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Burr recovers more quickly than he has any the right to, but it still feels like it takes forever. Soon, though, he can walk without much pain, and his leg heals, pink skin covering the wound, shiny and new. Moving too suddenly or too quickly still pains him, but if he is cautious – and Burr is very good at being cautious – he can almost forget he was hurt at all, that he almost died on some nameless island. He resumes his previous vigilance over his own conduct, and Hamilton eases up on him, hovering less, more convinced of Burr’s restored health. And maybe Burr misses it, a little, but that's not something he will admit to. The time on the island has changed from weeks to months, and though Hamilton still diligently carves notches into the tree, Burr no longer looks at them, no longer counts the days.

 

***

 

Hamilton and Burr plant a garden. Burr digs, and makes neat rows, and Hamilton plants seeds that he gathers, tubers, other small green plants that have a slightly bitter taste but that always leave Burr feeling better after he eats them. Neither he nor Hamilton acknowledge the message behind this, the indication that they are preparing for a certain permanence on the island. Burr thinks, cynically, that surely nothing will grow from this, that Hamilton will lose interest and Burr will be left trying to tend to the plants, unable to tell their crop from the weeds, or that something else will go wrong along the way. It surprises him when after only a few days, small, tender green shoots begin to poke out from the neatly laid rows.

Hamilton lavishes the plants with a sort of exuberant affection, carefully watering them, and Burr even hears him speaking to them, one afternoon.

“What are you doing?” asks Burr.

“Talking to them,” says Hamilton. As if Burr was stupid to ask.

“Dare I ask why?”

“It helps them grow, and besides, they're good listeners.”

“Does this mean you’ll talk to me less?”

“Don’t be jealous, Aaron.”

Hamilton looks up from his plants, his tropical garden, and smiles at Burr in a way that makes him feel dizzy. There are more and more moments like that, times where things will feel normal, and then Hamilton will smile at Burr in a certain way that makes his stomach feel sick and excited all at once. It’s the same kind of thrill that had chased through Burr’s veins when he had first met Theodosia.

 

***

 

He and Theodosia had met on a ship, of all things. It had been a short trip down the Hudson, five days, both of them on a return voyage to New York. But it had been long enough for her to show her wit, to catch him with her coy gazes.

He didn’t find out she was married until things had gone far past coy gazes, when he’d joined her and her half-sister Caty on the deck and Caty, though less sharp than his Theodosia, was sharp enough to catch the electricity between them and that’s when she dropped the name - Jacques - like a stone.

But even with that knowledge, with that name, they hadn’t stopped – or perhaps they couldn’t stop. To Burr, it had felt like a thing set in motion.

(Or perhaps that’s just what he told himself, looking back. That they had been somehow fated. As if that disavowed him from any wrongdoing.)

But god, whenever he looked at her, whenever she’d give him her small half-smile, he’d feel like a whole flock of birds were taking flight in his stomach, like he was filled with beating wings.

By the time they disembark he’s falling in love with her and has no intentions of stopping.

It had continued, from there, in fits and starts; a relationship made more of moments than of anything consistent. Still, the nights they had were ones he cherished.

 

***

 

Midday, Burr sits near the ocean, back against a tree, stripping more coconut fibers so he might braid them into rope. He’s gotten better at the braiding, even made himself a bracelet in mimicry of the one he’d made for Hamilton, though he doesn’t wear it, just keeps it in his pocket, like a talisman. It’s a tedious process, stripping the fibers from the husks, but the repetition is calming, in a way. Burr edges the knife close to the husk and pushes gently, slowly removing the fibers, adding them to his slowly-growing pile.

There’s a rustling noise as Hamilton breaks through the growth beside him, several mangoes in hand. He sits down across from Burr.

“I brought presents,” he says – and they are, for they’d discovered mangoes grew mostly on the far side of the island, a good walk from their camp, “lemme see the knife.”

Burr finishes his last strip of fibers, hands the knife over. Hamilton slices the fruit, hands a piece to Burr. It’s almost overripe, and some of the juice drips down his chin. The fruit is overwhelmingly sweet and Burr closes his eyes for a second, savors it. He opens them to find Hamilton watching, something dark and indiscernible in his gaze.

“Yes?” Burr asks.

“You’ve got --,” Hamilton rubs his cheek to demonstrate, and Burr mirrors him.

“Let me,” Hamilton says, and before Burr can respond Hamilton’s thumb traces over Burr’s upper lip, against his cheek, flicking a piece of mango off. The touch is electrifying in ways it shouldn’t be. Hamilton’s hand is back at his side but he’s still looking at Burr.

“I see now why you were always so clean shaven,” Hamilton says.

“Beg pardon?”

“We’ve been here months now and all you have is a little scruff and that half-assed mustache. You’re a shame to mankind, Aaron.”

Burr laughs. Hamilton’s own goatee has grown into a light beard, which Burr kind of likes on him – it makes him look like a wild thing, suited to the wilderness.  

“Maybe I’ll have a ponytail to match yours by the time we leave,” he says.

Hamilton scoffs.

“You wish.”

