crosses his arms, law clenched tightly. “Well, I think it looks amazing.” Hamilton eyes the length of Eliza’s hair, gaze travelling up and down admiringly. Thomas looks, glaring at her out of the corner of his eye. It’s not that great, he thinks.

“Thanks, Alexander,” she says, beaming. The two of them are smiling at one another like a couple in love and Thomas can’t stand it. Eyes narrowed at Eliza, Thomas grabs Hamilton by the elbow.

“Go be in love somewhere else,” he growls. “I need to talk to you.” He looks at Hamilton, pulling slightly on his arm. Hamilton pulls his arm from Thomas grip roughly, giving Thomas a scowl.

“Jesus Christ, fine! I’ll talk to you later, yeah?” He asks Eliza. The woman nods and Thomas has to suppress a literal hiss as she disappears back into the office. Hamilton turns back to Thomas. “What’s gotten into you?” He spits. Thomas blinks. What has gotten into me? Thomas shakes the thought from his mind.

“I need to speak to you,” Thomas repeats, realizing he has no idea what he intends to say. His mind starts spinning, trying to remember what it was he was worried about.

“So you’ve said.” Hamilton crosses his arms, though the glare he gives Thomas doesn’t have as much malice in it as usual, and Thomas doesn’t know what to do with that information. So he goes with the next thing his mind thinks up to say.

“I want to see Eaker,” he says. Hamilton’s eyebrow shoots up.

“That’s what’s so important?” He asks. “You could have asked Laf or John, or maybe, I don’t know, just gone down on your own?” Thomas purses his lips, cursing himself.

“Whatever,” he says, lamely. “Come with me.” Hamilton blinks, just as shocked that Thomas would say that as Thomas is himself. Before Hamilton can call him on it, Thomas pulls Hamilton into the office. He glances around for another door, finds it in the wall opposite Laf’s desk, and throws it open.

It’s the door to the basement alright. Concrete stairs illuminated by a single hanging light stretch out before Thomas, leading down into the bowels of The Frenchman. It’s a complete 180 from the plush, luxurious office and club, the walls and stars bare of carpet or decoration. The sight of it sends chills down Thomas’ spine. He steels himself and starts down into the basement.

There’s no hand railing, so Thomas picks his way down slowly. Hamilton follows, grumbling about the speed Thomas is moving at. Thomas shoots back something about not wanting to fall and kill himself, and Hamilton threatens to push him.

When Thomas does eventually reach the bottom of the stairs, he has to turn a sharp corner to enter the basement proper. It’s just as barren as the staircase, concrete floor and walls. There is some corkboard on one of the walls, various power tools hanging from hooks on the wall. In the far corner is another door, pipes on the ceiling leading behind it. There are no windows, just a few hanging unprotected bulbs.

And there, in the center, is Eaker. He’s tied to a chair in the very center of the room, away from any walls. His wrists, ankles, and even his waist have been secured to a wooden chair. He glares at Thomas and Hamilton as they enter the basement, though he doesn’t say anything. Eaker’s right pant leg is coated in dried blood, and the chair leg it’s tied to has some as well.

“There, you saw him,” Hamilton grunts. Thomas shoots him a glare, then turns his attention back to Eaker. He takes a step forward towards the captured Redcoat. The man glares up at Thomas, nothing but anger and hatred in his eyes.

“What’re you gonna do?” The question comes from behind Thomas. He glances over his shoulder to find Philip sitting on a table against the wall. The younger man kicks his legs in the air, he’s too short to reach the floor. He’s looking at Thomas warily, and Eliza is standing in a nearby corner eyeing Thomas as well. Thomas looks back at Eaker, his eyes narrowing.

“Nothing.” Thomas turns around, heading back for the stairs. “For now,” he ads, and starts back up to the office. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Philip and Hamilton shoot each other confused looks. A second later, Hamilton is following Thomas back up the stairs.

What was that about?” He asks, sliding into French easily.

Intimidation technique.

Why?

So when Lewis is kind to him later, he might be willing to bend.

Good cop, bad cop, really?” Hamilton drawls. Thomas nods.

It’s a trope for a reason. One of the first things you learn in the academy.” Thomas hits the office landing and waits for Hamilton to follow before throwing the door shut.

“You did not need me for that,” Hamilton observes. Thomas shrugs.

“Helps my image to have you with me.” It’s probably true, but Thomas makes the reason up on the spot. Hamilton just rolls his eyes and huffs.

“Anything else you want me for, your majesty?” He mocks. Thomas has to suppress the urge to sigh.

“Yes, actually,” he says. “Tallmadge.” Hamilton visibly stiffens, his eyes narrowing. “He’s running a pseudo-spy ring inside the Redcoats, isn’t he?” Hamilton bites his lip, and for a second, Thomas thinks he’s gotten it wrong. “Mulligan is one of those spies, right?” He presses. Hamilton looks up at the ceiling and lets out a breath.

“Yeah,” he admits. “It’s why we don’t talk about it public. We don’t think King knows about it yet.” Thomas nods.

“Well, that’s a relief,” he mutters. Louis owes me twenty bucks, he thinks. Can’t believe he doubted me.

“What?” Hamilton asks. Thomas blinks.

“Oh, we thought…” he lets out a chuckle. “We had a thousand guesses as to what Tallmadge does and the popular guess was ‘hitman’”

“He does that too, just not as much recently,” Hamilton says, as if it’s the simplest thing in the world to admit. Thomas goes wide-eyed, head tilted forward, waiting for the punchline. But there is none, as Hamilton just gives him a half-smile and shrugs. “Ask him yourself, if you want.” With that, Hamilton leaves the office, humming to himself. Thomas just stands there, shellshocked for a moment, before slowly following Hamilton out. He glances around the room and spots Tallmadge in a corner, talking amicably to James. The hitman lets out a laugh at something James says, and Thomas is suddenly unsure of what to do. Battling the conflicting thoughts of ‘rescue James’ and ‘don’t do anything suspicious,’ Thomas doesn’t notice Laurens sneak up behind him.

Thomas jumps as the shorter man’s arm falls around his shoulders. Tearing his eyes away from James and Tallmadge, Thomas looks down at the man suddenly in his personal space. Laurens leans into Thomas’ side, a knowing smirk on his face.

“So,” he says, eyebrows wiggling. Thomas brow furrows.

“So…?” he asks.

“I saw you just now,” Laurens says. “With Alex and ‘Liza.”

Thomas, confused, cocks one eyebrow. “May I repeat: so?”

Laurens chuckles. “You think you’re smooth, don’t you.” The freckled man smirks wider. “But I saw it.”

“Saw what?” Thomas bites back.

“You were jealous,” Laurens sings, booping Thomas on the nose. Thomas blinks, head recoiling away from the man at his side.

“What?”

“You were jealous Eliza and Ham were getting all flirty, so you stopped it.” Laurens trails one finger down Thomas’ chest. Thomas, finally processing what Laurens was saying, steps out of Laurens’ half-embrace.

“I was not! That’s not what happened!” Thomas exclaims. Laurens rolls his eyes and chuckles again. “Not at all!”

“Sure, man,” Laurens says. “I saw the way you were looking at Alex earlier too. Everyone sees it. You’re not subtle.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Thomas insists. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.” Thomas goes to cross the room, to grab James and get out of here before Laurens or anyone else can start hurling more baseless accusations at him.

“Oh buddy, you’re in deep and don’t even know it,” Laurens calls after him. Thomas feels his face heat up as he stalks away. James spots him approaching from half the room away and breaks off his conversation to meet him in the center of the room.

“Something the matter?” James asks. Thomas shakes his head.

“Let’s just go, yeah?” he mutters. James frowns.

“Why? It’s not like we have any leads,” he mutters, quieter than Thomas. “Besides, some of these guys are talking about having already moved the Burrs again.” Thomas shrugs.

“I want to leave.”

“Well, I think we need to stay and make connections. You haven’t met most of these guys personally yet. And we need to find out where they’ve taken Burr and Prevost.”

“We can do that later. They’re safe. I… I need to sleep,” he says. Not necessarily a lie, but Thomas comes up with the excuse in that second. James frowns.

“Go sleep in the car. I’m staying a bit.”

Thomas rolls his eyes and says: “Might as well just walk back to the condo then.” James shrugs.

“Have fun,” he says, and spins on one heel to go back to Tallmadge. The gangster smiles as James approaches. James slips right back into their conversation, a few of the governors having made a small group around the spymaster. Thomas blinks.

Today’s just full of surprises, isn’t it? He thinks to himself. Not seeing a better option, Thomas decides that a walk is just going to have to happen. Thomas, waving a quick goodbye to Washington, slips out the front door of The Frenchman. He tries to remember which way the condo is, and decides that right is as good a direction as any.

Thomas heads off down the sidewalk with only his thoughts to occupy him. I’m not jealous over Hamilton, he thinks. No, not at all. What an absolutely ridiculous thought. To be jealous would mean that I have feelings for the pathetic fuck. Which I most certainly do not. Nope. No feelings here. Nevermind that I said I would kiss him and offered to help undress him. Why am I even still thinking about that? It’s nothing! Nothing at all!

Thomas turns a corner, completely immersed in his thoughts. Cars pass on the street, the wind they create pulling at Thomas’ hair and clothes. I mean, Hamilton is completely insufferable. Always shouting and talking and smiling and generally being charming- stop. Shut the fuck up. He’s not charming, he’s annoying. Yeah, annoying. Annoying and rude and a smartass and smart.

Thomas is so wrapped up in his thoughts he doesn’t notice one of the cars slow to a near crawl just behind him. He doesn’t hear the car doors open or the footsteps come up behind him. Thomas doesn’t know anything is wrong until a strong hand clamps down around his mouth and another arm slides around his chest.

Thomas’ eyes go wide, his training kicks in and he tries to throw an elbow into the man behind him. It misses, and something hits Thomas in the back of the knees. His legs go out beneath him and the person starts to drag Thomas backwards.

Thomas struggles, flails at his attacker’s arms and tries to find purchase on the ground with his feet. He opens his mouth and tries to bite down on the hand, but he can’t quite manage to do it.

He realizes that he’s screaming beneath the human gag. His heart is pounding out of his chest but he can’t catch his breath through his nose. Another pair of hands grabs at his feet, and Thomas looks down. He doesn’t recognize the man trying to hold Thomas’ legs still.

Thomas kicks, or tries to anyway. The man tucks Thomas’ shins under his arm and the two people carry Thomas backwards to the waiting car. It’s more of a van, actually, Thomas can see glimpses of it.

He squirms in the air, trying his best to free himself but to no avail. He feels the man by his head raise him up into the back of the van, the rest of his body and the other man following but a moment later.

The van doors shut and Thomas feels it lurch into motion. The man at his feet reaches for a bag on the floor of the van and pulls out a handful of zip ties.

Thomas realizes what’s happening before it does, and he tries to keep his feet apart and moving, but the man practically sits on his legs. A second later, Thomas’ ankles are tied together with multiple strips of plastic. Then the man turns around and makes short work of Thomas’ wrists despite Thomas’ struggles.

The moment Thomas limbs are secured, the man with the zip ties scoots back and plants himself by the van door. The other man pulls Thomas up into a sitting position.

“I’m gonna remove my hand, and you ain’t gonna scream. Not that anyone would hear you, I just don’t wanna hear any of it, you got it?”

Thomas swallows and nods, knowing there’s not much else he can do in this situation. The man does as he said, lowering his hand and letting go of Thomas’ chest. Thomas immediately wiggles away from him, but there’s nowhere to go.

“Who the fuck are you?” Thomas spits, voice a little harsh from screaming before. There’s a chuckling that arises from the front seat of the van. Thomas follows it with his eyes. Through the front window, he can see the streetlight in front of them turn red and the van stops moving. The driver turns around in his seat, and Thomas’ heart stops.

“What? Don’t recognize an old friend, Agent Jefferson?” James Reynolds laughs.

Chapter Text

This is bad.

This is really bad. This is the last place Thomas wants to be right now: tied up in the back of a van being driven by James motherfucking Reynolds. Thomas’ thoughts grind to a halt, stuck on the rising panic in his chest.

Reynolds chuckles at Thomas’ wide-eyed, terrified expression and turns back around in his seat. The van starts moving again and Thomas flinches at a bump in the road. Instinctively, Thomas curls his arms into his chest as tightly as possible, trying to scoot away from the two other Redcoats in the van with him. He manages to to put his back against one of the van walls and curl his knees up to his chest.

One of the other Redcoats laughs at him, shaking his head and crossing his arms. Thomas recognizes him from when Thomas had rescued Arnold from Reynolds. The three dots tattoo is barely visible in the dark of the van, but it’s the same man.

Thomas tries to breathe, tries to calm the storm of panic and terror brewing inside him. He can’t show fear, these men will use it against him. Play it off, Thomas, he instructs himself, be calm. Stay in control. Remember your training. Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t let them see your body shake.

Thomas forces his coiled muscles to relax. He rests the back of his head against the van and slides his legs back down. His arms he can’t really do much with, so he keeps his hands tucked under his chin. It helps hide the trembling in his arms anyway, and it’s a slight comfort. He looks up at the ceiling of the van and lets out a sigh. The other two Redcoats are watching him, disdainful curiosity on their faces.

Thomas tries to think, tries to remember what he’s been taught to do in this kind of situation. Determine likelihood of being killed. Thomas sighs internally. Very high. Okay, if he’s going to die, focus on escape. Step one: get as much information as possible.

“Hey Reynolds,” Thomas says. He waits for a beat of silence before trying again. “Reynolds. Reynolds, hey.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Reynolds growls back. Thomas has to bite down a smile. Getting him to talk at all is good.

“Reynol-”

“Man, he said shut up,” Three Dots snaps. Thomas glares at him, then rolls his eyes.

“Was I talking to you? No.” Thomas turns his head to look at the back of Reynolds’ chair. “Reynolds,” he calls. “Reynolds.” Still getting no answer, Thomas sighs, then takes a deep breath.

Reeeeeeeeyyyyynoooooooo-

What?” Reynolds snaps his head around to glare at Thomas. “What could you possibly want?” Thomas looks at him, innocently as possible.

“I just wanted to know where we’re going,” Thomas says simply. “You know, which little pier you want to shoot me on and dump my body. If it’s not too hard, I’d like to request somewhere on the Hudson? That way, if I’m floating in a river for a while, I won’t be in danger of getting eaten by a whale or something.” Reynolds’ glare turns almost flabbergasted, jaw offset in disbelief. He slowly turns back around.

“You’re fucking crazy,” he mutters. “That’s the only explanation.”

“Is that a compliment or an insult coming from a man who works for George King?” Thomas wonders. Reynolds just shakes his head. Thomas bites his lip, thinking. He glances at the other two men in the car, but decides they likely have no idea what’s going on. Getting Reynolds to talk is his best option.

“Reynolds, seriously. I’d like to know,” Thomas insists.

“I’m sure you would,” Reynolds replies. Thomas stifles another sigh. He’s getting nowhere. He looks back at the other two men in the car. Maybe he could try these two. See if either of them have anything to spill. Just as Thomas opens his mouth to speak, the van hits another bump in the road.

Three Dots, who had been in the middle of shifting position, is knocked off balance and he goes sprawling on the floor of the van. He curses to himself, pushing himself up onto his elbows. Thomas can’t hold a snort of laughter back as a sharp turn sends the prone man flying into the opposite wall. From his sideways position, Three Dots glares at him.

“Yeah, laugh while you can, pig,” he spits. “You won’t be laughin when the boss gets his hands on you.”

Thomas immediately stills. The boss. King. He’s being taken to see King. Thomas swallows the lump of fear in his throat. Fuck me. Thomas falls silent, mind spinning. He can’t decide if this boosts or reduces his chances of dying. Either way, maybe silence is the best option right now. Three Dots rights himself and no one speaks anymore.

Reynolds starts humming to himself, and Thomas tries to tune it out. The panic is rising again. What does King want with me? Nothing good, that’s for sure. Thomas leans his head back against the wall of the van and shuts his eyes. He sways with the movement of the van, and it’s almost soothing. He could fall asleep here, in different circumstances.

Thomas focuses on the movement, keeping his mind on that and not his impending doom. He lets his body rock gently, the vibrations of the car against his head are oddly comforting. He begins to lose track of time, the ride is silent and his whole body calms. For a moment, he forgets where he is.

Then he’s hit, a slap across the face that makes his cheek sting, his head snapping to the side under the unexpected impact.

“Rise and shine, love,” Three Dots drawls. “We’re here.” Thomas cracks his eyes open, feeling the way they complain under his contact lenses. Did I actually fall asleep? He wonders. Shit. I have no idea how long we travelled. Three Dots hovers over Thomas, on his feet now that the van’s stalled. He holds a burlap sack in one hand and Thomas internally groans.

A second later, the bag is over Thomas’ head and he’s being pulled onto his feet by his arms. He feels the zip ties around his ankles come off and blood rushes to his feet. As, presumably, Three Dots leads Thomas out of the van, Thomas grumbles: “What, can’t see where I’m walking?”

“Not until the boss says so,” Three Dots replies. Thomas rolls his eyes, thankful the bag keeps his expression hidden. He can feel wind from outside hit his body and the stench of a river floods his nose. We’re by the water… but which river?

Three Dots gives Thomas no warning for when he reaches the end of the van, so when Thomas puts his foot down in air there is no way for him to stop himself from falling face-first into the ground. Three Dots still holds his arms up, and Thomas finds himself completely prone on the ground. Thomas hisses a breath through his teeth, thankful he’d had the wherewithal to turn his face so his nose didn’t take the brunt of the fall.

“Up,” an unfamiliar voice commands. The demand is accompanied by a swift kick to Thomas’ side. He winces, silently, and does his best to right himself while Three Dots holds his arms out in front of him.

Somehow, eventually, Thomas staggers to his feet and stands. He expects to be hauled forward, but they let him stand still for a moment. Blinded by the sack, Thomas tries to focus on what he can hear. But the only sounds are bird calls, distant traffic, and a set of approaching footsteps.

“Welcome, Agent Jefferson,” Reynolds says. “To your own personal hell.”

Thomas turns his head to where he thinks the man is standing. “Thanks for the luxury travel,” he says. Not a moment later, something collides with Thomas’ stomach with enough force to push all the air out of his lungs.

Thomas doubles over, unable to stop the breath from audibly escaping his chest. He wheezes, trying to get his lungs full again. Someone snickers to his right as Thomas struggles to catch his breath.

“Let’s go, then.” Reynolds says it more like a command than a request, and Three Dots tugs on Thomas’ arms. Thomas tries to stumble forwards, to follow, but he’s quickly yanked off his feet. Thankfully, someone grabs him under his arms and pulls him along that way instead of just pulling on his wrists.

Thomas’ feet scramble against the ground, trying to find purchase and push himself up. He wants to walk, give himself some dignity but each time he almost manages it, something happens and Thomas is knocked off balance again. Reluctantly, he gives up, letting himself get dragged along the uneven pavement.

Thomas just focuses on breathing and listening, hoping for some sort of clue as to where they are. As if one of them is just going to yell out ‘here we are at XYZ street by ZYX river.’ That would be too easy, Thomas thinks.

He hears keys jingle and then a door opens. Thomas is pulled into a building, judging by how the floor changes to be smooth and the air cools around him. The door shuts, and Thomas hopes that they’ve reached their destination, but they keep moving.

He can hear more people around him, talking quietly, too quiet to pick out any words. There isn’t a sudden hush so perhaps the sight of a man getting dragged through isn’t entirely uncommon. Which doesn’t seem like a good sign to Thomas. No one calls out to Reynolds or anyone else, and Thomas hears them pass through another door.

“Stand him up boys,” Reynolds says, and Thomas is hauled to his feet. They let him get balanced and settled before letting go of his arms. “Go take a break, you’ve earned it.” Thomas hears the other two men leave, the door slamming shut behind them.

Without warning, the sack is pulled off Thomas’ head and suddenly he’s blinking in an excruciatingly bright light. He screws his eyes shut, unable to stand the light searing into his eyes. Someone grabs his shoulders from behind and pulls him back and down. The back of Thomas’ knees hit something and Thomas is pushed down into a chair.

Before he can do anything, Thomas feels the tell-tale grooves of a rope snake around his middle. A moment later and he’s tied to the chair. Then, through his eyelids, he can tell the light is being moved away. Slowly, Thomas blinks his eyes open to find James Reynolds hovering over him.

“Hands,” Reynolds commands. Glaring, Thomas complies, offering Reynolds his bound wrists. Reynolds raises a box cutter, and a flash of fear courses through Thomas’ veins. But Reynolds only cuts the zip ties in one smooth stroke. Hands suddenly free, Thomas realizes he could go for the knife. Reynolds grabs Thomas’ left wrist, and Thomas takes the opportunity. His right hand shoots out, reaching for the cutter-

His hand doesn’t get very far before another hand- alabaster white in skin tone- closes around his wrist. Another hand comes down on upper arm and forces his hand onto the arm rest. Thomas snaps his head to look at his new assailant, a man hovering just over his shoulder. Sandy blond hair frames brown eyes and Thomas realizes he recognizes him from the Schuyler apartment.

“Tisk, tisk,” clicks Seabury, “Weren’t you ever taught it’s not nice to try and take other people’s things?” Thomas can feel Reynolds finish securing his left wrist to the armrest. Thomas tries to pull his arm away from Seabury, but the man just holds on tighter. Reynolds tugs on the left bindings, decides they’re tight enough, and quickly ties down Thomas’ right wrist.

“You really should be paying more attention to our guest,” Seabury says to Reynolds, who glares at the white man.

“Ankles?” Reynolds grunts. Seabury purses his lips, thinking. He gives a short nod, and Reynolds sighs and drops to his knees. Seabury tilts his head down to look at Thomas.

“Don’t kick now,” Seabury warns. “You won’t like what happens if you do.” Thomas glares up at Seabury, feeling Reynolds pull his feet back and tie them to the chair legs one at a time. Seabury matches his gaze, looking almost bored by the whole proceedings. “James, I thought you said this one was talkative?”

“Normally is,” Reynolds mutters, finishing the last knot on Thomas’ right ankle. He sits back on his haunches and looks up at Thomas, a smirk crawling across his face. “Finished. We can start the fun things now.”

“Hmm, yes.” Seabury takes a step back away from Thomas. “You’re dismissed, though.”

Reynolds snaps his head to look at Seabury questioningly. “What do you mean? I thought you and I were-”

“You had your chance to play with him,” Seabury dismisses him. “It’s my turn.” Reynolds jumps to his feet, looming over Seabury by a couple of inches.

“I was driving!” Reynolds protests. “I’ve only hit him once!’ Seabury shrugs.

“Not my fault.” Despite Reynolds’ superior size, Seabury doesn’t flinch or shrink away from the other man. “Go see if anyone’s looking for him yet.” Reynolds’ eyes widen, face flushing in anger. He opens his mouth to speak again but is cut off by a third voice that sends chills down Thomas’ spine.

“Listen to Sam, James,” King’s accented voice comes from somewhere across the room. Reynolds stiffens, mouth clamping shut. For a second, Thomas thinks Reynolds is going to argue, but the larger man steps back and whirls, heading for the door. Thomas can hear him mutter under his breath as he leaves.

“Kiss-up-fag-whore thinks he can order me around,” Reynolds grumbles, just loud enough for Thomas and Seabury to hear. “I’ve been here longer, I used to be the boss’ favorite…” The rest of his words are lost as Reynolds slams the door behind him. Thomas looks up at Seabury, who is looking at the door with a very pinched expression.

“I’m sorry for his use of slurs,” Seabury says, the apology catching Thomas more than a little off guard. “James tends to be… a little less open-minded than some.”

Thomas has to catch himself before he makes some sort of snarky comment, and Seabury turns around in silence. Thomas watches as the man makes his way across the room, across the way from Thomas, to a small desk and chair Thomas hadn’t noticed before. They had been hidden by the light, then Reynolds himself.

Seabury’s shoes click on the concrete floor as he approaches the chair, the back of which is to Thomas. Seabury trails one hand on the back of the chair, leaning down over it sideways. Thomas can’t hear what Seabury says, but sees his mouth move. A second later, a hand comes up and catches Seabury by the chin, drawing Seabury’s face down past where Thomas can see.

The rest of Seabury’s body follows, and Thomas can see him climb into the chair with whoever else is already there. Seabury uses his arm on the chair to hold himself up, the top of his head poking just above the top of the chair. There’s a quiet muttering, Thomas can’t pick out the words, and then the chair spins around.

Seabury has curled himself onto King’s lap, his head resting on in the space between King’s shoulder and his head. Thomas can see where the two men have intertwined their hands, King’s arms holding Seabury to his body.

“Welcome, Thomas. How are you this morning?” King asks. Thomas frowns.

“Pretty good, you?” he says, sarcasm lacing his words. Seabury frowns, but King moves his head so the sides of their heads are touching. Seabury leans into the contact, as if he’s touch-starved and he and King aren’t already twisted around each other like vines.

“I’m magnificent,” King replies, smiling. He shakes his shoulder and looks down at Seabury. “How about you, love?” Seabury turns his head sideways to lock gazes with King.

“I am wonderful, thank you,” he breathes, mouth tilting up slightly. King chuckles, but complies, pressing his lips to Seabury’s waiting ones. Seabury lets go of King’s head to thread his fingers through King’s short-cropped hair. Their kiss deepens, Seabury pulling King down further into his arms. King reaches down and runs his fingers across Seabury’s hip in a way that makes the man giggle into King’s mouth.

Thomas thinks they’re about ten seconds away from actually fucking on the chair when he finally loses his nerve and coughs. Instantly, Seabury stills, pulling away from King slightly. King chases the other man with his mouth, but Seabury lets go of King’s hair and pushes on his chest softly.

“We have a guest,” Seabury murmurs, jerking his head towards Thomas. King opens his eyes and looks sideways at the captured Thomas, who does his best to wave with his wrist tightly secured. Thomas gives King an awkward smile, the weird feeling in his gut overriding Thomas’ desire to stay impassive.

King just chuckles. “I know, Sammy dear,” he says, pushing Seabury’s hand away from his chest and leaning down to reconnect their lips. Seabury dodges at the last second, silently shaking his head as he slides out of King’s lap. King reaches for Seabury, making little grabby hands in the other man’s direction. Seabury crosses his arms, frowning in disappointment at the man still in the chair.

“No, George,” Seabury says, voice surprisingly hard and commanding. “Not while Agent Jefferson is here.” King pouts, sinking into his chair slightly. “Do not sulk, or I won’t fuck you after we are done with the good Agent.”

Thomas has no idea what to think anymore. This was not what he was expecting to see after being kidnapped and tied to a chair. He watches the exchange with wide eyes, unsure of how this very odd relationship works. Seabury the dominant one? But he had been so submissive earlier…

Thomas shuts his eyes and hangs his head. No, I don’t want to think about this, don’t want to think about this, Thomas repeats in his head like a mantra. Puppies, kittens, Grandma Jefferson, the sound of nails on a chalkboard, Jesus anything but the two of them doing anything remotely sexy.

“Aww, looks like we’ve got him all riled up,” King coos. Thomas picks his head up slowly, feeling his blush hot across his face. King just smirks at him, head perched on one hand, elbow on the desk. Seabury still looks cross, heel tapping against the ground.

“That was a mean trick to play, George,” Seabury scolds. “Now I’m going to have to punish you later.” Thomas chokes on his own spit, eyes flicking rapidly between the two men. King frowns, giving Seabury one hell of a puppy-dog expression.

“I’m supposed to be in charge when we’re handling business,” King whines.

Business does not coincide with the bedroom,” Seabury admonishes.

Thomas clears his throat. “Y’all could just let me go and get back to… whatever it is you two do,” he suggests. Suddenly, two pairs of cold eyes are on Thomas and Thomas regrets drawing the attention back to him.

“Business first then,” King says, instantly serious again. Seabury nods, his shoulders relaxing, expression turning back on Thomas with a disdainful look in his eyes. King straightens in his chair, returning to the mock-relaxed pose from before. Thomas feels King’s eyes sweep over his body, searching, piercing. Thomas wants to squirm under the gaze, but he forces himself to stay still.

“Apologies for our… distraction,” Seabury says, not sounding sincerely sorry at all. Seabury tugs at his shirt, pulling the dark fabric straight and even again. Thomas doesn’t know if Seabury is actually looking for forgiveness, or any sort of reaction at all, so Thomas forces his features neutral.

“It’s wonderful to have you here, Thomas,” King purrs.

“Forgive me if I’m not particularly thrilled,” Thomas drawls. Seabury’s eyes narrow, but King smiles at Thomas.

“I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to momentarily forget your place in this situation,” King says, the barely concealed warning laced with cold venom.

“I’m just being honest, Georgie.” Thomas matches King’s smile. The game is back on. Something flickers in King’s eyes, and he leans forward on the desk.

“Sam,” King commands. Seabury nods and in a flash is standing in front of Thomas. Thomas doesn’t have time to brace himself before Seabury winds up and slaps him hard. Thomas’ head snaps to the side under the force of the blow, cheek stinging harshly. “Thomas,” King says, “You are here to answer my questions and that is it. I have no patience for your attitude.”

Thomas turns his head front again, tilting it so he can see around Seabury to where King is still sitting. “Let’s get to the point then, yeah?” Thomas is rewarded with another slap and a fist to his stomach.

You are not in charge here,” Seabury growls. Thomas cocks an eyebrow in his direction.

“I bet you wish you were. Seems like you could be, could bend George-” Thomas sees Seabury’s eyes widen in understanding, following Thomas’ train of thought a few steps ahead. There’s a flicker of rage deep within Seabury’s eyes and Thomas braces himself for another hit. He keeps talking, waiting for it. “-right over that desk there, take control-” Seabury stalks around behind Thomas, and Thomas tries to twist his head to follow. “-do whatever you want and not be ordered around by-” Seabury’s hands come down on Thomas’ left shoulder and elbow. He pushes Thomas’ arm against the wrist bindings, bringing his elbow up, around and forward. “-a submissive, pathetic man. I bet you could wrap King-” Seabury lifts the hand on Thomas’ shoulder and brings it back down forcefully.

Thomas feels his shoulder shift, his muscles erupting into screaming pain almost instantly. He can’t stop the cry that escapes him, his taunts cut off instantly by the expression of pain. Seabury holds his elbow up, and Thomas tries to move his arm away but to no avail. His left arm doesn’t seem to want to respond, even as Seabury pushes Thomas’ elbow further forward.

Fuck!” Thomas yells, watching his arm twist in a way it shouldn’t. It feels like his shoulder is on fire, even after Seabury takes mercy and lets Thomas’ arm fall back against the armrest of the chair. Seabury removes his hands from Thomas’ arm, calming stepping away. His expression is disinterested at best as Thomas looks at his injured arm.

His shoulder looks misshapen, skin dipping oddly at the top of his shoulder, followed by a bump that’s not supposed to be there. The sight of the mangled arm makes Thomas’ stomach twist, the spasming of his muscles in pain doing nothing to help the nausea.

“It’s dislocated,” Seabury explains, voice flat. Thomas tears his eyes away from his own arm to gape at Seabury. King drums his fingers against his desk, looking bored.

“Learned your lesson?” King asks. “No back talk, alright?” Thomas lets out a shaky breath. These two are serious, he realizes, the thought hitting like a freight train. Intimidation time is over.

Chapter Text

“Sam, grab your things,” King says, disinterestedly. “Something tells me you might need them.” Seabury nods, turns and starts to head for the desk. Thomas swallows fear in his throat, the reality of the situation hitting him hard.

“What things?” He asks, voice deceptively calm. Instantly, Seabury stops, spins around and comes back to Thomas. He reaches out, grabs Thomas’ dislocated arm by the elbow and pulls it forward again. As Thomas hisses a breath and tries to squirm away- his arm still non-responsive- Seabury clears his throat.

“Speak only when spoken too,” Seabury commands. Thomas nods frantically, his breath coming faster and faster as his shoulder lights up in agony. Seabury lets him go and his arm returns to a resting position. Like this the pain is decreased, bearable, but still there. Once again, Seabury turns away and this time crosses the room to King’s desk. He kneels down on the right side and rummages around inside a cabinet.

“This is how this is going to work, Thomas,” King says, voice clipped, “I’m going you ask you questions, you are going to answer them, and then we can both go on our merry way.” Seabury stands, a black bag in his hands. “Remember, lies and attitude won’t serve you well.”

Thomas swallows, eyeing the closed bag Seabury is holding. Seabury puts it on the desk, opens the top and starts to look through it. Thomas can hear the muffled sounds of metal clinking as Seabury searches the bag for something.

“First question,” King snaps. “Have you found Burr and the girls?”

Thomas tears his eyes away from Seabury and the bag. King looks back at him, idly drumming his fingers on the desk. Thomas coughs. “No,” he says. King’s fingers still for a moment, then resume their tapping.

“I’m going to give you a second chance,” King sighs. “Have you found Burr?”

“I said I haven’t,” Thomas repeats, feeling his stomach churn. One of King’s eyebrows cocks.

“I told you, lying won’t help you here,” King warns.

“I’m not lying.” Thomas keeps eye-contact with King. King’s fingers finally stop beating their strange rhythm and King sits back in his chair.

“Are you familiar with the practice of Ling Chi?” King asks. Thomas blinks, the sudden topic change throwing him off balance.

“... Can't say I am,” he says, cautiously. Seabury starts pulling things out of the bag, metal tools that Thomas doesn't recognize so far away in the dark. King hums.

“It was invented by the Chinese a very long time ago. Roughly translated, ‘Ling Chi’ means ‘death by a thousand cuts.’

“Does it?” Thomas asks, watching Seabury gather up his things in one hand.

“Yes. It was used as an execution method for hundreds of years. Poor, hapless criminals would be slowly carved up into little pieces in the town square over a period of days.”

Seabury crosses the floor to Thomas, and Thomas tries to see what he's holding. There’s a knife, which is unsurprising, but he's also carrying a set of pliers, a collection of very thin wires, a lighter and what looks to be some sort of mesh net.

“Luckily, or unluckily for them, for ancient Chinese criminals, most of the horror of Ling Chi was about what happened after death. See, most victims died within the first few hours, with the majority being killed in the first strike. Ling Chi was more about the desecration of the body, which was a big no-no under Confucianism. There are reasons why, you really should look into it. It's pretty interesting.”

Seabury comes to a stop in front of Thomas, barely sparing the tied up man a second glance as he kneels and puts everything in his hands on the ground. Thomas watches in terrified confusion as Seabury reaches up and starts to untie his left shoe.

“But that's not the point. The point is that, traditionally, people were killed fairly quickly. You, however, will not be afforded such a luxury.”

