“Hamilton! Please, I have someone here that I would like for you to meet.”
Just behind the polished mahogany desk that headed the large office, Washington gestures him over animatedly, one hand coaxing Alexander toward the open doors while the other rests on the shoulder of a man that he is hard fought to recognize from his position in the hallway. Studying the man in his approach, Alexander’s eyes take in the rich complexion of his skin, the sharp definition of his jawline, and the plush set of his lips. His style of dress is colorful to say the least; flamboyant in some regards and reminds Alexander of the lavished aristocracy of a certain empire only just recently escaped.
Who the fuck wears fuchsia anyway?
And that smell…
Alexander scents the air as subtly as he can and is hardly able to contain the small gasp of shock that wriggles through his chest when understanding dawns on him.
This is an alpha.
His breathing picks up and he is sure for a moment that the thunderous pounding of his heart is loud enough to alert the other two men across the room to the sudden anxiety shooting through him, his pulse echoing in his ears.
And it isn’t his imagination when the young alpha’s shoulders curve inward as Alexander cautiously makes his way forward, those dark eyes darting to the floor in deference. The tilt of his chin showcases the alluring angles of his face and the newly displayed column of his neck is wrong, wrong, wrong, but the gesture is as non-threatening as they come and Alexander releases a long sigh.
When he no longer feels like the world is at a tilt, he clears his throat loudly and allows every ounce of disdain that is bubbling just beneath the surface of his skin to boil over, lets it enter his voice as he snarls, “What is this?”
For his part, Washington levels him with a look that fails to express the full extent of his exasperation but is enough to quiet him before anything more impertinent can be said.
“Excuse him.” The President says, addressing the alpha apologetically. “For every remarkable insight Mr. Hamilton provides us as our Secretary of the Treasury he is unfortunately compelled to match with some misguided indelicacy. But worry not…” The pleasantly even tone of his voice wavers and deepens in warning. “He will behave himself if he at all cherishes the seat in which he sits.”
The heat of Alexander’s agitation simmers at the reprimand and he bites his tongue as Washington coaxes the young alpha forward with a guiding hand.
Washington forces a genial smile as he looks between them. “Alexander Hamilton, meet Thomas Jefferson. He will be the man heading our State’s Department.”
Jefferson promptly holds out a hand at the tail end of Washington’s introductions, presumably with the expectation that Alexander will return the gesture. The alpha smiles at Alexander in a hesitant sort of way, careful not to reveal the full array of his teeth, just enough to tease a flash of white from behind cherry flushed flesh. His eyes fix on a spot just above Alexander’s left shoulder, flickering up momentarily to make direct contact before flittering away just as quickly.
He speaks in a drawl, his words warm and syrupy as they slide off his tongue. “It’s nice to make your acquaintance, Secretary Hamilton.”
Brow furrowed and mind turning over this new puzzle, Alexander stares at the other man in confused silence.
As it becomes clear that his greeting will go unmet, Jefferson’s smile begins to crack in fragments around the edges, the upturn of his lips morphing into something brittle and resigned. His fingers flex once nervously and the dip in his elbow bends as he begins his retreat.
But before his hand can drop, Alexander’s own darts out and clutches at fingers made limp by a rejection now temporarily redacted. His fingers squeeze the alpha’s hand briefly, a quick pressure.
“Pleasure.” Alexander pushes the word out from between gritted teeth, letting the hand drop from his own quickly.
“Would you excuse us?” Alexander’s attention zeros in on the beta standing beside the now fidgeting alpha, tugging insistently at Washington’s arm as he corrals him away from his own office out into the hallway.
“Mr. President, a word?”
“You’d have an alpha as a senior officer in your cabinet?” Alexander shouts, stuffed between the copy machine and a large blue recycling bin in the cramped space of the supplies closet. “Have you lost your fucking mind, George?”
Leaning against a shelf of ledgers, Washington regards Alexander with a level gaze, his calm infuriating in these circumstances. “The man is brilliant and governs one of our largest constituencies. Whatever prejudice you harbor against the alpha-born I expect you to put aside, do you understand? Now is not the time to—”
“It’s not my prejudice you should concern yourself with,” Alexander retorts indignantly before making a face, his brain catching up to his mouth. “And I’m not— By the way. I don’t have a problem with… him.”
Washington snorts, the beta looking decidedly unimpressed.
“What concerns me is the position you’re putting your administration in during a very tumultuous time in our brand new nation’s very early history.” Alexander sputters. “We just had a revolution, sir. Now is the time to ground ourselves for the people, not open ourselves up to salacious rumors, and yet the first thing you do is bring this feral—”
Washington holds up a quieting hand and Alexander bites his tongue so hard that for a moment he fears that he has torn straight through the muscle.
“We’ll manage.” Washington reassures him, well tries to anyway. “Let me worry about the people for now. You need to worry about yourself, Alexander. Jefferson is here to stay and you need to figure out how to deal with that.”
Alexander nods, mostly for show, because he realizes that arguing the point further is going to get him nowhere real fast.
But even as his mouth stills, his mind races.
He tries for all of two hours that first day before he realizes that this new arrangement is not going to work.
The man is insufferable.
Jefferson’s politics are absurd; his ideas for the future of the nation are at the same time idealistic and restrictive in their scope. The alpha wastes no time and mass emails the entire cabinet on his ideas on free markets and limited government practices, and only two paragraphs into the letter Alexander can feel himself foaming at the mouth at the political implications of such a fantasist notion of governing.
He wants to tear into the other man, but as Alexander finds out within that first week, Jefferson keeps mostly to himself to an almost drastic degree, holing himself away in his office for hours on end. Their doors are across the hall from one another and on nights when he stays later than usual, the janitorial staff having already come and gone, Alexander leaves his own office to see the light still peeking from beneath Jefferson’s door. For as much as the man works, he almost never seems to speak. He navigates around his beta and omega coworkers with a practiced avoidance, mildly charming when forced into interaction but otherwise removed, careful with what he says and how he presents himself. He never looks anyone in the eye, like it’s beneath him to do so and oh boy is that something that rubs Alexander the wrong way.
