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this home is home and all that i need

Chapter Text

Thomas Jefferson was not one to admit that he was still scared.

He was still scared of many things. Loud noises. Certain shades of blue. Saturday nights, to name a few. He was scared of talking about the shooting (of course, that's what everyone always wanted to talk about. Martha was gone, okay? And James Madison was alive. End of story.) At least James seemed to understand. Thomas doubted he liked talking about it either. Maybe that's why Thomas stayed friends with him.

Not that James was a bad person. It's just that he seemed to have some sort of hero-worship thing going on for Thomas, (more than the others, at least) and at first, the last thing Thomas had wanted was attention. He had been barely holding it together after he was released from the hospitals, plagued by nightmares and anxiety (because God, he didn't think it could happen again). But then, he realized that hiding behind his new popularity was easier, and he flourished under this crutch of carelessness.

When asked about why he had jumped in front of the bullet to save Madison, Thomas simply replied, "Because I couldn't let it happen again."

Many people thought Alexander Hamilton was a jerk.

The truth was, they were probably right.

Alexander Hamilton, that one obscure nerd that was argumentative and prickly and the one person on Earth who didn't seem to grovel at Thomas Jefferson's feet. That one immigrant who worked at Starbucks and couldn't seem to spell anyone's name right when he handed them their order. That one student who Professor Washington adored (and nobody could understand why).

Alex didn't let any of this bother him. He figured, if I can get above college, get a real job, and make a name for myself, who cares about what these people think of me? A hundred years from now, nobody will care that I was unpopular in college, they'll care that I made a difference and changed the world for the better.

Alex just had to get through college first.

John Laurens decided that he couldn't quite find the right word to express himself (is there a word for ecstatic but also completely terrified?). After all these years, he was finally struggling to college. He had gotten the scholarship. His small town, surrounded by poverty, had managed to pool their money so he could afford going. When he told his parents, his father had burst into tears, and his mother looked so proud she could burst, affectionately telling him that she had always known he could do it.

It was when he had gotten on the airplane, alone and nervous, that it smacked John in the face. He was leaving. He was leaving everything he had ever known, ever. His family, his town, his school, everything. He had turned around with half a mind to run back into his parents' arms when the kind lady in the plane asked him if he was having trouble finding his seat. Blushing, he mumbled a short sorry and that was it. He sat down and left behind everything he knew.

How would this new community accept him? Would they let him be who he was? As John watched the clouds surround him, he decided he would find out soon.

Gilbert Lafayette decided his life was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He was going to America for his next years of college. He already had several people interested in interviewing him for jobs. And finally, finally, he was going to see Adrienne again, after a year of waiting.

Everyone attracted to Lafayette instantly. There was something about him that people just liked. He wasn't worshipped, like that Jefferson, but he was friendly and accepting to everyone, and in return they welcomed him and accepted him back. He didn't have any close friends, but when he had so many fair weather acquaintances (plus his amazing girlfriend and that new kid he was going to share a dorm with) did he really need a close group? Lafayette decided no, he would be fine.

Adrienne and her father had awaited him at the airport, even though his flight got in at around 4 in the morning. He vaguely remembered letting out a sob of joy as Adrienne dashed into his arms and he clutched her to his chest, vowing to never let her go again. Some relationships shattered when they spent too much time away, but for Lafayette and Adrienne, it seemed that absence made the heart grow fonder. They had been dating for years, since their sophomore year in high school, and had been best friends years before that. Now that Adrienne was with him, Lafayette thought as her father drove them to their apartment and Adrienne cuddled with Lafayette in the backseat, what could wrong?

Chapter Text

"No, sir, you don't understand!" Alex protested. "I physically cannot share a dorm with Thomas Jefferson."

"Alexander, we've gone over this several times." George Washington rubbed his forehead wearily, obviously trying to keep his temper. "I can't just change the dorm plans because one kid doesn't like his roommate."

"We loathe each other," Alex moaned. "You know we do! Last year we-"

"Last year was last year," Washington replied sternly. "You two are older now. Grow up a little bit, Alex. I suggest you give this advice to Mr. Jefferson as well. Good afternoon."

"But sir--" Alex argued, but to no avail. He had obviously been dismissed. Washington ushered him out and closed the door behind him.

Alexander Hamilton groaned in defeat. Out of all the students, Thomas Jefferson had to be his new roommate.

Feeling childish as he dragged his feet down the sidewalk, Alex straightened and decided sulking wouldn't help. Checking his watch and realizing he had half an hour until it was time for his shift, Alex unlocked his bike and started the short ride to his dormitory, wishing with all his might that Thomas wasn't home.

He was.

Refusing to acknowledge him as Alex walked in the door, Thomas didn't look up from his phone as he slowly chewed his gum with his mouth open. Alex took a deep breath in through the nose and clenched his teeth as he pulled off his shirt and rummaged through his drawer for a plain black shirt.

"Hello to you too," Thomas muttered.

Alex closed his eyes as his hands twitched, resisting the urge to throttle Thomas, and turned around. "You didn't greet me first."

Thomas heaved a sigh, then replied in his southern drawl, "Are we really going to argue on who should've greeted who?"

Alex wanted to. He could've argued about anything to Thomas. But he couldn't be late for his job, so with a great act of self-control Alex turned away and slid into his new shirt.

"You going to be home this evening?" Thomas asked as he continued texting whoever he was texting (probably James, the second most aggravating person on Earth). Alex shrugged, not really caring to tell Thomas anything.

"Why do you care?" Alex inquired as he searched for a pair of khakis, unable to not let a note of suspicion creep into his voice.

Thomas sighed (that must've been at least the hundredth time in the last minute and Alex wanted to shove something down his throat). "I don't. But I'm having James over and I don't want your loud opinion as we try to work on our summer project together."

Alex curled his lips into a sneer, wanting to spit a comeback at him but deciding not to waste his breath. He grabbed his phone from his old pair of shorts and turned it on silent. "As a matter of fact, I won't be home. But now I might consider cancelling my date just so I can kindly offer my suggestions and advice that you two so desperately need." So much for keeping his mouth shut.

"A date?" Thomas scoffed. "With who, Angelica? She doesn't even like you, man."

"We've been dating for months now, Thomas," Alex retorted icily. "If she didn't like me, she would tell me. She's not exactly the type to keep quiet. You're just je-"

"I swear, if you say I'm jealous, I might actually kill you."

"Whatever," Alex muttered, grabbing his car keys. "Have fun hanging out with your loser friend."

Thomas didn't dignify that with a response.

***

"Can I get a name for you order?" Alex asked, forcing politeness into his voice.

"Er, Aaron," the man replied as he finished paying. His girlfriend, a young woman with a hijab wrapped around her head, smiled politely at him but stayed close to Aaron. Alex nodded and finished typing down the last few things.

"Your order will be out soon," Alex said. Aaron nodded and stood back next to the other customers, also awaiting their orders.

Soon, the iced vanilla latte Aaron had ordered arrived. Unknowingly sticking his tongue out as Alex unclipped his Sharpie, he carefully wrote "Erin" on the cup.

"Aaron!" Alex called out. The young man came up to grab his drink, hesitating when he noticed the incorrect spelling. He shrugged. "Whatever. Thanks, man."

He turned to go, but Alex frowned suddenly. "Hey, Aaron, right?"

"Hm?"

"Didn't we... Weren't we in history together last year?"

Aaron hesitated. "Maybe. You a sophomore?"

"Yeah. Did you have Professor Seabury last year?"

"Yeah, that was him."

"Ha, he sucked."

Aaron laughed a bit in agreement. "Yeah, I guess he did."

"Was your girlfriend in our class?" Alex inquired, hoping he didn't sound rude.

"No, Theodosia is new this year."

***

"Thanks for taking some time off so we could have a night together." Angelica smiled as she walked by Alex's side down the street.

"No problem," Alex shrugged easily, letting his hand fall by his side and brushing his fingers with Angelica's, a quiet invitation. She accepted and they held hands as they walked into the theater. They had eaten dinner together and now they were standing in line, trying to decide what movie to go to.

"How about Alice Through-" Hamilton started to suggest but Angelica cut him off.

"I was thinking X-Men: Apocalypse," she said.

"Wow, okay, well, if you're sure. I don't know, don't you think that's a bit intense for yo-"

"Two tickets for X-Men, please," Angelica told the ticket man firmly.

"Sounds good," Alex agreed.

***

"778, 780..." John Laurens muttered as he looked down the hallway for his dorm number. "782. There we go." Glancing one last time at his paper to make sure he had the right number, John took the key and opened up the door.

It was small, but John liked it. There was a small area that had a counter, a refrigerator, and a microwave, and beyond that were two beds placed against opposite walls. To the right of the door was a Jack-and-Jill bathroom that lead to another dorm. The room was completely empty, looking seemingly untouched. John was unsurprised. He remembered Mr. Washington telling him that his roommate was currently spending the summer in a separate apartment and would only join him when the school year started in a few days.

It didn't take long for John to unpack his few possessions. He hoped his roommate (a Mr. Lafayette, he recalled) wouldn't mind him choosing the bed next to the window.

The sun was setting outside the the dormitory. John remembered the vivid fires that would sweep across the sky in his hometown, bleeding red and oranges onto the the world as purple and black crept above them, dotted with specks of white and silver. The sunset here wasn't quite as breathtaking, the colors muted as city lights and cars cried for attention and blocked out the stars. John shrugged. It was one of the many things he would have to get used to.

***

Thomas started slightly at the knock on the door. His gum had long gone stale but out of sheer laziness he hadn't spit it out yet. He was sure his hair must've been messed up from laying on the bed, but he got up and answered the door anyways, unsurprised to see James Madison standing in the doorway.

"Hey, James," Thomas yawned (a practiced yawn- don't show your teeth too much, let your tongue arch slightly, look bored). "Here for the project?"

"Yeah," James replied, trying (and failing) to also look bored. "I brought the books I told you about, if you want to look at them."

"Sounds good," Thomas replied, only half-listening. "Come in."

They worked together for about an hour, quietly suggesting ideas ("How about we underline this, Thomas?" "Yep, sure."), editing, ("I'm thinking we should take out this sentence." "Totally agree.") and trying not to fall asleep ("And what about this... Thomas?" "What? Oh, mmhmm.").

It was about 11PM on Saturday night when the door creaked open and Alex sauntered into the room. James and Thomas both scowled at him (the latter now fully awake), but Alex ignored their looks. He made a face at them.

"Look how cute they are," Alex cooed. "The two wittle kids, working on their story together."

"S'not a story," James muttered under his breath.

"I'm surprised you aren't working on yours," Thomas retorted, ignoring James.

"I finished mine ages ago," Alex replied loftily. "Anyways, have fun procrastinating, boys. Oh, and try to keep it down."

"Us?" Thomas snorted softly, but turned back to James and let Alexander crash onto his bed, texting someone with apparent boredom.

"So for the conclusion-" James began.

"Wait, but what about that last paragraph?" Thomas frowned and leaned over James to scroll back up. "We were arguing about southern policies, but then just sort of cut off."

"Guys, trying to sleep over here," drawled Alex, who was obviously not trying to sleep.

"Listen, James," Thomas muttered. "How about we finish this tomorrow, okay? I'll come over to your place for lunch and we can work on it then."

"Sure, that sounds great, awesome," James replied, nodding. "See you then." He paused on his way out the door. "Be careful tonight, okay?"

Thomas could almost hear Hamilton pricking his ears in interest. Thomas swallowed and nodded, forcing a smile that James knew was fake. The man gave his colleague one last glance of concern before heading out the door.

"So what's going on?" Hamilton snickered. "Having a secret party? Maybe sneaking-"

"Shut your trap, Hamilton," Thomas snapped as he changed into his night clothes. Thankfully, Alex did (although not without a soft snort).

It was Saturday night.

***

"So, let's see," Lafayette bent over Adrienne’s schedule, gaze flicking from the paper to her phone where her friends had posted their classes. "It looks like you have your math and history class with Naomi..."

