At first it sounds like a joke.
"Talk less, smile more," Alexander teases, Burr's own words aimed back at him.
But the context doesn't make sense for it to be just a joke, and there's something about the way that Alexander smiles and it doesn't reach his eyes that makes Burr pause and listen. It's not unusual for Alexander's smiles to not reach his eyes — the man is constantly in his own head and distracted — but it is unusual for his gaze to hold that hint of worry even as the curl of his lips is all flirtation.
Burr knows Alexander in almost every way. The different ways he smiles, the way his eyes just light with that raging inner fire whenever something's angered him, and the way he grins when he knows he's won something. He knows the way Alexander will stare sightlessly at the walls when he's lost in the labyrinth of words in his own mind, and how that almost always ends with Alexander reaching desperately for the nearest piece of paper and source of ink so he can write down whatever thought has taken hold of his fingers before it slips away. Burr's had to save a dozen different legal papers from Alexander's particular brand of madness, to the point that he managed to train Alexander to reach over and grab him instead so he could hand his partner suitable paper.
Burr still has a folded bit of paper tucked inside his coat out of pure habit, even though they don't work together much anymore.
He knows Alexander in less innocent ways too. Burr knows the scars that he bears from the war; knows which ones are sensitive and which ones don't have any feeling at all. He knows the way Alexander gasps when there are fingers tangled in his hair, the way he fights restraints but never truly tries to escape, the way he never stops thinking and moving and talking except in those few small minutes after he's been taken. He knows how Alexander feels, how he sounds, how he grasps and scratches if he's not tied down.
It only unnerves Burr a little bit that he probably knows Alexander better than his own wife does.
So when Alexander smiles and it looks wrong, Burr pays attention. He pays attention to that worry in Alexander's eyes and — even worse — the uncertainty. He knows what this plan means to Alexander, knows what the stakes are because he was told them in darkness and over the crumpled sheets of a bed they shouldn't have been sharing. If Alexander doesn't get this financial plan through, it's very possible that the other members of Washington's cabinet will make sure that he loses his job. Not the absolute worst thing that could happen, but to Alexander?
Alexander lives to work, to climb, to act and move and do every second he's alive. He could survive losing that job, but not gracefully, and not easily. Burr knows that Alexander will fight with every breath he has to keep what he's earned and strive for more. It's a drive that Burr's never been able to understand, as much as he admires it.
But there's not enough time for any of that to form into real words in Burr's head before Alexander is speaking again, and the way he says, "Do whatever it takes to get my plan on the Congress floor," that makes Burr instantly concerned.
He's not blind to what Alexander is suggesting might happen, if words won't get him through this confrontation. It's not like he hadn't initially entertained the idea that Alexander sleeping with him was a way to smooth over their occasional rivalries, and though that was proven wrong he's always suspected that Alexander would be willing to do that if necessary. Alexander's already proven willing to sacrifice his time, energy, and relationships for the sake of his work. Everyone Alexander's pitted himself against has lost, more or less, so he's never had to. But not this time.
Alexander's finally met his match.
But the thought of Alexander allowing someone he doesn't even care for to touch him, just for the sake of passing a bill, isn't something Burr could consider doing himself. If he thought that forbidding Alexander to do it would make the slightest difference — would, in fact, not make Alexander more likely to do it — he might try and tell his sometimes partner not to even consider what he knows he's considering.
It's not jealousy. Burr knows that he's never had any tangible claim on Alexander, and what they choose to do in secret has no impact on who else Alexander might do those things with. He would like to believe that Alexander doesn't share himself with just anyone, but Burr can only base that on the fact that he's never seen another's marks on Alexander's skin.
Instead, all Burr can manage to say — warning and plea all at once — is, "Madison and Jefferson are merciless."
Alexander's mouth flickers into another smile, his eyes flashing with that look that Burr knows so well. The look that's always meant that Alexander knows what he's talking about, and is just a little offended that Burr thinks he doesn't. Alexander has always been quick to defend to anyone who thinks otherwise the fact that he's intelligent. Still, that flash is gone as quickly as it appears, and leaves just the smile.
"Well, hate the sin, love the sinner."
That freezes Burr for another moment, the knowledge that Alexander expects it to go that way sinking low into his gut and twisting uneasily. His lips part to speak, to ask or maybe plead Alexander to consider any other option, but his words are cut off before he can even fully create them.
The call from the end of the hall is sharp and demanding, and Alexander turns to look over his shoulder even though both of them would recognize that voice anywhere. Madison. He's standing perhaps thirty feet away, the lines of his face drawn into a frown and his chin and shoulders raised in something between defensiveness and disgust. Burr's stomach tightens as Alexander dips his head to Madison with obedience that he isn't suited to and takes half a step back.
"Sorry, Burr, I have to go."
Finally, he manages to say, "But—"
"Decisions are happening over dinner," Alexander finishes, cutting him off before he can speak his warning. The look in Alexander's eyes is a gentler reminder, another quiet, 'I know' that Burr can read but can't bring himself to agree with. But once Alexander's made up his mind about something there is almost no way to change it. Arguing won't stop this.
"Alexander," Burr says, before his partner can step away and go headfirst into the lion's den. He keeps his voice quiet enough that he's sure that Madison won't hear. "Be careful?"