Yeah, he thinks.
This isn’t going to work.
It isn’t until their first cabinet meeting together that Alexander fully comprehends how true that is.
The topic on the table is the national debt plan he’s been working on for months now and the prospect of revealing its finer aspects for the first time has his stomach practically aflutter.
Alexander stands before the cabinet and presents the men seated before him with a lopsided smile, hoping to ooze a confidence he doesn’t really feel but needs to exude from every pore in his body if he’s going to make this work. He makes his opening statements, builds up to the big announcement, and then lets the ball drop.
“And that is why, gentlemen, I move for the establishment of a central bank for the country, to have the Federal government take over state debt from the war.”
The room is sent into a buzz of chatter, people turning to their neighbors, both in outrage and intrigue. A small part of Alexander revels at the sight, the chaotic rumblings of a group of his political peers startled out of their daze and roused into discourse.
Over the hum of voices one in particular pipes up from the end of the conference table and Alexander has to crane his neck to see its owner, his eyes falling on a familiar head of tight, springy curls.
“What about those states unburdened by war debts?” Jefferson asks, his voice unnaturally even, like a bored schoolteacher forced to play devil’s advocate. “You would have Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia responsible for the failings of other states?”
Alexander fights for civility as he gives his answer. “They are a part of this Union, so yes. Centralized debt will help ease the flow of capital through the entire nation, which stands to benefit everyone.”
Jefferson clucks his tongue loudly, his gaze trained at the wall. “Some more than others.”
He grits his teeth at the remark, his composure lost momentarily in his agitation.
“Not all of us can be uplifted by the weight of our own sizable inheritance, Jefferson.” He snaps back, forgetting every practiced counter remark he had formulated prior.
The alpha continues to stare at the wall, but Alexander catches the subtle twitch of the man’s lips. “Secretary Hamilton, are you implying that I did not earn my spot at this table?”
Alexander snorts and something dark and ugly rises up in his chest. “You’re here aren’t you?”
From his seat at the center of the table, Washington thumps his hand on the surface once in warning. “Hamilton.”
The omega recognizes his misstep and is a moment away from continuing his pitch when Jefferson’s voice once again fills the room.
The Southerner snorts. “You forget your own privilege while boorishly checking mine. For all my qualifications, my fierce intelligence, my aptitude and the impassioned recommendation of my peers, there will always be those who only see a feral at the adult’s table.”
His eyes remain fixed on the wall, but his head tilts vaguely in Alexander’s direction in acknowledgement.
“If money is the only means by which I can equal the playing field that is a failure of the state of social equality in this country not of mine.”
Washington clears his throat and slaps his hand against the table once more, a bit more insistent now.
“Gentlemen,” he entreats, an edge of steel entering his voice. “I’d like us to return to the topic at hand.”
“Sure.” Jefferson murmurs and Alexander is surprised when the alpha turns his gaze toward Washington, uncertainly in his eyes. “Apologies.”
“Back on topic.” Alexander continues, trying to shake off the anger that still coats his teeth. “Why don’t we discuss how Jefferson picks apart my plan while proposing no alternative in its place?”
Jefferson wastes no time. “It is not my job to offer one, just to point out that yours goes against everything this nation hopes to stand for.”
“Perhaps instead of living up in the clouds you check in back to the present where real life is happening. You focus all your attentions on ideals and blind yourself to the realities of governing. If we pool our state’s resources, then we get a single larger, more favorable loan. We bind our fiscal responsibility and in the process solidify a shared identity as a nation, giving us access to much greater opportunity.
The room bursts into a buzz of murmuring voices, but Jefferson just shakes his head unimpressed.
“By creating—” And he can’t stomach the way Jefferson’s voice stays so painfully non-committal, borderline indifferent as he takes another shot. Alexander wants to shake him, dig his fingers into the other man, and see what’s underneath.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” He interrupts and he’s not thinking when he stalks across the room to hook his fingers around the alpha’s jawline, jerking the man’s gaze none too gently upward. “Just look at me, would you?”
The alpha goes rigid beneath him, but Jefferson’s eyes finally meet his own, large and round with shock.
“Hamilton!” Washington barks, appalled.
“You were saying.” Alexander prompts, ignoring the President and the accompanying gasps that fill the room.
In his grasp, Alexander feels it as Jefferson swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing along the long line of his throat.
With his eyes on Alexander, Jefferson speaks, his voice betraying none of the distress that shines through his eyes, distress that Alexander forces himself to ignore. “By creating an institution like the one you are proposing, the government will be vesting considerable power all in one part of the country and all to one person. The creation of a National Bank as you describe it would create a power imbalance by unfairly empowering New York City and yourself under the guise of alleviating state debt.”
Alexander frowns and opens his mouth to dispute the accusation. “No, that’s not—”
“Monetarily conning a nation from the liberty they just fought in a war to obtain by placing unprecedented power in the hands of an unelected official,” The alpha finishes as if he hadn’t noticed Alexander’s attempt to interrupt.
Turning his cheek to the side, Jefferson gently breaks Alexander’s grasp on his chin and the secretary’s eyes flitter downward to the floor, his body appearing to hum with barely contained energy. “I feel my opinion on the matter has been exhausted for today. I motion that the meeting be adjourned for the time being and that the issue on the table be brought for a vote at a later date.”
“Yes, of course.” Washington quickly agrees looking more and more concerned as the seconds pass.
Jefferson is still turned away from the rest of the table though and is not in a position to see it, shoulders hunched over, head bowed. Alexander stands above him, something like regret swelling inside his chest.
“If that is all, I will excuse myself.”
