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The Law of Attraction

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Alex is already in a bad mood when he arrives at the office, not even the quintuple shot monstrosity the wide-eyed barista handed over as if it were radioactive material distracting him from being irked about the oppressive humidity that hangs over the city like a shroud. Not that he minds the heat. He spent the better part of his childhood in places where the temperature never edged below ninety. So far, he hasn’t even broken a sweat beneath the light cotton of his suit jacket, hair pulled into a high ponytail to keep it off the back of his neck. But a weather front of this type always means that the majority of his coworkers arrive hours early, when they’d usually have to have a gun pointed to their head to make it in before eight, eager to make the commute before the sun climbs higher into the sky. Subsequently, Alex is robbed of his favorite and most productive part of the day, the only time when he can get shit done without someone hassling him for one thing or another, just him and the steady glow of his laptop screen.

His worst suspicions are confirmed when he heads to security to already find a line firmly in place, everyone looking miserable as they shuffle along, ties already loosened, papers repurposed into fans. Alex wrinkles his nose as he hands over his bag and suit jacket, presenting his credentials before stepping through the metal detector. The guard giving him the once-over looks about as enthused as Alex feels about the looming workday and Alex takes a brief moment to be grateful that at the very least, he won’t have to spend his time patting down perspiring White House staff.

Unfortunately, that’s about all that can be said in favor of this particular morning. Requests are already piling up by the time he finally makes it to his desk, having miraculously replenished in number after the vicious attack Alex launched just last night before falling into his car, barely making it home before midnight. OMB wants an outline of the trade tariff overhaul he’s announced at the last NEC meeting that, at this point, is basically confined to the furious and copious notes he’s thrown into an Excel sheet, the Public Liaison office for some reason thinks it’s about time to involve him in another one of their outreach luncheon circle jerks and the Seoul ambassador is pissed because their office didn’t get a heads up on the latest published remarks the Secretary made in regards to possible further sanctions on their Northern neighbors.

Usually, Alex enjoys entering the fray - has at times even been accused of deliberately adding gasoline to the fire just to watch the ensuing mayhem by some - but even he won’t touch that one with a ten-foot pole, drafting the apology with gritted teeth and a quick prayer that Mercer won’t come down on him for the communication error. To balance things out, he rejects the request for a bilateral meeting between the Deputy Assistants in time for the upcoming NSC session. Fuck Jefferson and his assumption that Alex can be called upon with a snap of his manicured fingers. He’ll get the requirements for the new round of trade talks along with everyone else.

By the time a nervous intern scurries into his office, pushing a squeaky mail cart and practically tossing the bundle of envelopes into the wire basket on Alex’s desk, eager to get away (Alex has no idea why. He’s not shouting at the Way and Means Committee Chairman, it’s just that the man apparently only possesses a rudimentary grasp of the fiscal policy the administration he’s meant to be representing is employing and someone has to explain to him, what a fucking estate tax is) he’s already developing a headache, dull pressure he’s certain will grow into a nice, eye-stabbing throb if he doesn’t do anything about it in the next couple of hours. He’ll have to beg for some aspirin from Eliza again if he doesn’t want to spend the Senior staff meeting getting subjected to Washington’s patented glances of disapproval at Alex’s lack of concern for his own well-being.

Unenthusiastically, and without ceasing his explanation on just how gleefully the CPC will laugh in their faces and refuse to vote party line if they don’t figure out a way to cap the current proposal at anything above 3 million, Alex starts sorting through the stack of letters, shuffling them into piles of ‘later’ ‘way later’ and ‘when hell freezes over’ in front of him. The Minority Whip’s most recent request at establishing yet another entirely useless bipartisan committee immediately goes into the last one. Why the fuck Burr decided to go into politics is beyond Alex. If fence-sitting were a national sport, the man would be a three-time gold medalist.

He’s almost at the bottom of the stack when he comes upon a plain, minimally marked envelope, his heart beating double time before his fingers even trace over the telltale rectangular shape of a key card within. Brow furrowing, Alex glances at his calendar, as if it might suddenly reveal a different date than it has all morning. Only a few days since the last time. At this point, it’s becoming a pattern.

He tries to set the thought aside, along with the envelope, which unlike the others goes into a drawer, but he finds his mind drifting back to it, distracting him to the point of ending his call somewhat abruptly, no doubt further incensing the Chairman. Ah, well. Nothing to be done about that now. Maybe it would inspire him to actually look through the subsections of his proposed legislation the next time around. Alex plows through another pile of urgent tasks with renewed focus, telling himself it’s not because he’s already made up his mind about the silent offer resting innocuously in his desk drawer.

But when John sticks his head through the door a bit later, his usually impeccable appearance just the tiniest bit disheveled by the heat, Alex waves off the lunch invitation.

“Can’t,” he says, feeling a tiny surge of guilt for lying. “Got some stuff to sort out.”

John grins. “Torturing Murell again?”

“He’s doing it to himself,” Alex says, somewhat proud that it’s not entirely untrue.

“You’re breaking my heart.” John pouts at him. “At least come with us for drinks tonight instead of hunkering down in here again.”

Alex nearly sighs. Since his promotion, he hasn’t exactly been the most regular attendant of their get-togethers and unlike Lafayette, neither John nor Hercules are shy about calling him out on it.

“One drink,” he relents as John crows in delight, already whipping out his phone to pass on the good news.

“It will be fun, Lafayette is bringing a new friend for us to meet.”

“He’s always bringing a new friend.”

Lafayette is the sort of social butterfly that makes friends even with Republicans, a serious character flaw as far as Alex is concerned. He’ll never forgive him for bringing Madison and Jefferson to that unofficial office party last year. Especially considering the result.

“He says you might like him.” The glint in John’s eyes is maniacal.

Alex, who has suffered through too many of his friends’ attempts to set him up on a date, just waves him off. Idly wonders, what John would say if Alex told him that as long as everything goes according to plan, he’ll be getting laid in less than an hour. He frowns when he realizes what he’s decided on, what he’s been decided on ever since getting that envelope. When did this whole thing become a certainty instead of a possibility?

At exactly a quarter to twelve, Alex retrieves the key card, ripping up the envelope after glancing inside to memorize the three digits scribbled there. He pockets it before heading out, keeping his head down as he makes his way through the buzz of activity that envelops the staff wing at all hours of the day. He emerges into the muggy August heat without being apprehended and heads North at a brisk pace, dodging the ever-present tourist groups fleeing the Mall in the scorch of the midday heat.

He reaches his destination in less than five minutes, slowing down as he scans the street ahead. The hotel is located less than a quarter mile from the White House, a popular choice for both tourists and some of the staffers without an office couch to crash on. In the milling crowd of people coming and going, Alex fits right in, matching his steps to a group of tourists, slipping into the lobby in their wake. While the reception staff looks politely overwhelmed by the arrival, he veers off and crosses the polished stone floor, catching the elevator just in time. Recalling the number on the envelope, he pushes the button to the third floor, glad when he doesn’t run into anyone on the way.

The room is as nondescript as they come, the air a bit stale and carrying the heat of the day. Alex shuts all the blinds but doesn’t turn on the A/C, a petty act that makes him smirk as he heads on through to the bathroom. Giving himself a quick once-over in the mirror, he reties his ponytail so it sits a little more loosely before shucking his clothes and giving himself a brief scrub down in the shower. Finicky, yes, especially since he’ll just be in here again to get rid of the evidence in a bit, but Alex enjoys being thorough.

Getting redressed edges into the same realm of nigh futility, but gifts are usually wrapped, and in some ways, Alex is a traditionalist. He’s in the middle of rolling up his sleeves and popping the first few buttons of his shirt when the room door opens, the brief chime of a key card being used quickly replaced by a stifled curse. Alex grins and pushes open the bathroom door, leaning against the frame as the A/C control panel gets viciously tapped, the machine switching on with a soft whirr that stirs the blinds.

“Can’t handle the heat?”

Thomas Jefferson turns with a disgruntled expression on his unfairly handsome face, looking Alex up and down in a manner that has Alex’s stomach giving an entirely predictable heated twinge, his cock already stirring.

Oh, yeah. This is exactly what this day needs.

*

There are several very good reasons for this thing between Jefferson and him to continue for as long as it has.

Alex knows, because he took it upon himself to compile them into a list about six weeks after he first shoved Jefferson into an empty conference room at the tail end of the office’s holiday festivities, unbuckling the man's belt before they were even fully over the threshold and relishing in the wide-eyed expression it got him until something like calculation and sharp interest took over, strong hands falling to his shoulders to push him to his knees.

For one, there are so very clearly no strings attached to it, which is exactly the way Alex likes it. He's given the whole dating thing a good few tries and it ended in heartbreak each and every time, none of the people he went out with ever content with the amount of attention Alex allocated to a relationship. Even Eliza, who really ought to have known from the years they spent as friends before anything else happened, eventually told him she was tired of having a conversation with his voicemail. Despite his genuine grief at her decision - he loved her, more than he’d ever loved anyone - Alex let her go without a fight. He knew even then, he wouldn't change.

Work is his life, the little time he’s not at the office spent writing furiously, documenting ideas and plans like they might slip from his grasp if he doesn't commit them to paper that very second. He doesn't have enough time for a relationship or even a FWB deal that doesn’t come with a great amount of lenience for his crowded schedule.

This, though? These illicit get-togethers with Jefferson, always over their lunch break, always less than five minutes from the office, no expectations beyond the mutual assurance of an orgasm? This much he can do. Jefferson doesn't want anything from him, except for Alex to get on his knees.

Secondly, Jefferson has a lot more to lose by having their connection be uncovered. They don't text or talk about this thing, ever, the only means of communication the key cards they send each other. Always the day of, always with the number of a room that's already been booked. Jefferson likes to be coy about it, but Alex knows he’s vying for the GOP Presidential nomination in the next decade. He can’t fucking afford to be anywhere near the rumor of having an affair with the opposing party’s mongrel attack dog. Alex doesn’t have the luxury of the same concern but appreciates keeping their association under wraps nonetheless.

The third, and most embarrassing reason, is very simple. They’re really good at this. For all of his ludicrous personality deficits, Jefferson does look like the embodiment of every illicit fantasy Alex has ever had, tall, dark, and ridiculously handsome, with a body that simply shouldn’t be possible on someone whose day job didn’t include manual labor. By an unfortunate twist of fate, he seems to find Alex equally alluring. After more than half a year of rigorous examination of that hypothesis, Alex is fairly certain the Venn diagram of their respective sexual preferences is just a fucking circle.