He's sure that a thousand responses flick through Alexander's mind, and by the flick of a smirk he's sure half of them are sarcastic, but none of them make it past what filter Alexander does have. Instead, Alexander gives a tiny dip of his head, a lowering of his eyes, and a more lingering smirk.
Then he's turning and heading for Madison, and Burr's gut twists a little further before he breathes out and lets it ease a bit. Alexander might be willing to do a lot in the name of his goals, but Burr's sure that he would never allow anyone to take things he wasn't willing to give. Alexander isn't that kind of sacrificing, and Burr knows well enough that anyone he has reason and permission to go after will be torn to shreds. Alexander's just as deadly with words as he is with a pistol.
There's nothing that Burr can do to stop this, and Alexander can take care of himself.
Things don't go well.
Alexander spends close to two hours arguing with Jefferson and Madison before dinner has even started, and a realistic, resigned part of him understands by the looks they trade that they're making this purposely difficult for him. He doesn't know if they've been told or just figured it out themselves — neither of the two men are idiots — but they clearly know at least some of how badly he needs this plan to go through. It doesn't leave him in the best of places for negotiation, and he's honestly never been the best at negotiation. He's always been able to drive his plans and ideas through with pure tenacity and the power of his words.
Neither Jefferson nor Madison seem at all inclined to listen to his words, even though he knows that they make sense. It's like they're denying him just for the purpose of being stubborn.
Damn the fact that he needs their support — or at least someone's — to win this one.
He can feel the frustration swelling in the back of his chest but forces himself to choke it back. Letting this devolve into shouting won't get him what he wants. At this point, he's not sure that anything can except giving Madison and Jefferson exactly what they want in exchange for their support. Whatever that might be.
Burr's warning — he knows that's what it was without a shadow of a doubt — echoes in his mind, but he pushes it aside. He already knows that the two Virginians are a real force to be reckoned with. Even with Washington backing most of his decisions, he still can't go toe to toe with both of them and expect to win. Not in this fight anyway.
Alexander leans forward, taking the glass of wine in front of him and taking a sip to give him the excuse to not speak for a moment. Jefferson and Madison trade another look, and then Jefferson gives a smug smile and leans back into his armchair in a confident sprawl.
"Done for now, Hamilton?"
He barely resists glaring at the Virginian, and Jefferson only smiles a little wider. "I could keep going if you have the stamina to keep at it," he counters, unwilling to let them know they've already won this quite yet.
Madison rolls his eyes, a flick towards the heavens like he's praying for mercy. "Yes, Hamilton, we all know that you always have more words."
Jefferson laughs, and there's nothing pleasant in the sound. "Shall we pause all this for a few moments of honesty, Hamilton?"
Alexander considers the look in Jefferson's eyes, and then gives a small nod. "Alright, Jefferson. I'm listening."
"Now there's a change," Jefferson quips, and Alexander nearly physically bites his tongue to not respond to that. Jefferson relaxes a bit more, and then — every inch of his tone smug, confident — says, "You need us. Without our support you have nothing, Hamilton. Without real backing, you'll never get this plan of yours anywhere near Congress, and you need it to go through. Does that sound about right, Madison?"
A smirk from the more reserved of the pair, and an almost equally smug, "Yes, it does."
"So," Jefferson starts, "I suppose the real question is what you're willing to give us, Alexander." Another shared look between Jefferson and Madison. "We want the Capitol. You'll give support for our position, defend it with those never ending words of yours, and we'll get you the votes you need to pass your plan."
The Capitol? That's not bad, in the list of things that they could be asking for. The Capitol doesn't really matter in the scale of things, it's just a building and a name and it won't win them any tangible advantage. Just a psychological one.
Alexander pauses anyway, lets his eyes drop as he pretends to consider the offer. If he accepts too immediately, Jefferson and Madison will take it as an offering to steal as much as they can manage before he's forced to refuse. Give an inch and the two of them will take a mile and then demand more. Jefferson especially will never stop until someone sets hard lines that they won't let him cross. It's part of what makes him such a formidable opponent.
After a more appropriate length of time — let them think that he's doing this reluctantly, that it isn't one of the better options here — Alexander raises his gaze again and nods. "Deal," he agrees. "You'll get my support."
"Then you'll get your votes," Madison puts in.
Jefferson is smirking, and Alexander dips his head a bit as he sets the wine down. "Maybe we can talk about something a little less inflammatory over dinner," he suggests, keeping any hint of his sense of victory hidden.
"Not quite so fast," Jefferson intercedes. "That settles the political of all this, but there's the personal to consider too. The two of us have spent quite a bit of time on you, I think it's only fair you pay that back."
He knew that this would come up. Burr's warning couldn't be closer to truth, but it's something he was prepared for. Jefferson has always been quick to take personal shots, and a political victory isn't enough for his inflated sense of self-importance. It has to be clear that Alexander is losing, and if Jefferson can't do that with politics he'll make it happen behind closed doors.
"What do you want?" he asks, holding Jefferson's gaze.
Jefferson stands, and he stays still as the Virginian circles around the low table between them, holding his gaze the entire time. One hand rises, and still he keeps himself motionless as Jefferson leans over him and slides that hand through his hair. It curls into a fist at the base of his skull, strands pulling tight between Jefferson's fingers with the spark of pain flaring in his scalp. It's nothing that he can't handle.