Adrienne leaned into his chest as they studied her schedule. Lafayette had been enjoying spending every moment with his girlfriend, but now that college was starting they would have to go their separate ways during the day. Adrienne was a senior in high school, and would be turning 18 in a couple weeks. Lafayette promised Adrienne with a grin that they would go with each other for dinner every night, even if it was just Lafayette making mac and cheese at his dorm room.

"But that's about where the similarities end," Lafayette said, unhappy for Adrienne that she didn’t have more classes with her best friend.

"Hey, it's high school." Adrienne shrugged. "She and I are lucky to have those classes together."

"True," Lafayette agreed, wrapping his arms around her. Adrienne sighed happily. "What is it?" Lafayette murmured into her hair.

"I'm just still so happy that we're together again," Adrienne laughed, knowing it sounded cheesy, but meaning it wholeheartedly.

"Me too, mon amour." Lafayette kissed her head. Adrienne rolled her eyes teasingly.

"Come on, we're not in France anymore, we don't have to speak like that all the time."

Lafayette laughed. "Are you not proud of our native land?"

"I am, it's just," Adrienne shrugged, and Lafayette realized she was actually a little uncomfortable. "I live in America now. I sort of just want to fit in, you know?"

Lafayette watched her, letting his eyes roam over her face, from her umber, sun-kissed skin to her chocolate eyes to her faint freckles to her tousled, shoulder-length black hair. "If that's what you want, Adrienne."

"Ugh, now you're making me feel sappy," Adrienne groaned and punched his shoulder playfully. She gave him a quick kiss on the lips, letting her hand quickly fly over his facial hair and then to his short ponytail, before pulling away and grabbing her purse. "I promised my dad I'd run to the store today. Wanna come with?"

"Of course," Lafayette replied instantly.

"You are such a puppy," Adrienne laughed as he grabbed his sunglasses.

"You know, for all this talk of abandoning our motherland, you still don't have an American accent," Lafayette teased as he walked with her outside.

"How rude," Adrienne sniffed. "I just might make you drive now."

"Only if you say s'il vous plaît," Lafayette grinned.

"Please," Adrienne said, although Lafayette got the distinct feeling she was just correcting him. "I totally hate you."

"No, you don't," Lafayette replied easily as he started the car.

"You're right," Adrienne murmured dreamily as she leaned in for another kiss. "I don't.”

Chapter Text

“Are you coming with me?" Alex asked, not kindly.

"What?" Thomas grunted as he swung his backpack onto his shoulders.

"I'm driving. Are you coming with me?"

"Don't think I can manage a walk down the block?" Thomas teased. "Thank you for your concern, but I do workout."

Alex heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Our first class is on the complete other side of campus, and I figured you would be driving anyways, so I thought, why not save the environment a bit and carpool? If you want to be a planet-killer, go ahead."

"Whatever," Thomas muttered.

"So is that a yes or a no?" Alex forced out through gritted teeth.

"Sure."

***

John was running late.

He was furious that on the first day of school, he wasn't going to be there on time. It had started when he woke up and realized that his alarm hadn't gone off. He had stumbled around his room, gathering this and that and throwing some clothes on (plain what t-shirt with fraying jeans). He heaved his backpack onto his shoulders and dashed out the room, frantically tying his curly hair out of his freckled face and up into a ponytail.

John rushed out the dorm, across the campus, into the building, up the stairs, and burst into the classroom, attracting all pairs of eyes on him.

John was late. Not fashionably late. Just plain late.

"Mr. Laurens, is it?" The professor inquired after a beat of silence. "Thank you for finally honoring us with your presence."

A few people snickered, not too unkindly. A tall teen with a curly Afro smirked slightly, chewing on the eraser of his pencil.

"Sorry sir," John muttered.

"It will be excused today, but being tardy won't be tolerated in the future. Please take a seat."

John took a seat. He let his gaze wander across the room and it rested on the smirking boy. Dark skin. Brown eyes. Nervous about something, but hiding it well. Anxious, or up to something? Close-cut facial hair. Pretending to be bored, but actually paying attention. Casual taking notes could be passed as doodling or passing notes. He checks out of the corner of his eye to make sure nobody is watching him too closely, but checking that some people are paying him attention. That sigh is practiced. That guy is either trouble, or popular, or both.

John's gaze flitted to the boy sitting next to him. Handsome. Black (closer to dark brown) hair. Deep brown eyes. Facial hair is thin. Sweating, but not as much as the others. Is he used to this weather? Actually bored, not pretending. Doodling on the corner of his page. Intriguing.

***

Alex doodled lazily on the corner of his paper. At the front of the classroom stood his professor, droning on about something or other that Alex probably should've been paying attention to. Alex kept drawing. A few seats to his right sat Thomas, wearing his glasses that all the girls crushed and gushed over. Alex barely kept in a snort and rolled his eyes.

Heat draped over the students like an unwelcome blanket as they sweltered and melted in their seats. It was the first day of school, and they were miserable. Apparently the air conditioner had broken down, and it hadn't been fixed in time for school. So the boys were all drowning in sweat, and the girls were sniffling about their deodorant. The new boy next to him was fidgeting slightly as he glanced around the room. He was sort of hipster, what with the long curly hair and the freckles. He was the kind of cute that girls would giggle and sigh over and stalk him on Instagram, all without the guy being aware of it. Alex rolled his eyes for the millionth time that day and went back to doodling.

The bell rung. "Dismissed," the professor grunted, shuffling his papers and straightening his glasses.

Alex stood up and stretched, preparing to gather his things and walk out. Thomas walked by and bumped into his desk, sending all his papers fluttering down.

"You serious?" Alex groaned. "How old are you, like, 12?"

Thomas just shrugged, walking off with his cronies scurrying behind him.

Alex bared his teeth at his back and knelt down to collect his papers, bonking his head on his desk on the way down. Swearing under his breath, Alex reached down.

"Er-- here," a voice said. Alex looked up to see the new boy bending over to help him, nimble fingers skimming over the floor as he swept them into his hands.

"Oh, er, thanks," Alex muttered, feeling his face grow warm with embarrassment.

"Oh, I'm John, by the way," the freckled teen said.

"Alexander Hamilton."

***

The school day was drawing to an end. Thomas had just one class left; Professor Washington's History class. Washington was everyone's favorite teacher. He was smart, easy-going, easy to connect to, but not too lenient. Thomas heaved his backpack higher onto his shoulders and winced in the unrelenting heat.

"I can take your bag if you want," James offered from a few paces behind him.

"I'm okay, thanks," Thomas muttered, unable to keep a quiet note of sarcasm from his voice. James would probably ask for his autograph if he wanted. Many people here would. Thomas couldn't decide how he felt about it. He felt like he should hate it; and he did, sort of. But not as much as he probably should.

"Who's that?" Thomas said suddenly, shielding his eye against the sun's bright glare to see a teen that had a small group gathered around him.

"Oh, he's that one guy from France everyone keeps talking about," James replied helpfully, holding up his hand to his forehead to see across. "Lafayette, I think. Everyone adores him. Sort of the quiet, handsome, smart, kind, honest, French-"

"Yes, thank you, James," Thomas cut him off. "Huh."

They walked in silence to the next class. Thomas groaned inwardly as they reached the building, the still air enveloping them into his stifling arms. Inside, away from any chance of a breeze, Thomas almost struggled to breathe. He collapsed dramatically as soon as he got to his seat, drawing a concerned note from James and a snort from the back of the room, where Alexander was supposedly sitting. A dark-skinned boy with a short ponytail was sitting up front, sparing him a quick glance and smile.

"Mr. Jefferson, yes? And Mr. Madison. Welcome to class."

Thomas glanced up to see a tall man sitting in a swivel chair behind a desk; Professor Washington. Thomas sat up and nodded to him. "Thank you." James echoed him.

The class started smoothly and continued that way until Professor Washington assigned them seats and placed Thomas next to Alex. The two boys glared daggers at each other, fingers twitching as they imagined throttling the other. When class ended, Thomas got up and made a beeline for Alex's seat. A particularly strong rush of hatred pulsed through his body as he stormed over.

"What do you want?" Alex growled. A fight, that's what Thomas wanted.

"Why are you in nearly all my classes?" Thomas spat.

"Look, if you're going to try and blame this on me-" Alex started.

"Gentlemen, do you need something?" Professor Washington was standing behind Thomas.

"No sir," they grumbled.

"Good." Washington eyed Hamilton before walking out of the room. "Alex. Be nice."

Alex opened his mouth to argue at the unfairness of this, but Thomas just smirked slightly.

"Got yourself a new dad, Alex?" Thomas crooned.

"Shut up, Thomas," Alex retorted.

"'Course, it's about time," Thomas continued, feeling rather bold as he watched Alex closely. "After yours walked out on you."

"Shut it, Thomas," Alex said quietly.

"Must've been too much for your dear mommy." Thomas fluttered his eyelashes. "Quite a shock for her. Died not long after."

Alex drew in a slow breath, closing his eyes. "I swear to God, Thomas-"

"Your poor mother," Thomas cooed. "Or should I say whore mo-"

Alex flew at Thomas with a snarl, tackling him and crashing into a row of desks. Thomas grunted at the heavy impact, but recovered quickly, rolling over and pinning Alex down with his knee, drawing a fist back and punching his face. It was so easy, Thomas thought as he felt Alex's face face break under his fist as he swung punch after punch. So easy to gain the upperhand on this pathetic-

"Thomas!"

And then Thomas was being hauled back by firm, heavy hands, dragging him off a stunned Alex. The fury was starting to die from his body but he didn't cringe at the mess of blood and bruises covering Alex's face.

"What were you thinking?" Washington spat in his face, but that was all Thomas saw before Alex stumbled onto his feet and shoved Thomas down again. Caught unawares, Thomas let out a huff of surprise as he fell back. This time, Alex was on top of him, and then his fingers found Thomas' neck and tightened.

Thomas' heart started racing when he realized Alex wasn't going to stop. He desperately gasped against Alex's hand, attempting to draw a breath, needing air, any air. His arms flailed frantically against Alex, his vision starting to dim before Alex was being ripped away from him.

Coughing and spluttering, Thomas slowly gathered his bearings but didn't get up yet. Hands helped him to his feet, roughly dusting him off as his vision came back.

The two teens stood side by side, both feeling slightly ashamed but also faintly satisfied as Washington glowered at them.

"My office. Now.”

Chapter Text

John glanced up as the door swung open. A college student stepped in, glancing around until his gaze fell on John.

"Oh! Hi!" John said quickly. "I'm John Laurens. Your roommate."

Tall. Built; he probably works out. Hair is curly, long enough to fit into his short ponytail. Dark skin, nimble fingers. Won't sit still. Fingers drumming against his leg. Calloused. He works hard, then. Mechanic, maybe.

"Hello, my name is-" the man hesitated. "Well, you can call me Lafayette."

Wow, very French. Accent is thick, but understandable. Probably only came from France this year or last, otherwise it might have lost a bit of its edge.

"Lafayette, good to meet you." John replied with a smile.

"I brought my stuff, I hope you don't mind-"

"We're sharing a room, of course that's fine!" John laughed. A little bit shy. Ready to be stepped on, letting himself take the blame,that sort of person. Unless, of course he was just being nice.

"Sorry, I don't have a car," Lafayette said as he unpacked his luggage. "I've been using my girlfriend's. Who, by the way, may be here often, I hope you don't-"

"Hey, it's fine!" John grinned. Yes, more of apologetic, just wanting to get along. Kind, though. Could be wishy-washy. We'll have to see.

***

"I can't believe you two." Washington's voice was low, disappointed, angry. He watched them both from behind his desk.

Alex shifted slightly in his seat, gingerly touching his face. He didn't think his nose was broken, thank goodness. He could feel his eye bruising underneath his fingers and he cringed. Thomas was wheezing out each breath, and Alex felt a flash of guilt, but it quickly dissipated when he remembered what Thomas had said. He has no right to talk about my mom that way.

"You-" Washington jabbed a finger at Thomas, who flinched back slightly. "-purposely provoked Alex into attacking you, something you had no right to do, and you-" he swung his gaze to Alex, "-attacked him right after I hauled him off your lousy--" Washington stopped himself. "Right after I saved you from fighting a losing battle!"