Hamilton lifts his hand, as if to touch some part of Burr, but then seems to think better of it, drops it back to his side. Burr feels faintly sick with disappointment, and can’t say why. Hamilton instead stands, stretches as if he’d been sitting for hours rather than minutes, and looks to Burr.

“Almost done with the knife? I want to start dinner soon.”

Burr hands it to him, Hamilton’s fingers brushing his as he takes it. Hamilton heads off and Burr tries to braid the fibers he’d stripped, but his mind keeps wandering to Hamilton’s finger tracing his lips, that inscrutable look in his dark eyes.

 

***

 

“What do you miss most?” Hamilton asks one night as they sit near the fire, making supper. It’s easier; now, they’ve been able to chip out crude bowls to cook their food, resulting in food that’s somewhat more evenly cooked.

Burr considers. He misses Theodosia, of course, but the name sits like lead on his tongue, like he doesn't want to mention her to Hamilton.

“I miss beds,” he says, because that seems safe -- until he has the image of being together with Hamilton in a bed, bodies sinking into the mattress, but it’s spoken, too late to take back.

Something passes over Hamilton’s face, brief as a shadow in the firelight.

“You?” Burr asks, hurrying to shift the focus away from him.

“Writing,” Hamilton says, not hesitating, “I miss writing so fucking much. At night, I lay there, I think about all these things Washington could do - things we could do - to change the nation, to truly make us great. And most of these ideas I can remember, but sometimes, I wake up, and all I have is the memory that I had a great idea, you know? I’m scared that without a way to record them, I’m going to lose them.”

“Tell them to me, then,” Burr says, “and maybe between the two of us, we’ll remember. And when we get off this island, we’ll write them down.”

Hamilton looks at Burr from across the fire and the intensity in his eyes is too much. Burr looks away.

“Really?” Hamilton’s voice is more cautious, now, “and you’ll listen.”

“I’ll even improve on them,” Burr replies, drily.

Hamilton laughs.

“Well, my first idea is how we’re going to structure the nation’s debt ---”

 

***

 

They talk well into the night. And for all they’ve been through - the shipwreck, the kiss, Burr almost dying in Hamilton’s arms, the near-kiss (near something) at the riverside - this feels like old times, and Burr wishes for a beer in his hands.

Hamilton’s ideas are good. Better than good, really, they’re great; underlined with a sort of beautiful, maddening logic Burr hadn’t believed Hamilton possessed. So he listens, and offers advice where he sees fit, and to his surprise Hamilton actually considers his recommendations, nods. Burr can feel the energy radiating off of Hamilton, its own kind of heat amidst the embers.

When they head to bed Hamilton is still energetic, still wants to talk - a dam, broken - but Burr is tired, and Hamilton finally senses it. He feels Hamilton scoot closer, feels breath on his neck and that causes goosebumps, causes Burr to tense and focus on his breathing, focus on something that’s not how close Hamilton’s mouth must be.

“Thanks, Aaron,” Hamilton says.

“For what?”

“Listening. I know I talk a lot anyway, but getting to...getting to be like that, with a mind like yours...shit, Aaron, it’s good.”

“Your ideas are good, Alex. I can’t wait to see them play out.”

“Promise?”

There’s something in Hamilton’s voice - hesitation? insecurity? - that Burr is not used to.

“Promise.”

Burr makes the promise like it’s something he has control over. But it seems to be what Hamilton needs to hear, because Hamilton shifts and that hot breath is no longer at his neck, though he can still feel the heat from Hamilton’s body, knows he’s close. Burr wants to turn over, promise Hamilton other things, too, but instead he counts his breaths until finally, finally he falls asleep.

 

***

 

One night, Burr returns from fishing at the beach (he’s gotten more adept with the spear - not great, but passable) to find Hamilton sitting at the fire with a smile that’s wide and a little manic, a smile that thrills and frightens Burr.

“I’ve got a surprise,” says Hamilton, and Burr’s interest is piqued - after so long spent on the island with Hamilton, he wonders what Hamilton could possibly have to surprise him with.

(His mind, a traitorous thing, offers up several options that make the blood rise in Burr’s cheeks.)

“What is it?”

“Guess.”

Burr rolls his eyes.

“A ship.”

Hamilton favors him with a withering glare.

“A coconut.”

“Guess harder.”

“A roasted pig.”

Hamilton, impatient, thankfully ends the game. Instead of provoking Burr for further guesses, he pulls out several coconut-husk vessels of a dark and sinister looking liquid that he’d hidden behind his seat near the fire.

“I’ve made us wine! Well, sort of. Tastes like shit, of course, but considering the materials at hand, I’m rather proud.”

“Wine?” Burr repeats. How on earth did Hamilton make wine, of all things?

“Found a place not far off, managed to ferment some fruit and wild yeasts. People on the island made it for festivals where everyone wanted to get drunk cheap. I started it a while ago, didn’t want to say anything in case it didn’t work. This stuff is way worse, but beggars can’t be choosers.”

Hamilton giggles, and now that Burr’s closer he can see a certain slackness about him. He must have already been drinking. He sits down next to Hamilton, who hands him a coconut shell, then lifts his own.

“Cheers,” he says, tapping his drink lightly to Burr’s, and once again Burr is transported back to the bar.

“Cheers.”