Thomas starts, his eyes torn away from Seabury in shock. “You intend to kill me?” He croaks out. Thomas had started to assume he would be kept alive, and though perhaps such a hope was foolish. King chuckles.

“No, not yet at least. You see, when performed by someone skilled at the art, non-fatal Ling Chi can be a very… effective interrogation method.” King motions at the crouching man in front of Thomas’ chair. “Sam is very practiced, as you'll come to see.”

Seabury lets out a chuckle as he tugs Thomas' shoe and sock off, tossing both aside without a second thought. Thomas’ eyes widen, he struggles to pull his now-bare foot away but it's tied securely to the chair leg. Thomas feels the rope tug at his skin, pulling and tearing little pinpricks of pain on his ankle.

Seabury, unperturbed by Thomas’s struggle, sits back, picks up a length of wire and the lighter. Lighting the flame, Seabury hold the middle of the wire over the flame, watching as it quickly heats up. Thomas sees the metal faintly start to glow, and Seabury slowly bends the wire so the heated part sticks out in a loop.

“Prepared, Sammy?” King asks. Seabury nods, holding the heated wire in one hand and grabbing Thomas' foot with the other. His hand is cold, but firm as Samuel runs his thumb across Thomas’ toes.

“Alright Thomas. Once again: Have you found Burr?”

Thomas looks down at Seabury’s crouched form, at the wire in his hands, and back up at King. King looks expectant, like he thinks Thomas will break under the threat of pain. Seabury’s face is impassive, though there is a glimmer of excitement there. Thomas grits his jaw. I can handle a few burns.

“I have not,” Thomas replies. King’s face falls while Seabury’s lights up in glee. Thomas braces himself, ready to feel the burn of hot metal against his skin, determined not to break eye-contact with King.

“Sam,” King commands. Seabury grins, and moves the wire closer to Thomas’ foot. His other hand wraps around his toes so that Seabury is holding out his big toe between two fingers.

Thomas prepares himself, sucking in a breath, muscles clenching.

The wire hits the tip of Thomas’ toe and he bites back a wince. It sears, but it's gone in a second. For a moment, Thomas is confused. That’s it? That's all? He feels himself start to relax. This won’t be so bad--

Then the wire is pushed under his toenail.

It's excruciating, the burning heat and metal between the nail and nail bed. Thomas feels Seabury work the wire back and forth, pushing it farther and farther towards the base of the nail.

Thomas can't stop the sharp inhale, the cry of pain he lets out as he curls in on himself. Thomas’ good hand flexes against the arm of the chair and he tries to pull his foot away from the pain.

After what seems like forever, but was probably closer to a few seconds, the wire is pulled out roughly. The burning is still there but Thomas can breathe again. How the fuck does that hurt so bad??! He wonders.

But it's not over as Thomas feels something else slide into the now loosened nail bed. He screams, eyes flying open unintentionally and he sees that Seabury has taken up the pliers now, one end stuck into Thomas’s toe.

Thomas shuts his eyes again as Seabury starts to work the pliers along the underside of his nail, reaching the very base of it quickly. Thomas can feel the blood start to well already, even before Seabury begins to tug.

Seabury pulls on Thomas’ nail sideways, wiggling and working it until it comes free with a sickeningly wet, sucking noise. Something between a whimper and a groan escapes his lips, but he bites down on anything louder. Thomas feels blood well on his skin.

Thomas hears Seabury put the pliers back down on the ground, waits to see if anything else is going to happen before letting out a cautious breath. He pointedly turns his face up before opening his eyes again. His entire foot is screaming. Jesus fuck. Thomas focuses on calming his breathing back down.

“So, have you found Burr now?” King asks, voice dripping in false innocence. Thomas, breath hissing through his teeth, grabs onto the armrest with his one working hand. He looks down far enough to make eye-contact with the Redcoat boss.

“Fuck off,” he spits. Seabury doesn’t wait for King’s command to set to work on the second toe on Thomas’ foot. All Seabury has to do it nudge Thomas’ foot and waves of fire travel all the way up his body, so to have the entire process repeated for a second time is indescribable. Thomas can’t hold the screams back as Seabury methodically removes another nail.

“Have you found Burr?”

“...no.”

Thomas lets loose a series of expletives to get through the third one. There are tears rolling down his cheeks despite his best efforts.

“Thomas, I am perfectly aware that you have indeed found Aaron.”

“If you’re so sure, why keep asking?”

The wire goes under, stays there for a while as King speaks again.

“I want to hear you admit it to me.”

“Good luck, I haven’t found them.”

The last two nails come off in quick succession, the last toe not even getting the wire treatment before Seabury goes for it with the pliers.

Thomas can smell his own blood, feel it dripping down past his damaged skin and hears it dripping onto the floor. He doesn’t want to look, even as Seabury shifts and reaches for his other shoe.

There’s a buzzing in the back of Thomas’ mind, one that grows with each new stab of pain. Thomas’ other shoe and sock comes off, but Thomas is barely paying attention to the sensation. His entire foot is paralyzed in pain.

How the hell am I ever going to walk again? He wonders, chest heaving. He almost misses King’s next question.

“How many more until you admit the truth to me?” King wonders, holding his head in his hand and looking particularly bored.

“I’ve been telling the truth,” Thomas gasps, though the conviction is all but lost. If all three men hadn’t known Thomas was lying already, the truth is plain in the way his voice fails him at the end.

“Mhm,” King hums. This time, Seabury goes for the smallest toe first.

“Where are Burr and my things?” King asks. The topic change almost trips up Thomas in his half-sensory dead state.

“I wouldn’t know,” he breathes, “seeing as I haven’t found them yet.”

“That’s two lies in one sentence,” King observes. Seabury nods, and then two more of Thomas’ nails are gone. Thomas can’t even feel his left foot anymore, and his right is starting to go numb.

Thomas has never felt more grateful to have his feet fall asleep on him. The buzzing is getting louder, threatening to overpower Thomas’ senses.

Seabury must sense what’s happening because he presses the hot wire into the flesh of Thomas’ arm and suddenly the buzzing recedes. Thomas’ entire body jerks, flinching away from the burning metal on instinct.

“Pay attention or I’ll up the methodology early,” Seabury warns, settling back down onto the floor. Thomas feet both wake up in fiery agony as Seabury tugs on them harshly.

“Where is Burr?”

“I don’t know,” Thomas croaks out. Thomas barely even feels this nail go. It’s ironic, Thomas thinks, his mind surprisingly objective, I really don’t know where they are for sure. “I don’t know, I swear.”

Seabury sighs, foregoing the wire to simply tear the last nail out piece by bloody piece. The tears return as Thomas lets out a choked sob. Seabury stands, wiping his bloodied hands on Thomas’ pant legs.

At least that’s over, Thomas thinks, no more nails to tear out.

“Which hand is your dominant one?” Seabury asks. Thomas stomach plummets, a little whimper escapes him. Seabury holds up the wire and lighter again, reheating the metal. “I’m asking so I can go for the other one. I won’t destroy your writing hand, I’m not a monster.”

Thomas almost feels like laughing. “Ambidextrous” he mutters, surprising himself that he answered honestly. “I’m ambidextrous.” Seabury nods and eyes Thomas’ arms.

“I’ll do the right one then, seeing as you’ve already injured your left arm.”

“How merciful,” Thomas says, instantly regretting it as Seabury shoves the wire under his pinky nail.

“You just won’t learn, will you Thomas?” King asks, sounding like he’s simply scolding a puppy. Seabury leaves the wire in place, and Thomas feels it burn into his skin. “One last time. Answer wrong again, and I’ll just have to leave you and Sam alone for a while. Until he loosens your tongue.” King rises from his chair, looming over the desk. “Where is Burr?

“I honestly, truly do not know.

Seabury rips the wire out from under Thomas’ nail and jabs the pliers underneath. This one comes off slowly, centimeter by centimeter. Thomas screams as his hand joins his feet in searing agony. Seabury finally tugs the last bit of nail free, and drops it onto the floor.

“Finish off the hand, I’ll be back. Break him a little,” King commands. Seabury nods, reaching for Thomas’ hand again. King crosses the room, giving Thomas and Seabury a wide berth, and leaves out the door.

-------------

Thomas doesn’t know how long it takes Seabury to take the rest of his right hand nails, but it feels like hours. The final one comes off, tiny little strips of a thumb nail being pulled off one at a time.

Thomas doesn’t look, choosing to turn his head to the side and mutter prayers to himself. He focuses on the words, forcing himself to start over each time a flash of pain makes him stutter or mess up.

“Asking for God’s help won’t do anything here,” Seabury says, dropping the last scraps of fingernail onto the floor. “Believe me, I’d know.”

Thomas doesn’t dare ask what Seabury means. Seabury holds Thomas’ ruined fingers, appraises his work for a moment before letting them drop onto the chair. Seabury finally puts the pliers and strips of wire onto the floor and picks up the mesh and knife. Thomas can’t help his curiosity, he needs to know what sort of fresh pain awaits him, so he watches silently as Seabury pulls up the sleeve of his shirt, presses the mesh hard to his arm so little parts of skin stick out, and lines the knife up with the top of it.

Seabury cuts down, slicing off parts of Thomas’ flesh and suddenly the buzzing is back. Thomas watches as blood wells and starts to flow freely down his arm. Seabury pulls the mesh away and affixes it to another portion of skin. Ling Chi, hapless criminals would be slowly carved up into little pieces, Thomas remembers King explaining.

The buzzing gets louder with each fresh cut. At some point, Seabury gets bored with what skin he can reach by just manipulating fabric and forces Thomas’ chest forward so he can cut open his shirt from the back. Seabury forgoes the mesh as he moves to the tighter portions of skin across Thomas’ shoulders, simply carving little pieces of flesh with expert flicks of the wrist.

At some point, the buzzing gets so loud Thomas’ vision starts to blur and mute in front of him. He stops being able to feel anything but his own blood trailing down his body. When Seabury comes back around front, it’s a surprise. Thomas had lost track of where he was. He barely reacts though, even as Seabury eyes him curiously.

“Not praying anymore?” The man asks, but it’s muted. The words barely process. Seabury reaches up and snaps his fingers in front of Thomas’ face. He frowns, and digs the knife into Thomas’ dislocated shoulder.

It’s a welcome relief, falling into the strange nothing.

The buzzing turns into an all-encompassing noise. His entire thought process goes silent. It’s almost like he’s not in his own head anymore. Thomas feels himself float just outside of his body, a little to the left and up. He barely exists, just watches Seabury pull the knife out, make some more hand motions and sigh. He’s moving like someone turned on slow-motion for the universe. Seabury reaches up and presses two fingers to Thomas’ neck.

“Well,” Seabury mutters, “he’s alive at least.” Thomas hears him speak, but it’s muted like Seabury is speaking through water. The words don’t make an impact on what is left of Thomas’ mental state.

Thomas watches Seabury stand, cross the room and disappear from sight. He doesn’t turn his head to follow, doesn’t even feel like his head is his to turn. Nothing feels real anymore, like Thomas is watching some disturbing dream or show on television.

After what seems like literal days of staring into nothing, Seabury returns. King trails behind him, bending over to look Thomas dead in the eye. Except Thomas doesn’t feel like they’re making eye contact.

“Told you, he’s gone.” Seabury crosses his arms. King turns back to look at the other man.

“How long until he recovers?” King asks, voice even further muted by the fact his face is turned away from Thomas.

“It could be a few minutes, could be a few years,” Seabury replies. “Could be never.” King turns back around to examine Thomas again. His lips are pursed in thought. “Should I just kill him?”

King shakes his head. “If he’s still breathing… why don’t you give him back to his people. Stick a little bow on his head and make him a little gift.”

“Are you sure?” Seabury asks.

“Of course! Send another little message. Whomever takes over for him will know we killed one Agent and broke another. Maybe the next one will be more willing to negotiate.” King stands up, spins on one heel and starts to walk away. “Tell Reynolds to put him back where he found him.”

Chapter Text

Thomas is dragged out of the warehouse- because it is a warehouse, they don’t bother covering his eyes with a sack this time- by the same two burly redcoats that dragged him in. He continues to float, thoughtlessly, just above his own body. His eyes remain fixed to the ground, almost unblinking. His shoes are back on his feet but he feels like they’re not even really there. Reynolds and Seabury lead the way out to the same van and Reynolds throws open the back doors.

Thomas is pulled inside and dropped unceremoniously onto the floor. He doesn’t do anything to stop his fall, just hits the deck and lies there. He doesn’t feel like his limbs would answer to him if he tried.

The doors shut with two thuds, and Thomas stares at a little spot on the wall of the van. Two more doors open and shut, and Seabury and Reynolds are sitting in the front seat.

“Yo, James. This guy alright?” One of the redcoats asks. Thomas thinks he might poke Thomas on the back slightly, but he doesn’t really feel it.

“Do you really care?” Reynolds shoots back.

“Nah, but he’s kinda… fucked up.” The Redcoat waves a hand in front of Thomas’ face.

“Yes. Yes he is,” Seabury replies simply. The car starts, Thomas can barely feel the gentle rumbling under his body.

“We only had him for four hours,” the redcoat says. Thomas feels the car lurch into motion, his limp body rocking with the movement. Searbuy just hums an affirmation, and the car falls silent.

Somehow, in the quiet, Thomas manages to focus on the gentle movement of the van, the vibrations in his body make the buzzing quiet ever so slightly. It’s comforting, the simple rocking. The fingers on his right hand tingle a little, like they’re the first part of his body to wake up.

Thomas doesn’t dare try to move though. Even in his grey state, he knows that’s not a good idea.

“Reynolds, pull over,” Seabury says, suddenly.

“Why? We’re nowhere near… oh.” Reynolds chuckles. “Gotcha.” A few more moments pass before the car stops, but the gentle rumbling doesn’t. Thomas is grateful for that, he can still latch onto it.

“Alexander!” Seabury calls. His voice is distant, but Thomas can still hear if not completely process what’s happening. There’s a shrill whistle, then, “Alexander! Over here! How you doing?”

“Seabury?” A familiar voice snarls. It hits Thomas’ ears and something inside him reacts. An emotion sparks- Relief? Joy? It’s something other than the nothing. “What the fuck are you doing in our territory?”

“Oh, Reynolds and I were actually on our way to see you! Kind of. We’ve got a gift for you.” Seabury laughs at something. “No, no, we’re not going to hurt you, it’s not that kind of gift.”

“Boys,” Reynolds commands. “Delivery time.” Thomas is roughly nudged and he thinks he groans. The doors are pushed open and sunlight streams into the back of the van.

“No, believe me, you’re going to love this,” Seabury says as one of the Redcoats slides his hands under Thomas’ middle. The other grabs Thomas’ ankles and Thomas is slid towards the open doors.

He lets it happen, lets one of the Redcoats pull him up and over their shoulder like a sack. “Up we go, big boy,” the Redcoat mumbles. Thomas’ face hits the man’s back, but the feeling of fresh air is suddenly far too overwhelming. He feels the man’s footsteps as he’s walked to the sidewalk.

“Where do you want ‘im?” the Redcoat asks.

“Just put him on the ground,” Seabury calls. “See if he’ll stand.” Thomas feels his feet get put on the ground, and his torso pushed up into a standing position. The moment he’s let go of, however, when he’s ‘standing’ on his own, his legs instantly give out and he crumples to the ground.

He lands on his left side, the impact sending searing shots of pain through his body that make the buzzing recede even further. He actually feels the sharp inhale he makes, feels the air enter his lungs and for a flash, everything hurts. Then the buzzing returns enough to take the pain away. It helps, Thomas supposes, that his body naturally flinches away from the pain and falls onto his back.

“Thomas?” Someone, the voice that made the emotion appear, gasps. The sky is blindingly bright and Thomas has to shut his eyes. It’s too overwhelming.

“Have fun,” Seabury laughs. Thomas hears the van take off, but he doesn’t dare open his eyes or turn his head. He hears someone hit the ground beside him though.

“Holy shit, no. No, no no no no no.” There are hands on Thomas’ shoulders, pulling harshly and Thomas feels his shoulder shift, but there’s no pain. Thomas gasps, and the someone lets out a breath of relief.

“What did they do to you Thomas?” The voice asks, full of rage and concern. The sound of it wakens Thomas enough so the buzzing fades again, enough so that Thomas can open his eyes.

The man leaning over him is Hamilton. Of course it is. Thomas’ eyes focus for the first time in a while, zeroing in on his face.

“What did they do?!’ Hamilton insists. Thomas’s eyes drift back out of focus as Hamilton grips his shoulder hard enough to elicit a slight twinge of pain. “No, look at me, mírame.” Thomas feels himself dropping back into the nothing. “Coño, Thomas.”

Hamilton pulls Thomas up into his lap. “Hey, hey, te tengo, mírame, di algo.” Thomas hears nothing but keening gibberish, the sound of it muffled and far away. “Hey! Hay alguien aquí? Necesito ayuda!” Thomas feels the body underneath him shift, his head is propped up a bit further.

Coño, ayuda! Por favor!” Hamilton yells, but there’s no response, no sound of people approaching. Hamilton grips Thomas tighter and looks down at him. One of the hands disappears from Thomas’ shoulders, Hamilton pulling out his phone and frantically fumbling with it.

John! John, necesito tu ayuda, por favor, le hicieron daño. No está respondiendo, hay demasiada sangre- ay dio mio...” Thomas’ head shifts in Hamilton’s arms, his face pressing into Hamilton’s chest. He can barely feel the fabric beneath his cheek, but his good shoulder becomes squashed against the man’s stomach. Faintly, he can hear a distant thudding, Hamilton’s panicked heartbeat. “La intercesión entre ciento veintinueve y fifth, apúrate.

Hamilton tosses his phone aside and pulls Thomas in closer. The action causes Thomas’ dislocated shoulder to shift, and this time he does feel it. The grinding noise is sickening, and Thomas screams at the sensation. Or he thinks he does, maybe it’s just the overwhelming buzzing in his head. Hamilton holds on tighter.

Shhh, mi Thomas, vas ha estar bien, yo te tengo. No te pueden hacer más daño mi amor. Quédate conmigo, por favor. Di algo, lo que sea, ay dio.” Hamilton gently runs his hands through Thomas’ hair, pulling it away from his face. “Háblame, por favor háblame, mi amor.

Hamilton’s continued nonsense words don’t process in Thomas’ head. The quiet rhythm and cadence manages to cut through the buzzing, however, and Thomas latches on to the sound of it. It’s soothing, calling Thomas back into his own body. The closer he gets to coming back, however, the stronger the pain across his body gets, and Thomas is pushed away again.

Hamilton rocks slowly, back and forth, crooning low nothings. He’s very warm, and the feeling of his fingers running through his hair is grounding. Thomas manages to focus his eyesight, and instantly he’s drawn to the human face above him. Hamilton stares at him, eyes wide, red rimmed and wet. “Thomas? Me puedes escuchar? Di algo, por favor-

Then Thomas hears another set of voices, these calling from a distance. “Alex? Alexander?

Aquí! Estamos aquí!” Hamilton calls back, the relief in his voice palpable despite the nonsense he’s speaking.

“Alex! Are you okay?” Someone calls, footsteps grow nearer, then: “Clark?

Por favor, necesita ayuda, le hicieron daño, le hicieron daño a mi Thomas.

Que pasó?” Another voice, the same gibberish.

No sé, dama ayúdalo, John por favor.

“Is he non-responsive?” Another voice asks. Thomas has regained enough awareness to know it’s Lafayette speaking. His guess is confirmed a second later when Laf themself appears in his field of vision. “What do we do?” Lafayette asks, looking up at Laurens. Laurens’ eyes flick up and down Thomas’ body.

“We need to get him somewhere safe,” Laurens says.

“But where? How? And what happens when we get there?” Lafayette shoots back.

“I don’t know! It depends on what state he’s in.” Laurens slowly reaches out, watching Thomas’ face for any sign that he doesn’t want to be touched. Thomas’ eyes are still fixated on Hamilton’s. They really are nice eyes. Grounding.

Laurens’ hand comes down on Thomas’ chest and Thomas’ body jerks slightly, curling into Hamilton’s arms. Instantly, Laurens snatches his hand away and Hamilton goes back to muttering nonsense into Thomas’ ear.

“Nearest place I can think of is the boss’,” Laf mutters

“Great. That’s where we take him.” Laurens stands, looking up and down the street. “How, though?”

“I can probably carry him,” Lafayette offers.

“We don’t know what kind of shape he’s in,” Laurens counters. “He’s covered in blood, Laf.”

“Even more reason to get moving.” Lafayette comes over, gently pushes Laurens out of the way and reaches for Thomas. “You might need to help me lift him. Grab his legs.”

Hamilton’s grip on Thomas tightens, somehow pulling Thomas even further into his embrace. “No, no te lo lleves, as mío. Me necesita.

Alexander, quieres que lo ayudemos, si?” Laurens speaks. “Tienes que dejar que Laf lo carge.

Le vas hacer daño! Tiene que quedarse conmigo.

Laf no le va hacer daño. Vamo Alex, o se va desangre en la calle.

Slowly, reluctantly, Hamilton loosens his hold on Thomas. Instantly, Lafayette wraps their arms around Thomas, pulling him up and away. Laurens helps Lafayette lift Thomas into their arms bridal-style. Lafayette holds him from the left, however, and the buzzing is dim enough that Thomas’ shoulder screams in pain when it’s crushed against Lafayette’s chest.

Thomas vaguely hears himself keen lowly, his body rocking away from the contact instinctively. Lafayette has to scramble to keep Thomas in their arms. Hamilton rushes from the other side to keep Thomas off the ground.

Te lo dije!” Hamilton screeches, but the other two men ignore him. “I told you, give him back!” For the first time, Hamilton’s words make sense, even if they don’t fully land.

“Fuck, look at his shoulder,” Laurens mutters. Lafayette nods.

“Turn him around then. His other shoulder looks… better, at the very least.”

Thomas ends up turned around in Lafayette’s hold, head against their shoulder. His ruined hand is cradled on his stomach, his fingertips throbbing slightly. His other arm is carefully tucked around his stomach so his shoulder doesn’t jostle too much with each step Lafayette takes. The feeling of Lafayette’s heartbeat starts to cut through the buzzing, and the pain in Thomas’ fingers and feet starts to remerge.

He feels himself whimper as Lafayette stumbles over a crack in the sidewalk and his shoes hit the edge of his toes. The fire in his feet pulls Thomas even further back into himself. He wants this whole thing to stop, he wants to go back into the buzzing. He wants… he wants…

“Hamilton,” Thomas mutters, quietly. It’s barely a whisper, his mouth barely moves when he says it, but he says it nonetheless.

“What?” Lafayette asks, head tilting down, an obvious invitation for Thomas to repeat himself.

“Did he say something?” Hamilton asks, urgently. Thomas is still too far gone to really think about what he’s asking for when he repeats:

Hamilton.” Thomas can’t even fathom why, but it’s all he wants.

“He said your name, mon lion,” Lafayette says, quietly, as if he’s scared loud noises will scare Thomas into silence again.

“Really?” Hamilton croaks out. A hand grabs at Thomas’ foot and pain flairs. Thomas instinctively kicks, his first major movement since the buzzing took over. The hand disappears, but comes back down further up his leg, holding Thomas still.

“I’m here, mon doudou, I’m here,” Hamilton says, quietly. The hand squeezes Thomas’ shin and Thomas manages to pick up his half-lidded gaze to look. Hamilton peers at him, worry shining his in eyes, over Thomas’ bent knees.

“Hamilton,” Thomas breathes. Slowly, his picks up his right hand, and reaches towards the short man. He can’t make it, his hand falls just past his knees, but he wants nothing but to touch that handsome face, to wipe away the tears shining in Hamilton’s eyes. He just about needs it, he needs Hamilton more than he needs anything else.

Hamilton takes his hand off Thomas’ leg to reach for his hand. He too can barely reach, but his fingers interlace with the very tips of Thomas’. The contact and pressure send waves of fire up Thomas’ arm. Thomas doesn’t mind, even as the buzzing grows again. He fights it now, knows he needs to fight it.

Sounds are starting to return in force now. He can hear John speaking to himself… no, he’s on the phone. That makes more sense.

“Ma’am, it’s an emergency, I wouldn’t be asking otherwise…” John begs. “...just, clean off a table or countertop. Something big enough to hold someone taller than Laf… no, not a bed. I need a table…”

Hamilton is doing his best to keep up with Lafayette’s long, quick strides and keep his hand attached to Thomas’. Hamilton must be able to see the focus and awareness start to return to Thomas’ face because he starts talking.

“Hey, you coming back to us?” Hamilton asks. Thomas nods, his mouth still unable to work besides:

“Hamilton?”

“Yeah, I’m here. I’ve got you. We’re going to fix you up,” Hamilton promises. “But you gotta tell us what they did to you.”

Thomas blinks, opens his mouth but the memories start to hit and the buzzing surges in volume. He squeezes his fingers together tightly, trying to hold on to Hamilton’s, but he’s losing control of his body again. He’s slipping out of himself, he can’t fight it, can't, he needs-

“No, Thomas, stay with us.” Hamilton squeezes back and Thomas focuses on the pain. It pulls him back, enough so his eyes are able to refocus on Hamilton. Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton.

“Hamilton,” he mutters again. Hamilton’s eyes shining in worry, opens his mouth again but Lafayette cuts him off.

“I think that’s all we’re going to get out of him right now, Alex.”

“But we need to know-”

“We’ll know when John and the good lady get a look at him.” Lafayette still speaks softly, tries to walk as smoothly as possible on cracked city sidewalks.

“But-”

“We’re almost there, Alex,” John cuts in. “See, right there. That condo building.”

“Thomas,” Lafayette mutters a moment later. “I have to go up a couple of stairs, okay?” Thomas doesn’t respond, but shuts his eyes tight and wait for the jolting motion. When it comes, he can feel his dislocated shoulder shift position again. He distantly hears someone groan, maybe himself, and Hamilton squeezing his hand.

Laurens doesn't even get a chance to knock before the door flies open and a woman’s voice says “Come on, then. Bring him in.”

Thomas feels the sun’s heat disappear from his skin as Lafayette carries him into the cool condo. Instantly, he curls on himself. Lafayette adjusts for his change in position, accidentally pulling Hamilton’s hand out of Thomas’.

“Are you alright?” Hamilton asks. The reaffirmation that he's still there despite the loss of physical connection emboldens Thomas enough for him to mutter his second word since being dropped off.

“Cold,” he says.

“Ma’am,” Laurens starts, but the woman speaks again.

“I already turned the heat up. It'll take a minute.” The woman leads them down a hall. “You said he was nonverbal.”

“That's only his second word,” Laurens explains.

“I cleared off the kitchen table for you, it should be tall enough- George!” The woman yells. Thomas winces. “Since when have you been home?!”

“Sorry dear,” comes Washington’s deep rumble. “I came in the back a minute ago. I was wondering where you were-”

“Nevermind that! Get your damn coat off the table!” The woman commands. Thomas hears the sound of fabric hitting the floor and then Lafayette carries him through another doorway. “On the table, quickly,” the woman orders.

Lafayette goes to comply, gently putting Thomas down on a flat, hard surface. He groans as his heels catch on the table and his toes are jammed into the top of his shoes. He can feel them squelch with blood, like he had stepped in a puddle, not bled profusely in them.

“What’s going on?” Yet another voice asks.

“Phillip?” Laurens asks, shock evident in his voice. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to talk to the boss about Eaker… is that Clark?”

“What happened?” Washington asks.

“Honestly? We have no idea.” Laurens is leaning over Thomas, obviously trying to figure out where to start. “Ask Alex.”

“He’s bleeding on my table Mr. Laurens,” the woman says, tersely.

“Right… scissors,” Laurens decides. “We need to get his shirt off.” Thomas hears people shuffle around him, and then someone grabs at his feet. Thomas looks down long enough to watch Laurens wiggle his shoe off. The man literally gasps when Thomas’ blood soaked sock is revealed. “Fuck,” he mutters, reaching for the other shoe but removing it much gentler than the last one.

Language, Laruens. Scissors,” the woman says, handing them to Laurens. She’s shorter than Laurens, with slim shoulders and thin braids in a bun at the back of her head. Her face is set in determination as Laurens hooks one finger in Thomas’ sock and cuts the fabric away. Thomas has a guess as to what his feet look like and he doesn’t want to check and see if he’s right. So he shuts his eyes tight, wincing as Laurens’ hands run over his toes to see how bad it really is.

“Jesus fuck,” Hamilton breathes. His voice is too far away for Thomas’ liking. He turns his head and opens his eyes. Hamilton is standing, wide-eyed, next to Philip and Laf on the other side of a nice kitchenette.

“Alexander,” the woman snaps.

“Hamilton,” Thomas says. Instantly, Hamilton is at his side, standing by his head.

“It’s okay, I’m here,” Hamilton says, one hand sliding into Thomas’ right.

“It’s basically all he’s said,” Lafayette explains, but Thomas doesn’t care about what’s happening past Hamilton’s face.

“I think the back of it’s already cut open,” the woman says. By the sound of her voice, he’s standing on the opposite side of the table, facing Hamilton.

“Makes our job easier,” Laurens grunts, going to work on cutting Thomas’ shirt up in strips. Laurens pulls the blood-covered fabric away from Thomas’ chest, muttering to himself as he really gets a look at what state Thomas is in.

“Nothing looks too deep…” the woman trails, “besides the one on his bad shoulder.”

“Bandages and disinfectant might be all we can do,” Laurens sighs. “That and set the dislocation.”

“You gotta wake up, okay?” Hamilton croons, running his free hand through Thomas’ hair. “You have to come back to us. You’re stronger than this.”

Hamilton’s eyes shine through the haze of Thomas’ muted vision. Thomas’ eyes are glued to them as Laurens and the woman move around him.

“Okay,” Laurens says. “Alex, you’re going to have to help me sit him up.” Hamilton squeezes Thomas’ hand.

“Sure.” Hamilton slides his free hand under Thomas’ good shoulder. Slowly, painfully, Thomas is pulled into a sitting position, sheer pain of his damaged skin moving and stretching bringing the buzzing back to the forefront of his mind. Laurens puts his hands on Thomas’ arm, one hand under his arm and the other on his wrist.

“On three, I’m going to push it back into place,” Laurens explains. “You’re going to keep him as still as possible.” Hamilton nods his understanding, reaching around to hold Thomas still by the waist. Thomas feels himself press into Hamilton’s chest, can hear the other man’s heartbeat even through the haze. It’s pounding like a jackhammer. “Alright. One, two… three!”

Laurens pushes sharply on Thomas’ arm and Thomas screams. He can hear bone grind against bone and his entire arm feels like it’s on fire. The buzzing grows deafening. The next second, Thomas’ shoulder pops back into place with a sickening noise and Thomas blacks out.

Chapter Text

Seabury pushes the thickest wire Thomas has ever seen under Thomas’ nail. It burns red-hot, searing his skin. Seabury laughs as Thomas screams, begs, pleads for him to stop.

Seabury pushes the wire farther back, it catches under the nail root and slides under the skin.

“Thomas…” Seabury sings, mockingly. Thomas squirms, tries to pull his hand away but it’s tied tightly to the chair. “Look at me!” Thomas complies without wanting to, looking down at the man destroying his hand.

Hamilton looks back at him, a calm smile on his face. Thomas can’t contain the gasp, the tears of betrayal welling in his eyes.

“Thomas!” Hamilton says, laughing, pushing the wire up Thomas’ finger-

Thomas wakes up screaming. There are hands on his, gripping tightly. Thomas tries to pull away, they won’t let go, they won’t leave him be, Seabury’s gonna-

“Thomas, it was just a dream!” Hamilton says, holding onto Thomas’ hands as hard as he dares. Thomas blinks, muscles still tense, ready to kick and fight his way out if he has to. His shoulder, hand and chest are all in bright hot pain.

“Hamilton?” Thomas ventures, still unsure. It’s almost too dark to see.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Hamilton says, light from the one uncovered window illuminating half his face. “You’re okay, you’re safe,” he mutters, keeping eye contact with Thomas. “It was just a nightmare.”

Thomas swallows thickly, glancing about quickly. He realizes he’s on a leather couch, in a huge shirt he’s all but drowning in but still feeling constricted. A blanket is twisted up around his stomach, feeling almost as tight as the ropes that had bound him to the chair-

Hamilton squeezes Thomas’ hands. Thomas winces as it sends a little flash of pain shooting up his arm. Hamilton immediately realizes his mistake, letting Thomas’ hands go quickly.

“Sorry, I… I didn’t want to grab your shoulder or anything,” Hamilton explains. “You were thrashing about pretty hard. You almost hit the lamp.” Hamilton points to the aforementioned lamp on an end table by the couch. “Are you back with me?” Hamilton asks. Thomas, breath coming in harsh gasps, looks at him uncomprehendingly. He goes to speak, but just ends up coughing.

“Where am I?” Thomas croaks, his throat dry. Hamilton blinks. He’s squatting on the floor, just by where Thomas’ head had been. The pillow is on the floor, tossed off to the side sometime during the night.

“The Washington’s,” Hamilton says.

“How did I get here?” Thomas’ throat burns as he talks. Hamilton’s eyebrows furrow, bottom lip between his teeth.

“Seabury dropped you at my feet and I called John. Laf carried you here. What all do you remember?” Hamilton asks. Thomas frowns, trying to think back.

“I don’t-” Thomas coughs again, hands flying to his throat. His right hand screams in agony as he moves it, and Thomas looks down at it. White bandages, stained slightly red, are wrapped around his fingers tightly. How…

It hits him like a ten ton weight.

“Seabury,” he breathes. His stomach starts to churn as the memories come flooding back. “...knife in the shoulder,” he mutters, his parched throat doing him no favors. “Then I woke up here.”

Thomas looks up at Hamilton, whose expression is obviously carefully guarded. “That’s all?” He asks. Thomas grimaces.

“Well, there’s a lot before the knife in the shoulder,” he says. “Can I have water?”

Hamilton jumps up. “Yeah, of course!” He steps back and away from the couch. Thomas follows him with his eyes as Hamilton crosses the dimly lit room to an open doorway. Hamilton flips a light switch and light pours from the other room. Thomas winces as his eyes adjust quickly, but he can look around now.

The living room is sparsely furnished, but the tv on the opposite wall is fairly large. An armchair and a coffee table complete the small set-up, as well as a few pictures on the walls. It’s too dark to make out specifics, but Thomas thinks he can see Washington with a smaller woman in the ones closest to him. He glances down, finds a small nest of pillows and a blanket in a pile next to the couch. They’re propped up against the side of the couch Thomas’ head would have been while he was asleep. Did Hamilton sit there, waiting for me to wake up?

