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written in the stars.

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John Laurens doesn’t believe in soulmates.

Of course, he knows they’re real because he has watched most of his friends’ arms slowly getting covered in conversations written in different colored pens every day, and just when he thinks their arms don’t have any more space, they come to class with their arms covered in words or drawings again; the shopping list used to randomly appear on his dad’s forearm when his mom was alive, and his younger sister always comes back from high school with even bits of her fingers inked with small writing.

Everyone is supposed to have a soulmate. With a population of 7.5 billion people, though, obviously not everyone gets to meet their soulmate. Most people go their entire life without meeting theirs, but spend their days writing onto their arms like crazy while the few lucky ones that do get to meet them stay with them their entire life. Sometimes.

Some even have more than one.

When the Earth was created, something happened that suddenly decided that everyone’s soul would be connected to someone else’s soul and just like that, soulmates were created. Whatever one’s soulmate has on their skin, the exact copy of it appears on one’s skin. Not scratches or bruises or burns, no. Not anything that could hurt you, but words. Words that people write on their arms to cheat on a test, or a reminder to do homework, sometimes when a baby accidentally draws on their arm, the large squiggly line appears on their soulmate’s arm, in the exact same place.

It usually happens when you’re young; you’ll maybe be in first grade, trying to listen to your math teacher drone on about additions and subtractions when a happy face will slowly appear on the back of your hand. First, the two lines that are supposed to be the eyes, maybe even a small nose, and then the curve of the smile. And maybe you’ll stare at it for a second, trying to process what’s happening even though your parents and all your teachers have taught you about this, and then you’ll gasp out loud and run your finger over it to make sure it’s real. Obviously, you will interrupt the class and the teacher will ask what’s wrong, so you’ll just raise your hand to show her, hoping she’ll understand. She will, and then she’ll let you go to the principal’s office so you can call your parents and tell them.

At least, that’s what John’s mom used to tell him as a bedtime story when he was younger. He may have been five or six years old and he still had the innocence of a young boy, still believed in soulmates.

“That’s how I knew your father existed, Jack,” she had said, running a hand through his short tangle of curls. “It was my second week of school, I think. First grade. My math teacher was talking about something that had to do with additions.”

“I know how to do those!” John exclaimed happily, eyes wrinkling at the sides. Just like hers.

She laughed quietly and nodded her head. “I know, sweetheart.”

“What happened next?” He asked, small feet moving around excitedly under the covers.

“Well, I looked down at my hand to start drawing on it, and a happy face was appearing on it! It was really strange though,” she said, a small smile spreading across her face. “Like the person was drawing it at the same time it was appearing. Like this.”

She had taken his hand in her warm, soft one and began tracing two small lines next to each other. Then something John assumed was a small nose, and afterward a curved line for the smile.

“Was Daddy bored too, Mommy?” He asked and tilted his head curiously. He must’ve been if he was drawing happy faces on his hand.

“I don’t know, pumpkin. He never told me. It was a very long time ago.”

“Did you keep talking to each other?”

“Of course we did!” She leaned over to tickle his stomach, causing loud squeals to leave her son’s mouth. “Shh, your sister’s sleeping.”

His mouth formed a wide ‘o’ shape and he quickly covered it with his hands. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he whispered - well, tried to - loudly, giggles still falling past his lips. “And then?”

“Then I just sat there, staring at it. I didn’t know what was happening even though everyone had told me about it, and then I just… remembered. And gasped really loudly. I think my math teacher wanted to yell at me for interrupting her class; I think she would’ve if I hadn’t shown her my hand. And she just smiled, told me to go call my parents.”

“Did you ‘nd Daddy meet right after that?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “It was many years until I met your father. Second week of my first day of college, too.”

He wrinkled his nose, confused. “Why’d you guys take so long to meet each other?”

“He lived here—in the South— and I lived up in New York.” She tapped his nose. “But we met, and now you’re here, and your sister is here!”

“You’ll stay here forever, right, Mommy?”

“Of course I will, sweet boy.”

John’s mom died five months later in a bank shooting. The last thing she had written on her arm was “please go buy milk for the kids xoxo” in messy handwriting, and it was permanently inked on his father’s forearm; a daily reminder that she was gone.

So to rephrase, John doesn’t believe he has a soulmate.

Never in his life has he gotten something as small as an ink dot on his arm, a small doodle on the back of his hand or the answers to a test on his wrist. Nothing .

Maybe his soulmate died when they were born, that happens sometimes; people spend all their lives without a soulmate, watching everyone around them fall in love. Or maybe he was just never meant to have one.

.·:*¨¨*:·. .·:*¨¨*:·.

The clock on John’s desk reads 3:39AM in bright, red letters. John looks up from his computer screen slowly to look at the time, his neck cracking loudly as he does. A quiet groan leaves his lips when he realises he’s been sitting at his desk for about seven hours to finish his History of Art paper, which is due the next morning.

“Shit,” he mutters to himself, dragging his hand down his face tiredly. “Just a couple of hours left, John. We can do this.”

As John turns to look back at the glaring screen where the words he’s written are blurring together and creating words he has never even heard of, he has the sudden urge to shut his laptop. So he does. A little bit of the tension in his shoulders leaves and he leans back against his swivel purple chair, reaching up to tug at the hairband that’s holding his hair together in a messy bun on the back of his head.

