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Thursdays: Support Group Nights for Single Parents

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For the third time this week, Frances was crying in the middle of the night. John was exhausted. Working double shifts yesterday was the dumbest decision he made, but he really needed this money. Not even concealer could possibly hide the dark bags under his eyes. Looking back to his bed all warm and cozy, John lazily got up to go see Frances.

2 AM. John would lie if he said that it was the first time this week Frances woke him up in the middle of the night. Even when his daughter was crying, waking him up in the middle of the night, John adored Frances more than anything. He loved her curly, dark hair, the million of freckles covering her face, her little nose and her brown doe eyes. Frances was the most precious thing in the entire universe. John would, without a single doubt, die to protect her from any harm the world would —one day— expose her to.

Maybe John regretted his one-night stand with the mother of his child, but it had been months ago. Now, he had a child to take care of, to look after. Decisions he made in the past didn’t matter anymore, as long as he could give his baby girl a shelter, food and a hell of love; something John was sure they would never run off.

-

Just a few blocks away from John’s apartment, Alexander was trying his best to tweet another 51 parts thread to Jeffershit. He couldn’t just go to sleep without making sure the world knew how Macaroni Fucker was completely wrong.

“Papa?” Alexander immediately looked away from his phone, redirecting his attention on his Phillip, his Phillip who the eyes were currently filled with tears.

“Hey Pip, come here,” Alex sat on the edge of the bed, taking Phillip in his arms. As soon as he reached his father’s arms, Phillip immediately started crying. It broke Alex’s heart to see Phillip so scared, so broken. Alex ran his hand through Phillip’s messy curls, trying to calm him down. He could feel Phillip’s breaths against his (now wet) shirt becoming more regular. For once in his life, Alexander didn’t say anything. He just waited for Phillip to calm, recomforting him and waiting for sleep to come again. His dearest son in his arms, protecting him from his scariest nightmares. The night would be long, and so would be the next day. At the end of the day, Alexander had Phillip, and Phillip had Alexander. That was enough for the both of them.

-

Wednesday 17th January

NYC

-

“Come on John! It’s just single parent support group for God’s sake!”

John sighed and took another sip of his coffee, which was starting to get cold. Shame on Peggy who constantly made him talk instead of drinking. “I don’t want to go there Peggy. I just can’t. It’s not my place to be.”

Peggy sighed, loudly for the dramatic effect. “John, my dearest John. My very own best friend. My brotha’ from another motha’. My favorite homie. Please, do it for me- or at least, do it for Frankie. You’re not alone, you’re not the only single parent in this universe. You need this,” Peggy concluded before taking a sip of her tea.

Before John could even think of something to say, Peggy added, “Plus -if that can convince you- I’m sure you’ll find a gorgeous single dad with the best ass in all New York City. C’mon, we both know it’s been a while since you got laid.”

“That’s not true. You don’t know anything about my sex life, Peg. Nada.

Peggy rolled her eyes. “John, if only you would have one. Besides, I’m 3 years younger than you and I had more guys in my DMs throughout my life than you could ever imagine.”

John kicked her under the table. “Hey, low blow. It’s not my fault if guys are not looking for a college drop out with a 1-year old girl.”

Peggy rolled her eyes again and crossed her arms over her chest. “Always the ‘I’m a single dad card’ John. It doesn’t work anymore. Error 404, dude. Try something new like ‘I’m just a chicken’ or ‘I have no game’, maybe that’ll work.”

“Hahaha, hilarious Peggy.” he deadpanned.

John looked at his daughter, drawing (or what you would define as drawing for a 1 year old) in her new coloring book on the other side of the table. Peggy was right, Frances deserved a good dad. Not a shitty one still struggling with his past demons with his daughter as his best friend and therapist.

“Okay. But just tonight. And if it’s horrible, you owe me 2 weeks of babysitting Frances.” Peggy nearly jumped in John’s arms.

“Yes! I swear Johnny boy you will not regret it for one cent. Love you! I have to go work, see ya later.” And just with that, John and Frances were alone again.

He looked at his daughter, now covered in (thankfully washable) ink.

“Well, this is gonna be fun.” he muttered to himself.

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 “Laf I repeat: I’m not gonna go to this support group to see 10 moms and maybe 2 dads fucking crying and telling me that I’m “so strong” for raising a child on my own. No fucking way.” Laf sighed, taking a sip of the office’s shitty coffee. Laf was working in the International News department of the newspaper, – The Washington’s Post — Hercules in the Fashion section and Hamitlon in Politics. The trio has been inseparable since they first met in college. You couldn’t find one without the others.

“C’mon Alexander, you know this is nothing but helpful for you and my dearest nephew.” replied Laf, taking a seat in Alex’s personal office.

“Yeah right. Phillip and I are just fine, thanks for asking.”

Hercules crossed his arms and shook his head as a sign of disapproval. “Stop lying to us. You can write whatever you want on your astonishing life as a single parent on your blog, lie to those you read it, but you can’t do that to me and Laf man. That’s not cool.”