The so-called wine is absolutely disgusting, but Burr throws it to the back of his throat and swallows without tasting much. It doesn’t take long before his head begins to feel light, and looseness overcomes his limbs. The stuff is certainly potent enough, and Burr is thinner now without much in his stomach, and hasn’t had a drink in months besides.

Soon enough they are both flat-out drunk, slumped against one another by the fire, and some far-off part of Burr’s mind tells him to pull away, but the voice is so distant he finds he can ignore it in favor of the solidity and warmth of Hamilton’s side pressed into his. Besides, Hamilton isn’t moving, so why should he?

Hamilton’s head lolls against Burr’s shoulder, fits there in a way that’s too easy, too right, and Burr has to resist the urge to run his fingers up Hamilton’s spine, tangle them in his hair. Suddenly Hamilton’s head lifts and he twists to look at Burr, his eyes too-wide, expression serious – but serious in the way of a drunkard trying to make himself appear sober.

“I have the best idea,” Hamilton says, and, as if this would further support his idea, he places a hand on Burr’s shoulder.

“Yes?”

“Let’s go…swimming!”

Hamilton bursts out laughing, and Burr laughs too, laughs as much at Hamilton’s own drunken glee as he does at the idea. And it does seem like a good idea. Burr’s hand lifts – of its own accord, he thinks – and covers Hamilton’s hand on his shoulder.

“Yes,” he says, adamant – swimming would be a great idea.

They move down the path – now well-worn from a hundred trips of theirs, from camp to sea and back again. The ocean looks gorgeous in the moonlight, dark and shimmering, the moon reflected in a quavering break of silver on the waves.

They undress, and Hamilton actually runs out to the waves, although in his current state the run is more of a shamble. Burr follows him into the water. They wade out about waist high, laughing, when Hamilton pivots suddenly, arm set against the water, splashing Burr, who reacts a moment too late. Burr yelps a little in surprise, and then sends his own wave back, like they’re children. The game continues until Hamilton escalates, moves forward and grabs Burr’s arm, tries to yank him off balance to dunk him. But drunk Hamilton moves with considerably less grace than sober Hamilton, and Burr anticipates the movement, jerks his arm back and steps away from Hamilton’s flailing hand. Hamilton, unaffected, instead drops down, stumbling, and for a moment Burr’s breath catches because Hamilton is close to him now after that thwarted grab, close and seemingly going to his knees before Burr --

Then Hamilton bursts up, both hands splashing now, laughing uncontrollably. Burr, without thinking, grabs Hamilton’s wrists – to stop the splashing, no other reason, none – and they’re close again, just as they’d been when they’d fought, and it’s dangerous. He can feel the bracelet he made Hamilton against his palm, rough, scraping there.

Hamilton doesn’t say anything, but he meets Burr’s eyes and his pupils are blown wide and Burr thinks he wants this, I want this. His grip tightens on Hamilton’s wrists and at that motion Hamilton licks his lips, and oh, this is dangerous again, this is a line crossed –

And that’s when a wave, large and disquiet against the placidity of the ocean, crashes down against them, not over their heads, but shoulder-height, enough to splash their faces. Burr lets go, cuts his arms through the water to keep his balance, and the moment is gone again, and he can’t believe he almost did that, almost tried to kiss Hamilton again.

Burr feels all too sober as they wade back to shore; make their way back to camp.

 

***

 

Burr is out on the beach one day when he looks up and sees a ship, far off in the distance. He starts screaming, waving his arms. He knows it’s hopeless – it’s broad daylight, and the ship itself is practically a speck in Burr’s eye, a brown smudge on the horizon, but he can’t help himself. He screams, and screams.

“HERE, OVER HERE! HELP!”

Hamilton bursts out onto the beach, eyes wild and frantic.

“Aaron? Aaron, are you okay?”

Burr grabs his arm, points to the brown dot receding into the distance.

“It’s a fucking ship!”

Hamilton begins yelling too, adds his voice to the chorus. They chase the boat down the beach, shouting for it. Burr pleads quietly for it to turn, but eventually the brown dot disappears completely from view, swallowed by the sunlight. Burr falls to his knees in the sand, much as he had when he'd first discovered they were on an island; walloped by the sudden grief and hopelessness. The ship had been their chance.

Hamilton goes to his knees beside Burr, wraps an arm around his shoulders. It’s the first time they’ve really touched since that drunken moment in the ocean.

“Hurricane season is tapering off,” Hamilton says, “trade will increase. There will be more ships. Closer ones. I’m sure of it.”

He doesn’t sound sure, but Burr chooses to believe him.

“Now,” Hamilton says, “you need to apologize for scaring the ever-loving shit out of me with that screaming. We’ve had enough near-death experiences here, thanks.”

“Sorry,” Burr says. He realizes that, had he been the one at camp, had he heard Hamilton start screaming with no context, he would have been stricken with fear, too.

“Next time just yell ‘SHIP,’ okay?”

“Okay.”

The word next time fills Burr with a sort of hazy, desperate hope; a pathetic and determined thing.

Next time.