"I wasn't losing," Alex muttered sulkily. Thomas scoffed.

"I'm very disappointed in both of you. On the first day of school, honestly."

"Sorry," Thomas rasped.

"Sorry," Alex repeated unhappily.

"Both of you go back to your dorm. If I get a report that you're fighting in your room, then I might have to suspend you. Goodnight."

Thomas and Alex stood up and walked out, trying not to be suspiciously quick. They said nothing to each other as they trudged down the stairs. Before walking out the door, Alex stopped with a groan.

"What is it?" Thomas growled. "I swear, if I have to spend one more second with you, I might-"

"We have to drive together," Alex said flatly. "You didn't bring your car."

"I'll walk, thanks," Thomas sneered.

"No, you won't," Alex moaned. "You look one solid hit from collapsing and if you don't make it back to our dorm, Washington will kill me."

"Now I really want to walk."

"Just get in my car, Jefferson."

***

"So, see, if you drop the exponent by-"

"Oh, oui. Thank you," Lafayette grinned.

John and Lafayette were laying on their stomachs on John's bed, working together on their math. John wasn't labelling themselves as friends quite yet-- but they were quickly on their way. Lafayette had already shyly asked if he could write John down as one of his emergency contacts.

"You are honestly the only person I know," Lafayette had admitted with a nervous smile. "I arrived in America not long ago."

"That's fine, Laf-- can I call you Laf?" John replied as he typed his number into Lafayette's phone.

"Oui-- I mean, yes." Lafayette had responded. "Pardon me-- sometimes I forget my language."

Not completely fluent in English. The way he talks suggests that he's learned it, and well, but isn't quite up-to-date on shortcuts and slang, John noted. On the outside, he just shrugged. "No problem. I know a bit of French--not too much, but even I know what oui means."

Lafayette had bobbed his head, looking a little embarrassed.

Now, there was a knock on the door. John wanted to laugh at the way Laf's head shot up and an excited and hopeful gleam entered his eyes. He hopped off the bed and quickly let the knocker in.

"John, I would like you to meet Adrienne," Lafayette said proudly as took his girlfriend's hand and let her in.

"Hey!" Adrienne waved her hand cheerfully. "So you're the kid who has to room with my loser boyfriend?"

"That's me," said John with a grin while Lafayette rolled his eyes playfully. Lived in America for... a year? Two years? Hasn't lost accent, but finds the language easier than Laf. White teeth. I think her hair is usually curly, but tonight it's been straightened. Small amounts of makeup.

John shook hands with Adrienne, but respectfully hung back so the two love-birds could have their time. They sat on Laf's bed together, discussing school and sports and other things, before Lafayette checked his watch and stood up.

"If we don't leave soon, our reservations will be cancelled. Sorry John, I'm taking Adrienne out tonight," Laf explained. John nodded.

"Have fun!" he called to them as they exited the room, holding hands and giving each other smiles.

***

Lafayette grinned as Adrienne loudly sang along to Shut Up and Dance on the car radio. His fingers drummed on the steering wheel to the beat of the music, not minding his girlfriend. She had quite a beautiful voice, but when she noticed him watching her, she blushed and looked away. "What?"

"Why do you always stop singing?" Lafayette asked with a laugh.

Adrienne shrugged. "Just self conscious, I guess. You know I don't like people listening to me."

"Adrienne, honey, you know I love everything about you, and that includes your gorgeous voice."

Adrienne blushed further, but she started singing again. Lafayette reached with one hand into his pants' pocket, nervously fingering the ring box. They were young, and in love, but Lafayette was ready. How would she respond, though? Did she love him like he loved her? The last few weeks he had spent with her was heaven. Lafayette wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He just hoped Adrienne felt the same way.

"Come on, sing with me, babe," Adrienne teased. "You have an amazing voice, but you never sing!"

Lafayette laughed, not taking his eyes off the road. "Nope."

"Please?" Adrienne begged.

"No."

"I love you," Adrienne tried. Lafayette grinned and opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly Adrienne shrieked and threw her hand in front of her boyfriend. "Lafayette, look out!"

Time seemed to slow down. Lafayette saw her. He saw the girl riding on her motorcycle, curly dark hair flowing out from underneath her red helmet. She was dressed in red and black leather, covering up most of her dark skin. But she was rushing onto the interstate, not looking to see if there were any cars coming. Lafayette's blood ran cold. He was heading straight for her. There was no time to slow down. Lafayette's instincts took over and he jerked away, straight into more traffic. He didn't see the crash. He didn't feel the glass shattering. He didn't hear Adrienne scream. Everything went black.

***

"Where are we going?" Thomas croaked out as they took an exit onto the interstate, wincing as his voice cracked.

"I have to get gas," Alex replied, not looking at him.

"There is gas on the this side of the interstate," Thomas objected.

"It's two cents cheaper over here."

Thomas groaned loudly and slumped back down in the front seat. His fingers drummed on the arm rest, and he sighed loudly. Alex ignored him.

The tension was becoming unbearable. Both knew they should probably apologize, but at the same time neither wanted to, and they both waited for the other to make the first move. Alex thought Thomas should- he had started it, after all. He had called his mother a whore. Thomas thought-- actually, Thomas thought he should probably apologize, too. But he refused. They'd probably both forget about it in a week anyways. Besides, his throat felt like it was on fire, and Thomas thought that if Hamilton wanted an apology, he shouldn't have stolen his voice in the first place.

Suddenly, Thomas sat bolt-upright in his seat. "Alex--!"

The car came out of nowhere-- it had just suddenly swerved into the lane of traffic. Thomas felt the breath get knocked out of him as his seatbelt went taught and he slammed against it. Thomas went blind for a split second. For moments, everything seemed completely unreal. Nothing was really existing. Then, it was over, and blares of the road seemed overly loud and panic and pain came into existence.

Thomas’ throat went dry as he glanced back. A whole half of the car had nearly been destroyed. The offending car had been smashed, the whole car ruined as it sputtered to a stop at the side of the road. Thomas vaguely heard the alarmed honks of cars as they swerved to get out of the way and avoid the crash. The airbags were pressing in on them, and Thomas desperately snapped off his seatbelt and fought his way out of the car, coughing as he inhaled smoke.

His right leg trembled beneath him, and he glanced down in surprise. He hadn't noticed it getting hurt. It didn't look broken, but Thomas' eyes watered as he hobbled around the car, ripping open the car door. Alex was unconscious in the front seat, a trickle of blood rolling down the side of his head. Thomas grunted as he pulled him out of the groaning car, hissing in pain as his leg supported now another body.

"Whusss..." Alex mumbled, his eyelids fluttering. ".....happened...?"

"Alex, do me a favor and shut up for once in your life," Thomas growled as he set the man down and turned to limp over to the other car. “Stay down.”

Alex, true to his nature, didn't stay down or stay quiet. He panted as he stumbled after Thomas and helped him make his way around the car rubble.

"I think there's a body in there," Thomas coughed.

"Well you didn't think the car was just driving itself, did you?" Alex spluttered, covering his mouth. Thomas didn't waste energy shooting him a glare and instead got down onto his knees. He covered his hand with a strip of his torn shirt and pried off a hanging door. Ducking in, Thomas resisted the urge to close his eyes against the stinging smoke and grabbed a limp hand. As he pulled it, the body it was connected to let out a faint whimper of pain, but Thomas didn't--couldn't--hesitate. He continued dragging the body-- a man, Thomas realized-- out of the wreckage.

"Hey, you okay?" he asked hoarsely. No reply. The man was almost unrecognizable, but Thomas winced as he remembered the French teen he had seen. His face was covered in blood and his legs were crushed. His left arm was mangled and Thomas tried to swallow a wave of nausea at the sickening mess of broken bones and smashed fingers. He ripped his gaze away and tentatively felt for a pulse. There was one, faint and fluttery.

Alex was busy calling 911-- it looked like the man had some sense in him, Thomas noted drily- as Thomas gently slapped the man's face. "Hey, wake up!" He insisted. The man groaned, his eyes fluttering open and shut.

"Hey, was there anyone else in that car?" Thomas said, loud and clear. The man gave him a confused look, struggling to stay awake.

"A--Adri-" he rasped, but then his gaze flitted down to his arm. He whimpered and fainted again.

Thomas suddenly felt a rush of vertigo and he took a deep breath, willing the contents of his stomach to stay down. He stumbled up and grabbed-- something, Thomas couldn't guess what it had been-- tightly, before forcing himself to search through the wreckage again.

He found one more body. It was a girl this time, but her head was covered by heap of rubble. She wouldn't budge when Thomas tried to pull her out.

"Alex-" Thomas croaked, but the vertigo came back, stronger and harder this time. He moaned and fell to his knees, the world spinning around him. Alex was stumbling over to them, but his voice sounded muted and distant.

"Thomas? Thomas, can you hear me?" he called. Thomas gave him a distressed look, not comprehending as black edged his vision. Alex turned to help him get the body out, but Thomas was already surrendering and let the darkness sweep over his world.

Chapter Text

John's phone was ringing.

He groaned and cracked open his eyes. The sun was just setting, but John had been taking a nap after Laf and Adrienne left. He fumbled with the phone for a minute before finally answering. He yawned as he put it on speaker. "Yes, who is it?"

"Is this Mr. John Laurens?"

"Yeah?"

"Mr. Laurens, you share residence with Mr. Lafayette, is that correct?"

"Um," John frowned. "Yeah?"

"Mr Laurens, you are listed as Mr. Lafayette's emergency contact, that being as his primary emergency contact is currently unavailable. We regret to inform you that Mr. Lafayette has just been involved in a severe car accident. He is currently being held at St. Lawrence's Hospital. Mr. Lafayette is currently stable, but has not woken up yet."

John's mouth was dry. He barely knew Lafayette, but he had agreed to being Laf's contact...

"I'll be there soon."

***

"...concus... smashed... broken femur, two broken..."

Lafayette's eyes fluttered indecisively. Something was clipped to one of his right fingers, but his left fingers were numb. Actually, Lafayette could barely feel any part of his left arm, or much below his chest.

"...broken ribs. As for his arm... we've done all we can.... still not sure if he'll ever have complete control over it again. We've given him some numbing medicine for now. When he wakes up, he'll just use pain meds... Ah, welcome back to the land of the living, Mr. Lafayette," a voice said. It switched from low and grave to cheerful in a matter of seconds.

Lafayette groggily forced his eyes to stay open. White light crowded his vision, and he let out a low groan as a pounding headache made itself known. He was laying on a hospital bed, a sterile smell filling his nostrils. Four men stood by his bedside. One with a long white coat and glasses, another with a crutch and large, curly hair, one with black hair and dark eyes, and the last being John Laurens. Or so Lafayette's brain told him. Was it really him? Nothing seemed real right now.

"I've just been telling your friends here your condition," the doctor continued.

Friends? Were they friends? Lafayette didn't know.

"You're a very lucky man, Mr. Lafayette."

Lafayette didn't feel lucky. He felt awkward and sick and broken. His legs were both in casts, along with his left arm. There was a bandage wrapped tightly across his head and an ice pack gently taped to his ribcage. A wheelchair sat in the corner of the room. He was hooked up to an IV stand with bags of fluid hanging on it. A heart monitor beeped to his left. The four men were closely watching him as though he were a specimen to be studied.

"W-whathappened?" Lafayette rasped, mentally cringing at the sound of his rough voice.

"You got into a severe car crash. You're very lucky you're alive," the doctor said. There was a quiet note in his voice. Something deeper. He knew something. Something Lafayette needed to know. Something....

Oh God.

"Where's Adrienne?" Lafayette gasped. The heart monitor started beeping wildly, drawing alarmed looks from the gathered men.

"Mr. Lafayette, please understand-"

"Where is-- where is-is she??" Lafayette yelled, the words slowly tripping off his tongue, as he struggled to sit up.

"Mr-"

"She's alive."

Lafayette froze at that. The man with curly hair (Lafayette's buzzing brain supplied the name Thomas Jefferson) had spoken up, leaning wearily on his crutch.

"I need to s-see her," Lafayette whispered.

"No, you're in no condition-"

"Please."

