Chapter 1: On the Cowardice of Alexander Cruz, For Which His Character Would Be Ashamed
From the Victory Monument in the north to Moore House in the south, Alex Cruz figured that by now he must know every individual blade of grass in the The Colonial National Historical Park. Twelve years worth of early fall weeks spent marching and crawling all over a place bred a certain intimate knowledge.
Nestled up against the beach where the York River widened into the brackish seaward swirl of the Chesapeake Bay, the Park’s fifteen square miles on green fields and forests made up one of the busiest Revolutionary War battlefields in the country, just south of the modern city of Yorktown. But for a few days every year in early October, it sat relatively quiet, a calm before the storm of visitors that would come to witness its biggest annual event: the 1st Continental Army Reenactment Corps’ staging of the Siege of Yorktown.
Despite having made this drive a dozen times, Alex’s excitement never lessened. It started in the pit of his stomach as he drove past the empty parking lot of the Visitor's Center and built higher as he started to catch sight of the people gathering around the grounds of the National Cemetery. A mix of civilian clothes and costumes, they made for a colorful group, friends in Continental, French, and British Army uniforms greeting each other before they separated off into their individual regiments. By the time he pulled into the makeshift car lot in the field south of the Cemetery, his foot was jiggling against the clutch.
Finding an open spot a short way off from a group of horse trailers, Alex hopped out of the van, shaking the cramps of eight hours behind the wheel out of his muscles and taking a deep breath. Early fall in Virginia was the best time of year. The hills and forests around the battlefield were still mostly green and sunny with just a hint of colorful fall foliage, making an excellent backdrop for photos, and the weather remained brisk enough for most of the day that his heavier costumes wouldn’t result in a slow death cooking alive under so many layers. He’d done only summer events for years before joining up with the 1st Continental and as much as his blood liked the heat, he’d much rather experience it on a beach somewhere with little umbrella drinks and resort wifi.
Reminded of something, Alex pulled out his phone. The Park had advertised that they were adding wifi to the campgrounds this year as part of their ongoing renovations to the battlefield. The Corps had high hopes that this event might bring in the money the Park needed to finish restoring the Redoubt grounds and maybe even get the permanent Living History installations up and running.
Alex glanced at his Twitter app, felt guilty about ignoring it for a few seconds, and then attempted to steel his resolve. He had close to 100 notifications waiting for him, which could only mean that the idiots at The Democratic Republican had dumped a new steaming turd of an op ed onto their website and his followers were eager for his response.
In the middle of taking a few deep breathes and composing an outline in his head about how his biggest rivals in political commentary were bringing dishonor to their families and their cows, Alex felt his phone buzz.
He'd just finished tapping out his response, consisting mostly of complicated strings of emoji with increasingly crude intended meanings, when someone plowed into him from behind, wrapping him up in a sudden hug.
"Je n’en crois pas mes yeux! Alexander Hamilton in the flesh! May I have your autograph?! Sign my ten dollar bill!”
There was only one person in Alex’s life with that unique combination of ridiculous height, equally ridiculous French accent, and complete lack of understanding of others’ personal space. Alex laughed, elbowing his assailant until he could turn around and return the hug. He hadn't seen Mudiwa “please for the love of God just call me Lafayette” Goldberg in nearly a year as the other man finished up a tour overseas as liaison to Médecins Sans Frontières, but he hadn't changed a bit. In his Allied French Army costume with its gold accents and fringed epaulettes, he cut an impressive figure as the Marquis de Lafayette, but in a grass-stained henley and jeans, wild hair pulled back into an explosive ponytail, he was just Laf, and Alex was overwhelmed with how good it was to see him safe and sound back on their favorite colonial stomping ground. “Only if you promise to practice your French accent more before the spring.”
“Um, excuse you. My French accent is flawless, mon ami.” Laf pushed Alex away and put a hand to his own chest in exaggerated offense. The fact that he'd dropped the accent completely while making this declaration just made Alex laugh harder.
“It's so good to see you, man. Ça roule?”
“Comme d’hab, c'est magnifique!”
Laf’s excitement was infectious, and they talked with enthusiasm about the schedule for the next two weeks while unloading Alex's car. Lafayette, in his capacity as a high-ranking officer of both the Allied French and Continental Army sections of the reenactors, would be spending a lot of time around the command tent with the other close aides and allies of Washington. Alex was looking forward to playing out their scenes together during the Living History tours. Acting as Alexander Hamilton was always the most fun when his character was in command, playing out scenes bent over tables of maps and arguing vehemently about the inventive tactics that had won the Redoubts for the Continental Army and then eventually the city itself. Any other time it was mostly just him pretending to write feverishly with an oversized feathered quill.
“Oh, I talked to our dearly departed Laurens yesterday,” Laf interrupts Alex’s thoughts, pulling out his phone. “I asked for a picture of the rugrats. Look.”
Alex grins at the image on the phone of Jay and his wife looking exhausted and holding two newborn babies, twin girls from the color of their blankets and tiny baby hats. “Man, that’s so great. Have you heard who’s gonna be the new Laurens?”
“Nah, not yet. I think he’s coming up with Washington. Some guy he knows through the university.”
“He new?” Alex is more than happy to help out new reenactors, but Laurens has a sizable role in a few of their Living History scenes and he could always count on Jay to nail it.
“I don’t think so. Washington said -- oh hey, speak of the devil...” Laf tucks his phone away and Alex follows his gaze down the row of cars to where he spots a tell-tale white mare being led toward them across the grass lot by none other than Washington himself. Tall and broad-shouldered in his impeccable costume, Gerald Washington is a compelling presence, greeting everyone he passes with a warm reserve befitting of the Commander and President of the 1st Continental Reenactment Corps. Both Alex and Laf straighten their back and toss off sharp salutes as he leads the horse over to them.
“Reporting for duty General Washington, sir!” Alex grins as Washington rolls his eyes.
“Yeah save it for the battlefield, Lieutenant Colonel. Come here you two, I want you to meet someone.”
Walking with Washington is a much shorter man with long, curly hair pulled back in a low ponytail and the most gorgeous constellation of freckles across every visible inch of light brown skin. He’s in a ratty hoodie and a fraying NCLR cap, but over his shoulder he has a clear garment bag containing what looks to be a very well-made Continental Army officer costume. Washington is introducing him to them both -- “This is Jack Martinez, he’s a family friend up from the 21st Revolutionary in South Carolina. He’ll be our Laurens for the rest of the season.” -- but the guy is smiling at Alex, extending his hand to shake. When Alex takes it, Jack’s polite smile widens into a beaming one and everything around them suddenly seems a little brighter. Alex feels one of his knees wobble a little.
Alex absolutely does not grab his stuff and run away at the first available opportunity.
He prefers to think of it as a tactical retreat.
“Hola cariño, how’s the weather in 1781?”
Hearing his wife’s voice on the other end of the line is somehow both a relief and a kick in the chest. Alex groans, “Sunny and beautiful and I hate everything.”
Bethania laughs at him, just like he knew she would, and he can’t help but smile even as he picks at the threading of the uniform jacket across his lap. “Wow, it usually takes you at least a few days to get to this point. Did the General call drills on the first day?”
Alex makes an offended face at his phone. “God, no, don’t even joke about that, B. I met the new Laurens today.” He sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. “I want Jay back.”
“That bad?” Beth prompts, sympathetic as ever. He’s grumbled about a lot of spectacularly awful new guys to her over the years.
