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721 Betrayal

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Mornings had always been Benjamin's things- he'd woken up to pray every morning, sometimes he'd run, or he'd get his work done by waking up earlier to avoid anyone seeing any confidential information. Though recently his mornings where spend in the arms of a man he'd grown close to- a man named Benedict Arnold. It pained Ben to watch the other suffer through the healing of his wounded leg alone, and Ben, wishing to help, ended up falling for the man in the process- luckily it was returned even before Benjamin even talked to the other of his situation.

Now a year has passed and Benjamin feels more comfortable, though still struggling to ever be truly bare or when that fateful time of the month comes around Arnold will help him. The other will make him teas to soothe his aches and give him gentle massages when he was well enough for it.

It's morning and Benjamin always wakes up first, happy to wake up to be held closely by the other- it was warm and he really didn't wish to get up, but something felt off. He gave the other a kiss on the head as he wiggled out of his bed, grabbing his stay to put on while the other wasn't looking. He took off his work shirt and put the stay on, lacing it up tight enough for him to be flat-chested when he put the rest of his uniform on, but for the past few weeks, it hasn’t been fitting right at all. Though before he could put his work shirt back on he felt as if he'd throw up, an unusual feeling for this time of day. He rushed over to an unused chamber pot and threw up everything he'd ate in the last day, tears streaming down his face. He felt bloated and disgusting, wiping his face off with a rag, falling back onto the floor. It took him a few minutes to get up, throwing on his shirt and breeches to look semi-decent as he tried to work, chugging half of his canteen before decided that crawling back into bed was his safest bet.

Benjamin had never awoken in such a horrid fashion before. His body felt as if it was trying to purge himself of something seeing as he vomited everything he has had in the past few days. It wasn’t the first day of the weird feeling in his abdomen, the pain and the abnormal stretching feeling started about a week ago. He’d thought it was the cramping that came with his abhorred cycle but that was two weeks from when it should start. Besides, it felt… different. He felt as if he'd stuffed himself to the brim with rice and other starchy foods that expand in your stomach- yet nothing was in his stomach currently.

Within a few minutes, Arnold had woken up, rubbing his eyes as he pushed himself back to sit up. First, he saw Benjamin was still in bed- not normal- then he noticed the smell of vomit and gagged himself, what the hell had happened? He looked down, pushing the hair out of the other's face and checking his pulse. "Benjamin… are you feeling alright?" Benedict tried remaining calm, though he was obviously was worried. In the time he had spent with Benjamin he never got sick except for the time he got hypothermia.

It took Benjamin a few moments to make fully coherent sentences, but each time he tried it just came out in sobs and mumbles. He didn't know what was going on other than that he hurt and felt complete and utter shit. "It hurts… it hurts here-" he points to his throat, "-here-" he points to his stomach, "- and here-" he points to his lower abdomen. "Nothing feels right and I still have a morning meeting with Washington," he sighed, a few tears streaming down his face.

"Stay then, I'll go tell Washington you need to rest," Benedict hummed, smoothing out the other's hair. "He can't expect you to always be well."

"But what will he say when a Major General is telling him of a Major's health? That would be suspicious, let alone the fact you've just barely been able to walk on your own now. I don't wish to go but I must- I don’t wish to trouble you more than necessary, " Benjamin coughed, sitting up to drink more
water. “Hopefully the meeting will be short, I have to train with my unit this morning as well.”

If any word was to describe Benjamin it would be stubborn. Even though he knew he should stay in bed and let the other take care of him he couldn’t- he didn’t wish to be reprimanded by Washington at all, and if he didn’t show up he feared that would be his fate. He wiped his mouth again and gave the other a kiss, crawling out of bed again with a heavy sigh.

“You never quit, do you?” Arnold asked, grabbing Benjamin’s arm before he fully got out of bed, “you and your friend Alexander never stop moving. If you get told you need to rest by Washington and you don’t, I swear I will find a way to drag you to bed.”

Ben let out a little chuckle, kissing Benedict's hand in the hopes of Benedict letting him go. He didn't mind, per se, he didn't want to go do anything today anyway but he needed to get ready. "I don't mind, but I've gotta go or I'll be late," he sighed, thankfully being let go. Ben grabbed his saber belt, slipping the leather through the buckle, putting the prong in the very last hole, and put on his coat, cloak

"Take my canteen with you, you need all the water you can get. And make sure to get some bread from the cook before you start training, you don’t wish to pass out and fall off your mare.” Arnold called out before Benjamin left the room, hoping the (stubborn) younger man would actually listen for once.

