AN: Thank you for stopping by, just a little detour from my fluffier Lams fic. I have a soft spot for broken A. Ham.
I sat up and looked around. It took me a moment to realize where I was, apartment… at my desk. Okay, good start, lamp's on, maybe it's still night? I fell asleep and now it's… I glanced at my watch. Fuck, it's 7:30, I've been here all night. I straightened my back and yawned. My open notebook and pen were sitting on the desk in front of me. I had to get to work, I'd already overslept and now it would be a struggle to get to the office in time. As quickly as possible, I changed into unwrinkled clothing, poured last night's now cold coffee into my travel mug and shoveled notebooks into my bag. I was out the door in less than fifteen minutes. It was raining, I lit a cigarette and stuffed my free hand in my pocket, still too tired to be anxious.
By the time I made it to the office my coworkers were already there, it was unlike me to be the last one there and it would certainly be noticed. I sat in my cubicle and got to work, I had an afternoon deadline to send my story on the bill that the Governor was working to pass, not that anyone would read it, people only liked to read about the hip restaurants opening in town, my poor newspaper was dying.
An email hit my inbox, from Adams. Of course, I can do your job, too, I rolled my eyes and opened the message. It was to the entire writing staff. There was a new photojournalist joining the team, an attempt to make the paper more approachable to younger audiences, the millennials that can't read anything longer than a Buzzfeed article without pictures. I continued to quickly read the email until I saw my name, the newcomer would be shadowing me to see how things were done at the Post. Fucking Adams, I had too much to do to babysit. My desk line rang, it was the boss.
"Hamilton. I trust you've read the email?"
"Yes. Sir, I really don't have the time to… train someone."
"Hamilton, I've never one questioned your competence in my office, that's why you're the only person I can trust with such a task. He's set to come in this afternoon. Take him to lunch, get to know one another."
"Sir, I don't really have time to go to lunch."
"Nonsense, I've already made reservations for the two of you at noon."
I bit the inside of my cheek, swallowing my pride, "yes, sir."
"Hamilton," he chided, "be nice," and then disconnected.
Stupid, asshole, incompetent, lazy. I stewed and tried to get back to work on the piece which I'd now have to finish before lunch.
Once it was time to leave, I trudged slowly, not wanting to go. It was still raining out, I pulled the collar of my jacket around me, of course it was raining. By the time I made it to the restaurant my shoes and pant legs were soaked, I left a trail of puddles as the host escorted me to my seat. I studied the menu, searching for the most expensive thing just to waste Adams' money, prick. The waiter brought my espresso and I sipped it, checked my watch, it was fifteen minutes past noon, I grumbled and drew out my journal, starting to work while I waited to pass the time. It was nearly ten more minutes before the host returned with my new charge. I didn't stand, barely looked up. He sat across from me in silence awkwardly.
"Hold on, I'm finishing this." I held up a finger and finished my sentence before grudgingly closing my book. I looked up and met the gaze of the newcomer.
"Hello, sir, I'm John Laurens." He smiled nervously, My breath hitched, I worked to not look at him straight on, he was haloed in curls, molten caramel hazel eyes, freckles dancing across the bridge of his nose, spreading to his cheeks and forehead.
"Alexander Hamilton." I shook his hand curtly.
"Oh, I know who you are. Once Mr. Adams told me that I'd be working with you, I researched the pieces you've written for the paper, and, wow, the story you ran on the Cuomo election! And the fact that you did that in one night? Incredible."
I sipped my espresso and looked away, I couldn't be charmed by simple flattery.
"Sorry I'm late, I don't know this side of the city very well, I got really lost. I hope you weren't waiting for a long time."
"Well, I'm really sorry, won't happen again, promise."
The waiter returned and took our order. I ordered the biggest steak on the menu, house salad and baked potato on the side.
"So, where are you from?" The man across the table was beaming and exhaustingly chirpy.
"Oh, well, I'm from South Carolina, I've lived here for almost four years, though, went to the School of Visual Arts and just never left. I love it here. My-my family's from Puerto Rico, though, but I've never been. It's a shame that they still don't have power all the way back, my Abuela - that's my grandmother - lost her house, but she got to move in with my parents."
I looked at him through narrowed eyes but stayed silent, thoughts screaming at him, I know what Abuela means, I'm fucking Puerto Rican, and don't talk to me about hurricanes like you know shit, your poor little granny doesn't know shit, either, spiteful thoughts rushed in my mind, he talked too much.
Finally, our food came. I dived into my side salad, he'd gotten a salad too. I stayed silent, fixated on my meal. I moved onto the potato, it was the first food I'd eaten today, maybe since yesterday, I tried to remember. My colleague continued talking for the duration of our meal. After finishing my potato, I covered the plate with my napkin.
"Wow, you're not gonna eat that?" He looked quizzically at my plate.
"Me too! Save the animals." he smiled too widely. Dimples.
"No, I just don't like meat."
"Oh, why did you get a steak, then?"
"To waste Adams' money, why am I even answering this?" I stood up to leave and drained my espresso mug.
"Did you walk here?"
"Me too, we can walk to the office together."
We exited the restaurant and he put up an umbrella, shielding himself against the rain.
"Here, there's plenty of room," he held out the umbrella to cover me.
"I'm fine, thanks." I walked ahead of him and lit a cigarette.
I put my earbuds in and walked to the office. There was nothing playing, I just wanted him to know the conversation was over. We walked in silence to the office again and shared the elevator to the 14th floor. I kept my earlier pace and walked ahead to my cubicle, there was a new addition, a smaller desk making an L with mine. No. No. No. Adams, you son of a bitch. I got to work again. After an hour, he was back.
"Sorry for taking so long. I had to sign some HR paperwork. So, what's a day look like here?"
"I write. It gets published. I go home. I write more. No one talks to me."
"Wow, that sounds lonely. Good thing I'm here now." He sounded nervous.
I kept writing.
"Do you like to listen to music while you write?"
"Oh, that's cool too."
We sat in silence. I finished what I was working on and transposed it from paper to my computer and emailed the document to the editing team.
"Wow, you hand write everything first?"
"Wow. You are seriously like, the coolest person ever."
I looked at my watch. 4:53, usually the last one to leave, I couldn't wait to get out.
"What time were you due back tomorrow?" I asked, packing my things, avoiding his gaze.
"Mr. Adams told me to ask you what time you thought you would be in."
"I won't be in until ten." I lied.
"I'll see you then!" He waved.
I left the building, relieved to see that the sky was clearing. I got home and flopped on my bed, still unmade from Tuesday morning when I'd last slept in it.
"How dare he have freckles. Freckles and dimples. And hazel eyes. And that hair. Who does he think he is, dimples and freckles and eyes." I complained to the wall and lit another cigarette, forgetting to smoke most of it. Stupid freckles.
I have to see him tomorrow. And again. And there's no escaping him. I frowned at the ceiling and wondered how his hair smelled. Probably like strawberries. Stupid strawberries. I imagined what it would feel like in my hands as I- nope, work to do. I stood up and went to my desk and tried to get work done. I couldn't focus. Those dimples, I wonder if you can see them when he- Fucks sake, Alex, get your shit together. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and struggled to focus on work and not on wondering if it was actually possible to count all those freckles. Those fucking freckles.