“Goddamn it, I was not made for this,” he sighs, leaning forward to grab a sharpie from the messily scattered pile of markers on a blank piece of paper.

He tugs the dark red cap off the marker, revealing a silver tip instead of matching red one and brings it closer to his ridiculously freckled forearm, writing in big, messy letters ‘CHECK & FIX MARKER CAPS !!’ and hoping it won’t be that smudged tomorrow morning so he can actually remember. Just when he’s about to put the cap back on, he watches as a thin black line is drawn across the words he just wrote, as if someone were trying to get them off.

What the fuck?” John widens his eyes, scrambling up quickly and it results in almost falling off the chair and on his face, but he quickly stops that from happening and moves his feet to drag the chair closer to the desk. He stares at his arm as the lines keep coming, black thin scratches over the silver words.

He slowly brings the marker closer to his skin and hesitantly starts to write right next to where the lines start hi?. He nibbles on his bottom lip nervously, intently staring at his forearm for a few minutes, but nothing comes. He slumps back against his chair and lets the uncapped sharpie fall on the desk loudly, his hands rubbing his face in exhaustion for probably the millionth time in the past 10 hours. I’m probably imagining things, he reassures himself but as his eyes nervously trail back to the lines, he knows it’s as real as the unfinished and unsaved essay in his computer.

To continue my essay or to sleep and forget all about it, he muses and puts his hands on the edge of the desk to push himself up, when the tiniest movement on his forearm catches his eye. John moves his arm close to his eyes just to make sure he isn’t imagining things, but no, there it is. Black ink delicately moving under the messily written hi?.

What the fuck is happening? is what appears over one of his veins and John sucks in a surprised breath. His eyes move back and forth over the carefully written words, noticing how the little line of the g is some kind of spiral instead of just some line and how it is written in fancy cursive. John is ashamed of his ugly handwriting for the first time in his life.

He picks the sharpie up again and rests his arm on the edge of the desk so he can write on it while trying to stop his hand from shaking; whether it’s from nervousness or excitement, he doesn’t know. hi, i’m john. i’m your soulmate. The words sound ridiculous in his head, and judging from the other person’s reaction, John assumes they’ve never been told about soulmates. Which is strange because everyone —everyone— knows about soulmates.

I’m sorry, my what now? Their handwriting is messier now, but it’s still really fancy and some of the letters still have the little spiral under them. your soulmate. hasn’t anyone told you about them? John replies, eyebrows scrunching up together in confusion.

“Who even is this person?” John wonders out loud, carefully leaning back against the chair once more as letters keep appearing on his skin.

Uh, no. How does this work? An amused laugh leaves his lips as he considers actually writing it all out, but the sudden realisation that that might mean he might just run out of space to keep talking to his soulmate ( soulmate !!!!!!!!!!!!!) hits him and he shakes his head quickly, vaguely aware that no one can see him anyway.

it’d take too much space, sorry pal. by the way, what’s your name?

Alexander Hamilton. Pleased to meet you. The ink stops for a second, but it comes back shortly after. Pal. John grins brightly, nostrils flaring instead of actually laughing.

nice to meet you too, fancy guy. John brings the marker closer to his skin again, but hesitates for a second and pulls away without noticing the silver dot he accidentally created. He opens his laptop once more, closing the Google Docs tab after making sure his essay had saved and opens a new one, fingers rapidly typing the words ‘alexander hamilton’ . (He’s not the type of guy to stalk other people on Google, though. Nope.) As the results load, he watches as words start appearing on the back of his hand and bites down a smile, willing himself to keep his eyes on the screen.

A million results pop up at once and he scrolls down, eyes scanning the titles and noticing most of them have the word hurricane in them. He scrolls back up quickly and clicks on the first article from 2013, titled ‘Boy from Nevis gets Full Paid Scholarship to Columbia After Writing About Hurricane’.

He glances back down at the back of his hand, snorting in the ugliest humanly way possible as he reads the two new sentences. Fancy guy? How original., and Hold on, did you die or are you doing something? John picks up the sharpie, scribbles a messy i’m looking you up shut up and turns back to the screen, scanning over it. “Five months ago, a hurricane completely destroyed the town of St. Croix… Alexander Hamilton, 17…" John narrows his eyes at the screen and focuses completely, reading as much as he can as he can.

Alexander Hamilton, 17, was one of the few who managed to survive the hurricane without a scratch. He had been working in his office under his late cousin’s house when the hurricane went over the town and completely destroyed it… He wrote a 70-page essay that managed to get seen by some of the best universities in the United States… Full paid scholarship to Columbia Law School in New York City…”

Holy shit. This guy’s a genius, John thinks to himself, shaking his head in disbelief as he shuts his laptop again and raises his hand to check if there’s anything new on it. There is.

Jesus Christ. Do you usually stalk people when you find out they’re your soulmate, John Laurens? The sentence begins to go downwards and stops at his thumb knuckle, the question mark a little curve on his bone that moves whenever John cracks his knuckle.

He starts his sentence right next to the question mark and starts moving towards his palm, hoping Alexander will catch on quickly. it seems i only have one soulmate, hamilton. sorry to disappoint. is his reply and the corners of his mouth tilt upwards.