Without waiting for a reply, the alpha rises to his feet and leaves, his bitter scent lingering behind him.
“Hey!” Alexander yells as he tears out of the conference room, Jefferson several paces ahead of him. “Wait a second. We need to talk—”
He gets close enough that he’s able to snag the crook of the alpha’s arm, but as soon as he does the omega wishes he hadn’t.
“Do not touch me.” Jefferson hisses, whirling around, dislodging Alexander’s hand in the process. The alpha’s nostrils flare as he snarls at the invasion of his space and for the first time in a long time, Alexander feels small and intimidated. He shrinks back, moving out of the other’s way. “Do not follow me. And do not ever think of handling me like that ever again.”
The alpha’s anger rolls over Alexander in waves and the omega’s chest tightens with anxiety as a chill descends upon him.
He’s one second away from letting out a keening whine when Jefferson seems to deflate all at once. His posture slumps and his expression carefully flattens out into something unreadable. He takes a step away from Alexander, who is fast on his way to having a mild panic attack in the middle of the government building, before dipping his head low in what looks to be a bow.
“I apologize.” Jefferson’s voice is crafted to be soft and almost monotone, nothing like the biting tone from moments earlier. “I should not have raised my voice and I should not have lost my temper.”
Alexander watches in awe as the powerful lines of Jefferson’s body bend and curl inward. There is something worn down in the stoop of his shoulders, and he looks like a man trapped in his own misery but resigned to it all the same.
When he looks up again, Alexander is surprised to see fear swimming in the alpha’s dark eyes.
“I realize that I am not in the position to ask you for favors, but I would greatly appreciate it if you let the President know that I am taking off early today.”
There’s a subtle tremble in Jefferson’s voice and Alexander’s dread only sharpens in response to it. “He can reach me by the usual modes of communication if he needs to do so.”
He forgets momentarily how to form words but by the time he figures it out Jefferson is long gone.
Jefferson is absent an additional two days before he returns to the office.
Alexander catches a glimpse of him when he first enters the building and watches as he immediately retreats to the safety of his office, pulling his door shut with a decided ‘thunk’. But they’ve got unfinished business between them, the kind that leaves a persistent itch in his teeth and Alexander barely wastes a second before barging into the alpha’s office.
The other man’s lip curls at the intrusion but he remains silent and watches as Alexander strides up to his desk, his eyes tracking the stack of papers the omega unceremoniously drops into a heap in front of him.
“I have some paragraphs I wanted you to look over, I need a second pair of eyes on paragraphs 13, 18, 19 and 21. I flagged them for you, you can just skip ahead.”
Jefferson looks at him, expression crossing somewhere between irritation and deadpan as his jaw works almost involuntarily to the point where he looks like he’s chewing on the inside of his cheek. But Jefferson does not skip ahead and frankly Alexander had been counting on the other man’s thoroughness and chooses to sink down into one of the plush armchairs that sit in front of the alpha’s desk. He waits in silence while the alpha reads through the document, his face steadily twisting into a look of bewilderment as he works his way deeper into the policy draft. When he’s finished reading, Jefferson leans back in his chair and stares despondently at the papers again, unseeingly as though in deep thought.
“Well?” Alexander probes, feeling restless after sitting still for so long.
“I don’t understand what this is,” Jefferson says haltingly, regarding him with weary reservation. He makes eye contact this time but it wavers in and out. “Is this some kind of game to you?”
“No. Not at all! I’m— I was trying to show you that…” He trails off, pauses a moment to chose his next words with care. “Look, I understand that I overstepped the other day.”
Jefferson wrinkles his nose and his mouth pinches a little. “Overstepped.”
Alexander nods. “Well, yeah.”
“So, this isn’t really about alpha-born rights at all. You’re here to clear your conscience.” And the flat way in which he relates the words makes it clear that he isn’t asking, more like he’s reaching a conclusion.
Alexander makes a small noise of disagreement and squawks gracelessly. “Not true! I care. Sure I do.”
“I’m curious.” Jefferson leans forward, elbows resting on the desk. “Apart from me, do you actually know any alpha-born, Secretary Hamilton? I can’t imagine you giving any one of us the time of day if you had a choice about it.”
Alexander’s heart sinks to his stomach.
“You’d be mistaken then.” He says a bit wounded at the characterization, but optimistic that he can still rebound. “I know alpha-born. I served with alphas during the War. At the Battle of Yorktown I was tasked to lead a group mostly comprised of alphas escaped from the British’s labor force.”
“And how did you find them, these alpha soldiers?” Jefferson asks probingly. “What did you glean from the time spent in their company?”
“They were useful to the cause, you know?” He says, a little unthinkingly. “Good soldiers. They got the job done.”
It’s the wrong thing to say, but the words have already left him and Jefferson’s expression has already morphed into one of disappointment.
“Useful.” He treats the word like a bad taste in his mouth. “We speak of the rights of men, but to my ears it does not seem as though you speak of men at all. You reduce me and my kind to tools for your service. To things.”
“You misunderstand me again—”
“No. I think I understand you just fine.” And the even tone he’s maintained up until this point drops entirely and now his voice is caustic and dripping with disdain. “I understand that you don’t really see me at all, Secretary Hamilton. Just another pawn in your game of chess.”
It’s a reaction to being challenged, he knows that, but Alexander goes on the offensive because he’s reckless and stupid and obviously lacks even a notion of self-preservation.
“Would you listen to yourself?” He cries, muscling past Jefferson’s uninviting tone by protesting too hard. “I find it disquieting that I offer you an ally in your fight and your first inclination is to attack me. You do yourself a disservice, Jefferson.”
The alpha lets out a derisive snort. “Allyship is not allyship when it is conditional.”
“Well, you emphasize liberty to the exclusion of order and morality, sir.”
Jefferson’s fingers curl and the alpha shakes his head wearily.
“I have given enough of myself away to reach where I am today and I will not be bullied into giving one more inch.”