“Oh, no.” There’s a smile creeping in under her commiserating tone and Alex yanks a bit at his own hair in frustration.
“That’s exactly what I thought!”
“Hold on a minute, babe.”
On the other end of the line Alex hears muffled talking, and then Meg’s voice close to the receiver. “I’m stealing your wife now!” Alex pulls the phone away from his ear. Beth’s little sister has never understood the meaning of an indoor voice. Or tact. “Bowling waits for no man’s crisis of cock!”
There is a series of fumbling noises from Beth’s end and a bitten off curse, as if Meg is indeed dragging Beth bodily away toward the door. When Beth finally gets back on the phone, she sounds breathless and he can hear the suppressed laughter in her voice. “When you fuck him, remember to send pics. I love you!”
Alex returns her affection and hangs up, flopping back onto his sleeping bag and staring up at the top of his tent. He has the best wife in the entire world, even when she’s being incredibly unhelpful. When, she’d said, not if. She's certainly never lacked confidence in him. He thinks about whether Jack would let him send a dick pic to his wife, which spins off a whole orgy of circumstances in which he’d be able to actually take a picture of Jack’s dick, which leads him to speculate on the size of said dick. Not that he has to try too hard to imagine; the man had been wearing very skinny jeans.
Technically, Alex isn’t hiding. He’s helping.
As an Officer, complete with shiny red sash and extra-fancy buttons on his uniform jacket, it’s his duty to help his brothers and sisters in arms set up their campsites and navigate the check-in process. It can be very confusing, with the whole giving your name and getting checked off a list business. The volunteers at the check-in desk only ask him if he’s got somewhere else he needs to be four times. Alex counts this as a victory.
But evening descends early in late autumn, and by sunset Alex finds himself without any more hands to shake or firepits to help light. It’s with an exhausted sort of trepidation that he drags himself back to his own campsite. In his absence, two other tents have gone up in the marked spaces around the little clearing designated for Continental Army Officers, all of them facing inward toward the central firepit. He recognizes Washington’s tent immediately due to its size. A monstrous cabin-style affair with three “rooms” inside, the General hauls the thing around to events even when his family isn’t attending. Alex’s sturdy two-person dome tent is dwarfed beside it. In the final space is a small red A-frame tent that Alex doesn’t recognize, so it must be Jack’s. Through the half-opened flap at the front, he can see a few costume pieces hanging from the ridge pole.
There are no lights on in any of the tents, but that just means that their occupants will likely be back soon. He thinks about hiding in his own tent for the rest of the evening, but it’s getting cold and the lure of the firepit is too strong. He has some work to finish before he can dedicate himself fully to the concept of “time off” over the next two weeks, and he’d much rather finish it accompanied by a fire and the random bits of music carried over from nearby campsites than by the inside of a grey nylon dome.
By the time the night really settles in, Alex has set up shop on the bench-like chunk of log farthest from the flames, ancient netbook balanced on his legs as he types rapidly. Occasionally he reaches over to refresh his twitter feed on his iPad where it sits beside him, propped against his knapsack. His productivity on this makeshift setup pales in comparison to the shrine to social media over-connectedness that is his home office, but in the spirit of the Continental Army, he makes do. At least the Park has made good on its promise of decent wi-fi in the campground.
Art by Heartbleats
A camera flash goes off, making Alex jump and nearly knock his computer onto the ground.
“Sorry man, it just made too good of a picture with you still in costume and all.” Jack is smiling at Alex from a few feet away as he shoves his phone into his back pocket. He’s in a mismatch of costume and civilian pieces himself, the same damnably well-fitted jeans from earlier under a weathered linen hunting shirt, belted around the waist with the red sash from his officer’s uniform.
Jack sits down on the log bench next to Alex’s chosen perch, kicking his legs out in front of him, crossed at the ankle of his muddy boots. It makes the denim of his jeans hug his thighs in very distracting ways. Alex catches himself staring and forces his eyes back onto his work, though keeping them there is a struggle. The soft glow of firelight is a good look for most people. On Jack it’s just unfair.
After a few minutes of Jack sitting in quiet obliviousness to the slow internal meltdown happening next to him, Alex can’t handle it anymore. “So. How are you settling in?”
“Pretty well I think. My legs feel like they’re going to fall off, but otherwise...”
Alex grins, glancing up from the screen. He’d thought he’d glimpsed Jack earlier in the afternoon at the head of a column of “new recruits,” marching behind Washington as the General called out orders from horseback. The opening day march was an interminable drill in the flimsy guise of a tour of the Park, and it was the closest thing to a hazing ritual for the new people that Washington would allow. While their regular drills differed from the more regimented arms and tactics demonstrations the British side put on, Washington seemed to believe that meant they had to do more of them to make up for their in-character lack of discipline. Alex was scheduled to start morning drills the next day. A traitorous part of himself was kind of looking forward to it.
“It’s really special what you guys are doing here,” Jack says, derailing Alex’s train of thought with an enthusiastic smile. “This is such a diverse group. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come up from the 21st. And the kids, man, they’re so into it! I didn’t expect that.”
“Yeah, the General has relationships with a lot of the public schools in DC and New York. So we get a lot of inner city groups coming through. There’s going to be a bunch of them down for the Living History stuff this year. They have to be able to relate to us, you know? You can’t just show them a bunch of white dudes in costumes and expect them to pay attention.”
Jack nods. “That’s what they’ve been seeing their whole life already.”
It’s a completely ridiculous conversation. Alex recognizes that he’s preaching to the choir even as he keeps talking, but Jack is enthusiastic in his agreement, a few long curls bouncing loose from his ponytail, and Alex is not strong enough to resist any of this.
“You should come up to New Jersey sometime. We do the big annual Monmouth reenactment in June. A ton of different regiments in Battlefield Park. Cliffside bonfire and fireworks over the water at night. It’s…” Romantic. It's romantic, he wants to say. You can see the whole city skyline reflected in the river, and the fireworks light up everything with colors like a dream. What Alex actually says is, “...fun.”
“Maybe I will,” Jack smiles at him, looking genuinely excited at the idea, and Alex feels like it must be contagious because he’s suddenly breathless with anticipation of...something.
They watch the fire for a few more minutes, listening to someone playing a drunken fife solo from the next group of tents. This time when Alex packs his stuff up and says good night, it only feels a little like running away.
Now for so much endnotes. Wow.
~*~ In Which I Google Some Language ~*~
Je n’en crois pas mes yeux!: I don’t believe my eyes!
Ça roule: colloquial phrase meaning roughly 'How's life? Good?'
Comme d’hab...: colloquial response to the above, a shortening of 'comme d’habitude' meaning 'as usual.
...c'est magnifique!: It’s magnificent!
Hola cariño: 'Hello dear' ('Cariño' used as a noun doesn’t actually have a direct translation in English, but it is a diminutive that implies affection, love, and desire.)
~*~ In Which I Have Way Too Much Fun With the Names ~*~
Alex Cruz = Alexander Hamilton: Alex because part of me headcanons my own fucking fic as some sort of reincarnation AU, even tho it's totally not. Cruz because St. Croix translates to Santa Cruz and it's one of the most common Puerto Rican surnames according to my super extensive googling of “Common Puerto Rican Surnames.” Lin-Manuel Miranda is of Puerto Rican descent.
Jack Martinez = John Laurens: Jack is a nickname Laurens’ family used for him, specially when he was younger, and Anthony Ramos’ full name is Anthony Ramos Martinez.