 

***

 

Hamilton hadn’t seemed as bothered by the missed opportunity for rescue as Burr had, however, that night when Hamilton slips into the cave – late, more than an hour after Burr had gone to bed – he reeks of rancid fruit, and Burr realizes Hamilton had stayed up drinking.

“You scared me today,” Hamilton says, and he’s near Burr, close behind him.

“I said I was sorry.”

“You won’t leave me here alone.”

It sounds part question, part statement.

“Never.”

“Good.”

Hamilton wraps his arm around Burr’s waist again, and for a moment there’s silence, then –

“Question or command?” Hamilton asks, laughing – Burr can feel his body shake against his back.

Burr groans.

“I’m not playing, Alex.”

“Come on. Question or command?”

“I didn’t like the last game,” Burr says. Didn’t like how you left, he means.   

“We’ll make this one better. Question or command?”

Burr sighs.

“Question.”

If he’s going to play, he’ll play careful.

“Who’s Jonathan?”

Burr stiffens, rolls halfway over to look at Hamilton. Hamilton’s propped up on the arm that isn’t around Burr, watching him. Burr props up on to his own arm (looking up at Hamilton from such a prone position is too dizzying).

“Where did you hear that name?”

“It’s not my turn yet. Who’s Jonathan?”

“Jonathan was a…friend,” Burr says, then, “he died.”

Hamilton’s face softens.

“Shit, I’m sorry.”

“Where did you hear that name?”

“I didn’t choose quest--” Hamilton begins, but Burr fixes him with a look, and Hamilton amends his answer, “you say it sometimes, in your sleep. Not often. You say some other names, too, but that one I didn’t recognize. And you said it when you were...when you were ill. Screamed it, actually.”

Burr feels stricken – he’d never been a sleep-talker before (to his knowledge, at least), and here was Hamilton, saying Burr cries out names in his sleep? He wonders who else he’s named. Wonders if he’s said Hamilton’s name, too. He’s sure he has. He’s had enough dreams about Hamilton, since they’ve come to the island. The thought of Hamilton watching him sleep, listening and taking note of Burr’s sleep confessions makes him nervous, worried that, asleep, he may confess to things his waking self keeps under lock and key.

“Question or command?” Hamilton asks, again.

“Question.”

“Did you love him? Jonathan?”

Burr remembers that fluttery feeling in his stomach, like birds taking flight; remembers tracing his fingers over those words in Bellamy’s letter – it rains, my boy and I can hardly tell you what sensations I did not feel at the time. Of course there had been nothing between them (just Bellamy’s hand on his cheek, odd, but just a hand, just--), nothing of the sort.

He’s hesitated too long.

“He was my friend,” he says, and maybe he’s imagining it, but the words ring hollow.

It rains, my boy.

Hamilton looks like he wants to ask more, but Burr cuts him off.

“Question or command?” Burr asks.

“Question.”

“Why are you asking about Jonathan?”

Hamilton looks surprised, like he had anticipated a different question.

“Because he’s your…friend,” Hamilton says, “and you care enough about him to cry his name in your sleep and your sickness. Question or command?”

“Command,” Burr says, wanting to distract from the talk of Bellamy.

Hamilton grins, his expression sloppy.

“Command you to kiss me,” Hamilton says, and though the words are made soft and mushy by drink, Burr hears them all too clear.

“Alex,” he says, and draws away.

“Come on,” Hamilton says, shifting so he can stay close to Burr, the arm tightening on his back.

Burr means to push him away, say stop joking, Alex, but what he says instead is: “not when you’re drunk like this.”

Hamilton stops moving, looks at Burr with unsettling intensity.

“When I’m sober, then?” he asks.

“If you ask again.”

“Deal,” Hamilton says, and leans forward, and Burr thinks that Hamilton is going to kiss him. And he does – lips on his cheek, sloppy, a drunk man’s kiss that still leaves Burr buzzing.

When I’m sober, Hamilton had said, but Burr wonders how much of this Hamilton will remember, or will admit to remembering.

 

***

 

Burr wakes to a hand on his shoulder – not shaking, but tracing, the touch light. He opens his eyes, slowly, sees Hamilton there, watching him. There are dark circles under his eyes, and his face is drawn in a way that makes Burr fret, but the eyes themselves are large and soft, focused on Burr.

“I’m sober, now,” Hamilton says, and for a moment Burr only blinks at him, trying to figure out the logic of Hamilton’s statement, and then it all comes rushing back – Hamilton, drunk, wrapped around Burr, asking questions about Bellamy, a command refused.

“Are you asking?” Burr says.

“Commanding,” Hamilton grins, and his fingers move from Burr’s shoulder down his arm, down to his ribs, the touch still so light, almost ticklish. The air has that same weighty, electric tension that he’s felt before, when he stands too close to Hamilton, standing on either side of some line neither crosses.

But there is nothing to discharge the electricity this time, no waves to disrupt the moment, and Burr is drawn – compelled – closer, and this isn’t like the first time, the joke, he leans forward and kisses Hamilton like he’d kissed Theodosia back on the ship and all the times after, bringing a hand to the back of his neck, drawing him in. Hamilton stiffens for a moment and Burr thinks no, no, no, thinks he’d somehow misread it, but before he can act Hamilton softens in his grasp, kisses him back. Hamilton rolls from his side to his back and Burr chases the motion, chases his mouth. Hamilton’s mouth is open beneath his and he feels the slip of tongue in his mouth. Hamilton’s hand moves from Burr’s ribs to his hip, the touch no longer light but gripping, strong and possessive, drawing him in and keeping him there.