Thomas hears Hamilton turn on the tap, muttering to himself, and then Hamilton reemerges, glass in hand. Thomas stifles a gasp. The other man is covered in dried blood, his shirt almost dyed rusty red. It’s on his neck and arms, though if Hamilton’s bothered by it, he doesn’t show it. With a sinking feeling in his stomach, Thomas realizes that it must be his blood.

“Here.” Hamilton comes back over, offering Thomas the cup. Thomas takes it with his left hand- his shoulder complains, but it’s nothing like the pain in his right hand- and takes a small sip. Even the small amount he takes makes him choke. Hamilton instantly has hands on him, hitting Thomas lightly on the back. Little flares of pain erupt with each impact, and Thomas shies away from the touch.

Hamilton instantly stops, drawing his hands back to himself, though they hang in the air like he wants to reach out again. Hamilton watches with wide, worried eyes as Thomas puts the glass down on the coffee table. “I’m fine,” Thomas says when the hacking stops. Hamilton doesn’t look like he believes him, but he kneels down on the pile of pillows on the floor.

“Uh, can I ask…” Hamilton fidgets, looking at a spot on the couch next to Thomas. “Can I ask what the nightmare was?” His voice is hoarse, harsh in the quiet. Thomas looks down at the rolled up blanket, gripping it tightly in his hands.

“Do you really have to ask?” Thomas slowly untangles the blanket from around himself, tosses it away from himself. He wants it off his body, hell, his clothes feel too restrictive. He sits the rest of the way up, feet on the floor, trying to banish the feeling of ropes and zip ties around his body.

Hamilton silently slides onto the couch next to Thomas, hands clasped together. “It might help to talk about it?” Hamilton looks at the side of Thomas’ face, not daring to come too close. They aren’t touching, Hamilton has left a good few inches of space between them.

“I’m fine,” Thomas breathes. He refuses to look at Hamilton, refuses to break. I’m fine, he repeats in his head.

“If you were, you wouldn’t have had the nightmare,” Hamilton counters.

“I swear, I’m-”

“Thomas.”

Thomas grits his teeth, feeling his hands clench. The pain in his right is grounding, the way raw skin rubs against the bloodied bandages. “Wire.”

“Wire?” Hamilton prompts. Thomas nods.

“Under my nails and skin.” Thomas forces the words out like he has to pull them from the deepest part of himself. “It’s… what they did before… before they tore them off.” Hamilton grimaces, looking down and away.

“I’m going to fucking kill them,” Hamilton mutters. Thomas doesn’t respond. For a moment, the only sound is their breathing. Thomas tries to push the nightmare away, but it stays fresh in his head.

“What time is it?” Thomas asks, breaking the silence. Hamilton starts, glances at the clock.

“Eight,” Hamilton responds. “You’ve been asleep for five hours.”

“Is it just us here?”

Hamilton nods. “John and Laf left for the bar, Pip went home and the Washingtons are… they’re trying to figure out what happened to you.” Hamilton looks back up at Thomas, leaning away like Thomas might snap and attack him. Thomas realizes he probably looks like hell.

“And you stayed?” Thomas asks, not quite believing it.

“Yeah, someone had too.” Hamilton nods. “I thought I should return the favor.”

Thomas is confused for a moment, then remembers. Last night at the urgent care. “Right. Thanks,” he says. Hamilton nods again.

“James called,” he says suddenly. Thomas starts, looking at him sharply.

“James?” Thomas asks.

“That’s Lewis’ real name, right?” Thomas nods, and Hamilton continues, digging in his pocket. He pulls out a small rectangle Thomas recognizes as his phone. “We didn’t know what to say, so we just said you were in the bathroom.”

“Thanks,” Thomas mumbles, turning his phone on to find an exceeding amount of texts and calls, not all from James. Everyone else had sent him something over the last nine or so hours. Hamilton shrugs.

“No problem.” Hamilton hesitates, biting at his lower lip. “What do you want to tell him?”

Thomas is a tad surprised that no one instantly told James, but he’s grateful. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Hamilton repeats, the sounding out the word like it’s in a language he doesn’t know. Thomas nods.

“Nothing. He doesn’t need to know.” Hamilton blinks, looking at Thomas like he’s grown a third head.

“I don’t-”

“I’m fine, he doesn’t need to know,” Thomas repeats.

“Uhh, you’re not fine,” Hamilton says. “I saw you earlier, you were practically comatose.”

“That was earlier. I’m fine now.” Thomas glares at Hamilton, daring him to argue. Of course Hamilton does anyway.

“If you were fine, it wouldn’t be a big deal whether or not you told him,” Hamilton points out. “You would tell him, point blank, and move on. But you don’t want to do that. Why?”

“I can’t tell him,” Thomas says, mind too rattled to come up with yet another lie.

“Why not? He’s your partner, right?” Hamilton inches forward on the couch. It’s Thomas’ turn to shrug.

“Not really, he’s a member of the team.”

“Well, why can’t you tell him? You went through some shit today.” Hamilton’s eyes are wide, expectant.

“I just can’t, okay? Drop it,” Thomas hisses. Hamilton’s expression hardens.

“Can’t or won’t.”

“I said drop it.”

“Why can’t you tell him?” Hamilton pushes, shooting ever closer. Thomas bristles.

“Because if I do he’ll send me home!” He snaps. The words come out before Thomas can stop them, and they just keep coming. “He’ll call our boss and tell him about the concussions and yelling at him and everything else and I’ll get sent home!”

Hamilton is quiet for a moment, the only sound in the room is Thomas’ harsh breathing as he tries to keep himself under control.

“Maybe that’s for the best,” Hamilton ventures. Thomas shakes his head violently.

“I can’t go home. Not now.”

“Why not?”

“Because,” Thomas hisses, “Going home means admitting defeat. This was my first leadership assignment. I had to fight for this. I begged and pleaded to be the assignment leader and going home means that everyone else was right. That I wasn’t ready for it.” Thomas cradles his face in his hands. “I can’t go home.”

Hamilton scoots a little closer on the couch. “What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll have another chance.” Thomas is shaking his head before Hamilton even finishes his sentence.

“I’ll get fired,” Thomas admits. Hamilton frowns.

“I’m sure that’s not-”

“Everyone already blames me for Charlotte, so not being able to handle something I asked for…” Thomas trails off, knowing Hamilton can finish the train of thought.

“If they really blamed you for whatever happened in Charlotte, they would have fired you over that.”

“No, they couldn’t. It was all technically Louis’ fault.” Thomas peers at Hamilton sideways, through his fingers, and sees the confused expression on the other man’s face. Thomas sighs. “Louis Capet used to be the team leader, before Charlotte.”

“Louis Capet… the negotiator?” Hamilton asks. Thomas nods. “What happened?”

“It’s a long story, one that’s classified.” Thomas shifts down the couch, away from the other man.

“I got time, and who am I going to tell?” Hamilton scoots closer anyway. Thomas leans back, eyeing Hamilton warily. Hamilton just waits, expectantly, hopefully. Thomas locks eyes with the other man and the story comes tumbling out.

“Abe Lincoln used to run the North Street gang down in Charlotte, practically ran everything like King does up here. Things were… stable, if not peaceful. See, some of the North Street boys didn’t like the way the major pimps were working their prostitutes. Things got a little chaotic, and a guy named Jefferson Davis started making a ruckus. Demanded Lincoln stop all the attacks on the pimps that were happening and protect them from the rest of the gang. Not only did Lincoln not do that, he basically demanded Davis and all his friends hand over all their working girls and shut up about it.

“So Davis and the others split off, formed the South Street gang, tried to take Lincoln’s power from him. It was basically all out war. We got sent down to resolve things. Louis was in charge, I was just one of the agents under him. As a group, we started working with Lincoln so we could arrest Davis, but I was undercover in South Street.

“One of the boys I met was a guy named John Booth.” Thomas looks anywhere but Hamilton as he speaks. “He was cute, wanted to be an actor. Was pretty good. Had a brother in the business, his dad had been an actor, but John had gotten some sort of respiratory disease. He couldn’t perform until he recovered, but needed money. Turned to spying against North Street for Davis to pay the bills.

“Looking back, he… wasn’t a great person. Kind of violent, pretty racist actually. But at the time… he was a starving actor. I felt bad for him. I thought maybe-” Thomas laughs at himself “-I could be his savior or something. Thought I could change him. I convinced Louis to beg our higher ups and the North Carolina DA to let us offer Booth a deal: he turned on Davis, we’d get him out. More than that, we would give him a job. Make him a ‘gang mentality specialist’ or something like that.”

Hamilton has gotten ever closer to Thomas, enraptured in the story. Hamilton’s leg is now a hairsbreadth away from Thomas’, and Thomas can feel his body heat. “At first he told me he’d think about it. Took the news I was a cop pretty well, to his credit. By that point, Lincoln had gotten Davis pretty well cornered. It was just a matter of time before South Street surrendered. Then one night, Davis got himself surrounded by a bunch of very pissed off North Street boys. Louis had a choice to make: risk police lives to try and arrest Davis, or sit back and let North Street take care of him.

“James and Ben ran the math, and it was statistically better for North Street to have their way than try and get in the middle of it. So that’s what Louis did. I remember they dragged Davis out of this warehouse and strung him up on a streetlight.” The memory is fresh, like it happened yesterday. The sight of Davis’ beaten, bloody body swinging in a fall breeze. Half of his face had just been… gone. Thomas shakes the sight out of mind.

“Anyway, when Booth found out what happened, he was pissed. He had been devoted to Davis. Basically told me to fuck off and disappeared. I was upset, but there was nothing to be done. So we turned our attention to tracking down the surviving South Street leaders and protecting Lincoln long enough to arrest him. I was on Lincoln’s guard detail the night of the Ford’s Theatre incident. Booth got into theatre, and approached me. He said he had changed his mind, wanted to talk about the deal some more. So I asked Louis if it was okay to leave Lincoln to go talk to Booth for about it. Louis said yes, but when my back was turned…” Thomas makes a gun with his good hand, pointing it out in front of him, like he’s aiming for the back of someone’s head. “Bam.”

“He shot Lincoln,” Hamilton finishes. Thomas nods.

“My fault, but Louis gave me the go ahead, so technically he had to carry the blame. So Farnese demoted him, because he didn’t want to fire him. He wanted to get rid of me, but some bullshit rule kept him from doing it. He was going to put James in charge, but I felt like I needed to prove myself after what happened. I got James, Ben and Steuben and a few others to back me up. I think Farnese wants me to fail, so he can finally get rid of me.” Thomas drops his head against the couch.

“So I can’t go home,” he finishes.

“No, no you can’t,” Hamilton agrees. Thomas blinks, head shooting up in surprise. Hamilton looks back at him, acceptance and understanding on his face. “You have something to prove. I get that,” is his answer to Thomas’ unasked question. “Besides-” Hamilton shrugs “-if your boss is hoping you fail, you have to succeed. Stick it to the Man!”

A strange relief floods through Thomas, as if Hamilton’s approval actually meant something to him. Hamilton grins wickedly at him, eyes glinting in the low evening light.

“I am ‘the Man,’ Hamilton.” Thomas smiles back, a little smirk, not much more. Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“Well, the Man’s Man, then.”

Thomas chuckles, a deep, genuine laugh that surprises Thomas in its sincerity. Laughing feels odd, considering the circumstances, but Hamilton starts to laugh too and soon the both of them are giggling like school children. Hamilton’s laughter is almost barking, short little sounds, mischievous almost. It’s cute, Thomas thinks. He’s cute.

It’s the first time the thought crosses Thomas’ mind and isn’t instantly dismissed. It’s presented like a fact, one that the rest of Thomas’ mind accepts simply. Well, not quite, because a part of his brain protests that Hamilton is not cute, he’s handsome. He’s got that dark hair that frames such intelligent, sparkling eyes. The light from outside catches Hamilton’s hair, creating a silver halo around his face. Thomas can remember how soft that hair is, he wants to reach out and run his fingers through it again.

Hamilton looks back up at Thomas, and Thomas realizes that he’s been staring. There’s a heat that rises to Thomas’ face, and he wants to look away, but he’s entranced again. Just like in the elevator, Thomas is frozen simply within Hamilton’s gaze. They’re so close, Hamilton having long since closed the gap between them.

With a rush, Thomas realizes Hamilton is staring back. Thomas feels a pull, finds himself leaning ever so slightly down, closer to Hamilton. Thomas’ eyes flick down to Hamilton’s lips, slightly parted, the trail end of a smile still ghosting the corners. When he looks back up at Hamilton’s eyes, they shine with barely contained emotion.

Hamilton’s face tilts up almost imperceptibly. Thomas’ good hand reaches up slowly, trembling as it gets closer to Hamilton’s face. They’re inches, centimeters away-

Thomas’ stomach rumbles.

In the silence, the sound echoes around the room. It snaps Thomas out of whatever trance he was in, and he instantly jerks away from Hamilton. The shorter man seems to jump, startled by the sudden noise. The blink at each other, heat rising to Thomas’ face when he realizes what just almost happened.

Thomas looks down, away from Hamilton. “Uh, guess I could use some food?” He laughs weakly, scooting farther back on the couch as best he can. He hears Hamilton return the awkward chuckle, hears him shift in place.

“Makes sense,” Hamilton coughs, stands from the couch and walks away briskly. Thomas looks up just enough to watch Hamilton take two steps into the kitchen, stop and turn back around. “We gotta go out for food.”

“Why?” Thomas asks, mind still reeling.

Hamilton winces, glances at the refrigerator door. “The Boss’s lady won’t be happy with us if we raid her fridge.” Hamilton won’t make eye contact, even as Thomas nods his understanding. Thomas turns his attention to his own feet, still carefully wrapped in bandages from his toes to halfway up his foot. He catches a glimpse of the red, angry, bruised ring of skin around his ankles and winces. Well, let’s see how this goes.

Slowly, both hands planted on the couch behind him, Thomas rises to his feet. Both feet erupt into protests, his head spins and Thomas grimaces, holding on tight to the arm of the couch.

“Woah, hey,” Hamilton breaks in, suddenly concerned. He’s at Thomas’ side in a flash, grabbing onto his arm to steady the taller man. “You need to sit back down. I can call for take out.”

Thomas shakes his head. “Gotta stand sometime,” he spits through gritted teeth. “I have to walk.” After a moment, pregnant with Hamilton’s thoughts and worry, the shorter man nods. He lets go of Thomas’ arm, thankfully, and Thomas manages to push himself upright.

The room spins around Thomas. Blood loss, he realizes dimly. The rush of pain in his feet elicits a far from dignified noise and is nearly enough to make Thomas drop back onto the couch, but he knows he can’t do that. Not if he doesn’t want to go home, not if he wants to keep working. Hamilton watches, sitting on pin needles and ready to jump in to help Thomas if needed.

Which is the other thing. Thomas wants out of this condo, away from this stupid couch and almost kissing Hamilton.

Thomas rocks on his feet, trying to find a way to center his weight with the least amount of pain. As long as I just walk back on my heels, maybe it won’t be so bad? Thomas thinks, leaning back far enough that most of his body weight is on the back of his feet.

“Where too then? The diner?” Thomas offers, trying to keep his voice as steady and cool as possible. Hamilton fidgets, the fingers of one hand tapping the knuckles of the other.

“If that’s what you want…” Hamilton trails. He still won’t meet Thomas’ eyes, his gaze is focused somewhere just left of Thomas’ head. Which is fine, really it is. Hamilton must just feel awkward, understandably. Hamilton’s probably a straight man who didn’t understand what Thomas wanted, even if Thomas only wanted it for a split second.

You still do, a traitorous portion of his brain says, look at him. Thomas is, looking at the way Hamilton fidgets nervously. It’s adorable, the way he almost pouts as he waits for Thomas’ response. Thomas is seized with that same strange desire again, to cross the distance between them and wrap his arms around the smaller man; slot their lips together and-

“Well?” Hamilton asks. Thomas blinks, returning to the harsh reality of he can’t do any of that. Not only would Hamilton rebuff him- Thomas is dead sure of that- Hamilton is Hamilton. Insufferable, desireable Hamilton. A gangster. Thomas is still a federal agent. Nothing can happen.

“Sure. The diner’s fine,” Thomas breathes. Hamilton nods stiffly, and when he turns away to open the door, Thomas feels his face collapse.

What the fuck is wrong with me? He asks himself. He practically flees that apartment, trying to leave the memory of almost kissing Hamilton behind.

Chapter Text

Thomas doesn’t want to get a cab, the idea of riding in a car isn’t pleasant right now. Hamilton seems to understand because he doesn’t press Thomas to get one anyway. So Thomas forces himself to walk, to travel the multitude of blocks to the diner on his feet. He adjusts his gait so that most of the impact of each step lands on his heels, but it still isn’t pleasant. It’s downright torture, which might be half the reason Seabury did it at all.

The flare of pain Thomas feels in each footstep is a constant reminder of what happened, just like the way Thomas flinches at each passing car as it speeds past them on the street. He can’t help but watch each one pass out of the corner of his eye. Hamilton must notice, because he switches positions on the sidewalk with Thomas, choosing to walk between Thomas and the curb.

Thomas watches warily as a black SUV pulls into a parking spot on the side of the road ahead of them. He gives it a wide berth as he and Hamilton pass, the shorter man giving the man at the parking meter a small ‘hello.’

Besides that though, Hamilton talks to Thomas almost non-stop.

“How Washington managed to convince the Mrs. to marry him, no one knows. He claims it was consensual, and it must have been,” Hamilton rambles, “Martha Washington is not a woman you could force to do anything she doesn’t want to. John still thinks she must have lost a bet.”

“He must be in love with her.” Thomas manages to keep little flickers of pain out of his voice.

“He’s the only one not terrified of her.” Hamilton has to take two steps to keep up with Thomas’ longer strides. Thomas might be moving oddly, almost jerkily on his injured feet, but Hamilton still has to speed walk to keep up. “I mean that in the most loving way possible, but that woman once brought King to heel.”

“Really?”

Hamilton snorts. “Oh yeah. King was talking shit about Abigail, and Mrs. Washington was having none of that. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard King apologize to anyone.”

“I would pay literal fortunes to see that.” Thomas looks around, scanning the surrounding buildings. “Are we close yet?”

“Yeah, ya big baby, it’s just up ahead,” Hamilton teases. If Thomas cranes his neck, he can see the sign a little further up the block. To him, struggling to walk through the flares of pain that come from each step, the sign looks like the gates of heaven. Hamilton babbles on about something or other, but Thomas focuses on just reaching the diner.

When they finally reach their destination, and Hamilton opens the door for Thomas, it takes everything in him not to just collapse on the nearest seat. Thomas holds himself up as proudly as possible as Hamilton scoots around him and makes a beeline for their usual booth. Thomas just manages to catch Hamilton on the shoulder.

“We should sit one over,” Thomas says, motioning to the empty booth closer to him. Hamilton’s eyebrows furrow.

“Why? We always sit here.” Hamilton points at the booth in question. Thomas hides a wince, eyes flicking over to the little condiment caddy where he knows the bug is.

“Change of pace?” Thomas steps back and slides into his chosen booth before Hamilton can argue. One booth away should be far enough that the mic shouldn’t pick anything up. Not that the bug should be on right now, but Thomas isn’t in the mood to risk anything. Hamilton gives Thomas a look like Thomas has lost his marbles, but gratefully humors the taller man.

Hamilton crawls into the opposite booth just as a waiter approaches. Under the bright florescent lights, Thomas remembers that Hamilton is coated in dried blood, and Thomas himself probably doesn’t look much better. Hamilton doesn’t seem phased, however, and the waiter just gives them a once-over with his eyes. Thomas realizes that the staff is probably used to this, if the Sons like to use this place as a meetup as much as Thomas thinks they do.

They both get sodas, Thomas cracks open the menu, and Hamilton keeps talking. Hamilton kicks his legs slightly under the table as he rambles on. Thomas pays half-attention, letting the sound of Hamilton’s bubbly voice wash over him. It’s strange how much that voice already feels comforting, like Thomas could listen to it forever. The waiter returns with their drinks, interrupting Hamilton’s story. The moment he’s gone, Thomas expects Hamilton to start up again.

“So um…” Hamilton pauses, the silence in the conversation instantly drawing Thomas’ attention. Thomas looks up from the menu in his hands and watches Hamilton fumble with his wallet. Thomas frowns as the other man pulls out a wad of cash and holds it out across the table. “I wanted to pay you back.”

“For what?” Thomas asks, eyeing the hunk of money being offered him. It’s a little thin, mostly made up of ones, but Thomas thinks he sees a ten in there.

“For all the money I stole from you,” Hamilton shakes the stack slightly. He must see the confusion on Thomas’ face because he elaborates: “When I let you think you had to pay the diner and just took it all for myself?”

Thomas blinks, realization dawning. “Oh,” he breathes. Hamilton grimaces and looks down at his lap, money still held out in front of him.

“It’s not everything I owe you,” Hamilton admits. “But I didn’t buy a coat, I just said that to tease you. Most of it went to buying food. But I’ll get the rest of it, promise!”

Thomas sits, leaning back in the booth with wide eyes. The silence stretches between them as Thomas processes what Hamilton has said. Hamilton starts to fidget, still not meeting Thomas’ eyes.

“Look, just take it already.” Hamilton stretches his arm out a little further, pushing the wad towards Thomas.

Thomas feels something bubble in his chest. Something light and joyous, something that makes his stomach do little flip-flops and he starts to giggle. Hamilton turns beet red as Thomas’ giggles turn into almost full laughs.

“Don’t be asshole about it, just take the damn money,” Hamilton snarls.

“I don’t want it,” Thomas admits, breathless in this odd feeling he has. “You don’t have to pay me back.” Hamilton’s head snaps up, confusion plastered across his face.

“But you said you could get in trouble for it.” Hamilton still has the fist full of cash outstretched. Thomas leans forward, wraps his hand around Hamilton’s and pushes Hamilton’s hand back towards the younger man.

“I already figured out how to cover for it,” Thomas says. “I’d have to to admit to a lie, and we both know I don’t like doing that.”

“But-”

Thomas cuts off Hamilton’s protest. “No buts.” Thomas manages to gently put Hamilton’s hand back near his chest, and Thomas lets go of his hand.

“What if you get caught? Shouldn’t you have the funds to make up for it?” Hamilton’s hand clenches around the bills.

“I have more than enough in my own savings to pay for a couple of diner meals, Hamilton,” Thomas drawls. “I can just take it from the wedding fund, no big deal.”

Hamilton freezes. His eyes widen and Thomas can almost see the color drain from his face. “A wedding fund?” Hamilton’s voice has dropped in volume; it sounds hollow, shocked. “You’re getting married?” He looks so pathetic Thomas feels the urge to lean over the table and-

Thomas shrugs. “Eventually, yeah,” he says. “Not now, but sometime.”

“So you’re not engaged?” Hamilton asks. Thomas shakes his head, and he swears he can see Hamilton visibly relax. “So why have a wedding fund then?”

“So I know what money I’m using for it,” Thomas explains, raising his drink to his lips. “It’s all the inheritance money I got from my father.”

“That’s a nice way to remember him,” Hamilton remarks. “Use his money to get married.” Thomas practically snorts sprite out of his nose.

“No, that’s not it at all!” Thomas puts his drink back down, feeling the burning of soda in his sinuses. “I’m doing it to be a petty motherfucker.”

“What do you mean?” Hamilton peers at him over his own drink. Thomas smirks.

“Well, using my father’s money to fund a gay wedding is the best revenge I can get.”

“Revenge?”

“Yep!” Thomas leans over the table, towards Hamilton. “The only reason I have that money is that he didn’t write me out of his will fast enough after he disowned me.”

“He disowned you?” Hamilton asks, “What for?”

“Well, the last time I saw him, I told him I was gay. Then he told me that-” Thomas thickens his accent in his best impression of Peter Jefferson “-’no son of mine is gay,’ except he didn’t say gay, he used the f-slur, then I said ‘guess I’m not your son then!’”

“No,” Hamilton breathes, leaning over the table. Thomas nods, grinning ear-to-ear.

“Then he said, and I quote, ‘have fun sucking dicks in hell,’ and I said ‘see you there!’ Two weeks later, he was dead in a car crash. First and only time I ever stood up to that man.” Thomas shakes his head at the memory.

“I… I’m so sorry,” Hamilton says.

“Don’t be,” Thomas replies. “Everyone else was pretty cool with me. Hell, my sister Lizzie’s got a girlfriend now. When I told my mom what I wanted to do with the money, she thought it was the best thing she’d ever heard.”

“That doesn’t change what your father was like,” Hamilton says, frowning. Thomas shrugs.

“Nothing changes that.” Thomas takes a drink, trying to think of some sort of conversation segway to get off the topic of Peter Jefferson.

“Was he always that shitty?” Hamilton asks. Thomas can’t keep the grimace off his face as he replies:

“Yeah,” Thomas coughs. “Can we not talk about him?” Hamilton sighs, nods.

“‘Course. Sorry for asking.” Hamilton stirs his drink with his straw, absentmindedly. Thomas fidgets, suddenly feeling guilty for shifting the mood. The waiter comes and goes, taking their order and disappearing.

“So, are you trying to get back with Eliza?” Thomas asks, the question the first thing that popped into his head. Hamilton starts.

“No, why would you think that?”

Thomas shrugs, burying the surge of relief he felt. “You were flirting with her today.”

“You noticed?” Hamilton asks, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly. Thomas nods.

“The whole damn meeting did,” he says. “But it’s not anything.”

“Nope,” Hamilton says, almost too emphatically. “Not at all. I’m single and free as a bird.” Hamilton leans on the table, putting his chin down on his wrists so he has to look up at Thomas. The sight of Hamilton, peering up at him through his eyelashes, sends a little jolt of adrenaline through Thomas’ body. Once again, the little voice in the back of his head- the one chanting ‘kiss him kiss him kiss him’ grows louder. Thomas coughs, trying to stifle the urge.

“What happened there? Between you and…” Thomas trails, motioning vaguely with drink in hand. Hamilton jerks, head coming up off the table and leaning back into his chair.

“Oh,” he says. “I, uh, I fucked up.” Thomas waits, hands circling each other in a request for Hamilton to keep talking. Hamilton fidgets, but takes a deep breath and says, in a giant rush: “I cheated on her with James Reynolds' wife.”

Thomas nearly spits out the mouthful of sprite he’d taken. He looks at Hamilton, wide-eyed. He’s a cheater? Hamilton shifts in his seat, glancing about so as not to make eye contact.

“Eliza was gone on some vacation with Angelica and Peggy, and I was lonely and Maria was offering…” he winces. “Kind of. She’s a working girl, and she offered a discount and I was pissed at Reynolds anyway.” Hamilton rubs his face in his hands. “Reynolds tried to blackmail me, but I told everyone what happened and Eliza left.”

“Jesus,” Thomas breathes. Hamilton’s a cheater, he’s a fucking cheater. Hamilton nods.

“It almost… I almost broke up the Sons. The Schuylers were so angry and tried to get Washington to kick me out, but the boss wouldn’t and Eliza’s dad threatened to break off from Washington.” Hamilton sighs. “I think Pip convinced them to stay with us. I don’t know. Angelica wouldn’t talk to me for months. I have no idea how Eliza forgave me.”

“You fucked up,” Thomas says.

Hamilton lets out a breathy chuckle. “Yeah, I fucked up.”

Silence descends, both men unsure of where to take the conversation. Thomas almost wishes Hamilton hadn’t told him.

“So, uh… King and Seabury?” Thomas ventures. “That’s a… thing?” Hamilton’s eyes instantly light up, a small chuckle escapes his lips.

“Oh yeah. That’s a thing.” Hamilton says it with such conviction and pure schadenfreude that Thomas is taken aback.

“Well, now I gotta know what story there is behind that.” Thomas takes another sip, settling down for a story.

“Well,” Hamilton begins, the biggest shit-eating-grin on his face. “Seabury used to be this preacher down on third street. For some reason, he decided it was his calling to ‘save’ all the gang boys he could meet. No big deal at first, then he actually started gaining some traction within the community. Was a huge thorn in our side. This was back when King still ran the Sons so when I say ‘our’ I mean everyone’s side.

“King decided to take care of it before Seabury got too worrisome, and did his usual shtick. Broke into Seabury’s apartment, acted all creepy and shit, you know how King is. Now, no one knows exactly what happened that night, but the story generally goes like this:

“King waited for Seabury to get home, and launched into his normal ‘I’m better than you, do what I want, I’m terrifying’ speech. Seabury must have been expecting King to show up or something, because instead of being intimidated, Seabury just like made him tea or something. Like, King is going through his whole spiel, and Seabury is just calmly making tea, and then offers King a cup.

“King is just thrown completely off his game by this young preacher that he accepts the tea and they get to actually talking. A few hours later Seabury says he has to get to bed if he wants to make morning mass and shoes King out of his house. I was in the meeting King was coming back too, and he was just so… different. That’s the only way I could describe it. Anyway, halfway through the meeting he slams his hands on the table and screams ‘that damn preacher tricked me!’ and storms out.”

Hamilton tells his story with flailing hands and wide expressions. The waiter actually has to dodge his flying motions to deliver their food. Thomas is entranced.

“So King went back to Seabury’s that night, ready to tear Seabury a new one, and when he gets there, Seabury’s already got a pot of tea brewing. Thing is, though, it’s some sort of fancy British tea that King had mentioned was his favorite the night before. And again, King is so surprised he talks with Seabury for hours.

“This goes on for weeks. People keep asking King when he’s going to just end this preacher, but King keeps dodging the question. Reynolds starts getting suspicious, a bunch of guys are getting worried that King is spending so much time with this Seabury fellow and King won’t say a damn word.

“Eventually, King comes back from one of these little rendezvous with Seabury hanging on his arm. Somehow King convinced him to give up his parish and join him. You should have seen it. King just comes prancing in with Seabury attached to his side and goes ‘everybody! This is Sam. He is second in command from now on!’

“Reynolds- he’d been second for years- his jaw just dropped. The entire room was silent. Nobody knew what was happening. People thought Seabury somehow had gotten blackmail on King, there was no other explanation, as far as most people were concerned. Seabury was just suddenly everyone’s superior and King would not hear any different. And then, out of nowhere, during a completely normal meeting, King just grabbed Seabury and then they were making out and people lost their shit.

“Reynolds practically started screaming, and King just looked at him so unimpressed. Reynolds was talking about not wanting to work for homosexuals and all this shit about leaving. King just rolled his eyes, kissed Seabury again, and told Reynolds that if he had a problem with it, he could take it up with the bottom of the Hudson river. Reynolds was so pissed off. I honestly thought he was going to get up and leave.

“There were a bunch of other people there too, lots of them were talking about leaving with Reynolds. Then Washington stood up and congratulated the two of them. And that’s how the bulk of the Redcoat army suddenly hated the Sons of Liberty. Reynolds decided that if he wasn’t going to leave, he’d take his anger out on Washington and everyone loyal to him.

“Ironically, that’s what started all the bullshit that led to the Sons walking out on King.” Hamilton shrugs. He looks down, starts at the sight of his burger, as if he hadn’t noticed it arrived. He probably hadn’t, Thomas thinks. He himself hasn’t even really started on his own food yet, picking at fries as Hamilton ranted. “Huh, food’s here.”

“Yes, Hamilton, it’s been here for a while,” Thomas teases. Hamilton sticks out his tongue at him. Thomas just rolls his eyes as Hamilton checks his food for the right toppings.

“You know what’s the funniest bit about the King-slash-Seabury thing?” He asks.

“What?” Thomas asks.

“I’m dead sure Reynolds would jump at the chance to be in Seabury’s place.”

“As second again?” Thomas dips a handful of fries in vinegar. Hamilton smirks.

“Yeah, and as King’s boytoy.”

Thomas nearly chokes on his fries. Wide-eyed, Thomas shakes his head. “I’m sorry, are we talking about the same James Reynolds? The homophobic idiot who tied me up in the back of a van?”

“Yep.” Hamilton digs into his food. “I think he’s just really jealous. That, and he knows that most of King’s supporters don’t like the fact King is in a gay relationship. If only King and Seabury are out, Reynolds can run interference and smooth some egos. If all three were out…” Hamilton makes a slicing motion across his neck. “So the man married some poor girl from the streets and pretends like he hates Seabury. Well, he probably does hate Seabury, but not for being gay.”

“But for being gay with King,” Thomas finishes. Hamilton points at him with a fry.

“Bingo.”

Thomas whistles. “Damn.” Hamilton nods, shoving food into his mouth. “If we had proof-”

“Yeah, the great ‘if,’” Hamilton remarks. “If this, if that, does it really matter?”

“Well that sounds defeatist,” Thomas drawls. Hamilton rolls his eyes.

“It’s not defeatist, it’s realist,” Hamilton counters.

“Pessimism is not realism, it’s just pessimism.”

“I’m being realistic, not pessimistic.” Hamilton slams his hamburger back down onto the plate. “‘If’ is a word for people that have time to dream and wonder about alternate possibilities. All I got is the here and now, Okay?”

“But if you don’t think about the other possibilities, nothing would ever change about the ‘here and now,’” Thomas replies.

“Who says I want to change the here and now?” Hamilton asks, pushing resituating himself so he’s leaning forward, over the table again.

“Considering the ‘here and now’ is relative poverty and statistically likely death, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to change it.”

“I happen to like the here and now. There’s a lot of good people. What would you have me trade it for?” Hamilton cocks his head. “No really, give me one of those dreamt up possibilities of yours.”

“Come work with me,” Thomas says. The words spill out before he realizes what he’s saying. “Leave the Sons and join me. Make a decent living doing a good thing.” Hamilton blinks, leaning back in his seat as Thomas’ words land.

“Like the deal you tried to make with Booth?” Hamilton asks, voice slightly unsteady. Thomas swallows.

“Yeah, something like that.”

Hamilton pauses, looking at Thomas wide-eyed, teeth worrying his bottom lip. “...are you actually offering that to me?”

Thomas hesitates. “Do you want it?”

“Are you offering?” Hamilton presses. Thomas shrugs.

“I’d have to ask around… would you really consider it?” Something akin to hope starts to unfurl in Thomas’ chest. If Hamilton would really do that… maybe… The little corner of Thomas’ mind that he’s been ignoring since the almost kiss suddenly looks appealing to delve into.

“Maybe.” Hamilton looks out the window. “If I knew it was on the table, maybe I’d think about it.”

Thomas doesn’t know what to think about the fluttering in his stomach and the way his heart leaps at the idea of Hamilton taking the Booth deal. He swallows, feeling the heat rise to his face and looks down to try and cover any signs of it up.

“We better eat before this gets cold,” Thomas says.