So here they are. Regarding each other across the few feet of cream-colored carpet, until Jefferson snorts and says: “You are the pettiest man I have ever met.”

Alex makes a face of mock concern. “Maybe DC’s just not the right climate for you. Ever consider a career change? I hear Alaska is wonderful this time of year. You could become one of those seasonal fishermen, explain to your colleagues why they don’t deserve healthcare benefits for six months out of the year.”

At the very beginning, they tried to implement a rule of keeping politics out of these encounters. It proved unenforceable on the very first try when Alex – bent over the bed of yet another hotel room – tossed his damp hair back to glance over his shoulder and panted “If this is the same effort you put into drafting that appropriations bill, it’s no fucking wonder it’s still stuck in committee”, which resulted in Jefferson pulling out of him with a snarl before forcing Alex over onto his back and fucking him with such renewed vigor every single further taunt got cut off by a hitched gasp instead. A very big success as far as Alex was concerned, and they scrapped the rule in silent agreement, mixing work and pleasure with the zeal of two people whose sole pleasure in life did amount to their work.

“I’d be certain to mention that the new EPA guidelines your party championed cut down on two-thirds of their revenues, so none of them can make do without having another job in their offseason,” says Jefferson, not even glancing up from undoing his cuffs and placing them on the desk. “But I’d feel cruel abandoning you. I know you live for getting down on your knees for Wall Street, but we both know that won’t keep a man with your needs satisfied for too long.”

Alex bares his teeth in a parody of a smile, the sharp want and irritation tumbling together in an intoxicating mix and settling heavily into his belly. He wouldn’t admit to it even at gunpoint, but Jefferson’s deliberate, condescending drawl, so different from the way he smooths out his accent at work, slips through his defenses like they’re not even there, goes straight to his cock.

Jefferson is already unbuckling his belt and moving to sit on the edge of the bed, carelessly tossing one of the decorative pillows on the floor between his feet. It’s the easy assurance in that gesture that burns a bright path right into Alex’s gut, flaring hot and ready. Jefferson’s not telling him to do anything and he’s certainly not asking. He doesn’t need to, doesn’t need to do half of the things that some of the people Alex has slept with have had to do to project a fraction of the power that Jefferson radiates at any given moment. He’s like gravity, pulling everything into its orbit.

Still, Alex’s eyes narrow, and he briefly contemplates putting up some token resistance - the reaction that gets is always fun - but abandons the idea when he catches sight of the outline of Jefferson’s cock, already hard and straining against his slacks. Need licks stickily down his spine, his own cock pressing uncomfortably against his fly. Not even the huff of laughter when he scrambles to get on his knees keeps Alex from enjoying getting his hands on Jefferson, stroking him through the fabric and feeling the jump of his cock under his palm.

“So fucking eager,” Jefferson says, eyes bright and sharp with attentive arousal, while Alex struggles to get a good grip on him. His thumb presses into Alex’s bottom lip, eyes darkening when Alex licks over the pad of it. “Did you think about this, getting on your knees for me?”

Alex groans, eyes fluttering shut in spite of his best efforts to keep them open. Jefferson laughs breathlessly, stroking the curve of his mouth for a moment longer before taking his hand away entirely. “Yeah, okay. Sit back for me.”

Reluctantly, Alex eases back into a crouch, worrying his bottom lip where he can still feel Jefferson’s touch as a faint tingle. His hands twitch on his thighs when Jefferson pulls out his cock, thick and hard and already a little wet at the tip, and makes a forbidding noise, his long fingers curling around lazily, giving himself a few languid tugs, while Alex practically vibrates with the need to touch.

“Calm down, Hamilton. What’s that saying? Patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”

Oh, that fucker. Alex summons the part of him that isn’t set hopelessly aflutter with Jefferson’s assured condescension, spitting out the words as fast as he can, despising himself for the way his tongue curls around them, accent always slipping when he’s this needy, a dead give-away. “Yeah, I also took Political Theory 101. Got another one for you: ‘You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one’ Or, if that’s too hard to grasp for your feeble mind: ‘Eat the rich’.”

Jefferson just smirks at him, hand still moving lazily on his own cock as he regards Alex. Assessing. Not missing a thing. “I think you passed the point at which you could believably pull off that poverty posturing when you started wearing two hundred dollar ties.”

Alex glances down at the silk pattern tie Lafayette gave him last Christmas. “It was a gift.”

“I don’t care,” Jefferson retorts, clearly amused when Alex snaps his mouth shut and glowers at him, angry with himself for how easily Jefferson winds him up every time they do this. He can’t keep his gaze from flickering to Jefferson’s hand, his cock, slipping steadily through his grip.

Jefferson smiles. “Ask me nicely.”

Predictable. So fucking predictable, they end up here every time and Alex really, really wishes it wouldn’t get him to him the way it does, being on his knees and literally begging Jefferson for permission to suck his cock. But his pride, for once, is at the bottom of his list of priorities.

“Please,” he grits out, closing his eyes so he doesn’t have to see Jefferson’s laughing eyes.

“Please, what, Alexander? Full sentences. Just so my feeble mind can fully grasp the request.”

Fuck. The use of his name slices sharp and sudden through him, a knife to the gut in spite of the taunt. He swallows, hoping against hope Jefferson doesn’t notice. “Please let me suck your cock.”

“Look at that,” Jefferson says quietly, his knuckles stroking feather soft over Alex’s cheek. “You can take direction once you put your mind to it. Go on then.”

Alex almost hesitates. Jefferson doesn’t usually allow him free reign, fond of either having Alex keep his hands behind his back on his own, or tying them in place there while he fucks his mouth. But he’s not about to point that out, not when he’s already reaching for Jefferson’s cock and relishing the sharp little intake of breath it gets him.

“Get to it,” Jefferson says and Alex’s mouth quirks up at the breathlessness of his voice, looking up through his lashes as he bends down.

“Patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet,” he parrots back at him and cuts off any possible retort with his mouth, taking in just the tip as he teases at the spot just underneath with his tongue. God, but he loves this. Sucking dick has never been that exciting to him, the physical strain it takes often offsetting the thrill of being able to provide pleasure. It’s different with Jefferson though. Everything is different with Jefferson.

This is when he gets to see the man’s careful poise slip, just for a little while, when the steady drip onto his tongue and the harsh breathing accompanied by the reined in shifts of his hips assure him that Jefferson wants this, is as desperate for it as Alexander always feels. He’d deal with much worse than an aching jaw to see him like that. And as much as he enjoys it when Jefferson just holds him still by winding Alex’s hair around his fingers when he fucks into his mouth, this is almost as much fun, running his hands over tensing thighs and digging his fingers into thick muscle before moving to grasp the base of Jefferson’s cock in a loose circle as he takes him further into his mouth.

Jefferson tolerates Alex teasing him for no more than a minute though, long fingers finally finding his hair to pull back his head while Alex pouts, biting at lips he knows are obscenely flushed and spit-slick.

“Stop wasting my time,” Jefferson tells him, pulling on his hair until Alex gasps with the delicious sting. “If I wanted to get my cock sucked by a church-going virgin, I wouldn’t have come to you.”

“So disparaging of your party base,” Alex smirks, yelping when Jefferson tugs on his ponytail until his neck is arched uncomfortably.

“You want to keep running your mouth or actually put it to good use for once?”

“Fuck,” Alex groans, his entire scalp tingling. The drawled words light up his body like a fourth of July sky, his cock twitching heavily as he squirms in Jefferson’s grip. “I do, I do, I do, I’m sorry.”

He’s not really sorry and they both know it, but Jefferson still relents, easing the curl of his fingers until Alex’s head isn’t forced backward anymore. But they don’t slip from his hair entirely, keeping him reeled in as his other hand strokes his cock again, Alex groaning when the thick head gets angled until it’s brushing against his lips. Jefferson laughs softly when Alex’s tongue darts out to get another taste.

“You can’t help yourself, can you? Are you going to behave now?”

Alex’s swift nod, delivered with suitably wide-eyed earnestness, evokes another huff of silent laughter, while Alex uses the renewed leeway to get his mouth on Jefferson again. Properly this time, working him with his tongue and sucking him all the way as he bobs his head.

“Jesus,” Jefferson mutters, hands running through Alex’s hair again, pushing loose strands from his face as if he wants to get a better look. “How are you this greedy for it every time?”

The growled words, rough with arousal, stoke the heat in Alex’s veins and he groans around Jefferson, one hand sneaking in between his legs to press over his cock, still trapped in his pants and leaking. That liquid honeyburn flares even brighter when Jefferson slides a firm hand around the back of his neck and drags him off of his cock again, voice quiet and dangerous. “Did I tell you to touch yourself?”

Alex licks over his swollen bottom lip, chasing the taste of him. Points out, with a tilt of his head: “You didn’t say I couldn’t.”

Not the sort of semantics Jefferson likes to entertain, he knows. He’s waiting for the reaction he’s spoiling for, for Jefferson to grab him and use his mouth the way he sees fit, force Alex to take what’s given to him. When Jefferson just keeps watching him with that thoughtful expression instead, something amused and dangerous lurking in his dark-eyed stare, Alex has to force himself not to outright squirm, unsettled and intrigued all at once as the uncertainty creeps hot and insistent up his spine.

“I didn’t, did I?” Jefferson finally says mildly, sounding every last alarm bell in Alex’s head. Jefferson is at his most dangerous when he uses that voice. “Well. Let’s not make that mistake again. Lose the pants.”

Shivering pleasantly at the edge those last few words have taken on, Alex levels himself to his feet, stumbling a little when the blood rushes back into his legs. Jefferson steadies him easily, fingers curling over Alex’s hipbones as he watches him fumble with his belt and zipper. Resolutely ignoring the flush in his cheeks, Alex shoves down his slacks, not missing the darkening of Jefferson’s eyes as he takes him in.

The blue, silken fabric of the briefs he’s wearing is dark where Alex’s cock has been pressing into it and he gasps when Jefferson reaches out to brush his fingers over the damp spot, hips jerking into the touch.

“Look at how wet you get. Jesus. All of that, just for a cock in your mouth.”