Pity. I was hoping to have more people.

John lets out a loud laugh but quickly covers his mouth, immediately remembering it’s almost four in the morning and he should be asleep. Whatever. He puts the cap back on the sharpie and grabs another one, hoping the lemon green cap will match the tip, but of course, it doesn’t. Instead, John finds himself replying with words written in bright orange, tongue sticking out slightly in concentration.

too bad for you, then.

Too bad for me, indeed.

The words have started appearing on his fingers now and John turns his hand to be able to read as they’re being written. Also Laurens, why are you awake at 4 in the morning?

i could ask you the same thing, hamilton, John replies, hesitating for just a moment before beginning to write again. but i was writing an essay. due tomorrow. kill me.

I would rather not, Alexander writes. I only just found out soulmates exist. It would be a pity to kill mine before getting the chance to meet him. ;)

John feels his cheeks heat up and he frowns inwardly, trying to make the pink tint he’s sure that is on his cheeks go away. Did this nerd seriously just write a winky face?

i got stuck with a nerd who actually writes winky faces, i would honestly prefer you kill me.

Ouch, Laurens. Ouch.

John’s awkward ass doesn’t know what to say anymore. He nibbles on his bottom lip nervously for a moment before standing up quickly, taking all his clothes off and turning the desk light off before climbing onto his bed tiredly, sharpie still in his hand. He turns his nightstand light on before flopping onto his side to make sure his hand is close to his face but still comfortable enough to write on.

Did you actually look me up?

yeah, i did. can’t believe my soulmate studies in fucking columbia.

What can I say? I’m smart as hell. Where do you study? That sentence takes up his middle and ring finger and his reply will definitely not fit on his pinky. Damn.

He switches onto his other side and sticks his left arm out, starting on the crook of his elbow so they can have more space. mhm, sure you are golden boy. nyu. It’s not very special.

YOU LIVE IN NEW YORK? Alex’s capitals are quite big and they take up a lot of space, and that makes John cringe a little. Whatever, there’s other body parts.

uuuh, yeah. i’m assuming you do too?

No, John. I live in New Jersey.

no need to be sassy, damn.

Sorry, dear Laurens. Did I hurt you?

Dear Laurens. John’s stomach is suddenly flooded with butterflies flying in it and he widens his eyes, cheeks burning up again.

yes. my heart is broken.

Sorry, I’ll try to fix it somehow.

sure you will, hamilton. sure you will. They’ve moved onto their elbow now, and some of John’s freckles don’t let him read properly, but it’s fine. He’ll manage.

It hurts me so much that you doubt me. I thought we were supposed to be soulmates?

“You thought wrong,” he mutters to himself, biting back a cheesy grin as he scribbles it down onto his skin.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just text? Because we’re running out of space here. That sentence takes most of the bottom part of his forearm and John realises he’s right; the only blank space left is his left palm, and it’s not even that big.

it would, but it takes away all the fun, ham.

I feel like an actual ham now.

you’re such a nerd i hate you.

Biting his lip as he struggles to makes his words as tiny as possible so they don’t have to resort using their fingers, but after he writes that sentence, the only space left is the heel of his hand.

Have you realised there’s no space left?

no, alexander. i thought my hands were much bigger.

Sassy Johnny boy. Hot. ;)

“Good job, Hamilton. We have no space left.” He lets out a defeated sigh and moves onto his back, looking up at the ceiling with his eyebrows scrunched up.

Wait. He sits up quickly, kicking his sheets off messily as he glances down at his tummy, noticing there are small words on it. Frowning, he notices the small rolls being created every time he slouches and lets out out a loud huff before scooting backwards until his back is completely pressed up against the cold wall and the rolls are mostly gone.

Apparently this works on other body parts. John chuckles to himself, leaning down to reply but being careful of not slouching too much so the rolls don’t come back.

yeah, no shit sherlock.

No need to be rude, dear Laurens. You’re hurting me. Alexander’s ‘you’re’ uses their belly buttons as their apostrophe. What a nerd.

John knows it’s late, and he wants to look up at the clock on his desk but he’s afraid that he’s going to see that it’s six or five because that means that he’s going to have to go to sleep because college exists and he has to wake up at eight thirty.

well, dear alexander. we have all the time in the world to ‘fix’ it. The butterflies come back when he finishes writing that sentence and he wiggles his butt happily, his heart swelling spontaneously as Alexander begins writing.

We do. But unfortunately, it is currently 5:13 in the morning and I have class in a couple of hours. And while I refuse to go to sleep, I’m assuming you do need your sleep. Dammit, Alexander. Way to ruin the moment.

He slowly glances up, eyes tiredly squinting at the clock, which in fact states that it is 5:14am. A small groan leaves his lips and it is only then that his brain decides to tell him that he’s exhausted. He can feel his eyes blinking slower, his vision is becoming fuzzy and it’s becoming harder to pick up the sharpie.

i hate you.

No, you don’t. Goodnight, John. Or good morning. Whatever.

goodnight, alex. sweet dreams.

He reaches over to his nightstand and lets the uncapped sharpie fall on it before moving his hand to the small chord that turns the light off, but his eyes actually notice how many words his arms have and all he can think about is how much of a pain this is going to be to wash off later.