“Fine. You want the truth? Here’s the truth then: I’m fucking tired. I’ve got 3 hours of sleep last night ‘cuz Pip keeps having nightmares about me and Eliza fighting. I paid 7$ for a coffee that tastes like complete garbage, and I have two articles to write for tomorrow. So no, I’m not fine. Pip’s not fine either. But I’ll find my way out of this shitty period in our lives without a support group. I’ve been through way worse and dealt with it on my goddamn own.”

“That’s exactly why you need to go. You never went through a divorce, Ham. You never had to take care of a 4 years old on your own. This is new. These people will help you.” argued Mulligan.

“It’s, how do you say, for the best.” Laf added.

“Laf don’t play the ‘I’m-French-How-Do-You-Say-That’ card, we all know you master English.” Alexander replied.

“Whatever. Alexandre, I’ll send you the address! You’ll love it! Say hi to my favorite nephew for me!”

-

6 PM

-

“Pip?”

It was 6 PM, and Alexander had to be at the support group for 6:30.

“Pip, where are you? Papa told you we had to go somewhere important. Please stop hiding, we can play hide and seek tomorrow.” Alex was desperate, and mostly sleep deprived. Part of him didn’t want to go at this stupid support group, but deep down, he know he had to. For his son, for his best friends.

“BOO!” screamed little Phillip as he jumped out of his hiding spot. Alex smiled, taking Phillip in his arms.

“We’re gonna go make some friends. Uncle Herc and uncle Laf said it’ll be fun for us. I’m going to talk with some adults while you’re gonna play with the other kids.”

Phillip pouted. “But I want to stay with you. Why can’t I stay with you, Papa?”

“I promise you, I would rather stay with you, Pip, but we can’t. Besides, you’ll have more fun with the other kids.”

Phillip hesitated for a bit before shooting Alex a big smile. “Mhm okay, but if I play with the new friends, can I have chocolate milk?”

Alex laughed. “I didn’t hear the magic word.”

“Please Papa?”

Alex dropped Phillip back on the floor, chuckling. “Fine. Go put your coat and boots, I’ll go grab a bottle of chocolate milk in the fridge.”

Phillip kissed Alex’s cheek and quickly ran to the house’s vestibule. “Thank you, Pops!”

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After two bottles of milk, a missing wallet at home and Frances not wanting to fall asleep in the subway, John finally made it to the front of the old bookstores were the meeting was supposedly held. This is going one hell of a night.

Chapter Text

“Pardon me, are you here for the single parent meeting too?”

John turned around to face the source of the previous sentence: a small, long haired man Puerto Rican (judging by the flag on his sweatpants) with a kid, not older than 4, on his side. John didn’t believe in love in the first sight –he never did-- but damn he was starting to think he was wrong about that.

“How did you know I was here for the single parent meeting?” John blurted out, holding Frances closer to his chest, wishing the handsome stranger wouldn’t talk to loud and wake her up; nap was precious, and not even Handsome Stranger was aloud to disturb his daughter during this sacred time of the day.

Handsome Stranger (as John decided to call him) laughed. God, was it even legal to look cute like that?

“Well, this bookshop is not very popular, and you give me the vibe of a single dad.”

“What exactly give you the “vibe of a single dad”?”

Alex motioned the door of the bookshop, as a sign of ‘we really should continue this conversation inside because it’s cold as balls out there’. John gratefully followed him. As soon as they found some seats, Alexander took the opportunity to explain his point to John. “Well, not everyone in New York City stans in front of a bookshop -which is, by the way, really old and hella old school- with a baby and the look of someone who didn’t slept for a week. Trust me, been there, done that. Still doing it, but my boss keeps reminding me to sleep and shi-” Alex glanced at Phillip, now playing in the small room for the young kids, his attention especially on the dark-skinned girl who was drawing with him.

“-stuff  like that.” Handsome Stranger stopped once more, seemingly noticing he was rambling. “Sorry. A lot of people tell me that I talk too much. My foster mom used to tell me to ‘talk less, smile more’.”

 “It’s okay, I get it. When I get passionate about something, I start rambling a bit too.”

“Glad we can agree on that.” Alexander smiled. “What’s your name, man?”

“John. John Laurens, and to who I owe the pleasure?” John held out his hand to shake Handsome Stranger’s hand. Thank god for Frances’ baby carrier, or I could never feel how soft yet masculine his hands. Just imagine these hands all over my body and his fucking kissable and gorgeous lips wrapped around my d- OKAY THAT’S ENOUGH NO BONERS IN A PARENT MEETING, YOU FUCKING CREEP.

“Alexander Hamilton, but most people just call me Alex. Or Hamilton. Hell, one of my best friends calls me Ham, or even sometimes Hammie. So, it’s up to you, Laurens; call me as you wish.” Does ‘Daddy’ count?

John almost gasped. Of course he had to end up on someone he knew, someone remarkable and wait out of John’s league. Not the kind of ‘We went to middle school together’ I-know-you.

No.

It had to be the ‘I see you all the time of Twitter and read all of your articles on your blog’ I-know-you. Sure, John wasn’t a fan, but Alexander’s blog helped him at first with Frances. He remembers how he felt so helpless at the time, how his articles gave him the sentiment that he wasn’t alone in this. a sense of recomfort. That he could raise a child on his own and still get out of it successful, just like Hamilton did.