If someone had been watching them, they would have noticed Thomas spent more time simply looking at Hamilton through the rest of dinner than most anything else. Which one could play off as Hamilton simply being Thomas’ meal partner unless you took it a step further and saw how Thomas was looking at the other man; as if Hamilton had brightly burning stars in his eyes.

----------

Thomas holds the door open for Hamilton as they leave, letting the other man dance out onto the street in front of him.

“So, where to now?” Hamilton asks. Thomas thinks for a moment, looking up and down the street.

“Back to the Washingtons? Lewis isn’t expecting me,” Thomas explains. Hamilton shrugs.

“Alright.”

Thomas had almost forgotten how much it hurt to walk. But the tortuous pain is slightly dulled as he banters with Hamilton, something about the ‘proper’ color scheme for a diner. Hamilton thought David’s was in need of a do-over, Thomas happened to like it as it was.

At some point, Thomas glanced around, taking in their surroundings. “Isn’t Abigail’s apartment somewhere around here?”

“Yeah.” Hamilton nods, pointing just down the street. “That building right there.”

Thomas suddenly remembers something. “Where are Burr and the Theodosias?” He asks, quietly. “Someone said something about moving them again.”

Hamilton smirks, his eyes lighting up with an idea. “Yeah. Wanna go see them?” Before Thomas can reply, Hamilton grabs onto his unbandaged hand and starts to pull him down the street. Thomas stumbles on his feet, pushing past the pain to stay upright as he follows the shorter man. Hamilton pulls him to Abigail’s door, buzzing them in and then leading Thomas up the stairs.

Climbing stairs somehow elicits more pain than Thomas has felt before. But he manages to limp up behind Hamilton, the only sign of pain is a gasp he emits when he accidentally runs his toes into a stair. It feels like it takes forever, but eventually both men are on Abigail’s landing, and Thomas leans on the hand railing out of relief.

“Oh!” Hamilton looks over his shoulder when Thomas doesn’t follow him to the door. “Shit, you okay?”

Thomas nods, “Just give me a second,” he breathes. He manages to look up at Hamilton, and his stomach plummets at the worried, guilty expression on the man’s face.

“I shouldn’t have pulled you like that,” Hamilton mutters. Thomas shakes his head.

I’m fine.” Thomas grits his teeth, pushing down the throbbing in his feet and ankles.

“You’re almost crying,” Hamilton points out. Thomas blinks, reaches up and wipes at his face. His hand comes away wet.

“Well, would you look at that,” Thomas says. “But I’m fine.” Hamilton opens his mouth to protest, but the look Thomas levels him shuts the other man up. They both stand there for a moment, the silence heavy with the fact that Thomas is most certainly not fine, but neither of them are going to do anything about it.

At some length, Thomas rights himself, standing straight. He goes to speak, but the sight of a door opening partially down the hall stops him. The silver-haired head of Abigail Smith pokes out into the hallway.

“You two boys wanna come in or what?” She asks, voice seemingly too strong for a woman of her age. Hamilton jumps, turning on a dime to face her.

“Yeah, we’re coming.” Hamilton marches down the hall, Thomas limping slowly behind. His right foot seems to be protesting harder than his left for some indiscernible reason. Abigail takes one look at Thomas’ injured gait and frowns.

“What’s wrong with you?” She asks as Thomas draws near.

“Tripped on the stairs,” Thomas lies, choosing very specifically not to look her in the eye. Abigail scoffs, obviously disbelieving, but lets Thomas into her home with no protest.

Thomas is greeted by the sight of Burr on the floor, bouncing the young Teddy on his knees, and cooing nonsense noises with her. Thomas looks up at Hamilton, one eyebrow cocked. Hamilton simply smiles and bows.

“Here you go,” Hamilton announces. “The lovely Burr family. Er… two thirds of it.”

“Theo’s in the kitchen,” Abigail says. “Making bottles.” She shuffles past Thomas, giving him a glare as she heads, presumably, in the direction of the kitchen.

“Good evening,” Burr says before turning his complete attention back to his daughter. The child giggles, rising and falling as Burr plays with her. Once again, Thomas is struck by the sight of Burr so relaxed and happy.

“I see you’re doing well, after what happened last night,” Thomas remarks. Burr nods distractedly.

“It wouldn’t have happened if you had kept them here!” Abigail calls from the kitchen. Thomas grimaces. There’s a muttering, the elder Theodosia’s voice drifts into the living room too quiet for Thomas to pick out what she’s saying. “Fine, it would have happened, but you three wouldn’t have been in the middle of it! I told him moving you all was a bad idea.”

Thomas chuckles nervously at Abigail’s insistence. Theodosia comes walking out of the kitchen, a full bottle in her hands, and crosses the room to her… boyfriend? Baby daddy? Lover? Thomas isn’t sure what to call them, thinking on it.

“Don’t worry about her,” Theodosia says, “she’s just teasing you.”

“See if I mean it when I come at him with a spoon!” Abigail calls out. Thomas shifts on his feet, suddenly alarmed. Thomas has no idea how strong Abigail might be- he’s willing to bet she could out-perform some young men- but a fly moving at a fast enough speed with good enough accuracy could knock Thomas over right now.

“Please don’t,” Theodosia calls back. Her voice is much stronger now, especially compared to the night Thomas had met her. Thomas can hear Abigail grumble from the kitchen, but it’s incomprehensible. Thomas isn’t sure he wants to know what she’s saying anyway. He can certainly see how she and Mrs. Washington could be friends.

“So Burr!” Hamilton says, throwing himself onto the floor so he’s cross-legged in front of the family. “I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Hm?” Burr grins down at his daughter, barely paying any attention to Hamilton at all. The shorter man frowns, but Theodosia takes pity on him. The woman plucks her child from Burr’s hands, swinging the girl up and into her arms. “Hey, now, we were having fun!” Burr protests. Theodosia looks down at him, amusement in her eyes.

“And you can have fun again later.” Theo jerks her head in Hamilton’s direction. The shorter man gives Burr an innocent smile, eyes wide and eyelashes fluttering. Instantly, Burr’s countenance falls.

“Hamilton,” he sighs, but the Latino is already launching into a rant.

“So, last time we really spoke, you refused to talk about anything involving King. Which I don’t understand, but it’s what you did.” Hamilton’s legs bounce as he speaks, Thomas can’t help thinking about how adorable he looks. “Since then, Thomas, I and a bunch of other Sons have put ourselves in danger for the three of you. Thomas most especially.”

Burr looks up, eyeing Thomas curiously. Thomas fidgets, looking away. “Hamilton,” he warns. The little man looks up at him, steel and excitement in his eyes.

“Why not tell him what you did for him, huh? Let him know what people are sacrificing while he sits on his hands and waits for death?” Hamilton’s hands clench into fists, expression urging Thomas to speak. Thomas coughs, feeling all eyes boring into him.

“I’d rather not…” Thomas’ protest dies on his lips as he sees the desperation in Hamilton’s face. He looks back at Burr, whose face has turned guarded. The elder Theo watches him in concern, and even Abigail has emerged from the kitchen to listen. The old woman leans against the wall, arms crossed over her chest, waiting. Thomas swallows his trepidation, and raises his right hand so everyone can see his bandaged fingers.

“Over the course of four hours or so,” he begins, feeling small as he speaks, “King and Seabury removed fifteen of my nails, dislocated my shoulder, and cut up the rest of my body. They wanted to know where you three were.”

Theodosia’s eyes are blown wide, jaw hanging open slightly. Burr’s face hasn’t changed but for a little flash of some emotion in his eyes.

“How? When?” Theodosia asks. Thomas shifts, dropping his hand and looking at the floor.

“Earlier today. Around lunchtime.” Thomas feels like he has to pull every word up his throat.

“When Seabury dropped him off on the sidewalk in front of me-” Hamilton bursts in “-he couldn’t even speak.”

“How?” Abigail asks. Thomas picks up his head to see her stern expression. “How did they get you alone?”

“I…” Thomas hesitates. “I was on a walk. They attacked me from behind and dragged me in a van.”

“And you didn’t notice them coming up behind you?”

“I was distracted,” Thomas protests.

“By what?” Burr asks. Thomas’ gaze dragged in his direction, as well as Hamilton’s. Thomas can’t help but let his eyes settle on Hamilton. Their eyes meet, and Thomas realizes him. I was thinking about him.

“Things,” Thomas coughs. He pointedly glares at the floor, arms crossed and even Hamilton seems to take the hint.

“So-” Hamilton turns back to Burr, “-with people around you literally putting life and limb on the line, you still won’t let even one thing slip?”

Burr lets the silence hang for a moment, but when he speaks he speaks clearly and without hesitation. “I think the very fact of what Agent Jefferson went through today illustrates my point. I apologize for your suffering, but that is the very thing we are trying to avoid by staying silent.”

“Burr-”

Burr holds up one hand to silence Hamilton. “I wasn’t finished. If Agent Jefferson had the opportunity to ask, I dare say we wouldn’t have minded if he turned us in to save his own skin. That’s how this world works. I wouldn’t have expected anything different.”

Theodosia nods her head in accordance to Burr’s words. “However, that’s not what happened,” Burr continues. “Thank you for not saying anything.” He inclines his head towards Thomas, even if just slightly. “But this does not change anything. What I said last night still stands.”

“But we can protect you! Last night should have proven that!” Hamilton insists.

“You all got very lucky,” Burr says, cold and determined against Hamilton’s fire. “I have a gun now, and that’s all the protection we need.”

“Burr!” Hamilton seems to be gearing up to speak again, but Burr stands from the floor before Hamilton can start.

“I said no. Now, it’s Teddy’s bedtime.”

Hamilton looks helplessly up at Burr, then at Thomas, and finally, pleadingly at Abigail. The older woman thinks, then shrugs.

“I can’t force ‘em to do anything, even if they are being idiots,” she says. “But Teddy does need to sleep. You can see yourselves out.” She nods in the direction of the door. Hamilton huffs, but stands from the floor.

“This isn’t over Burr,” he says.

“I say it is. Goodnight, Hamilton.” Burr takes Teddy from her mother’s arms and leads the two Theodosias down a hallway and out of sight. Abigail eyes them from her place on the wall until Hamilton practically storms out of her apartment. Thomas meets her gaze, and sighs.

“Sorry,” he says. Abigail’s eyebrows fly up her head. “About the whole ‘moving the Burrs’ thing.”

Abigail lets out a breath. “That’s all you had to say, dear.” She smiles. “Besides, I do think King’s done more to you than I ever could.” Thomas winces, and Abigail’s smile drops. “Too soon?” Thomas’ expression must be enough of an answer, because she sighs. “I apologize.”

“You’re fine,” Thomas replies.

Thomas!” Hamilton calls from the hallway. “Are you coming or what?!” Thomas looks out the door, but Hamilton must be closer to the staircase because Thomas can’t see him. From beside him, Abigail chuckles.

“Go, Agent. Your boy wants you.”

“He’s not my boy,” Thomas says, though there’s very little actual protest in his voice. Abigail just shakes her head.

“Goodnight.” She starts to head down the same hallway the Burrs disappeared down. Thomas calls a goodbye after her and heads out. The door clicks shut behind him, and he finds a fuming Hamilton waiting by the stairs.

“Finally,” he snaps. “Let’s go.” Hamilton starts down the stairs, grumbling to himself. Thomas stifles a sigh, walks to the top of the staircase and simply looks down for a moment, bracing himself.

The trip down hurts just as much as the trip up.

Hamilton is waiting for Thomas when he gets to the bottom, but just to push his way out of the building in a huff.

“Well, that plan was a bust,” Hamilton grumbles. Thomas blinks.

“Plan?” he croaks out, trying simply to keep walking without falling over. Hamilton nods.

“I was sure what happened to you would convince Burr to talk.”

Thomas limps down the sidewalk next to Hamilton, grateful the man’s shorter stride gives him the opportunity to walk slower. “That was your plan?”

“Wasn’t that obvious?” Hamilton snaps.

Thomas feels his face start to shut down, starts to arrange in the familiar shapes of disgust and anger. “And you didn’t think to run the plan by me first?”

“Did I need to?”

“I would have liked some warning, yes!” Thomas glares at the shorter man. “You put me on the spot there.”

“Did I?” Hamilton asks, still stewing in his own anger, unable to see Thomas’ issue.

“What if I didn’t want to talk about it Hamilton?” Thomas asks. “What if I didn’t want to talk about one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me in front of practical strangers?”

It finally seems to hit Hamilton, as the man stops short. He looks up at Thomas with the sudden realization spreading across his face. “You… you didn’t want to, did you?”

“No, Hamilton,” Thomas sighs. Guilt floods the other man’s expression.

“I… I didn’t even consider that,” Hamilton mutters.

“Obviously not.” Thomas starts walking again, heading down the street. Hamilton has to work to keep up.

“Wait. Where are you going?” Hamilton asks. Thomas thinks, still walking despite the protest in his feet.

“Back to my team. I want to sleep in a bed.” It’s an excuse, Thomas knows. Hamilton inhales, a sharp noise that sends a spike of guilt down Thomas’ spine,

“Oh, okay,” Hamilton says, voice carefully neutral. “I… I’ll walk you. Make sure you get there this time.”

It’s a poor attempt at a joke, and Thomas doesn’t laugh. The rest of the walk is silent, save Hamilton telling him what turns to take. The streets suddenly feel very cold, and each step Thomas takes sends waves of pain up and down his body.

They reach the condo, and Thomas looks up to find the lights on the second floor still on. He thinks he sees James, a blurry figure behind curtains.

“This is mine,” Thomas says. Hamilton nods, hands in his pockets. Neither of them move for a moment, the air between them heavy.

“See you around?” Hamilton coughs, looking anywhere but Thomas. Thomas nods, stiffly.

“Goodnight, Hamilton.” Thomas marches up the stairs to the door, plants one hand on the doorknob, but hesitates. He can feel Hamilton’s eyes on his back, boring holes into him. He can’t see Hamilton’s face, but he knows the shorter man is dying to speak. Thomas wants him to speak, doesn’t want to leave the other man in this tense silence.

But nothing is said. Thomas just sighs, opens the door and walks inside.

The moment the door is closed behind him, Thomas collapses against it. He rubs his face with his hands, pinpricks of pain flaring from both hands. He can hear people moving upstairs, James will most certainly be down in a moment. Thomas glances at the clock, it’s late. Just past 11. He groans as he slumps against the wooden door.

“Thomas?” James calls, softly, from upstairs.

“Hey,” Thomas says back. He hears James let out a sigh of relief.

“Where the fuck have you been?” James appears at the top of the stairs, a frown etched on his face. He’s in a pajama top and pants, with exhaustion painted on his face.

“Sorry?” Thomas smiles a weak apology. James starts down the stairs.

“Who’s shirt is that?” he asks. Thomas starts.

“It’s-” Thomas glances down at himself, “one of Washington’s.”

“How did you get one of Washington’s shirts? Where’s yours?”

Thomas’ brain somehow manages to come up with a coherent lie. “Hamilton and Lafayette took me to his place for dinner. Spilled some gravy on mine, Washington gave me a replacement.”

James hits the bottom of the stairs, stepping closer to Thomas. “So where’s yours?” He asks again.

“Washington’s wife offered to wash it. I’ll pick it up tomorrow.” Thomas feels his energy start to sag. His shoulder spasms, and the pain must show on his face because James asks:

“Are you alright?”

“Just tired, that’s all.” He moves to wave James off, but too late does he realize he uses his right hand. His hopes that James doesn’t notice the bandages are short lived as James’ eyes go wide.

“What happened Thomas?” He breathes, gaze locked on Thomas’ injured hand. Thomas bites his lip. For a split second, he considers telling the truth. Just let it all come spilling out, let James come comfort him and work out a plan for revenge. But Thomas knows that last part wouldn’t happen. James would wake the entire team, drag him to a doctor, then send him home.

Hamilton would plot revenge, Thomas thinks. “Hamilton slammed a door on my hand,” Thomas lies. “Basically destroyed my fingernails.”

James grits his jaw. Thomas thinks he’s going to ask to see the damage, and Thomas has a feeling his fingers look way too bad to have simply have gotten caught in a door. He resists the urge to shove his hand in his pocket. He can feel his heart fluttering in his chest.

Eventually, James sighs. “Just go to bed Thomas. When’s the last time you had a decent night’s sleep?”

Thomas grins. “Too long,” he says, following James upstairs as his friend leads him to their shared bedroom. Two twin mattresses awaited them, Thomas’ calling his name from the far side of the room. Thomas practically collapses onto it, the day’s exhaustion finally pulling him down. His body feels ready to fall into a coma.

“Not going to shower?” James asks.

“In the morning,” Thomas mutters into his pillow. He hears James chuckle at him and crawl into his own bed. Thomas shuts his eyes, expecting to fall asleep right away.

But that’s not what happens, because his brain starts moving a mile a minute. It stays away from Seabury and King and the aching in his whole body, thankfully, but it gets stuck on Hamilton. Infuriating, endearing Hamilton. Thomas plays through the last few hours in his mind, every word the two of them shared in analyzed for meaning. Every time Thomas had been seized with the urge to kiss the man brought up again and again in his mind.

Thomas tries to get his mind onto other things. He tries counting sheep, to no avail. Hamilton just keeps coming back into his thoughts. Lovable, annoying Hamilton. The way he laughs, the way he looks framed by moonlight. The way he pressed and pressed at Thomas until Thomas told him things Thomas hadn’t even admitted to himself. The way he had looked when he thought Thomas was getting married. That twinkle in his eyes and the mischievous smirk-

“Fuck,” Thomas mutters to the darkened ceiling.

“What?” James grumbles, half asleep.

“Nothing, James. Go to sleep.” Thomas curls up under the blankets, trying not to focus on the one thing his brain has figured out and won’t let go.

Thomas is in love with Alexander Hamilton.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

By morning, Thomas’ brain has changed that statement into ‘Thomas is in deep deep like with Alexander Hamilton,’ which is somehow both merciful and worse. The ‘love’ word might be gone, but now it sounds like Thomas is a middle schooler harboring his first crush. Either way, it’s still a major problem. One Thomas has to fix, now.

Somehow, between waking up in fits of pain, being awoken by dreams (nightmares with Seabury and more pleasant dreams with Hamilton) and the whirring of his brain, Thomas managed to snatch a few hours of sleep. But when the sun creeps through the window, Thomas doesn’t want to get up. He doesn’t want to face what he’s realized during the course of the night.

“Thomas, it’s nearly eight.” James puts his hand on Thomas’ shoulder, shaking the half-asleep man. Thomas has to bite through his tongue so he doesn’t let James know how much that simple action hurts. He still lets out a groan though, and hopes James just assumes it’s a ‘please don’t wake me up’ sound. “You need to get up.”

“Don’t wanna,” Thomas mutters.

“Thomas,” James sighs, his voice stern. “Steuben’s making breakfast.”

“I’m up.” Thomas pushes himself up, swinging his legs over the side of his bed. Immediately, his entire body complains, and Thomas feels multiple cuts reopen underneath his chest bandages. Thomas is beyond grateful his face is turned away from James.

“He says it’ll be ready in twenty minutes.” James hesitates. “You need to shower.”

“Yeah, I’ll be down in a minute,” Thomas grumbles. He waits until James has left the room before pushing himself into a standing position. Being on his feet still hurts like a bitch. Probably will for a while, Thomas thinks, biting his lip to make it to the bathroom he and James shared.

Locking the door, Thomas checks to make sure the first-aid kit is under the sink, where it’s supposed to be. The sight of the white plastic makes Thomas breathe a sigh of relief. He’s going to need this thing after his shower. Thomas stands, looks himself in the mirror and takes a deep breath.

Thomas pulls off his shirt and finally gets his first good look at his upper chest. White gauze stained ruddy red wrapped around his torso in clean, professional lines. There is so much dried blood Thomas probably should have changed them before falling asleep last night. Steeling himself, Thomas finds the end of the wrappings and slowly starts to unwind the bandages.

At first it doesn’t look too bad. The skin around where his neck meets his chest is fairly unmarked. There are a few cuts in the upper portion of his right shoulder, and the left has the huge stab wound that’s already started to bleed just from what little movement Thomas has done. But as more and more skin is revealed, Thomas’ stomach starts to churn. There are literal hunks of flesh missing, tiny holes and divots up and down his torso.

Thomas twists to look at his back and it’s not much better. Little specks of blood start to well up as Thomas accidentally tears open the still-fresh wounds. His upper arms look like a checkerboard, and his back looks like an animal took bites from his body.

And then, as he turns back around, he spots it. Carved into the flesh above the last rib on his left side, is a tiny crown. Seven lines, three points and all the implications of it are etched into his skin. Thomas stares at it in silence, one hand reaching up to softly trace the half-healed cuts. He doesn’t even remember it happening, but there it is, sticking out against the deep black of his chest.

For the first time, Thomas realizes how badly everything is going to scar. These little marks are never going away. He’s going to bear the reminders of Seabury and King for the rest of his life. Guess I can’t ever be shirtless around anyone ever again, Thomas thinks, especially not James. No more pool parties for me. He forces away pinpricks of tears and tears his eyes away from the mirror.

Thomas looks down at his bandaged hand. He has to take these wrappings off too, he knows. He doesn’t want to, especially after looking at his upper body. Thomas gulps, then slowly starts to peel the wrappings off his pinky. These bindings come off stiffly, blood having almost glued them in place. When he finally pulls the bandages off, the first thought that hits him is how wrong it looks not to have a nail. Instead of the hard, slightly reflective surface that should be there, it’s just damaged skin and dried blood. Bile crawls up Thomas’ throat at the sight, but he holds it back.

Exposed to air, his finger stings as he frees the rest of his hand. Thomas removes the rest of the gauze quickly, not letting himself look too long at any one finger. He makes short work of his feet, but his toes look red and angry from use despite the injury. Quickly, he hops behind the shower curtain and turns the water on.

Thomas hisses as the water hits his body and all his wounds light up in pain. Blood runs down his body with the water as Thomas tries to keep any soap and shampoo out of his cuts. He has to wash his hair with one hand, and he knows he’s breaking his hair routine, but he needs to clean every inch of his body. Now that he’s started his shower, Thomas is seized with the urge to scrub at his skin until every trace of what happened is gone, even if that means taking off a whole layer of skin.

Thomas scrubs with his good hand, ignoring the protests of his shoulder, feeling himself open up more wounds. He has to get himself clean. When he looks down at himself, however, the little crown looks back and Thomas can’t help but think he won’t ever be.

The water at the drain is still a light pink even as Thomas finally shuts off the water. He stands in the silence for a moment, the only sound being his breathing and the last drops of water falling from the shower head. Thomas pokes his head out into the bathroom, just to make sure no one managed to get in. Thomas steps out of the shower, reaches for one of the towels on the wall, and stops. Fuck. If he bleeds on the towel, how is he supposed to explain that?

Thomas lets out a breath, bites the bullet, and grabs one anyway. If worst comes to worst, he can throw it out a window or burn it or something. He tries to be as gentle as possible, but when his body is dry he looks down at the beige fabric and sees the streaks of red. He runs the towel through his hair quickly and reaches for the first-aid kit.

Thomas slathers Neosporin across every wound he can reach, frowning when he realizes a few on his back aren’t going to get treatment. And it’s not like he can ask anyone else to help him out, either. His finger- and toenails hurt the most as he puts the disinfectant on them. The kit doesn’t have a full roll of gauze like Thomas was hoping, but he makes do with what patches and band-aids he has. He almost goes through a whole box of band-aids to cover all his nail beds, and he makes a mental note to replace it before someone notices. Gauze pads are medically taped to the largest wounds across his chest, the rest have the remainder of the band-aids strategically applied. He still doesn't have enough. Thomas sighs, seeing the smallest nicks going uncovered and settles for a second application of Neosporin.

“Thomas?” A knock at the door startles him enough to make him drop the tube of medicine. “You almost done? The food’s getting cold.”

James’ announcement makes Thomas curse under his breath. “Yeah, I'm just about-” fuck he didn't bring a change of clothes in with him. “I need to get dressed, that's all.”

“Alright, hurry up, we have things to talk about.”

The jolt of fear Thomas feels is irrational, there's no way James knows. If he did, he would have burst in here to start mothering Thomas. Thomas lets out a steadying breath, hands curled around the sink. He repacks the first-aid kit, stuffing the trash as far down the trash can as he can. The towel he wraps around his shoulders, keeping the bloodied parts on the inside. He grabs a second towel and wraps it around his waist. There's nothing he can do about his feet, so Thomas just prays James has left the bedroom. Thomas cracks open the door, sticking his head out first.

James is standing there, making Thomas’ bed for him. James, Thomas thinks, I love and appreciate you, but this is the one day you need to not do this. Thomas almost pulls his head back inside, but James looks up at the last second. Thomas smiles, fighting down the anxiety bubbling in his chest. James smiles back, a small thing.

“Thomas,” James says. Thomas braces himself, praying the next words out his friend’s mouth aren't I know what happened with Seabury. James takes a breath, and Thomas fights to keep his face neutral.

“I wanted to apologize.”

Thomas blinks, unable to stop the confusion and surprise from spreading across his face. “I'm sorry, what?”

James flips the last corner of Thomas’ comforter into place. “I shouldn’t have made you walk yesterday, I’m sorry.”

No, no you really shouldn’t have, Thomas thinks. But he shakes his head. “It’s fine James.”

“No, it’s not. It was kind of a dick move. I was annoyed, and I figured you would have just stuck around waiting for me,” James admits. “Never thought you’d actually start walking alone.

“Oh, well,” Thomas grips the edge of the door, carefully making sure James can’t see anything but Thomas’ head. “It’s no big deal.”

“Still,” James says. He crosses his arms and takes a step towards Thomas’ door.

“You’re forgiven, if that’s what you’re waiting on,” Thomas replies. James offers a half-smile.

“Well, that’s not all.”

Thomas groans internally. “Can we talk about this while I’ve got clothes on?”

“Suddenly shy around me?” James teases. “We shared a dorm Thomas.”

“Yeah, but…” Thomas bites the bullet. “What else did you want to say?”

“I wanted to say that I’m proud of you.” James’ half-smile fills out as Thomas’ stomach drops. “You’ve really turned around in the last couple of days. You’re getting along with the Sons, making smart choices, and I haven’t even seen you take any painkillers.”

“Thanks,” Thomas chokes out, hoping his voice doesn’t sound as strained as it feels.

“I mean it Thomas. I was really worried about you for a while, but I guess it was all unfounded.”

“That means a lot to me James,” Thomas admits, suddenly very aware of the bandages and rubbing his skin and the pain across his body.

“This doesn’t excuse you disappearing yesterday,” James says. Thomas groans internally. There’s the other shoe.

“You sent me to walk. I ran into Lafayette and Hamilton after getting lost. I decided to ‘make connections,’ as you put it.”

“You could have picked up your phone,” James points out. “We didn’t know where you were for six hours, and then you never called in!”

“I was busy,” Thomas shoots back.

“Doing what?”

Making connections, I said!”

James’ lips purse, he takes a breath and Thomas thinks for a second that he’s gone too far. But James sighs and shakes his head.

“Just get downstairs. Steuben hates it when he has to reheat food.”

“Be down in a second.” Thomas feels the relief start to rise in him, watching James cross to the door. Just as Thomas thinks he’s in the clear, James turns around one more time.

“By the way, did you want someone to look at your hand?”

Thomas’ heart stops. “No, I’m good. Got it covered.” He sticks the bandaged hand in question out into the room to show James the rewrapping. “We don’t have any gauze, and need more band-aids.”

“Gotcha. I’ll get Louis to restock.” With that James finally leaves Thomas alone. Thomas sags against the doorframe in relief. Sending a ‘thank you’ to God, Thomas emerges from the bedroom and makes his way over to his dresser as quickly as possible. He throws on a shirt before James has a chance to come back. Pants take a little while longer, thanks to the need to bend over, but Thomas pushes through the complaints in his body.

This is just how I have to function now, he thinks. He finds socks, puts them on while sitting on his bed, then reaches for the nightstand drawer. Inside, he digs through the assorted junk until he pulls out the little white Tylenol bottle he’d stashed there. Haven’t been taking painkillers my ass. Thomas opens the bottle, frowns when he sees how few are left. The bottle had been full when he’d bought it after the concussions.

Thomas swallows three, then reconsiders. He takes a fourth before burying the bottle again.

Thomas just about leaves the bedroom before he remembers the bloodstained towel. After a moment’s consideration, figuring he doesn’t have much time left, Thomas wads it up and throws it under his bed. He makes a mental note to deal with it later, and heads out the door.

Thomas makes it down the short hallway before pausing at the top of the staircase. This is about to suck, he thinks. And it’s not like he can take it slow, either, not without attracting concern. So he braces himself, sucks in a breath, and goes for it.

Thomas bounds down the stairs with as much energy and enthusiasm as he can muster, smiling through the pain. Each footfall is a flare of bright pain, but Thomas certainly doesn’t let it show. He hits the floor landing with a little bounce, stepping into the kitchen with false gusto. The girls have already arrived, everyone but Steuben and Thomas himself are already seated at the table.

“Look who’s finally up!” Steuben calls, glancing over his shoulder at Thomas. He’s standing at the stove, one hand on a sauce pan. Thomas grins brightly at him, grateful when he can fall into a chair and kick his feet up on the table. “I was just about to toss your sausage.”

“Don’t you dare,” Thomas teases. Steuben rolls his eyes and slides Thomas’ breakfast on a plate.

“Could you maybe not put your dirty socks on the table?” Louis drawls. Thomas shrugs, settling further into his seat. As Steuben brings Thomas his first home cooked meal in weeks, Thomas looks around the table.

“So, what’s on the agenda for today?”

“I’ve got a couple of ideas,” James says.

-------------

Two hours later, Thomas finds himself- where else- at The Fighting Frenchman. The neon lights are dimmed, and one of the pride flags has come slightly off it’s stand. It flutters in a harsh breeze, one corner coming off slightly. Someone ought to fix that before it gets worse, Thomas thinks as he knocks on the heavy door. Thomas hears someone fiddling with the lock, and a moment later the door swings open.

“Clark, mon ami,” Lafayette says, voice cheery. “Come in. Lewis said you were coming!” As Thomas slides into the lit nightclub, Lafayette holds out his arms wide. Without really thinking about it, Thomas accepts the hug, pulling the other man into an embrace. Lafayette hugs harder than Thomas would have guessed, squeezing the taller man hard enough that Thomas is almost worried he’ll crack a rib.

“How are you?” Lafayette asks, words a breathy whisper in Thomas’ ear.

“Fine,” Thomas replies, trying his best to return the strength of the arms wrapped around him. Lafayette hums.

“Are you?”

Yes,” Thomas hisses back, pulling out of the hug. Lafayette’s mouth is set in a hard line, eyes flicking across Thomas’ face. Thomas meets their searching gaze with as much conviction he can muster. Eventually, Lafayette shakes their head slightly, and turns Thomas around.

“Alex is here,” Lafayette announces, one arm clamped around Thomas’ shoulders. Thomas ignores the twisting in his gut and cocked one eyebrow.

“And?” Thomas does his best to sound as disinterested as possible. Lafayette just rolls their eyes and leads Thomas in the direction of their office. Thomas notices that the doorknob is back on, but attached with more ducttape than Thomas would have figured. Lafayette pulls the door open and pushes Thomas inside.

“...he’s not gonna-” Hamilton cuts himself off mid sentence as Thomas stumbles into the room. The shorter man spins, and Thomas feels a kaleidoscope of butterflies take flight in his stomach. Hamilton’s usually messy hair is slicked back into a near-perfect ponytail, with just a few strands left hanging to frame his face in just the right way. He’s dressed in a low-cut shirt and a leather jacket that does things to Thomas. Dark skinny jeans show everything Hamilton’s working with and Thomas’ brain short-circuits.

Fuuuuuuck, he thinks, realizing he’s staring. Thomas feels his face heat up as he tears his eyes away from the tempting sight in front of him. Laurens is perched on Lafayette’s desk, a wicked smirk on his face. Hamilton clears his throat, and Thomas gaze is drawn instantly back to him.

“Hey,” Hamilton says. “What’s up?”

Thomas- half his brain still working on taking in everything he’s seeing- stutters out a “I.. uh, not much. You?” Thomas swallows thickly. Jesus Hamilton looks good.

Thomas blinks. This is not helping, he realizes. Hamilton shrugs. “Nothing,” he replies.

El te está revisando,” Laurens says and Hamilton’s face flushes.

Cállate y no me jodas,” Hamilton mutters. He leans against Lafayette’s desk, hips jutting out towards Thomas. The look he’s giving Thomas is going straight to where Thomas doesn’t want it to. “So, what so you want?” He asks Thomas, lips curling around the last word with a smirk. Thomas starts, heart pounding in his ears.

“Eaker,” Thomas blurts, “I want to check up on him.” Something flickers across Hamilton’s face in an eye twitch.

“In the basement.” Lafayette points to the closed door. “Alex, why don’t you go with him?” The ask, almost pointedly.

“Sure,” Hamilton says, not arguing for once. He crosses the room, passing Thomas and opening up the door to the depths of the club. Hamilton starts down the stairs, and Thomas follows, getting an eye-full of Hamilton’s ass. Thomas glues his eyes to the ceiling, fumbling down the stairs so he doesn’t look. Looking is just going to make Thomas’ little problem worse.

Thomas hits the bottom of the stairs just after Hamilton, who scoots out of the way so Thomas can see into the dimly lit room. It smells, the harsh tang of blood and sweat hangs in the air. Philip sits on a plywood table, arms crossed and slouched back into the wall. If Philip is surprised to see him, he doesn’t react. “Sup?” He greets Thomas, and Thomas nods back, but is far too distracted by the man still tied to the chair.

Eaker looks so much worse than Thomas remembers. One of his eyes is a deep purple color and swollen shut. He sports a busted lip, and the side of his head is matted with blood. Eaker glares up at Thomas, jaw set.

“Is it your turn?” Eaker asks, voice harsh and scratchy. Thomas’ stomach churns. The ropes holding Eaker to his seat are stained with blood, and the scraped, bruised skin of Thomas’ own wrists and ankles burns in sympathy. Then he sees Eaker’s obviously broken fingers and a flare of rage snaps inside Thomas.

“Has he been out of the chair?” Thomas asks, not moving his eyes away from the captured man. “At all?”

“Once or twice a day for the bathroom,” Philip replies. “Why?” Thomas turns to Hamilton, the other man leaning against the wall.

“Go get a first-aid kit,” Thomas mutters. Hamilton starts, coming off the wall in surprise.

“Wha-”

“You heard me,” Thomas commands. Hamilton hesitates, scanning Thomas’ face, then nods and starts up the stairs. Thomas catches a glimpse of Philips’ confused face, but Thomas’ gaze is drawn to the wall of tools. Saws, knives, screwdrivers and power tools line shelves the wall opposite the stairs. Some bear bloody rust stains, and Thomas feels a hint of bile crawl up his throat. He crosses to the wall and grabs a box cutter, pushing the blade open.