Chapter Text

His essay had been finished at approximately seven in the morning and submitted it exactly 23 minutes afterward, meaning that unfortunately, John had had less than two hours of sleep. Meaning that he had no time to wash off the slightly smudged ink on his arms that told him what happened the night before had not been just a dream, but instead tried to rub it off with his spit and his thumb as he ran towards the first class of the day. But that also means that luckily, he’s not on the receiving end of Mrs. Martha Washington’s anger for not turning his essay on time.

As he settles down on the comfortable swivel chair at the top of the lecture hall, he lets his bag fall off his shoulder with a loud thunk and begins to run his hands through the sweaty mess he, unfortunately, calls hair in an attempt to untangle it.

“Hey, John,” he hears a soft voice with speak up behind him and he quickly turns around, meeting a familiar face smiling warmly up at him.

“Hey, Maria.” He smiles back at the British girl, hands pulling his hair up into a messy bun. “I like your flowers.”

Her smile widens as small dimples appear on her pink cheeks and reaches up to gently touch the white flowers that are prettily woven into the golden brown braid that goes all the way across her head. John notices the thin gold band she wears on her left ring finger and makes a mental note to ask her about it later. “Thank you! By the way, d’you want some help with your hair? You seem to be having a, uh… small problem.”

John lets out a quiet sigh and finally lets his hair fall in front of his face like a dark curtain, looking at Maria with pleading eyes. “I will give you anything you want.”

She laughs softly, dark red lips twisting up into a small smirk. “I think I’m okay. Now c’mon, stop being so dramatic and turn around.”

“No need to be so bossy,” John huffs out but still spins in his chair so his back is facing the girl and tries to ignore the uneven texture of her skin and faint purple shade right below her left eye under all the makeup she’s wearing. He silently fiddles with a loose maroon strong on the hem of his sweater for a few minutes before speaking up. “So how was your weekend?”

He feels her delicate fingers stop untangling his hair as if his question had surprised her, but they quickly start pulling the tangles apart painlessly.

“It was good,” she says, trying to sound nonchalant. “James ‘nd I went to see It. It was fun... I guess. Yours?”

James? John wonders mentally. Oh, that’s right. The husband.

“Good, I guess.” He shrugs. “Nothing important happened. Stayed up all weekend to write the essay.”

John feels her smirk even before she speaks. “Is that why your hands are covered in smudged ink and handwriting that is definitely not yours?”

“What?” John stammers and quickly pulls his sleeves over his hands in a shy manner, eyes wide as Maria tugs on a curl playfully. “That’s mine… I was trying to, uh, try out new handwriting styles?”

“Sure, Laurens. If that’s what helps you sleep at night.” John mimics her grumpily and she laughs under her breath before settling into a comfortable silence, Maria gently braiding his hair as the hall starts filling with people.

“I found out this morning,” John says at the same time Maria leans back and says, “Okay, give me your phone. ‘M gonna take a picture.”

He knows she heard him, so he just straightens his back and waits for Maria to tap his shoulder with a perfectly manicured finger and let him turn around.

“That’s nice,” she says as she hands him his phone back, the corners of her mouth twitching up. “What’s their name?”

John opens his mouth to reply but instead lets it hang in surprise as his eyes look down at the screen. What used to be an ugly looking mop of tangled curls has been transformed into a thick braid that goes from the top of the back of his head down to just below his shoulders; a french braid, John believes that’s what it’s called. What catches his eyes, though, are the delicate white flowers adorning the braid.

He looks up at his friend with wide eyes, watching how she is now carefully moving the tube of red lipstick over her lips and holds a small mirror in her other hand before moving his eyes to her now flowerless braid.

“Maria,” he whines in a childish way and she sets her mirror and lipstick down on the table, turning to him with a dark eyebrow arched in amusement.

“John,” she copies his tone, quietly this time.

“You looked pretty with your flowers.”

“You look prettier . Now, hush.”

Just as she says that Mrs. Washington walks into the hall and everyone in the enormous room instantly stops talking and turns to look at her before taking their notebooks or laptops out of their bags, the sound of papers rustling filling the room.

Blushing at Maria’s words, John leans down to take his worn out leather notebook and lets it fall on the desk. His fingers carefully trail down the braid until his middle finger bumps something hard and he quickly pulls his hand away so he doesn’t push the small flower off.

“Good morning, class,” Mrs. Washington starts as she fixes the microphone hanging around her neck and straightens the light purple sweater she’s wearing. “If I received your essay before 8 am this morning, thank you. I’ll grade it tonight. If not, come see me after class.”

Her narrowed hazel eyes scan the room and John hears multiple people around him audibly gulp. He lets out out a relieved sigh and happily zones out the moment she starts the lecture.

He watches her walk around in front of the board, hands moving as she speaks and her graying black hair flowing behind her. Even from where he is seated, John can see the dark circles under her eyes and the frown lines on her forehead.

“Hey, John.” He feels Maria poke his arm with the end of her pen and smiles, turning towards her with an arched eyebrow.

“What’s up?” He whispers back, rolling the sleeves of his sweater up. Why is it freezing outside but feels like a fucking sauna in here? he thinks grumpily.