Alexander lets Jefferson push his head up, forcing his neck to arch a bit if he wants to stay seated, which he does. Words and insults and sarcasm dance at the tip of his tongue, but he bites them back and waits. It's not so different than the games he plays with Burr, but the thought of Burr does not belong here. Jefferson's egotistical displays of dominance are only similar to Burr's enjoyment of control in the simplest of senses. Alexander won't pollute what he shares with Burr by linking it to what's doubtlessly about to happen.
"We want what having you around never allows, Alexander." He has half a moment to puzzle over that before Jefferson is giving one hard tug to his hair and finishing the thought. "Silence. You don't speak for the rest of the night; one word and our deal is void. Is that understood?"
Oh, so that's the game. Not in his nature, but Jefferson is underestimating him if he really thinks that he can't hold his tongue for a night. He's done harder things.
He raises his right hand, not falling for Jefferson's first visible trap as he offers the handshake. Asking without words for this to be a deal, because he'll take selling himself over simply being ordered to do what Jefferson wants. After a moment, and a smirk, Jefferson decides to shake his hand.
"Now we have an agreement." His hair is released as Jefferson straightens up, and a glance to the side tells him that Madison's gaze is dark and narrowed. Interested, but willing to wait. For now. He has no doubt that they discussed all of this beforehand. "Let's start with dinner then; perhaps after that's done with we can consider something sweeter to follow."
Oh, very subtle. Not that there's any need to be subtle, he supposes. If Jefferson planned all of this to start with — and it is almost guaranteed that he did — then this place will be deserted of everyone not absolutely necessary for dinner. Jefferson would never risk his own reputation, and someone seeing this and starting gossip could ruin all three of them. At least for a time, until enough denials and bluster can be thrown around to neutralize it. Managing gossip is a test of patience and tenacity all at the same time, and sometimes it's all in futility anyway. The common man is usually happy to believe the worst of his betters.
Alexander gets to his feet, picking up the glass of wine because if he isn't allowed to talk, he's certainly going to drink instead. Later should be easier to handle if he's intoxicated; he might even be able to pretend it isn't just a means to an end. Jefferson and Madison aren't bad looking, even if they're his rivals and more stubborn than just about anyone he's had the misfortune of meeting. Maybe he can actually enjoy whatever it is they decide to do. At least superficially.
Jefferson leads the way from the sitting room to the dining room instead, and Alexander can't quite shake the feeling of being surrounded as Madison moves at his back. There's certainly no chance of murder here, or real danger, but he feels boxed in and that's never sat particularly well with him. It's foolish to think they know that, but it feels purposeful.
It's even more obvious when Madison's hands hook over his shoulders, pressing him into a seat at the side of the table. Jefferson takes the head, to his right, and Madison sits down to his left. All without a moment's hesitation. He keeps himself from being defensive by setting the wine down, glancing at the three finer quality sets of cutlery and plates. It's similar to what he's seen before in the Schuyler households; trust Jefferson to flaunt what he has.
Jefferson and Madison chat over his head as dinner is served, and as he guessed it's two servants that are promptly dismissed the moment that they're finished laying the food out. Dismissed for the entire night, and Jefferson is very purposeful about that choice of wording. It's good that they can claim that they're discussing sensitive political matters, because otherwise this in itself would be a matter of some gossip. It probably still will be, but they have their excuses to fall back on if anyone suggests anything untoward. It's a small measure of safety that still means the world.
Then it's just the three of them, and Alexander cues off of Jefferson's behavior and serves himself portions of the food. It only barely registers what kind of food it is, not with the two of them still talking over and around him. It's good though, and he spares just a moment to inwardly roll his eyes because yes, of course Jefferson would make sure that the food was good. What else could he possibly have expected?
"So," Jefferson starts, and immediately Alexander raises his head and looks over. The tone is different, biting and clearly a taunt, so it must be aimed at him. "Washington's support wasn't enough to get you through this time, was it Alexander?"
Yes, that should have been expected too. Jefferson's made a few jabs — at least in their private taunting — implying that he thinks that Alexander's served Washington in more than just a political sense. He's wrong, but that's Jefferson's ego speaking again. He simply can't believe that someone with no background and no prior wealth could rise as high as Alexander has. Jefferson's never outright stated what he thinks, but those subtle remarks are usually enough.
It's not that Alexander wouldn't be open to the idea, if it was suggested, but Washington doesn't seem to have any interest. Mostly, he finds offense in the suggestion that Jefferson and Madison would think Washington would so blatantly show favoritism, especially to his detriment. Alexander has earned every inch of his position, and the idea that Washington would make him the Secretary of the Treasury just for the sake of 'support' instead of the fact that he is good at it is ridiculous. The last time someone said something so offensive about Washington, Alexander conspired to get the offender shot. He doubts he'd get away with it a second time, especially considering Jefferson's position.
Stripped of his ability to defend Washington against Jefferson's pointed question, Alexander settles for taking a deliberately slow sip of wine and holding Jefferson's gaze. At the least, hopefully Jefferson will take his look for a lack of shame, even if he continues to believe what simply isn't true.
Jefferson doesn't seem to take the hint.
"I suppose you'll have to step out of Washington's shadow at some point. Scared that everyone will figure out what you are when you let the light hit you?" He almost bristles at Jefferson's smirk, but there's nothing he can do about it. Another sip of wine, a bite of food, and then Jefferson's speaking again. "Or maybe it's just your wife who's still in the dark with you. I doubt she knows what you're willing to sell to get what you want, does she?"