“Like, Alexander Hamilton from the blog on parenthood? The journalist who always end up in Twitter wars with the secretary of state?”

Alexander chuckled. “Yep, that’s me. Wait, you know me?”

“Of course I do. Dude, you’re like famous. What are you doing with a college drop out when all of New York’s most influential people would pay to have a conversation with you? No offense.”

 “Well, John, I quite enjoy having a conversation with you, and I would have to disagree with you. Most people don’t appreciate me as you seem to do.” Alexander winked.

Alexander just winked at me. Abort operation. Alexander ‘Raging Bisexual’ Hamilton is flirting with me. Just try to look cool. Everything’s cool, everything’s fine. Bro things. No homo, obviously.

“Besides,” he continued “a lot of people hate me. I’m not the most loved journalist of New York, due to my –how can I say—raw opinions. I’m just here because my friends kind of forced me into going, but I must say I found my new motivation to come here.”

Take a shot everytime Alex flirts with you. You’ll be blacked out drunk in the matter of minutes. What a flirt.

“My friend also forced me to go!” He said, a little too enthusiastic and bit too loud. In responses, he got a few glares from other parents. John felt his cheeks reddening. Before he could even explain himself, an old woman cleared her throat. She’s probably the one holding the meeting, John thought. She looked nothing but kind and loving, the grandma every kid would dream of. The one who would spoil her grandkids with gifts and little treats. The kind John would love Frances to have. If only John’s mom was still in the picture.

“Hi everyone! Take a seat, take a seat please. We will start the night with some very simple introductions, then I’ll talk a little bit about the program for the year. Don’t worry, I won’t take much of you and your precious kids’ time, it will only be a matter of an hour or so.” John looked at Frances, still asleep against his chest, then at Alex, who returned his smile. How wonderful it would be to have him—and his kid, whose name was still unknown--on his side every day.

“I want to first thank you all for coming on this particularly cold evening. I know it’s hard with work, or school for some, but your presence is highly appreciated. We will start with the lady in red right here, then continue rotating clockwise. You just have to say your name, why you’re here tonight and if you would like, you can always share with the group a little bit about your child.” Martha concluded, sitting down as a way to show the lady in red that it was her turn.

“I’m Maria Reynolds. I’m here tonight because I saw a poster about it in the subway station about this and thought ‘Hey, why not give it a shot? ‘Here I am, few weeks later.” Maria chuckled a little.

“I have a daughter. Her name’s Susan, and she just turned 2 years old. She can be a little handful, but she is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” Maria smiled, desperately trying to fight back tears.

Happiness or just simple overwhelming feeling, John could feel it too. Listening to all these stories made him understand that he wasn’t the only one feeling like this. He kept himself from crying until the very end, when the meeting finally finished so he could go take the subway and head back home (where he would, obviously, end up crying for a good half of the night).

As he was trying his best to not break down in the middle of the street, John couldn’t help but here something, someone shouting his name. Once again, he turned to face Alex and his little boy, who he learned was called Phillip.

“Laurens, you’re not walking back home when it’s freezing outside, are you?” he asked, looking genuinely concerned. As John, the coffee barista, could afford a car in New York City.

“Of course not, Alexander. Me and this little one are waiting for our private car so it can take us all the way back to our mansion, Alexander.” he deadpanned.

Phillip couldn’t help himself to contain his enthusiasm. “Woah! You have a mansion! That’s so cool!”

Alexander gave him a look but smiled anyway. “Sorry John.” Alex looked down at his son, “Pip, c’mon. Pop is having a grown-up conversation, okay?” Phillip pouted, crossing his arms.

John laughed a little. Phillip was so adorable; how could John stay moody when he was around such a lovely kid as Phillip? “Of course not, I don’t have a mansion. I’m going to take the subway, it’s not too far away anyway. I’ll see you next time, Alexander. Bye Phillip!” John turned again, starting to walk towards the subway station once again. If Alexander wanted to make John feel insecure about his financial situation, he just had to tell him.

Alexander ran after John again, placing a hand on his shoulder to stop him from going farther. “I could give you a ride? I mean- You know since I have a car and you don’t, and you wouldn’t have to walk in the cold with Frances-”

He remembers her name AND offer me a ride? Such a sap. John hoped that next time Alex would offer him a ride, it would be in his bedroom, with preferably no clothes on.

“But you don’t have to accept. I know we just met and we’re basically stranger, but I can’t help to think this is the start of something bigger and-”

John cut Alex before he would start a 10 minutes speech. After all, that was what he was known for. “Alexander, it’s fine. Don’t sweat it. I would love you to give me a ride.” This time, it was John’s turn to wink.

Alex’s smile widened; his eyes brighter than ever. “Then, let’s go my dear.”

It almost felt like Frances subconsciously knew John and Alex were having some kind of moment when she woke up and made everyone known of her presence.

Cute moments between the freckled barista and his new Twitter famous’ crush would have to wait, John thought.