“What’s their name?” She repeats excitedly, honey-colored eyes darting nervously to the front of the room to make sure Mrs. Washington isn't watching them and then turning to him with a happy gleam in them.

He rolls his eyes fondly and rips off a sheet of paper from his notebook, randomly grabbing a purple glitter pen from his Nemo pencil case.

Alexander , he scribbles onto the paper and slides it over to Maria, who only scoffs down at it and rapidly starts writing a response, the golden bracelets on her wrist making a soft sound every time she moves her wrist.

That’s it? No last name? Her handwriting is small but pretty at the same time, the lines of the t’s starting as small swoops right next to the horizontal line. Elegant, even. Like her, he muses, holding back a small laugh.

Yes, he only has one name. He feels Maria kick him under the table and winces.

A small movement on his arm catches his eye and he subtly turns his head towards it, watching how the black ink on his skin starts getting smudged and then slowly disappearing as if Alexander were rubbing it off with a wet towel. The corners of his mouth tilt up into a small smile, but it quickly turns into a grimace when Maria kicks him in the shin this time.

Goddamnit, Maria ,” he hisses lowly while leaning down to rub the sore spot.

“Sorry.” She bats his eyelashes, not looking sorry at all. She opens her mouth to say something else, but it forms a small ‘o’ when they hear Mrs. Washington’s voice and they both freeze at the same time.

“Laurens, Reynolds,” she says, hands on her hips as everyone in the lecture hall turns on their seats to look back at them with lines between their eyebrows as they scrunch them up together and all John wants to do is to crawl under the desk and stay there until everyone leaves, but instead he stares at his teacher, his face extremely warm and secretly hoping it doesn’t look as red as Maria’s lipstick. It probably does. “Anything you want to share with the class?”

“No, ma’am,” Maria answers smoothly, the only evidence that she’s embarrassed about being called on is the faint blush tinting her collarbones. “John was just asking me about this weekend’s homework.”

Their teacher watches them with furrowed eyebrows, eyes darting between them before giving them a small nod and continuing with the lesson. The rustle of clothes and squeaks of 300 chairs turning around at the same time bounce against the hall’s walls and John slumps back against his own chair, eyes wide.

“Thank you so much,” he mouths to Maria, who just rolls her eyes and flips her hair over her shoulder sassily.

“Yeah, whatever,” she whispers, pushing John’s shoulder forward with minimal effort. “Sit up, you’ll ruin your braid.”

John rolls his eyes but straightens his back nevertheless, mimicking her under his breath. Feeling bored, he picks up the purple glitter pen again and draws two vertical squiggly lines on his right arm, then two horizontal ones.

“What’re you doing?” Maria asks curiously, leaning over to watch him.

“Playing Tic-Tac-Toe,” he mumbles. “Alone.”

John smiles at her scoff and feels her fingers in his hair, probably fixing the flowers he ruined when he slumped against his chair. He brings the pen close to his skin again but stops, surprised, as a small scarlet circle appears in the middle square.

Hello, John, is what comes next under the grid. I’m glad you cleaned yourself so well because my arms are definitely not covered in your extremely smudged ink.

“Hold on. I know that...” Maria whispers as John snorts unattractively under his breath. “Is that him?”

He nods excitedly, a wide grin spreading across his face as he replies. i’m glad you like it, hamilton. it took me a really long time to do.

The girl beside him mutters something like “ shit ” under her breath just as Alexander’s handwriting starts making its way onto his skin, so he doesn’t pay attention to her. By the way, I love your purple glitter pen. Very artistic.

xoxo. He draws an X on the box in the left-hand corner of the grid and glances at Maria, who’s just picking at her matte nail polish, lips pursed and eyebrows furrowed. He puts the pen down on the desk and bumps her shoulder with his gently, her eyes flicking up to look at him.

“You okay?” He whispers, reaching up to carefully smooth the lines on her forehead with the pad of his thumb, watching happily as they disappear and the corners of her mouth tilt up.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she mumbles and stares forward for a moment, then rests her head on John’s shoulder and slowly blinks her eyes closed. “Jus’ tired.”

“Go to sleep, I’ll wake you up when class ends.”

She opens her mouth to protest but is interrupted by a small yawn coming out of her mouth, her eyes scrunching up in a cute way and John coos quietly at the sight. Maria’s nose wrinkles in mock anger for a moment, but then she quietly thanks him and not long after, her breath evens out and her shoulders visibly relax.

John looks down at his arm, where another scarlet circle has appeared, this time on the middle box of the top row. He huffs quietly and grabs his purple glitter pen, messily scribbling above the grid. that’s rude, hamilton. you’re not going to win.

Oh, really? Mouth hanging open, he watches as a third scarlet circle appears on the box right below the middle one, then a line crossing the three circles to indicate he’s won.

“You fucker,” he mumbles to himself just as Maria shifts in her sleep. He presses his lips together, making sure he’s not breathing too hard or too loudly. Once he makes sure he didn’t wake her up, he continues grumbling to himself.

you’re such a shit , he writes, furrowing his eyebrows as Alexander’s handwriting starts making its way onto his skin.

Thank you, dear Laurens. It warms my heart to know you appreciate me so much.

alexander... we don’t live in the 1700’s.