The dig at Eliza brings sharp words to the tip of his tongue, but he swallows them down with the food. He needs the financial plan to get through, so whatever he has to endure to make that happen, he'll take. Eliza's out of town anyway; she never needs to know what was said or done this night.
"Then she's either completely blind, or takes some kind of joy in knowing her husband isn't faithful." Madison's words cut deeper than they should, deeper than Madison knows, and Alexander fights to not let that show. They don't know about Burr, about Reynolds, and if he has his way they never will. Let them think their taunts aren't about anything but tonight and his imagined trysts with Washington. It's safer that way.
"She must not be very satisfying," Jefferson taunts, and he can't help the way his jaw clenches down. Can't help it, if he wants to hold his tongue. "Or maybe just doesn't have the right equipment to get you interested, hm Alexander?"
Eliza is fine just the way she is. He'd be lying if he said there weren't things he would change if he could, but he loves her regardless. Loves her, loves their son and daughter, and that is an important thing. True, he likes Angelica's sharp wit and Burr's calm control, but Eliza is still his wife. He won't change that, and he won't belittle it.
Jefferson's closer hand lifts, and Alexander's not at all surprised when it reaches up and combs his hair back away from his ear. He's not even surprised when Jefferson pulls, hard, and yanks his head down to the side. He swallows, setting his cutlery down with something that feels like finality and holding Jefferson's gaze and smirk. He doesn't try to force a smile, but he does stay silent. Something in the back of his head laughs at that, and he reflects on Burr's constant advice with the kind of pained humor that comes from the mocking memory of someone else's words.
At least he's got half of Burr's constant reminder down for tonight. He's certainly talking less.
"Or maybe you just can't get enough, no matter who it's from." Jefferson sounds like he's delivering some kind of final blow in the one-sided verbal fight, but the words strike with far less impact than expected.
Alexander can't quite hold back the snort, and this smile comes easy. Not flirting, kind, or amused, but rather a challenge in the form of a flicker of teeth and a curl of lips. Fighting has always come easy, and Jefferson brings it out of him in spades. He can fake submission but it's certainly not natural. Not to anyone who he hasn't specifically agreed to trust anyway.
If Jefferson thinks he can shame him with the idea that he's some kind of depraved sexual fiend, he's overstepped. This would have to be his own choice for that taunt to have any kind of effect but inspiring humor. He might be doing what he has to for the sake of his plan, but he's certainly never wanted it and he's not going to pretend otherwise. That must be Jefferson's ego coming back into play; he should really get that in check.
Jefferson only looks surprised for a fraction of a second, then he smirks again, fingers tugging lightly at Alexander's hair. "You've always had more attitude than you can back up, Alexander. It's past time someone put you in your place, kid."
"Far past," Madison agrees, with a clink of cutlery that suggests that he's put his utensils down.
They share a glance over his head, and apparently come to some kind of decision because Jefferson gives one more pull to his hair and then lets go. "Done, Alexander?" he asks, and then continues without giving him even a second to respond, if he even could. "Good. Let's return to the sitting room; negotiate some more."
Alexander can hear Madison stand first, and pushes his chair back from the table so he can climb to his feet as well. Jefferson is last, and at nearly the same time that Madison's hand hooks back over his shoulder and starts to steer him in the right direction. He's not blind to the power mechanics at play, even if they're really entirely unnecessary. He supposes that whatever the two Virginians want to play at, he doesn't have much choice but to go along with it. If that means them manhandling him and trying to cow him through physical touch, so be it.
Jefferson shuts the door behind them, and Madison only lets go once he's standing in front of the low table in the midst of the collection of armchairs. Jefferson and Madison sit down, their postures confident and already satisfied. Like they think they've won something. Alexander holds back his smirk this time; let them think that he's sacrificing something he can't overcome. Let them think that this really costs him something.
"Take all of that off," Jefferson orders with a smirk, one hand flicking towards him to encompass more or less everything he's wearing.
Figures. He raises an eyebrow, but raises his hands as well anyway. Jefferson and Madison stay quiet as he strips out of each piece of his clothing, letting them drop down to the floor to his side. He's never been ashamed of his own skin. Their gazes aren't welcome, but it hardly matters to him. He's shared closer quarters with people while in the war, and while he was in worse shape. Once you've stripped down to take a bath in a river with a dozen other soldiers or more, while all of you are slowly starving and scraped down to bones and blood, there isn't much that can make you ashamed of your appearance. It's even warm enough that it's only slightly uncomfortable to be naked, and he's dealt with much worse discomforts.
They let him stand there for a minute or so before Jefferson crooks his fingers and demands that he, "Come here." The part of the Virginian's knees, making space between his legs, leaves very little confusion over what he means.
Alexander moves forward, sinking to his knees in front of Jefferson, and almost immediately there's a hand in his hair that's tugging his head up a couple of inches. He lets Jefferson look him over, feeling the lingering gaze on each of his scars and the equally lingering look down between his legs. Jefferson's hand is fisted at the back of his skull, keeping his throat just a touch arched with a constant downwards pull. He almost rolls his eyes, but keeps it held back with the rest of his impulses.
Jefferson's smirk grows a touch. "Well, someone's already taught you how to behave, haven't they? Or are you just a natural, Alexander?"