“What’re you…” Philip trails, but Thomas is already striding back to Eaker, knife in hand. Eaker visibly braces himself, matching Thomas’ gaze with cold determination.

“Ankles or wrists?” Thomas asks. Eaker’s eye narrows.

“If you think you’re going to get anything from me, you’re dead wrong,” Eaker spits. There’s blood on his teeth, staining the inside of Eaker’s mouth red. Thomas frowns.

“Ankles or wrists first?” He asks again, coming to a stop before the tied up man.

“The other one couldn’t break me, what do you think-”

“Choose or I’m picking for you,” Thomas demands. Hamilton comes trotting back down the stairs, a small box in his hands. Eaker growls, glaring at Thomas with as much hatred as possible. Which is fair, Thomas supposes. Without an answer, Thomas reaches for Eaker’s left wrist, bringing the knife close to his skin.

“Ankles,” Eaker breathes. Thomas freezes. “If you’re giving me a choice, ankles first.” Thomas nods mutely, then drops to his knees.

“Hamilton,” Thomas says, holding one hand out. A moment later, Thomas is handed the small plastic box and Thomas puts it on the ground in front of him. Thomas leans to the right, grabbing onto the leg of the chair, and cleanly slices open the rope holding Eaker’s leg back. The rope falls to the floor, and Thomas drops the knife next to it.

“What are you…” Hamilton asks. Thomas looks up, finding both Eaker’s and Hamilton’s expressions to be ones of confusion and shock. Thomas turns his attention to Eaker, however, as he says:

“I’m going to touch you now, okay?” Eaker’s expression turns guardedly dumbfounded. He doesn’t respond, not even with a nod, and Thomas grits his teeth. Slowly, Thomas rolls up Eaker’s pant leg to reveal the bloodied, torn, rope burned skin. It’s a thick band of injured flesh, and Thomas grimaces at it. He reaches down to the first aid kit and pops it open.

The room is dead silent as Thomas fishes out disinfectant and a roll of gauze and gets to work. Eaker hisses slightly as Thomas dabs alcohol onto his open wounds. A hand comes down on Thomas’ shoulder and Thomas flinches at the contact.

“What are you doing?” Hamilton asks, gripping Thomas’ shoulder.

“Bandaging him up,” Thomas replies, wiping away what blood he caused to flow.

“Why?” Hamilton asks. Thomas sets his jaw and keeps working. Hamilton squeezes harder. “Why?”

“Because I had to do it to myself this morning,” Thomas admits, glaring up at Hamilton. The other man’s eyes widen in understanding. Hamilton lets go of Thomas to fall to his knees beside him, reaching over for the box cutter. Thomas watches, warily from the corner of his eye, as Hamilton cuts the bindings on Eaker’s other leg and follows Thomas’ lead.

Thomas lets out a breath of relief as he drops the alcohol wipe on the floor and grabs the gauze. Carefully, he wraps Eaker’s exposed wounds tightly. When he’s finished, he looks up at Eaker to find that the man is utterly bewildered. Thomas pats the bindings gently.

“Roll it around a couple of times,” he says, letting go of Eaker’s leg. Surprisingly, the captured man does as instructed, making slow circles with his foot. In the meanwhile, Thomas looks over his shoulder to a concerned Philip.

“Is this really a good idea?” The young man asks. Thomas nods, but Philip still looks hesitant.

“You have more rope, I’m assuming,” Thomas says. Philip nods, reaching down to dig in a drawer before pulling out a loop of the same stuff Thomas had cut Eaker loose from. Philip tosses it back to Thomas, who holds it in his hands. It’s exceedingly coarse, no wonder it ripped open the skin. But it’s also no thicker than two of Thomas’ fingers together.

“Can’t we just let his feet be?” Thomas asks, glancing over at Philip. Philip shakes his head. “Why not?”

“Because I said so,” Philip replies. “The Boss put me in charge of him and I’m not risking anything.”

Thomas looks back at Eaker, who still hasn’t looked away from Thomas. As Hamilton wraps Eaker’s other ankle up, Thomas sighs. “I gotta,” he says, looking down at the coiled rope. Reluctantly, Thomas ties Eaker’s ankle back to the chair, though not as tight as it used to be. Eaker still can’t pull free, but it’s not biting into his flesh anymore. The bindings keep the rope from direct contact anyway.

Thomas repeats his actions with Eaker’s wrists, untying one at a time to a silent disbelief from the Redcoat. Hamilton takes a long time even finishing one leg, so Thomas is working on Eaker’s second wrist by the time Hamilton's’ done. Thomas works in silence, trying to forget that this is partially his fault. Eaker honestly looks beyond confused, watching Thomas with one wide eye. Thomas accidently meets his gaze and give him a weak smile.

“What? Want me to pinch you?” He jokes softly. Eaker’s jaw works, grinding his teeth together. “I can’t do much else, I’m sorry,” Thomas admits.

“Why do anything at all?” Eaker breathes. Thomas winces, looking down at the wrist he’s tying back down. The white gauze contrasts against Eaker’s dirty skin. At least some of the blood is gone, Thomas thinks.

“Why?” Eaker pushes. When Thomas still doesn’t answer, he collapses back into his chair. “This has got to be some trick,” he mutters. Thomas shakes his head.

“No trick,” he says.

“How can I believe that?” Eaker spits. Thomas sighs, securing the rope’s final knot. He grabs another alcohol wipe and starts on Eaker’s face. He cleans as much as he can from Eaker’s head and dabs at his lip.

“I’d get you ice, but that probably wouldn’t fly with the others,” Thomas admits. He looks down at Eaker’s broken, bruised fingers and sighs again. “I can wrap those, but…” He hears Eaker take a breath, can almost hear the gears turning in the other man’s head.

“What’s stopping you?” Eaker asks. Thomas hesitates, then shrugs.

“Nothing, I suppose.” Thomas reaches for the gauze and does his best to make-shift a splint without sticks. “There. Like I said, not much, but better than nothing.” Thomas steps back, scanning his work. Eaker looks better, if just a little bit. Thomas nods to himself. Alright, a job well done, he thinks. Now if I could only get him out of here.

It’s a fruitless track to pursue, Thomas knows. He can feel Hamilton’s and Philips’ eyes on him as he retreats from Eaker. Thomas looks back at them. “That’s all I wanted,” he says. “Just to make sure he’s okay.”

Hamilton nods, understanding across his face. Philip, however, eyes Thomas with barely contained suspicion. The expression on the youngest man’s face takes Thomas back slightly, though a second later it makes sense. Thomas did just treat a Redcoat’s injuries. Thomas nods to Philip, and makes for the stars. He can’t stand to be here anymore, not in the stench and Eaker’s gaze on him.

When Thomas makes it back up the stairs, it feels like a breath of fresh air. He takes a deep breath, trying to expel the remains of the basement air from his lungs. Laurens and Lafayette are still there, chatting quietly, but they look up when Thomas re-emerges.

“What was the medical stuff for?” Laurens asks.

“For Eaker,” Thomas says, daring Laurens to argue. The freckled man grits his jaw, but says nothing. Lafayette offers Thomas a small smile. Thomas returns it, stepping out of the way for Hamilton to come up the stairs behind him.

“Well, I’m off then,” Thomas says. “That’s all I needed.” The other men in the room start, Lafayette coming out of their desk chair.

“That’s it?” Lafayette asks. Thomas nods.

“See you three around.” Thomas gives a little wave goodbye, heading out of Lafayette’s office and towards the main front door. As he leaves, he hears Laurens hiss:

“Did you do it?”

Oh yeah, because I was going to do it down…” Hamilton’s muttered reply is lost as Thomas moves away. He can still hear a small argument kick up behind him, but Thomas doesn’t stop to listen. Whatever it is, it’s not his business. The muttered voices get louder, at some point, Lafayette shouts something like ‘get out there and do it then!’ Thomas’ hand is on the club door, ready to leave when-

“Thomas, wait!” Hamilton comes jogging out of the office. Thomas turns, faster and more excitedly than he should.

“What?” He asks. Hamilton skids to a stop next to Thomas.

“Where are you going?” Hamilton asks. Laurens and Lafayette stand at the open doorway, not even trying to be inconspicuous as they listen in. Thomas pauses, thinking.

“Probably going to stop for lunch, then back to the precinct, why?”

Hamilton nods to himself. “Well, if you’re going for lunch, I’m coming with you. I haven’t eaten all day,” he explains. Thomas blinks, feeling his heart flip at the thought of lunch with Hamilton. No, bad idea Thomas, bad idea.

“It’s going to be fast food,” Thomas warns. Hamilton shrugs.

“That’s fine,” Hamilton says. Thomas looks back at the other two people in the club.

“They wanna come or…?”

Hamilton fidgets, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Well, I figured it would be just you and me,” he admits. “You know, like… like a-”

The ringing of Thomas’ phone cuts off Hamilton’s words. Hamilton’s mouth snaps shut as Thomas winces, digging out his phone from his pocket. It’s his brother, but Thomas sees an opportunity.

“Sorry, gotta take this,” he says, but declines the call. Thomas puts the phone up to his eat anyway. Hamilton nods, sticks his hands in his pockets and takes a step back. Perfect, Thomas thinks, now to come up with an excuse… Maybe it’s because his brain is stuck on Hamilton and the idea of going to lunch with him, but Thomas has what might be the worst idea he’s ever come up with, but he’s crunched for time so it’s all he’s got.

“Hey babe,” Thomas says, letting a smile stretch across his face. Hamilton starts, looking up at Thomas in confusion. Thomas lets the ‘other person speak,’ then says: “No this isn’t a bad time. What’s up?” Thomas pauses again, running through an imaginary conversation in his head. He can’t wait too long, can’t be too fast either. He has to sell this. “Out early?” Thomas turns away from Hamilton, like he wants to keep the conversation private. He can still feel Hamilton’s eyes on his back. “Lunch?” Thomas hums. “Yeah, of course.”

Thomas turns, mouths a ‘sorry’ at Hamilton, and turns back around. “Are you free this afternoon?” Thomas pauses. “Wonderful.” He lets his tone slip a little lower, draws out the accent. “I was thinking, you know, after lunch, I could call off… We could have the entire condo to ourselves…” Thomas chuckles. “I’m sure the others won’t mind… Alright love, it’s a plan.” Thomas coos some silly goodbye and ‘hangs up.’

“Sorry Hamilton, I have lunch plans now…” Thomas trails off when he turns around to see Hamilton's’ expression. Every ounce of color has drained from Hamilton’s face, but it all comes rushing back in an instant, and Hamilton turns bright red.

“Who was that?” He asks, no, demands.

“No one important,” Thomas replies. Hamilton’s face turns a shade redder.

“Obviously they are,” he spits. “Who was it?

“No one!” Thomas insists, insides twisting at the irony.

“Oh, so you made plans to fuck no one?” Hamilton hackles rise, frown turning into a sneer.

“I didn’t-”

We could have the entire condo to ourselves,” Hamilton repeats, voice steadily rising in volume. Thomas’ stomach drops, but he steels himself.

“Well, maybe I did. What does it matter to you?” Thomas lets the familiar veneer of disgust and condescending gaze mask the growing sense of guilt. Why does Hamilton care so much?

“You said last night you were single!” Hamilton snaps.

“I said I wasn’t engaged. I never said anything about being single,” Thomas counters. Hamilton’s nostrils flare.

“Well who is it, huh? It’s Lewis, isn’t it. You’re fucking Lewis!” Hamilton’s fists clench at his sides. There’s nothing but rage and steel in his eyes. Thomas can hear his own heart pounding in his ears, can feel actual anger start to boil inside of him.

“And what if I am?” He snaps back on impulse. Hamilton’s eyes go wide, his mouth works to speak but no words come out. “What, cat got your tongue?”

“You said-” Hamilton steps back from Thomas, “you said you didn’t love him.”

“I said I wasn’t in love, there’s a difference.”

“Oh, so you’re just fuckbuddies?!” Hamilton screeches. “That’s it? You’re sleeping with a man so obviously head-over-heels for you and you think you’re just fuckbuddies?”

“Lewis isn’t-”

Oh come on! How can you be so damn oblivious?! I- Lewis-” Hamilton’s breath is coming in short spurts now, his rage rendering him unable to take a full breath. “God! You can’t see what’s right in front of you, can you? Or do you see it? How many people do you just lead on for kicks?”

“What the hell are you talking about Hamilton?” Thomas interrupts. Hamilton grits his teeth, snarls, and says:

“It doesn’t fucking matter, does it?” Hamilton pulls back, backpedaling towards Laurens and Lafayette. “I hope you have a good time with Lewis,” Hamilton spits the name like a curse. “I hope you two get in a car crash and die on your way to fuck.”

Thomas starts, the sheer vitriol of Hamilton’s comeback taking him by surprise. The shorter man is glaring at him like he could strangle Thomas with his bare hands. Without breaking eye contact, Hamilton says: “John, let’s go.”

“What?” Laurens asks.

“I want to get drunk. Let’s go!” Hamilton glares at his friend, who crosses the club quickly. Hamilton pushes past Thomas and heaves open the door. Sunlight streams in for a brief moment as Hamilton pauses, flips Thomas off, and leaves.

The moment the door slides shut behind the two gangsters, Thomas deflates. An audible breath leaves his lungs as his shoulders droop.

“Oh mon ami,” Lafayette breathes, “you fucked up.”

Thomas glances over his shoulder. “What do you mean?” He asks, though Thomas is almost perfectly aware of what Lafayette means. Hamilton hates him now. For sure. That’s exactly what I want, Thomas justifies. He can hate me, and nothing will happen. I’ll get over this damn crush.

“How do you still not know?” Lafayette sighs and shakes their head. “You better get going. Don’t want to be late for your lunch date,” they say. Thomas nods, silently, and waits a moment by the door before slipping out.

This is fine, Thomas thinks, feeling his own heart shatter into a thousand pieces. This is absolutely fine.

Chapter Text

Thomas picks up take-out alone and trudges back to the precinct, trying to think about anything but Hamilton. It’s a fruitless endeavor, something inevitably pulls Thomas’ mind back to the little man and the accompanying ache in his chest. It’s for the best, is what Thomas keeps telling himself. It’s not a lie, but it certainly feels like one.

When Thomas eventually makes it back to the precinct, he walks in on James delivering a short briefing to Sybil and a collection of detectives. None of Thomas’ other team members are in sight, but James is running this short presentation like he owns the entire building.

“Currently, we have a list of suspects- including Reynolds, Seabury, other Redcoats and even a Sons member under suspicion of turning sides.” James has a series of photographs projected onto a whiteboard, and he points to each photo as he rambles off names. Thomas sees Reynolds’ and Seabury’s photos in the upper right hand, though the rest of the pictures are of people he doesn’t recognize.

“And finally,” James levels his laser pointer at the lower-left hand corner, “Charles Lee, a Sons soldier under Nathan Knox who might be another Benedict Arnold. There’s some proof that he sabotaged a Sons raid on Club Monmouth, which is a country club in New Jersey that King uses to launder money through. It’s not definitive proof, and Washington seems to believe it was an honest mistake, but sources tell us most of the rest of leadership greatly dislikes him.”

Thomas slides into a seat in the back of the briefing, and he swears James looks dead at him, but doesn’t acknowledge Thomas’ entrance. “It seems like Lee has been kept out of the loop when it comes to important information, and one informant says that Lee is a ‘Son in name only,’ and that Laurens and Hamilton block him from doing much anymore.”

Thomas studies the picture, a young man with a half-shaved haircut and a condescending smirk despite the fact he’s obviously in a mug shot. Hamilton doesn’t like this guy, Thomas thinks. Fuck you Charles Lee.

James lowers the pointer and addresses the gathering directly. “And that’s it. Copies of the list and the suspects’ addresses are by the door. You’ve each been given someone to look into, and you are to report back to me, alright?” There’s a mutter of ascension from the group and James dismisses them all. People get up and shuffle about around Thomas, already breaking into small groups to chat. James waits until most of them are gone before shutting off the projector and making his way back to Thomas.

“How’s Eaker?” James asks by way of greeting.

“Hi James, how are you?” Thomas replies, “I’m great, thanks for asking.”  James just rolls his eyes and shakes his head fondly. “As for Eaker, he’s not great, but I managed to patch him up some.”

“You did?” James quirks an eyebrow. “The Sons let you do that?”

Thomas nods. “Yeah,” he says. The rest of the sentence, Hamilton helped me, would lead James to more questions; ones that Thomas didn’t want to answer. James just looks at him in surprise.

“I guess you really are worming your way in there,” he says. Thomas swallows thickly, but nods. Might have fucked it up today, Thomas thinks, though doesn’t speak. He’s starting to realize that there’s a lot of things about this assignment he’s never going to get to tell James, not for a very long time at least.

“What’s this suspect list for?” Thomas motions in the direction of the stack of papers and photos.

“Safe Harbors,” James says simply. Thomas starts, eyebrows scrunching together.

“We have a list for Safe Harbors and no one told me?” Thomas asks, leaning forward in his seat. James shrugs.

“We only put it together last night,” James explains. “You’ve been busy.”

Thomas flinches internally. If only James knew what I’ve been busy with, he thinks. “I should have been told, at least. I am assignment leader.”

James cocks one eyebrow, one of the most withering looks James can give, and turns around. Thomas blinks, not understanding.

“What’s that look supposed to mean?” He asks incredulously. James shakes his head, walking over to the front of the room and starting to collect loose sheets of paper. Thomas’ eyebrows start to creep up his face. “James, seriously.”

“You can’t be serious.” James looks up from the steadily growing pile in his hands. Thomas scoffs, crossing his arms. James straightens, the disbelief growing on his face. “Come on Thomas.”

“Am I missing something?” Thomas asks. “Did Farnese call and replace me while I was out? Did I dream getting lead?”

James puts his papers down on the table in front of him. “Do you really need me to spell it out for you?”

“Why yes, I think I do.” Thomas stands from his seat. “Go ahead. Spell it out for me, since you offered.” James’ expression goes neutral, jaw clenched.

“You don’t have to be a dick,” James replies, voice carefully even.

“Am I being a dick, or are you just avoiding the question?” Thomas leans sideways, against the table, jaw set. James lets out an exasperated breath.

“Thomas… Jesus,” James looks up at the ceiling. Thomas waits, lips pursed. “You’re still team leader, technically.”

“Technically?” Thomas asks. James looks down and at him, fists rolling against the desk.

“Well, Thomas, you’ve barely been actually leading since… since the concussions,” James says. “I’ve been making all the decisions, you’ve been off undercover.”

Thomas recoils. “That’s not true,” he starts. James cocks an eyebrow.

“Isn’t it?” He asks. Thomas opens his mouth, ready to speak but he just stumbles over his own words.

“Of c- no!- Jesus- I-” James looks thoroughly unimpressed as Thomas tries to order his thoughts. “That’s not true and you know it,” is what Thomas settles on, knowing how lame his comeback is even as he delivers it. James just sighs and goes back to picking cleaning up the meeting room.

“Look, Thomas, I know how much you need to succeed. I’ve been telling everyone that we’re making decisions together. Think about how impressed Farnese is going to be when the job is over, and you and I can tell him you did everything while under deep cover.” James hits the edge of the stack on the table, evening it out in his hands. He crosses the room to Thomas.

“I’m trying to help you out here, Thomas. I’m sorry if it came off wrong, but…” James sighs. “I just want what’s best for everyone.”

Thomas blinks dumbly, emptily at his friend. “You can’t be serious.”

“What do you mean?” James asks.

“You’re just… taking my position from me?” Thomas asks, feeling the anger start to boil within him. James starts, leaning away from Thomas.

“I don’t want to-”

“But you have anyway,” Thomas growls. “You don’t think I can do this either, do you?” James’ mouth falls open wordlessly. “You think I can’t handle this.”

“No!” James protests. “Any other assignment, this wouldn’t happen! You got thrown off your game on day one.”

“I am not ‘off my game.’”

“What the hell is wrong with you Thomas?” James asks.

“What’s wrong with me?” Thomas spits. “What’s wrong with you? Actively going behind my back!”

“I’m doing my damn job while you are off traipsing with gangsters!” James’ hands curl around the sides of his stack of papers.

“‘Traipsing with gangsters?’” Thomas feels his lips curl around the phrase. “I’m the one actually carrying out the plan! Without me, we’d be nowhere!”

“I’m not saying you haven’t done anything-”

“Really? Because that’s what it sounded like you were saying!”

I’m saying you haven’t been acting as a leader!” James slams the papers on the desk. “You’re doing what you did under Louis: go undercover and listen to orders. Which is fine, except you’re supposed to be giving the orders now! So you need to either step up and do your job, which you begged for may I remind you, or let me do it for you.”

“If you kept me informed, I could do my job!” Thomas counters, feeling his voice start to rise. “You’re the one who’s decided to go ahead and do things without even letting me know you’re doing anything!

“You disappeared for a whole day yesterday!” Thomas flinches, but James keeps going, “What was I supposed to do? Let everything stop while you… I don’t even know what you were up to yesterday Thomas. Would you like to keep me informed?”

Thomas bites his tongue, the truth of yesterday on his lips. James glares, waiting for Thomas to speak. The silence stretches on, both men staring the other down. Eventually, James just sighs.

“Thomas,” James breathes. “I have been bending and breaking the rules letting you even stay here. I am trying, okay? Please stop yelling at me and acting like I’m the villain here. I know you’re under a lot of stress and you’ve been injured, but that doesn't excuse your attitude. I mean, what has gotten into you? Was I wrong this morning when I said you’ve turned a corner?”

Thomas swallows thickly. “No, I…” he trails.

“Then what is it Thomas?” James asks. “Why do you keep...acting like this?”

Thomas bows his head, choosing to look at the desk. Because Seabury and Theodosia and Hamilton and Ben and Hamilton and Seabury and- “This whole assignment is a mess,” Thomas mutters. “I should have just let Farnese put you in charge.”

“Maybe, but that’s not what happened.” James comes over, putting his hands on Thomas’ shoulders. “Look at me, Thomas.” Reluctantly, Thomas picks up his eyes. “It’s all going to be okay. I’m sorry I shouted. We’re all getting pulled in a thousand directions and with what happened to Ben, and… You’re right. I should be better about keeping you in the loop.”

“No, you’re right. I’ve been…” Thomas lets out a shaking breath. He looks down at his ruined hand. James follows his gaze as he waits for Thomas to speak. “I’ve been not all there,” Thomas admits. James nods his understanding. “I just don’t want to lose this job.”

“You won’t, not if I have anything to say about it.” James smiles, and Thomas meets it as well as he can. “This whole thing has just been a clusterfuck. It has nothing to do to with you, you just got the short end of the stick. Come here.”

James pulls Thomas into a hug over the table, and suddenly Thomas is hit with a pang of guilt. He’s hiding so much from James. It almost feels like high school all over again. Tell him, a voice in the back of his head urges. He’ll understand. It’s James.

I can’t, Thomas thinks. Not yet.

Why not? When? Days, months, years? When he accidentally walks in on you without shoes and socks? It’s just one more confession.

A memory surfaces:

Thomas watches his parents walk away from the dorm building, his mom looking back for one final tearful wave before his father pulls her along. He pulls away from the window, letting the curtain fall. James grunts as he lifts a pile of clothing from his suitcase.

“That’s it,” Thomas says. “They’re gone. We’re on our own.”

“Mhm,” James hums. Thomas turns, watching struggle as socks fall from the edge of his bed. “College starts now.”

“Holy shit,” Thomas breathes. He glances around the bare, small room. Finally, he’s here. Away from his parents, away from Virginia, away from everything and here with James and the rest of his life stretching out in front of him. He feels giddy, the freedom already making his stomach flip and his head rush with emotion. James looks up at him with that little smile on his face and-

“I’m gay.” The words tumble from Thomas’ lips like a practiced motion, not a first time confession. Said aloud, they almost seem innocent of the years of panic they’ve caused Thomas. Two simple little words, said in a rush, and Thomas almost doesn’t process the implications of what he’s said until James’ eyebrows shoot up.

“What?” James asks. Thomas’ joy instantly fades, the reality of his confession sinking in. From the look on James’ face, it’s obvious that he heard Thomas, that he knows what Thomas said. Thomas swallows, his throat suddenly dry.

“I said I’m gay,” he repeats, voice so much smaller than the first time. He feels frozen inside, watching James slowly put down the shirt in his hands, stand straight and look up at Thomas. James takes a step forward, then another, the small room not offering much distance and Thomas suddenly wishes there was a football field between them. James comes up close, and Thomas doesn’t know what to expect, but what he gets isn’t it.

James wraps his arms around Thomas’ middle and squeezes tight. Thomas starts, feeling the ice in his chest start to melt slightly. Thomas slowly brings his arms up and returns the hug, still unsure of himself. James lets out a breath.

“I’m proud of you,” is all James says. And just like that, Thomas knows that James understands. That James accepts him and knows why Thomas never said anything earlier. Thomas drops his head to put his chin on James’ head, the smaller man being almost encompassed in Thomas’ sheer height.

“Thank you,” is all Thomas gets out. James nods, pulling back just enough to look at Thomas’ face.

“How long have you known?” He asks. Thomas sighs.

“A while,” he responds. “Since… since before Sam and Peter.”

“And you held it back for four years?” Thomas nods, and James sighs. “You were dealing with that while your brothers…”

“Yeah,” Thomas says, holding James tighter.

“It’s okay,” James says. “You’re okay.”

Thomas’ arms squeeze James tighter. Remember? The voice says. He’s your friend.

This is too different. He’ll send me away, and that’s the crux of the matter. I’ll tell him when it’s all over, Thomas promises himself. When it’s all over.

------------

The rest of the day is productive, if awkward. It seems like everyone and their mother knows that Thomas and James argued. And now that Thomas is looking for it, he can see how everyone seems to be deferring to James. He doesn’t say anything, but each time Sally, Martha or Louis asks James a question that should be asked Thomas, he feels another snap of annoyance and anxiety.

It doesn’t help that every time someone leans over his shoulder to show him something, or a door slams too hard, or someone brushes past him Thomas can feel his heartbeat pick up. A secretary accidentally nudges Thomas on her way to the bathroom and he practically jumps away from her touch. He often finds himself sitting with his back to a wall, window blinds drawn shut in the team meeting room and the door in his sight.

They get a lot of work done, however. Half of James’ suspect list is crossed off by the time everyone starts going home for the evening. Reynolds and Seabury almost seem like locks for actually being at Safe Harbors, Father Monk picked Seabury’s picture out of a line up and everything. If Reynolds is the mysterious ‘James,’ and Seabury is the British voice, then they’re just missing two shooters.

Someone raises an objection to Seabury having an accent, and Thomas has to bite down on protesting too hard. Seabury has a slight accent, Thomas would know. He still hears Seabury’s voice in dreams, or if he lets his mind wander too far.

Charles Lee is still on the list by the end of the day, along with six other people. John Andre- who’s disappeared with Arnold- is also there, but Thomas honestly doubts it. He can’t see King trusting two people connected with Arnold. But there’s no proof to back him up, so Andre stays.

It’s not until everyone is packing up to leave that Thomas’ thoughts return to Hamilton. He shoves them away as best a possible, lightly joking with James as they finish up organizing a stack of papers. He avoids Sybil after a quick comment from her reminded him too much of the other man dominating his mind.

They make it back to the condo, split a late dinner between the four men, and they all retire to bed. The job is taking a toll on all of them, Thomas can tell. He collapses into bed- ignoring the way his body complains at the sudden impact, and is almost asleep when his phone buzzes.

Thomas picks it up, opening the text message before he really looks at what it is. His eyes fly open when his mind processes what he’s seeing. Hamilton has sent him a picture, one of him and a strange woman with thick black hair. Ruby red lips press against Hamilton’s cheek, and Thomas can see other lipstick marks across Hamilton’s face and lips. Hamilton is smirking into the camera, though the woman’s eyes are shut. Thomas’ stomach drops, his jaw sets. A moment later, a message comes through.

From: Short Stack:

Whoops wrong number.

Thomas’ blood churns as he stares at the image and accompanying words. That fuck, he thinks. Thomas looks up from his phone, sees where James is already asleep in the other bed. An idea strikes Thomas. Quietly, slowly, so as not to disturb his friend, Thomas climbs into James’ bed. He settles himself around James’ limp form and holds out his phone.

It takes him a minute, but he gets just the right angle to suggest exactly what Thomas wants to suggest, and he smirks. A second later and Thomas slips out of James’ bed with a new picture on his phone. He checks it briefly, making sure his own expression is just right, and sends it to Hamilton. A moment later, he cheekily sends: ‘Whoops, wrong number,’ back.

Thomas waits, watching the time on his phone click closer and closer to eleven. There’s no response from Hamilton in twenty minutes, though Thomas isn’t sure he wanted Hamilton to respond.

Thomas passes out with his phone in his hand.

------------

Thomas wakes up the next morning drenched in sweat and shaking. His head snaps around as he takes in his still-dark surroundings. It takes him a moment to remember he’s in the condo, not that damned warehouse that haunts his nightmares. He lets out a shuddering breath, hoping he hadn’t screamed aloud. James isn’t awake, and there isn’t a flurry of feet from another room, so Thomas assumes he’s safe.

Part of him wants to reach out, to cross the room and shake James awake. But how to explain it? Thomas is a grown man, a nightmare shouldn’t shake him this badly. If he wakes James, James will know something’s wrong. So James isn’t an option. Neither is Louis or Steuben or the ladies. So he’s just going to have to deal with this on his own. Unless…

It’s a stupid idea, but Thomas needs someone. He’s not above admitting that. And when he unlocks his phone, Hamilton’s chat log is still up. The two pictures from last night are still there, along with their accompanying messages. With shaking, aching fingers, Thomas types out a quick ‘are you awake?’

Thomas stares at the bright screen, feeling the led display burn into his eyes; his head complains at it. Whatever, he thinks, I can fix the physical pain with Tylenol. He waits, hoping Hamilton responds. He sees the read receipt, but no response bubble appears.

Five minutes pass before Thomas tries again.

To: Short Stack:

Seriously can you answer?

Another five minutes.

To: Short Stack.

Look, drop your damn pride for five minutes because that’s what I’m doing and if you could meet me here that would be fan-fucking-tastic.

The read receipt appears again and Thomas growls lowly.

To: Short Stack:

Look, motherfucker, I need to talk to you.

“Come on,” Thomas mutters, already typing his next message: ‘don’t make me beg you-’

His phone rings, and Thomas jumps. The little tinkling of sound almost booms in the silence. Thomas glances at the caller ID; relief flooding him when he sees it’s Hamilton. He lets out a breath, glances at James and picks up the call. He slides out of bed, heading for the bathroom. Quietly as possible, he says:

“There you are, I-”

“Good morning Agent Jefferson! Sorry to say, but Alexander is a little tied up at the moment.” George King’s chipper voice comes over the receiver.

Chapter Text

Thomas freezes, his whole body stilling. He feels a chill run down his back. “...King?” He asks, hoping he heard wrong.

“Correct! I do apologize for having to pick up someone else’s phone, but you sound like you really need something,” King says. “Although, I am surprised to hear you talking. Sam said you wouldn’t even make noise. Someone did say they saw you on your feet last night, though. Impressive turnaround time. If I had known, I’d have kept you around a little longer. So, what is it you need, hm? I’ve got Alexander right here.”

“Let me go you fuck!”  Thomas’ breath catches as he hears Alexander’s screeching from over the phone. “Don’t you fucking touch me!

“Let him go King,” Thomas manages to croak out. James shifts behind him and Thomas remembers he’s not alone. His body awakens long enough to walk Thomas into the bathroom and shut the door quietly.

“No thanks,” King replies. “Besides, that’s not what you could have been texting about. So, what is it love?” Thomas stares at the wooden door in front of him, unable to form words. King sighs. “You’re delaying Sam his fun.”

The fear disappears, instantly replaced with anger. “If you do anything to him, I will fucking kill you,” he hisses. King pauses, like Thomas’ words have caught him off guard, then he starts to laugh.

“Oh, Thomas,” he chuckles. Alexander’s protests fall silent in the background. “You silly man. Of course you won’t kill me, that’s not who you are.”

“Do you want to fucking try me?”

King actually barks a laugh. “You’re funny. Trying to act all tough and scary. We broke you in just four hours. I’m sure Alexander here will last a long while more.”

“What have you done to him?” Thomas demands, feeling a cold hand wrap around his heart.

“Nothing yet.” King sing-songs. “Why do you even care? It’s not like you and Alex are friends. You’re not even on the same side, not really. At the end of the day, you’re still a cop. Do you even really care?” Thomas grits his jaw, unable to come up with a half-decent lie. “There’s no reason-”

King stops, Thomas hears the slight gasp over the phone, and then King starts talking again. “You care. You actually care! Oh Thomas, my boy. You care so so much, don’t you?” Thomas feels his heart drop. “I’m so glad you called then. I was worried Alexander here wouldn’t give us anything. But…” Thomas hears shuffling, then, “You’re on speaker love!”

Thomas bites down on his lip, tasting blood. The silence is heavy, Thomas leaning his forehead onto the door. “Oh come on, someone say something,” King whines. “Sam? Make Alex talk.”

Seabury’s definition of ‘talk’ apparently includes screams, if the sounds Alexander makes are any indication. A second later, Alexander bites down on the noise, and it turns into a growl. Thomas has a hand pressed to his mouth, he doesn’t dare speak. He can’t risk what might come out of his mouth.

“Not really a word, but eh,” King says. “Your turn Thomas.”

“I assume you’ve taught him about Ling Chi?” Is what Thomas goes with after a split second’s deliberation.

“Thomas?” Alexander runs over whatever King was about to say. “Hang up! Hang up now! Call John, tell-”

“That’s enough of that,” King says, and Thomas hears more shuffling. “Off speaker, just you and me. How have you been?”

“What do you want King?” Thomas hisses.

“Straight to the point, huh?” King chuckles. “Well, I was just hoping to make Alex spill, but I if I’m honest, I didn’t have high hopes. But you! Oh, you and your little feelings-” Thomas winces “-you know what Alexander’s in for. You can stop it, though. Just tell me where Burr is.”

“...I don’t know what you’re talking about ‘feelings,’” Thomas mutters. “You can’t manipulate me.” But Thomas can feel his fingers burn, the crown on his ribs tingles. He hears King sigh.

“Are you really willing to subject Alexander to your same treatment to hide a thief and a liar?”