"Hey, you can barely sit up, much less climb into a wheelchair, much less walk," Alexander Hamilton (Lafayette thought?) said bluntly. "You need to calm down. You can see her soon, I promise. But for now, relax and let these people take care of you."

The doctor kept a bewildered quiet. Lafayette let out a soft groan and let his head fall back on the pillow. There was an awkward silence as the four college men realized they honestly didn't know each other that well, but here they were, sitting in the same hospital room, brought together by a car crash.

Fun times.

"I'm John Laurens, by the way," John spoke up with a nod to Thomas. His introduction sparked several mumbles and returning of names.

The doctor cleared his throat loudly, almost seeming annoyed that they were becoming less professional. "Mr. Lafayette, what caused you to crash your car?"

There was a moment of silence as Lafayette blanked out. Thomas, Alex, and John were giving him curious looks. The doctor held his pencil, poised as though he were ready to take notes.

"I--" Lafayette's voice caught in his throat as he felt a slight tug of panic. "I don't-- don’t remember."

Silence.

"I see," the doctor noted finally.

But now the heart monitor was speeding up again, Lafayette's undamaged hand was tugging anxiously at his hospital robes, trying to even his breaths. He couldn't remember. Why couldn't he remember? It was right there, he could feel it, he was missing something important--

"Please, sir!" the doctor cried as the beeping started to get unbearable. "There is no need to panic! You've suffered a concussion, and now you're feeling the effects. Memory loss is often accompanied with concussions. How much do you remember?"

Lafayette closed his, taking in ragged breaths. Think, think...

"I r-remember leaving my dorm," he said finally. "And getting into A-Adrienne's car. We were--were going to dinner. I was going to--"

I was going to propose to her.

Lafayette squeezed his eyes shut as tight pain washed over his body. Not physical, like the type scratching his throat and burning behind his eyelids, but emotional, spiritual pain. It hurt deeper than any of his broken bones could.

"That's-- that's all I remember. I'm sorry."

"No worries, Mr. Lafayette. I'll leave you alone now. Call if you need anything. I'll be back to check your injuries again," the doctor assured him before leaving the room.

Alex shoved his hands in his pockets. Thomas stared off into space, shifting slightly off his bad ankle. Finally, John spoke up.

"I've been assigned as your personal caretaker."

Lafayette didn't reply for a moment, then realized with a start that John was talking to him.

"I-I'm so sorry, I didn't mean-- I never wanted-- you don't need to-- I'll talk to them," Lafayette finished finally. His mouth wasn't working the way he wanted to. His brain wouldn't connect to his lips in time to convey all his thoughts. It was frustrating beyond words.

"Laf, it's okay, I volunteered," Laurens interjected. "I am the obvious and logical choice, seeing as I both reside with you and go to school with you."

Lafayette closed his eyes briefly. John was a good person. Laf didn't think he'd ever be able to repay him.

"Thank you, John," Lafayette replied, the words thick on his uncooperative tongue.

John just shrugged, a half smile on his freckled face. An odd thought occurred to Laf.

"W-why are y-you two--"

Stupid mouth. Work faster.

"--two here?" He stammered a question out to Thomas and Alex. The boys exchanged looks.

"You don't remember?" Thomas asked carefully, not expecting he did.

Lafayette shook his head.

"We got hit by your car," Alex muttered, only slightly resentfully.

Another pang of pain hit his chest, regret stabbing deep.

"I'm so-- so sorry," Lafayette apologized ruefully. "I-I c-can't remember why I cr-crashed. I know it was important."

One smooth sentence. What a pathetic victory.

"S'okay," Thomas said lightly. "No lasting damage. On our bodies, anyways."

Lafayette cringed mentally. He wondered how bad the damage to the cars were.

He had crashed Adrienne's car.

Adrienne.

Lafayette needed to see her.

***

It wasn't long before Lafayette fell unconscious again, and Alex, Thomas, and John all left him alone.

While Thomas wandered off, muttering something about a cab home, Alex's feet somehow led him to Adrienne's room.

She looked... small.

Alex had never seen Adrienne before today, but he would've rathered never seen her than seen her under these circumstances.

Her slim body was surrounded by machines, forcing life into her. Keeping it there. Refusing to let her slip away peacefully. A ventilator was pressed against her face, making soft sighing noises as it pushed air into her lungs, and then out again. A heart monitor beeped slowly. Her short hair splayed out behind her, almost giving her a halo-like appearance. Her dark skin paled around the edges, frail body shaking with every forced breath.

Alex couldn't help feeling as though it was his fault. It definitely wasn't, he knew. Lafayette had crashed into Alex in the first place. Alex just wanted to know why. Was Lafayette just a reckless driver? Or was he trying to hurt somebody?

Alex shook the thought from his head. Lafayette hadn't seemed like a violent person. He definitely wouldn't have risked Adrienne, whom he obviously cared deeply about.

"You alright?"

Alex jumped, thinking for a split second that Adrienne had spoken before whirling around to see Angelica standing in the doorway.

"You scared me!" Alex yelped, massaging his chest dramatically. "And I'm fine... better than her, anyways."

Angelica crossed the short way from the door to her boyfriend's side. She took his hand. "Did you know her?"

"No. Never met her." They fell into silence for a few moments, before Alex spoke up again. "How'd you know I was here?"

"G-Wash got a call that you were in a car crash. He wanted to come, but had to teach today. He let me go instead," Angelica replied. Alex nodded absent-mindedly, letting her rub his hand.

"Thanks."

"No problem."

***

Thomas sighed as he collapsed on his bed. Shock was just starting to leave him, and he now realized Alex's car had crashed. Alex's car had crashed. Thomas felt guilty relief tingle in his chest. Better his than mine.

Of course, being the Southerner that he was, Thomas would definitely offer to let Alex drive with him, although it would come through gritted teeth and sullen tones. Knowing Alex, he would rather walk ten miles in the blazing heat than give up his dignity and have Thomas drive him somewhere.

Thomas winced as he gently rolled his ankle. It would take about 2 weeks to heal, and Thomas felt more guilty relief. He would take two weeks to heal. Lafayette broken femur alone would take at least 6 months long to heal, to to mention the painful 2 months to heal his 2 legs and arm. And who knew when he would fully recover from his concussion? The doctor had explained in a low voice the probable need for a speech therapist, along with help with coordinating movements and recovering control.

Guilty relief. At least it wasn't me.

And Adrienne, stuck in a coma, with confirmed brain damage, along with countless fractured bones and cuts. Adrienne, who had gotten the brunt of the crash. Adrienne, whom Thomas didn't even know. Adrienne, who Lafayette obviously so deeply loved.

Guilty relief.

Chapter Text

John's weeks had set into a sort of routine. Wake up, go to school, remember to collect Laf's homework, drive to the hospital, hang out with Laf, often comfort him, help him with his homework, drive home, eat dinner, go to bed. It was simple, practiced, and orderly. John liked it some days, disliked it others.

John discovered he rather enjoyed the classes he had with Alex. The immigrant could be loud and obnoxious, or soft and concentrated. When he worked, some of his loose hair hung over his soft brown eyes and fluttered with every breath he took. John found him amusing when he watched him. He also found that Thomas would stalk Alex like a hawk, ready to call him out on anything he did wrong, ready to pounce on him, too insult him. James Madison, likewise, would watch Thomas, hope gleaming softly in his dark eyes, wishing Thomas would watch him back.

Alex watched nothing but his work, Professor Washington, and the occasional glance at the time.

Whether or not John had a good or bad day, he managed to relax on the short trip to the hospital, and soften completely around Laf. In the short time he had spent with him, John and the Frenchman had become fast friends. Lafayette wouldn't feel ashamed when his tongue tied and his words tripped, as long as he was around John. John would confess his fears about going to school and working in a big city, and Laf in turn would give him tips (Laf himself had lived in Paris). John would helpfully suggest English words when Laf struggled to find the right factor to complete his thought. John would stroke his hand when Lafayette held back his tears and whispered how much he missed Adrienne.

John was there for Laf, and Laf was there for John.

"H-How was school- school today, petit?" Lafayette asked conversationally as John entered his room.

"The usual. Alex and Thomas got into an argument over whether Diego or Dora was better," John replied, plopping down on the chair next to the hospital bed that Laf had been confined in the week since the crash.

Lafayette laughed, a trembling, precious sound. "Obvi-ously, Diego is the bet-better choice, non?"

"Exactly!" John laughed. "But Alex was sold on Dora." He shook his head in amusement. "How 'bout you? What's the word?"

"The-the d-doctors say I can soon use the r-rolling chair," Lafayette replied with excitement.

"The wheelchair?" John asked, his eyes crinkling with humor.

"Oui," Laf replied with a slight blush. "Soon, I c-can visit-visit Adrienne!"

"That's great, Laf!" John grinned at the Frenchman. "Are you feeling a lot better?"

Laf's grin dipped slightly. "N-not sure. Still-still c-can't--" he huffed in annoyance, drumming his right-hand fingers. "Still can't talk very-very-very--" He closed his eyes, his forehead wrinkling in disappointment and frustration beyond words.

"Still can't talk very well?" John suggested softly.

Laf nodded, forcing his eyes open. "Arm h-hurts. C-can't move l-legs. H-hurts to breathe. H-head-head-- always hurts. A- a lot."

John reached out and placed a comforting hand on Laf's cast. "I can always get more medicine, if that's what you want. Tell the doctors if the medicine isn't working and you're still having pain."

Laf shook his head miserably. "W-works right-right. Doesn't last."

John's throat tightened suddenly as grief shut it. Lafayette didn't deserve this. Any of this. Nobody really did. He reached over and gently squeezed Laf's good fingers. "We'll get through this. Okay?"

Laf was quiet for a moment, his lips pressed together. Then he squeezed back. "Okay."

***

Lately, the soft cadence of beeps had grown uncomfortably familiar. Somehow, though, as he sat by Adrienne's side, Lafayette thought the sound had never sounded more unreal.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Lafayette could feel John's always-attentive eyes on his back, watching to see his reaction. Lafayette didn't give him one. Numbness had washed over his body as he stared at the slow rise and fall of his girlfriend's chest, her sunken cheekbones, her tangled hair.

Whatever he had expected, he hadn't expected... this.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

"John," Lafayette forced out as the numbness suddenly sank away, "c-can you pl-please leave?"

"Yeah," John replied softly. "I'll be waiting outside when you're ready."

Lafayette barely managed to keep in a sob as John walked out. When the door closed, Lafayette crumpled. He buried his face in Adrienne's bed and let his shoulders shake with each muffled sob. His fingers weakly clutched at Adrienne's hospital gown, letting his tears soak the sheets.

Whywhywhywhywhy-

Why had it been them? They were happy. They had been happy. Why did it all have to burn around them? Why couldn't they just stay happy?

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

***

Alex hadn't realized it, but now that he thought about it, he and John were friends. One day, they walked home from school together and found out they shared a bathroom. They were quiet in shock for a moment as they stopped at neighboring doors, then laughed. Alex invited John over and together they worked on homework. Thomas treated John a little coolly, and while Alex fumed at his rudeness, John assured him Thomas was just shy. Alex scoffed loudly.

"Trust me John, Thomas isn't shy," Alex said scornfully when John brought it up.

John gave him the small, knowing smile that always seemed to bewilder Alex. "That's what you think."

Alex just shook his head, a frown still gracing his features. He didn't understand John. He was quiet at first, but once Alex got to know him he found the freckled man confident and intelligent. Somehow, he always seemed to be right, something that infuriated the obnoxious Alex.

"No, you don't understand," John explained patiently after Thomas had yelled something at Alex and stormed from the room. "Notice the way he looks at you. Yes, he despises you, but right now he's completely focused on your sweatshirt."

"Yeah, he hates it." Alex frowned. Today he was wearing his faded blue hoodie that G-Wash had given him. Thomas always hated hanging out with Alex, but he always seemed to snap and snarl the worst when Alex wore it. This was one of

the reasons Alex wore it often.

"Do you know why?"

"No. He hates everything to do with me. Why?"

"Don't know," John said with a shrug. "I was asking you."

"Oh."

