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My Pride and Joy

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

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

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

“What the hell was that for?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’s not your son.”

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

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

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

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

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

_-…-_

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

“Alexander Hamilton?”

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

“That depends, who’s asking?”

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

His heart stopped dead in his ears. Bile rising up in his throat. He felt light-headed as he tried to formulate a reply, “O-oh?”

Reynolds continued smiling, lowering his rejected hand, “Yes, Mr King and Mr Seabury sent me over to have a chat with you and Philip and assess how things have changed since the last time.”

“I thought we weren’t due another assessment until the New Year?” There was unhidden shock in Alex’s voice, and he wavered as he tried to hold James Reynold’s gaze. The fire in this man’s eyes scared him, but it also held a deep excitement…an unsafe excitement…a dark, broody, lustful excitement…the worse part was James seemed to know of the fire within him and played upon it as he took a step closer to the smaller man – dwarfing him further with his height – and tucked a strand of hair behind Alex’s ear.

“How about we continue this inside with a cup of tea? You can collect Philip from your…charming landlady, and I can make my own assumptions of your apartment. Seabury’s notes were definitely insightful, but I like to make my own judgements of the most…” He looked Alex square in the face, licking his lips, “…useful locations within a single parent’s home.”

Alex swallowed, nerves swirling in his gut, and nodded mutely. This man had rendered him speechless, mute, silent…something he never thought someone could do. He fiddled with his keys in the lock, hands shaking as Reynold’s braced an arm above his head, his cologne drowning his senses and sending his brain into a mushy frenzy. In some corner of his brain, alarm bells were ringing, but they were drowned under the noise of the handsome stranger’s breaths.

“Allow me,” James said, pushing the door open and allowing Alex to walk in first.

Thankfully, some space was put between them as Alex bolted slowly through the door and called out to the building. “Hola volví!”

He heard Reynolds mutter, “Spanish-speaking, sexy.”, and bit back a blush. A metaphorical bucket of cold water was thrown over him, however, the second he saw Philip charging down the stairs…followed by John. Handsome, sweet, innocent John. His John…well not his, but his John all the same. John, who’s hazel eyes creased with concern the second he clapped eyes on the well-dressed stranger who was standing too close to Alex. Far too close.

Reynold’s smiled through John’s piercing glare, and offered his hand again, “James Reynolds, you must be Alex’s landlord. Funny, I was expecting a man.”

“I’m his neighbour and friend from work.” John rebuffed the handshake offered to him, glancing briefly at Alex. The smaller man’s face was flushed, and he looked nervous…and not the good kind.

“How’d you know Pops, Mister Rain-olds?” Philip said, struggling to get his mouth around the man’s surname as he was missing a tooth.

James Reynold’s demeanour seemed to falter, a mistake that wasn’t missed by John and Alex. The pair made eye contact as the other adult began speaking to the boy – Alex’s gut suddenly burning with anger as he allowed this stranger to speak to his son.

“Reynolds, Philip I’m guessing?”

“Mhm!” The boy nodded, smiling, innocently ignorant to the mood of the lobby.

“Well, I’m here because I need to speak to you,” he prodded Philip playfully on the nose, causing the younger Hamilton to giggle and Alex to feel sick, “and your very charming father,” he winked at Alex. It took all John had not to punch the man then and there, he had no idea how much self-restraint he had until he was forced to watch this slimy, weasel of a man talk to two of the most important people in his life; walk them up the stairs, his hand dangerously close to Alex’s waist (something which had the South Carolinian cracking his knuckles behind his back, as he had to flash the freckled 6-year-old a smile), and close the door in his face…locking him away from Alex, unable to protect him.

He stood outside of the Hamilton’s door for ten minutes, his hands against the wood, his heart beating manically in his ears. He felt sick. He wanted to burst in, grab Alex and kiss him…just to prove a point to that bastard Reynolds…and for other reasons… Eventually, and reluctantly, he ended up carrying himself back to his own apartment, but he didn’t get much further than his own door. He just stood there, staring at the closed wood, watching the blurred exterior of the outer hallway…

Pulling his phone out, John found himself dialling Hercules’ number.

“John, brrrah, La-” There was a loud and shameful moan from his large friend, which managed to generate a smirk from John (as well as a roll of his eyes), before Herc continued, “Laf, honey, I’m tryna talk to John.”

“Mon amooooor.”

“Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.”

“Tu es si chaud quand tu dis mon nom, mon amour. Dis le encore.”