Alexander wonders what the fuck that means and is about to ask when Jefferson continues.
He points a finger at the omega. “You draft a painfully transparent alpha rights bill in the hopes of swaying me into your good graces, under the presumption that I will simply put aside the fact that you have made it abundantly clear how little you respect me…” Jefferson slaps the hand back to his chest. “And I’m not stupid. Your debt plan needs congressional approval and you…” He punctuates each word with a tap against the table. “Don’t. Have. The. Vote. I may not be popular, but I have Madison by my side and with my say you could easily have the South in your pocket. So you dangle anti-discrimination legislation in front of me and call yourself an ally when really what you are is another auctioneer selling another’s personhood to the highest bidder.”
It’s a damning characterization and it’s difficult to swallow. “You’re wrong.”
“Am I though?” Jefferson asks. He stares aimlessly in the general direction of the window, his fingers drumming against the surface of the desk. “Tell me this, if I said that I would levy ever ounce of influence that I have to ensure your debt plan’s demise, would you still fight to get this alpha bill on the congress floor? Would you be able to separate what I did as an individual and remain steadfast in the fight for the rights and equality of the oppressed?”
At the silence that follows, Jefferson throws his head back and laughs loud and ugly. The sound is harsh in the still air and his lips peel back just enough to reveal canines.
When he stops, he meets Alexander’s eyes again and the humorless smile left on his face crumbles. “And why am I surprised? You don’t care about alphas and you don’t feel bad about what you put me through the other day, just so long as you get what you want. So long as your ambition stays fed.”
The words have the same effect as being suddenly doused in cold water. He can only stare at the alpha as he struggles to regain some semblance over the slurry of emotions wrecking havoc inside his chest.
“This is how things get done.” The excuse is weak even to his own ears. “You have to give something to get something.”
The alpha blinks slowly and his lip peels back. “I am done giving more than I get. Am I suppose to thank you for throwing me your scraps? I may be your equal in title, but in practice…” A growl rips from his throat. “You make demands of my time, my privacy, and even my intimate space— The other day you saw it appropriate to bring me to heel like a misbehaving dog as a room of my peers watched on, like it was nothing.”
“You wouldn’t look at me!” He insists feebly, grasping for a way out. “You had the balls to rip apart my financial plan but lacked the courage to look me in the eye while doing so.”
Jefferson practically snarls, “And risk you filing a report against me?”
“For what?” He spits back, confused.
And that gives the other man pause, his jaw working in circles, teeth grinding.
“How do you simultaneously forget what I am and still manage to mock me for it every other minute of the day?” Fury and frustration seem to be getting the best of him because the man is almost trembling now and his words shake along with him. “Eye contact lasting more than 5 seconds is considered a level three aggression. I won’t leave myself vulnerable to such tedious litigation.”
Oh shit, he’s legitimately the world’s biggest asshole.
“I— I didn’t consider that.” Alexander stutters out mortified by his shortsightedness. “You look to Washington without issue.”
“He signed a document of permission.” Jefferson explains tiredly and his hands are still trembling by his sides. “He is also a beta. The penalty is less severe.”
And like that, Alexander is suddenly confronted with the terrifying possibility that he has gone and done something irreconcilable and quickly scrambles to find the words that will make things better.
“You should have told me, I had no idea—.”
Jefferson does not allow him the chance.
“Told you when exactly?” The alpha snarks, voice like a knife, and his tone so cold, so quiet that it is hardly question. His teeth are bared in a sneer. “When we were introduced?”
That shuts Alexander down completely and his top-notch brain fizzles out of things to say and he’s left speechless and feeling like the lowest of the lows.
“You weren’t told because you didn’t care to know.” Jefferson says, filling the silence that Alexander allots him. “You can pretend that that information would have made a difference, but we both know that your prejudice would have found a way whether you knew or not.”
He knows he can’t redeem himself, but he tries anyway. “I didn’t mean—”
“God.” And the one word holds so much: exhaustion, anger, resignation, and pain. “I am so uninterested in your guilt or your intentions, Hamilton.”
The alpha looks off to the side like he physically can’t stand to look at Alexander’s ugly ass face anymore and makes a shooing motion with his hand. “Just leave me alone.”
He doesn’t need to be told twice.
Alexander is sleep-deprived and ragged when he rolls into work the next day.
By some unfortunate chance Washington catches him in the elevator and proceeds to talk his ear off on the finer points of personal presentation, but Hamilton says all the right things and makes all the presumed promises of self-improvement and leaves the conversation relatively unscathed. Shutting himself in his office, Alexander whips out his laptop from the messenger bag hanging from his shoulder and gives himself two hours for revisions and second-guessing and then an additional 15 minutes to burn a hole into Jefferson’s door, a heavily revised version of his alpha bill cradled against his chest.
Alexander raps his knuckles against the hardwood and jolts a little when he hears a voice from inside give him the go-ahead, so he enters with trepidation, sticking his head in first, giving Jefferson the opportunity to tell him to fuck off back across the hallway if that’s what he wants.
“Excuse me, Secretary Jefferson.” He manages not to visibly cringe at himself at his use of the honorific. “May I— I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time?”
A reluctant nod is the only answer Alexander gets, but it’s enough to propel him the rest of the way into the office until he’s standing solemnly before the seated alpha.
“Was there something you wished to say to me, Secretary Hamilton?” Jefferson asks and his tone is clipped but it’s polite and it’s more than Alexander deserves.
“Yes.” Alexander breathes out and he figures this is his shot, so he best not waste it. “I wanted to tell you that you are infuriating, misguided, politically twisted and maddening beyond adequate description.” He forces himself to punctuate the sentiment, his tongue darting out briefly to swipe at the chapped skin of his bottom lip nervously. “And that I owe you an apology.”
He searches the alpha’s eyes for a hint of what the other man is feeling and what he finds is a strange mixture of resentment and disbelief and hope, although the last one might just be wishful thinking.