Alex whimpers, hands curling uselessly at his sides as Jefferson rubs the leaking head of his cock with a single fingertip, the friction maddening through the damp cotton. Fingers drift to play with Alex’s balls, stupidly sensitive and swollen where they’re trapped in the cotton of his briefs. “I like how needy you get for me.”

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, that should not get to him the way it does, but there’s no point in trying to hide his reaction when his cock spurts out more precome, darkening the fabric further. Jefferson’s eyes narrow and then dart up to meet Alex’s gaze, a smirk already pulling at his mouth.

“Case in point,” he says softly. “What do you want?”

“Fuck me,” Alex blurts, ignoring the sudden warmth of his face. Playing coy is not on the table anymore. It’s taking all of his willpower not to clamber into Jefferson’s lap and rub up against him like a cat in heat.

“That’s a given,” Jefferson says, watching impassively as another swipe of his fingers makes Alex twitch and curse. “What else?”

By now, Alex is nearly crying, unable to push further into the touch with Jefferson’s other hand firm on his hip, keeping him still. “Anything. Anything you want, just let me-“

“Anything I want?” Jefferson’s eyes are glinting. “That’s a dangerous promise to make, Alexander.”

Abruptly, Jefferson takes his hand away, the corner of his mouth twitching up as Alex whines. He pats the duvet next to his hip. “Up here.”

Not about to pass up that opportunity, Alex crawls onto the bed with him, allowing himself to be directed onto his belly with a half-bitten groan as his cock brushes against the mattress. Jefferson’s hand is heavy in the small of his back, slipping up underneath Alex’s dress shirt to caress the soft skin underneath, playing with the waistband of his briefs. When it slides lower to palm the curve of his ass, Alex doesn’t hesitate to press back into the touch.

“Yeah, you need it.” Jefferson’s voice is quiet but rough. Something crinkly hits the mattress next to Alex’s head and he blinks hazy eyes to take in the cellophane squares. It’s always Jefferson who brings the lube and condoms. Alex wonders whether he keeps the whole lot in his car so he won’t have to walk through security with it.

“Go ahead,” Jefferson says. “Get that hole nice and wet for me.”

Jesus. Alex’s hands curl into the sheets, hips twitching forward at the words. It’s a little embarrassing how much he likes it.

Jefferson leaving the preparation to him is unusual, but Alex isn’t about to complain, even if he does love having those fingers inside of him. Jefferson likes to tease and take his time and right now Alex wants nothing more than to sink onto that thick cock, let it fuck the restless energy right out of him. When he tries to turn over, the hand at the base of his spine exerts gentle pressure, a silent command.

“This way. I want to see.”

See how Alex fucks himself open on his own fingers and god, that’s hot, makes him groan and scramble to reach back blindly, pulling at his briefs. Jefferson pushes his hand out of the way to pull them down himself, Alex lifting his hips obligingly. He hisses as his cock springs free, hanging heavily between his thighs as he cants his ass up to keep it from pressing into the bed.

To get the foil package open, he has to use his teeth, dropping it as soon as his fingers are sufficiently slick, smearing a bit of it against his thigh in his eagerness to reach back and slip them between his cheeks. He jumps when Jefferson wipes it off with his thumb.

“Always so messy.”

Alex bites back a retort that would only serve to let Jefferson know how much he enjoys being admonished and concentrates on pressing his fingers inside, ignoring the awkward angle as he draws up his knee to reach easier. A soft groan falls from his mouth as he presses his feverish face into the cool sheets for a moment to revel in the sensation of being worked open, interwoven with the clench of his own body around his fingers. Against his hip, he can feel Jefferson’s fingers tighten, the soft hiss of his breathing coming more heavily. Arching his back, Alex starts easing his fingers back and forth in tiny increments, pushing a little further inside each time. It’s good, so good, sirup-sweet friction his hole clenches against as he fucks himself with two fingers, thighs falling open even further at the sensation.

He whimpers when another restless shift has him seeing stars and he curls his fingers without thought, body trembling with the violent surge of pleasure that licks into his thighs, cock twitching heavily beneath him. Jesus, it’s so good, so fucking perfect, if he could just-

The heavy palm lifting from his hip is the only warning he gets before the sharp smack to the curve of his ass makes him yelp.

“Did I tell you to play with yourself?” The words seem to be made of molten gravel, dragged out into that infuriating drawl. “Are you completely incapable of following simple directions?”

He spanks Alex one, two, three more times, and on the third Alex is already tilting his hips back, practically offering his ass up for another as he pants into the sheets, flustered with the helpless swirl of arousal and embarrassment. He can practically see Jefferson hesitate, and helps him along by blatantly grazing his prostate again, the jolted jerk of his body and subsequent whine quickly met with another sharp spank.

“Alexander.” The name carries a warning for both of them. The first time they did this they got carried away, enjoying themselves too much to exercise caution. Alex spent the scheduled staff meeting later on fidgeting in his seat until half of their assembled colleagues were giving him strange looks. Jefferson never lost control like that again, no matter how much effort Alex put into provoking him. He’s contemplated scheduling one of these encounters for a slow Friday, to take off the afternoon and crawl into Jefferson’s lap; beg him to spank Alex until he’s sobbing for relief. But it’s always felt too vulnerable to admit to that fantasy aloud; no matter how inclined Jefferson always seems to take him up on the offer.

All of that is hard to remember now, the urge to goad Jefferson into really laying into him without saying as much dancing right in front of him. Again, he curls his fingers and gasps, Jefferson’s grip digging into the swell of his ass painfully.

Alexander.” Another warning.

“Fuck,” Alex gasps helplessly. “I know, I know, just. Fuck. One more? Please?”

“Christ,” Jefferson mutters and does him one better, spanking each cheek, hard as Alex cries out, stroking the stinging, heated skin afterward. That pleased, aching thing in Alex’s belly is practically purring now, chipping away at his pride and loosening his tongue.

“Please,” he says again, voice breaking over the word. “Please, just one-“

“You had one more,” Jefferson chides, heavy palm still moving over where it fell. “And one after that. Don’t make me regret it now.”

“But-“

“You promised me anything I want.” The pinch delivered to his thigh makes Alex squirm and whine. “Now be a good boy and let me check you.”

Alex gasps, his entire body a writhing mess of want, not resisting when Jefferson grabs his wrist and forces him to withdraw his fingers, curling them stickily into his palm. He swallows a dry sob when Jefferson’s fingers slip into him instead, easily making his thighs clench and back arch as he pushes in deeper than Alex could ever hope to.

“Please,” he whispers, so hoarse it almost gets lost in between shaky breaths.

“So polite,” Jefferson muses, twisting his fingers until Alex cries out. “Why is it that you only remember your manners when you’re begging for cock?”

He withdraws his fingers to the sound of Alex’s whine, tugging on his balls instead until he squirms before moving to his cock. “What do you need, darlin’?”

The endearment, soaked in those dragging vowels, the g falling off entirely like Jefferson just can’t be bothered to fully make it to the end, flows through Alex like warm honey, leaving him sticky and sweet and breathless, his cock jumping in Jefferson’s loose grip.

“Please.” He feels raw and scraped hollow, every part of him begging for more, a grounding touch, to be filled again. “Please, fuck me, anything you want, please, I need-“ he cuts himself off by biting his bottom lip until he tastes metal, burying his hot face in his arms.

“So desperate,” Jefferson murmurs. “You think you deserve to? You haven’t been very good for me. Maybe I shouldn’t let you come at all.”

Alex sucks in a sharp breath, something deep within him twinging pleasantly as if he’s an instrument Jefferson is plucking strings on with the mildness of his voice. It’s always so much worse when he sounds like that, and although Alex isn’t worried about the threat itself – Jefferson not once has not let him come – anticipation builds heavy and sweet between his legs, only the slight alarm at what Jefferson is planning filtering through the sparking surge of ohgodpleaseanything. His mouth opens of its own accord, words spilling out in a rush, tumbling all over one another in his haste.

“I will, I promise I will, I’ll be so good for you, just fuck me, please, I’m-“

This time Alex’s babbling is cut off by his own gasp as Jefferson slips two deft fingers back into him, unerringly seeking out that spine-tingling spot inside, pressing into it mercilessly. Alex’s climax hits him so unexpectedly it’s like standing seaside as the tide comes in, eroding the very ground under his feet and plunging him into the dull whitewater roar of breaking waves, pleasure cresting over him as he struggles for air.

He still hasn’t fought his way back to the surface and through the most violent tremors when he’s already being urged onto his back, collapsing into the sheets like his strings have been cut as he blinks up at Jefferson settling between his thighs.

“Wait,” Alex croaks, then whimpers when Jefferson’s cock brushes against him where he’s wet and open, slipping just a fraction inside. “Just, wait, I’m not-”

He just needs to breathe, needs to have a moment of respite, but Jefferson is refusing him both, already pushing in and in and in. Alex’s eyes are wet and he whimpers, overwhelmed, and caught off guard by the sensation of being worked open without mercy. It doesn’t matter how many times Jefferson has fucked him, right then he feels too thick to take, Alex’s hole clenching desperately around the heavy drag of his cock. It’s like fireworks being lit along his spine when he’s already half-deaf from the previous volley, breath hitching while Jefferson spreads out on top of him, blanketing Alex with his solid, warm weight. The sprawling rush of sheer pleasure contracts into a searing ball of confused need and he grasps blindly at the strong arms bracketing him, digging his fingertips into warm, dark skin.

“Fuck, that’s good,” Jefferson breathes as he sinks himself home further, absently pinching Alex’s ass when he tries to relax into the feeling, forcing him to clench down again.

Alex swears and trembles as Jefferson buries his face in the crook of his neck.

“God, you asshole.”

“You like it.” Jefferson kisses the sensitive hollow right below his ear, humming when Alex tries to twist away. “Don’t be like that, we both know it’s true.”

Alex wishes his arms would lose their cooked noodle feeling for him to punch that smug expression right off his face. He doesn’t even need to see it to know it’s there. Unfortunately, he’s rather busy trembling through the last verges of his spine-melting orgasm, Jefferson not shy to take advantage as he arranges Alex to his liking, settling his legs onto his shoulders and leaning in to press his wrists against the mattress.

“Wait,” Alex repeats breathlessly as Jefferson pushes in again, the thick length of him sinking inside so easily with how wet Alex is. “Wait, it’s too much, I can’t-“

“You can,” Jefferson murmurs, swiping the sweat-soaked hair from Alex’s temple and leaning down to nip at his mouth, sharp and sweet. “You will.”