Gerald Washington = George Washington: Because of his lineage, which will be discussed later in the fic, and Gerald as a first name means he’s still GWash (but maybe don’t call him that to his face).
Bethania Cruz = Elizabeth Schuyler: Bethania (The Spanish form of Bethany) because of its transitive relationship with Eliza: Bethania=Beth=Elizabeth=Eliza. Shortened by Alex to “B” because Lin-Manuel Miranda calls his wife “V” sometimes in tweets and such and it’s cute.
Apollo Dover = Hercules Mulligan: (Who we will meet in a later chapter.) Sticking with the mythological first name (and making the absolutely necessary Rocky reference) and a “mulligan” in game terms is a DO-oVER. Heh.
Mudiwa Goldberg = Lafayette: He needed a sort of difficult name so that he could insist everyone just call him some version of Lafayette instead. Daveed Diggs is of African-American/Jewish descent, so his name follows suit. Mudiwa is a Shona name that bears the same meaning as Daveed/David in Hebrew: “beloved.”
Meghan “Meg” = Peggy: Like Peggy, “Meg” is a shortened form of Margaret; Peggy = Margaret = Meg = Meghan.
Chapter 2: On the Confusion of Jack Martinez, Rivers in Egypt, and the Assignation of Blame
Jack has no clue what's going on anymore, but whatever it is, it's definitely interesting.
Featuring art by nadianecromancer!
Jack Martinez has no idea how he ended up here, on his back and bleeding in the middle of a field.
He remembers agreeing to speak to Professor Washington’s undergraduate political theory class. Revolution and Reaction: Race and Politics in America had seemed like a perfect fit for an informal talk about the National Council of La Raza’s various efforts for the upcoming election. His presentation had gone well, and the students had been engaged, interested in seeing how someone close to their own age could make a difference.
How exactly that turned into agreeing to get his face bashed in by a paintball gun masquerading as a musket was where things got a little fuzzy. Washington had taken him out to an early dinner after the class to talk about their unexpectedly mutual love of dressing up like historically inaccurate soldiers and running around in the woods. There had been alcohol involved. He decides to blame his current situation on that.
“Shhh. You’re supposed to be dead,” Alex says from a few feet away. They’re both laid out in the grass, getting green stains on their Underfed and Underappreciated Volunteer Militia uniforms of hunting shirts and plain brown pants. Alex has added one of those spectacularly ugly brown and red reject jackets to his. Jack very nearly asks him why he spent good money on having such a monstrosity made, but it looks warmer than Jack’s own threadbare shirt and vest so he’s actually a little jealous. In today’s improvised tactical skirmish, everyone had been relegated to militia status with strict orders for none of the actual Officers to take command. Washington had claimed it was to promote regimental cohesion under circumstances where there were no members of leadership around. Jack suspects it was because they had to let the British side win something.
“Dead men don’t text,” Jack wheezes into the bloody handkerchief pressed to his nose. It was Alex’s, a basic linen thing monogrammed in gold fabric pen with the letters “A.H.,” hastily borrowed after Jack had realized that the red stuff on his face and fingertips was not in fact the washable red paintball dye used in the skirmishes.
“Dead men keep their heads back,” Alex answers without looking up from his phone or pausing his rapid typing, though out of the corner of his eye Jack can see the other man is smiling. Curled up on his side where he’d fallen, Alex’s actions are hidden from pretty much everyone but Jack. Not that it mattered; Alex isn’t the only “dead” soldier who is spending their unexpected downtime burning through their cellular data plan.
Glaring makes Jack’s whole face hurt, so he gives in and lets his head thump back against the grass. The overzealous linebacker in a Hessian uniform that had mauled them both is long gone. Every now and then Jack can hear a single crack of gunfire echo out of the woods to the south, usually followed by indignant cursing. Their regiment had been caught out in the open, crossing the field between sections of tree cover. The forward scouts and the front of their column had made it to the treeline in a disorganized rush, but it appears the Hessian regiment is now picking them off one by one.
“Here, look.” Alex says, suddenly much closer. Jack startles, snorting a gross, wet noise into the handkerchief. “Whoa there, were you dozing off? No napping allowed. We’ve got a script to go over.”
Jack blinks at him. “A script?” Alex must have scooted across the grass while Jack was lost in thought, because he’s now close enough that Jack can feel his breath through the thin fabric of his sleeve. Any closer and Jack thinks he would be able to feel Alex’s body heat. He blames the slight chill in the air for how tempting that sounds.
“For the Living History tour. You're getting blood on your shirt.”
Jack groans and pulls the handkerchief away from his nose to refold it, glancing at where the trailing ends of it had smeared spots of blood across the beige linen of his shirt. “I'm making it extra authentic. Washington gave me the script already.”
“Yeah but that was the old script. Gotta keep it fresh!”
The phone that Alex hands him is open to a writing app. Text in at least 5 colors clogs the screen. Entire sections of text are struck through and rewritten in red or occasionally bright blue. Other colors seem to indicate sections of text with historical annotations, most of which seem to be links to wikipedia articles plus added bits of Alex’s own commentary. “Did you write this all just now?”
When Jack looks over at him, Alex’s expression is difficult to read, but it seems hopeful. “I mostly just rewrote your parts. And the parts of everyone that interacts with you--
“I think I left some of Lafayette’s stuff alone?” Alex has the good grace to look sheepish for about five seconds before he plows ahead, pointing out the changes he’s made. Reaching up to tap the phone while Jack is holding it brings Alex even closer and Jack discovers that he was absolutely right about the body heat thing, and also about how good the extra warmth would feel. When Alex takes the phone back to make a quick change to something, his knee stays pressed against Jack’s hip, as if Alex is too engrossed in their collaboration to notice how close they are. When Jack breathes in, his ribs brush the back of Alex’s fingers. It’s enough to make his breaths a little uneven, and Jack actually finds himself glad he has a bloodied nose to acquit him in the unlikely event that Alex notices anything beyond the words flying eagerly off his own fingers.
Art by nadianecromancer.
They’re good, is the thing. The changes Alex has made to the script he’d originally read a few weeks ago are exactly what Jack would have changed, had he felt he could make that sort of suggestion. He’d never known the man who had played Laurens before, but Jack knew he was a bit older, a family man, and Jack wonders how much Jay’s personality had influenced the script over the years. The lines Alex is writing now burn with a passion like banked coals, the pride and recklessness that had eventually been the real Laurens’ downfall evident in the way the character spoke about not just abolition, but the revolution itself, the tactics of the siege, and the eventual terms of the British surrender.
Alex is writing a new Laurens, crafting a whole new character just for him. Because of him. The realization leaves Jack more breathless than any bruised ribs.
Bruised ribs that Alex is now poking to get his attention. “Ow, stop.”
They pass the phone back and forth for a few quick rounds of revisions before Alex can’t contain his fidgeting anymore when it’s out of his hands. “Here gimme, I’m gonna make us a Google Doc. Dueling edits!”
Jack gives the phone back and fumbles for his own one-handed, lifting his head up to look at the screen without squinting.
“Head back, Jack.”
Rolling his eyes hard enough that it makes his nose ache even more, Jack lets his head fall back against the grass with a frustrated huff. “Man, we never did any of this Call of Duty shit in the 21st. We’d show up, fire some blanks at each other, have some barbecue, and go home.” Alex, the little shit, is snickering, curling up in the grass with mirth. It’s not cute at all. “Ugh. I hate all of you.”