Rational thought has fled from Burr’s mind; he’s drunk on the kissing, the touch, the way Hamilton’s skin feels beneath his fingertips.

Burr’s hand moves down, traces across Hamilton’s ribs, his stomach, and goes to rest on Hamilton’s hipbone. As his moves his hand his forearm brushes against a bulge in Hamilton’s pants, and that causes Hamilton to moan, the noise reverberating in Burr’s mouth, a sound that goes straight to his own groin.

A primal part of him wants desperately to strip Hamilton, to take him (however a man might take another man – Burr has a few ideas), to chase this feeling into whatever it may bring. He’s already half out of his mind with want, made greedy by his first tastes of Hamilton, but he knows – he knows – it can’t be like this, because he can’t scare Hamilton, he can’t have them do this and then have to deal with the divide. As much as his body cries out with impulse, Burr draws back. The action of withdrawal causes a physical ache in him – in his groin, of course, but in other places too, his stomach feels hollow, his chest cold, every inch of him wanting – needing – to slot against Hamilton, to fit into him like pieces of a puzzle.

“Alex,” Burr says, and his voice is cracked. Hamilton looks dreadfully fearful and that makes Burr ache too, in a different way.

“Yes?”

Hamilton’s voice is small, and full of questions.

Burr licks his lips, nervous. There’s no rainwater to taste, this time.

“I’m not...” Burr can’t say the word. Sodomite. He’s not. Sodomites are filthy, vile men, the kind who’d copulate with goats as soon as they would with women, men who deserve prison, hard labor, death. And while Burr is not a particularly holy man, he’s certainly not so vile.

So why does he want this, why does Hamilton’s mouth feel so right against his, why does Burr want nothing more than to kiss Hamilton again, want to touch him, make him moan again?

Of course, it’s been months since Burr’s been around anyone but Hamilton, and even release by his own hand has been scarce (partially because exhaustion and low food intake tamps down the libido, but also because of the images that come to mind when Burr does touch himself). So maybe it’s just the fact it’s been so long, and Hamilton’s the only one around, so of course Burr’s lusts might manifest in…unusual ways.

(And the fact he wants to kiss him, the fact Hamilton makes him laugh, the fact Hamilton’s mind is a thing as brilliant as the sun – well. These things go unmentioned.)

“I’m not a sodomite,” he says. The word still feels strange in his mouth, greasy, “I mean, I’ve never...”

“No, me neither,” Hamilton agrees quickly – too quickly, maybe, “I just…I’m used to being around you.”

The explanation is thin, makes no real sense, but Burr nods eagerly.

“Yes, and we’re the only ones here, so this is…it’s a manifestation of that.”

“A matter of convenience,” Hamilton says, and though Burr supposes it’s true – must be true, because he’s no sodomite, and neither is Hamilton, surely – the way he says it makes Burr’s stomach turn.

“Yes,” he says, but it’s not right, but he can’t explain that – not without digging his own grave, laying bare his own odd desires.

Much better to call this what it is (what it must be): a matter of proximity. Convenience (why does that sound so ugly, so wrong?).

“Is this okay?” he asks Hamilton, and lays his hand on Hamilton’s hip again. He resists the urge to grip, to dig his fingers into the skin, resists the urge to smother any response Hamilton may have with kisses.

Hamilton takes a deep breath, and his eyes flutter closed, as if considering, and Burr tries to ignore the anxious thud of his own heart. Hamilton’s eyes open, and there’s something in them that wasn’t there before – something like determination, steely – and rather than speak, his hand wraps around the back of Burr’s neck, pulls him in. Kisses him, deep.

It’s answer enough.

***

 

Burr doesn’t know what to do with his hands. He trails them up and down Hamilton’s side, cups his cheek, grabs a fistful of Hamilton’s hair (dark, knotted, his fist disappearing in it). Hamilton arches at that, moans, and Burr can see him straining through his pants. The hand not buried in Hamilton’s hair moves cautiously over him, fingers near Hamilton’s cock but not touching it even though he wants to, but suddenly he’s unsure of himself. Hamilton’s breaths are coming faster, and his hips jerk up at Burr’s slight touches, so finally Burr places a palm over Hamilton’s groin. Feeling a cock from this angle is strange, and Burr feels another hot flush of guilt, the awful aching weight of sin. He should pull away, end this before he damns himself – damns them both – but god, Hamilton’s mouth feels like a blessing.

(It’s not that Burr’s a particularly religious man – once he’d been, held in the thrall of his grandfather, once he’d even considered a religious path. But the battlefield has a way of changing things. There, he saw men – good men – die senselessly, bullets tearing through them, and his religion dripped out of him like water from a leaky bucket.)