And just like that, rage begins to rise in Thomas. His blood churns and red starts to tinge his vision. “You know what King?” Thomas says lowly. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Thomas tears his phone away from his head, jamming his finger against the ‘end call’ button.

Dimly, Thomas realizes that hanging up on King with a threat wasn’t the best choice, but he doesn’t have the time to worry about that. He’s shaking as he tears through his contacts, looking for John Lauren’s number. He growls at the screen when he finds that he doesn’t have it. But he has Lafayette’s, and he slams the call button.

It rings three nerve-wracking times before Lafayette’s annoyed voice comes through. “This better be important, I was almost asleep.”

“Send me Laurens’ number,” Thomas demands. Lafayette pauses on the other end.

“Why-”

“Do not question me tonight. Send me the damn number.”

Merde, fine.” Lafayette’s voice grows farther away. “Why do you need this so bad?”

“Alexander’s-”

It’s Lafayette’s turn to interrupt. “Oh.” The single syllable is full of disdain and disappointment. “If Alexander isn’t picking up your calls, perhaps it’s for a reason.”

“No, you don’t…” Thomas’ phone buzzes in his hand and it’s Lafayette’s text with Laurens’ number. “Look, tell you later. Thanks Laf,”

“Wait!” But Thomas has already hung up and is punching in Laurens’ number. The phone rings once, twice, three times and Thomas feels ready to throw his fist through the bathroom wall.

“Jefferson?” Laurens sounds groggy, half-asleep. “Why the fuck are you calling me at ass-o'clock in the morning?”

Suddenly Thomas realizes he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Call John, Alexander has said, tell him… tell him what? “When’s the last time you saw Alexander?” Thomas asks.

“Uhhh, what?”

Thomas wants to scream, throw the phone, reach through the line and strangle John Laurens, anything. He feels time slipping away. “When did you last see Alexander?

“Um… before work? 6ish?”

“Where were you?”

“Bar across town, what’s the big deal? I thought you didn’t care.” Laurens seems to be gaining awareness, if the clarity of his voice is any indicator.

“That doesn’t….!” Thomas snarls. “Look, do you have any idea- no you wouldn’t. Fuck!” Thomas leans over the sink counter, trying to think.

“What’s going on?” Laurens asks, though Thomas’ mind is a thousand miles away, spinning it’s wheels. Thomas can feel the anger in his chest starting to give way to panic. No, focus Thomas. Alexander needs you. What does he know? What can he use?

Thomas starts. The picture. It’s a long shot, Alexander might not have gone home with the red woman, but it’s a starting place. “Laurens, I’m sending you a picture.” Thomas pulls his phone away from his face long enough to copy Alexander’s late-night selfie and send it off to Laurens. “Do you know who the woman is?”

“Uhh, lemme see.” Thomas can hear the phone move, hears Laurens pressing a few buttons, then the man on the other end gasps.

“Oh god. Alex, why would you fucking…” Laurens breathes, trailing off. Thomas’ breath catches.

“Do you know who she is?” He asks again, insistent.

“That’s Maria Reynolds, James-”

“Reynolds’ wife,” Thomas finishes, heart sinking. “Alexander told me about her.”

“Then you know she’s bad news. Jefferson, what’s going on?”

“Do you have any idea where she lives?” Thomas asks by way of answer. Maybe she knows where they’ve taken him, Thomas thinks. Maybe I can get her to spill.

“Nah, probably wherever Reynolds lives. Maybe even where he keeps the rest of his girls.”

“His girls?” Thomas asks. “He’s a pimp?”

“Yeah, it’s how he met her.”

“Holy shit, thank you Laurens,” Thomas breathes. “Call you later.”

“Hold on, wha-” Thomas hangs up the phone, already throwing the bathroom door open. He can’t sit still any longer. A second later, he regrets his decision as he has to catch it from slamming into the wall. He’d nearly forgotten James was even there.

His friend’s sleeping form shifts slightly as Thomas holds his breath. When James settles again, Thomas’ eyes sweep over the room. What do I need? He asks. Actual clothes, for one. His gun- in the nightstand, shit- and his glasses. At least his glasses are just on the countertop behind him.

Slowly, moving as silently as possible, Thomas crosses to the chest of drawers and slides the top one open. He grabs the first shirt and moves on to the next drawer. Thomas can hear his heart pounding in his ears, certain James can hear it too and will awaken any second. Thomas collects enough clothing and creeps back to his own bed.

The nightstand drawer slides open with the sound of wood scraping against wood and Thomas winces. He tries to peer into the drawer, but it’s far too dark and his eyes still haven’t adjusted from his phone screen. Thomas puts a hand inside and slowly roots around until his fingers close on what he knows to be the muzzle of his pistol. A moment later and his ammo clip is in his hand.

On the way out, the floor creaks beneath Thomas’ feet, but James doesn’t even stir. Not for the first time in his life, Thomas is beyond grateful James is such a heavy sleeper. Thomas opens the door, slips out into the hallway and shuts the door quietly behind himself. The stairs creak and groan as Thomas picks his way down them. His ears are pricked for the sound of people waking up, but the landing behind him is silent.

Thomas hits the downstairs floor and drops his bundle of clothing on the table, flicking on the light. He rushes into the kitchen, grabbing a few protein bars and tearing one open. He’s going to need the energy he knows. He eats the first one as he starts to change, still trying to stay as quiet as possible. His arms still complain as he pulls his shirt off, over his head and lifts the new one up and-

“Thomas?”

Thomas freezes, before remembering his shirt still isn’t all the way on and his bandages are completely on display. Thomas pulls the shirt on and spins, finding Louis halfway down the stairs. The rush of relief that it’s not James is soon overcome with the panic that someone caught him.

“Keep your voice down,” Thomas breathes back. Louis’ eyes are wide as he looks down at Thomas.

“What happened to you?” Louis asks, thankfully matching Thomas’ volume.

“What do you mean?” Thomas asks, hoping.

“You’re covered in bandages!” Louis replies, coming further down the stairs. Thomas hides the wince.

“I… I uh,” he stutters. “I fell on some broken glass?” Thomas knows how pathetic the lie is. Louis frowns, hitting the bottom of the stairs.

“Do you expect me to believe that?” Louis asks, face full of concern. “And what the hell are you doing up?”

Thomas fidgets, glancing at the clock. The longer he’s stalled the longer Alexander’s alone with those monsters. He doesn’t have time to come up with a lie. “Look, Louis, I’ll make you a deal.” Thomas gathers his things in his arms. “I have to go, and I’ll probably be gone for a bit. If you go back to bed and don’t say anything about me leaving or my injuries, I’ll tell you everything when I come back.”

Louis crosses his arms. “I think you should tell me now.”

Thomas glances at the clock again. You’re wasting time, get the hell out of here. “I don’t have time, people are in danger.”

“Then we really should wake everyone else up!” Louis points up to the second floor. Thomas shakes his head vigorously.

“No, just go back to bed. Don’t say a damn word.” Louis still looks hesitant, so Thomas adds: “That’s an order from your assignment leader.”

Louis blinks, his arms come down slowly to rest by his sides. “An order?” He repeats, almost like he doesn’t believe it. Thomas grits his jaw and nods.

“An order you better follow.” Something sparks in Louis’ eyes at Thomas’ words, and Louis slowly nods.

“You got it chief,” he says, stepping backwards and towards the stairs. “Not a word.”

“Thank you Louis. I’ll see you.” Thomas turns to go, feeling Louis’ eyes on his back. As he leaves the condo, Thomas lets out a sigh. I can come up with some lie by the time I get back, surely.

Thomas takes off down the street, desperately trying to remember how to get to Abigail's.

-----------

Running in severely damaged feet should hurt more, the logical part of Thomas’ brain says.

Shut up and be grateful the adrenaline is dulling it, the part of Thomas’ brain still in panic mode says.

Fair enough, replies the logical part as Thomas skids to a stop in front of Abigail’s building. He leaps up the small staircase and slams his hand on Abigail's apartment call. He jams it repeatedly, breathing hard. A second before he starts running his hand across all the calls he hears the buzzing of the door unlocking and Thomas throws it open.

He bounds up the stairs, his feet only middling complaining. He hears one of them start to squish as he moves, and he dimly realizes he must be bleeding again. Thomas makes it to Abigail’s landing, rushes to her door and pushes it open himself.

Abigail lurches back from the door, dressed in nothing but a fuzzy nightgown and slippers. “Agent?” She breathes. “What’s going on-”

“Where’s Theodosia?” Thomas asks, glancing wildly around the apartment. The door swings shut behind him, though Thomas pays it little attention.

“Asleep, it’s two in the morning!” Abigail hisses. Thomas looks at her, his expression pleading.

“Get her up,” he demands. “I need to talk to her. Now.” Abigail recoils, even just slightly, but nods. Thomas watches her disappear down a hallway, nerves jumping. He starts to pace, panicked energy needing somewhere to go. It feels like hours before Abigail reappears, a bleary Theodosia in tow.

“Agent Jefferson?” She asks, voice still heavy with sleep. She rubs at her eyes and a yawn stretches across her face.

“Maria Reynolds,” Thomas barks. “Tell me everything you know.”

Theodosia blinks at him. “What?”

Maria Reynolds,” Thomas repeats. “I need to know where she lives, where she works, everything.

Theodosia’s expression turns quizzical. “Why are you asking about Maria?”

Time is still ticking away. Thomas crosses the room to Theodosia in three long strides. “Look,” He grabs her by the shoulders, and she flinches under his touch. Thomas doesn’t care. “Alexander is in danger, okay? Maria was the last person I know was with him and I need to know where she is.”

Theodosia’s eyes are wide like moons, fear flickers deep in her face but Thomas still holds on. “S-she, uh, um,” Theodosia stutters, voice very small. “She lives in Hell’s Kitchen, with Reynolds’ other girls.”

Where,” Thomas demands, “I need an address.” There are tears welling in Theodosia’s eyes, she's shrinking underneath his hands.

“I- I’m sorry! I-”

“Thomas Jefferson, let her go,” Abigail breaks in, grabbing Thomas' arm. One of her hands lands on the flayed part of his skin and he flinches. Abigail’s grip only tightens.

“What the hell is going on out here?” Burr appears in the hallway opening. In a moment, every ounce of sleep disappears from him as he rushes forward. He grabs Thomas' wrist and presses on the rope burns hard enough to make Thomas let go of Theodosia.

“Get off of her,” Burr commands, putting himself between Thomas and Theodosia, shoving Thomas on the chest. Thomas staggers back, his arm coming out of Abigail’s grip. Burr glares at Thomas, Theodosia cowering behind him.

“Good lord, Jefferson,” Abigail hisses, shuffling over to the openly crying Theodosia. The older woman starts to murmur quietly with the distraught woman, pointedly keeping her hands to herself. Thomas finds himself breathing heavily while Burr looks at him with murder in his eyes.

“What do you think you're doing?” Burr spits. Thomas glances around, suddenly unable to meet Burr’s eyes.

“I need to know where Maria Reynolds is,” Thomas explains. Burr’s eyes widen even further.

That's all?” Burr’s voice drips with rage. “You could have asked without scaring her! You could have asked me.”

“I don’t-” Thomas looks at the grandfather clock sitting in the corner of the room. “I don't have time to play games Burr.”

“You have time to terrify the person I love though!”

“Mine’s getting his fingernails ripped out as we speak!” Thomas spits back.

“What?” Burr’s fists clench and unclench. Abigail looks around Burr and up at Thomas.

“You said Alexander was in danger,” she says. Burr glances down at her, then back up at Thomas with wide eyes.

“He is,” Thomas admits. “Please, just tell me where Maria is.” Burr’s eyebrows narrow.

“So Alexander and Madison are both in danger?” He asks.

“What? No,” Thomas breathes. He looks between Burr and Abigail pleadingly. “James is safe, I don’t have time for this.” He backs up. “If you won’t tell me, I’ll figure it out somehow.”

“Wait,” Abigail stands, leaving Theodosia on the floor. The younger woman reaches for Burr’s hand, who takes it and squeezes. “Alexander came by looking for Maria too, he said you and Madison were...”

Understanding dawns on Thomas. “Oh no, god no. I… I lied to him,” he admits. “I can't…. he can't know.”

“Know what?” Abigail asks, though the expression on her face is far from confused or unknowing. Thomas swallows thickly.

“Don't make me say it,” Thomas begs. “Don't because it's not fair and nothing can ever happen. Just please, tell me what I need to know.” All three sets of eyes are on him: Theodosia’s wide, Burr’s shocked and Abigail’s knowingly sympathetic.

“But you have admitted it to yourself. That you love him?” She presses. Thomas’ body finally stills, his eyes fall to the floor.

“Yes,” he mutters, as quietly as possible. He hears Abigail shuffle forwards. She takes his hand in hers and holds out his arm.

“Finally, you silly man.” Thomas feels something press onto his skin, and he looks up to find Abigail writing on his arm in marker. “There,” she says, blowing on the silver lettering. “Maria Reynolds’ address.” She lets go of his hand and Thomas looks at the careful, looping handwriting on the inside of his arm.

“Thank you,” Thomas breathes. He backpedals to the door, running his eyes over and over the address. He's also reaching for his phone, ready to pull up a map.

“Good luck Agent Jefferson,” Abigail says. “Go get your boy.”

Thomas nods, running out into the hallway and down the stairs as fast as he can. He’s typing in the address into google as he moves, doing his best not to fall down the staircase. When he breaks out into the cool morning air, he's already got directions and Thomas starts down the street.

Thomas throws his hand in the air, hoping a taxi will pass by soon because, if the map is to be believed, Thomas can't run the whole way. Well, he could, he has the endurance, but it would take him far too long. He's a distance runner, not a sprinter after all.

Thomas runs two blocks before a taxi pulls up beside him. “Where’s the fire?” The driver asks as Thomas throws open the door, breathing hard.

“The faster you drive, the more money you get.” Thomas rattles off the address, and the driver hums knowingly. The sound is far too amused for Thomas’ current mood, but he lets it go. He just watches the clock as the taxi speeds down street after street.

Chapter Text

“Fare is-”

Thomas doesn’t even listen to his total, just throws a fifty at the driver and jumps out of the car. He slams the door behind him and takes off down the block. He made the driver let him out a street away. The ride over took just under twenty-five minutes, and Thomas had spent those minutes trying to think of anything but what Alexander had to be going through while he rode, safe and sound, in a damn taxi that smelled like cigarettes and sex.

Thomas has to fight down the urge to sprint down the sidewalk. Showing up disheveled might arouse suspicion, and he needs to just talk to Maria Reynolds. Thomas scans the condos as he passes them, looking for the right house number. The silver marker on his arm shines under the streetlights, and he double checks each number against the careful writing.

When Thomas finds the right one, he stops dead in his tracks. Looking up at the building, it looks no different from its neighbors. Made of brick, slightly dilapidated with a wrought-iron fire escape trailing down the front. This is where the bastard lives, huh? Thomas thinks. He steels himself, then marches up the two front steps to the thin door.

There’s no callboard, no doorbell, so Thomas just knocks instead. Any worry that he won’t be let in is dispelled as the door swings open almost immediately. A tall, curvaceous woman leans against the doorframe as the door opens in Thomas’ direction. The low-cut dress she’s wearing leaves little to the imagination, but a slinky red sweater gives the illusion of modesty.

“How may I help a fine gentleman tonight?” She purrs, sultry smile on her lips. The thick French accent takes Thomas aback, but his mouth is already working.

“I’d like to speak to Maria Reynolds,” he says. The woman blinks, settles further against the door and crosses her arms.

“Is there a problem?” She asks, all hints of flirtatiousness gone. “Monsieur Reynolds handles all the debts, but he is out right now.”

Relief floods Thomas’ veins, but he keeps his face neutral. “No, nothing about money,” he says. The gears in his head are spinning, trying to think something up to get him inside the door.

“Then what is the issue?” The woman asks, frowning. “Is it one of the girls?”

One of the girls… “Yes!” Thomas seizes upon the idea. “I have information about one them, I was told to bring it here.”

“About who?” The woman asks.

“Theodosia,” Thomas says. Instantly, the woman’s whole demeanor changes. She stands up straight and pushes the door open further.

“In,” she commands, and Thomas is more than willing to oblige. The woman glances up and down the street before forcefully closing the door. She turns back to Thomas, her expression deadly serious. “Follow me.”

The woman starts past Thomas and across a short room. She bounds up a set of stairs and Thomas follows, wincing with each step. His guide, skirt gathered in one hand, takes the steps two at a time despite the four inch heels. Thomas looks up to be greeted by a multitude of curious faces, not all of them feminine. Most of them have face-fulls of makeup, and are wearing even less than the woman now waiting at the top of the landing for Thomas.

The woman points to one of the men. “Watch the door until I get back,” she commands. He nods, reaching back into a room and grabbing a shirt. He eyes Thomas as they pass on the stairs, but Thomas’ gaze is drawn to the crown etched into his skin on his collarbone. When Thomas draws even to the French doorkeeper, he sees a similar crown on her own collarbone, but on the opposite side. Thomas doesn’t need to look around to know that all of the others have crowns on their chests too. Thomas’ own brand tingles under his shirt, he fights the urge to rub at it.

The woman starts up another set of stairs and Thomas tries to ignore how young a girl sitting on the bottom step looks. He can still feel a dozen pairs of eyes on his back, and there are more awaiting Thomas on the next landing. The woman leads Thomas past a older woman diligently sweeping in a hallway, one who glares at Thomas silently. She’s missing a finger on one hand, and her crown looks to be much deeper set than any of the others.

Thomas’ skin crawls with the quiet mutterings rising behind him. “We do not usually bring Johns up the stairs,” the woman explains, stopping at the farthest door. “You are going to be the subject of gossip for months.”

“Good to know?” Thomas glances behind him, sees curious pairs of eyes dive back into the safety of darkened rooms. His guide knocks softly on the door.

“Maria?” She calls. “May I come in?” There’s a muffled response, and the woman slips behind the door. She motions for Thomas to stay put however, and he obligingly waits. “A man says he has information on Theo.” Again, a quiet response, and then the woman reappears.  “You can come in,” she says. The woman leans away from the door and Thomas crosses the threshold.

Inside is a woman, dressed in dark red, sitting at a brightly-lit vanity. Long black hair frames a gaunt face and piercing dark eyes. Thomas has caught her in the process of applying eyeliner, only her right eye is fully done up. She peers at Thomas in the mirror, carefully drawing on her left wing. With an expert twitch of her fingers, the woman fills in the dark triangle and puts down the brush.

“You know something about Theodosia?” She asks, examining her work in the oval mirror. Thomas nods, meeting her reflected gaze. Thomas recognizes her, knows those plump red lips from the late-night photograph.

Maria Reynolds turns on her stool, eyeing Thomas with a searching gaze. “Shut the door on your way out Adrienne. Make sure we are not disturbed.” she commands. Thomas guide- Adrienne- nods, slipping out and shutting the door quietly. Silence settles, and Maria lets it stretch. Thomas has to hold himself back from launching into questions and demands. He has to do this right, there’s no other way he can find Alexander.

Thomas glances around the room. It’s sparsely furnished, just a bed on one side and a desk on the other. The bed looks well-used, but not as though people actually sleep in it. Thomas averts his gaze, doesn’t want to think about the men that have been in and out of those sheets. There’s no other doors, no windows. The only exit is at Thomas’ back.

“How is she?” Maria breaks the silence, and Thomas jumps. Maria looks at him, obvious concern shining in her eyes. “Where is she?”

Thomas straightens, looking down at the woman in front of him. “Where’s Alexander Hamilton?” He asks. Maria’s eyes widen, then her expression darkens.

“Where’s Theodosia Prevost?” She replies. “Or do you actually know?”

“I do, but you won’t find her,” Thomas hisses. “She’s safe, unlike Alexander.”

Maria inhales sharply. “But she is safe.” She presses. Thomas blinks.

“Of course,” he replies. He takes a breath to try and press her again, but Maria is already speaking.

“And Teddy? She’s okay too, right?”

“Yeah, Teddy’s fine.” Thomas looks at Maria with no little amount of confusion. Maria lets out a deep sigh, shoulders dropping.

“Thank god,” she breathes. Thomas feels his eyebrows creep up his forehead. Maria looks up at him. “You promise me they’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Thomas admits. “Promise.”

Maria nods to herself. “Good, good.” She turns back to the mirror. “If they’re safe, don’t tell me where they are, I don’t want to know.”

“What?” Thomas asks.                                                                           

“I don’t want to know,” she insists, reaching for a small spray bottle.

“You don’t want to know?” Thomas asks incredulously. Maria nods.

“If they’re out, I don’t want to risk James dragging them back. Or worse.” She uncaps the bottle and sprays two quick little spurts of some liquid on her face. She catches Thomas’ bewildered expression in the mirror. She cocks an eyebrow, questioning.

“I’m sorry, I assumed you would…” he trails. A small smile appears on Maria’s face, bittersweet and gentle.

“Mr. Clark, I am not my husband.”

Thomas starts, jaw dropping slightly. “You know who I am?”

Maria giggles, an empty light sound. “Everyone knows Will Clark. You shot seven of James’ friends and survived a day with Samuel.” Thomas flinches, his eye twitches in the mirror.

“I didn’t kill anyone,” Thomas mutters. Maria shrugs.

“You shot, and in the eyes of my husband, it doesn’t matter if your bullets hit them or Alex’s did.” Maria finishes her inspection of her face and stands from the counter. She looks at Thomas, dead in the eye and says: “Thank you for caring for Theo and Teddy. I was so scared neither of them would make it. Theo was so frail after the birth, and Teddy’s just a child.”

“Theodosia’s getting stronger,” Thomas admits. Maria’s face lights up.

“Oh good,” she says. “I couldn’t get her to gain any weight. Aaron’s treating them well?”

“He loves them both greatly.” Thomas fidgets. “About Alex-”

“When Theo told me he was the father, I was so concerned. I didn’t think he was the fathering type. Especially since Theo worked…” Maria crosses to the desk, shuffles some papers around. “I figured he was going to leave them.”

“No, he’s great. Especially with Teddy. But I-”

“I did so much to hide the pregnancy from James, you know. If Aaron had left those poor girls-”

“Mrs. Reynolds, I need to know-”

“-I don’t know what would have happened.” Maria talks louder, over Thomas’ words. “When Aaron agreed to get her out, I-”

“Where’s Alexander?!” Thomas interrupts. Maria visibly stiffens.

“...I was hoping he’d get them all on a train out of town, but-”

“Stop fucking stalling and tell me where he is!” Thomas snaps. Maria clenches her jaw, clutching a paper in her hands.

“I don’t know, I’m sorry,” she mutters. “I haven’t even seen him.”

“Bullshit,” Thomas says. “You saw him earlier tonight.” He digs his phone from his pocket and pulls up the photo. He holds out the screen. When Maria doesn’t move, he clears his throat and she flinches. She looks over her shoulder, eyes lighting on the picture.

“I didn’t know he took that,” she breathes. Thomas frown sets deeper.

“He did, and him sending it to me is the last contact he made with anyone.” Thomas glares over his hand at Maria. “I don’t have time for you to play games.”

“Whether I play games or not, nothing changes.” She looks back down at the papers in her grip. “Sam, James and King have him. It doesn’t matter if you know where or not.”

“If I know where he is, I can go get him,” Thomas counters. Maria breathes a laugh.

“You and what army?” She finally turns back around, letting the papers fall onto the desk. “You came alone, Adrienne wouldn’t have opened the door if there was anyone else with you. And I know Alex’s friends, they’d be shooting this place up to find him. You can’t ‘rescue’ him by yourself, that’s suicide.”

I’ll decide what I can and can’t do.” Thomas’ fists ball.

“What if I called my husband, told him you were coming?” Maria challenges. Thomas snorts.

“They already know.”

Maria’s eyes widen. “Then you’ve given up your only advantage. No one man can take on a warehouse alone, especially if they know you’re coming.”

“You don’t need to worry about me, just tell me where they’ve taken him.”

“I’m not going to let you go kill yourself,” Maria counters.

“Well what am I supposed to do?” Thomas spits. “Sit back and let them kill him?”

“Better him than both of you.” Maria approaches Thomas, taking his hands in hers. “Look, there’s nothing you can do-”

“I can try,” Thomas interrupts. Maria shakes her head.

“There’s no point trying when you know how it’ll end. It’s better to live with regrets than get yourself killed doing something stupid.”

Thomas’ eyes widen. “Is that why you betrayed him?” He asks. “He went to you looking for comfort and you handed him over to people you knew would hurt him. Kill him.”

Maria winces, looking down at the floor. “I didn’t want to, but James knew he was with me. If I hadn’t given him up…” she trails.

“That doesn’t change what you did.” Thomas tears his hands from Maria’s. “Tell me where he is.”

“I don’t want two people’s blood on my hands tonight,” she mutters.

“But you’re okay with one.”

“Alex… you can’t help him. He’s gone, let him go.” Maria looks down at the floor. “Neither of us can be helped.”

Neither… the word strikes a chord in Thomas. “You could help him,” Thomas says. “Tell me where he is, help me figure out a way to get him out. You have to know something that can help.”

Maria looks up at him sharply, eyes wide. “What do you even care? You broke his heart, and now you’re rushing into your death to help him.”

“Sometimes you can’t tell people how you’re feeling,” Thomas admits. “You of all people should know that.”

Maria flinches, a hand coming up to hold the side of her neck. “There’s nothing I can do,” she repeats, though her voice is softer this time.

“Yes there is,” Thomas replies, his voice just as soft. “Come with me.” Maria’s eyes widen even further. “Help me break him out. Then I can take you where Theodosia is and away from all this.” Thomas motions around the dingy room.

Maria hesitates, lips in a thin line. “If I go, who’ll protect the others?” She asks. “What about Adrienne and Molly and Nate-”

“Didn’t you say it yourself- better them than all of you?”

“But if I stay no one will be hurt,” Maria counters. Thomas sighs.

“Now, that’s not true, is it?”

Maria shuts her eyes tight, and Thomas thinks she’s actually considering it. Then she shakes her head. “I can’t leave Mr. Clark.”

“Then come back after Alexander is safe. Keep your head down and no one has to know you helped me. Please,” Thomas pleads. “For Alexander.” Silence falls, Thomas pleading expression turned on Maria, who looks at the wall above Thomas’ head. “I helped Theo,” Thomas reminds her. “I helped Theodosia and Teddy and now a friend of mine is dead because of it. Alexander is still alive and you can help save him.”

It’s not fair, Thomas know, guilt tripping this poor girl, but Thomas is desperate. He has no other leads. He knows it, Maria knows it. Thomas can hear his heart in his ears, pounding louder as she opens his mouth.

“The Lincoln warehouse,” she mutters. “That’s where he’ll be.”

Thomas lets out a sigh of relief. “Do you know the address?” Maria shakes her head, and Thomas’ heart sinks.

“No, not off the top of my head.” She looks up, the regret already painted across her face. “But I’ll take you there.”

Chapter Text

Maria leads Thomas out of the brothel silently, giving Adrienne quiet orders to watch the place. Thomas feels the worker’s eyes on him as they leave, stairs creaking underfoot. Maria grabs red jacket with a hood, slides it on and pushes the door open. Adrienne holds it open for Thomas, her expression reading: You better bring her back.

Thomas wonders just how much Maria does for these people.

The walk starts out silent, Maria drawing her hood up and holding her jacket closed. The tiniest hint of twilight colors the morning sky, though the streetlights are still brightly lit. Maria’s strides are short but determined, as if she’s trying to get to their destination before she can change her mind. Thomas wants to grab her by the wrist and pull her along faster, but he knows Maria’s calling the shots. He won’t get anywhere without her.

“Thank you,” he says, voice barely above a mutter. Maria sighs, pulling her jacket closer.

“Don’t thank me yet,” she replies. Her heels click on the sidewalk, bright red stilettos that Thomas is more than impressed she can walk in, let alone with the purpose she’s making her way down the street with.

“Can you swim?” Maria asks.

“Uh, yeah.” Thomas glances around, but they’re nowhere near water. “Why?”

“It changes which route we want to take.” She explains. “I’m trying to figure out how to get you in without getting caught.”

“Get me in?” Thomas asks. “In where? It’s just a warehouse, right?”

Maria shakes her head. “King owns a whole complex around the building. The warehouse itself will be the easy part- there’s a backdoor no one ever uses. It’s getting you through the surrounding area that’s going to be the issue. And since they know you’re coming, they’re going to be on the lookout.”

Thomas’ eyebrows furrow. “So I’m going to swim my way in?”

Maria nods. “The whole thing is an old marina right on the Hudson.”

“...Your plan is a swim in the Hudson?” Thomas asks. Maria looks up at him with a sheepish smile.

“Just a small swim,” she replies. “Just from one pier to the next. You’ll stay right next to the shore.”

“But the Hudson,” Thomas complains, looking at her with raised eyebrows. Maria sighs.

“Do you want to get to Alex in once piece?”

“Obviously.”

“Then you’re swimming in the Hudson.” Maria searches the pockets of her jacket, eventually pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. “Want one?” She offers, holing the box out to Thomas. Thomas shakes his head and she shrugs, pulling one out for herself.

As she lights it, Thomas realizes she looks like the cliche hooker you see on tv and in movies. He’s sure that underneath under the caked on makeup are eye bags and maybe even bruises. He can just barely see the splotches where the foundation is heaver. Maria takes a drag and lets the smoke float into the night sky.

“They seem to like you pretty well back there,” Thomas observes. “Despite you being the pimp’s wife.”

Maria makes a face at the word ‘pimp,’ but doesn’t comment on it. Instead, she says: “I’m still one of them, just more… exclusive. I don’t even get paid anymore.” If that’s supposed to be a joke, Thomas doesn’t laugh. Maria just sighs. “I do my best to take care of them. They come and go so fast most of the time… but the ones that stick around call me Momma Reynolds.”

“Where do they come from?” Thomas asks. “And where do they go?”

Where do you come from Cotton-Eyed Joe?” Maria sings around her cigarette, laughing quietly. Thomas rolls his eyes, but something in him is surprised at how easy Maria laughs.

“Seriously,” he says. Maria quiets, breathing little puffs before she speaks again.

“I have no idea. All over, according to James.”

“And you?” Thomas asks, watching her smoke-filled breath dissipate into the night.

“Right here in Hell’s Kitchen,” she says. “Coupla blocks that way.” She points to Thomas’ left, and Thomas glances though there’s nothing to be seen. “Just got wrapped up in the wrong people.”

Thomas offers what he thinks is a sympathetic look, but Maria waves it away with her cigarette perched between two fingers. “My fault, Mr. Clark. Made a few bad choices. Quite a few, actually. Can’t stop making them, it seems.” Her free hand plays along her neck, her sleeve falling down to her elbow and Thomas sees confirmation for what he thought.

“I can still get you out,” he offers again, but he knows she’ll reject him before she even shakes her head.

“I still say no.” Maria tugs her sleeve down to cover the ring of bruises. “Which, again, may not be the best choice.”

“So why not choose otherwise?”

“Because there’s no choice for me, not anymore,” she says, and Thomas gets the feeling she’s not just talking about staying with Reynolds. Before he can make up his mind to press her further, she turns at an intersection. “Down here, we’re almost at the pier.”

Thomas follows along silently, peering down the street in the pre-dawn, trying to spot the water from a distance. He can just see it, dark waters churning away as the water rushes past them in the opposite direction they walked.
“And you’re sure it’s safe to swim?” Thomas asks. Maria shrugs.

“If you get sick, you won’t feel it until after you rescue Alex,” she explains. “Your other outcome is that you’re dead before you get sick.”

“I am surprisingly okay with either option,” Thomas admits. Maria laughs through a mouthful of smoke.

“You better be,” she replies. She leads him out onto an empty dock, just past a group of storing garages. Thomas looks down at the frothing water under his feet. It’s moving far too fast for Thomas to think jumping in is a safe idea, but if it’s how he gets to Alexander, so be it.

“Where am I going?” He asks, peeling his shirt off. Clothes will weigh him down. As he takes it off his arms, he gets a look at his bandaging attempt from yesterday. Most of it has slipped from place, but in general it’s less bloodstained than Thomas thought it would be. Maria must see it, but she doesn’t mention it. She knows.

“Two docks down,” she says instead. Thomas follows her pointing finger as he reaches for his belt. “Not the first one, not the second, the third one, got it?”

“Third one, yeah,” he repeats, sliding his pants off. He tries to see what the dock looks like, tries to pick out any distinguishing features on the shoreline. It’s far too dark, but he does think that there’s a little outcropping of rock by the dock he wants to hit.

“I’ll meet you there,” Maria says, and Thomas stops, jeans halfway off his ankles.

“I thought I was going in alone.” They look at each other in the dark, neither of them embarrassed or shy at Thomas’ half-naked state. He is another body for Maria, and Thomas is too busy formulating a plan on how to survive this little skip in the Hudson.

“Well,” she begins, “you’re going to need someone to pull you out of the water for starters. It’s not exactly a beach down there. Then you’ll need someone to find and take you to Alex. You can’t just do it all alone.”

Thomas blinks up at her, taken aback by her words, what she’s offering to do for him. “Thank you,” he says, quietly. Maria smiles.

“Don’t thank me yet. I still expect both of us to die before the night’s through.” She says it with such levity as if she’s resigned to a fate that hasn’t even occurred yet. She’s probably expected to die for a very long time, Thomas realizes.

“Why help me then?” He asks.

“You seem like a good enough man, Mr. Clark,” she says. She slowly picks up Thomas’ shirt from where it lies on the dock. “And even if you aren’t, you’re most certainly in love. I can understand that.” She looks out at the water, glances at the early peaks of the sun over the horizon. “We better get going.”

Thomas nods, sheds his shoes and socks, and pads down to the edge of the dock. The wood is cold underneath him as he sits on the edge, feet dangling just above the water. Waves lick at his toes- one of which is slightly bleeding- and Thomas braces himself for what he’s sure will be ice water.

“Wait,” Maria says. Thomas stiffens, worried that she’s changed her mind. “I just… in case we don’t get a chance to talk again, there’s something you ought to know.”

“Hmm?” Thomas hums, watching the waves. The city lights reflect on the choppy water, creating fleeting images that swirl and dance with color.

“I heard James and Sam talking about an undercover cop in the Sons. They think the feds have a guy in your side,” Maria explains. Thomas bites his lip to keep from smiling. “I’d be careful, if I were you.”

“Why tell me?” He asks. “Wouldn’t it be better for your husband for us not to know?”

Maria sighs. “Like I said, you seem like an alright guy. I’d hate to see you carted off to jail if something goes south.”