“Alright, Alright, I’ll try,” he sighed, a fake pout coming upon his lips before he waved the other off with an ‘I love you’ as well.

-

It was a short trip to Washington’s headquarters from the cabin Arnold was sleeping in, yet the cold made it feel like he was traveling all the way back to Brookhaven just to get to headquarters. December had always been his least favorite month- the cold, the sun setting too early, the lack of provisions- all of it screamed out ‘misery’ to him. As he walked along the path he closed the cloak around himself, coughing a few times into his elbow because his throat was still sore from the bile and chicken and rice from last night. With every other step, he wondered what the hell was wrong with him and wondering what kind of sickness this is. A stomach virus? An abnormal cold or influenza? Maybe it was something native to Morristown? Whatever the hell it is it’s not enjoyable and he wants it gone. He almost throws up again on his way to headquarters and felt as if the world was spinning and had to death grip onto his cloak to think he wouldn’t fall. By the time he made it up to Headquarters, he thought it would be the death of him to keep walking, now falling against the door before opening it.

The inside of the house was warm and smelled heavily of ink and parchment, and a little hint of orange- wait? Where was that even coming from? He couldn’t normally was noseblind to the odors but it smelled too fragrant and he almost threw up again- it had only been an hour since he woke up and he’s not doing so hot. Before he could even knock on the door to Washington’s office door is opened in front of him, a familiar face smiling at him.

“‘Morning Tallmadge- you’re late,” the man hummed, a smirk on his face, “that General of yours keeping you even later in the mornings now?”

“He tried, trust me, though I should probably be back in the cabin because I feel as if I’ve caught something and it won’t bother to leave,” Benjamin sighed, walking into the room and sitting down in front of Washington’s desk, then looked to the other ad began speaking in a hushed tone, “Alexander- I’ve been throwing up, I’ve got the oddest feeling in my abdomen that feels as if I’ve overstuffed myself on rice and bread, I haven’t been able to fit into my stays without feeling as if my chest is going to explode and everything smells too strong.”

 

To Hamilton, this didn’t sound too much like a sickness- well, it could be if you think about it pessimistically- which in Benjamin’s case, you could be pessimistic for him. “Oh?” he hummed, trying to find a way to work his thoughts.

That wasn’t a good sign at all- it didn’t comfort or soothe Benjamin at all- the last thing you wish to hear when sick is ‘Oh?’. “Oh? What do you mean by ‘oh?’?” he asked, a hint of panic in his tone.

“I don’t particularly wish to get sick, Benjamin- though I don’t know how contagious it is.” Alex sighed, looking down at the ground to avoid having to further the conversation.

“Well, yes, of course, but do you have any ideas on what this could be? Benedict and I can’t seem to figure it out and if I don’t get well soon I fear the man will have me take leave and I don’t wish to do that at all.”

“You may wish to do that in a few more months, but I don’t wish to frighten you if my suspicion is wrong. Maybe later after the meetings?” you aren’t helping Benjamin at all, alexander.

“What? Scaring me? I’m not afraid of some illness, I just need to know what it is to know what it is to cure it!” He’s getting worried for sure now.

Alexander leaned down and put a hand on Benjamin’s cheek, speaking quietly as he looks up to look him in the eyes, “If my instinct with my limited medical knowledge holds true, it would be best to allow this to run its course of, oh, I don’t know… nine months?"

Benjamin was thoroughly confused for a minute until Alexander's last words rung a bell and all the color drained from his face and panic set in. Fuck! He had tried to be so careful but damnit! It didn't work! He felt his head begin to spin and he looked up at Alexander fearfully.

"Alexander... You know what this means, don't you? I have to fucking resign my post in a few months- fuck!" He's furious- not only at himself but at Benedict as well.

“I know, I know, but I don’t know if what I believe is true- when was the last time you two went to bed?” Alexander didn’t truly wish to know this out of his dislike for Arnold but he still needs to know if he wishes to help Benjamin.