Hamilton lifts his hips and pushes his pants down, doing the work for Burr, and there’s his cock, hard and leaking a little against his stomach. Burr looks at it with some astonishment – he’s seen Hamilton naked, of course, but never hard like this, and he’s never studied him. Hamilton’s cock is long, longer than Burr’s own, but more slim. Burr ghosts his fingers over the underside, and even that slight touch makes Hamilton curse, makes his hips stutter upward, chasing Burr’s touch. Burr makes a loose fist around the head of Hamilton’s cock, fingers dragging through the slit at the tip, leaving his fingers wet with precum. It’s not enough to make for easy movement, so Burr withdraws his hand, licks it and returns it to Hamilton. This is much more suited, and Hamilton lays out all sorts of magnificent curses as Burr’s hand moves on him, dragging down the length, thumb playing on the underside of the head. The angle’s still strange, and Burr’s actions lack any real rhythm, but this doesn’t seem to matter.

“Fuck Aaron, fuck, that’s it, god, fuck,” Hamilton grows incoherent and Burr’s hand doesn’t stop, he tightens his grip, and then Hamilton is spilling out over his stomach, over Burr’s hand, crying out in a sound that fills the cave.

Burr withdraws his come-covered hand, shifts to remove his own pants, uncomfortably aware now of his own erection. His hands get no further than his waistband when Hamilton’s hands cover his, slide the pants off for him.

Hamilton stays there between his thighs, runs his hands along them, and just that simple motion makes Burr moan. He feels wild with want, with need, and those simple light touches on his thighs – oh, his hips now – aren’t enough but they’re also too much, because he’s dizzy with this wanting, dizzy with the knowledge that Hamilton’s between his legs, and oh--

Hamilton’s mouth is on him. Burr watches in disbelief for a moment, at the way Hamilton’s lips are pulled into an O-shape as they stretch around his cock. His eyes are closed, and he looks contented. His head is still, but Burr can feel his tongue swirling over the head of his cock in a kind of brilliance, the point of Hamilton’s tongue tracing along the ridges. And then Hamilton’s head moves, covers more of Burr’s cock in that delightful wet warmth, the slight pull of suction, and Burr has to look away because it’s too much.

It’s not much better with his eyes closed, because in the self-imposed darkness his mind instead focuses insanely on the sensations, on the strokes of Hamilton’s tongue, the wet firmness of the roof of his mouth. One of Hamilton’s hands wraps around Burr’s shaft, covers what his mouth can’t, the palm made slick with spit that leaks from Hamilton’s cock-split lips. Hamilton moves in a rhythm that’s far more established than Burr would have thought, a flood of heat and friction, and Burr tries to wait, tries to make this last as long as possible, but soon he’s on the edge and he grabs Hamilton’s shoulder.

“Alex, fuck, I’m gonna come,” he manages, though the last bit of his sentence is slurred as Hamilton’s tongue drags along him again. Hamilton’s rhythm doesn’t change and Burr wonders if he’d heard him, but then it doesn’t matter because his orgasm overtakes him, a wave that starts in his toes and travels upward, unrelenting, and he spills into Hamilton’s mouth and Hamilton’s swallowing, which makes Burr moan again.

Hamilton's mouth draws off of Burr’s cock with a slick popping noise, and he rolls onto his side beside him. Burr lays there in silence, shoulder against Hamilton, still struck dumb by the earlier sensations of Hamilton's mouth and tongue, by what had just happened, and part of him is still trying to realize it as truth. As he lies there, though, another wave of guilt rises up, filling the spaces previously occupied by his overwhelming lust.

In the church, the one where Burr’s grandfather had ruled with an iron fist and a devotion so deep-set it bordered on mania, there had been a man, a member of the church, who had been tried and found guilty of sodomy. Burr had never known who the other party was, had not entirely grasped the situation, having only been eight or so years old,  but he remembers well enough how his grandfather had paced the living room floor, had raved to no one in particular, his words spat out with disgust: sinner, sodomite. Those spat-out words had seared themselves into Burr’s childhood mind. Later, when they were alone, Burr had asked his grandmother the meaning of the word -- sodomite. It had sounded strange to Burr, almost mythical, though judging by the disgust with which his grandfather had spat the word, it was likely something wicked. She had not met his eyes, had insisted that he didn't need to know, that he didn't need to worry about it. All she would say is it's someone who does ugly, vile, things.

That man – the one at the church – had not been put to death, as was law in some states, but had instead been sentenced to ten years of hard labor. Burr had not thought of him in years and wonders if he had made it out, or if he had died in there, a broken man, made to pay for his sins.

Ugly, vile, things, his grandmother had called them; his grandfather had likely said much worse when Burr was not around him. But nothing about what he and Hamilton had just done felt ugly, or vile, had instead felt imbued with a sense of rightness, like a thing he had been waiting his whole life for without ever consciously knowing it.

Hamilton’s eyes are closed and Burr doesn't know if he's sleeping. Burr shifts, just slightly, and Hamilton's eyes come open, his gaze fixed on Burr. There's a small, tentative smile on his face.

“You okay?” asks Hamilton.

“I'm fine,” Burr says. And he is. He is.

 

***

 

The rest of the day continues as normal, so normal that a wild part of Burr is half-convinced it’s a dream, that’s he’s still sick in the cave and hallucinating things again, hallucinating the way Hamilton’s body had felt beneath him. When it comes time for bed, though, the air once more carries that strange tension, neither one crossing some invisible line even though it had been crossed before.