I am aware of that. I am also aware that phones exist and it would make everything easier, but Someone doesn’t want to text.

this tea.

I hate you. Bye.

“... And that’s the homework for tomorrow. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email,” Mrs. Washington says and John jumps in surprise, instantly noticing how Maria jumps as well, eyes opening quickly in alert.

“Well, that’s the nicest way anyone’s ever woken me up,” she mumbles, sleepily glaring at him as she rubs her eyes with her index fingers.

“I am so sorry,” he apologises, bottom lip jutting out. “I’ll make it up to you. If you happen to walk by the coffee shop, I’ll a free coffee and a cookie. Deal?”

She glances at him, unsure before slowly nodding. “Deal. Also, your braid’s ruined. Turn around.”

He chuckles quietly at her words, watching how a faint smile appears on her somehow still red lips and spins in his chair, happily saying goodbye to the people walking past him.

:*¨¨*:·. .·:*¨¨*:·.

After his last class, John had walked as quickly as he could towards the coffee shop where he works; a small, cozy place called The Golden Frappe , which always smells like chocolate and is ‘famous’ for its vanilla and cinnamon frappe. The moment he had walked through the wooden door and the smell of chocolate hit his nose, everyone in the place started complimenting his braid and he had thanked him with flaming cheeks and pink ears. Somehow, Maria had fixed it and the flowers so they would stay put all day and there was not a hair out of place after 7 hours of continuous classes.

The small shop is not big, but it’s big enough to fit around 60 people or so. There’s a pair of worn-out burgundy couches at the back that have so many knitted pillows on them it’s almost impossible to sit, but once you do, it’s like you sink into a gigantic blanket that smells like coffee and makes you never want to leave; it’s the costumers’ favorite place. John doesn’t blame them. The walls are some kind of calming beige color, covered in different aesthetically pleasing pictures and old newspaper strips that mention the place. And then, scattered randomly across the place, there are wooden tables that have so many doodles and scratches and coffee stains on them, they almost don’t look like tables anymore but the kind of art tables John would use during his art class in high school. Their boss repeatedly reminds them they should throw them out and get new ones, but John knows he loves having them there as much as everybody else.

Almost two hours later, the shop has mostly cleared out, the only people in the store being John, his coworker, Hercules Mulligan, a couple of teenagers huddled around a computer and furiously taking notes on their notebooks and a dark-skinned guy with wild curls who keeps stealing glances at Hercules.

John doesn’t have a very exciting life.

“Hey, Herc,” he whispers, leaning back against the sink where his friend is cleaning the dishes and tugging on his black long-sleeved shirt. Hercules grumbles to let him know he’s listening. “That guy’s been looking at you since he got here.”

His friend’s dark eyes flick up curiously, meeting the guy’s equally dark ones and quickly glances back down at the dishes. “No, he hasn’t,” he mumbles shyly, his grip on the dish he’s currently washing tightening a little bit.

“Yes, he has,” John hisses before pushing himself off the counter, stepping over to the counter and leaning over it. “Hey, you!”

“No! John, what are you—” Hercules tries to stop him, placing a wet hand on John’s sweater, but the people in the place are already looking at him. Their eyes are wide, one of the kids drops her pen in surprise and the guy John yelled at is holding his cup in midair.

“Not you guys.” John sends a small smile their way and waves his hand, laughing quietly when they each sigh in relief at the same time and turn back to the computer. “The guy that’s been staring at my friend for, like, forever? Yeah, you. C’mere.”

The guy stands up slowly, eyes still wide, and steps towards the counter hesitantly.  “Yes…?” His voice is raspy and he is even prettier up close, with white straight teeth and chocolate brown warm eyes and crinkles by his eyes.

“Hi,” John greets him cheerfully, trying not to wince when Hercules kicks his shin. “You’ve been staring at my pal Hercules here for like a million years and he’s been staring at you back for another million years. So. Hercules…” He glances at the guy, who’s just smiling nervously down at the counter.

“What? Oh!” He quickly looks up when he realizes John is waiting for him to introduce himself, the hint of a foreign accent creeping into his voice. “I’m Lafayette, hello.”

“Hercules, Lafayette.” John smirks to himself, nudging his friend’s ankle with his foot and letting out a quiet yelp when he kicks him again. Lafayette looks at him with raised eyebrows and John feels his cheeks turn a faint shade of pink. “Lafayette, Hercules. Enjoy. Herc, there’s no one here; go talk to your new friend.”

Hercules nervously wipes his hands on his jeans and pinches John’s side on his way out from behind the counter, making the smaller boy jump. “I hate you so much,” he mumbles quietly as he waits for Lafayette to gather his things in his arms and leads him to the burgundy couches in the back.

John snickers to himself and leans his elbows on the counter boredly as he watches them settle down, tapping his fingers on it quietly. He wants to take his phone out, make himself a small latte and hop on the counter, but unfortunately, the cameras are still on and if he does, his boss will kill him.

Instead, he picks up the uncapped pen that’s resting on the keyboard with his right hand and pushes his left sleeve up. He keeps the tip of the pen pressed to his freckled wrist for a moment as he thinks what to draw and widens his eyes happily when an idea comes to mind. He draws a circle on his left wrist first, not caring if it’s squiggly because he’ll go over it later anyway and moves on to drawing light, small and delicate petals around it, the tip of his tongue peeking out of his closed mouth in concentration.