“Are you questioning the General’s judgement, soldier?” Alex somehow manages to reign in his laughter because when he glances over, Jack is met with a ridiculously earnest expression, complete with giant, glassy brown eyes. “Sowing dissension in the ranks is treason.”
“You can’t hang me, I’m already dead,” Jack grumbles. Alex’s big doe eyes are not winning him over. They’re not. He just doesn’t feel like arguing anymore. His phone buzzes where it’s resting on his stomach and he lifts it so that it blocks out the sun and keeps his head back at the same time.
“Is that a turtle on your lockscreen?”
Jack wakes up the next morning to a swollen lip and stuffy nose, but miraculously little bruising on his face and no black eye. His ribs are not fairing as well, still tender and mottled a livid reddish-purple, but they are better than the previous day and they get him out of morning drills, so he’s not complaining.
He spends the morning studying the script for today’s Living History tour. There are three Living History days built into the schedule this year, all of them during the week so that schools can plan field trips. The more complex battlefield reenactments are the real tourist magnets, so those are scheduled over the weekend, and Jack can’t wait for them.
The 1st Continental is much larger than the 21st Rev, with dozens of regiments with specific parts to play in each event. Two days ago they’d had the official Reenactor Orientation and he’d met the regiment he’d be commanding during the Redoubt 10 event. They’d all been enthusiastic, eager to hear about the events he’d attended in South Carolina and to share stories about their own experiences at previous Yorktown reenactments. The orientation had quickly devolved into a party over lunch, as these things were wont to do, and it had only served to compound his excitement.
The Living History stuff, though? The idea of it fills him with an unstable sort of energy. He isn’t nervous, really, and it takes him some thought to pin down exactly what’s got his stomach in a knot. It’s Alex. Of course it is.
Alex, who had emailed him (and presumably everyone else in the scene) an updated script just that morning. Today’s changes were small, but the man seemed determined to improve things right up until the last minute.
Jack doesn’t want to disappoint him.
He’s being ridiculous, he tells himself all through getting his costume on, as he takes extra time to ensure he’s roughed out all the creases and pinned his sash so it lays perfectly flat. As he brushes his hair back and ties it low against his neck, taking care to gel down the flyaway strands, he thinks, he barely knows the guy. He should really be thinking more about impressing Washington, if anyone, and Washington would never look at him with big, watery eyes full of disappointment if he fucked up something as minor as a line or two.
This is all ridiculous, he tells himself, and tries to will himself to believe it.
He’s so completely fucked.
Washington’s Command Headquarters and its surrounding outbuildings are some of the only permanent structures in the Park that stay up year-round, outside of the Redoubt walls. A massive canvas tent set on numerous sturdy poles, it’s the centerpiece of the Living History tours, all the other tents and stations of the tour springing up around it in a whirlwind of barely-controlled chaos. The sprint to get everything in place before the first school groups arrive makes for a perfect distraction, and Jack manages to get through it with minimal time left idle to think too hard about things.
Things like the unsubtle looks Lafayette keeps giving him.
The arrival of the first school group at the beginning of the tour triggers a whole new flurry of last-minute preparations just in time to keep Jack from demanding what the hell Laf’s problem is. By the time everyone and everything is in place, Jack has his temper back under control. The energy proves useful as he takes turns with the others leading each group on a guided tour of the Command Tent.
With its desks and tables strewn with weathered, period-accurate maps and stacks of parchment, it paints a convincing picture of a busy headquarters, aided by the script’s stage directions that keep them moving and bustling about as they introduce themselves as their characters. General Washington makes his entrance, striding grandly onto the scene to the news that his Army is in dire need of new recruits and aren’t they lucky that a group of fresh young patriots seem to be hanging around in their tent at this very moment? The students of each group are given a surprise “battlefield commission” and conscripted into the Continental Army as aides-de-camp by General Washington himself.
Watching the broad range of reactions to this announcement quickly becomes one of Jack’s favorite things about the scene. Washington brings an innate charisma and leadership quality to the role, a seemingly genuine concern for the state of the Army and his fighting force, and he captures the kids’ imaginations. Most of the older teenagers even have their headphones off by the end of his speech. Jack is duly impressed and his character, well…John could not possibly be more devoted to the Revolution, but his fervor is renewed.
The rest of the scene consists of General Washington receiving intelligence reports on British movements from Laurens and Lafayette while Alexander writes out page after page of “orders” with a large feather quill, tossing rejected pages around comically. It’s a great scene, historically accurate and still full of fun moments to keep the kids entertained, and John still isn’t sick of it after running it for the fifth group of the day. The language and interactivity of the script’s second half differs slightly depending on the age group of their audience. Just after lunch they get a group full of elementary school kids who are not yet too cool for all this, every one of them looking up at Washington with youthful awe.
“We need to decide how to best use our forces,” Washington intones, looking gravely at his aides. “If you gentlemen can not agree on the proper course of action, perhaps our new recruits can weigh in. You!”
Washington points at a young girl in the front of the group who has spent most of the last few minutes standing on tiptoes to try to see the plans laid out on the table at the center of the scene. Washington points at her, and her eyes go wide, one small hand pressed to her chest as she looks up to her teacher, mouthing me?
“Yes you, young Miss. You have the look of a tactician about you. Come here and see if you can’t end our stalemate.”
The girl comes forward with a little push from her teacher. The rest of the class steps forward a bit as well, even more interested now that one of their own is involved. Washington Goes down on one knee and introduces himself again, asks the girl’s name and gets a murmured, “Hermione,” in return.
“A name well-fit to a mind such as your own,” Jack ad-libs as he moves the map closer to her side of the table, and Hermione beams up at him. Jack can’t help but beam back despite the fact that they are supposed to be having a Super Serious Military Strategy Session. He has no immunity whatsoever to cute kids with an interest in history. Behind him he hears Alex make a strangled noise that must be suppressed laughter.
There’s a stool for her to stand on, and once she’s situated, Washington motions the others in the group to come forward and join them round the table. “We need to take these,” he explains, pointing out the British encampments at Redoubts #9 and #10. “There are too many troops there for us to take the city while they still stand defended. My more senior aides can not agree on a strategy. What do you think? Should we take one and then the other, risking reinforcements at the second Redoubt? Or should we split our forces and try to take both by surprise?”
It’s blatantly leading language, and it works like a charm. Hermione chooses the second option, but only after she asks, “Do you have enough soldiers to fight both?” Lafayette steps in to lavish praise on her thoughtful question in an over the top accent that makes her giggle as he shoos the whole group of kids back toward their chaperones in the open audience area of the tent.
They play out the rest of the scene by the script, with occasional nods to their “new recruits.” Alexander gets a chance to argue for his own command and Alex chews the scenery extra hard to make up for the fact that he hadn’t had many lines in the rest of this particular scene. When leadership of a battalion is finally granted to him, he performs a fist pump behind Washington’s back that wins a laugh from the whole group of students as well as their teachers.
Hermione receives a little plastic clip-on black and silver star pin that mimics the symbol on the epaulettes worn by the aides, and they bid the group farewell. It’s Jack’s turn to lead them out of the tent for the next bit of the tour while the others hang back and set up the tent interior for the next group.
A table outside the tent is set up for a muzzle-loading demonstration. It’s primarily a stalling tactic, meant to keep the kids occupied until a volunteer comes to collect them for the next part of the tour. It usually doesn’t take long, so Jack gathers them around and sets about showing them the process of loading the reproduction rifle he has strapped to his back. The kids follow along using brightly-colored plastic toy muskets with paper cartridges full of sand and marbles standing in for gunpowder and lead ammunition.