And it’s horrible, because even though it had just been this morning Burr finds himself wanting again, wanting to touch Hamilton again, wanting to feel his mouth on him again. He wonders if he could find the nerve to take Hamilton into his mouth as Hamilton had done for him. He expects to be repelled at the thought, but instead his groin feels hot, imagining the sounds such an action might elicit from Hamilton.

Burr lies down, but doesn’t roll and face the wall, as he’d been used to doing. Because now it doesn’t matter if their bodies touch - does it? - because that divide is crossed, gone. Hamilton says nothing of this, but lays down facing him, looking at Burr. There’s a smirk on his face, something self-satisfied that Burr doesn't know if he loves or hates.

“Do I have to command you, or…?” Hamilton says, voice playful, and it reassures Burr that no, the morning had not been a dream, had not been some latent fever-vision, but had in fact been real.

Burr responds by putting his arm around Hamilton’s waist, pulling their bodies together. He kisses him, tentative at first, but at Hamilton’s eager return Burr intensifies it, slips his tongue into Hamilton’s mouth. He rolls his hips, grinds his hardening cock against Hamilton and he feels Hamilton moan into his mouth, a throaty noise that only makes Burr harder. He shifts slightly, moves his hips again and ah, Hamilton’s hard too. Burr pauses to divest himself of his pants - wonders if he should just start sleeping without them - and hurries to remove Hamilton’s as well. Hamilton laughs, a lazy sound, bringing his hips up to help Burr.

“Eager, aren’t we?”

Burr’s flushes, glad for the dark. Eager doesn’t begin to describe it. This is a need, heady and overwhelming.

He doesn’t answer, instead places a spit-slicked palm on Hamilton’s cock, which certainly does the job of distracting him. Burr strokes him lazily, fingers tracing along a vein standing out on his shaft. Hamilton's groaning and cursing, a low frustration at Burr’s lazy pace, but this doesn’t bother him.

Burr finds, in the dark, it’s all too easy to move down until he’s settled between Hamilton’s thighs. Hamilton goes queerly still as Burr lowers his head, hand still on Hamilton’s cock. It’s an odd mix of newness and familiarity - Burr had loved this position with women, on his stomach between their thighs, fingers and tongue working in tandem. Slowly, he licks at the tip of Hamilton’s cock the way he might a woman’s clit, and Hamilton groans at that. Burr continues, staying at the head, tracing ridges with the firm tip of his tongue. He begins to move his hand, too, sliding up and down Hamilton’s shaft. He eventually finds a sort of clunky rhythm, takes more of Hamilton’s cock into his mouth. It’s a strange sensation, having his mouth filled like this, tasting the faint saltiness of his precum, but it’s not unpleasant (and the fact Burr is still hard despite going untouched suggests he likes it more than he will admit). Once he begins to move faster Hamilton’s words begin to discombobulate, until there’s only fuck and Aaron and fuck again, the wordsmith coming apart before him, and Burr revels in this and when Hamilton comes Burr swallows, and the come burns faintly in his throat, like seawater.

Burr moves back up Hamilton’s body, kisses him again and Hamilton licks the last traces of come from Burr’s mouth. Hamilton’s loose-limbed and smiling and Burr feels a certain pride in knowing he’s the reason for Hamilton’s slackness. Hamilton shifts so Burr’s on his back, now, and Hamilton’s mouth sucks at Burr’s neck, teeth grazing his collarbone. Hamilton’s mouth travels back up Burr’s neck until his lips are by his ear.

“I’m gonna make you come so fucking hard,” Hamilton whispers, breath hot, and Burr only manages a little moan in reply, already being made stupid by Hamilton’s hand, which has crept down and taken Burr’s cock in hand, stroking lazily. Hamilton moves again, mouth and tongue trailing down Burr’s body. Hamilton moves between Burr’s legs but still mostly ignores his cock, instead mouthing at his thighs, a light trail of teeth that sets Burr on edge. He’s ready to start begging (it’s easier, in the dark, to beg) when Hamilton finally licks a wet stripe up the underside of Burr’s cock, tongue swirling around the head. And then, finally, Hamilton takes him into his mouth, and all Burr’s sensations spiral down into that feeling, the slick roughness of Hamilton’s fingers on his shaft, mouth and tongue wet and soft on his cock. Hamilton moves his head, takes more of Burr into his mouth, what feels like an entirely impossible amount, until Burr can feel the head of his cock pressing into the back of Hamilton’s throat. Burr expects him to start choking but instead Hamilton hums, and the reverberations thrum across the thin skin of his cock and it’s exquisite, this feeling. Burr tries to last, tries to prolong every sensation of Hamilton’s mouth and tongue and throat, that hum (Hamilton trying to talk, no doubt), but too soon he’s coming, and crying out Hamilton’s name, fingers dug into his hair.

Hamilton kisses him, after, and that is perhaps the strangest of all because they are both sated, but Burr still finds himself wanting to kiss him, wanting to touch him. Not with the same urgency of before, of course, but he still craves the taste of his mouth, still wants to skim his fingers along Hamilton’s side. They keep kissing, and Burr thinks he could have done it all night except Hamilton pulls away.