He keeps talking, “Because how I’ve treated you these last few weeks didn’t have anything to do with that. I have leveled a series of cheap shots at you this past month on the grounds of your designation and you don’t deserve that— no one deserves that… I have proven myself to be the close-minded, self-advancing, innovatingly stupid asshole you’ve painted me as and I can only imagine—”
Alexander shrinks inwardly in horror as his mouth runs away from him, his stuttered run-ons doing little to orient his him. And then Jefferson interrupts in the most perfect way.
Standing up from behind his desk, the alpha claps his hand over Alexander’s mouth mid-word and something about the blunt and perhaps rude behavior just makes Alexander melt.
“I get it.” The other man huffs in exasperation, although there is a hint of a smile playing at his lips that was not there before. “If I remove my hand will you promise to stop speaking in paragraphs, so that I can get a word or two in?”
Alexander nods his head enthusiastically, Jefferson’s hand rocking along with the motion.
And then, just to be an asshole about it.
“Eww.” Jefferson cries out, removing his hand from the omega’s mouth. “You audacious little shit.”
He wipes his palm against Alexander’s shirt in retaliation, removing the evidence of Hamilton’s spit from his palm.
The moment is weightless and for a second Alexander forgets why they had been quarrelling in the first place. But then the memory of his misdeeds comes back with startling clarity and the omega sobers quickly.
“Have you ever felt like you’ve crossed a line you didn’t see?” He asks hoping that Jefferson will understand him without having to explain himself.
Jefferson does not disappoint. “I’ve trained myself to see those lines.”
He can’t help the smile that tickles at his lips, so he lets it through, sensing that a middle ground is being reached. “So, I might not be completely hopeless, granted with a little practice?”
Across from him, the alpha cocks his head as though in thought before shrugging, a little dismissively but there’s something playful about it. “I didn’t say that.”
He has a sneaking suspicion that Jefferson is just a little amused but is unwilling to show it.
“You don’t speak up often during cabinet meetings,” Alexander says, apropos of nothing more than the fact that they might be on speaking terms now. “Only… Only when I speak.”
“Better to save your words than waste them.” Jefferson replies and Alexander isn’t sure, but it sounds almost as if he’s quoting something. “And there’s no one else here that I disagree with more than you.”
The alpha shrugs before continuing. “But verbal arguments… debate… they can so easily be interpreted as aggression. I know better than to indulge unless I absolutely need to.”
“But what of passion?” Alexander asks because a life of censorship sounds like an unbearable burden.
Jefferson snorts. “I am unable to afford it.”
“So you hide yourself?”
“It’s how things get done.” Jefferson says and his smile is a little mean when he flashes his teeth at Alexander, but he’s quick to drop it in favor of a more contemplative look.
“We rise above our station in life through grit and merit maybe but for all of the money behind me I am still alpha-born at the end of the day and despite your humble means you are still an omega. One shunned and the other coveted.”
His fingers pick idly at a stray thread on his jacket, seemingly looking for a distraction.
“It must be nice to speak your mind so plainly.” His words are wistful and Alexander’s heart thumps painfully in sympathy.
“I want to help.” He blurts out, remembering the stack of paper still clutched in his hand.
Jefferson is silent for a moment, a little crease appearing between his eyebrows. Alexander wants to reach up and smooth it out with his thumb and the impulse is unexpected and strange, so he curbs it quickly.
“What?” The alpha asks, bemused.
“Your understanding of politics is horrendously idealistic, your opposition to government redistribution simplistic, and your face… is just stupid.” Okay, he really needs to grab a nap after this. “And despite all that, I respect you, Jefferson, even if it took me longer than it should have to figure that out.”
Mindfully, Alexander lowers the papers to Jefferson’s desk, settling them on the far corner.
“I stayed up the last night revising the bill I brought to you the other day, but it needs work. Like a lot. Would you want to—?”
“Yes.” Jefferson’s eyes are bright and they shoot to Alexander’s and hold his gaze almost like a dare. “Yes.”
Alexander smiles. “Good.”
The alpha looks to the window again, rolls his shoulder like he’s working out a kink in his neck, and then side eyes Alexander, a slight curl to his lips. “This doesn’t fix things between us.”
“Not yet anyway.” Alexander answers and he bites his lip again, thinking.
Planning. “But just you wait.”
Things fall into a sort of routine after that.
They met up, talk, and bury themselves in their work.
It’s comfortable and what they’re doing is stimulating and important, and Alexander feels a certain thrill every time the alpha sets foot in his office, folders spilling out from under his arm, and a polite greeting on his lips.
Alexander has always been a tactile individual, just as inclined to speak with his words as with his touch. He knows he stands too close sometimes, lets his fingers linger a little too long. He is lucky to keep company with a group of incredibly indulgent friends, all betas and all a little more than amused by his omega instincts when they manifest.
There are nights when he feels as though he may just crawl out of his skin and with one text John is over to his apartment in a heartbeat. The beta wraps them in the soft duvet that covers his modest bed and they sink into the mattress together and cuddle until his strange urges are sated. Lafayette is in France now but every once in awhile he special delivers one of the scarves he’s teaching himself how to knit, and they’re ugly and lumpy but they smell like the beta’s shampoo and cologne and they’re soft. So Alexander sinks his nose into them on his walk from his apartment building to the subway, keeps the fabric snug around his neck, and pretends the Frenchmen who lives an ocean away is at his side. His friend Angelica and her sister Eliza have beautiful, luxurious hair and when they come over for movie nights Alexander can’t keep his fingers away.
The point is, Alexander is not adverse to touching or being touched, which is why he becomes just a tad concerned when he suddenly finds himself in such close quarters with the Southerner.