Thomas can’t help the little breath of laughter that escapes him. He looks over his shoulder at the woman standing behind him. Maria has folded his clothes into a little bundle that she clutches tightly to her chest. With a little smirk, Thomas replies:

“Oh, don’t worry about that, I think I’ll be just fine if something happens.” He waits, just a split second to see if the implication lands. Maria’s head tilts, but then her eyes light up in understanding. Smart girl, Thomas thinks. She opens her mouth to reply, but Thomas doesn’t give her the opportunity.

He swivels his head around, pushes hard on the dock, and launches himself into the water.

Chapter Text

Thomas hits the water hard. Almost instantly, the ice in the waves chills him right to the bone and he reflexively gasps. Salty water rushes into his mouth, his throat, his lungs as more of it pulls him along the current.

Within moments, the current has him spinning head over heels and he’s lost which way is up. It feels like his entire chest is on fire, he needs air. He needs to breathe, needs to expel the nasty, thick water from his lungs.

Thomas’ limbs flail in the murky water around him, trying to find some control searching for a hint of the surface. His loose hair does him no favors, battering his face and disorienting him more.

Then- in the greatest miracle that’s ever happened to him- one of his hands hits warm air and Thomas suddenly has a reference point. He instantly reaches for the surface, clawing his way up until his face breaks into air.

Thomas gulps in air, sputtering out water as he blinks his eyes open and focuses around him. The Hudson River’s current is nothing to laugh at, the dock he and Maria were on is already a good distance away, the woman herself a faint red smudge against the dark city background. As he coughs the dregs of New York city water from his body, it continues to tug him along downstream.

He looks around- the next dock over is still a while away, but the shore he left is a couple of strokes away. He instinctively treads water, letting the last of the panic dissipate from his mind. Tiny waves break against his shoulders and neck, battering him with tiny droplets of knife-sharp water.

I can do this, he thinks, eyeing the rapidly approaching pier. I have to do this. Thomas pulls his arms from the oily water and starts to swim. He doesn’t so much as cut through the water as it cuts through him. It splashes and flows against his injuries and Thomas can’t help but feel like a wounded dog trying to orient himself in a whirlpool.

The water pulls on his limbs, trying to drag him down into the icy depths to a watery grave. Thomas grits his teeth and fights it, pushing himself closer to the metal boat launch. The current is working with him, and he thanks Maria for thinking of that before choosing his launching spot.

When Thomas’ hand closes around a metal pole, it feels like his fingers are going to freeze off instantly. He’s almost worried they’ll break off and get stuck on it tongue-on-a-lampost-style as he pushes off and goes for the next one.

Thomas weaves in between poles until he reaches the last one, and he stops there for a moment to catch his breath and survey the river. The next dock is closer than the first one had been from his launch point, but in the cold it looks like he’s swimming to England.

So he braces himself and pushes off again, feeling the water pulse and move around him. He makes it to the next dock in a much shorter time. This time, as he perches on the last wooden pole underneath the walkway, he peers out and spots a couple of guys in what looks like red jackets smoking, drinking, and throwing rocks into the river.

Instantly, Thomas realizes that he can’t be on the surface any longer. He has to go under if he wants to get past them, if he wants to reach the wide shipping dock he can see just ahead of him. So he breathes in deep, releases it and fulls his lungs completely before sinking under the waves and pushing off from the pole.

Completely submerged, Thomas actually feels a bit warmer, if just because his whole body adjusts and isn’t in and out of the summer air. Thomas doesn’t dare crack open his eyes, who knows what might blind him in the filthy water. He just keeps pushing, not quite sure how far he’s gone, what direction he’s going, if he’s passed the Redcoats on the shore or not. The current speeds up around him, pushing him faster than his limbs ever could.

He only dares break the surface when his lungs start to scream for air again. He pops his head out of the water just long enough to find that he’s accidentally swam closer to shore, but far past the Redcoat boys. Far enough past that for a second, Thomas thinks he’s overshot the dock Maria wanted him at.

Fear floods his mind as he realizes he’s not strong enough to fight the current. He looks around frantically, hoping he hasn’t fucked it up. The water still pulls him along and Thomas tries to stay in one spot, tries to reorient himself-

The water slams him back-first into something and instantly Thomas feels air rush out of his lungs. He gasps, head sinking slightly under the waves again and he takes in another mouthful of water. The current pins him against whatever’s at his back until one of his legs slips free and then he’s being pulled around it and further down river.

Thomas- sputtering and coughing, fighting to keep his head above water- gets a glimpse of what he was pinned against. It was a thick wooden pole, like a tree trunk that’s been stripped of bark. His feet kick painfully against another one and Thomas realizes he’s under the warehouse dock.

The next moment he’s twisting in the water, trying to reach for the next pole and keep himself from being pulled past it. His wet fingers scrabble for purchase on slick wood, and he’s pulled away before he can grab on.

There has to be another, Thomas thinks, already fighting to turn his body around in the water, please, let there be another. His prayers are answered when he sees he’s about three seconds from face-planting into another support beam. Thomas doesn’t do anything to stop the impact, just turns his head and braces for it.

He flies into it, the pole slamming into his chest and stomach. Thomas gasps, the air being forced out of him for the third time. But he manages to wrap his arms around it and hold on tight. The water batters his back, the current pulls on him but he wraps his legs around it too and he almost feels secure.

Thomas peeks open his eyes to find he’s managed to latch onto the last pole on the edge- if he had missed it he would have been out in the open Hudson again. Thomas sends a prayer of thanks, breathing air back into his abused lungs. He looks up, the edge of the dock to his left and the paneling of the walkway to his right. Fluorescent lights shine through the cracks, casting a striped pattern on the water that’s broken up by the small, frothing waves.

A larger wave cracks across Thomas’ back and Thomas squeezes the pole harder. He thinks about reaching for the pier, about pulling himself up but he doesn’t trust his exhausted limbs to work. Besides, he has no idea if the dock is clear or not. A near-naked man pulling himself onto shore deep in Redcoat territory wouldn’t go over well.

Which is what he needs Maria for, he realizes. If Maria even shows up, the traitorous part of his brain thinks. Why did we let her know we’re a cop? She could just leave us to drown now.

Shut up, she’s coming, Thomas tells himself. She’s coming.

Thomas has no idea how long he clings to the pole like a wet cat before he hears the tell-tale sound of footsteps on wood above him. He glances up, but can’t see who it is through the cracks. Underneath the boards, the sound echos and Thomas can’t even begin to guess who’s above him. He holds his breath, hoping beyond all hope that it's Maria come help him and not any of the other dozens of Redcoats likely to be in the warehouse.

The footsteps reach the end of the dock and stop. Thomas hears person kneel down, watches with bated breath has two hands curl around the lip of the wood. Then a face appears, peering down the darkness.

"Mr. Clark," Maria whisper-calls. Thomas lets out held breath, instantly regretting it as drops of water hit the inside of his mouth.

"Over here," he calls back, matching her volume. Maria's eyes snap to him and she scoots down the dock towards him. She leans over the edge, eyeing Thomas' precarious position. "Now what?" Maria bites her lip, thinking.

"Can grab my hand?" She asks, sticking one arm out to Thomas. He looks at it for a moment, then back up at her

"The current’s pretty strong," he says. "We're going to have be quick," Maria nods, braces herself, then says:

"Let's do it."

"Are you sure you can pull me up?" Thomas asks. "I'm big, and wet and-"

"That's what he said, now let's go before someone sees." Mariah shakes her hand vigorously. Thomas hesitates. No other choice, I guess, he thinks.

"All right, on the count of three." Thomas braces himself against the pole. "One, two, three!" Thomas pushes his body away from the smooth wood; one hand in Maria's, the other scrabbling for grip on the dock edge. He finds it, holding on for dear life as his legs dangle in the swiftly moving water

"Shit," Thomas breathes. "Pull, pull, pull!" Mariah heaves and Thomas pushes himself up with all his might, feeling the water hole at his legs and feet. A sickening sucking sound comes from the water as Thomas manages to break free from its grip.

With one final push, Thomas flops onto the dock. He's never been more grateful to be on dry land than he is in this moment. He pants against the wood, his body finally having a moment to relax. He coughs and sputters as the last of the water in his system finally clears out. Maria pounds him on the back.

"Sorry I didn't get here faster," Maria says. "Three of the boys held me up a moment."

"That's fine. You got here eventually," Thomas says, throat sore from the water scraping up and down it.

"I found you a towel." Maria holds out a white towel to Thomas. He accepts it, sitting up and running it over his shoulders. "And I have your clothes." Maria drops them on the dock next to him and looks around. “And this.” Maria dangles Thomas’ pistol by one finger. “Hurry up.”

“Wow, thanks for the concern, ‘Mama Reynolds,’” Thomas drawls, drawing the towel through his hair and standing up. “I could have drowned back there.” The water feels oily as he does his best quick dry. It has to be filled with unspeakable things, he thinks, dropping the towel and wringing out his boxers as best he can. But the fabric clings to his skin and despite the warm air, Thomas is starting to shiver.

“Sorry if I have lost a little sympathy for you, Agent,” she says, though her voice isn’t completely cold. Thomas smiles apologetically.

“Sorry,” he says, trying to make a decision. Fuck it, he thinks. “Could you turn around?”

Maria rolls her eyes, but spins. “I’ll make sure no one’s coming.”

Thomas grunts his thanks, quickly shedding his boxers and putting his jeans back on as quickly as possible. Going commando is better than letting gross river water sit on his skin for who knows how long. With a sigh, he resigns his boxers to death and flings them back into the water. “You’re good,” he says as he reaches for his shirt.

Just before he slides it on, he looks down at his chest. Nothing’s torn back open, thank god. Maybe nothing will get infected either, Thomas prays. Maria’s eyes are already coming back to him once his shirt is on and settled. Thomas almost feels dry, could trick himself if it weren’t for the crawling oil on his skin and his limp curls flat against his head and neck.

“I blame you for the damage to my hair,” he says. Maria snorts.

“Come on, we’re wasting time.” Maria hands Thomas his gun and leads him to a small door by the dock and holds a hand out for him to stop as she pokes her head in. Thomas glances about, they’re fairly concealed behind a few crates. He still can’t help but feel like King or another Redcoat is going to come strolling around the corner at any second.

“Clear,” Maria mutters, opening the door far enough for them both to slide through. It shuts behind them with a heavy thud that echoes around the warehouse they’re in. There are shelves of various things- crates, bags of white powder, chemical bottles, boxes of ammunition- that stretch all the way down the length. Thomas lets Maria go first, lets her check each aisle for people before following.

“Told you the warehouse would be empty,” she says. Thomas grunts in response, ears pricked for the sound of doors opening or footsteps. The reach the far wall and start down the aisle. The click of Maria’s heels bounce off the walls and the sound is almost deafening to Thomas’ fraying nerves. They’re about halfway down the aisle when they reach a door situated between two shelves. “Here,” Maria says. “They’re behind this door.”

“Alright,” Thomas breathes. He eyes the doorknob, then the hinges. “I could probably kick it down-”

“If you want to attract attention, you could,” Maria interrupts. “Besides, we have no idea who’s all in there.”

“So what do we do?” Thomas asks. Maria bites her lip, then points at a stack of crates just down the aisle.

“Hide for a second,” she instructs. Seeing as the rest of her plans have gone alright so far, Thomas complies, crouching behind a large box and sandwiching himself between it and the wall. He watches as Maria takes a deep breath, raises a hand and knocks.

Her raps, a soft pattern to precise not to be pre-decided, echo and Thomas catches himself holding his breath. They wait in the silence before the doorknob turns and the door opens just far enough for Samuel Seabury to stick his head out.

“Maria, what can I do for you?” He asks. Thomas flinches at the sound, the light british accent jarring against his very bones. The crown on his chest tingles as Thomas looks at the man who has haunted his nights for the last couple of days.

“I was looking for James,” Maria replies, her voice soft and far more subservient than it has any right to be. “He needs to take care of a payment problem.”

“He’s not here, sorry, my dear.” Seabury frowns apologetically. Maria fidgets.

“What about the boss?”

“No, just me and your little gift.” Seabury chuckles. “Thank you, by the way.” Maria mutters something, and Seabury’s eyes flash for a moment, but he doesn’t do anything besides speak again. “What did you need George for?”

“Just wondered if he knew where James was,” Maria explains. “I’ll check the front again.”

“Good plan love,” Seabury says. “I’ll see you around.”

Maria says her goodbye as Seabury slides back into the room and shuts the door with a click. Thomas watches her visibly relax, her shoulders straightening again. She looks back at him, crosses to the pile quickly and kneels before him.

“Did you hear?’ She asks. Thomas nods.

“It’s just the two of them. I can take Seabury, I’m armed.” Thomas glances about before reaching out and carefully putting a hand on Maria’s shoulder. “Should he have seen you?”

“We can tie me up in the corner later,” Maria says. “I’ll be fine.” There’s a flicker of uncertainty, of fear in her eyes but her face is set in a determined expression and Thomas decides to pretend not to see underneath it.

“Alright.” Thomas wiggles his way out of his spot, Maria dutifully moving out of his way.

“Repeat my knock, he’ll come out. Once you’re inside, I’ll watch the door,” Maria offers. Thomas looks at her like if he tries hard enough, he’ll see why she chose to switch sides for this and this only. She doesn’t meet his gaze, her eyes flicking around the area quickly. Thomas just nods.

“Two, pause, two, pause, one?” He asks. Maria nods.

“Good memory, Mr. Clark.”

“Thanks,” Thomas breathes. He looks at the door, hand tightening around his gun. “I’m going in,” he warns.

“Good luck.”

Thomas doesn’t respond, but strides over to the door as silently as possible. Steeling himself, trying not to image what he’s going to see inside that room, Thomas raises his hand and knocks. Twice, pause, twice again, pause, and then once more. He steps back, shifting his weight and getting ready to attack.

“Did you need something else, Maria dear?” Seabury calls from inside. Thomas swallows, shifting his gun to his left hand and breathes deep.

The doorknob turns. The door creaks open an inch, two, three. A sprig of reddish-blonde hair pokes out.

Thomas clenches his fist and winds up.

Seabury’s face appears. In a split second, his face goes from kind annoyance to confusion to fear.

Then Thomas’ punch lands in a direct hit and Seabury’s head snaps back. It thuds against the door frame and Thomas sees his hand come off the inside doorknob.

As Seabury reels back, the shock and surprise giving Thomas the advantage, Thomas wrenches the door open and puts his shoulder into Seabury’s chest. The man staggers back, one hand at his face and Thomas darts in after him. He switches gun hands, uses his now free left one to close the door behind him.

It shuts with a click and Thomas is glaring down his sights at Seabury. The other man glowers, it’s obvious he’s ready to launch an attack but Seabury sees the gun pointed at him and he freezes. Slowly, Seabury’s hands rise up into the air.

“Agent Jefferson,” he says, voice steady. “Let’s not be hasty here.”

Thomas breathes deep, staring Seabury down with enough force to kill him if looks could do so. “Where is he?” He asks. Seabury’s eyes glitter. He jerks his head back and to the right.

“Over there.” Thomas follows Seabury’s motion with his eyes, peering over the shorter man’s shoulder.

There, under the glare of a harsh light, strapped down to an oh so familiar chair, is Alexander. His head is hung to his chest, his whole body seemingly limp against the wooden seat. He’s blindfolded, and Thomas can see earplugs stuck in his ears. From this distance, Thomas realizes two things:

He can’t tell if Alexander’s breathing, and there is so much blood.

Chapter Text

Alexander, the chair, even the floor is covered in red blood. The lamp over Alexander’s head casts the color bright and stark against the dark grey concrete and the light brown chair. The sharp, metallic scent floods Thomas’ nose and for a second, he thinks he’s going to be sick.

“See, he’s fine,” Seabury says. Thomas’ gaze snaps back onto him.

“We have very different definitions of ‘fine,’ then.” Thomas adjusts the grip of his pistol. He glares down the barrel at Seabury, doing mental calculations. He thinks the room is fairly soundproof, but probably not enough to muffle an unsilenced gunshot. He can’t risk it, he knows, but that doesn’t stop Thomas from squeezing the grip and fiddling with the trigger anyway.

Seabury watches him, eyes widening almost imperceptibly. Other than that, the man stays as calm as possible. “I have to admit, I’m surprised you got through. George has the whole place on alert for you. I haven’t heard the alarm, so you must be alone.”

“It seems you underestimated me,” Thomas replies. “I told you I’d be seeing you.”

Seabury smiles, but it’s a small, twisted thing. “And seeing me you are.”

They stand in silence for a moment, both men considering their next moves. The surprise and fear begin to drain from Seabury, his posture relaxed. “What now, Agent?”

Didn’t really think this far ahead, Thomas realizes. Didn’t plan much at all actually. He doesn’t voice those thoughts, however. Instead he motions with his gun towards Alexander.

“You’re going to untie him.”

Seabury scoffs. “You can’t make me do that.”

“You forget who’s holding the gun,” Thomas replies. Seabury’s smile grows.

“Ah, but you can’t risk the sound, can you?” Seabury asks, mockery plain in his voice. “So, what are we going to do, stand here until someone comes back?”

Thomas’ very teeth are on edge. The man’s very voice threatens to send chills down his back and break his resolve. He has to focus on maintaining composure, with Alexander possibly dead in the corner and Seabury mocking him while he’s awake. He’s so focused on staying intimidating, he almost doesn’t see Seabury shift his feet. But he does, he just sees Seabury settle into what looks like a combat ready pose and a moment before it happens, Thomas realizes Seabury intends to lunge.

Seabury is clumsy, obviously unpracticed but he moves fast enough to get within Thomas’ reach, essentially negating any chance Thomas could shoot him. Seabury goes for a quick uppercut, and Thomas dances to the side. He’s preparing himself for a longer fight, but Seabury has other plans.

Seabury shoots past Thomas, reaching for the only exit door. Thomas realizes that Seabury never intended on actually getting in a fist fight- Seabury’s smart enough to know how that would end- so he was just distracting Thomas enough to make a break for it. Thomas figures he has just a couple of seconds to stop the man, so he does the first thing he can think of.

Thomas throws his gun as hard as he can at Seabury’s gut.

It connects and Thomas can hear the grunt of pain and air leave Seabury as the man stumbles under the impact. Thomas takes his opportunity, throwing himself at Seabury and pinning him to the floor. Instantly, Seabury starts to struggle, twisting his body in an attempt to squirm away but Thomas doesn’t think, just does.

Thomas grabs Seabury by the head with both hands and smashes him against the hard ground. Instantly, Seabury stills. His body goes rigid, then limp and Thomas’ brain catches up with his actions.

Holy fuck, I killed him, Thomas thinks, hands flying away from Seabury’s head. For a moment, all is quiet, then Seabury lets out a groan and his eyes flutter open, unfocused. Thomas lets out a breath, oddly relieved that Seabury is apparently alive, if not fully aware. He glances about, finds a coil of bloodstained rope by the door and grabs it. A moment later, Seabury’s ankles and wrists are secured together and finally Thomas stands and staggers away from the man.

Seabury is prone on the ground, tied up and secure. Thomas, breathing hard, watches him as his eyes slowly refocus and sharpen. “Stay,” Thomas mutters, as if Seabury has the ability to do anything else. Seabury just groans in response, managing to roll onto his side and curl into a small ball.

Thomas realizes he does not feel guilty about what he’s done thus far, not one bit.

Alexander, his brain reminds him, and Thomas immediately snaps to attention, whirling to rush to the blood-soaked chair in the center of the room. Thomas reaches Alexander in a matter of seconds, and as he gets closer he notices most of the blood on the floor is an old rust red, not fresh and bright like the stuff on Alexander’s clothes. That must be mine, Thomas realizes in a sickening flash.

The man himself is still limp in his seat, either unconscious or oblivious to what’s happened. Thomas, still unsure if Alexander is actually breathing, raises his shaking hands and reaches for Alexander’s neck. The moment Thomas’ fingers come in contact with Alexander’s throat to check for pulse, the man underneath his hand stiffens.

Alexander inhales sharply, face scrunching into a scowl, but Thomas has never felt happier to see Alexander so pissed off.

“Hands off, fucker,” Alexander grunts, his voice harsh. Thomas instantly jerks his hands away.

“Alexander, it’s okay, it’s me,” he says, and then remembers that Seabury plugged his ears. Sensory deprivation, Thomas realizes, so Alexander couldn’t know what was coming. Forcing down the bile that rises to his throat at the thought of what Alexander went through, Thomas runs his hands against Alexander’s head until his finds his ears and tugs out the noise-blocking plugs.

“Alexander, it’s Thomas, I’m here to rescue you,” Thomas says. Alexander stills again, and Thomas reaches behind Alexander’s head to fumble with the blindfold.

“Thomas?” Alexander asks softly, as if he doesn’t quite believe it. Then Thomas manages to pull the cloth from his eyes and Alexander winces in the light. A moment later, he looks at Thomas and Thomas looks back.

“Yeah,” Thomas replies.

“Where’s everyone else?” Alexander asks.

“It’s just me,” Thomas admits. Alexander’s eyes widen, and Thomas looks down at him still strapped in. “Come on, let's get you out of here.” Thomas kneels in front of him, reaching for the ropes tying him down. He feel’s Alexander’s eyes glued on him, the words already brewing in the other man’s head.

“Feel kinda like Eaker right now, I bet,” Thomas breathes, the panicking part of his brain wondering how he can be calm enough for a joke. Thomas practically rips Alexander’s bindings from him, and when he’s done Thomas looks up. Alexander’s face is just inches away, his expression still reeling, still confused.

“Why?” Alexander asks. Thomas understands he doesn’t mean the Eaker comment. The words Thomas wants to say close up his throat, lock his lips together so instead Thomas just stands. He reaches out, lifts Alexander out of the chair- the man is willingly pliant and a part of him sends up red flags at that fact- and gives Alexander the hardest hug he’s ever given in his life.

He’s safe, he’s alive, Thomas thinks, relief flooding him. He’s alive. Thomas presses his face into the top of Alexander’s shoulder and sends a prayer of thanks.

Alexander, for his part, stiffens underneath Thomas’ arms. He feels Alexander’s knees lock and his shoulders tighten. He thinks I hate him, Thomas remembers. He hates me. But he doesn’t care. Alexander is safe. He’s safe and with Thomas and Thomas swears never to let something like this happen ever again.

But he doesn’t voice any of it. He can’t. Not if Alexander is so repulsed by him that he won’t even accept a hug post-rescue. Not if Thomas still carries a badge and Alexander has his rap sheet a few feet long.

So Thomas pulls back, despite it being the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Alexander looks like a deer caught in the headlights, which Thomas supposes is fair. A lot just changed for the man in a space of a few moments and the man he hates just bear hugged him. His clothes are stained with his own blood and Thomas-

Thomas probably just exasperated whatever injuries Alexander has.

Fuck, Thomas thinks. He plants his hands on Alexander’s shoulders as lightly as possible.

“How bad did they hurt you?” Thomas asks, eyes scanning Alexander’s body for major wounds. Alexander starts, suddenly coming back to himself.

“A few cuts, broke two of my fingers,” Alexander mutters. Thomas looks up at Alexander in surprise. “They said something about waiting for you,” Alexander explains, and Thomas’ stomach plummets. Waiting for me, he thinks, they were going to use Alexander against me.

A creeping thought in the back of Thomas’ head says it would have worked.

“If you’re okay, let's go.” Thomas steps back from Alexander, letting his hands fall away like how he would like the thoughts of what they would have done to Alexander fall from his mind. Alexander nods stiffly, but as they made their way towards, the door, Alexander catches sight of the still-prone Seabury.

“Did you kill him?” Alexander stops in place, staring at the Redcoat leader.

“No.”

“Shame,” Alexander says, but a second later his eyes light up. “Or maybe not…”

“What are you thinking?” Thomas asks. He doesn’t like the devilish glint in the other man’s eyes.

“Revenge.”

Thomas blinks, shocked for a second Alexander would even suggest that sort of thing. But then Alexander turns to him with a wicked grin on his face. “And information,” Alexander adds. “Let's get him in that chair.”

“Alex, no,” Thomas protests. “We don’t have the time.”

“No one’s gonna come, no one can hear.” Alexander squats down by Seabury’s shoulders. “Maybe he’ll tell us who was at Safe Harbors.”

“Alexander-”

“Help me lift him,” Alexander commands. He slips his hands under Seabury’s arms, hooking under his armpits and pulling. Seabury groans, as he’s forced into a sitting position and Alexander starts to drag him across the floor. Thomas just watches, listens to Seabury’s legs drag on the concrete and Alexander’s labored breathing.

Alexander grunts as he lifts the barely-conscious man into the chair. Seabury doesn’t fight as Alexander ties his limbs down with the remnants of Alexander’s old bindings. “Thanks for the helping hand, asshole,” Alexander grumbles as he ties a knot by Seabury’s wrist. Thomas glances at the door.

“Let’s just go, leave him.” But Alexander doesn’t listen. He finishes the last knot and pats Seabury on the face.

“Hey Sam, wake up buddy,” Alexander jeers. Seabury’s eyes flutter back open and he grunts in response. “Got a few questions for you. A bone to pick too…”

“Alexander, we need to go.”

“Hey,” Alexander snaps. “Don’t you want to know what he knows?” Thomas fidgets, feet shuffling in place.

“Torture is an unreliable-”

Alexander waves him silent. “Don’t you want revenge for what he did to you?”

Thomas feels his fingers and toes tingle, the crown brand burn in his skin, but he shakes his head. “An eye for an eye just leaves the whole world blind.” Alexander scoffs, glancing around the room. “I… I can’t stand to watch it happen to someone else,” Thomas admits.

“Then don’t watch,” Alexander counters. His eyes alight on Seabury’s velvet bag of tools and a twisted grin splits his face. He strides across the room and picks it up.

“We don’t have time,” Thomas protests again.

“Watch the door if you want,” Alexander says. “But no one’s coming.” He returns to stand before Seabury. Alexander fishes a knife from the bad, the clinking of metal from inside it making Thomas wince. But Thomas doesn’t move from where he stands. Maria has the door, he rationalizes. I need to get Alexander out of here.

Alexander twists the knife in the air, watching it glint in the light.

“Samuel, Samuel, Samuel,” Alexander admonishes, like Seabury was a puppy he caught chewing a shoe. “You’ve gone and gotten yourself in a pickle, haven’t you?” Alexander chuckles. “Get yourself out of it by telling me who was at Safe Harbors.”

Seabury just groans in response. Alexander leans in close and asks: “Repeat yourself?”

“...Fuck...off” is Seabury’s pain-riddled reply. Alexander just sighs.

“You of all people should know how this works.” Alexander flattens Seabury’s hand against the arm of the chair and lines the knife up with his finger. Before Thomas can protest that they don’t have time for the fingernail treatment, Alexander raises the blade and swings it down.

Seabury screams.

A finger falls to the floor in a waterfall of blood.

Thomas turns away, his stomach revolting and Seabury’s scream ringing in his ears long after the man’s fallen silent. He hears Alexander repeat the question, but Thomas tries to shut out what’s happening behind him.

There’s another scream.

Thomas realizes that- while he’s upset at Alexander- not all of him is. Part of him wanted this. Some sick, twisted part of him hears the screams and cheers.

A third scream.

The scent of blood grows stronger.

Thomas has to remind himself to breathe.

Out of the corner of his eye, Thomas sees the door open slightly. He gets ready to call Alexander off when Maria’s head pokes through.

“What’s taking so long-” she cuts off, her face going ashen and Thomas knows what she’s looking at. He can hear Seabury’s quiet whimpers.

“Maria…” Seabury pleads, but Thomas can hear in his voice that Seabury doesn’t expect Maria to help him. Alexander looks up, starts when he sees who it is.

“Maria?”

“Hey,” Maria offers him a shy smile. “Sorry about calling James...”

“...No problem, I understand…” he trails, looking up at Thomas. Thomas shrugs, doing his best not to look at Seabury.

“Had to track you down somehow,” Thomas explains. Alexander glances between them, then nods.

“Not the cavalry rescue I imagined, but okay.” Alexander looks back at Seabury. “You should probably shut the door again.”

“We shouldn’t dilly-dally Alex,” Maria warns.

“That’s what I’ve been telling him,” Thomas grumbles. But Alexander is already looming over Seabury again. Thomas and Maria share a look, silently trying to figure out how to make Alexander stop. Then Alexander lets out a groan of frustration.

“He’s passed out,” Alexander says.

“Good, we can go now,” Thomas replies. Maria nods, but Alexander is looking at Seabury’s unconscious body with head tilted and a gleam in his eyes.

“What was it you said?” Alexander wonders aloud. “An ‘eye for an eye?’”

“Alexan-”

But Alexander is already grabbing Seabury’s chin, knife carefully aimed at the corner of Seabury’s eye. Before either Maria or Thomas can say or do anything, Alexander plunges the knife in.

Seabury wakes up with an ear-splitting screech. He tries to pull away, but Alexander holds him tight. Thomas hears something squelch. Alexander flicks his wrist and a pile of flesh flies through the air and lands on the floor with a sickening plop.

Seabury collapses, unconscious once more. Alexander steps away and Thomas sees the blood run from a now-empty eye socket and down Seabury’s face. Alexander uses his sleeve to wipe blood from his face.

“Alright,” Alexander breathes. “We can go now.”

“Good,” Maria says before Thomas can speak. “Because I think someone heard that last scream.”

Chapter Text

“Shit,” Alexander breathes.

“Told you,” Thomas snaps back, grabbing Alexander by the wrist.

“They only heard because the door was open!” Alexander protests, but lets himself be led to the door anyway. Thomas grabs his gun from the florr, and Maria ushers them out, pushing the two men towards the back of the warehouse, where she and Thomas had entered.

“Hide,” she hisses, and Thomas and Alexander scramble to comply. Alexander dives behind a box on the back shelf and Thomas wedges himself back where he had hid previously. Maria takes a post at the end of an aisle, the short side of a shelf at her back.

From where he is, Thomas can’t see either of them, and it makes him anxious. He knows that it’s a good thing, that if he could see them then someone else could too. He still doesn’t like it. Hours of ‘keep your team in sight’ training and having just found Alexander again makes him jittery.

But then he hears footsteps behind him and Thomas holds his breath. Please just walk away, screams are normal, Thomas pleads the mystery person. Just walk away, walk away, walk away-

“Sammy dear, I thought we agreed to wait for Thomas?” King asks, his voice coming from where the footsteps are. Shit. Thomas stiffens. Shit shit shit shit shit. “Samuel? Why’s the door open?” Thomas hears King push the door open slightly. “Sammy?”

Then comes a sound Thomas has heard before. The sound parents make when presented with the body of their child. The sound the husband of a missing wife makes when she’s found with a brand seared into her skin. The sound a burn victim makes when he sees his reflection for the first time:

Pure, unadulterated shock interwoven with grief.

King wails, and for a second, Thomas actually feels bad for him and Seabury. He hears King rush into that damned room, calling Seabury’s name again and again. Thomas keeps his eyes glued on the wall ahead of him. Maria sticks her head out and makes eye contact with Thomas.

‘Move,’ she mouths, and motions for him to come to her. Thomas slides out of his spot, glancing back at the door from within King’s pleading for Seabury to wake up- please Sammy, oh god, wake up- comes. Thomas moves as silently as possible, and dashes to where Maria was as she makes a break for the next shelf.

Thomas plants his back on the shelf as Maria checks if it’s clear to keep moving. He looks over, spots Alexander where he’s crouching and in his eyes shines giddy victory. Maria dashes to the next shelf, motioning for Thomas to follow and Alexander sprints to take Thomas’ place. Maria is just a short sprint to the harbor door now, and Thomas can almost taste freedom.

Then there are more footsteps, these more thunderous as a group of people rush into the warehouse. Redcoats alerted by King’s screams, Thomas figures. He listens, breath caught in his throat, as they skid to a stop by the door.

“Boss?” Someone asks. Alexander pokes his head out to glance down the aisle, then snaps back into cover.

“Get. Reynolds,” comes King’s voice, hard, rage-filled, vengeful. “Get Reynolds now.” Pairs of footsteps split up to follow orders, some heading back outside, some already heading up and down the aisle ways. Thomas risks a glance, then snaps back into hiding when he catches a glimpse of bright red coming towards him.

Fuck, he thinks. He looks over at Maria, eyes wide. She bites her lip, and looks back at him helplessly.

Heavy footsteps thud down the aisle, coming ever closer to Thomas. Thomas glances at Alexander, who seems to be eyeing a box cutter left on a shelf.

The footsteps reach the end of the shelves. Thomas’ own breath threatens to choke him, his body coiled like a spring.

And then Hercules Mulligan’s face comes into view.

Mulligan blinks at Thomas, who’s jaw drops in relief but his body still doesn’t remember how to breathe. Grim understanding settles on Mulligan’s face, his expression turning stony. He looks over at Alexander, who waves almost amicably, like they’ve run into each other on the street instead of the current circumstances.

Mulligan then glances the other way, eyes falling on Maria who looks petrified. Alexander leans forward far enough to shoot her a thumbs up, and as Mulligan turns back around to head back up the aisle Maria gets it, if the expression on her face is any indication.

“No one over here,” Mulligan’s voice booms in the warehouse. Answering calls of similar answers echo him, and Thomas feels his knees go weak. Maria looks like she’s breathing again, and she glances to check to see if the coast is clear. For the first time, Thomas notices she’s taken off her heels and is holding them in one hand.

Maria slips over to the dock door, motioning for Thomas and Alexander to stay put. She puts a hand on the doorknob, bracing herself for noise, but it thankfully slips open silently. Maria frantically waves Thomas and Alexander over. Thomas checks the aisle he’s crossing and- finding it clear- runs to the next shelf. Alexander is just behind him.

A moment later, Thomas is slipping out of the door Maria so carefully is holding open. Alexander is a heartbeat behind, bursting out into the dawning light like he’d been trapped in a cave for decades.

Maria silently shuts the door behind her and Thomas finds himself able to breathe again. “You can swim, right?” Thomas asks, looking at the two of them.

Alexander looks down at the churning Hudson. “You want me to swim in that?”

“It’s how I got in,” Thomas counters. Alexander’s nose scrunches up, and he opens his mouth to speak. A counterargument is already on Thomas’ lips-

“Doesn’t matter,” Maria says. “We’re too far downriver that by the time we’d get somewhere safe, we’ll be out in the bay. Besides, I can’t swim.” She smiles apologetically. “Alexander shouldn’t anyway.”

In any other circumstance, Thomas might make some snarky oh so he’s too precious to swim comment, but he finds himself agreeing. The water’s too dangerous and Alexander’s wounds are a lot fresher than Thomas’.

“So where do we go?” Thomas asks, keeping his voice down. There are shouts starting to travel from around the building.

“North,” Maria says. “Stick by the river until we pass the forklift garage, then we’ll have to make it across the storage lockers…” she trails, and Thomas frowns.