John checked his watch. "I gotta go, Alex. Lafayette is expecting me."

"When's he gonna get out of the hospital?" Alex inquired as he cleaned up the assorted papers and pencils.

"Today!" John replied cheerfully. "He has to stay in a wheelchair, of course, but I can bring him home. Under strict orders of how to take care of him."

"I'll help out, if you need it," Alex offered.

John smiled. "Thanks. Laf is still struggling, but he's trying to stay optimistic. He got to see Adrienne the other day." The smile faded from his face. "He wouldn't talk to me that afternoon."

"Hey," Alex spoke up after a moment of silence. "He needs his space. I don't blame him."

***

There was a sudden knock on the door. John paused as Alex got up to answer it.

"Angelica! And- wow! Hey guys! Come in!"

Alex stood back and let three girls walk in. John smiled at them as Angelica nodded at him, another waved, and the last giggled and blushed. John had met Angelica before, but the other two were new to him.

"Hey... John, right? I'm Eliza," the girl said. Long dark hair. Faint, natural blush. Warm brown eyes. The way she looks at Alex...

"And I'm Peggy!" The third sister burst out excitedly, interrupting John's train of thought. Ha. High schooler. Most likely single, the way she's giggling at me. Excited to be at a college. Copies her sisters. Looks up to them.

And Angelica. She's anxious about something. Keeps glancing at Eliza, then Alex. Does she see what I see? Alex hasn't really noticed Eliza too much, but it's only a matter of time. What if they...?

"John, these are the Schuyler sisters," Alex introduced them.

"Hi," John waved shyly. He heaved his backpack on his shoulders. "Sorry guys, I gotta go. Laf's going to worry. Nice to meet you guys!"

***

Thomas didn't understand. He shouldn't be feeling like this. He shouldn't be struggling to swallow as he felt his heart rising to his throat. It had been such a long time. Such a long time that he had come this close to an attack. Why was it so bad all of the sudden?

After Thomas had rushed from the dorm room, he had wandered around campus, forcing air into his lungs, trying to calm himself. Finally, after his chest wouldn't stop tearing itself apart, he slid down in an alley, desperately wondering why this was happening. His hands found his phone. His fingers found the number pad.

"James?" Thomas mumbled weakly. Numbness had started to set in. Not good. The calm before the storm.

"Thomas? What's up?" James' voice said from the other end of the phone.

Thomas' breath started coming in bursts. Shouldn't be feeling like this, not this bad--

"Thomas? You okay?"

"I'm in an alley. Somewhere. I need help. Don't know. It's bad," Thomas' words came out tight and quick. James would know what he meant.

"Oh. Ok, hold on Thomas. I'll be there soon, hold on."

The edges of Thomas' vision started going black. Shouldn'tbefeelingthis-- cantbreathe--- helpneedhelp--

It was Saturday night.

NO IT WASN'T IT WAS FRIDAY AND HE NEEDED HELP--

Martha laughed at his indignation. "What, you think my fashion sense stops at women?"

JAMES PLEASE HURRY NOT NOW PLEASE NOT NOW--

Bullets ripping-

His brother-?

Martha's blue dress, stained deep red--

HELP. I NEED HELP. JAMES--

"Thomas? Oh God, Thomas calm down. It's okay."

With a ragged sob, Thomas pulled himself out. James' arms wrapped around him and Thomas leaned into his embrace, trembling slightly.

"That was--" Thomas started to whimper, but James shook his head, cradling and gently shushing him. "Shouldn't have been- been that bad. G-god. It's been awhile."

"I'm gonna take you to my place, 'kay? We can talk about it there. Just calm down... it'll be okay."

Thomas nodded mutely, hating how weak he was, that he needed and depended on James like this. But in that moment, he was infinitely grateful that James was there as the shorter man helped him into his car.

The drive passed in a blur, Thomas exhausted from his panic attack as he pressed his face against the window. He pretended not to notice the quick glances of concern that James shot him. He barely noticed as James helped him from the car, into his room, and onto the couch. Thomas slid against James, pulling his legs up and tucking them against his chest. James easily slipped his shoes off and started running his fingers through Thomas' curly hair.

Thomas could've sat like that forever, but James finally spoke up. "What triggered it?"

Thomas didn't reply for a long moment, savoring the feeling of James pulling out the kinks in his curls, focusing on James' hand rubbing the small of his back. He stared off onto a point on the wall, letting his fingers curl around James' shirt.

"Alex's sweatshirt."

***

Laf took a deep breath. The heart monitor was off. The wheelchair was waiting by his bed. He was tempted by it. He knew John could tell. He knew John was awaiting a request for help. Because Laf couldn't do this. He was so useless these days he couldn't move from his bed to his chair. His right leg was in a cast that ran from his toes to his hip. His left was encased with a shorter one. His left arm was so heavily wrapped and fixed that Laf couldn't even move his shoulder. His head was always throbbing, and while sometimes it almost unnoticeable, other times it was so bad he couldn't stop heaving and retching for hours. Right now, it pressed behind his eyes, daring him cover his face with his hands and wallow in misery.

"Laf?" John's gentle voice broke into the Frenchman's thoughts. "If you need help, I'm here for you, buddy."

Laf cleared his throat and nodded quietly. Later, perhaps, he would try harder and make it. But today, he was tired. He knew he needed help. He wasn't healed enough yet. He silently leaned into John's arms and shakily stretched his legs into the chair. John wrapped his arms under Laf's and lifted him up and over. It was an awkward process and Laf could feel his face reddening.

"I-- thanks," Laf muttered. John squatted down with a genuine smile on his face and looked up to Laf. "You okay?"

"Yeah. F-fine."

Chapter Text

The burning days of summer melted into the colorful, shorter moments of autumn. These were the sort of days that children liked to rake leaves and jump into them with squeals of delight, or couples like to take long walks in the park together. Or, if you were Alexander Hamilton, these were the days you sat up in your stuffy dorm, multitasking between intense studying and yelling insults at your roommate.

"IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO MUSIC, DO IT WHERE I CAN'T HEAR IT!" Alex screamed at Thomas, his glasses dangerously low on his nose.

"I WILL LISTEN TO MY MUSIC WHEREVER THE FUCK I WANT TO!" Thomas shrieked back.

"Language!" Lafayette interrupted from his wheelchair, watching with mild interest as John helped him fix his computer.

"I AM TRYING TO STUDY FOR A TEST!" Alex snarled, his face dangerously close to Thomas'. "DO YOU WANT ME TO FAIL?"

"YES!"

"Okay, girls, you're both pretty," John sighed wearily, finally deciding to intervene. "Now how about we calm down and sort this out peacefully?"

"Oh, we'll be peaceful!" Alex spat, nostrils flaring. "When Thomas gets the fuck—"

Lafayette glared from across the room and Alex stopped himself with a sigh. "When Thomas gets lost with his music and leaves me in sacred silence so I can study!"

"You should be thanking me!" Thomas sniffed haughtily. "Music increases IQ or something."

"Classical music, maybe! Not that washed-up, screeching trash you listen to! And I'm sure you had my well being in mind when you decided to blare it at the loudest volume!"

"How about this," John stepped in between the two men. Thomas' chest was heaving and Alex's glasses askew. "Alex comes back with me and Laf to our room, and leave Thomas in peace with his music?"

"So you want to relocate me for being innocent and trying to study?" Alex looked offended.

"No, I'm trying to reach a nice middle for you two so you can stop arguing and give Laf and I some deserved silence from the two of you yammering at who knows what!" John growled, his eyes flashing.

"I'm not the one who decided to share his trash music with the entire world!"

"It's never your fault, is it?" Thomas retorted.

"You know what?" John said after taking a deep, controlling breath in through the nose. "Laf and I are going on a walk. Have fun sorting yourselves out. If I get back and one of you is injured in any way, so help me, I will make sure neither of you sees the outside for at least week!" And with that, John grabbed Laf's wheelchair and stormed out.

***

"In F-France, it gets very-very c-cool," Lafayette explained, "but-but the spring c-comes early."

"Is it nice there?" John had never been.

"Most of the time. In Paris, it-it is always-always-always-al-"

Slow down. You can say it. Un. Deux. Trois. Quatre-

"Always b-busy and c-crowded with tour-ists. I always pre-preferred stay-staying at Auvergne."

John walked in silence for a moment, quietly pushing Lafs wheelchair. "Do you miss France?"

"S-sometimes," Lafayette admitted. "B-but I had f-fallen in lo-love, no? And I once I c-came for A-Adrienne, I fell in l-love with la terre de la libre."

Lafayette hadn't really meant to say it in French. He cringed. Now John knows. If it had been Alex, he wouldn't have noticed. But John-

"You speak French better," John remarked quietly.

"Oui. It is my f-first language, no?" Lafayette replied, stalling.

"I meant you don't stammer so much," John pressed gently. Laf didn't reply.

"If you want to talk in French more, that's okay," John continued, a note of sympathy in his voice. Laf hated it. John normally didn't let it slip, but Laf could catch it. When the Frenchman had gone back to school, he heard the whispers of concern, wondering what had happened, the looks of pity shot shamelessly at him from all over campus. It made Lafayette's face burn and tears prick his eyes. He felt weak, and it never helped when others noticed it.

"It's j-just easy- easier," Lafayette replied finally. "I-I grew up sp-speaking it, a-and-and it's j-just sec-second nature."

"It's okay, man," John soothed him. "I'll tell you what-- I don't speak French, but Alex does."

"Le petit lion?" Lafayette inquired, a note of hope and surprise in his voice. "I- did not-not know!"

"Yep," John replied with a grin. "So if you do want someone to talk to in French, I'm sure he'd like to listen."

"Merci, John," Laf mumbled graciously. "Thank you."

"No problem, Laf."

***

"They managed to salvage this from the wr-wreckage," Lafayette said in French, eyes glassy as he stared off into space; or, more accurately, the ring and its box. He glanced at his knees instead. "I'm sorry. I know you don't like speaking French, but I don't want to mess this up.

"I don't know if you can hear me, Adrienne. Prob-probably not. But if you can, know that I say this with everything I have: I love you, Adrienne. And I want you to know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Forever. A-and I know this crash messed up everything, but it doesn't matter. I still love you, more than anything, ever. I know you love me back, so..." Pause. Deep breath. "Will you marry me?"

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

***

For some, the soft pitters and patters of raindrops were soothing. These people thought the feeling of the wind in their hair and the thunder above brought a sense of peace.

Of course, Alexander Hamilton had to be different.

He sat straight-backed in his bed, clutching the sheets below with white-knuckled hands. His pulse ran at brisk tempo, nearly matching his quick, uneven breaths. Lightning streaked through the dark night sky, making Alex flinch and let out a choked whimper that sounded more like a sob.

Thomas had been sleeping relatively peacefully on the other side of the dorm, but as thunder made the storm known, he groaned and rolled over. Alex squeezed his shut. He knew he couldn't let Thomas see him like this but he couldn't control it...

"Alex?" Thomas mumbled wearily. "If you're still up working on Washington's essay, I'm going to stop calling you crazy and start calling you... Alex?"

Alex couldn't hold back a terrified sob, burying his face in his hands as Thomas sat up. "Alex...? What's going on?" His voice wasn't quite concerned; more like confused. Alex just shook his head as flashbacks started rolling through his mind.

"Hurricane--" he finally managed to force out.

"No-- no, Hamilton, it's not a hurricane. It's just a storm. It's okay." Now Thomas sounded alarmed and scared, like he didn't know what to do with a frightened Alex. "Um... I'm gonna go get John, 'kay? John can help, right?"

Alex didn't respond, just hugged himself tighter and starting to rock back and forth as Thomas slipped through the bathroom and into John and Laf's room.

Thunder boomed again, louder this time, and lightning accompanied the sound as it raced through the clouds. Alex was hyperventilating so bad now that it all seemed like one giant inhale with no release. Tears created tracks down his cheeks, and his surrounding had all but disappeared. The Caribbean started to emerge around him--

"Alex? Alex, look at me. Calm down. It's just some rain." John had arrived, looking tired but aware as he stood by Alex's bed.

Alex's gaze darted up to the freckled teen, alarm clear on his tear-stained face. John. You can trust John.