By the time the kids move on to the next tent, which seems to involve trying on period costume pieces and having their picture taken by an iPhone hidden inside a rig that makes it look like some sort of ridiculous steampunk contraption, John welcomes the sight of Lafayette exiting the tent with a canteen full of cold water in a leather sling. One of the large wooden chests inside the tent hides a cooler full of water bottles, and John silently praises whoever came up with that idea. It’s gotten unseasonably warm even for midday, and John’s costume has gone from insulating to stifling.
“They say the next group will be a bit,” Lafayette informs him, leaning back against one of the tent poles to drink from his own canteen. “Something about a butter churning accident.”
John’s brain stalls out trying to comprehend that and he decides, “I’m not going to ask.”
“I think that may be for the best, mon ami.”
They drink in companionable enough silence for a few minutes and Jack is about to just come out and ask what was up with all those looks Lafayette had been giving him earlier, but just as he opens his mouth to ask he catches the sound of a very familiar raised voice.
Lafayette leans over to look through the doorway of the tent, turning his head to listen more closely. “Oh Seigneur. Notre Petit Lion va pour le tuer.”
Seated, as he is, closer to the main thoroughfare, Jack can’t quite make out what Alex is saying over the background noise of the tour groups at the other stations. “Is that Alex? Who’s he yelling at?”
Lafayette resumes his casual posing, clearly unconcerned with whatever is happening on the other side of the tent. Jack realizes this must not be anything new. “Some poor teacher, I would bet,” he answers. “They are the only ones who ever ask The Question.”
John can tell from the way Lafayette stage whispers the last two words that they are capitalized. He has to ask. “I know I’m gonna regret this, but what’s The Question?”
“What do you thing would have happened if Alexander Hamilton hadn’t died in the duel?” Lafayette recites the words like they're something he’s heard a hundred times, and maybe they are, because he also chuckles as if it’s some sort of inside joke and Jack is more than a little confused. It seems like a perfectly reasonable question, and exactly the sort of thing Alex would love to ramble about for an hour or seven.
“So what’s the problem? Seems like Alex would be the right guy to ask.”
“This is true, but Alex did what Alex always does and asked him what he thought would have happened, and our poor doomed professor said he believed nothing much would have changed because the Jeffersonians had already taken away much of Hamilton's influence by then.” Lafayette explains all of this with a bemused little smile as if he’s seen it a million time before, but Jack can’t help but suck in a shocked breath.
“Oui. This is when I ran away.”
From the other side of the tent, John hears Alex shout, “Hamilton’s writings with Morris and King would have made the Federalist Papers look like a fucking children’s book!”
If Jack leans back on his bench until he nearly falls off of it, he can see through the front opening of the tent enough to tell that Alex has worked up a decent full-body rant. In the midst of arguing his point, everything about him speaks to his intensity. His gestures seem to use his whole body, unable to contain themselves to just his hands or arms. A few locks of hair have even escaped his ponytail, unruly in the wake of such passion. Despite all of this, he doesn’t seem to have broken a sweat, though he’s carrying a flush high on his cheeks that is making him damned near glow with some sort of inner fire...
Jack tears his ears away from Alex, sitting up again on his bench and shaking his head to clear it. He feels much warmer than before somehow, even after he tugs his cravat loose. “How is he not dying in this heat, getting all worked up with his jacket still on?”
“Our Alexander is ah, how do you say…Puertorriqueño.. Hot-blooded.” Lafayette waggles his eyebrows and that knowing look from earlier is suddenly back in full force.
Jack flails a little in what he hoped was an indignant way. “I’m Puerto Rican!”
Lafayette reaches over to pat Jack gently on the head. “Oui, oui, cher, but we can not all live our stereotypes.”
Jack is unable to suppress a sudden flush at the imagines that conjures up and smacks Lafayette’s hand away a bit too sharply. He hides behind taking a long pull from his canteen. He’ll blame it on the sun. “He’s certainly um...passionate. About history.” Maybe he’s getting some sort of autumn heatstroke. It would explain a lot.
“Yes. He’s very passionate. About history,” Lafayette smirks.
John gives up and groans into his own hands.
“You have it bad, petit amant.”
The argument has continued as dull background noise to their conversation, but now Alex raises his voice again, sounding more exasperated than angry, but even louder than before. “Well maybe if he hadn’t murdered Hamilton, Aaron Burr wouldn’t have gone fucking crazy and actually contributed something to the world!”
Lafayette winces at the swearing. “I should probably go intervene before someone calls security again.”
“2012 was an interesting event.”
Jack lets his head fall onto the table in front of him with a dull thunk. He has no idea what is happening in this moment, but it certainly counts as interesting.
Thanks so much for reading these ridiculous, self-indulgent shenanigans! Your comments on the last chapter gave me life.
The Google Doc for this fic employs only 4 colors, but does contain historical annotations.
Jack has three turtles because of these drawings. They are named Fred(erick Douglas), Sylvia (Rivera), and (Martin Luther) King (Jr).
The bit about Hamilton’s writings he was working on before he died comes from this Ron Chernow interview
~*~ In Which I Google Some More Language ~*~
Oh Seigneur. Notre Petit Lion va pour le tuer.: Oh Lord. Our Little Lion is going in for the kill.
petit amant: little lover (used here as a sort of mocking nickname, like ‘loverboy’)
Chapter 3: On Military Conquests as Acts of Courtship, with Regard to Tailors and Horses
Ponies and explosions, or:
Alex and Jack remain oblivious, much to the annoyance of everyone, right up until they don't.
Featuring art by fomii!
General Gerald Washington has always been a morning person.
As the rest of the camp sleeps, Washington wakes with the dawn to go for a quick run along the perimeter of the woods surrounding their encampment. The chill of the camp showers is invigorating. He spends exactly 15 minutes buffing his boots and buttons to a high shine. Impeccably uniformed, he tidies his tent and leaves a pot of strong coffee over the glowing coals of the firepit for whenever his aides de camp decide to crawl out of their own bedrolls.
He does this every morning, without fail.
Discipline and detail, he tells his troops. Discipline forges a rabble into an army. Detail keeps them so.
The morning of the Battle of Monmouth (Tactical Exhibition and Cavalry Show) dawns bright and clear, burning off the mist that clings to the battlefield just in time for Washington’s favorite part of any pre-battle preparations: the inspection of the troops. Today’s reenactments consist mostly of cavalry and armament exhibitions to warm up the troops for the larger Yorktown events later in the weekend. He’ll leave the cannon inspections to the qualified Park rangers, but he takes a great amount of pride in seeing his men and their animals well turned-out. By the time the sun has finished rising, the 1st Continental Cavalry has lined up for inspection along the wide footpath outside of Washington’s headquarters.
The plain truth is that the soldiers who can afford to keep horses and bring them to battles tend to be the lot with money to burn, and so their uniforms are some of the most accurate, well-made and and in some cases even matched to their horses’ tack. There are exceptions of course, ones that Washington himself has fought hard to include. This year he’d made a particular effort to reach out to the inner-city horse clubs that had been gaining popularity in the last few years, and it had paid off. A group of fresh young faces from the Pimlico Urban Horsemanship Club stand together at mounted attention at the end of the line and he makes sure to pay them particular regard. It isn’t unearned. Posture straight and respectfully attentive, they all sit atop healthy, well-groomed animals that do not fidget or balk at Blue’s close approach. Though their uniforms are lower in quality, they are all complete and well within the guidelines for general inspection. It’s only the lack of confidence that comes with experience that keeps them from fitting in with the cavalry’s more well-heeled veterans. They sit a little taller in the saddle with his praise to bolster them, falling out in perfect formation once they are dismissed.