A small sigh leaves his lips and he lets his forehead fall on the counter, rapidly lifting it when he hears the bell ring, letting him know people are walking in. He recognises the loud laugh before he sees who it is and his face spreads into a bright grin once he spots Maria, raises an eyebrow curiously as he notices the guy next to her. He’s showing her something on his uncovered wrist, the sleeve of his navy shirt pushed up to his elbow and cheeks tinted bright pink and Maria’s just smirking that cheeky smirk of hers, reaching up to pinch one of them in a playful way.

A second later, the prettiest eyes the color of dark coffee John has ever seen with crinkles by their sides are looking at him, a dark beard covering the lower part of the guy’s face. Soft-looking brown hair is pulled back into a messy bun, a couple of loose strands falling in front of his face and all John wants to do is tuck them behind his ear and kiss the probably warm pink skin repeatedly for the rest of his life.

“Hey, John,” Maria says once they reach the counter, her smirk spreading into a knowing one once she notices John has not stopped staring since they walked in.

“Um.” He wants to say hi, he really does , but the corners of this man’s mouth are slowly curling up into a teasing smirk and he can see the small golden flecks in his dark eyes and he’s pretty sure his brain has completely shut down.

“Hi… John ,” he says slowly as if he’s trying to see how John’s name sounds on his tongue, pushes down his own sleeve to cover his wrist and sticks his hand out. John’s knees buckle at the sound of his voice. “I’m Al— Ow ! Ben! I’m Ben. Ben Washington.”

A short moment after, it’s as if someone just hit John and he blinks twice as he comes out of the daze he was just in, eyes trailing towards Maria, who’s just looking with her eyebrows raised. He arches an eyebrow back at her before turning back to Ben.

“Well. Hi, Al-Ben. You have a pretty interesting name. I like it. ‘M John Laurens.” He lets out a small chuckle and shakes his hand carefully, noticing how soft and warm it is and the small jolt of electricity that crawls up his arm. A second passes and something that’s almost a squeeze engulfs John’s hand and then Ben’s pulling back hesitantly, John doing the same, his eyes never leaving Ben’s.

It’s just then that John realises how sunken they are and notices the dark purple circles surrounding them, a bright contrast to his pale skin. His face is thin, cheekbones so sharp that they look like they’re about to pop out of his skin.

“That’s a beautiful flower,” he suddenly says, gesturing towards John’s wrist and he quickly slaps his hand over it, the tips of his ears turning a bright red. That earns a quiet, amused chuckle from Ben and John feels his heart squeeze affectionately at it.

“Thank you,” he mutters shyly, the corners of his mouth tilting upwards.

“Alright.” Maria clears her throat obnoxiously, causing both of them to snap their eyes at her. John feels his face heat up slightly and bites back a smile as he notices Maria’s companion’s face is pink as well. “You owe me a coffee and a cookie, Laurens.”

“Right! Of course.” John nods quickly, grabbing the cup from their ‘large’ stack of cups and turns towards Ben. “What can I get for you?”

“Oh, nothing. I’m just here for moral support.” Ben waves his hand dismissively before tucking both of them into his back pockets, lines appearing between John’s eyebrows as he furrows them together and nods.

“Alright, then,” John mumbles to himself and turns around so he can heat one of their chocolate chip cookies up in the oven behind him and start preparing Maria’s coffee. He hears them whispering quietly behind him and sucks his bottom lip into his mouth nervously, wondering what they’re talking about; if it’s maybe about him.

“John,” Maria says after some moments of silence and he hums as he puts the hot cup down on the counter and slowly begins to open the oven. “I like your braid, who did it?”

As he carefully takes out the warm cookie with a napkin, his face breaks into a wide grin and he turns back around to face them, putting her order in front of her and shrugging his shoulders. “Dunno. Just this girl who wears way too much lipstick,” he answers, a teasing smirk replacing his grin.

Ben whistles lowly at his answer as Maria’s eyes widen comically and John lets out a quiet giggle, reaching over to affectionately poke her nose with the tip of his finger.

“Don’t be an ass, Laurens,” she hisses, slapping his hand away. “Oh, no. Do not give me the puppy face. You started it.”

“Maria, c’mon,” Ben pipes in, sending a small smile in John’s direction that makes his heart skip a beat. “Who could ever resist those eyes and those freckles. Don’t be rude.”

“You’re just saying that because you think he’s cute.”

“Of course I’m saying it because I think he’s cute,” he retorts sassily, hip leaning against the counter as he turns his head to John and sends him a cheeky wink.

John feels his face flush and gently nudges Maria’s cookie and coffee towards her, his face turning redder at the sound of Ben’s loud laugh. A moment later, the sound of someone squealing loudly makes the three of them turn their heads quickly to the back of the room, where an excited Lafayette has now thrown himself over Hercules’ lap and wrapped his arms around Herc’s neck. His friend’s eyes flick up to meet John’s and the grin that spreads over his face and causes crinkles to appear next to his excited eyes makes John’s heart melt and he grins back, pointing his thumbs up at him happily, immediately understanding the situation.