He moves Alex’s clenching hands until they’re settled low on his broad back, feeling the lean muscles there shift with the slight, rocking motions as he buries himself over and over. They dig into the warm, smooth skin there as Alex licks compulsively over his swollen mouth, pulled part and pried open with the weight of Jefferson inside of him, still so sensitive and overwrought from his orgasm.

This is what Jefferson has been after this whole time, to fuck Alex while he’s shivering and pliant with the pleasure wrung out of him, and Alex feels himself burning inside out with how much the idea appeals to him. He arches off the sheets with every grinding thrust, the delicious drag of Jefferson’s cock firing half a dozen conflicting signals through Alex’s writhing body as he trembles and clenches helplessly around him. Through the thick fog threatening to wrap him up entirely, he can see his own feet flexing on Jefferson’s shoulders with every push inside.

“So good,” Jefferson breathes, voice honey-rough and hitching every time he bottoms out. “Always look so fucking good giving it up for me, darlin’.”

Jefferson fucks him with deep, unhurried thrusts until Alex is whimpering and dark-eyed beneath him until he’s hard again and baring the sweat-slick curve of his neck as he tosses his head aside for Jefferson to nip at. Then he picks up the pace, giving it to Alex hard and fast, the way they both like it. When Jefferson finally comes, it doesn’t take Alex more than a couple of clumsy-fingered tugs of his own cock to follow, his second climax wrested from him like something he’s not ready to give up and has to all the same.

It’s overwhelming and horrible and perfect and as he shakes apart in Jefferson’s arms, Alex can’t help but think of the fourth reason this keeps happening, the one that will never make it onto his list.

No one else has ever made him feel like this.

*

They never linger for long afterward. Alex gives himself time to catch his breath again, wrinkling his nose as Jefferson withdraws and rolls away to discretely dispose of the condom. Maybe if they were any closer they could deal with the aftermath more gracefully, but as it is Alex just climbs off the bed as soon as he’s certain his legs will carry him, mindful of his body’s tendency to go into hibernation mode after a truly spectacular orgasm. The second time they did this, Alex fell asleep right after, waking to three dozen missed calls hours later, Jefferson long gone. When Alex cornered him in his office the next day to hiss at him for just leaving him behind, he just graced Alex with an obnoxious smirk.

“I'm not your babysitter, Hamilton. Besides, you looked like you needed the rest. Not that I’m not digging the raccoon aesthetic you’ve got going on.”

That was the last time they even spoke about this thing outside of a hotel room. Alex never made that particular mistake again, careful not to give in to the post-orgasmic daze, no matter how thoroughly Jefferson had given it to him. He grabs his shirt and slacks from the ground to toss onto a chair as he heads to the bathroom, turning on the shower to give it time to heat up as he surveys himself in the mirror. The damage isn't too severe this time, mostly contained to a ruddy flush that will have dissipated by the time he gets back to the office.

“Are you alright?”

“For fuck’s sake!” Alex startles so badly his elbow connects painfully with the sink and he rubs at the tender spot with a grimace, scowling at Jefferson’s reflection. “Don't do that!”

Jefferson raises an eyebrow, silently questioning Alex’s surprise at running into the person that was inside of him less than five minutes ago. Which, fair enough.

Alex turns back to the sink to wash his hands, skin prickling with the weight of Jefferson's gaze on him, making it hard not to feel entirely too vulnerable to be standing there naked. Ridiculous. Jefferson has seen him naked so many times he’d probably be able to pick Alex’s ass out of a line-up. Still, it's taking him considerable effort to keep his shoulders relaxed as he dries off with one of the small towels.

“You didn't answer the question.”

Alex frowns until he realizes what Jefferson is talking about and then almost laughs.

Of all the things to concern himself over, Jefferson actually seems worried he went too far.

Not entirely unjustified, considering that outside of these hotel rooms they couldn’t even agree on what kind of stationery to use. Alex usually tries not to think too hard about their discomforting compatibility in this regard. So what if Jefferson is really good at fucking him until he sobs? He’s still an overly privileged douchebag whose political beliefs are the bane of Alex’s existence.

 

Except now he actually appears troubled, eyes still running over Alex like that might help him figure out whether he crossed any boundaries. Alex feels a twinge of guilt, even though making Jefferson uncomfortable is usually what he lives for. He sighs.

“I’m fine. Rochambeau fine,” he adds, alluding to the safeword he hasn’t used once in their encounters. The seed of guilt blooms into something thorny as he watches the line of those broad shoulders soften with relieved tension. Maybe they should do a little more pillow talk from now on, as awkward as it’s bound to be.

The built-up steam slowly fogging up the mirror reminds him that the shower is still running, a welcome excuse to escape Jefferson’s scrutiny as Alex shoots him what he hopes is a somewhat reassuring look before pulling open the glass door, only to find himself being herded inside by a large palm on the small of his back, Alex jumping a little in surprise when Jefferson slips into the stall alongside him.

“I’m going to put a bell on you,” he threatens darkly, retreating until he’s standing under the pleasantly scalding spray. “What the fuck? You couldn’t wait five minutes?”

Alex cannot for the life of him get a read on Jefferson today. It’s not like they’ve never taken a shower together before, but it’s usually been an excuse for Jefferson to get his soaped up hands all over Alex’s body and always ended with Alex being pressed up against the tile for round two or three of that particular day. But right now, Jefferson seems perfectly content to steer Alex backward until he can duck under the water with him, leaving Alex to swallow thickly as he watches that annoyingly perfect body get drenched. Unfair, Alex decides and quickly closes his eyes, as if the sight of Jefferson’s glistening abs isn’t already seared into his brain.

“I’m in a hurry,” Jefferson says like that explains anything.

“We’re all in a hurry.” Alex doesn’t protest further though, blindly feeling for the small complimentary bottle of shampoo he grabbed from the counter, not even surprised when Jefferson presses it into his palm. “Just don’t come crying to me again, if your hair gets wet.”

“Unlikely,” Jefferson says drily and Alex cracks an eye open to see him pointedly glancing at the showerhead, which has been adjusted to Alex’s height. It only comes up to Jefferson’s collarbone. Alex’s nose scrunches up while he’s in the middle of scrubbing his hair - why is Jefferson so stupidly tall anyway? – before leaning back to let the water rinse it out. His elbow brushes Jefferson’s chest and he has to force himself not to startle again, willing his stupidly racing heart to calm the fuck down. What is there to be nervous about anyway? So Jefferson is acting a little weird, big deal. Still, no reason to shy away from every touch like a blushing virgin. Even if sharing water like this feels strangely domestic.

He has to squeeze by Jefferson in order to step out once he’s done, not even surprised by the casual hand on his hip as they sidestep one another. The cooler air outside the stall feels good on his heated face and Alex hurries to grab a couple of towels before escaping to the bedroom, feeling a little calmer once he’s standing in the chilled draft emanating from the A/C. Drying his hair as best as he can, he combs it back into a neat ponytail, grateful that his usual use of product doesn’t make it look much different from just leaving it damp for now. The ruined pair of briefs he rolls up to shove into his pocket, reminding himself to zip down to his car before going back into the office. Security taking a mysteriously stained pair of underwear from him is not what he wants to be the hot piece of gossip for the rest of the month. He’d rinse them out in the sink if Jefferson weren’t still occupying the bathroom and certain to have something to say about it. At least he has a few more laundered pairs in his office, along with some freshly ironed dress shirts, accustomed to pulling all-nighters.

Alex is already putting his tie back on when Jefferson finally emerges from the bathroom, followed by a rush of humid air that momentarily fogs up the hallway mirror, entirely naked and using a towel to dab at his still very attractively damp chest. Show-off. Alex swiftly refocuses his attention on the suddenly knotted material in his clumsy fingers, trying not to scowl when he realizes he’ll have to start all over again. Fucking Jefferson.

“Let me.”

The sudden invasion of his space has Alex doing a double-take, too caught off guard to stop Jefferson as he steps in close – still not wearing a goddamn thing, it’s like he’s on some sort of exhibitionist streak – and nudges Alex’s hands out of the way, taking the silky material from him.

“Did you read Burr’s proposal?”

For a moment, Alex thinks he might be too stunned to answer, the utter absurdity of Jefferson putting on his tie for him, like they’re a married couple from the fifties, robbing him of his speech. But Jefferson doesn’t look perturbed at all, eyes concentrated on his fingers, knuckles brushing against Alex’s neck, patting his chest once he’s done. “There you go. Do us all a favor and learn to tie something besides a Half-Windsor, these ties are wasted on you otherwise.”

Immediately, the Twilight Zone sensation bleeds back to reality again.

“Fuck off,” Alex says because it’s expected, but still too relieved to hear Jefferson being his usual haughty self to muster much rancor. “And yes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word bipartisan used quite that many times in a row.”

“Adams was very taken with it,” says Jefferson, to Alex’s relief now at least wearing pants and slipping on his dress shirt, deftly doing up the buttons.

“Adams is a fucking moron,” Alex says absently, chiding himself for the mild disappointment at all of that bare skin disappearing again. What is wrong with him? He came his brains out twice in the past hour, that should last him for at least another day.

“The President does look favorably on these initiatives.”

Alex scoffs. “Whatever they cook up in their little meetings contributes as much to interparty agreement as this does.” He gestures in between them and the bed.

Jefferson smirks as he shrugs into his suit jacket, straightening the sit as he sidles closer again. “Harsh words, Hamilton. Don’t you feel a little more predisposed to my arguments, now that I’ve fucked some of the fight out of you?”

Alex smiles sweetly, grateful that Jefferson is such an asshole ninety-five percent of the time. Makes it much easier to ignore all of these strange notions his mind is insisting on accosting him with today. “Not on your life. By the way, if your people put me on another list for these outreach luncheons, I will lobby von Steuben for a PR initiative on your behalf. Maybe you guys can dress up for Easter again, that was such a success last year.”

Jefferson, disappointingly, just grins. “Only if you’re joining us. I think you’d look very fetching in a bunny outfit.”

Alex narrows his eyes, but before he can come up with a retort – something about drawing the line at secret furry tendencies – Jefferson lays a hand on his back, his splayed fingers shockingly warm through the light cotton of Alex’s shirt, and everything else is lost to the slick and insistent press of Jefferson’s mouth against his own. The utter shock at being kissed so casually loosens Alex’s entire body, making it easy for Jefferson to pull him in further, arm wrapping firmly around his waist and forcing him up onto his toes.