Finished with his official duties for the moment, Washington breaks from the Continental grounds and makes for the northern end of the Park, giving Blue reign to gallop over the open grass. She takes the opportunity to stretch her legs, making good time toward the British encampment.
His Majesty’s 1st Reenactment Regiment is the 1st Continental's sister organization, commanded by General Mark Brome and his impeccable impersonation of His Excellency General The Most Honourable Marquess Cornwallis. He’s unmistakable even at a distance, broad and straight-backed atop a gorgeous black charger, shouting out commands as he drills long lines of red-coated troops into precise formations along the tree line. Washington watches for a few minutes before a call goes up from one of the lookouts, then turns Blue back toward the Continental encampments before Brome has a chance to send out scouts to chase off the “enemy spy” that’s been sighted on the hill. She’s in high spirits, catching onto her rider’s good humor, and they make it back with time to spare for a quick ride-by of the spectators beginning to make their way toward the fields where the various exhibitions will take place. He answers their cheers as they recognize either him or his uniform with a crisp salute.
The first part of the day is reserved for the British and Hessian reenactors’ demonstrations of a variety of horse and artillery drills for the crowd. As the more cavalry-heavy side of the war, they tend to attract the reenactors who are most interested in bringing their horses along, and have a number of experienced riding and dressage trainers in their ranks to whip their lines into shape for a few days each year before they put on their show.
Washington watches with no small amount of pride as the regiments show off. The Hessian regiments display exceptional marksmanship with modified paintball rifles from horseback, splattering scarecrows in colonial army jackets with red paint as they ride by at speed. The British cavalry make a show of their horses training and dexterity, a dozen horses in full battle regalia prancing in uniform lines across the field in perfect step with one another. A few colonial soldiers show up on horses with far more simple tack to clash with the British in a few intense saber melees that end when one of them unseats the other into the mud, earning cheers from the crowd. Even the horses get into the combative spirit, nipping at each other when they get close enough, before their riders reign them in.
After they break for lunch, Washington takes Blue back to her trailer for a quick wash and brush out. She's keyed up, knowing full well that she's about to get her own chance to be the star of the show. They've been to dozens of these abridged Monmouth reenactments together over the years and at this point Washington thinks his horse gets even more excited about it than he does.
He rides over to the battlefield and observes from a hill at the north end. The battlefield at Yorktown is a pristine roll of fields dotted with small bunches of tall brush and spiked wooden barriers marking various important battle lines. In comparison to the more heavily wooded site of the actual Battle of Monmouth, it makes for much easier viewing for their audience.
On the east side of the field on a high embankment behind a fence is a set of mobile stands full of onlookers, most of them with binoculars. A red-coated guide is standing on the fence narrating what is happening on the battlefield with broad, enthusiastic gestures. In front of the stands, down a steep hill from the fence are two small stands of scrubby trees and bushes. The open ground in between the thickets is set up to mimic a sort of battlefield forward command, with barrels and bits of canvas and a few blunt abatis planted in the ground, a staging area to play out bits of dialogue for the crowd. Washington can see Alexander, Lafayette, and John making their way toward the forward command from the field along with a small group of retreating soldiers.
Blue dances to the side a bit and he reins her in tight. She knows her part and her cue, knows when it should be coming, but the maneuvers on the field are taking longer than usual today. When he sees most of the Continental Army in retreat, he finally gives her rein to run.
Art by fomii based on a painting of Washington by Joseph Christian Leyendecker.
They ride up the little hill into view of the crowd, who send up a cheer at the sight of them, pausing just a moment before thundering down into the melee, wheeling around among the retreating men and making a show of anger and confusion at their retreat. Blue looks wide-eyed and wild in the commotion, but he can feel that she’s calm and loose in the reins, seasoned enough to handle the chaos and noise of “battle.” He pulls her into the next turn and she rears into it, tossing her head, and the crowd oos and ahhs at the display. “Drama queen,” he chuckles under his breathe, and kicks her toward the fence where the crowd is watching. His aides have separated there, behind two bunches of shrubs with groups of experienced infantry and riflemen, putting on little skirmishes and fights with some British soldiers who sneak up the fence line every now and then to take them by “surprise.”
On cue, General Lee barrels past on his own horse, screaming “RETREAT!” and flailing wildly for the crowd, who eat it up. There are even a few loud boos among the distant laughter.
Washington faces the men that are stumbling in his wake and summons up some righteous anger with which to shout them down. “What is the meaning of this? Are you the men with which I am to defend America?!” Some of the men continue to run past him, but many stop and sketch worried salutes with mumbled apologies before heading toward the lines of men forming up a ragged rear guard near the center of the battlefield.
He turns his horse toward the encampment, but doesn’t signal her forward, leaning back instead to steady her for their next bit of choreography. It’s her big scene and she knows it, all but vibrating under him with anticipation. To his right he can see a group of British soldiers come over a little hill and “spot” them. One takes aim and just as the sound of the blank firing rings out, along with a satisfying gasp from the part of the crowd that is watching their little show, he pulls his horse’s reins down to the left and gives her a firm tap with the broad side of his left boot. She doesn’t fall right over like a struck horse might, but she makes a good show off it, going down on one knee with an angry-sounding whinny and rolling onto her side as Washington pulls his feet out of the stirrups and flings himself off her back into the grass. He rolls to hide behind the bulk of his “injured” horse, giving her a pat and a few words of praise as the British fire another round. Then he breaks and runs for the trees while they are reloading. He’s not worried about leaving her on the field. Like the experienced battlefield diva she is, Blue will roll around in the grass until she gets bored and he’ll find her later, grazing and magnanimously accepting the adulation (and treats) of small children near the fence.
Groups of British soldiers are harrying Alexander and John’s position in a ditch behind the little clump of bushes even as Washington approaches. He hears them shouting desperate-sounding orders to field runners, two young teens in tattered tunics who take off running at the sight of Washington. On their heels come a group of three redcoats, sliding down the side of the ditch to engage the little group of Continental soldiers in a skirmish for the crowd. Two of the redcoats fall quickly to the ends of rubber bayonets, but the third puts up more of a fight, backing John up against the side of the ditch. Washington watches with amusement as Alexander comes to John’s rescue with a shout, ramming the butt of his rifle into the redcoat's side to knock him off John. The guy in the redcoat costume leans against the earthworks, rubbing at his side and wheezing at Alex under his breath to, ”calm the fuck down, dude. Ow.” Alex doesn’t apologize, just “stabs” him in the back and turns to help John up as the guy falls over sideways, still glaring straight at Alex the whole time.
Interlopers defeated, Alexander and John help each other climb up to Washington’s position above the ditch “General Washington! Lee is retreating past the rear guard, sir!” John calls out as he repacks his musket.
“Yes, Lieutenant Colonel Laurens, I saw. His command is forfeit. Hamilton!”
“Ready, sir!” After the display Washington just witnessed, the eager, fiery look on Alex’s face is nearly enough for him to break character. He has to bite the inside of his own cheek before he can reply with the proper amount of seriousness.