There’s a single couch in Hamilton’s office of a modest length and when the two of them inhabit it the space that is left between them is little more than a couple of inches. The alpha’s body is like a personal heater and Alexander can’t help it when he unconsciously seeks out that warmth. He becomes aware that their shoulders are pressed together and the lines of their thighs brushing when Jefferson shifts to his feet for a trip to the restroom and Alexander’s side is left cold in his absence. When the alpha returns a short time later he settles back into the space next to the omega and Alexander tries his best to keep his body rigid, contained. But he has a hard go of it and soon is back to letting himself mold unthinkingly into the other man.
It would be so much easier to stop touching him if Jefferson would stop leaning into it, pressing back like an answer.
But overall, things are good.
It’s another late night, the two of them sprawled out on floor this time and Jefferson has his back against the desk while Alexander is slumped against the couch when a low rumble fills the room. Perturbed, Alexander looks up to investigate the source of the odd noise and when he traces it to the alpha’s belly, the omega’s nurturing nature kicks into overdrive.
“You’re hungry.” He points out, catching Jefferson’s gaze, wondering if the other man even noticed for how shocked he seems to be by the assessment.
“Well, shit.” And that is more for himself, a bit of verbal filler until he can jumpstart his brain and reel of their options.
They wind up at this old school burger place down the street. They share a piece of apple pie as a joke and Alexander eats enough hash browns to make him sick, but there’s a faint rosy tint to the alpha’s cheeks as he tears into a Reuben and the omega can’t help the automatic but genuine smile that lifts the corners of his mouth.
They’ve been cooped up in his office for a better part of an afternoon and Alexander can feel himself going a little stir crazy so he rises from the couch, plucking a binder from the stack, and he reads as he walks laps around the room. He notices Jefferson glancing up at him every once and awhile with a small smirk that he’s trying to hide behind his hand, but Alexander focuses back in on the words and he losses track of what the other man is or isn't doing entirely.
He’s so locked in that he misjudges the length of his stride while rounding the back of his desk and his foot catches on a loose cord. Alexander doesn’t so much fall to the ground, rather he flails to the ground and he does so in a way that manages to knock the air straight from his lungs.
“I totally meant to do that.” He squeaks as he sucks oxygen back in.
Jefferson stands and moves in a lazy circle around the desk, tapping the report he had been reading against his chest as he studied Alexander’s crumbled figure on the floor from all angles. From his position on the floor, the omega silently admits to himself that he likes the attention even if he’s low key being mocked. Nobody has ever looked at him quite the way Jefferson does. Jefferson proves this point when his face splits into a wide smile, and Alexander’s heart flutters strangely as he is helped to his feet. The Southerner tugs him by his hand as though his weight is inconsequential and the show of strength leaves the omega feeling embarrassingly faint.
“Smooth,” The alpha drawls, holding the vowels a little longer than necessary.
They’re standing a little closer than they usually would and Alexander scents the air instinctively and gets a whiff of both of them that sends a wave of delight through him that he’s trying not to read too far into when there’s a knock on the door.
They move apart.
“Come in!” Alexander calls out and his office door swings open.
“Mr. Secretary.” The man in the doorway greets warmly.
“Aaron Burr, sir.” Alexander chirps back.
Beside him, it is almost startling how quickly Jefferson’s demeanor shifts from relaxed to alert, a sort of sharpness edging into his mildly interested expression as he observes the other alpha in the room. The omega catches the two tilting their chins up at the other in a quick bob of their heads, but then Burr is talking and Alexander takes his eyes off of Jefferson for a moment to chat with his old friend.
It’s a short-lived conversation and after a quick hug and slap on the back, Burr is off.
When the other alpha is out of the office, the omega pivots back and notices that the alpha remaining is still tense, his jaw working in overtime as he glares daggers at the empty doorway.
Alexander unfolds his arms so that he can poke Jefferson in the side.
“Are we going to talk about how weird that just was?” He asks.
Jefferson frowns and drops his gaze to the analytical report he had been reading, his fingers idly curling one of the corners.
“I guess I’m surprised.” He admits and Alexander can’t help but note how pained his expression becomes. “After how you treated me, I thought maybe…”
“He’s mated.” The omega explains quickly and then backtracks because he knows how that might sound. He’s a little nervous about offending Jefferson now that they’re on such good terms. He doesn’t want to accidentally hurt the other man again. “I mean, I don’t care that you’re not… but when we first met he was mated and it helped to know. It meant he was safe.”
Jefferson looks thoughtful for a moment and is quiet before saying, “I was mated once.”
That wasn’t something Alexander had even considered. “I didn’t know.”
Everything about the alpha’s demeanor and body language is suddenly somber and Alexander’s insides clench in concern even as Jefferson continues speaking.
“I don’t advertise it,” he says.
He knows. He knows, but he also doesn’t, so he asks with a statement rather than with a question. “But you’re not now.”
“No.” Jefferson confirms. “She died.”
His hearts wobbles dangerously at the revelation and the alpha’s scent changes subtly, becoming muted, faint. Alexander knows he has a really fucked up understanding of boundaries but Jefferson’s sadness is debilitating and before he can ask permission Alexander has his arms wrapped around the Southerner’s waist and burrows his face into his chest, strange worried little noises slipping past his lips. He figures he’s not completely unwanted when Jefferson’s arms lift to hold him, keeping him close.
He still asks, “Is this okay?”
“Yeah.” Jefferson sighs. “S’fine.”
“I don’t want to alarm your southern sensibilities.” Alexander says, trying to ignore how the alpha’s fingernails scratch pleasantly through the fabric of his shirt where he clutches the omega to him. “But you smell kind of like Cheetos right now.”
Jefferson’s laugh isn’t audible, but it’s almost better than if it had been. His entire body starts shaking in Alexander’s arms and when the omega leans back to check in he sees the slightest beading of dampness at the corner of Jefferson’s tightly closed eyes.