It's utterly bizarre.

It’s also really fucking good, so good Alex only realizes his own hands have found their way into Jefferson’s suit jacket once he’s already being let go again, the silky brush of the lining against his knuckles pulling him back to reality. His mind is spinning, completely adrift in the wake of the gesture, but Jefferson once again looks like this isn’t a serious deviation from their usual routine. Like they do this every time, kissing each other like both of them are about to be shipped off to different war zones. He just straightens his tie and is gone with another half-grin and fleeting touch to Alex’s hip, leaving him flustered and utterly confused as the door falls shut behind him.

*

“Why so glum, doudou?”

Alex gives Lafayette a flat look as he drops into the booth across from him. “We both know you’re not pronouncing that right.”

Lafayette gifts him an unrepentant grin. “Who can possibly keep up with all of those charming Créole bastardizations of my language? Now stop deflecting. You’ve been off all night.”

All night. All day. Alex suppresses a sigh. It was a bad idea to come, but the prospect of being left to his own devices was so unappealing that he gave in to John’s pestering rather quickly. His mind has a tendency to devour itself when there’s nothing to distract it with.

“I’m fine,” he lies for the third time in the last hour, fingers fiddling with the damp coaster in front of him, almost toppling his beer.

“You are not fine.” Lafayette says it with such vehemence that Alex’s first reaction is to be defensive. “Something is on your mind. The meeting?”

Alex nearly groans. So they’re talking about this now.

“Kind of,” he allows, hoping that it might get Lafayette off his case.

It’s sort of true anyway. The senior staff meeting certainly didn’t go as he thought it would, Alex still so unsettled by what happened earlier that even Washington picked up on his distraction, calling him back to inquire after his well-being once everyone else filed out of the room. Alex still wants to squirm out of his skin at the memory. What an embarrassment. He prides himself on being on top of his game at all times, on being smarter and better prepared than everyone around him. He can’t afford to coast by on his name or connections, not with the way he’s clawed his way to the top at his age. All too aware that there’s plenty of people who would love to knock him down a peg or two. No one quite understood at the beginning why Washington relied on Alex the way he hid, his rise too meteoric for a lot of people’s taste. Alex strives to prove them wrong every day and usually succeeds. Not today though. All because of Jefferson. Alex cringes when he recalls his absentmindedness in the meeting, the way his eyes kept straying to the other end of the conference table.

Jefferson, of course, appeared unruffled and verbose as ever. Fucking asshole. Like he hadn’t disregarded a whole host of very well established if unspoken rules and turned what should have been a mutually satisfying encounter into something for Alex’s mind to obsess over. At one point their eyes met and Alex had to fight not to immediately glance away again, hating to be caught staring. Jefferson only raised an eyebrow in a silent question and Alex forced himself to meet it with a derisive glance as if the current discussion point were the problem.

For an embarrassingly none too fleeting part of the meeting, Alex even wondered whether Jefferson had done it on purpose, some kind of strange little mind game. Only that didn’t really add up. Jefferson may delight in being the proverbial thorn in Alex’s side in every single one of their professional disputes, but he’s usually quite open about his means of attack, favoring debate above any other. Of the two of them, Alex is definitely more likely to use underhanded tactics to get his way.

Which leaves Alex none the wiser as to what that fucking kiss was for. Or why he cares so much.

“Alex.” Alex glances up to find Lafayette’s eyes on him, soft with concern. “What’s wrong?”

Fuck it. He came here, he might as well get some some sort of advice.

“Nothing really,” Alex hedges, then relents when Lafayette gives him a skeptical look. “Something weird happened with – well, him.”

“Oh!” Lafyette perks up immediately, concern giving way to delight. “Mr. Mystery Dick?”

Alex gives in to the urge to bury his face in his hands, only realizing that John and Herc have joined them when the table gets jostled as they pile into the booth.

“Are we talking about Alex’s gentleman caller?” John sounds way too happy, the dragged out quality of his vowels a good indicator as to the number of tequila shot he’s been putting away. “Do tell.”

“Fuck me,” Alex mutters, blindly groping across the sticky table for a glass, not even caring whose drink he’s downing while the three of them cackle. Of all the mistakes he’s made in his life, none sticks out more egregiously than letting the whole thing with Jefferson slip to Herc one night when he was exhausted and buzzed. In his diminished state, he may have indeed attested Jefferson a ‘dick game so good I saw through space and time for a bit’. His friends have since been entirely unable to let it go, perennially fascinated with finding out the identity of this mystery lay, since even drunk off his ass Alex hadn’t been stupid enough to reveal who he was talking about. He would never live that down.

Not a big consolation though, considering it only made them more determined and curious. Alex lives in perpetual fear of Lafayette bringing it up in front of Jefferson at some point since he is inexplicably friends with the bastard. In that case, Alex will be forced to support Trumbull’s bullshit plan to quadruple NASA funding, since he’ll have to find a way to launch himself straight into the sun. That would be preferable to letting Jefferson find out that he’s the best sex Alex has ever had.

“Alex is feeling a little out of sorts,” Lafayette says, patting Alex’s head consolingly. Alex doesn’t have the wherewithal to bat his hand away.

“Yikes!” Herc says cheerfully. “What happened? Mystery Dick refuse to put out or something?”

“You guys are the worst,” Alex complains, grabbing another shot right out of Herc’s hand in retaliation, grimacing when it turns out to be some godawful watermelon concoction. He sighs. “He kissed me.”

There’s an expectant pause and when Alex doesn’t elaborate further, the three of them exchange conspicuous glances.

“Okay,” John finally says. “That’s…terrible?”

He starts to laugh when Alex glares at him, raising his hands. “I mean, what do you want to hear from me, Alex? You guys seriously never frenched before?”

Alex nearly groans. He hates drunk John. Way too happy. “Forget it.”

It’s stupid. He has no idea why he can’t let this go, and it’s not like he can explain it to them without giving a lot more away than he wants to. Of course he’s kissed Jefferson before. Plenty of times, in fact, enough so that he has a pretty good idea of how to gauge the man’s mood from the press of his mouth and the demanding way his tongue slides against Alex’s. Until today, he would have attested Jefferson to be a perfectly good kisser, the way he’s perfectly good (great, fantastic, fucking mindblowing) at anything else he does with his body. But he’s also never kissed him without it being a prelude to sex, his attention almost always split between Jefferson’s mouth and the thick length of his cock pressing him open, his hands on Alex’s skin. It never felt like that kiss today did.

But that seems like a ridiculous thing to try and explain. How every part of that kiss has stayed with him, flickering and replaying like an old movie reel. Just as over the top. The strong arm around his waist pulling him up, the hard press of Jefferson’s chest against his own, the sheer thoroughness of Jefferson’s mouth against his, like he was committing the feeling to memory to last him for a lifetime. If he ever admitted to even a fraction of that, his friends would never let it go. Alex swooning over a simple kiss like some Disney heroine would be part of his eulogy and the cause of death would likely be a humiliation induced aneurysm.

“You like him,” Lafyette states, and Alex snorts and shakes his head. This is the problem with not being able to share Mystery Dick’s identity. If they knew they were talking about Jefferson, at least he could spare himself this part of the conversation.

“You should date him,” Lafayette insists like he always does. “Mon dieu, I don’t know why I have to keep telling you this.”

“You don’t let dick that good go to waste on a casual thing,” Herc agrees, eyes glassy and a bit wistful. “You ride dick that good into the sunset.”

Lafayette practically inhales beer up his nose as he starts to laugh and Alex shakes his head as he pats him on the back. “Not an option.”

They tease him for a while longer but turn to other topics when it becomes clear he won’t indulge their curiosity any further than usual, quickly zeroing in on Maria who joins them with another round of drinks and the latest tale about her useless husband a while later. While Herc, John, and Alex launch into the appropriate amount of outraged muttering – Alex privately thinks they should start to work on convincing her to leave the guy’s ass behind for good, but is too exhausted to lead the charge on that front tonight – Lafayette disappears for half an hour, only to show up with a handsomely tousled guy he introduces as the new Public Liaison hire Charles.

His intent quickly becomes clear when he maneuvers Charles into the seat next to Alex, sliding in after him until they’re practically pressed together in order to make room. Alex lets it happen with amused resignation, pleasantly buzzed by now. Why not? Lee is handsome in that clean-cut white guy sort of way and what little conversation they manage over the music and the table’s raucously drunken laughter and shouts flows easily. Laf very unsubtly gives him two thumbs up, clearly happy with himself for distracting Alex. He doesn’t know that even while Alex gives in, part of him is still back in that hotel room, puzzling over the press of an insistent mouth and the strange swoop in his chest at the memory.

*

He spends the next few days trying to push the entire encounter from his mind, throwing himself into his work with such vigor that he has to be glad for his track-record as an incurable workaholic, lest his behavior draws any undue attention. There are no more key cards among his daily mail deliveries. Alex doesn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved. Disappointed, because part of him still wants to grab Jefferson by the collar and shake an explanation from that infuriating mouth. Relieved, because the reality is, he doesn’t feel ready for that confrontation. Around the office, he doesn’t exactly go out of his way to avoid Jefferson, but he doesn’t seek him out either, content to let their latest feud over the recently published WTO data on NTMs play out entirely via e-mail.

When Friday rolls around, Alex is looking forward to the weekend for what feels like the first time in years, the pile of folders on his desk he intends to take home petering more precariously by the hour. A trip to the breakroom only solidifies the feeling when he sees Jefferson and Lafayette leaning against the counter, chatting away in rapid French Alex feels too weary to listen in on.

“Alex!” Lafayette exclaims, both of them turning to look at him. As usual, Jefferson looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Alex can’t believe that his mind keeps trying to push the asshole on him. “Will you come for drinks with us tonight?”

“Can’t,” Alex says as he opens the cupboard, thanking all sorts of deities that he took Lee up on his offer yesterday. He doesn’t even want to imagine the horror of Lafayette’s and Jefferson’s combined company in his current state of mind. “I have plans.”

Someone has rearranged the cupboard and Alex muffles a curse when he discovers that all of the mugs have been relocated to the top shelf. The handwringing about the interns’ workload needs to stop. Alex sure never had time for this sort of bullshit when he was one. His elbow connects painfully with the counter when the sudden presence of another body in his space startles him, and Alex knows immediately and with a certainty that should be embarrassing who is behind him. Could probably pick him out by the firm press of his chest against his back. Jefferson smiles down at him with those infuriating dark eyes as he easily plucks a mug off the shelf and hands it to Alex, their height difference even more pronounced with how closely they’re standing together.