“Most recently? Around this time last month and this past Saturday. And all this started around the beginning of the month- Oh my god- how long do you think I have?” Benjamin is crying, angry crying to be exact. "What am I going to tell the General? Let alone, Benedict? Or my entire. Fucking. Ring. Of. Agents?” panic has set in and if Washington walked in right now it would be even worse, "what if it's true... Alex- what am I going to do?"

"Tell him you're sick and don't trust your health. I've had to tell him similarly for stuff, he'll probably let it go with little protests." That's a bad suggestion and he knows it, "But I suggest you tell Arnold."

"But Alexander- it's different. I can't risk being here when I'm showing- everyone will know and I can even fathom what would happen to me, let alone what would happen to Benedict! I don't even know if he'll stay with me till the child is born, " at this point, he's crying, stressed out.

"Then take leave." Alex sighed softly, "And make up some story- you where in theatre, you can improvise”

 

"I can't just do that-" he sobbed, covering his face. He tried to calm down but couldn't- it was far too much for him to process right now. His was to be a father? In the midst of a war? How was the child going to grow up? In the encampment? Somewhere in the middle of nowhere? He almost threw up again in the room but he ran outside and boy did he cry even more.
It took him about 15 minutes to calm down, and then he walked in, and out of too much going on, passed out in a chair in front of Washington's desk.

When Washington walked in he did not expect to see Tallmadge passed out in the chair with Alexander behind him. "Hamilton- what in the world happened here?" He asked, walking over to make sure Ben still had a pulse, "is he alright?"

Alex just sighed softly, "I think he'll be fine. Just some sort of illness, from what I gathered."

"It's not like him to do this... I'll write down what he needs to and once he wakes up will you take him back to his tent? He looks like hell." Washington sighed, picking up a quill and dipping it into his inkwell, writing a list of basic tasks for him to get better, then sanded the paper to dry it up, then handed it to Alexander. "Make sure he doesn't die, get someone to check up on him."

It took about four more minutes for Ben to wake up, and when he did he woke up with a sharp gasp and a panicked expression, looking at Washington with even more fear than when Alexander said something about him being pregnant. "G-Good morning-"

Alex set a gentle hand on Ben's shoulder, "Come on. Back to your tent, with you, Ben. His excellency's orders, not mine." He waves the piece of paper he had been given, "You need to sleep off whatever you have." Ah. So he's just passing it off as an illness, carefully not revealing anything telling about Ben's predicament.

"Huh? What? Oh-" took you a second "-Oh okay, yeah-"

He's out of it, completely swamped with too many emotions. He clings onto Alexander, tears beginning to stream down his face when he got out of sight of Washington.

"What am I going to do...?" He cried, still feeling like shit.

Alex put an arm around Ben gently, "First things first. You're going to act like nothing’s wrong, the stubborn idiot you are, okay? Convince others that you're nothing more than sick until you find out what you're going to do. Personally, I say you just take sufficient leave, sneak away somewhere for some time. Protect your image, but perhaps you could run your spy ring through someone and letters to one of the aides, one of your men, something, so you don't feel absolutely helpless or that you're abandoning the cause." He's rambling, trying to help Ben, but honestly, he has no clue what to do.

"I just hate to leave my men like this- and if I'm able to come back? I believe they'll all kill me, " he sighed, standing up a little straighter, "but for now, you're right, playing it off as sick is my best bet." He let go, looking at Alex with a look of fear yet understanding. "I'm going to go tell Benedict, and I hope it'll go over well, " he sighed, patting Alexander on the back, "thank you."

"You're men are capable without you, surely. You know I know this, and you "

"Of course they are, they wouldn't be under my command if they weren't, " he chuckled, a joke temporarily easing his woes.

He gently waved Alexander off, a sigh coming from his lips as he walked the rest of the way to the cabin Benedict and him are staying in.

-

"Benedict?" He called out, knocking on the door, "it's Benjamin." He walked inside, taking off his cloak and coat, holding his abdomen tightly. "We need to talk, " he has a bit of anger in his tone as he sat down on the bed beside the other.

Benedict glanced up from whatever was under his quill, barely for a moment, "Yes? And what about?" It seemed strange- Benjamin wasn't out for very long and he looks worse- and angry. Had someone hurt him? Had someone said something? It was one of Lee's men, wasn't it? "Everything alright?"

"You had a wife before the war, correct? And you had a family of three sons?" He sighed, clenching his fist, "you must remember what Margret went through the first time she was carrying a child." Ben's tearing up by now, but out of anger "Was it planned? Did you and Margaret wish for a family?"