It’s late, but thoughts are flowing from him in a steady trickle and he has spent most of the day staring at the screen of his computer in a frustrating stalemate and is not about to let the sudden insight slip away before memorializing the important bits into a blank word document.
He’s so engrossed in his work that doesn’t hear the door to his office open and only registers the new presence when a long sigh is released just above his ear.
His eyes are pulled from the screen long enough to take in the alpha watching him, his mouth turned down in a small, unhappy frown.
Jefferson’s eyes roam over his face without discrimination, taking in every damning detail. “You’re exhausted.”
It’s kind of embarrassing because Jefferson has clearly been jolted into mother hen mode and a large part of him doesn’t love the fact that he probably looks like human garbage right now.
He smiles anyway.
“I’ve been struck by inspiration.” Alexander responds quickly. He’s glad for the relative darkness in the office, sure that his face is twisted up and pale from fatigue but maybe even a bit pink, knowing that on some level he’s a little pleased that Jefferson cares about that sort of thing.
“We should call it a night.” Jefferson replies, glancing at the small mountain of documents surrounding Alexander’s laptop. “All this will still be here in the morning.”
“No. There’s too much work to be done…”
“Alexander.” And the way Jefferson says his name is like a demand but now that he’s heard it, the omega can’t stop imagining him saying it again and again.
He gives Jefferson his attention.
“You don’t have anything to prove…” The alpha tells him and before he can dispute the assertion, Jefferson continues. “Not to me, not anymore…”
Jefferson’s approval leaves him warm and tingly but he still requests five more minutes and Jefferson sets a timer on his phone to keep him honest.
Ten minutes later they leave together.
He doesn’t remember the train ride home, but Jefferson is at his side the whole way, asking him which stop he gets off at, which street he lives on, which floor is his.
He’s out of his mind with fatigue by the time they arrive and they stand in front of his door for a solid minute before Jefferson nudges him questioningly.
“Hamilton, your keys.”
Rattled out of his delirium, Alexander fumbles with the contents of his pockets for a few minutes before producing his key ring but then proceeds to take several more minutes to work the key into the lock.
“Sorry.” He says.
A large hand closes over his own when his fingers slip again. He breathes in sharply and shuts his eyes as Jefferson’s deft fingers steady his own, sliding the key into the lock with ease before ushering them inside a moment later.
He’s propelled forward by muscle memory alone and practically keels over onto his bed as soon as he’s within reach. Hands press against his chest and his sides and suddenly he’s on his back and when he opens his eyes Jefferson is standing over him, looking down at him through thick lashes that Alexander wants to reach out and touch.
“Don’t hafta leave. Can stay.” He offers weakly, struggling to stay above the urgent pull of sleep.
Maybe he didn’t say it loud enough because the alpha sets about undressing him until his chest and feet are bare.
The sound of footsteps alerts him to Jefferson’s retreat and he’s jolted out of his stupor, sitting up in alarm, dread on his lips as he flings the question across the room. “You’re leaving?”
The alpha stops in the doorway and Alexander for all his better qualities is still inherently selfish and won’t let this opportunity slip passed him.
He wants and he wants and he wants.
“S’big bed. Plenty of room.” He says.
And Alexander’s not sure what he did in a previous life to deserve this, but when Jefferson lets out a soft “okay” in reply, the omega sends his praise to whatever higher power is out there because yes, yes yes. This isn’t a dream he wants to wake from.
He probably looks ridiculous but he smiles at the alpha and wishes him a good night. He doesn’t make a conscious decision to use the man’s first name, but it’s what comes out and he can’t take it back now. If he was more awake and his limbs didn’t feel as though they were made entirely out of lead, he might have been mortified.
But as soon as his cheek touches the pillow again, he’s out.
He’s having the most pleasant sleep of his life when the sound of panicked cursing rips him away from his slumber and he is rudely shaken awake.
Alexander cracks open a bleary eye to see Jefferson stumbling from the bed, his hair askew, and his scent bitter in his distress.
“Shit. Shit. Shit.” The alpha rants, his hands trembling fiercely where he stands, bent over at the waist, his hands clawing at his face.
Alexander is just about to ask him if he’s all right when the alpha’s eyes dart up, noticing Alexander’s gaze, and then Jefferson is rambling
“I need to go.”
“Why? What happened?”
“It’s—” Jefferson starts to explain, but then Alexander inhales and the scent is unmistakable.
“Oh shit.” He mutters and now that he knows he doesn’t understand how he missed it before. There’s a dark blush at the tops of Jefferson’s cheeks and sweat at his temples and his pupils are huge, deep pools of black that send Alexander reeling. “But you’re on the pill, right?”
Jefferson shakes his head. “I’m not on the pill.”
“Why the fuck not?” Alexander cries, brow furrowing in confusion. He had thought it was common practice among alphas that lived in highly populated areas like the city to be on strict reproductive regimes.
“That’s private.” Jefferson stutters out before seeming to change his mind. “It interferes with my medication.”
“What medication?” Alexander hisses, his own panic building. “Thomas, what medication?”
Jefferson’s face twists into a scowl and he bites his lips viciously before responding. “My anti-depressants.”
Too much information was flying at him all at once and Alexander was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the implications of what Jefferson was telling him.
“But…” He pinches the bridge of his nose as he tries to rearrange his thoughts into something useful. “You can’t be. Alphas only go into rut when they…”
Alexander finishes the thought in his head. When they imprint on a suitable mate.
His heart wobbles unsteadily in his chest when he realizes why Jefferson suddenly looks so fearful, like maybe he had hoped that Alexander wouldn’t put two and two together.
“I’m going to go.” Jefferson rasps, making a hurried move toward the door.
But Alexander is vaulting from the bed and is at a sprint before the alpha makes it further than the living room.
“Don’t!” He begs, coming to a stop between the alpha and the door. “Please. You’ll never make it back to your apartment like this and if you get caught in public…” They’ll take him away, off to a reeducation center certainly. The papers will get the story; they’d have no mercy. “Just stay, please just stay here.”