He really must get some kind of satisfaction over not being argued with, because Jefferson just keeps asking questions that he — by Jefferson's own rules — can't answer. Exactly what Jefferson is getting out of it escapes him; it's not like he's going to get any real information while he's not allowing Alexander to answer.
"Maybe that's how he got his seat in the cabinet," Madison suggests. "Washington hasn't been home in quite some time, I'm sure he's been giving that spare attention to someone."
Let them taunt. All it means at the end of the day is that they're underestimating him. Someday, he'll be able to use that to his advantage and sweep their feet right out from underneath them. If this goes well, that day isn't that far away. So let them think he's less than he is, because he'll prove them wrong. He'll always prove them wrong.
"Or maybe it was someone else." Jefferson sounds almost studying. He wishes that he could stop himself from twitching when Jefferson says, "You and Burr worked together quite closely for awhile, didn't you?" He knows it's too late when Madison gives a short laugh, and Jefferson lets go of his hair and leans back in the chair. "So it's Aaron Burr, sir. Now that's interesting."
Fantastic. Well, it's not surprising that they figured it out — arrogant and stubborn as they are, Jefferson and Madison aren't stupid — but it's still ammunition they can use against him. It would have been better if that particular secret had stayed hidden, and Burr definitely won't be pleased to know that the two of them are aware of it. In fact, maybe it would be better not to tell Burr at all. Burr doesn't really need to know, does he? It's not like Jefferson and Madison can use that against him or Burr without opening themselves up to attack in return. When you've lost everything, there isn't much reason to hold back what you know about your enemies.
"Well then, get to it, Alexander. Clearly you already know what you're doing; not your first deal of this kind, hm?"
Luckily, it seems they're misunderstanding his relationship with Burr. That's not any better for his reputation, not in their eyes, but it's better for Burr and a part of him certainly wants to protect his sometimes-partner. It will be easier if they think Burr is just like them, making deals like this and offering support — or lack of resistance as the case may be — in exchange. Better that Madison and Jefferson think he's some kind of political whore — selling his way to the top — than believing the truth, which is that he and Burr actually have some measure of intimacy between them.
Nothing official, because it never can be, but it's there nonetheless.
He shoves the thought of Burr out of his mind — at least the thoughts of their more intimate moments — and shifts forward on his knees, reaching for Jefferson. The Virginian just watches as he unbuckles the belt, tugging the clothing far enough down that he can reach what Jefferson is demanding. Jefferson is already semi-hard, and he has to restrain another snort. Instead, he just leans forward and wraps his hand around the base. His mouth follows just a moment later, and he's not at all surprised when one of Jefferson's hands slides through his hair. Not tight, not yet, but he's almost sure that Jefferson is the type to take control once he's really into it.
So he gets to work.
It might be the entire situation, but Jefferson isn't difficult to get fully hard. And true to his guess, as time passes Jefferson's hand tightens in his hair and starts guiding the movement of his head. It's easier for him, honestly, so he just lets Jefferson more or less control whatever he wants to. His hands slip to the sides to brace against Jefferson's thighs, stroking his tongue along Jefferson when it's possible and in general trying to get the Virginian off fairly quickly.
Frankly, it's almost boring. The feeling of a hand in his hair is nice enough, but there's no intimacy to the situation, no care, and meaningless sexual acts have never been enough for him. Even in the war there was a sort of desperation whenever he slept with Laurens, with the thought in the back of their minds that this might be the last time it ever happened. Laurens was his best friend and more, and Burr is certainly not a replacement but there has always been a spark between them as well, whatever games they play. It's not the same with Jefferson. There's a spark, undeniably, but he would never call it sexual. Aggressive is the better term.
Jefferson pushes him down a bit farther, brushing the back of his throat, and then gives a breathless laugh when he just takes it. He hasn't had a gag reflex since the war; eating whatever's available without regard to taste will do that to you. Of course Jefferson will just take it as more proof of whatever lies he's dreaming up inside that head, but it doesn't matter. Jefferson can ignore that he's capable, it just means that he'll be able to hit Jefferson twice as hard when he gets the chance.
Jefferson's hand tightens, shoves a bit harder, and even though he's unfamiliar with Jefferson's particular tells Alexander can still tell that things aren't far from being over. Some signs are universal.
He forces himself to relax a touch more, to let Jefferson manhandle him as he wants. It's made easier by the fact that he's familiar with it, just not in the way that Jefferson thinks he is. His mind is always running so fast, so constantly, that it's nice to have someone else be in control of his body for a time. Those few minutes after a good time are some of the ones he cherishes most in life. His mind silent for once, with a partner at his back who cares about and understands the trust he's putting in them to let his guard down. Having someone else take control of him frees his mind to do whatever else it needs or wants to, and lets him just run on instinct and reaction. The farther things go in a night, the more he's pushed, the more his mind unhinges and that's exactly why he does it.
Burr, luckily, recognizes that part of him. Always has ever since that first time they fell into a bed. Burr was more than smart enough to put all the pieces together and he's never been the best at hiding parts of himself. He's worn his heart and his thoughts on his sleeves since he was a kid, and that first night Burr saw all of it and didn't turn away. Burr held him while he enjoyed the silence, almost seemed awed by whatever he was seeing. Alexander doesn't know why, but Burr always seems to be so fascinated by him when he's quiet and relaxed. Burr's hands comb through his hair and stroke his back, and never once does Burr say a single word until he's come back to himself.