“We gotta sleep, Aaron,” he says, and his voice sounds thick, a little raw, and Burr wonders if he made it that way.

“Goodnight, Alex,” Burr says, and kisses him once more. Just once more. Because it feels natural. Feels easy. He doesn’t even think about how natural, how easy, until he’s lying there, trying to sleep, trying to ignore the giddy feeling in his stomach, the one that feels like a hundred birds taking wing.

 

***

 

At first they stick to the cave, where it’s darker, where neither one can fully see the other. But one day Hamilton is bathing, and watching Hamilton’s hands move over his own body ignites something in Burr, so he undresses himself and wades out, comes up behind Hamilton and wraps his arms around him. Hamilton turns, water dripping down his face, and Burr kisses him. Hamilton seems taken aback at first, to be kissed so boldly in the daylight, but he kisses Burr back readily enough, and does not protest when Burr guides him to the shore.

Burr sucks him off there with the sun beating down on his back. He keeps his eyes open to watch Hamilton, his features in stark relief in the daylight. Hamilton’s eyes are closed and his head is thrown back, and Burr thinks he’s beautiful, like this.

It goes on in that way. They don’t talk about it again, not since that morning, when they’d agreed - a matter of convenience - instead let it happen. But an intimacy grows elsewhere, too -- Burr finds himself touching Hamilton in other moments, brushing hair from his face while they’re working, or finding small moments to kiss him with no ulterior motive. Hamilton allows these moments, and does not discourage Burr (sometimes even seems to encourage him). The truth is, it feels like a relationship, like what he’d had with Theodosia. In some ways it’s even better, because - and the irony of this does not escape him - there is no need for secrecy when they are the only two human souls to inhabit the island.

 

***

 

Another storm comes, and they are once more constrained to their cave. This time, though, there’s no need for games to pass the time. Burr has Hamilton on his back, straddling him with his arms pinned overhead, sucking bruises into Hamilton’s collarbone. He moves down, releasing Hamilton’s arms to put his hands to better use, one sliding along Hamilton’s shaft and the other ghosting fingertips along his thighs. He moves down, takes Hamilton into his mouth, tightens his grip and moves in earnest as Hamilton’s freed hands scrabble over his back, hips stuttering upwards. Hamilton pulls Burr off of him, pulls him up into a kiss, a demand Burr obliges, though he keeps his hand moving on Hamilton.

“Fuck, like that, stay with me, fuck,” Hamilton comes with a groan that Burr feels in his own mouth, leaving their stomachs sticky with his spend. Burr shifts and moves off of him. Hamilton’s hand wanders over, strokes Burr lazily, and even those casual touches have Burr moaning. But rather than intensify his actions, Hamilton shifts, scrapes come off his stomach with the edge of his spit-slick hand, moves it between his own thighs. On his side now, he moves back against Burr, who is unsure what to do, other than admire this view of Hamilton, the dip of his back into his ass.

Laughing softly, Hamilton reaches back, guides Burr – oh – into the space between his thighs, a space slick with spit and come. Burr groans, forehead pressing into Hamilton shoulder, hand grabbing his arm, then his hip, fucking into his thighs, and god, it’s almost like he’s fucking Hamilton, he’s close, and it’s not something he’d ever consciously imagined himself wanting, but as he watches his hips thrust flush against the swell of Hamilton’s ass he’s something like awestruck.

Burr’s close, edged, but the angle – on their sides, like spoons – isn’t quite enough, he pushes tentatively at Hamilton’s hip and Hamilton obliges, rolls onto his stomach, and god, it’s tighter like this, and Hamilton’s moaning, one hand reaching back to grab Burr’s thigh in encouragement, and it’s all the encouragement he needs, he comes crying Hamilton’s name and collapses over his back, kissing his neck, tasting salt and a hint of sweat.

“You’re a mess,” he tells Hamilton, affectionate, and Hamilton laughs.

“We’re both messes,” Hamilton replies, wrapping a slick leg around Burr’s waist and pulling him in, locking him there as the rain pounds overhead, and Burr thinks he's never been so happy in his life.

 

***

 

Burr is tending camp in the early evening, pulling weeds from Hamilton’s garden (which has grown quite prolific, Hamilton even expects to harvest some of the arrowroot soon), when he hears Hamilton’s shout.

“SHIP!”

Burr shoots to his feet, ignoring the stab of pain in his calf (mostly healed, but still tender, still off) and takes off running. He gets to the beach in record time, and sees Hamilton, arms waving. He looks out, and the ship is close, much closer than the last one had been, he can make out more details – the sails, a dark flag flying (he doesn’t know the country, doesn’t care).

Burr shouts, and Hamilton runs back to the camp (Burr doesn’t question this, focusing his attention on shouting, screaming, trying desperately to draw the ship’s attention). Hamilton returns, panting, holding two torches. It’s not completely dark yet, but evening quickly encroaches, and they wave the fire into the night, chasing the ship down the beach, screaming themselves hoarse. Burr says every prayer he knows and a few he makes up besides.

Please.

The ship turns, and begins to head towards them.