“Have Lafayette take the lead!”
With an angry little salute and a scowl on his face, Alex takes off across open ground between the two small stands of trees, moving low and fast. A few of the approaching British take shots at him and he ducks, diving into cover behind the trees next to Lafayette’s position with a full body roll.
The crowd lets up a little cheer and behind him, Washington hears John cough, “showoff.” He’s lucky he has his back to most of the crowd, because this time he can’t quite contain a sudden snort of laughter.
Apollo Dover had never meant to become a costumer to a bunch of crazy people who spent their vacation weeks running around on old battlefields pretending to shoot at each other. How it happened to turn out that way was a story as old as humanity itself: he did it for a girl. A very beautiful girl who loved kittens and the simple empire waist dresses he sold at the local flea market to help pay for his fashion degree, and who also happened to love running around on old battlefields dressed as a dude pretending to shoot other dudes.
And like most people who got into something because of a girl, he regretted it.
Not the girl. He could never regret his wonderful Lizzie, light of his life, goddess of all things beautiful and good. And he didn’t necessarily regret ending up in the reenactment scene. It was objectively fascinating, especially the whole “underground network of women performing impressions of women pretending to be men so they could fight for their country” aspect of the thing. He’d never been much of a history buff, but he was pretty sure they’d never covered that in APUSH. Also there was an absolute shitload of money to be had in quality hand-crafted Revolutionary War costumes. He never would have guessed.
No, what Apollo Dover regretted about this whole situation had much finer points. And names.
“I can’t take this anymore, man. Mon dieu!”
“Can’t take what?” Apollo asks, following Laf’s line of sight to where Alex and Jack are talking. The three of them had arrived in a cloud of adrenaline and noise fresh from the battlefield and had set up camp around his tent in the middle of the vendor market that ran along the Park’s western tree line between the British and Continental encampments. The excuse that had been presented upon their arrival involved a torn seam on Alex’s Reject Jacket, acquired in the heat of battle. This was all well and good, he appreciated the business, but Apollo was beginning to expect more than one ulterior motive. It wouldn’t be the first time.
The Market, a motley array of material goods tents ranged in a lopsided circle around a central food vendor area, served as a sort of neutral ground, an odd bubble of surreality where redcoat officers shared picnic tables and friendly conversation with ragged Continental militiamen. This is where Alex and Jack are now, sharing a cardboard tray of food truck french fries and making incredibly obvious eyes at each other.
Incredibly obvious eyes to which they both seem entirely oblivious. Despairing, Lafayette hisses, “Ils me tuent lentement. Je ne peux pas!.”
Apollo feels his pain, he truly does, but, “I don't speak French, man.”
“You are the worst spy,” Laf groans.
“Yeah well yesterday I might have let it drop to some redcoats in civvies that Jack was too new to the Laurens role to lead the rear assault this year, so...”
Laf’s expression does a complete turnaround in an instant and it’s all Apollo can do not to laugh at his wide-eyed look of awe. “You are the best spy!”
“Damn straight I am,” Apollo agrees, prying Laf’s enthusiastic grip off his pristine and period-accurate merchant’s coat.
People gossip, is the thing, and all the more so when they’re around people who aren’t presenting themselves as soldiers. Most of the vendors sold items made for either side of the battle, though the costume tents tended to be more specialized. Apollo’s tent was the exception; he costumed both sides equally, a purely business decision that had turned out to be lucrative in unexpected ways. With a name like “Mulligan Tailors” on the banner, you’d think people would be a little more on guard, but their lack of historical knowledge was Apollo’s gain. He often thinks it’s funny how he feels more like a spy when he’s just being a costumer than when he actually plays the part of Hercules Mulligan in one of Alex’s scripted scenes.
Across the way, Jack has started gesticulating wildly at Alex, who looks like he’s about to slide off the bench if he leans any farther forward over the table. Apollo makes a snap decision, gesturing to Laf to hang back as he makes his way to the front of the tent and busies himself tidying up a display of stamped leather belts and other accessories. Though his back is turned, it puts him in earshot of Alex and Jack’s conversation, which seems to consist of Jack admitting to reading through all of Alex’s various op-eds and blog posts. Apollo knows for a fact that the kid can’t have read them all. Alex has at least six different pseudonyms for submitting opinion pieces to various blogs and news websites, including one that exists just to refute his own statements and generally stir shit up into a fine froth of comment section cross-arguments. And those are just the ones Apollo’s been able to get him to admit to over the years.
“I mean, I’m not a professional blogger or anything, you know?” Jack is saying. “Maybe it’s not my place--”
“No! No, it’s absolutely your place, J.” Glancing back over his shoulder, Apollo catches Alex reaching across the table to grip Jack’s hand for a few seconds longer than is strictly reassuring. “I really value your opinion.”
Bolstered by the encouragement, Jack launches into what sounds like a very specific and passionate criticism of one of Alex's recent blog posts about school subsidies in inner cities while Alex's eyes get wider and his expression more gleeful every time Jack pokes a hole in one of his arguments. Apollo nearly chokes on his next breath in surprise. Alex valuing an opinion other than his own on such a hot-button topic is surely a sign of the coming apocalypse. He’s more gone on this kid than Apollo had thought possible.
Laf comes to stand beside him, pouting. “Tu vois? See?! This is what I am dealing with. Now there are two of them!”
Apollo gives his friend a comforting pat because the guy looks genuinely miserable about it, but when he turns to look at Alex and Jack, he can’t help but speculate…
“Oh no.” Laf is giving him a strong side-eye. “I know that look. Don’t be gettin’ that look.”
“50 bucks says they're fucking before the end of the week.”
“Define fucking,” Laf replies automatically before catching himself. “Non. Arrêtez. Quelle?! Alex is married--”
Apollo snorts. “And that's stopped him before?”
“Point…” Laf trails off with a considering look. They’ve all long suspected Alex and his wife have some sort of arrangement, but Apollo’s never asked for details. He’s not sure he’d want them. What happens in fake 1781 stays in fake 1781.
He elbows Laf in the side to get his attention. “So you wanna bet?”
Over at their table, Jack is in the middle of a passionate rant about youth incarceration rates and Alex is staring at his lips.
“Imagine. It’s 1781. The evening of October 14th. The sun hung low in the sky, obscured by a thick, clinging fog. The fields south of the port of Yorktown were still, quiet as the grave they would become for many soldiers that day...and then suddenly!”
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
In the reinforced ditch that is serving as a makeshift trench, Alex covers his ears and manages not to roll his eyes. They were really going hard on the theatrics this year.
“Seven mortar shots sounded across the field, signalling the simultaneous attacks on Redoubts #9 and #10 that would be the first major volley of the famous siege of Yorktown!”
Alex throws a look over his shoulder toward the crowd of onlookers and their decidedly enthusiastic guide. She's a tiny girl, drowning in a ragtag Continental militia uniform, but managing to take up about twice as much space as anyone her size usually needed through sheer expansiveness of gesture alone. Alex feels a certain camaraderie with her almost instantly. For their part, the audience looks equal parts enraptured and spooked by the sudden noise and flailing. The decision to use live mortars this year was at least making an impression. They also meant it was time to get this show on the road.
With a deep breath, Alex turns to face the crowd and puts all that projection he’d learned in public speaking classes to work. “Column, form up! Ready your bayonets! We make for the parapets! Stain those Hessians' coats as red as their commanders!” Well, Alex concedes, maybe the guide isn't the only one getting a little too into it.