Arnold knows that Benjamin despises the thought of pregnancy so it was odd for him to bring it up. "Yes, we talked about it after marriage and in a few months, our first son was convinced. Why? That was years ago."

Was it planned in Arnold's mind for this to happen? Did he wish for this to happen to Benjamin? Ben was furious, and his thoughts only made him worse.

"Did you plan this? Did you do this on purpose? Did you know?!" Each question got a little louder, his vision becoming blurry from his tears, "Benedict- you know how I don't wish for children and here we are! You know how careful I've tried to be yet here we are and if you did this on purpose, I'm going to scream! My entire career is gone, let alone if anyone finds out- oh, both of us are screwed over! Did you even think about the consequences?!” Benjamin began sobbing- a furious, panic-stricken, anxiety-filled mess.

Benedict was taken aback by Benjamin’s rage and words- did the other mean what he thought he meant? Where they to be a family? Does Benjamin even know that they couldn’t be a family? Did he not even know of Peggy and the fact she is expecting? Benedict decided not to bring up Peggy or his and her child- or the fact he was not only going to have to support one child from Peggy but one from Benjamin as well. Benedict tried to reach out to the other, though Ben flinched away.

"No! No don’t you even dare touch me!” Benjamin has gone the angry route and it’s going to be hard to stop him from there. He’s gotten up and is now facing the other, his whole body shaking from his nerves and the anger festering in him.

“Benjamin, Take a minute, breathe- you’re going to be okay. If you keep becoming enraged I believe you’ll kill one of us,” he sighed, reaching out to the other to try and get him to come back to bed and just think. Was it that hard? Just to sit down and take a minute? Maybe Benjamin was never able to do that but if he didn’t he was liable to break something or one of them

"Calm down?! Calm down?? How the hell am I supposed to do that now, huh?? This isn't something I can step back and walk away from! And good! I'm not someone you can walk over! Now tell me- did you do this on purpose?" Benjamin grabbed the knife in his boot and held it close to Benedict's neck, but not touching the skin. "Did you know?!"

There's this moment where Benedict, mainly instinctively but he's restricted by his own lack of sufficient mobility due to his injury and he's sort of stuck between that and the knife held distractingly towards him. "No! This is why you need to calm down, Benjamin, god fuck."

"I could kill you, you demented bastard, right now if I decided to- so you better not be lying to me!" He moves the knife to his skin but the tears come back down, and he's angry and sobbing- not a good combination. "D-Did you event-think?!"

Benedict, very slowly, reaches up to take the knife away, "Alright, first of all, I don't feel like being very honest with a damn knife held at me, thank you." Benjamin, please, you've escalated Benedict's hostility too and no one wants that combination. "Second, we're going to both accept part of the blame. Sure I wasn't the most careful, obviously, but not you either. You need to think about it for a moment, Ben, and then we can talk." It's... like he's talking to a child. Which, I suppose in having had children before and the age gap between the two he sort of is in regards to experience with it. Though this is special in the sense of a fucking knife and it being Ben.

As Benedict took the knife down Benjamin raised it right back up, but he stepped back and pointed it at the other's heart, once again close enough to the skin but the blade wasn't touching him. "Both of us accept the blame?! What kind of bullshit is that? This is your fault! Do you know how careful I have tried to be for once in my life and you just took all that away! You don't give a damn at all don't you?" That knife is now pressed against Benedict's skin, though not enough force is exerted to hurt him- no matter how bad Ben wanted to kill the other right now he knows he can't.

“Would you lower the knife and stop trying to kill me? What would happen if you killed me, huh? The child would grow up without a father? Will you even have enough money to support yourself and our child? Go ahead, kill me like I’m a tory bastard that you’d enjoy killing, but where will you be then? Cold and hungry in a jail awaiting your own death while carrying a child.” Benedict has no clue if Ben will cut the ski, stab him, slit his throat, or just break down again, though if he was to place a bet on it Benjamin was due to keep sobbing and not do anything.

And if Benedict did place a wager on his bet he would have won- Ben didn't lower the knife for a minute- but could you blame him? He was distraught and overwhelmed. In about a minute and a half, he dropped the knife, placing it on his nightstand and then he collapsed on their bed, sobbing into his hands out of fear and guilt.