Jefferson’s face crumbles and he shakes his head again, his stupid stubborn streak impervious to Alexander’s pleas. “I can’t. You’re— If you’re here, I might…”
“I can lock myself in the bathroom, okay?” Alexander reasons and he can’t be blamed for playing dirty when he let’s his eyes well up. He won’t feel bad for tilting his neck to the side as he makes the offer. Alexander would do whatever it took to keep the alpha from leaving. “It’ll be fine.”
Jefferson’s eyes track the reveal of his throat just like he’s counting on and the alpha whines and slumps forward onto his knees in front of him. His head comes to rest against Alexander’s midsection and lost for words, speechless by the show of trust, the omega combs his fingers comfortingly throw the other’s curls, making soothing noises all the while.
“Alexander.” Jefferson whines beneath him and Alexander just about chokes at the use of his first name.
He ignores his own feelings for the time being and drops into a crouch in front of the other man, smoothing his palms over Jefferson’s cheeks, trying to catch his attention. “Shhh, you’re going to be okay. Everything is going to be fine.”
Jefferson nods his head, but Alexander isn’t sure if it’s because he agrees or he’s just trying to appease the omega in the room. Together they stumble back into the bedroom and Alexander deposits the dazed alpha on the bed while he scurries around the room, gathering supplies for the next several hours.
Once he’s inside the bathroom, latch in place, Alexander grabs a neutralizing spray from beneath the sink and douses himself from head to toe.
“Hamilton?” Jefferson asks worriedly, his voice sounding far away.
Alexander puts down the aerosol can and settles on the edge of the tub. “How are you feeling?”
Blocking his scent must be helping because when Jefferson replies the slur in his words is less apparent and he sounds almost coherent.
“My body is betraying me again.” The alpha says through the door. “But that’s nothing new, I guess. In a lot of ways my life has been nothing but one long process of bodily betrayal.”
“Don’t say that.” Alexander snaps, annoyed by the self-deprecating tone. “This is natural. This isn’t something to be ashamed of, Thomas.”
There’s a brief pause before Jefferson responds.
“Thomas, huh?” he asks.
“You called me Alexander earlier.” The omega tosses back and he can’t believe this is what they’re talking about right now. “I think we’re at that point in the friendship, don’t you?”
The air in the apartment is thick with the scent of rut.
Alexander sits in the bathtub, trying and failing to focus on the screen of his laptop, but his eyes keep straying to the door.
He can hear pacing just outside, but otherwise the apartment is quiet, Jefferson having lost the desire to converse as he fell deeper into rut. The aerosol can sits empty on the bathroom counter.
The alpha whines suddenly through the wood and Alexander hears a muffled thud, followed by another, and then another.
“Stop it!” Alexander scolds when he realizes its source. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
“Can you…” Jefferson rasps through the door. “Can you just come closer?” The alpha’s voice wobbles dangerously. “Just so I can scent you a little? Please? Please? I just want you closer.”
“Hush,” Alexander murmurs soothingly when it seems like the other man is working himself close to tears. Climbing out of the tub, he moves the short distance across the bathroom and lowers himself onto the tiled floor, molding his side to the door.
“Next you’ll be telling me that all you’re after is my heart,” he jokes unthinkingly.
Alexander is startled by the low growl that carries through the door, but doesn’t move from his spot.
He waits and listens.
“I want it all.” Jefferson replies when he regains his ability to speak. His voice is rough and gravely and sends a small shock of electricity down Alexander’s spine. “I want your heart, your flesh, your skin and blood and bones…” He trails off and then softer, “Your voice, your thoughts, your pulse and your fingerprints, everywhere.”
On the bathroom floor, Alexander squirms for a moment, rubbing his thighs together, and prays for strength and fortitude.
Jefferson gives him a cursory glance when he exits the bathroom, looking a bit worse for wear. “I think it’s over.”
“Good.” Alexander hesitates as he moves closer. He indicates the spot beside Jefferson. “Can I?”
Jefferson nods slowly, the movement seeming to cost him. “Sure.”
He’s presumptuous and encroaches on the unspoken personal bubble that most people prefer to keep intact and presses close to the alpha’s side, unable to curb his desire to comfort the other man. He goes one step further and lifts a hand to card through the other’s hair, hoping to help with the headache that has caused the deep crease between Jefferson’s brows. “Is this okay?”
“Feels nice.” Jefferson whispers back as though they are exchanging secrets between them.
This moment is theirs just like so many other moments.
He has led men into war, has braved a hurricane and crossed an ocean to make it where he is today, but none of those things had terrified him like this quiet intimacy does. But fear doesn’t stop his body from curving closer because apparently his body isn’t interested in games anymore or his bullshit excuses. He presses his face into the expanse of skin that reveals itself to him around the alpha’s angular shoulders, scent marking what he can reach, and gathering courage from the smoky notes that overwhelm his senses.
He takes another breath. “I’m going to tell you something, but you need to promise not to laugh.”
Jefferson’s shoulders rise and fall with the tired laughter that reverberates through his chest. His voice is playful and Alexander thinks that it’s a sound he’d like to hear a lot more of. “You would deprive me?”
“Just this once.” He returns, and then there’s silence, and he thinks of every reason he should just shut his mouth, talk less, be satisfied with what they’ve managed to cobble together for themselves…
And then. “I really like you, Thomas.”
His heart is pounding like a war drum, his pulse jumping into overdrive, but a veil of calm settles over his mind. He said what he needed to say and at least he can go to his grave knowing that he tried, that he wasn’t a goddamn coward when it counted. Maybe Jefferson can forgive him some day and put this whole embarrassing memory behind them.
The purr that rumbles through the alphas throat is surprising and the words that follow just about turn his world upside.
The alpha murmurs, “I like you too.”
He can work with that.