He's never written a word of it down anywhere that someone could see, but he's composed poems and verses in his head about Burr. About Laurence. The ones about Eliza do get written down, but those songs in his head about his other partners stay locked in his mind. He's traced the lines of Burr's chest and written letters in his mind, mouthed some of them to himself just to get them out of his head, tied others up in dark corners to revisit when he hasn't had the chance to be around Burr for a while. He still has a few poems in the back of his mind about Laurence that he cherishes, and the words are as vivid to him as they were the first time he thought of them.
Jefferson, on the other hand, doesn't deserve words like that. So he lets his mind drift as the Virginian uses him, paying only enough physical attention to watch and listen for signs of any changes. He writes in his mind, but the words are sharp and vicious. Arguments, counters, letters intended to rip Jefferson's reputation apart at the seams and burn it all to ashes afterwards. He could do it. Washington would never let him, and Jefferson would no doubt retaliate, but he could do some heavy damage before all of that. All it would take is one printed letter distributed in the news; common minds are easy to sway, and they love gossip. It would be just enough truth that Jefferson couldn't fight it, simply twisted around to show all the worst aspects of that truth.
It's really a shame that Jefferson is good at his job, because otherwise maybe Washington wouldn't care so much — though he'd still disapprove — if Alexander tore him to shreds. Washington's never approved of it when he attacks people with words or a pen, not even their enemies. He still remembers their fight over General Lee with a certain sense of guilt, but also the belief that he was right. It was more the fact that he fought with Washington, that he was ordered to leave , that made him feel regret. He'd never meant to shake Washington's faith in him.
Jefferson tugs at his hair a little harder, gasps, and then shoves him down again. He comes back to himself in time to properly react to the signs. He eases, tries to tilt his head at a slightly better angle against Jefferson's grip, and pays a bit more attention to how he's moving his tongue. Mouths are easier than almost anything else and shorter as well — there's less risk of anyone else stumbling in to catch him and his partner in action — so it's also what he has the most practice with. By all accounts, he's good at it.
It's not the same sense of pride that he gets with his real partners, but there is a kind of grim satisfaction when Jefferson comes over his tongue. At least it's done. He swallows, breathes through his nose until Jefferson's grip loosens and he can pull away. He resists the urge to wipe his mouth, but does swallow one more time in a vain attempt to get that lingering trace of flavor out of his mouth. Luckily, most of it was too far back for him to taste. A good cup of wine will wipe it out of his mouth, whenever he has the chance to have one. He's not optimistic enough to think that the two of them will let him have one before he's taken care of Madison as well.
Madison is only a couple of feet to his right, and he looks over as Jefferson sprawls out in his chair. Disabled for the moment, but only for a short period of time. Madison's eyes are dark and narrowed, and the bulge pressing the fabric over his crotch upwards makes it clear that he's been enjoying the show. Alexander glances down to it, then meets Madison's gaze again with one eyebrow crooked upward. A silent question.
Some men don't like to be touched by others, and Madison has been mostly hands off so far. Unless it's demanded, he's more than willing to just let Madison take care of it himself and not bother actually playing a role in it. Unlikely, but possible. If Madison wasn't at least sort of interested in men, he never would have agreed to this night; Jefferson no doubt asked first. You don't invite someone to a deal like this that will be disgusted by the events that happen, it's just not good strategy.
Madison swallows, shifts a bit, and then speaks. "Yes," he says simply, voice as dark as his eyes.
Alexander shifts on his knees, turning to Madison and getting between his thighs. He raises both hands to separate Madison's clothing, freeing the hard curve of Madison's erection so he can take it into his mouth. Both of Madison's hands end up in his hair, but they're gentler than Jefferson's. Not tugging, or shoving, but just holding on. The light scrape of nails actually feels pretty decent, even if this still isn't enough to stir any real interest in his gut.
He spares a moment to wonder if Jefferson is disappointed by that fact, and then another to allow himself a mental thrill of victory.
Making a deal like this is one thing, but physically enjoying it as well? Well, it's good that the two of them aren't enough to make him interested; it robs Jefferson of ammunition to use against him. Jefferson can taunt him all he likes for the belief that he's selling himself to raise his status, but that doesn't make it true and Jefferson doesn't get to make fun of the fact that he's enjoying it. Maybe if either of them gave a single damn about him, or he thought they had any actual interest in him for more than the desire to see him humiliated.
Madison is more vocal than Jefferson, interestingly enough, but more restrained at the same time. The hands in his hair feel a touch hesitant, and Madison's sounds are more often than not bitten back or strangled down. It means that he has to put more effort into satisfying Madison, since the Virginian isn't manually moving him back and forth, but that's only a small sacrifice to make. It's still easier than Jefferson.
He doesn't dislike Madison as much as he dislikes Jefferson, and there's a sense that Madison clearly isn't as firmly set against him as Jefferson is. Jefferson is the driving force between them, and Madison is just following and agreeing. He knows he can verbally outmatch Madison, has before, he's just not positive that he can do it with Jefferson backing him up. Jefferson has this habit of baiting him into losing his temper, and everyone around them seems to get a kick out of it but it only ever hurts his side of the argument. He's been trying to stop himself from responding to Jefferson's blind stubbornness — he knows he's right about what he chooses to defend or argue — but it just hasn't been successful so far, and Jefferson keeps driving him back into a stalemate.
