The Baron being in an argument with the General, their very commander in chief, was terrifying in many ways. Despite all their little disagreements, they had never argued yet. In other way, Walker having to translate among shouts was surely awkward for him.
Not to mention the other aides being in the same office. All shouts and disagreements and all were quiet except for the arguing pair. Washington would raise his voice and hands in wild gestures and Walker would translate and the Baron would reply in Prussian to Walker for translation and stand as rigid as he could. Occasionally Walker would stutter or slip up, only adding to the tension in the office.
Lafayette was quiet and had stopped speaking to Tilghman altogether to watch the argument that seemed to capture everyone's attention.
John Laurens had never seen the General yell like this before, and it shook him to his core.
The topic of the argument? The Baron's party from the previous night. Hamilton and Laurens had returned late and perhaps a little too loudly after a night of heavy drinking and.. other things.
Hamilton's eyes focused on the paper in front of him. trying desperately to keep writing whatever letter he had been told to, but anyone could see that he looked positively sick. Whether it be the nausea and hangover from last night or the situation at hand, nobody knew. Perhaps a mixture of both.
The words suddenly became shifted and the topic turned to place blame on whose fault it really was. "The men should learn to hold their drink!" or "You were the one to throw such a drink-heavy party!"
"You hardly know these men like I! I am their General and they my aides, whom I have picked and know well of!"
A quick bit of translation and Walker was trying to calmly tell the General the Baron's words. "He says 'I know them more than you and you should know by now the way your men swing."
"Tell the Baron I know how my men act, and it should be no concern of his. I should be the one to punish them should they do something wrong," Washington responded and chose to stare at the Baron instead of direct his anger at Walker, who was rightfully undeserving of it.
Another bout of translation. Walker froze, as did Laurens.
He knew precisely what the Baron had just said.
"Clearly, sir, you do not know them as I, as you have not court-martialed the sodomites in your office as I know you would if you knew of them. All were in attendance at the party," the Baron had said.
Laurens could practically the feel the noose too tight around his neck and the scratching of the rope against his skin. He felt the effects of it: tightening, restraining, choking. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't move anymore. John, you need to breathe! His brain reminded. But he was frozen.
Walker hadn't responded, obviously in a similar state.
"Sir?" Washington glared at Walker now, a mix of concern and confusion and anger all in his eyes.
Walker looked terrified and took a slow breath in. "I don't want to respond, sir."
Washington frowned deeper than he was already. "I don't ask."
Walker gulped and took another few steady breaths. "The Baron... He says... uhm. He says, Clearly, sir, you do not know them as I, as you have not court-martialed the... the sodomites in your office as I know you would if you knew of them. All were in attendance at the party," Walker translated and look at his shoes to avoid the General's gaze and the sudden fury he had in every movement he made and every emotion he conveyed.
Washington looked at the four men who had attended the party. Lafayette, Tilghman, Hamilton, and oh God, Laurens felt sick. They all did. They all were frozen and choking on nothing but their own spit and ideas and fears. It was as though and angel of death was made for each and was clutching at the throats, trying to strangle them before a noose could.
Hamilton dropped his quill and rushed for the door and they were all certain he would be sick. If he did attempt to run, though, Gibbs would find him and bring him back anyway. Caleb Gibbs was somehow always intuitive about these things.
Tench Tilghman was nearly in tears. Meade and Harrison and McHenry were all trading looks and Laurens was sure they were all disgusted with the men they thought were friends or brothers.
Washington stepped away from the Baron and to the head of the table all the aides were working at. Lafayette stood at the other end. Laurens was unfortunately stuck next to Washington now. Once he was done glaring at all the others, he looked down at John and without looking up, he could feel the disappointed gaze.
"What would your father say?"
Laurens couldn't focus anymore. He just stared at the words on his paper, an unfinished letter to the very man his General had just mentioned, and he saw drops of water fall and hit the ink, making a mess that couldn't be reversed. In just one statement, he was torn down. In just one night and one argument, his career and possibly his life, was destroyed. Killed. Broken. Shattered. Burned. Hung.
Dishonorable. That was Laurens. The secret was out and he was doomed and he was likely going to be dishonored and forgotten forever. All his work, for nothing.
Washington turned back to Walker. "These men have done no wrong and they work well in my office. I do not encourage their actions or the Baron's party, but... as long as my aides do not let their preferences and actions affect their work... it will be allowed."
Laurens felt like either crying out in celebration or crying literally because he was respected.
Walker translated and the Baron smiled at the General. He said something Laurens didn't catch but heard a second later in English.
"'Your boys and men are good and I trust them to continue work just as before. I hope your others are not disturbed by this', he says," Walker gestured vaguely to the other three as he spoke.
Washington glances at them.
"We treated them as family before, why would we change that now if they've always been this way?" Harrison asked and a sound of relief and happiness came from Tilghman.
After all work of the day way done, the office of aides celebrated in a much smaller party of their own. They welcomed the idea of their military family being different but also the same.