“After that?” He asks.

“After that is a stretch of open runway they use for drag racing,” Maria explains. “But we get past that, we might be home free.”

“Alright, lead the way,” Alexander says. Maria looks between the two men for a moment, then nods. She presses her body against the wall of the warehouse, peeks out, then sprints across a short gap to a smaller building just ahead.

Thomas and Alexander follow, ducking around buildings and peering around corners as Maria forges a path. They’re making good time when Maria suddenly stops them as a gaggle of searching Redcoats pass by.

“Hold up,” she breathes. They huddle together, trying to keep themselves hidden behind a forklift. Maria has her head poked out just far enough to watch the men wander by.

“Maria,” Alexander whispers. “Maria.

“What?” She hisses back.

“Quiet,” Thomas says. Alexander ignores him.

“Why are you helping us?” Alexander asks. Maria glances at him for a second.

“You know why,” she replies. Alexander frowns.

“If that was true, you wouldn’t have gave me up in the first place.” Maria’s jaw sets. Hurt flashes across her face and Alexander breathes a curse. “Sorry, I-”

“I just want you to be happy,” Maria says. “You deserve that, after all this.”

Alexander grimaces, but looks out to check if the group is gone and curses under his breath.

Lee,” Alexander hisses. “I knew that motherfucker sold us out.” Thomas risks a look to see that, indeed, Charles Lee is tagging along with a small group of Redcoats. “G-wash didn’t want to believe me. ‘Oh no, Charlie would never-’”

“Reminder we’re hiding for our lives,” Thomas hisses back. Alexander scowls up at him, but shuts up.

A moment later, Maria carefully creeps out from the lift, turns a corner, and starts to lead them away from the water. Thomas glances back, watching it go with a pang of fear. That’s one more side they’re going to have to watch. As Maria leads them deeper inshore, Thomas can’t help but keep his eyes on a sweep.

And then Maria reaches the rows and rows of rentable storage, aisles of garage doors painted bright yellow. “We’re going to have to sprint to the end,” she whispers. “We can stop at the rental booth.” She points at a small, wooden booth that’s appears empty in the early morning light. Both Thomas and Alexander nod their understanding, and Maria takes off.

A moment later, both men are behind her, feet pounding the pavement as they pass door after door. Thomas keeps glancing over his shoulder, but no one’s spotted them. Maria slides into cover, Thomas and Alexander a moment later, and Thomas can’t believe they’ve almost made it. Dear God, thank you for your blessings-

“Oh no,” Maria breathes. Thomas’ stomach plummets. She’s looking over the counter they’re crouched under, and Thomas risks a glance. There, in the middle of the road- the one they drag race on, Thomas remembers- is a group of Redcoats with flashlights and guns. Mulligan isn’t among them, they’re strange faces but angry ones.

“This fucking close,” Alexander mutters, and Thomas turns to see he’s poked his head out too.

“We can’t go back…” Maria mutters, glancing behind them. Thomas follows her line of sight and sees the Redcoat patrol making its way to the lockers.

“So we sprint,” Alexander suggests.

“They have guns,” Thomas points out, still breathing hard. “Unless you can outrun a bullet, we need a different plan.”

“Well, I don’t see many options asshole,” Alexander hisses back.

“We’re stuck,” Maria says, voice quiet and defeated. Alexander whips his head around to look at her.

“You can’t be giving up already?!” He whisper yells.

“There’s nothing but empty land in any direction, and they’ve got us surrounded.” Maria looks back at him. “I’m sorry. We tried.”

No, Thomas thinks. No, I can’t die here. Not after I just got Alexander back. But he doesn’t speak, doesn’t do anything but lean back into the booth-

“I’m armed!” Thomas remembers. His gun presses into his back where he’s up against the wood. Alexander’s eyes light up, but Maria just sighs.

“And outnumbered. We’re going to die.”

Thomas, smile falling, realizes that she’s right. Once again, he goes quiet.

“Gonna start praying again?” Alexander mutters to him, and Thomas is confused until he remembers the night in the Schuyler apartment. It feels like a lifetime ago now, not a few days.

“Alexander,” Maria says suddenly. “Would you do me a favor?”

“What?” Alexander asks.

“I… when James sent me to seduce you I did it out of fear, but the longer we were together I…” she trails again, looking up at Alexander with wide eyes. “Well, you know.”

Alexander is quiet for a moment, then says: “I’m sorry.”

“No,” Maria says. “I am. To both of you,” she says, looking over at Thomas. But then her eyes flick back to Alexander. “I don’t need you to say you feel the same way or anything, but since we’re going to die, could I get one last kiss?”

Thomas sees Alexander stiffen, sees Alexander glance over at Thomas so very briefly before returning to Maria. He nods, and Maria leans in. Thomas can’t watch, he averts his gaze to the floor. A moment later, he hears a quiet muttering, and then a hand comes down on his shoulder.

Thomas looks up to find Alexander looking at him, bottom lip between his teeth in deliberation. What if I asked for Maria’s favor too, Thomas wonders. Would he be as willing to comply? The question is just there, on the tip of his tongue. Fuck it, we’re going to die, his brain thinks, but Alexander is opening his mouth to speak and-

“Thank you, and I’m sorry again,” Maria breathes. “I’m sorry for this too.”

Before either of them can ask what she means, Maria swings. Her fist connects with Alexander’s temple, and Alexander crumples against the wooden booth. Thomas starts, looking at Alexander’s unconscious form in surprise.

Maria uncurls her fist to reveal a rock the size of her palm hidden inside. “He should be out for a while,” she says. Thomas blinks, looking at her with wide eyes.

“Why did you…” he trails, motioning at the rock in her hand. She lets it tumble to the ground as she reaches for Alexander.

“Because he’d never let me do this,” she says by way of explanation. Carefully, she sheds Alexander of his blood-stained jacket, and trades it with her red one. Maria slides it on her shoulders, tucking her hair inside the collar.

“Maria, no,” Thomas says, suddenly understanding her plan. Maria looks up at him as he puts her heels on the ground next to Alexander.

“I can’t knock both of you out,” she says. “Please, don’t try and stop me.” She looks at him with sheer determination in her eyes.

“But why?” Thomas asks. “Why do this for us?”

Maria smiles sadly. “I meant what I said to him. I really did love him. Not so much anymore, but to some extent… I think I was more in love with the idea of being with him and away from James. But now I am getting away.”

“I thought you said you didn’t want to get away,” Thomas argues. Maria shrugs.

“I said I didn’t want out. Getting out is impossible for me. Getting away, though...” Maria looks down at Alexander for a moment. “That I can do.”

“We can figure out another way-”

“There’s no other way, Mr. Clark, or whatever your name is.” Maria shakes her head. “I want to do this for you two. Just promise me that you’ll take care of him? He needs you.”

“He hates me,” Thomas mutters, looking down at Alexander’s sleeping form.

“No he doesn’t,” Maria says.

“I’m pretty sure he does.”

Maria looks like she wants to argue, but she just sighs. “But you’ll make sure he’s okay?”

“Of course,” Thomas replies instantly. Maria smiles.

“Thank you,” she says, and Thomas gets the idea that she’s not just thanking him for promising.

“What am I supposed to do now?” Thomas asks, suddenly gripped with panic.

“You take him, and you love him.” Maria says. “You love him, and you love him hard and you never let him go. You get him out of here and you find your happiness and waste your career on him because you love him.”

“I can’t,” Thomas protests. “I-”

“I believe in you,” Maria interrupts. Then  she leans over and plants the shortest kiss on Thomas’ cheek.  “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Maria,” Thomas says. She smiles down at him, a bitter sweetness on her face. Thomas doesn’t try to stop her as she turns, steadies herself, and then shoots out from the stand. She takes off, bare feet pounding on the pavement, running towards the water. A moment later, Thomas hears the Redcoats start to shout, more running footsteps as both groups go after the running woman.

Thomas waits until the footsteps have faded a good distance away- he pretends not to hear the gunshots, prays Maria somehow manages to get away- before scooping Alexander into his arms and taking off across the tarmac. He heads away from the river, Alexander’s unconscious form tucked into his chest bridal-style.

Thank you, Maria Reynolds, Thomas thinks, then turns all his focus onto running with a man in his arms. Now is not the time for regrets.

Chapter Text

It never ceases to amaze Thomas just how much people will overlook. Here he is, carrying an obviously unconscious and bleeding man in his arms, limping from the pain in his feet, on at New York City street at dawn. People pass by them on the sidewalk, gazes averted, and Thomas can’t help but wonder if their reactions are willful ignorance or early morning blindness or something else all together.

“Guess it’s just you and me,” Thomas says, looking down at Alexander’s slack face. There’s dried blood caking the right side, but Thomas can’t help but think that he’s so gorgeous asleep. “We’re in this together now. It’s going to be alright.”

At each intersection, Thomas looks around to try and orient himself. New York is a huge, sprawling city and the only thing he knows for sure is that he’s going north. Thomas stops long enough at a subway map to figure out he’s walking in the general direction of Morningside Heights.

“If we can just make it to Abigail's…” Thomas trails, trying to memorize the map as best as possible. “No, we can’t go to Abigails. They’ll look for us there. Can’t go to the condo, or the Frenchman, or your place.” He glances down at the sleeping man. “I’ll figure something out, don’t worry.”

Thomas can feel his shoes start to dampen, and he hopes that it’s simply the residue from his swim, and not is wounds cracking open again. He tries to ignore the shoots of pain as he carefully picks his way down the cracked sidewalks of New York.

He has to stop and rearrange Alexander in his arms once or twice, flipping the man around so that one arm isn’t always carrying more weight. Alexander is dead weight in his arms, but Thomas doesn’t dare think about putting him down or resorting to a fireman’s carry.

“I’ve got you, it’s going to be alright,” he whispers to Alexander’s sleeping form. “I rescued you and you’re safe and it’s all going to be okay.” Thomas thinks he recognizes this intersection- that gas station-McDonald’s combo looks familiar. “I swear to god I’m never letting you out of my sight again.” He keeps moving, and the further he goes the more he can’t help but think I’ve been here before. “I don’t care what you or James or anyone else says. You’re mi-”

Thomas cuts off as he realizes where he’s at. The run-down motel Burr and the Theos had hid at that first night on the run. It appears out of the cluster of buildings like the gates of heaven and Thomas feels like he just might weep. That’s the answer, he realizes.

Thomas moves as fast as he can towards it, stumbling over cracks while trying to keep Alexander as still as possible. He pushes open the door with his back and a small bell chimes. A sleepy-looking receptionist- the same woman Thomas and James had questioned- looks up from her phone.

“Welcome to Motel 6, what can I do for you?” She asks. Her gaze is blank, as if two bloodied men- one unconscious and one still slightly damp- staggering into her motel at who knows what hour of the morning is usual.

“I need a room,” Thomas says. The woman nods, and then pulls a book out from the counter.

“One or two beds?”

“Two.” Thomas glances about. There’s a camera somewhere nearby. Thomas spots it out of the corner of his eye and drops his head. His anxiety is off the charts, buried just beneath his concern for Alexander.

“Eighty-nine dollars,” she intones. Fuck, money. Of course. Thomas shuffles Alexander in his arms until he manages to pull his wallet out of his pocket. The woman just watches, dead-eyed. She doesn’t say anything, doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t even move until Thomas tosses a hundred dollar bill on the counter.

“Do you need the first-aid box?” She asks, punching in something on a computer and tossing the bill into a drawer.

“Yes, please,” Thomas breathes.

“I’m keeping the change then.”

“That’s fine.” Thomas watches as she pulls out an industrial-sized first-aid kit from the counter. How often do people need this thing?

“Can you carry it yourself?”

“Yeah, just…” Thomas holds out on hand and she pushes the handle onto his fingers. Thomas closes his fist, watching her carefully as she disinterestedly pulls a key from the wall behind her. Thomas grabs it with his other hand when she offers it.

“Left wing, three doors down. Room 34,” she grumbles. “Try not to get blood everywhere.”

“Will do,” Thomas says. No wonder Burr chose this place, he thinks as he makes his way down the hallway. Now that the end is in sight, his arms are finally starting to protest. His muscles scream at him for relief, but Thomas presses on until he finds the door marked with a chipping, black 34. He struggles with the key but manages to press it into the lock and kick the door open.

Thomas shuts the door with his foot, flicks the light on with his elbow, and carries Alexander into the tiny room. Two twin-sized matresse take up most of the floor space, with a tiny dresser/tv combo and a single arm chair making up the rest. It smells of fresh paint, wallpaper and bleach, and Thomas suddenly remembers that Room 34 had been Burr’s room.

If you have a room dedicated to bleeding messes stumbling in at odd hours of the morning and you’re not a hospital, the cop inside Thomas thinks, you need to reevaluate your business. But for the moment, he’s actually relieved this room exists. Thomas walks to the bed closest to him and lays Alexander down onto the tacky, patterned comforter.

The man is still asleep as Thomas finally lets him go, his head resting against the flat mattress. Alexander is short enough to fit between the end of the bed and the small mass of pillows easily, and Thomas grabs one and slides it carefully underneath Alexander’s head. If it weren’t for the blood, Alexander might simply have collapsed in his clothes for the night.

Thomas drops the first-aid kit on the nightstand, the metal changing against the wood, and opens it. It’s fully stocked, with a near-professional level of supplies and variance. There’s more than enough to treat them both, something Thomas is grateful for. He was worried he wouldn’t have enough to help himself after taking care of Alexander.

When Thomas looks over, he realizes that to do this properly, he’s going to have to strip Alexander. He can already feel the blush creeping up his face and neck, but argues with himself that this is for medical reasons, and medical reasons only. He still starts by cleaning what dried, crusted blood he can from Alexander’s face, neck and hands before pulling off Alexander’s shirt.

It seems like Alexander’ hadn’t lied, that Seabury and King really had been waiting for him, because there’s just a few clean cuts on Alexander’s arms, shoulders and chest. Thomas sighs in relief when he can’t find a crown brand anywhere. Thomas starts when he sees the half- healed circular wound on Alexander’s shoulder only to remember the man was shot but a few days before. Alexander’s jeans come off- Thomas has to peel them from his legs, they’re soaked in blood, and when Thomas gets a look at Alexander’s thighs, he gasps.

Well, at least he knows where most of the blood came from.

Thomas has to look away for a minute, and his eyes light on Alexander’s discarded pants. The upper thigh portion is almost in strips, the dried blood having kept it together until Thomas forced them off Alexander’s body. He walked across the whole complex like that, Thomas realizes.

You walked with your feet like they are, a part of Thomas’ brain says.

That’s different, Thomas argues. That’s me. He’s… him.

When Thomas finally collects himself he makes short work of cleaning flayed flesh and checking the rest of Alexander’s body. He doesn’t dare take the man’s boxers off, that feels like too much, and he doesn’t think Seabury would have gone that route if they had been waiting for Thomas anyway.

Almost five whole disinfectant wipes later, Thomas finally feels like he can start bandaging. Some of the wounds came open under his hands, but nothing seems too deep as to need more than gauze wrappings. So that’s what he does, even fashioning a splint for the two fingers on Alexander’s left hand that are bruised deeply and bent at bad angles.

Before he can put it on, however, he has to spend a few sickening moments setting Alexander’s fingers. He googles a quick wilderness instruction guide, but he thinks he gets it right in the end. Thomas wraps three of Alexander’s fingers together, the two broken ones and his non-broken middle finger.

And you’re always so proud of Lauren’s ‘’medical training,’ Thomas teases in his mind, wrapping Alexander’s fingers against the sticks. I can do it too with Google. Fuck off John Laurens, you’re not special. The jealous thought is through Thomas’ head before he realizes he’s thinking it, but he accepts it. Guess he going to be jealous of John Laurens now. Just another fact of his reality being in love with Alexander Hamilton.

The splint is the last thing Thomas does, so when he’s finished he lets Alexander’s hand fall onto the bed. He glances at the clock, it’s almost 7. How much can change in one night, Thomas wonders. Alexander is still deep asleep, which is starting to concern Thomas. But then the sleeping man’s face twitches without waking up, and Thomas feels even the slightest bit better about it.

Before Thomas can stop himself, he reaches up and adjusts a strand of hair that fell in front of Alexander’s face. He tucks it behind Alexander’s ear and he thinks about leaning all the way down and planting a short kiss on Alexander’s lips. Then he realizes that’s kind of creepy and settles for running his fingertips along Alexander’s cheek.

Thomas finally tears himself away when he spots his injured nail beds- the bandages had come off at some point, Thomas hadn’t even noticed. He needs to treat himself, but he needs to shower even more. Get all this residue off his skin and then disinfect everything more carefully. So he regretfully leaves Alexander’s side to slide into the small bathroom in the corner of the room.

There’s barely any room inside, and Thomas ends up tossing his clothes out into the room proper. In the mirror, his skin looks red and angry, especially around his injuries. Most of the gauze has finally started to slip, so tearing it off and stuffing it in the trash is no hard task. Thomas grabs the complimentary shampoo, conditioner and soap and jumps underneath the water, not even waiting for it to heat up.

----------------

In a hospital room in the south end of Manhattan is an quiet scene. George King holds onto his boyfriend’s- his love of his life’s- hand. Samuel is asleep, deep in a coma. The only sound is that of the heartbeat monitor.  Sunlight creeps through cracks in the window curtains, the one George has so carefully covered. Even the window door has been blacked out.

George hand squeezes Samuel’s tight. He’s holding the hand that still has all five fingers. The doctors say they can’t figure out how much the optic nerve damage has messed with his brain, or the concussion, or the blood loss, or the-

He’s been told there’s no way to predict when Sam will wake up. If, the doctor had said, and George had hit him until the if changed to a when.

Which is probably why George is allowed to be in this room so early in the morning. No one is going to pull him out of this room until Sammy opens his eyes. He stays right by the bedside even as nurses check machines and change the IV and whatever else they do. 

George hears the door open behind him. “Boss?” George can recognize the voice of James Reynolds anywhere, even when lowered in quiet deference.

“I want their heads,” George mutters.

“We’re looking-”

I want them dead,” George hisses, not looking away from Samuel’s sleeping face. There’s a large white bandage over his right eye. “And I want you to tear Manhattan apart until they are. Paint the streets red, make as many examples of people as you need to, they will not see tomorrow.” 

----------------

The motel water also feels rough, but it’s leagues better than the oil, sand and dirt clinging to Thomas’ body. Thomas doesn’t let himself shower long, he’d rather be out there to watch Alexander, so he does his best to scrub thoroughly without wasting time. It’s a little oxymoronic, but Thomas finally feels clean enough and shuts off the water.

He runs a towel over his body and wraps it around his waist. He’s planning on just grabbing his jeans and putting them on in the bathroom, but when he opens the door he’s met with the sight of Alexander sitting up on the bed.

Thomas feels his heart sing in relief as he watches Alexander run his fingers along the bandages on his thighs. Thomas can tell the man’s a little disoriented, unsure of where he is, but him being awake is so much better than asleep.

Thomas clears his throat and Alexander’s head snaps up. Thomas sees his eyes widen, sees his gaze flick up and down repeatedly in a way that threatens to make Thomas’ whole body flush. Alexander looks down at himself, just in boxers, and back at Thomas and that’s the moment Thomas realizes that he’s only in a towel and both of their clothes are strewn haphazardly around the seedy motel room-

“Laf?” Alexander asks, looking terrified out of his mind. “How did we… we didn’t-”

“No, oh god, no. This is one-hundred-percent not what it looks like,” Thomas rambles. “There’s a reasonable explanation.” Oh god I wish otherwise, a mutinous part of Thomas’ brain pipes up and Thomas shoves it right back down.

“Oh my god, Jefferson,” Alexander breathes. “We didn’t…”

“No!” Thomas says, much too harshly. Alexander flinches. “How much do you remember?” Thomas asks, much softer this time. Alexander pauses, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth.

“...up until Maria punching me in the temple.”

“So everything then,” Thomas says, relieved. No memory damage, good sign. Alexander nods, then goes pale.

“I ripped out Seabury’s eye,” he mutters. Thomas grits his jaw.

“Yes, you did.”

Alexander lets out a heavy breath, then looks around. “And how did we get here?”

“I carried you,” Thomas explains. “We’re in the motel Burr was at. I went ahead and stripped you to take care of your injuries.”

“Alright, that does make a lot more sense,” Alexander replies.

“How are you feeling?” Thomas asks. He grips the edge of the towel tighter, carefully holding it up.

“A little disoriented. I’ve got one hell of a headache, and my whole hand hurts.” Alexander lifts his splinted fingers for Thomas to look at. “Did you set them?”

“Yeah,” Thomas says. “Was a little worried when you didn’t wake up for it. You were out for a couple of hours.”

“Haven’t slept in two days,” Alexander mutters. Thomas frowns, but doesn’t say anything. He’s part of the reason Alexander didn’t sleep, after all.

“Do you think you should shower?” Thomas asks. Alexander works his jaw, feeling his hair.

“I mean probably,” Alexander says. “How old are these bandages.”

“Only an hour or so.”

Alexander shrugs. “I’ll be fine until I get home. I need to pee though.” He swings his legs to the edge of the bed, and Thomas watches with baited breath as Alexander pushes himself to his feet.

“Should you be walking?” Thomas asks.

“Should you?”

Fair enough, Thomas thinks, standing aside as Alexander limps his way to the small bathroom. He can feel the smaller man’s eyes on him, unabashedly staring. Thomas knows he looks good, but the idea that Alexander might find him attractive sends heat down his spine. Alexander shuts the door, and Thomas can just hear the quietest “I’ve got to be dreaming” come from inside.

Thomas grabs his pants from the floor and drops the towel, getting them on as fast as possible. He collects his shirt too, but doesn’t put it on. Instead, he reaches for the first aid kit and pulls out disinfectant wipes and gauze. He rips open the first wipe and goes to work, trying to get as much of it done before Alexander comes back. He knows Alexander’s seen his body- seen his wounds before- but something about the thought of Alexander watching him tend to his injuries feels too intimate.

What if he offered to help? His brain asks, and then supplies thoughts about Alexander’s soft hands trailing up and down Thomas chest and- 

Nope, stop right now. Thomas forces the images out of his head. Now is not the time to be fantasizing about a man who hates him. He focuses on the sting of alcohol on his injured fingertips, mentally plans out how to properly wrap all of his chest up instead.

He doesn’t even notice Alexander open the door until he glances over his shoulder to make sure he’s getting the checkered scabs on his arm. Thomas locks eyes with Alexander, who stands in the doorway with glimmering eyes. Thomas feels his face start to burn.

“Can I help you?” Thomas asks. Alexander starts, realizing for the first time he’s been caught.

“You’re hot,” Alexander says, and then his mouth shuts at the speed of light. The next second Alexander has his eyes glued on his discarded jeans and he speed walks across the room to where Thomas had thrown them. “For an asshole,” Alexander clarifies.

Thomas makes a sound in his throat somewhere between a hum and a growl, not trusting his ability to form coherent words. He looks down at the first-aid kit, fighting the blush that threatens to form across his face and neck. For a moment, the only sounds between them is Alexander getting dressed. Thomas hears him curse under his breath, but nothing that comes out of his mouth is in any grammatical order.

“So,” Alexander finally says, sliding his shirt on. Thomas is in the middle of securing a round of gauze, and he looks over. “When are we meeting up with Maria?”

Thomas’ stomach drops. Maria. Fuck. Alexander doesn’t know, of course he doesn’t know, he was asleep. Of course he assumes they all got out. Of course he assumes Maria is…

Thomas can’t look at him. He can’t say anything to Alexander so he just drops his gaze and tucks the end of a strip of gauze into place.

“Jefferson, where’s Maria?” Alexander asks, his voice guarded. Thomas grits his jaw.

“I…” he trails. He doesn’t have the words. He picks up another rolls of gauze.

“Where the hell is Maria?!” Alexander insists. Thomas’ hands shake as he tries to start on his ruined fingernails.

“I’m sorry,” he mutters. He hears Alexander inhale sharply.

“No. No, fuck you, where is she?”

Thomas takes a breath. “It was the only way.”

“Oh fuck that shit,” Alexander hisses. Thomas steels himself and goes on.

“She volunteered. We were stuck and she volunteered.” She volunteered, Thomas repeats to himself. She volunteered; the only source of comfort he has. Alexander is silent for a moment, then:

“We’re going back for her.”

Thomas’ head snaps up to find Alexander shrugging on Maria’s hoodie. “We can’t,” he hears himself say. Alexander whirls on him, eyes alight.

“Like hell we can’t,” he spits.

“It’s too dangerous, we can’t,” Thomas insists. Alexander’s whole body stiffens, his shoulders rise.

“She saved us, we have to go save her.

Thomas ties off the only finger he’s managed to wrap and looks up at Alexander with the most level look he thinks he can manage. “We can’t, Alexander. There’s nothing to save. She’s-”

“Don’t you say it.” 

“-gone. She’s gone Alexander and I regret it but it’s over now.” Thomas bites down on the bile that crawls in his throat when he thinks about Maria’s fate.

“Fuck off, we can help her!” Alexander insists. Thomas wants to scream, wants to shake the man until he understands.

No we can’t!” Thomas says through gritted teeth. “If we go back, we’ll end up just like her.”

“We have to try,” Alexander snaps. Thomas crosses his arms over his chest.

“I’m not going.” He glares at the other man, hoping his stare is enough to make Alexander back down.

“Fine,” Alexander replies. “I’ll go by myself.”

Thomas feels his eyes bug out as his entire body goes cold. No, no you can’t go, his brain screams. The words that come out of his mouth are calmer though. “You can’t.”

“I can and I will,” Alexander shoots back. “You can’t stop me, so either come with or shut up.” Alexander glares back, matching Thomas’ glare. Thomas stands from the bed, bandages left forgotten now in his growing panic.

“Alexander, if you go you won’t come back,” Thomas says. “They’ll kill you. It’s that simple!”

“In my experience, I’m pretty hard to kill.” Alexander’s expression is stormy, lips almost drawn back in a snarl.

“Yeah, well, there’s no escaping a second time. Maria already sacrificed herself for us, do you want to make that in vain?!”

“It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t let it!” Alexander’s fists clench at his sides. “This is your fault! You could have stopped her!”

“It was her, or all three of us!” Thomas fires back. “I risked so much, Maria gave everything, for you and you want to throw it all away?” The air is electric between the both of them.

“I’ll be fine,” Alexander growls.

“No you won’t!” Thomas is almost yelling now, his voice steadily having rose. “You won’t be fine! You go, and I’ll get a call in the morning when someone finds your fucking body floating in the river! If there’s a body left at all! For what you did to Seabury, I wouldn’t be surprised if they fed what pieces they have left of you to dogs.” Thomas can feel tears starting to well, but he keeps shouting. “And I will be the one to find your finger bones in a dog’s stomach after it chokes on you and dies.”

“That’s what’s going to happen to Maria if we don’t go back!” Alexander takes a step forward, crossing a third of the distance between them in the tight quarters of the room. 

“It’s already happened, and I’m sorry, I really am. But I can’t lose you, not again, not after I spent a whole fucking night thinking you were going to be dead when I showed up at that fucking warehouse!”

Why do you even care?!” Alexander screeches. “Why do you even fucking care? You made it perfectly clear you don’t give a shit about me.” Alexander pushes himself right up into Thomas’ chest, face turned upwards and glaring. “So why do you care if I live or die?”

Thomas stands there, staring into Alexander’s rage-filled eyes. Both of them are breathing hard, glaring at each other from inches away. Thomas knows the answer to Alexander’s question; oh god he knows it all too well. The words to tell him get locked in Thomas’ throat and the pricking of tears threatens to spill over.

Thomas finds himself acting almost subconsciously, a long suppressed part of his brain taking over for him as his hands come up to grab Alexander’s face. And before Thomas really knows what he’s doing, he closes the last remaining distance and kisses Alexander.

Chapter Text

Thomas pushes their lips together and doesn’t even care that Alexander freezes under his hands and mouth. Thomas just screws his eyes shut- feeling tears start to run down his cheeks- and keeps himself still against the other man. The kiss is nothing but soft and Thomas just holds on and he’s kissing Alexander Hamilton.

And oh fuck he’s kissing Alexander Hamilton.

The moment he catches up with himself, Thomas pulls away. In total, the kiss only lasted a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity. Thomas’ hands tremble as he pulls them away from Alexander’s cheeks and suddenly he realizes his whole body is shaking. Thomas opens his eyes wide enough to see Alexander’s shell-shocked face looking back at him.

Please don’t go. Don’t go because losing you is the scariest thing I can imagine. Don’t go because I need you and I can’t bear the thought of you being gone. Please, please don’t go. The plea is on the tip of his tongue, the first please half formed on his lips when Alexander moves.

Alexander grabs Thomas by the shoulders and pulls him downwards until their lips collide again.

It’s Thomas’ turn to be shocked, but his body falls into it almost instantly. Alexander’s lips move against his and Thomas kisses back with a newfound intensity. Alexander runs his hands up Thomas’ neck until they’re tangled in Thomas’ hair and Thomas’ hands come down onto Alexander’s hips, pulling the other man impossibly closer.

Thomas feels like fireworks are erupting behind his closed eyelids, and suddenly nothing but this- the feeling of Alexander, the taste of him, the very scent of the man- is real. They break for but a moment to gasp, and then they’re back at it. And then Alexander is nipping at Thomas’ lip and then there’s a tongue in Thomas’ mouth that’s not his and then there’s a hand running down his chest and then- 

Alexander pulls back and Thomas whines, looking for the contact again. He doesn’t open his eyes, simply moves his face forward and down, blindly chasing the other man he knows is there. But now both of Alexander’s hands are planted on Thomas’ chest and are pushing, pushing him back. Thomas’ knees catch on the edge of something, and he finds himself in the single armchair.

Thomas’s eye flutter open just long enough to watch Alexander climb on top of him, watch Alexander straddle Thomas’ lap with ease. Alexander looks down at him through loose hair and all traces of anger are gone from his face. In it’s place is half-lidded, barely contained want and Thomas can’t suppress the shiver that runs down his spine.

So he leans up just far enough to meet Alexander and they’re kissing again, this time with Alexander as the ‘taller’ one and Thomas has to angle himself upwards to meet the other man. This time, when Alexander’s tongue asks for entrance, Thomas meets it in battle, fighting for his turn to explore the other man’s mouth.

And then his brain finally makes the last connection it needs to to understand that he’s kissing Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton is kissing back. Thomas runs his hands up the other man’s back, suddenly overtaken with the need to feel more . Alexander seems to understand, and he obliges Thomas’ need by grinding himself down on Thomas’ crotch.

A new round of fireworks explode in Thomas’ head and, with a growl, he gathers Alexander in his arms and stands up. Alexander doesn’t unlock their lips, just wraps his legs around Thomas’ waist as Thomas spins them around and pins Alexander against the wall.

Alexander’s hands pull at Thomas’ face as Thomas pushes them closer together. His own hands are on the underside of Alexander’s thighs, he can feel the edges of shredded fabric beneath his fingertips. Then Alexander’s hands start to trail down, running down Thomas’ neck, his chest, his stomach until Alexander’s fingers rest just above the tops of his jeans.

Thomas feels Alexander’s fingertips hop the brim, feels them side down the front of his pants and Alexander grins into Thomas’ mouth. I’m not wearing underwear , Thomas realizes dizzily, like he’s some heroine of a cheap erotica. Alexander’s legs loosen just enough to give him more space to move, and his hands are getting closer to where both of them want them to be.

Alexander’s fingertips brush Thomas’ dick and it takes a very sudden interest in that happening again. Thomas ruts against Alexander’s hands, looking for more contact, more friction, anything . He feels Alexander laugh into the kiss, and Thomas can’t help the moan that rumbles from him when Alexander gives Thomas exactly what he’s looking for.

“Bed?” Alexander mutters, finally breaking the kiss to mouth along Thomas’ and jaw and up to his ear. Thomas nods, finally leaning away from the wall. Alexander’s hands slide out from his jeans to hold on as Thomas walks them over to one of the beds. Alexander’s hands slide in and out of his hair, around his neck and Thomas feels his teeth sink into his earlobe.

“Come on, please, ” Alexander hisses. Thomas can’t deny the twinge he feels in his stomach, knows Alexander can feel his growing hardness trapped between them. Alexander pulls back, just far enough to give Thomas the biggest pair of bedroom eyes Thomas had ever seen. “I need you,” Alexander breathes, his hands tangling into fists in Thomas’s hair. Then Thomas remembers something and reaches up with one hand to tangle his fingers in Alexander’s hair and pull.

The wanton moan that escapes Alexander’s lips is enough to seal the deal and Thomas practically throws the other man onto the mattress. The shitty spring bed bounces under Alexander’s weight and Thomas takes a moment to just look at the other man. All spread out on a bed, all for him, all flushed and already panting. Thomas wants to tear the shirt off Alexander, wants to have the other man open and ready. Thomas crawls onto the bed, caging Alexander in with his own body. Oh god, Thomas wants this. He wants this so bad he’s-

He stops. Alexander’s face is screwed up in what looks to be pain. His eyes are screwed shut tightly, and he’s grimacing. “Are you okay?” Thomas breathes. Alexander cracks one eye open and looks up at Thomas. His pupils are blown wide, but the fire in them has died a bit.

“Yeah, just got dizzy there for a second. Give me a moment,” Alexander says. Thomas frowns, eyebrows furrowing. Dizzy? Why would he be dizzy? I’m a good kisser, but not that good-

“You have a concussion,” Thomas remembers. “Oh shit, you have a concussion and you’re probably not thinking rationally.” Thomas leans back, pushes himself off the bed and away from the prone man. Alexander frowns, then picks up his head to look at Thomas.

“Uh, no? How about I just got dizzy for a second? Come over here so I can fuck you,” he says, arms reaching out for a quickly retreating Thomas.

Thomas shakes his head. “No, I… I’m not doing anything you might regret.”

Alexander’s jaw drops. “I’m not going to regret this,” he says.

“No,” Thomas insists. “Not until I’m sure you’re thinking clearly.”

Thomas, ” Alexander whines. “Please. Don’t you want this?” Alexander sits up, motions at his body. “Don’t you want me ?”

“More than you know,” Thomas replies, forcing himself to step backwards until his back hits the wall. He’s starting to realize what’s just happened, the consequences of their actions just starting to take hold.

“Then get back over here!” Alexander makes a grabby motion in Thomas’ direction and there’s enough of Thomas’ brain starting to panic that he doesn’t move from the spot. “Actually, grab my wallet from the table, I’ve got lube and co-”

“I said no. I don’t want to do this if in a few days you realize that this was all the concussion talking.” Thomas crosses his arms, trying to keep his expression as stern as possible and not l