Alex takes a hasty step back as he cradles the mug against his chest, all too aware of his body’s Pavlovian response to Jefferson in such proximity.

“I had it,” he snaps, then adds, begrudgingly, because he can practically feel Lafayette’s admonishing gaze: “Thanks.”

Jefferson has the gall to continue smiling at him like Alex is a constant source of amusement. “You’re welcome. Maybe we should petition household for a stepstool.”

Alex rolls his eyes but is strangely relieved at the jab, familiar ground at last. “Fuck off.”

“Is Charles taking you out?” Lafayette asks behind them and Alex almost jumps, momentarily having forgotten that he’s there at all.

“Yeah.”

Of all the things Alex doesn’t want to discuss with Jefferson in the room, this is definitely at the top of the list. He can’t even look in his direction, not wanting to see whatever expression is on his face right now. Utter indifference most likely. Which is just as it should be. Alex has no idea why he finds the thought so unappealing.

“You could join us,” Lafayette offers, eyes flitting over Alex’s shoulder to where Jefferson must still be standing. “Right, Thomas?”

Alex doesn’t really want to hear the answer, so he makes a non-committal noise before hightailing it out of the breakroom. He only realizes that he never actually got around to getting his coffee once he’s back in his office, and sighs. Fucking figures.

*

Seven hours later, perched on a barstool so minimally designed that it’s downright uncomfortable, Alex considers just consigning the entire week into a box labeled ‘Things to examine once my emotional stability has increased aka Never’. The entire place is awash with the up and coming DC crowd Alex despises as if Capitol Hill has vomited its dregs of bottom-barrel staffers into this bar, holding too-loud conversations about their work to signal where exactly their bosses ranked on the proverbial totem pole. He should have turned around as soon as he followed Lee out of their Uber and discovered their destination.

At any other time, Alex might have appreciated the blatant vibe of hipster douchiness the place was exuding, if only so he could avoid it. But he was on a date, a date Lafayette had set him up on, sort of, a date that was supposed to take the whole thing with Jefferson off his mind. So he allowed Lee to usher him inside. That was his second mistake. The first and upon examination graver one had been to agree to go out with a man he’d exchanged nothing but a few drunken pleasantries with, lulled into a false sense of camaraderie by their shared party affiliation and Lafayette’s good opinion. Which shouldn’t have been a swaying factor anyway. Half of Lafayette’s social circle is made up of Republicans for crying out loud. Alex doesn’t have a fraction of his patience.

So Lee abandoning him at the tiny table they’d been awkwardly crammed around with a few strangers, red-faced and spitting insults after less than ten minutes of actual conversation, was maybe not all that surprising. The middle finger Alex showed him in response became an appropriate punctuation mark to a rapidly deteriorating evening.

The third mistake was probably not to take off immediately afterward, but Alex felt a little sorry for himself and found his way to the bar to at least take the edge off his ruined night, which of course signaled open season to every horny closet case in the vicinity whose only goal on the weekends was to fuck their way through as many guys as possible so they could maintain their carefully curated conservative image during their workweek. In the past hour, Alex must have shot down at least a half dozen brazen advances. To add insult to injury, the drinks are terrible. He’s been feeling queasy ever since the second one, accepting another out of sheer curiosity as to whether they could possibly all be this awful.

Which is shaping up to be his fourth and at this point final mistake for the night, the unpleasant stir in his stomach tilting rather rapidly into a roil. The thick, artificially scented air and the blaring bass line is suddenly too much for his senses, the packed room wavering dangerously around him like the entire place has been tipped into a swimming pool. Visions of violently emptying his stomach contents onto the pencil-skirted lap of the fresh-faced intern next to him – seriously, she hasn’t even taken off her staff credentials, Alex hates this place – play cheerfully in front of his eyes and Alex slides from his perch with little grace as he slaps a couple of bills down for the bartender, his spot snapped up by one of the hovering hopefuls before he can take two steps, nearly knocking him over.

“Excuse you,” Alex mutters, the words lost to the cacophony of music and conversation. Just as well. He doesn’t feel ready to go another round with anyone right now. The entrance is all the way across the makeshift dance floor, and it’s so tightly packed with sweaty, polyester and cotton clad bodies that it takes Alex what feels like ages to get there, having to weave his way upstream, most people still on their way in rather than out at this hour. It’s a fucking nightmare and once he gets to the door, his skin seems to crawl with the particular kind of claustrophobia only crowds evoke, the collar of his shirt clinging damply to the back of his neck and causing goosebumps.

The queasiness has spread heavy and cloying to every part of him, accompanied by an odd sort of tipsiness he only remembers getting after downing a triple shot of absinthe in law school once. Was there absinthe in those drinks? Too late to ask now. He’d rather agree to another date with Lee before braving the path through the crowd again.

As he steps outside, the night air provides a brief moment of respite before the scent of secondhand smoke and urine catches up to him and he has to suppress a dry heave. Time to go home. Alex dodges the few clustered groups of idling patrons as he heads towards the street, pulling up Uber on his phone as he goes. With so many drop-offs, it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to nab a driver.

When he’s still standing there twenty minutes later, watching as request after request gets declined, Alex is starting to rethink that assessment, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Whether it’s the fact that no one wants to risk picking up sloshed barflies or because Alex’s neighborhood isn’t a prime pick-up location halfway across town, it doesn’t seem like he’s getting a ride. He thinks that there’s a subway station somewhere around here, but at this point, he doesn’t think he can make it there, even if he were inclined to switch lines three times to get home.

The absinthe – or whatever else it was, all Alex remembers at this point is that it tasted like ass – has caught up to him full force, the pavement wavering like a fucking Escher painting if he so much as shifts his weight. Beneath his suit jacket, his shirt is sticking to his back and he feels clammy with sweat, but is also somehow shivering, which should be a fucking impossibility in the humid air.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck this entire week and tonight in particular. Looks like he only has one option left. He dials Lafayette, because if he has to take a hit to his pride and beg one of his friends to haul ass across town and pick him up like a preschooler, it might as well be the one who got him into this mess.

“Alex!” Lafayette practically sings into the phone, making the persistent nausea in Alex’s stomach roll over for some reason, forcing him to swallow thick spit. “Where are you, my love? How is your date going?”

“Fuck off,” Alex groans, and maybe Lafyette hears something in his voice because he doesn’t cackle in response as Alex goes on. “And fuck you by the way, I can’t believe you set me up with that douchebag, of all the fucking-“

He fights back a dry heave – how fun, he’s at that portion of the evening already – and abruptly gives up on berating Lafayette. He’ll do it tomorrow, when his stomach feels less like a greased slip-n-slide. Oh God, what a picture. Somehow, he soldiers on.

“I need you to come get me. There’s no rides and I think I’m getting sick or something, I feel like I’m about to pass out-“

“Breathe, Alex,” Lafyette says, any humor evaporated from his voice. “Where are you?”

Alex gives him the address, wrinkling his nose when Lafayette curses in response. Yeah, that about sums it up.

“Don’t worry. Just sit tight.”

“Okay,” Alex mutters, pathetically relieved that he doesn’t have to expend any more brainpower on this. He hears a commotion on the other end of the line but is too preoccupied with picking out a vaguely clean part of the curb to sit on to pay much attention, unpleasantly aware of the rubbery consistency of his legs. He’s not even surprised when the connection gives out and when he pulls his phone away from his ear, the screen is dark. No more battery. Now he really has to hope Lafayette comes through.

Time passes oddly, stretching like taffy until he has to start counting to make certain only minutes are creeping by instead of hours. Then he’ll lift his head and entire groups he could have sworn he was just watching have dispersed and been replaced by different people entirely. Reality tilts and reforms around him like one of those kaleidoscope toys.

Soon he’s only vaguely aware of his surroundings, paying little attention to the people hurrying by, but the sliver of his awareness that hasn’t completely checked out for the night trills when his field of vision – taken up by the pavement between his feet and a little beyond – fills with embroidered dress shoes, the horror following closely behind. Because he knows those shoes, knows the ostentatious stitching, and no, the world simply cannot be this cruel. Lafayette wouldn’t be this cruel.

From the depths of Alex’s memory, an image floats to the surface. The break room earlier today. An eyesore of a suit and Lafayette’s cheerful question ‘Want to join us later?’ Oh, Jesus. Alex is the biggest moron alive.

“Fuck me,” Alex groans, honestly despairing at the state of the world. The snort he gets in return makes him want to give in to the urge he’s been holding back successfully, letting those drinks exit by the same route they have entered his body.

“As tempting an offer as that usually is,” says Jefferson in that insufferably condescending drawl that showcases way too clearly how he’ll lord this moment over Alex until they’re both dead in the ground. “I’ll have to decline.”

“I’m going to kill Lafayette,” Alex says, eyes still closed. If he cannot change reality, he at least refuses to acknowledge it, to look at Jefferson’s smug face as he basks in Alex’s misery.

“You’re lucky Gil convinced me to come,” Jefferson says, which is unfair and also unfortunately true. He nudges Alex’s shoes with the tip of his own as if he’s poking at a piece of litter in the gutter. “Get up. My car’s down that way.”

Alex considers the state of his body, the way his legs feel wooden and not really part of it, while everything else slowly spins and barks out a rough laugh that scrapes at his throat. “Yeah, that’s not happening.”

There’s a pause in which Alex sort of wishes he could see Jefferson’s face, except that he’d have to open his eyes for that and look at Jefferson and that seems like a terrible idea, so he doesn’t. He can gauge Jefferson’s mood by his voice anyway; exasperation that is rapidly shifting to annoyance.

“I don’t have time for this, Hamilton. I promised Gilbert I wouldn’t leave you stranded, so get your ass in gear.”

“Fuck off,” Alex snaps reflexively, wincing when the surge of adrenaline makes all sorts of colors burst along the darkness of his inner eyelids. “I’m not saying I won’t, I’m saying I can’t.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Jefferson says, Alex’s only warning before strong hands are pulling him to his feet. Although Alex kind of expected the move and tried to brace himself, darkness still licks greedily at the edges of his vision, unconsciousness threatening to sweep him up entirely for a few agonizing seconds. As a result, he practically falls face-first into Jefferson’s chest, which would be absolutely mortifying and grounds for avoiding him for at least a couple of weeks, if he could care about that sort of thing at the moment.