“I knew it,” Ben mumbles under his breath, a wide smile on his face. John watches as Hercules waves at him excitedly and Ben waves three fingers back, quietly chuckling, and raises an eyebrow curiously.

“You know him?” John asks him, turning his head towards him as Maria takes a sip of her coffee and watches the scene in front of them, one dark eyebrow arched.

“Old family friend,” he answers with a casual shrug of his shoulders. John hums quietly and steals a quick glance at his friend and his newly found soulmate and faintly feels pain spreading across his chest, right thumb subconsciously rubbing his left wrist under the sleeve of his sweater.

“Well, at least someone found theirs,” he mutters sadly, letting out a quiet sigh. He stares down at his worn-out red converse, missing the longing gaze Ben shoots him and Maria’s furrowed eyebrows.

“I’m sure you’ll find yours soon, yeah?” Maria pipes in quietly, offering him a small, gentle smile. John smiles back at her after a second. as he straightens his back and nods his head, pushing a stray curl behind his ear.

“Yeah. Um, I hope you guys have a really great day,” he says and fixes his eyes on Maria’s face, fingers fiddling with the hem of his apron nervously. “Unless… you need anything else?”

“Actually—” Maria starts but is interrupted by Ben wrapping his ( long long slim ) fingers around her arm and pulling her back slightly.

“Nope, I think we’re good. Thank you!” He shakes his head quickly, gives John one more forced-looking smile and tugs her out of the coffee shop, her protests drowning out as the door slams shut behind them.

“What…” He mutters quietly, eyes still fixed on the door. “The fuck.”

:*¨¨*:·. .·:*¨¨*:·.

By the time John gets back to his dorm after letting Hercules close the coffee shop, it’s snowing so hard that he’s sure he doesn’t have a nose anymore and his hair is so frozen that it’ll fall off with even the littlest touch. He runs into his room and slams the door behind him, leaning against it happily with his eyes closed as his toes curl in his shoes at the comforting warmth of the small place.

He lets his book bag fall to the carpeted floor with a loud thump and flips the light switch on, blinking his hazel eyes quickly as they slowly adjusting to the sudden light that floods the room. John kicks his shoes off, throws himself onto the bed on his stomach and starts rolling around the bed so he can wrap himself in a blanket burrito when … Ready For It? starts ringing from his pocket annoyingly loud.

God ,” he groans loudly and reaches back with his hands, patting his back pockets until he pulls his buzzing phone out of the right one, not even bothering to check who it is, and brings it up to his ear. “Hello?”

“John,” his father’s deep voice comes from the other line, causing him to jump five feet into the air and almost fall out of his bed. “We haven’t heard from you in a while.”

“Um.” He sits up quickly, his hand rubbing the back of his neck nervously; an old habit he’s picked up from… his father, actually. “I’ve been really busy.”

It’s not like John’s lying. He really would like to say he’s been busy with school, but if he’s being brutally honest, he spends 90% of the afternoon napping and the other 10% stressing about how most of his homework is not even done.

Ah, yes. College. The most wonderful time of everybody’s life.

Henry Laurens tuts under his breath and John can see him shaking his head, sighing at the passive-aggressive tone in which he speaks, “Busy with school, I hope.” If you’re going out with another boy I will disinherit you, boy.

“Yeah, sure. I mean! Yes. Of course.” John bites down on his bottom lip nervously, his leg starting to bounce up and down quickly; another nervous habit he’s picked up to keep him busy so he wouldn’t cry when his father was yelling at him.

“Good, good.” Silence. “Martha and Henry miss you.”

John tries not to sigh, suddenly remembering that he hasn’t called either of his siblings in a long time. Shit. “I’m sorry, I promise I’ll call soon.”

“Good.”

Then… Silence. Again.

John likes to think of conversations with his father as walking around the city in the middle of the night; you have absolutely nowhere to go and soon enough, you’ll get tired of the cold and will try to walk back home, exhausted.

“I, uh,” John starts, staring down at his feet. “Have a lot of homework. To do, um. Yeah.”

“Yes, of course.” His father clears his throat, clearly uncomfortable. “I’ll leave you to your studies.”

He waits for his father to at least say some version of goodbye but the line goes silent quickly after that and John sighs loudly, letting himself fall back on the bed, his arm swinging over his face to cover his eyes. He groans tiredly before leaning over to his nightstand to grab a pen, not caring what colour it is, and uncaps it. He stops, however, when he notices the words written all over his freckled forearm.

Dear John, I think

My dear Laurens,

John

Hello

Hey

Laurens, I saw you today

That one sentence has so many lines scratched over it that John can only read the first three words. He frowns, eyes scanning the unreadable words slowly, trying to make something out of them. Laurens, I saw… When he brings his arm closer to his face, he notices the only space where his skin and freckles are visible is around the area where he drew his flower during work.

However, there are four words under it that in contrast to the hurried handwriting inked on his arm, look like Alexander took a deep, calming breath after writing in such a haste, as if he were running out of time, and wrote in the prettiest handwriting he could make.

Parts of the petals have been messily coloured in with what seem to be purple and red glitter pens, the glitter sparkling slightly when he moves his arm directly under the light.

Hey, that’s a beautiful flower.

you made it prettier, though