"Can I come over?" John asked carefully. Alex nodded vaguely, letting John take his hand and gently rub it.

"Take a deep breath, okay?" John instructed carefully. Thomas hung back, unsure if he should try to go back to bed or help. Alex gave a shaky nod as the bedroom faded back into focus. He clenched his teeth and attempted to breath in slowly, trembling with relief as he received the much-needed oxygen.

"Good... good job, Alex," John soothed, fluffing the immigrant's pillow and straightening the bed sheets. "Look, the storm is starting to calm down now, see? Take some more deep breaths. Thomas, get him a glass of water."

Thomas started at the mention of his name, but he scrambled over to their small fridge and shakily poured Alex a glass. John took it and helped Alex take a small sip. "See? You'll be okay, Alex."

Alex only nodded. The storm was starting to die down, thank God. The rain had slowed to light drizzling and the soft rumbles of thunder were few and far between. Thomas clambered back into bed, turning away so the other two men wouldn't see his wide-awake eyes. John murmured one last soothing sentence to Alex before heading back to his room, and Alex slid down the headboard and wrapped the sheets around his body, exhausted. He was asleep before the thunder growled lightly again.

***

Lafayette was making steady progress. It wasn't long before he was starting to attempt hobbling around the dorm (under John Laurens' careful watch, of course). Thomas found himself quite intrigued by the French man, charmed by his accent and bright outlook. They started hanging out more and more, and while John was slightly jealous of their new friendship, he couldn't help but feel happy for his French friend.

"Hey!" Thomas growled when Alex nearly ran into Laf on when of the disabled man's expeditions around the room. "Watch it!"

"Non," Laf soothed Thomas as Alex apologized and helped him up. "No f-fighting, ple-please. You m-must be, how y-you say, cooperative."

Thomas and Alex grumbled something about trying harder in the future (though they both knew they wouldn't). Thomas stood up and let Laf lean on him as he guided his friend back to his wheelchair. Alex watched this man that he so purely hated, so angry about his short sightedness and arrogance, and couldn't help but feel confused. How could Thomas, who was always so rough and prickly with him, be so soft and gentle and caring with Laf?

The four colleagues always kept their connecting doors open now. It was too much of a hassle to have to knock on each other's doors every time they needed to talk, so John and Thomas had propped their doors open and now they all shared a larger area. Sometimes, John would accidentally fall asleep in Thomas' bed by Alex's and left Thomas to room with Laf, and it wasn't long before everyone's belongings were all mixed up and strewn across both bedrooms. Life was going well. Or, as well is it could. Laf got horrible migraines that often left him heaving in pain, and once in a blue moon John saw Thomas tear out of the dorm with terror hiding beneath layers of fury, no doubt heading to find James. But they were all a mess sometimes, and of course, it was easier being a mess together.

Chapter Text

"Hey girls," Thomas drawled lazily as Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy strolled past the four roommates in the park. Alex choked back a snort as Thomas flexed for them, and the Schuyler Sisters gave him a disgusted look. Or, rather, Angelica and Elize gave him a disgusted look. Peggy giggled and waved back excitedly, only to be dragged along by her protective sisters.

It had been about two months since the car crash, and Lafayette's legs had come out of their casts. His thigh was still tightly wrapped and bound, and Laf still couldn't walk very well, but he happily enjoyed his iced latte (courtesy of Alex) with his friends anyways. He couldn't resist being bitterly disappointed by the doctor's refusal to take his arm out of its cast as well, but he didn't let it keep him down. He was healing, and even if he was healing slowly, it was good enough for him.

"So what's with you and Angelica?" Thomas inquired.

Alex rolled his eyes, his tongue searching for his straw. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," Thomas sighed dramatically, "why did you break up?"

"If I knew, I still wouldn't tell you," Alex retorted hotly. Laf and John decided to stay out of it.

Thomas snorted. "'It's me, not you'?"

Alex shot him a glare. " No ... that's not what she said."

"So what did she say?"

"It's none of your business!"

"And then you guys broke up?"

"Wha- no! Ugh, never mind," Alex grumbled, making Thomas chuckle.

"Still..." John laughed pressing the matter after Thomas gave up. "You break up with Angelica, and then you grab her sister?"

Thomas choked on his drink. " What? "

"Keep Eliza out of this," Alex growled.

"You're dating Eliza ?!" Thomas gasped.

"Oooooh, you didn't tell him?" John was trying (and failing) to hide his look of ever-all-knowing amusement. "How upsetting."

"I just never got around to it." Alex shrugged uncomfortably. "Besides, it wasn't a big deal. She was the one who asked me out. Said Angelica was okay with it."

"You're dating Eliza?" Thomas repeated, still in shock.

"Yeah? Why is this such big news?" Alex questioned.

"I just..." Thomas struggled for words, trying to identify the odd feeling in his chest. "I don't know. Though you might take a break."

"Um. Okay?" Alex gave him a weird look.

"Don't feel too bad,Thomas," Lafayette said cheerfully. "If we're telling about disappointments in life anyways, might as well bring up the time I danced with the queen of France!"

Thomas's double take was so big he nearly snapped his neck. " WHAT?!"

And then Lafayette was off, telling all about the fateful ball and how he was barely 15 years old and tripping over himself, and while John and Alex roared in laughter, Thomas tried to sort out his weird emotion. It wasn’t… just surprise. It disgust. It was… betrayal?

 

Thomas shook his head and forced a laugh alongside John and Alex. Whatever he was feeling, it didn’t matter. Alex could date whoever wanted. Thomas didn’t care.

***

It's funny how one little detail can change everything. For example, if the window in Thomas' class had been closed, he wouldn't have heard the noise, and Laf wouldn't know about Thomas' story, and Alex wouldn't know about Thomas' weakness.

It had been a good day so far. Thomas only had one more class: History with Alex, Laf and John. James wasn't with him, and Thomas realized with a flash of guilt that he hadn't been hanging around James as often anymore. He made a mental note to invite James over some time as he put a book back on the shelf. Then, somewhere outside, somebody's car backfired.

Thomas froze. The rest of the class jumped slightly, but continued taking notes. Only John paused, swiftly turning around in his seat, eyes fixed on Thomas. Waiting. Knowing.

Thomas knew he shouldn't have let it bother him. He'd heard loud noises before; he startled, but then he settled, maybe taking a bit longer than others, but he still settled. He waited for the panic in his veins to settle down, biting his lip as it didn't. His knuckles had turned white on his book that he was clutching much too tight. John whispered something to him, but Thomas didn't notice. Laf did, and he turned to look at Thomas as well, concern clear on his face.

Thomas tried to act normal, tried to cover up how his breaths were quickening. Sit down now. Sit down and it will be normal. Open your eyes... When had he closed them? Sit down. You'll be fine if you sit down. But Thomas couldn't.

It was Saturday night.

"Thomas?" Laf whispered softly. Thomas swore under his breath as his legs finally moved, but then he stumbled away from his desk, bumping into several bookshelves as his vision tunneled. Finally, he found the door and burst into the hallway, ignoring the calls from the room. Panic was bursting in his chest, practically eating him alive as he tried to fight it off. Thomas stumbled into the bathroom and collapsed into a stall, not even bothering to close it as he finally gave into the wave of memories flowing through him.

It was Saturday night.

Thomas drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, casually chewing his gum as Martha excitedly ranted about the latest episode of her favorite TV show. He grinned at her enthusiasm as she paused to take a shuddering breath before continuing.

"Nice tie," she said after she ended, noticing his silky adornment. "It really brings out your eyes."

Thomas grinned slightly, shaking his head.

"Oh, and your fly's down."

"Wha-- Martha! Why-- How--"

Martha laughed at his indignation. "What, you think my fashion sense stops at women?"

“Nothing my fly has nothing to do with fashion,” Thomas huffed but with a smile.

It wasn't long before they arrived at the restaurant. Martha rolled her eyes slightly at Thomas' choice. "You don't have to be fancy for me, Thomas," she teased. "I know your family is rich."

"That's not what I-" Thomas' face flushed. "If you want, we can go somewhere else."

"No, that was mean of me," Martha apologized. "I love you. This place is great." She stood on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his cheek before walking inside with him.

"Thomas? Tho-"

Thomas casually took Martha's hand from across the table, before blushing furiously at Martha's giggle. "You're adorable, you know that?"

"What am I supposed to say to that?"

Martha just laughed. "I thought that after Randolph, I would be sick of all you Jeffersons."

Thomas cringed slightly. "I'm still sorry about that."

"Not your fault," Martha replied with a light shrug.

"Thomas, please, talk to me-"

"Thomas," Martha said suddenly, her fork clattering to the ground. "Thomas, it's-"

Thomas knew who it was. He knew the moment he walked in the door, with cropped hair and dark eyes and a permanent scowl on his face. But Thomas barely cared who it was. All he saw was the gun clenched in his tight fist. People scattered in fear and a waiter grabbed a phone. Randolph grabbed Thomas, lips curling into a leer of rage.

"You took her away from me," he rasped, pointing the gun to Thomas' face. Overwhelming fear was racing through Thomas' body as he stared into his brother's furious eyes. "You- you'll--"

Randolph dropped his brother, and Thomas fell on his face with a grunt.

“Thomas, Thomas please--

When he heard the gun crack, he didn't quite register what had happened.

When he looked up, his brain still wouldn't work.

Martha was lying on the ground, eyes wide and staring at nothing. Her pretty blue dress was splattered with dark crimson. A pool of blood was growing around her. Randolph was being tackled by police. People was scrambling away and crying out. The realization hit him. Martha was dead.

Thomas screamed.

"Thomas... Thomas I-I don't know to d-do--"

A year had passed. Thomas still struggled sometimes, still woke up screaming sometimes. But he was fixing himself.

It wasn't Randolph this time. If that was any comfort.

It wasn't.

It was just a normal day. Thomas was walking from his class. Kids milled around him. Nobody he knew in particular, just other teens.

This time, it didn't take Thomas a long time to realize what was happening. He saw a team of police crashing through the hallway, screaming for people to get away. A kid is dashing away from them, a shiny silver gun in his hands.

He readies the gun.

Thomas hears the crack. He sees the terror in James' eyes.

All he thinks is, Not again. I can't let it happen again.

Thomas throws himself in front of James.

He doesn't even feel the bullet enter his body.

"P-Please, Thomas-Thomas, please -"

Somebody's crying, Thomas realized hazily. Is it me? Or is it... this... who is this? Laf. Lafayette.

Reality hit and Thomas doubled over, sweat streaming down his face as his slick palms slid on the bathroom tile.

Huh, Thomas thought. It was both of us.

"Oh m-my God, Thomas- never- oh my God- n-never--"

Thomas was still struggling to even his breathing and Laf suddenly realized this. "H-here- sit up. It'll help."

But Thomas just curled in on himself, wanting to disappear forever. Laf knows. He knows.

"Laf? Is he-is he okay? I mean— he’s not— but better? Or over? I mean he’s not— but is it—"

Another wave of panic jolted through Thomas. Alex is here, too. He knows. He knows how weak I am.

"P-please, Thomas," Laf begged, his stammer and accent worse than usual as Thomas' breathing picked up even more. Thomas let out a broken sob and shook his head. He got a glimpse of Laf being gently pushed away.

"Shh..." a soothing, familiar voice said. "It'll be okay..."

"James," Thomas gasped. "James-- I- I'm sorry--"

"Sh, don't apologize. I'm gonna bring you home, okay? You'll have to take your pill, Thomas. Can you sit up?"

Shame. So weak. Thomas managed sit up with James' help, then feels a paper cup gently being held to his lips. He took it, letting a pill being slipped with it.

Alex knows. Laf knows. So weak.

"M'sorry..." Thomas mumbled again, before a heavy calm flooded his body and he went limp into James' arms.

***

Alex emerged from the bathroom, following Laf and James who were helping carry Thomas out of the bathroom. Sweat beaded Alex's temples as he shakily told a teacher what had happened. He couldn't erase the image of a terrified, broken Thomas huddling in the corner of a stall, eyes wide and staring as he mumbled nonsense under his breath at a breakneck pace. He wouldn't forget the tears that gathered in Lafayette's eyes as he desperately tried to help Thomas, fearing for the worse as he sank lower and lower into his flashback. The way James barely noticed him as he rushed to Thomas' side after John had ran to find him.