It doesn't help that people like Jefferson better than him. He's not blind to the fact that most of his peers don't like him very much, and that there is an element of truth to the fact that he'd be much less successful if Washington didn't usually agree with him. It doesn't matter; he doesn't need people to like him to prove that he's right .
Madison is clearly more worked up, and he takes less time. It isn't long before Madison is strangling back a shout, hands tightening in his hair and hips bucking up just once. He swallows without really caring, and then waits just a moment until Madison's let go and he can pull back. Then he gives into that urge to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand, with just a thin thread of disgust sitting low in his stomach. He'll deal with it properly when he's back home and alone again; not before then.
He turns his head at the sound of slow clapping, gaze falling on Jefferson. Jefferson is smirking again, clothing put back together and only a small flush still lingering on his cheeks to prove that anything happened. That, and the smell lingering in the air. Jefferson keeps up that slow clap for a moment, and then loosely clasps both hands together, elbows resting on the arms of the chair.
"You make quite a sight, Alexander ." Jefferson's voice has slipped right back into that taunting drawl, but then that gaze drops down and scans him, head to toe. It linger for a moment before Jefferson relaxes back into the chair, arms lowering as one flicks dismissively in the direction of the exit. "You can go. I think everyone's been… satisfied . Don't you?"
As far as he knows, the 'don't speak' rule is still in place, so he holds his tongue and doesn't answer that. But he does get to his feet without hesitation and cross over to the pile of his clothes. Ridiculous, because apparently there was no point to him undressing except for whatever kind of power play Jefferson was trying to pull. He's aware of their gazes as he redresses, but doesn't meet either of them. At least not until Jefferson gets up from his chair, walking towards him as he finishes straightening his cuffs and smoothing down the lines of his sleeves. He doesn't rise to the challenge, but does meet and hold Jefferson's gaze as the Virginian approaches. Madison is watching, but not interfering. Madison hasn't even moved to be properly tucked away yet.
Jefferson reaches out, the touch of his hand sliding over Alexander's cheek proprietary and confident. It lingers for a second — victory and satisfaction is obvious in Jefferson's gaze — and then pulls away. "I think we should have a few more dinners like this," Jefferson proposes, and he feels his stomach drop a touch. "Just to make certain we all stay…" The pause is deliberate, pointed . "On the same page."
Instead of answering, instead of risking this entire ordeal on a careless few words, he makes himself give a small nod. Then he pulls away from Jefferson, turning on his heel and striding away. Let them think they've won, let Jefferson think he's cowed or humiliated. He'll get his plan through Congress, damn the consequences.
That's all that matters .
The knock on Burr's door is unexpected, but not unwelcome. He gets up from his spot in front of the fire — it's been a long day — and crosses to the door. He unlocks it and then pulls it open, and it's not at all a surprise that it's Alexander at his doorstep. Alexander, looking like he hasn't slept the last few days and maybe hasn't eaten today either. Alexander gives a crooked smile, and he's definitely exhausted but he doesn't look like he's going to drop quite yet.
"Burr, sir. Can I come in?"
"Of course," he answers, without a moment of hesitation. He steps aside, and Alexander trudges through the door with the look of a man with too much weight on his shoulders. He shuts the door again, and then moves to guide Alexander to one side of his couch.
Alexander sinks into it with a grateful sigh, head tilting back and some of the tension bleeding out of his shoulders. It's almost painful to watch the younger man, because Burr knows how hard Alexander's been pushing himself. He's only seen Alexander a time or two recently, but he's never taken offense to that. Alexander never stops, and sometimes that means that his personal relationships get sacrificed for the sake of his work. He's truly suspected that Alexander would forget to eat or sleep at all if his body didn't need it, and others didn't remind him. He'd spend his life bleeding his energy out through his fingers and onto the pages in front of him, and only stop when he couldn't go on.
He lets his hand settle on Alexander's shoulder, feeling the tension sunk deep into muscle and bone. "A drink?" he asks, and Alexander makes a small noise in the back of his throat.
"God yes," Alexander murmurs, head tilting to the side and brushing his hand. "And ink too, please? I…" One hand rises, scrubbing over Alexander's face before combing back through his hair. "Words spinning in my head," he mumbles.
Without thinking about it, Burr reaches into his jacket with his free hand, pulling out the two folded pieces of blank paper resting just about over his heart. He leans over to set the paper down in Alexander's lap, and then dares to brush his lips over Alexander's forehead on the way back up. Tired eyes flick open to look at him for that, and he squeezes Alexander's shoulder once before letting go.
"Ink's right in front of you," he says, with a small gesture towards the low coffee table. There are scattered legal papers all over it as well, so he reaches out and gently traces his fingers over the curve of Alexander's cheek. "I'll get you that drink; let me know if you need more paper."
Alexander's mouth flickers in a small smile as he leans into the touch of Burr's fingers. "Thank you."
He smiles back before he pulls away, heading for the cabinet in the corner and its collection of liquor. He can hear the scratch of pen over paper before he's even reached it, and he takes his time pulling out a couple of glasses and pouring one of his wines into them in equal measure. He corks it again, tucks the wine away, and only then takes the drinks in his hands and heads back. He circles the long way around, passing in front of the fire to sit down at Alexander's side. It's tempting, but he studiously avoids looking as Alexander's hand moves almost feverishly, writing lines of messy ink down the paper. He's already half way down the first page, and Alexander's writing is always smaller when he's trying to get all his thoughts down instead of actually writing something for public consumption.