“Christ, Hamilton.” Jefferson’s voice is a rumble against Alex’s cheek. “You’re a hot mess tonight.”

True, but also fairly rude. Entirely on brand for Jefferson. In a world in which everything seems to melt and slip away from Alex, it’s bedrock to plant himself on. Honestly, the tacked-on ‘tonight’ almost makes it a compliment. Still, he can’t let it go unchallenged.

“Shut up. I hate your tie.” Not his best comeback, but he’s not firing on all cylinders right now.

“Just as well,” Jefferson says mildly. “You couldn’t afford it.”

The fucking snob. And didn’t he claim just a few days ago that Alex would have to improve his knot-tying skills? Hypocrite. Alex wants to tell him, but they’re moving, Jefferson practically dragging him along, and he has to refocus all of his energy into willing his knees not to buckle under his own weight.

He honest to God tears up when he finally feels the low, sleek roof of Jefferson’s car beneath his palm, which thankfully goes unnoticed as Jefferson is busy pouring him into the passenger seat. The door shuts behind him and for a blissful few moments, Alex is alone in the quiet darkness that smells divine after the thick night air, a mix of leather, air freshener, and Jefferson’s cologne. His ass still numb from the curb, the buttery leather of the car seat makes him feel like he’s sitting on a cloud.

Unfortunately, the moment doesn’t last. The driver’s side door is pulled open and Jefferson slides behind the steering wheel, throwing Alex a quick, dismissive glance as he starts up the engine, more akin to a purr than something mechanical coming to life. Alex takes a moment to contemplate whether expensive German engineering might actually be worth the exorbitant price tag.

“Put on your seatbelt.”

Alex tips his head to the side to look at Jefferson. “What?”

“Your seatbelt. I have no intention to get pulled over for transporting an unsecured passenger.”

Alex blinks. “What about this entire encounter makes you think I’m coordinated enough to buckle myself in right now?”

“Jesus,” Jefferson sighs, already leaning over and reaching for Alex’s seatbelt himself. “How are you still this coherent when you can’t even stand on your own?”

If he’s expecting an actual answer he’s disappointed, but it’s his own damn fault for being in Alex’s space all of a sudden, his soft hair all up in Alex’s face as he buckles him in, close enough to breathe in the clean, expensive scent of whatever product he uses. Close enough to kiss. Christ. Abort, abort.

“Thank you,” Alex says quickly because he’s a little afraid what else might tumble from his mouth to unsettle the shifted equilibrium between them even further. Not that it’s ever going to be regained after this, Jefferson scraping him off the pavement as a favor to Lafayette. Alex thinks he’ll be quite upset about that at some point, about the loss of his dignity in general. But right now, as the uneasy roil of his stomach is replaced by a warm, tingling and almost floaty feeling while the car glides smoothly through a glittering DC summer night, it’s very hard to care. Jefferson’s driving is either extremely skillful or Alex just doesn’t register any bumps or potholes the way he usually would, the smoothness of their journey lulling him to the point he doesn’t even notice his eyes sinking shut until he blinks them open again at hearing Jefferson’s voice.

“What happened to Lee?”

Alex makes a face Jefferson can’t see in the darkness. “He’s a moron.”

That statement is met with such an expectant silence that Alex feels the urge to elaborate. “I scared him off.”

“You tend to do that,” Jefferson agrees and Alex isn’t sure whether that lilt in his voice is amusement or condescension. Both, probably. With Jefferson, it’s usually both.

“Speaking from experience, are you?” Alex belatedly realizes that can be taken one of two ways.

Jefferson just hums though, definitely amused now. “I don’t scare that easily.”

The words somehow hang in the air between them, as if Alex could reach out and run his fingers over their shape to examine them further. Desperate to talk over the quiet, he blurts: “When I brought up John Rawls, he asked whether he worked on the Hill or for Washington.”

That startles Jefferson into a genuine laugh and Alex finds his mouth tugging up into a grin as well, not immune to the absurdity.

“Why would you bring up Rawls on a first date? At least pick someone whose theory’s objective doesn’t infringe on the fundamental right this country was founded on.”

“And which right would that be- wait. I’m not debating this with you again. Libertarian jackass.” Alex blinks his eyes open just long enough to see the quick flash of Jefferson’s grin in the darkness. His attention is drawn by their surroundings then and he peers through the windshield in dismay.

“Where the fuck are we?”

“Georgetown. I’m taking you to my place.”

“The fuck?” Alex is not even trying to filter himself at this point.

“I’m not leaving you on your own while you’re like this. If you fall on your face and break your neck, Washington will have me demoted.”

That’s just…so much to unpack. Alex doesn’t even try, sinking back into his seat as Jefferson navigates the mostly empty streets in silence, heart racing in his chest. He hasn’t seen Jefferson’s place. Jefferson hasn’t seen his either. They only ever fuck at work. Their entire relationship is confined to it in such a way that Jefferson might as well not exist outside of it. But his existence is pretty undeniable right now, Alex loose-limbed and sleepy in the passenger seat of his expensive car, on the way to Jefferson’s home apparently. Jesus. He’s sort of glad for how plastered he is. It allows him to slip back into a light daze he only jerks awake from when the car stops.

It’s honestly embarrassing how easily Jefferson pulls him from the car. Alex can’t dwell on that particular humiliation for too long because the next one follows right after, Jefferson hoisting him off his feet, like this is just what they do. What the actual fuck.

“What the actual fuck,” Alex says, blinking at Jefferson, mind weirdly caught on how little strain shows on his face, like Alex weighs nothing at all. Something else catches his attention. “Where the fuck is the sky?”

“This is my garage,” Jefferson says, tone managing to convey perfectly how much of an idiot he believes Alex to be. Prick.

“What do you need a garage for?”

Honestly, Jefferson is not the type to don overalls, more’s the pity. He would look fantastic in overalls.

“For my car,” Jefferson says. “How are you this out of it and still can’t shut up for more than thirty seconds?”

Alex doesn’t know. He’s never felt like this before, not even when he and Herc got completely hammered after finals freshman year. Mostly he just feels warm and pleasantly sparkly, like the entire world is there for his perusal. Time is still strange. He blinks to find their surroundings have changed again as Jefferson sets him down on an insanely comfortable couch, which, whoa.

“Do you secretly run an antiquity shop?” he asks, glancing around with wide eyes as he melts back into the cushions.

“Yes. My career in politics is just a hobby really,” Jefferson says drily. “Stay there. I’ll make you some coffee.”

As he disappears into the direction of what is presumably the kitchen, Alex takes in the room, trying to compile what he’s seeing with what he knows about Jefferson. Somehow he imagined him in one of those sleek condos all this time, which seems insane now.

The plush rugs, framed art between the numerous bookcases fit him much better. To his horror, Alex finds he kind of likes it. The gurgle of the coffee maker tells him it’s unspeakably expensive and also that this place has an open floor plan, which means Jefferson can probably still see him, even though it’s dark as fuck. He tries to sit up a bit straighter when Jefferson returns with a cup, holding it in both hands as he takes a sip and grimaces, suppressing a hiccup.

“Do not throw up on my couch.”

“It would be an improvement.” Kind of unfair, especially because said couch is actually really comfortable. Alex pats it sneakily in apology before taking another cautious sip. “This is good.”

“You’ll have to drink about five of those to make a dent at this point.” Jefferson sighs. “How much have you had anyway?”

“Don’t know,” Alex mutters, wrinkling his nose. “Two, three drinks maybe?”

He opens his eyes at the scoff that statement gets, Jefferson’s face hard to make out in what little light is coming in from the kitchen. His voice gives away his disbelief easily enough though.

“Wait, are you serious?”

Alex frowns. “Yeah?”

“I’ve seen you drink men twice your size under the table at every single office party and still do that awful hip-thrusting thing you think constitutes dancing,” Jefferson says. “Right now you can barely stand.”

“Fuck you,” Alex says, honestly indignant. “I’m a great dancer.”

He blinks after Jefferson as he gets to his feet and stalks from the room. Barely has the time to mumble “Overreaction.” before Jefferson is back, crouching down in front of Alex as he flicks on a lamp on one of the side tables, dousing the room in warm light. Alex squints and grumbles, not enjoying the sudden illumination.

“Look at me please.” Again, there’s something odd in that statement, as if Jefferson is holding back on Alex’s behalf. Insane. Jefferson never pulls his punches with him. Even the notion that he might makes Alex combative.

“Why?”

“Humor me. Please.”

And that’s the second please in half as many minutes, Alex realizing with some surprise that he doesn’t feel up to resisting. He allows Jefferson to take the cup from him and set it aside somewhere before his hand is on Alex’s face, tipping up his chin. For a millisecond, Alex is absolutely certain he’s about to be kissed, which may be why he sputters and flails so spectacularly when Jefferson shines a tiny flashlight into his eyes instead. But really. Flashlight. Eyes. What the actual fuck.

“Jesus!” Alex yelps, nearly kicking Jefferson in the balls as he tries to scramble backwards. “What’s the matter with you? Are you insane, why would you-“

But Jefferson is already on his feet again, barely paying attention to Alex as he pulls out his phone. Mouth open, Alex watches him pace the length of the rug at least three times in what feels like seconds, the lovely, sparkly feeling he was nursing thoroughly jarred.

"Martha," Jefferson says suddenly, and whatever restrained current his voice carried earlier is out in the open now, tinging every vowel of that Virginia drawl. "I need you to come over. It's an emergency."

Alex stares at him, wondering whether he's hearing things now. Emergency?

"No, I'm fine. It's a friend of mine. I'm pretty sure he's been drugged. I-" he huffs, voice rising in agitation. "Because he says he's only had two drinks and I had to carry him in from my car. His pupils are completely blown, I didn't notice until I brought him in, he has dark eyes, I didn't-"

Again he stops, whoever is on the other end of the line clearly cutting into his agitated rant. The brief silence doesn't last.

"No!" Jefferson shoots an unreadable glance towards Alex, who is still too stunned to do anything but stare back. "Because I don't need to ask, Martha. He's not the type to- Jesus, fuck, fine, hold on."

Jefferson lifts the phone away from his ear.

"Hamilton." His voice is softer now. "Did you take anything tonight?"

It takes Alex a second to realize what he's saying.