"Alex? You okay?"

Alex turned slightly to see a worried John watching him.

"Yeah. Fine," Alex muttered, the shaky feeling not completely gone.

"Hey. Whatever you're thinking, don't feel guilty," John told him softly.

"Why would I-- How did you--"

"Thomas never told you about his problems, so you just hated him without shame. It doesn't mean you have to stop hating him now that you know he has anxiety."

"You're not very good at giving inspiring speeches," Alex noted, a little confused.

"I know. That came out wrong. I mean, it's not like I wouldn't be relieved if you two stopped biting each other's heads off every living moment, but if you stopped hating him now it would just be..." John struggled for the right word. "Thomas doesn't want you to feel bad for him. It's why he hid the anxiety in the first place. But maybe cut down on the degrading scoffs. Thomas' anxiety doesn't stem from self-loathe, but insults never help. I don't want you to think that your arguments are at all the root of his problem. You might occasionally accidentally trigger something, but it doesn't mean his attacks are your fault. Got it?"

"Um. Yes?" Alex replied, forcing nonchalance into voice. He had been thinking what John had just mentioned, and once again his friend had the uncanny way of almost knowing what he was thinking.

"Has Thomas told you why he has anxiety?" Alex asked cautiously, once again trying to sound careless and failing miserable as his voice trembled. "Did you know?"

"He hasn't told me, but I knew. And I expected he knew I knew. I did some research about the Jeffersons. Wasn't hard. They're pretty high up there and news about Thomas wasn't difficult to find."

"Why--"

"He'll tell you when he's ready."

If he's ever ready, Alex added silently. "Okay," was all he said aloud.

"Give him time. Maybe he'll tell you."

"Maybe," Alex repeated wryly. He cringed at the slight quaver in his voice. "It's... just a lot to take in. I've never seen this side of Thomas."

"I know," John said gently. "We all have a dark side. Some people just don't want it to show. Thomas needs time."

Chapter Text

It was one of Laf's bad days.

He had woken up with a thick tongue and a screaming headache that made him want to curl back into bed and sink back into sleep. It was the weekend, so he could've, but the pain was too intense for him to relax. He let out a moan muffled by his pillow and tried to close his eyes again, but the darkness started spinning and made everything ten times worse. John was grabbing a t-shirt from his dresser, and while he wasn't trying to be loud, Lafayette heard every noise like John was slamming the drawers.

Letting out a soft whimper, Laf kicked the sheets off as an unexpected wave of heat flooded him. Soon, sweat soaked through his thin night shirt and into the sheets. Laf had nearly gathered enough energy to pull his shirt off when chills spread up his back and across his body, and he started shivering uncontrollably.

"Woah there, take it easy, Laf." John's voice ripped through the Frenchman's head like thunder, and he bit back a noise and shrunk away from John's outstretched hand.

"I'm just trying to feel your forehead. Laf, you're burning up, man."

"M-Migraine," Laf mumbled quietly. His stomach clenched as the world around him spun again.

"Fever too, by the looks of it... Alright. I'll let Thomas and Alex know to keep it down. Or, just Alex, because Thomas is spending the night at James' house,” John recalled.

Laf nodded without really listening. He let John pull away and vaguely heard a brief conversation between the freckled man and Alex.

"Hey, I’m gonna go shopping for chicken noodle soup, 'kay? I’ll try to be quick. If you need anything, ask Alex," John whispered when he came back.

Lafayette nodded again, not trusting his mouth to open without puking.

He wasn't sure how long they had been gone when the headache got worse. He doubled over in his bed, tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.

He wasn't going to be okay this time. He was going to die. He wasn't going to-

He was going to be sick.

He launched out of the bed but fell to his knees halfway to the bathroom. He barely had anything in his stomach, but what he did have  made an appearance on the floor as he retched and heaved painfully.

***

Thomas' eyes were still crusted with sleep as he stumbled up the dormitory stairs. He was feeling better now, but he still cringed as he imagined having to face his friends. He had whined and tried to persuade James to let him stay, but his friend had sternly but not unkindly reprimanded Thomas for not having told them in the first place. After a warm breakfast and a quick hug Thomas had been kicked out.

Whatever he had been expecting when he opened the dorm door, it had not been… this.

The bathroom door was closed shut, there was vomit on the floor, and Alex was pacing restlessly. Alex promptly grabbed Thomas and pulled him inside, yelling "Finally! I really need your help!"

"Wha-" Thomas spluttered.

"Laf got another migraine. A bad one," Alex explained. "He's been retching for the last half hour and won't let me into the bathroom. If I’m honest, I have no clue what to do. John is gone and  I figured you probably have more experience, being friends with James and all. Also, he threw up in his dorm and there's no way I'm going to clean that," Alex added.

"You stay here and stay quiet. I'll be right back."

Thomas didn't bother knocking on the door. Instead, he softly opened it and tears sprang into his eyes at the pathetic sight. Laf was curled in a crumpled heap on the cool tile floor, shirtless with sweat pouring down his body. Strands from his untidy ponytail had fallen loose. He was shivering uncontrollably, dark eyes miserable as they glanced up at him. A whimper caught in his throat.

Thomas didn't say anything, just knelt down so he can see eye to eye with Laf.

"Can you move?"

Lafayette shook his head, miserable.

"Can I move you?"

Lafayette hesitated. He didn't have a chance to respond before he was jerking away and dry heaving into the toilet again. A pained sob escaped his lips as his face creased. He couldn't throw up anything more, but he couldn't stop retching. Thomas held back his hair, just in case.

Lafayette collapsed with a pathetic whimper and slid down so that his body could be cooled by the bathroom tile as he started panting again.

"I know you don't feel well, but you're not gonna feel better if you're cooped up in this bathroom all day," Thomas murmured quietly. Laf doesn't respond, even when Thomas wrapped his arms around the sick man and slowly lifted him up.

Alex— and Joh, who had arrived— practically melted with relief when Thomas emerged with Laf. They opened their mouths to question him, but Thomas just shook his head. John, his brow wrinkled in immense worry, offered his arms up and received Lafayette tenderly. The Frenchman weakly clutched at John’s shirt, his fever peaking. Thomas watched him in concern as John set Laf down on Thomas' bed. Laf was mumbling things under his breath, arching his back as soon as he was out of John's arms. The French words rolled off his tongue and spun into the air.

"What's he saying?" John murmured.

Alex paused for a moment. "I... he keeps changing. It's nothing that makes sense."

Thomas shot Laf a worried look. "Are you sure it's just a migraine?"

"Fairly certain. Sometimes he has side effects like this fever. We just have to wait it out," John explained, keeping his voice low.

It was hard to watch Lafayette in this much pain, and Thomas didn't blame Alex for turning away and sitting on his bed, trying to tone out the agonized gasps and delirious mumbling. Laf wouldn't stop sweating, and Thomas was becoming legitimately concerned that if they didn't get some sort of fluids in him, Laf was going to become too dehydrated. He murmured his concerns to John, who hesitated.

"If we try to make him drink something, he'll likely throw it up again," he said uncertainly.

"But if we don't, he could become dehydrated," Thomas argued.

John frowned indecisively. "Fine. We can try to give him some of the Gatorade I bought today."

Five minutes later, Lafayette was heaving into the toilet again.

Nobody got much sleep that night.

***

John didn't want to open his eyes, but the faint snores coming from his left effectively cajoled him into cracking his eyes open.

He wasn't sure what emotion was stronger: the overwhelming relief he felt at the renewed color in Laf's face or the panic at the way John was snuggled up close to the Frenchman, their limbs tangled with each other on the small bed.

"John...?" Laf mumbled blearily, cracking his eyes open.

"Laf.” John sat up straight, attempting to minimize the fact that they had been sleeping together. How you feelin'?" John inquired.

"T-tired," Lafayette slurred. His eyes focused on John and then fell. “Er— s-sorry—“

"Chill, man," John chortled, shrugging off the nerves of his own. "I'm just happy we don't have to go the hospital."

"H... was it-it r-really that bad?" Laf asked, his eyebrows creasing. John hesitated.

"I don't know. I'm glad we didn't need to find out."

Somebody- evidently Thomas- had cleaned up Lafayette's vomit from the floor sometime last night, along with moving Laf back to his dorm. John clambered our of the bed and helped Laf shift over so his weight wasn't on his bad arm.

Laf said he was feeling up for going to his speech therapy session today, even though John urged him to wait it out. Thomas volunteered to drive him, so that left John alone with Alex.

"Welp," Alex sighed loudly. "I have an essay to write from G. Wash, and I'm only on page 51, so..."

John snorted loudly. "Have fun. I'm taking the day off."

***

Thomas and Laf were on their way home when Laf remembered.

Letting out a sudden gasp, Lafayette sat straight up, an odd look in his eyes. Thomas frowned at him.

"What? What happened?"

"I-- Was that---I-I can't-- Do I h-have to--"

"Woah, Laf, slow down," Thomas said, alarmed. "What's going on?"

"I remembered!" Laf told him urgently. "The motorcycle!"

"Laf, you're not making any sense. Slow down."

"I remembered why I c-crashed!" Lafayette said slowly, forcing himself to calm down slightly.

"What?! Really? Like, right now?"

"We-- Adrienne and I-- We were d-driving to dinner, of c-course, and there was this m-motorcycle coming off the in-interstate. She wasn't watching-- or if she w-was, she didn't try to s-stop. If I h-had hit her, she would've died. S-so I veered away, a-and then w-we crashed." His voice quieted. "I-it was worth it, right? I l-lost Adrienne, b-but I saved that girl."

Suddenly, everything hurt so bad that it felt like something had slammed into Laf. The breath was practically knocked out of him as tears pricked his eyes. "I miss her."

"It sucks," Thomas said softly. "I know."

Out of nowhere, anger rushed through Lafayette. He gritted his teeth, clenching the car's armrest. "No you don't. N-nobody does," he growled darkly.

"No, Laf, I really--" Thomas started, but Laf was done. All the bottled-up frustration that he had felt since the crash was spilling out. All the times he couldn't say something because his mouth was too slow, all the times he needed John to carry something for him, all the times he had ever felt useless, it was bursting out. It was falling down onto Thomas. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Laf knew it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to do this to Thomas. But he couldn't stop.

"No, you don't!" he yelled, tears sliding down his face. "I lost A-Adrienne, and God knows if I'll e-ever get to even talk to her again! She's dead to the w-world, and nobody cares! Everybody pretends like she didn't exist. L-like she lived her life, and now she's dead, so we can all go on living. B-but she can't, because she's in a coma, a fact which nobody seems to remember!"

The car was back at the dorm again, but Laf didn't get out. Thomas was unnaturally quiet, a torn expression on his face. "Lafayette. I wanted-- I'm sorry--"

"No," Laf muttered, all the fight draining out of him as he unbuckled himself. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have--" his words were broken as he choked back a sob, then shook his head. "I'll see you later, T-Thomas." Then he got out of the car and disappeared into the building.

***

"What--" John spluttered when Laf burst into the room and collapsed into a crumpled heap on his bed, pulling at his hair. "Laf, what the-- Laf! What happened?!" He was becoming legitimately concerned as Laf started shaking with violent sobs.

"What did Thomas do?" Alex asked aggressively.

" N-non-- " Laf choked out. " Ma faute-- toujours ma faute-- J-ja la veux de retour-- "

Before, maybe, Alex would have slunk away and let John deal with the distressed Frenchman. Now, though, he sat next John, who had gently pulled Laf's hands away from his hair, and rubbed his back comfortingly.

"Hey..." John murmured. "What's wrong, Laf? What happened?"

But Laf wouldn't-- couldn't-- respond, and he just curled in on himself tighter, ignoring his two friends. Finally, John pulled away and took Alex with him, wandering off to Thomas and Alex's room.

"What could've happened?" Alex shook his head in confusion.

"Who knows?" John sighed wearily. This whole year had been a mess.