Alexander's never liked other people reading his writing until he's ready for it to be read. Usually after two or three vicious revisions, leaving only the smooth, pointed lines of whatever argument he's trying to make. Alexander is... Genius is too small a word, and Burr will always be grateful that some twist of fate decided to let him see more of that genius than anyone else. Alexander is fire personified, raging and driving and taking everything in his path that he can get his hands on, driven with the wind at his back and up the only way to go because he will never let himself stop and risk guttering out. The rest of the world can only watch.
He sets the drink down on the table, safely a foot or so away from Alexander's hand, and leans back into his corner of the couch. He watches Alexander instead of the paper as he takes sips of his wine, seeing the tension to those weighted down shoulders and the furrow to Alexander's brow. Something isn't right, but there's no point in asking. Alexander will be a lost cause until he gets down whatever he needs to, and asking him any questions will only slow down whatever time that takes.
As Alexander's fits of madness go, this one is actually fairly short. He only fills a page and a half before coming to a pause, the pen dropping as his hands spread over the paper and he leans forward to read it. Still, Burr resists looking down to see if he can pick out any words in the scrawl of Alexander's mind.
Alexander's head dips, his eyes closing for a moment, and then Burr jumps a bit as his sometimes-partner sharply jerks the two pieces of paper into a crumpled ball. Before he can say anything, or even try to stop him, Alexander's flung the ball at the fireplace, and a moment later it's consumed.
He stares, shocked because he's never seen Alexander destroy anything he'd written down. Not once . He sets his glass down and shifts closer, touching Alexander's back as the younger man lowers his face into both hands. "Alexander?" he asks, quietly. "What's going on?"
Alexander stays silent just long enough for him to start to worry before dragging in a deep breath and straightening up. "I'm fine," he says, with a flicker of a smile that doesn't fool Burr for a second . "Rough week."
Burr considers his words for a moment, holding Alexander's gaze. "I heard your plan passed." The guess is proven right when Alexander's face tightens for a moment before smoothing out again, and Burr fights to keep his own jaw from clenching. "What did you give them?" He's afraid to hear the answer, afraid to hear what Alexander might have had to sacrifice to win that victory.
"What I had to," Alexander answers, his voice soft and his gaze falling. "It's not important, Burr."
Which sounds like a plea for him to not ask, but… Well, Alexander doesn't take care of himself unless he's pushed to do it, and what he might have been willing to let Jefferson and Madison do to him to get what he needed might have been more than he could actually handle. But going against Alexander head on has never been a good idea, and Burr can't go toe to toe with him and win. Not like this.
So he shifts closer instead, sliding his arm around Alexander's back and leaning in to press a kiss to Alexander's temple. He lets the silence linger for a couple of moments and then speaks, keeping his voice barely above a whisper. "I've never seen you destroy your work before."
Another moment of silence, and then Alexander shrugs, staring at the fire. "It needed to be out of my head, but those words were never meant for any eyes but mine. I read them, so it's done. No one else gets to know."
"Alright," Burr agrees, knowing better than to press.
Alexander's gaze lowers to his hands, and as Burr watches he slowly tightens them into fists. His breathing quickens, slows, and then Alexander shudders and draws in a deeper breath that sounds pained. He can't see Alexander's eyes from this angle, but he doesn't have to to read the pain in his sometimes-partner's voice.
"They took my words," Alexander breathes, and Burr bites down on his tongue to stay absolutely still and silent. "I thought it wouldn't matter, and at first it didn't, but... Not being able to speak, to defend myself, to disagree, it was… I…" Alexander's hands ease out, and then deliberately move to push his sleeves up his arms. Burr's breath catches at the fading bruises around Alexander's wrists, and then follows the movement with his gaze when Alexander reaches up and pushes his hair away from the back of his neck. There are more bruises near the base — maybe a few days old — in the shape of small circles. They're unmistakably from teeth, which he knows because he's left nearly these exact bruises on Alexander before.
"Are you alright?" is all he can think of to say, tightening the grip of his arm around Alexander's back.
Alexander pauses, and then nods. "Physically, I'm unharmed. Everything else will heal with time." Alexander gives a burst of sharp laughter, and his hands tighten again as he straightens up some. Burr meets Alexander's gaze when it turns to him, and there's steel in his friend's eyes and an edge to his smile once more. It's good to see. "They don't know what they gave me," Alexander says, tone rich with satisfaction. "They can think whatever they want of me, because they don't understand the power they've given me. They'll wish they'd never dealt with me when I get started, and nothing will ever silence me again."
He can't help smiling, even as he worries. But he's always worrying for Alexander, so that's nothing new. "Congratulations, Alexander."
He gets a wider smile in answer, and Alexander straightens up that last bit. Then Alexander is leaning in, catching his mouth with practiced ease and pressing a hand down over his thigh. Aggressive, confident, and so bright it's a wonder Burr doesn't burn himself on it. "Celebrate with me?" Alexander asks, smile turning to a wicked smirk and his hand sliding up Burr's thigh.
As always, it's impossible for him to truly resist Alexander.