John held the phone away from his ear as the couple down the line began kissing sloppily. Of all the things someone could be doing at five in the evening, he had to call his friends when there were on the brink of…God did they need to invest in voicemail.

“Après, je promets,” Herc eventually replied, in a very poor French accent…but it got Lafayette mewling like a kitten as if he were French royalty.

That was when John had had enough.

“Right, much as it does amuse me to listen to you two making out, on the very cusp of boning one another. And don’t get me wrong, I love being the third wheel in this emotional rollercoaster that is your sex lives – I love how you need to include me in this, little old John who hasn’t got laid since he met…well unimportant – but I need to have a serious talk with Hercules. It’s a bro-to-bro situation, Laffy.”

Bro-to-bro meant that it was deadly serious, and from the sigh that came from his French friend, John could hear that Lafayette understood. He heard him mutter something about Alex, before kissing Herc’s cheek and left the room.

“What’s up, Johnny?” Herc asked, his attention now fully on John.

The latter let out a long sigh, running a hand through his hair and pulling out his ponytail.

“It’s about Alex.”

_-…-_

From the other side of the door Alex was having to deal with an onslaught of Reynold’s. The man kept invading his personal space, breathing down his next, trying to get him hot and flustered (working successfully because he didn’t have John there to keep him grounded). The man kept asking him the very same questions that Seabury had…just with a different approach.

It was when he asked to speak to Philip alone…

…Alex couldn’t cope. He felt too scared to message anyone, to move from where he was now sat in his living room, his eyes on his son’s bedroom door. He wanted to throw up. He wanted to cry. He wanted John.

Instinctively his fingers began tracing along the scars on his arms, through the material of his shirt. He did this when he was stressed…a reminder to himself not to work himself up too much, to remain as calm as possible…or he would become his worst enemy.

He began scratching his arm as he heard the voices carrying through the wood. I swear I won’t let him do anything to you Philip…I swear on my life.

“And now Miss Eliza said I could maybe learn Claire de Lune soon!”

“That’s fantastic to hear. I’m sure you’ll play it beautifully. I’ll have to come ‘round sometime to hear it.” Reynolds winked, causing Philip to smile brightly between him and his father. Alex attempted to smile in return, but it felt stiff and awkward with James Reynolds in the room. The initial feelings he had with this man had died in the pit of his stomach the second he’d spoken to Philip, but for the sake of his son’s safety…for the sake of everything he’d built here, in the few months he’d been in this apartment…he had to play like nothing had changed.

“Now,” Reynolds’ voice dragged Alex back to reality. The tall New Yorker flashed the Hamilton a dashing smile, “I’ve got to speak to your daddy alone, so why don’t you go over and speak to that lovely neighbour of yours.”

He bumped Philip’s arm gently, and the little boy nodded, looking to Alex. “Is it ok if I go see John again, Pops?”

John. John is safe.

“Of course, hijo.”

And soon it was just Alexander and James…alone.

“Well, now it’s just the two of us,” James began, slinking towards Alex – who was backed into the wall, “I should say, Alexander darling,” He trailed a finger along Alex’s jaw, looking into his eyes, all sense of charm gone from his eyes, “It doesn’t look good for you and your son.”

Silence. “Wh-what do you mean?”

“I mean, you’re either likely to be deported, or Philip Hamilton gets put into an orphanage.”

“But, I haven’t done anything to warrant that!”

“Not according to Seabury’s report, darling.”

He pressed his lower half against Alex, who was now completely against the wall. The Nevisian just stared, open-mouthed as Reynolds drew ever closer, “B-but…” He was speechless again, his voice lost in his throat.

“I haven’t done anything.”

“Means nothing to me, and I can’t help you…”

There was a breath of silence as James held Alex’s face. The panic was evident in the brown of Alex’s iris’, even Reynolds could see it…and for some reason, it amused him.

“Unless,” he said in a voice, barely above a whisper.

Alex met his gaze, his voice equally as quiet. He swallowed thickly, “Unless?”

Reynolds took a step back, allowing Alex room to breathe. The small man gulped for air, his eyes wavering around the room. There was no escape from this, whatever Reynolds had to say, he couldn’t get away from it. The other man opened his arms up with a wide grin.

“I’m not gonna lie to you, I like you Alex. You’re hot as hell. Definitely fuckable, even with those skinny legs and tiny frame – although smaller is better in my preference. I could maybe sway things with the higher-ups if you-”

“If I sleep with you.” Alex finished off. His voice lacked all feeling, he felt disgusted at the suggestion, but even more disgusted at himself when he found himself considering it…but only after Reynolds whispered, “It is the only way you can keep him.”