They were interrupted by the door creaking open and Thomas storming into the room, instantly met by Alex leaping to his feet and bombarding him with questions.

"Look, hell if I know!" Thomas snapped about the eighth time Alex asked, What happened? "One moment he's excited about remembering and the next he's screaming at me!"

"Okay, now I'm really confused!" Alex huffed. "Remembering?"

Thomas sighed and eventually told Alex and John everything.

"Well, he wasn't wrong," Alex pointed out haughtily. "You don't know what's it's like. None of us do. Right?" He added when John shot Thomas a quick look, then stared at his knees. Thomas bit the inside of his cheek and didn't look Alex in the eye.

"What? Do you both have girlfriends stuck in comas? Am I the only person with a normal, lively girlfriend?" Alex yelped, throwing his hands in the air.

"Well, I'm going to go check on Laf," John said cheerfully. "Thomas..."

"Shut up, Laurens," Thomas snapped, but with none of his usual spirit. Instead, he just looked miserable. John slunk away, leaving Alex and Thomas in an awkward silence.

"So..." Alex tried. "You.. you don't have a girlfriend in a coma, do you?"

"Of course not," Thomas growled.

"Care to elaborate?"

Thomas didn't look up. Instead, he traced patterns on his jeans, the unspoken words hanging in the air. Not really.

Finally, he sighed. "It... I had this girlfriend. Her name was Martha. She... we were close. Really close. Before she dated me, she dated my brother, who abused her. She managed to break up with him finally. I tried to help her. Eventually, we got together. But one night..." his voice broke and he finally looked up at Alex. "My brother came back, and shot her. She died then and there. So, no, I don't have a girlfriend in a coma, but I know what it's like to lose somebody you love."

Alex was just starting to figure out what to say when Thomas spoke up again. "'Bout a year later, I was in school, and... there was a school shooting. The shooter aimed for James..." Thomas shrugged. "I don't know. But I jumped in front. Got shot." His words were forced out now, his fingers worrying the fabric of his shirt. "They put me in a hospital. 'S horrible. Even after they let me out, I could barely think. Everything was a gunshot. Every noise that I heard, every scream, everyone was dying. I would stay up every Saturday night, sobbing as I relived the shooting. I was shattered. Anxiety attacks all the time. My parents nearly put me in a mental hospital. James helped me out. We became friends. Or, he followed me. Thought I was cool. We didn't really become friends until later. Anyways. That's how he knew what to do when... at school..." Thomas' voice died. Alex had no clue what to do.

"I'm sorry," he said finally, and he wanted to laugh at the flatness of the words, at how stupid they must sound. "How many people have said that, huh?"

Thomas gave him a half grin, but it was humorless. The air between them had lost its enmity for now.

"I'm scared of storms," Alex said finally. "Hurricane wiped out my entire town when I was younger." He shrugged. "It's not... I mean, I don't have a panic attack every time there's a storm, but."

Thomas didn't say anything. He remembered that night when Alex had sat in his bed, unable to move for fear that everything was about to come crashing down.

"He's sleeping," John said as he returned to the room, making them both jump. "Oh I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?" he asked innocently. Alex snorted, the tension in the room dissipating. Thomas gave another half smile, and it was less forced this time.

Chapter Text

Lafayette could walk.

Sort of.

It was a far cry from the pathetic hobbling he had been attempting weeks ago, he was proud to say. He had turned in his wheelchair for a pair of crutches and could walk much better without help. Even his arm was allowed out of its cast, although Lafayette still had to go to therapy to regain full control in his hand.

But he was healing. They all were.

Alex and Eliza were sitting on Alex's bed doing homework together. Thomas sat at the foot of his while Lafayette reclined next to John on his bed. Eliza and Alex were softly talking and shooting each other sappy looks that made John roll his eyes, Thomas frown, and Laf beam. John soon left the room, and after about the sixth or seventh time that the couple barely refrained from a kiss, Lafayette cheerfully announced that he and Thomas were going on a walk.

"They don't have to be so public about it," Thomas huffed as they walked down the sidewalk.

"They were just sitting in the b-bedroom," Laf pointed out. "We were the ones intruding."

Thomas just shrugged, fingering the fabric of his hoodie. "What?" He snapped at Laf's wide grin.

"Nothing," Lafayette replied brightly, still giving him a look.

"I know what you're gonna say," Thomas sighed. "And you don't have to say it."

"What?" Lafayette said innocently.

John gave him a look.

"I'm just saying-- if it b-bothers you so much, talk to him about it," Laf urged.

"No," Thoma said flatly. "Nope. Never. He loves Eliza. You know he does."

"But he could love you, too!" Laf protested. "Eliza is great and all, but if you just get him to notice--"

" What?” Thomas went red. “No— nonono— not where this conversation was going— not in a million years—“

A phone call interrupted them.

Laf pulled his cell out and answered with a cheery voice. As he listened, however, his grin faded, replaced with a look of blank shock. He hung up after a mumbled farewell and whirled to face a bewildered John.

"I need to go to the hospital. Now. "

***

Laf didn't know what to do. At all. Whatsoever.

But Adrienne was awake and that was all that mattered.

He was sobbing, letting John hold him as they waited outside Adrienne's room as the doctors made sure she was stable enough for visitors. John gently ran his fingers through Lafayette's hair as the Frenchman struggled to pull himself together.

She was awake.

"You can see her now," a doctor told them. "But only one at a time."

Before Laf went in, the doctor stopped him. "She has severe damage," he told him in a low voice. "We don't know if she'll make it very long awake. She may not even remember who you are."

Laf swallowed, nodded, braced himself for the worst.

He didn't plan on crying again when he walked into the room, but the tears stream down his face anyways.

She was laying down, her fingers gently drawing invisible circles on the bedsheets as she stared at the ceiling above her. Somebody must have brushed her hair. Her beautiful eyes were glancing back and forth from one ceiling tile to another. Her skin, usually pale when Laf had gone to see her, had restored its color. Laf wanted to grab her and kiss her and tell her how much he missed her, but he refrained.

"Adrienne" was all he managed to say. A moment passed before she turned her head to look at him.

"Laf," she replied happily. He collapsed in the chair beside her bed and she let him take her hand.

They didn't talk about the car crash, or how Adrienne ended up in the hospital, or why he needed crutches, or any of the bad stuff. Instead, Laf told her all about school and how she would have loved his new friends and how frustrating Alex and Thomas could be and how kind John could be and how much Laf loved all of them, because they helped him when everything else was gone and as soon as Adrienne was better, she needed to meet them. She was lucid most of the time, but other times she drifted, mumbling under her breath and allowing a crease to fold between her eyebrows. Laf would gently guide her back and pick up wherever he had left of. When the doctor came in to tell him it was to time to go, Laf gently kissed Adrienne's forehead and promised he'd return tomorrow.

***

Lafayette spent most of his waking moments with Adrienne. Alex, Thomas, and John didn't protest.

But when he was home, it had to be the time that Thomas had another panic attack.

He grasped at his chest as though it would magically loosen and he could breathe again. Nobody had noticed yet. Thomas wanted to cry. Why was he like this? Why couldn't he just be a normal?

"Thomas?" John inquired softly as Thomas suddenly jerked to his feet and stumbled towards the door. "Thomas..."

He knows he knows he knows they all know--

"Thomas, don't go. Please," Lafayette pleaded.

Thomas didn't reply. He just fumbled for the doorknob, letting out a choked sob when John placed a warm hand on his shoulder. He slid to his knees as his vision tunneled and his thoughts wouldn't slow down he was going to die---

"Shh...." John murmured, rubbing a tense spot between Thomas' shoulder blades. "It'll be okay."

"No it won't," Thomas choked out, his breaths coming in forced puffs. "Won't-- I can't--"

"Do you want to move?" John asked quietly. Thomas shook his head frantically, curling in on himself. And suddenly Alex was there, by his side, and he was so uncertain and terrified, but he sat down next to Thomas and laid Thomas' head in his lap. Thomas trembled violently, hating how concerned they all looked, concerned for the small fragile man who should be stronger than this shouldn't be feeling like this --

Laf gently hushed him again as his breathing hitched and he whimpered.

"Do you need a pill?" John murmured in concern. Thomas sobbed and shook his head. So weak.

"Thomas, taking meds doesn't mean you're weak," Laf said quietly, as though guessing Thomas' thoughts. "If you need one--"

"Don't need a pill," Thomas mumbled. God. Why couldn't he just stopstopstopstop with his problems that weren't even REAL--

"Thomas, please, let us help..."

They sounded so scared and Thomas hated it and Alex was just holding him, terrified, so uncertain about what to do with a weak, helpless Thomas who didn't hate Alex like he thought he did, like he wanted to--

"Thomas."

Alexander.

It was like Thomas was seeing the immigrant for the first time. His hands slipped into Thomas' and he quietly held onto them, rubbing his palms gently. Alexander smelled like cinnamon and honey and something beautiful and everything that Thomas wanted to be but couldn't, because somehow, today, Thomas realized that Alexander was perfect.

He loved it.

And he hated that he loved it.

His breathing calmed and he collapsed into Alex’s arms, exhausted and shuddering. "I'm s-sorry--"

"No," Alexander replied firmly, and it was supposed to be everyone and Thomas but somehow now it had narrowed down to just Alex and Thomas, and maybe he was imagining but Alex was so close, so near and if Thomas just leaned up a little bit...

"You don't need to apologize, Thomas," John murmured. "Why?"

Thomas just gave a small shrug, because they wouldn't really understand what it was like to feel like such a useless, pathetic burden who had problems but they had problems too and they weren't a snivelling mess on the floor right now, were they?

"Come on," Laf pried him gently from an almost trembling Alex helped him to his feet. "I'm taking you to meet Adrienne."

"W-what?" Thomas stammered, alarmed by this sudden change.

"You'll love her, trust me," Laf said cheerfully, but Thomas, while interested in meeting Lafayette's girlfriend, suddenly felt terrified as he just realized...

He had been moments away from lifting his chin and kissing Alex. Alex had a girlfriend.

Thomas had almost...

The thought made Thomas want to cry.

Why was he like this, he wondered. Why did he always have to make things uncomfortable and awkward? He was sure in that one moment that he loved Alex, but did he, really? It was a natural emotion, feeling safe and protected in a moment of unclarity in the arms of a kinder, stronger person. But love? Really? Thomas had only loved one person before, and it had cost him dearly.

Was he really ready to love again?

Chapter Text

Lafayette got the call at 2:30 in the morning.

He grabbed his shoes and dashed out the door, heart hammering, eyes blurring as he took the car and made his way to the hospital as fast as possible.

He burst into the building, not stopping at the receptionist desk.

He stumbled into Adrienne's room.

He took one look at the the doctors' defeated faces.

Lafayette didn't even hear their diagnosis. He let himself fall into the chair by her bedside and the doctors gave them a moment alone.

"What did they say?" Adrienne asked in slurred French.

"That you won't make it," Lafayette replied softly.

Adrienne just nodded. Not surprised. She reached out and took his hind in her smaller, weaker one.

They sat. They waited. Adrienne whispered how much she loved him.

Beep. ......Beep. Beeeeeeeeeeeep...

The doctors rushed into the room. Lafayette let himself be ushered outside. Numb. Unfeeling.

He didn't know how long he stayed there. Eventually, they let him back in. Shook their heads. Told them the time of death. Lafayette nodded.

Left.

Texted his friends.

Lafayette : She's gone. Brain trauma. Something like that.

TJeff : Laf, I'm... so sorry. I know how it feels.

TheTurtle : God, Laf, I can't even begin... I'm just so sorry. I know you're going to be hearing that a lot.

Alex : Meet us at Starbucks in 10 minutes

Lafayette did.

Alex embraced him the second he got there, wrapping his arms around him and clutching him tightly. And finally, Lafayette felt a tear slip down his cheek as he gripped Alex back.

The four of them chose an outdoor table. Alex bought them drinks. They sit in the early morning sun, silent.

They were all broken. They all had feelings. They all leaned on each other. Even when the times got rough, they were there. And they will be. They were not perfect. They were all living proof of imperfection. But as long as they had each other, they'd make it through.