“Breathe, Benny, breathe, it’s going to be alright,” Benedict sighed, leaning up slightly to press his hand onto the other’s back, a gentle approach to soothing him. He didn’t say more for fear of losing blood at the other’s hands, though he felt like he should say something. Maybe not the truth but not something he couldn’t promise. “We can make it through this together, okay? I’m not going to leave you.”

Benjamin didn’t believe it in all honesty, he didn’t believe any of this. Was God punishing him? What had he done wrong to deserve this? Why was any of this happening? Ben couldn’t process any of this. It took him a while to begin calming down or to begin leaning into Benedict’s hand, but that time came and Benjamin fell back onto the bed and curled up into the other, clinging to him as if the act of being held could solve his problem- and while Benedict indulged him and held him close- it didn’t solve his problems at all, it only soothed his woes for a short period of time.

“Shhhhh, shhhh- just breathe, you can do this, okay? Why don’t you get into a nightshirt and sleep for the rest of the day? You need to rest and I can get you some bread and some meat- and don’t give me the ‘I don’t wish to be a bother’- no more of that. if you need anything you ask me, okay?” Benedict knew how demanding this would become but then he remembered- he only would have to do this for a few more months, just a few more.

Ben, once he finally calmed down, looked up and nodded, curling up in his spot as if to protect himself. He waited a few minutes before getting up, wiping the tears away when he could. Unbuttoning his vest and breeches with shaky fingers and the lack of vision wasn’t the easiest, but he managed, taking both articles of clothing off, leaving him in his boxy workshirt and the cumbersome stay underneath. Although Benedict had seen him bare countless times this morning was a different story. He grabbed one of Benedict's nightshirts- they were always clean, massive, long, and smelled like the other; as if the nightshirt was like a safety blanket for him- and headed to a small room just outside of Benedict's.

There was a large mirror on the wall which Benjamin despised, especially now. He turned to his back would face away from the mirror, divested himself of his work shirt, and began pulling out the laces to his stay. A part of him hates that stay with a passion- a symbol that he will never truly be who he is- but the other part is comforting to him, it gave him a flat chest before all this happened and he sewed hooks onto the bottom of it to hook onto his pants to keep them up.

Once the stay has been taken off he grabbed the other's nightshirt, tempted to not put it on out of sheer spite, but that's all he had to change into so he slipped it on, catching the scent of Benedict strongly. He hated the fact it calmed him down, just as his arms did, but he was still enraged. How was he to trust that man again? He'll work through that later, but for right now all he cares about is that warm bed and hopefully being held before his body forces itself into a coma.

Once he got back into the room, locked the door, and got settled, it didn't take very long for both Benedict to hold onto him and for him to pass out, his whole body putting everything on hold to stop and rest for a few moments- though that few moments was more like twelve and a half hours. He didn't go to drills (luckily Alexander told the 2nd Light Dragoon unit that their commander is sick and couldn't make it), he didn't eat a midday meal (he wasn't even awoken by the cannonade to Mark midday), or supper. He was out, stone-cold and didn't wake up till about ten at night.

After Benjamin had been asleep for a few hours Benedict somehow managed to get out of bed, limping over to their desk across the room. He pulled out a sheet of paper and dipped ad quill in his inkwell, beginning to write a letter he knew he shouldn’t do.

Dear Peggy,

I write to you with good news on the proceedings of the Continental's head of intelligence. Since we have grown to become- Friends? Where they just friends? He knew Benjamin didn’t think so, but for Peggy’s sake and his own life, he would say they’re friends- friends. I have gained his trust but I’ve found a way to make it so he will be forced out of the army. While I would describe to you how it would endanger his life more than necessary and while I know I shouldn’t be partial to the man but I still am. Hopefully, this plan will go through and in a little less than a year he should be gone for good, leaving the Continentals without someone in charge of sniffing around like dogs.

Farewell, my dear girl,
Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold

Benedict threw some sand onto the parchment to dry up the ink, waited a few minutes, then folded the paper up to fit in an envelope and hot wax stamped it closed. It was nice enough to hopefully warrant Benjamin not opening it, though he doubted the other would be doing too much around now before the letter was sent out. He placed it on top of the other mail his box of letters that need to be sent out and climbed back into bed, wrapping the younger man in his arms to pretend he was another.