He stands to peer over the top of the trench toward the squat square of wooden poles that made up the half-restored hulk of Redoubt #10 as the guide continues. “Unbeknownst to the 70 or so Hessian mercenaries and redcoat officers that manned Redoubt #10, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton had ordered a regiment of men to approach the Redoubt under the cover of the fog, guns unloaded to prevent any accidental gunfire from alerting the scouts that manned the parapets.” Alexander grabs one of the wooden scaffolds holding up the earthworks and boosts himself up to wave at a second group of soldiers on the field. “Forward columns! Haul on the lines!”
At his signal, three small columns of men jump up from their “hiding spots” in the grass, the front of each surging forward to fasten ropes to a section of abatis that wall off the lowest section of the redoubt. Once the ropes are secure, the columns of soldiers begin pulling at them, counting to time their efforts. After a few hard pulls, the abatis begin to bow and snap under the pressure. They are special spikes, hollow and loosely planted just for the purpose of being easily pulled down, but Alex has to admit that the snapping wood and tumbling false logs make an impressive show for the audience.
His men are forming up behind the cover of the fallen logs, preparing to storm through the opening they’ve created before the enemy can get their wits about them, and Alexander itches to jump out of the trench and lead the assault. Before he can do that, however, there is another order to be given. “Lieutenant Colonel Laurens!”
John bounds over from his position along the forward end of the trench, ending up shoulder to shoulder with Alexander against the scaffold. “Yes, sir?”
Alexander turns to him and takes John by the arm, the realization of just how close they suddenly are to each other stalling his next line for a long moment. Jack is flushed, wide-eyed with excitement, and it isn't exactly a bad look on him. Alex shakes himself internally and puts every ounce of conviction he can muster into his voice. “Take a column of men to the rear of the redoubt, let not one of those Hessian dogs escape!”
With a nod, John takes off, gathering a dozen men to follow him up and over the top of the trench, crouching low through the grass and shrubbery until they reach the wall of the Redoubt. Keeping close to the wall, they sneak around toward the back, meeting resistance only once. A small group of British and Hessian forces attempt to surprise them, jumping down into John's group from a stand above some of the shorter abatis, but they are quickly dispatched. When the last of the enemy flopped down into the grass, a cheer went up from the crowd of spectators behind the trench.
Once John’s men are out of sight around the side of the wall and their entry into the Redoubt is secured, Alexander scrambles over the lip of the trench. “Bayonets charge!” The men swarm out toward the breech in the wall. On the stands above the remains of the lower abatis, several Hessian riflemen fire into the oncoming crowd and a few men around the edge of the group tumble down “dead” on the grassy slope. Alexander hits the edge of the Redoubt and vaults over the fallen abatis into the melee inside the walls.
This is always the most fun part of the assault. They have to stall for several minutes at this point so that the audience can make their way over the footbridge across the trench and across the field to the Redoubt proper. What this translates to when you added in a hundred or so keyed-up reenactors out for fictitious blood is a lot of mock fighting where more than a few people forget to pull their punches. By the time he can hear the guide’s voice approaching, Alex has already gotten into a few overzealous scrapes, including taking a rifle butt to the thigh that is definitely going to leave a bruise and repaying it with an elbow to the offending redcoat’s kidney.
The fighting cleans up quickly as soon as the audience begins streaming in along the lip of the Redoubt, falling easily back into the plan. It’s not choreographed, exactly, but history is history. The redcoats can’t win this particular battle, and so after a bit of push and pull cross the enclosed hilltop, they surrender amid cheers and applause from the crowd and the sound of the guide absolutely losing her mind with excitement. She flails in a vaguely southwesterly direction and as one the audience turns to look toward Redoubt #9, where Alex can make out the Continental Army and French Infantry banners already hanging from the wall, soldiers cheering and waving back toward them in celebration.
Jack skids down the hill from the back of the Redoubt, colliding with Alex in a sudden rush of contact. “Yo, we won!” he shouts, practically in Alex’s ear, one hand coming to clutch at the back of Alex’s neck and draw him close. It’s not quite an embrace, but Alex feels the pull of it, the tidal force of Jack’s everything drawing him in, impossible to resist. Even in victory, Alex is helpless, every defense razed to the ground, cornered and desperate in the face of the inevitable.
So he kisses him.
He kisses Jack.
It’s over as quickly as it started, not even long enough for any of the cheering soldiers around them to notice, though it felt like an eternity to Alex. In front of him, Jack seems to be having a lot of trouble focusing, still smiling like the last few second didn’t quite register.
After a long moment of blinking at each other, Alex opens his mouth to say something, to apologize, to wax poetic about Jack’s freckles in the sunlight, anything that isn’t this--
“Coffee,” Jack says, and Alex shuts his mouth with a click.
“Coffee. I mean, do you want to maybe get some? Coffee?” Jack is starting to blush now, red along his cheekbones and the tips of his ears, and Alex may be dying right here in the middle of this half-restored historical hillock. “I heard the museum has a coffee shop and I’m sorry, man, I know it’s historically accurate and all but that camp coffee is so bad and….like....”
“Yes? Wait, yes the coffee sucks, or--”
“Yes I want to get coffee with you. And yes the camp coffee is fucking awful, but mostly the first thing.”
“OK!” Jack says, and Alex opens his mouth to reply something witty and suave that totally wouldn’t have just been repeating “OK!” back at him like an idiot, but there are arms around his waist hauling him away and up onto the shoulders of a crowd and people are cheering at him, cheering for him or for Hamilton at least and none of it matters because.
He’s getting coffee with Jack.
Alex pumps both his fists in the air. “Victory!”
A few hundred yards away across the fields and trenches between the two Redoubts, Major General Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette lowers his spyglass. Behind him, his men celebrate their victory, rounding up the surviving British troops to march them back to their encampment.
Heaving a satisfied sigh, Laf smiles. “About fucking time.”
Wow the in-character and out-of-character name fuckery was especially strong in this chapter. I hope it wasn’t confusing!
Thanks so much for your comments on the last chapter, they inspired me to keep working on this! I hope the next chapter won't take as long to finish especially since the next chapter is the good one. And by good I mean pornographic.
~*~ In Which I Totally Just Make Shit Up ~*~
The current version of the Yorktown Battlefield at the Colonial National Historical Park does not include Redoubt #10. Nor does it include most of the things that are portrayed or happen in this fic. The battlefield bit of the Colonial National Historical Park is mostly a giant field with some cannons and a visitor’s center. I gave it some oomph.
Cornwallis’ reeanctor’s name is Mark Brome, named for a pastiche of the actual Cornwallis’ various names and titles: Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG, styled Viscount Brome etc etc these guys had too many titles and names jeeze.
The Pimlico Urban Horsemanship Club does not actually exist. It was inspired by such organizations as the Flecther Street Urban Riding Club (Philadelphia) and Ebony Horse Club (London).
~*~ In Which I Actually Did Some Research ~*~
Washington’s thing about discipline inspired by his first annual message to Congress.
An account of the taking of Redoubts and other military services of Hamilton in which he is made out to be a total badass: "Alexander Hamilton, Dangerous Man", from the Journal of American Revolution.
~*~ In Which I Google Some More Language ~*~
Ils me tuent lentement. Je ne peux pas!: They are killing me slowly. I CAN’T!
Tu vois?: You see?
Non. Arrêtez. Quelle?!: No. Stop. What?!
Chibi Blue by thekidbehinditall