"No," he croaks, chest tight with the sudden turn of events. Someone's supposed to have drugged him? That's insane. Jefferson must be wrong. In fact, that's extremely likely, since he's wrong about so many things practically all the time. But even in his diminished state, the explanation makes a scary amount of sense, his whole body just off in a way he’s never experienced before.

Jefferson must see it on his face, because his expression softens even further and he's suddenly back to crouching in front of Alex, cradling his wrist. Taking his pulse, Alex realizes, head spinning.

"Should I take him to the emergency room?"

Panic spikes razor-edged in Alex's throat. Never mind driving without a seatbelt, if there are drugs in his system and it goes into his medical record and someone gets wind of that, he can kiss his chance at higher office goodbye. Hell, he might even lose his job if they don't believe him about not taking anything of his own volition.

He doesn't even realize how shallow and fast his breathing has gotten until Jefferson looks up at him in alarm - and when did he get rid of the phone? - warm hands cradling his face as thumbs swipe over his cheekbones.

"Easy, darlin," Jefferson murmurs, palming the back of Alex's neck, heavy and reassuring. "Breathe nice and slow for me, yeah?"

Alex tries, eyes fixed on the way Jefferson's chest rises and falls under his no doubt stupidly expensive shirt, matching his own to it with some difficulty.

"No emergency room," he gasps when he gets enough air again and Jefferson nods, shushing him.

"It's fine. I've got a friend on the way, she's a doctor. She'll be here in five minutes. Just breathe for me.”

*

It takes longer than five minutes.

By then they've migrated to the bathroom, the hot queasiness Alex is certain will flush out of him only resulting in a couple of dry heaves that leave an ache in his stomach as he settles back onto his heels.

Through the thick thrum of his heart beating hummingbird-fast in his ears and the way the entire room wavers around him constantly, it takes Alex a moment to notice the cool washcloth being pressed to his face, a blessed relief from the heat that has crept across every inch of his skin. Jefferson combs damp strands of hair from his forehead, fingers lingering.

"You're being nice," Alex mumbles, closing his eyes at the caress. "It's freaking me out."

That gets him a chuckle and a firm palm rubbing the small of his back. Alex wants to arch into the touch, but can't, his entire body feeling like it's weighed down by bricks.

"Would you prefer it if I weren't?"

Alex makes an uncertain noise. "Maybe. Say something mean."

"Lee is a spineless jackass with the intellectual capacity of a garden hose and you're an idiot for going out with him," Jefferson supplies promptly.

Alex sighs in relief, now at least reassured Jefferson hasn't been replaced by a pod person. "That was mean. Thank you."

"Anytime."

Jefferson is very...present. In the midst of feeling like he’s trying to keep his balance on the deck of a ship caught in the depths of a storm, he's about the only solid thing Alex can focus on. When he slumps back further, Jefferson shifts to catch him, Alex's back pressed against his chest.

It's nice. Intimate. Maybe the most intimate they've ever been, regardless of the number of times they've fucked. Alex comes to the conclusion that he's definitely drugged because that train of thought would usually dump him right into an existential crisis. Right now he's just thinking how much he wants Jefferson to put his hands up his shirt. His uncoordinated fumble to grab onto Jefferson's hands to accomplish just that only results in Jefferson pinning him into place, but he does wrap one arm around Alex's waist, which isn’t terrible, so Alex gives up and settles back.

Of course that's when the cavalry finally arrives, the doorbell startling them both.

"Stay here," says Jefferson, like Alex is about to tapdance his way out of the bathroom. Alex wants to tell him, but Jefferson is already gone, returning with a stunningly pretty woman with dark hair and even darker eyes.

"Alexander?" she asks, smiling a little when Alex nods and then winces at the movement. "My name is Martha. I'll have a look at you if you don't mind."

Alex makes a 'have at it' gesture, submitting to the subsequent poking and prodding with minimal flinching. He shivers, feeling the absence of Jefferson's heat against him.

“Is he-“ Jefferson says and then stops, Alex craning his neck to get a good look at him at him, because he sounds weird. “Should I have taken him to the hospital?”

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Martha says, patting Alex’s shoulder in reassurance. “Usually this sort of thing is safe to ride out at home with some supervision unless there’s a bad reaction. How are you feeling?”

That last part is directed at Alex, who wrinkles his nose as he mulls it over.

“Weird,” he finally concludes. “Drunk, sort of, but also, not really? Pretty dizzy, but not in a terrible way, not since…” he trails off, realizing that he is about to admit to feeling better ever since Jefferson literally put him back on his feet.

“Did you throw up at any point?”

“Tried to,” Jefferson interjects as if he doesn’t trust Alex to tell the truth.

“Did he seem confused at any point in time, pass out?”

Alex scowls at the fact that he’s not even being involved in the questioning now. Jefferson is already answering in the negative though and Martha nods briskly.

“Okay. I’m going to draw some blood and have someone take a look at it, just so we know what we’re dealing with. If nothing changes, he can stay here, as long as you keep an eye on him while he sleeps this off. But I don’t think you need to worry, Alex. Your reaction seems pretty mild and you’ve got someone to take care of you.”

Alex knows he should be relieved and he is, some small part of him at least. But mostly, his mind is still tripping over ‘You’ve got someone to take care of you’ which, while nominally and for the time being true, is a concept so earth-shattering and monumental it does something that so rarely happens to him: blows any words right out of his head, leaving him speechless. Alex hasn’t had someone to take care of him in years, not since his mother died. Not in the traditional sense, not in any way that unduly stretched the bonds of friendship into something more.

Something like Jefferson subjecting his Zegna suit to the bathroom floor as he held Alex like he doesn’t have anywhere else to be.

In his quietly panicked state, Alex doesn’t even notice that Martha is rolling up his sleeve until she’s fixing the cuff around his arm, quickly glancing away when the needle comes out. He’s never been great with this part. Suddenly Jefferson is at his side again, a warm palm cradling the back of his neck, squeezing it gently.

“Just close your eyes.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Alex grumbles but complies.

Martha makes a noise that might be a laugh. “How did y’all meet?”

“Oh God, she sounds just like you,” Alex mumbles, at the same time Jefferson says “Work.”

“Could have guessed that one.” Her voice is definitely amused now. “Let me guess. You don’t work for the GOP.”

Alex snorts. “What gave it away?”

“Thomas doesn’t like to make things easy for himself.”

“Martha,” Jefferson says sharply and she chuckles.

“Oh, please. He’s just your type. Tiny, smart, won’t take any of your bullshit.”

There’s the snap of gloves being taken off and Alex carefully cracks an eye back open, blanching when he sees her packing away the vials of blood. He’s not usually this squeamish, but wow.

“Did he date you?”

“See?” she says, clearly pleased. “Smart. Yeah, he did. For a hot minute anyway. I never could fulfill his constant need for confrontation though. So now we’re just old friends.”

“Debatable,” Jefferson says icily. “Right now I’m thinking of uninviting you from Thanksgiving.”

“Big talk from a man who begs me to bring double of my Mac’n’Cheese dish every year.”

She pats Alex’s knee. “All done. You should probably lie down.”

“I’ll take him upstairs.”

“Oh, will you,” Alex says, but drapes his arms over Jefferson’s shoulders readily enough when he’s being swept up again, clinging to him as he takes the stairs two at a time, not held back by Alex’s weight in the least.

It’s stupidly attractive and Alex resents him for it.

“You’re too tall,” Alex says, trying to put a stop to the increasingly dangerous direction his thoughts are taking. “It’s unreasonable.”

“You like it,” says Jefferson, because of course he does. He lives for disagreeing with anything Alex says or does.

Alex tries to concentrate on that instead of dwelling on the fact that he does like that Jefferson’s taller than him and that apparently Jefferson somehow knows. How embarrassing.

The manner with which Jefferson deposits him on a bed – is it his bed? A guest room? Alex isn’t sure which option he’ll find less mortifying in the morning – is considerably gentler than the way he usually gets him prone on a mattress and Alex wants to make some sort of joke about that, but misses his window of opportunity when Jefferson disappears into the dark somewhere. Well. Maybe better that way. Wouldn’t be entirely fair anyway, Alex usually quite enjoys the tossing.

“He’s very good in bed, you know,” he says to Martha, who has followed them and now sports an expression Alex is fairly certain means she’s holding back laughter. “Fuck. Don’t tell him I said that.”

“Our secret,” she says, sounding completely delighted for some reason.

“Thank you,” Alex sighs. “You’re very nice, for one of his friends. I like you better than Madison already.”

“Stop hitting on her.” Jefferson reemerges with a bundle of clothes he tosses at Alex. “Put these on, I’m not letting you roll around in my bed in clothes that have touched the sidewalk.”

“The horror,” Alex says, struggling upright and clumsily reaching for the buttons of his shirt. “What if I touched the sidewalk?”

Jefferson side eyes him. “Did you?”

Alex, beset by a vision of Jefferson dragging him into the shower, quickly shakes his head as he struggles with the tiny openings and buttons. Jefferson seems suspicious but moves closer, batting Alex’s hands away.

“I can do it!”

“Clearly not,” Jefferson says in that condescending way Alex wants to strangle him for each and every time, already unbuckling Alex’s belt. Martha clears her throat.

“Bit of doctorly advice, guys. You should take it easy tonight. Just rest.”

“Who says I even want to.” Alex kicks at Jefferson when he laughs.

“You always want to.”

Wow, apparently this is just something they about in front of other people now.

“It’s a waste not to fuck while you’re on drugs,” Alex grumbles, sputtering when Jefferson drags an overly large t-shirt over his head and leaves him to sort out the sleeve situation. “I may never get this chance again.”

“Damn right you’re not,” Jefferson says like he’s Alex’s father or something, already getting up and putting a hand on Martha’s shoulder.

“I’ll walk you out.”

“I’m serious, Thomas.”

“Martha.” Jefferson’s voice is very quiet like he doesn’t want Alex to overhear him. “I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him, you know.”

She laughs softly. “Oh, believe me, I do.”

There’s a pause and it’s very hard to resist the urge to peer over at them, try and figure out Jefferson’s expression. They’re already leaving the room though and once Alex has managed to put on the shirt most of the way, he crawls his way beneath the duvet, limbs entirely uncooperative as he tries to arrange himself on his side. Way better than any of their hotel rooms, he has to admit, the plush pillows and sinfully soft sheets already instilling a sense of comfort that will probably make sleep come easily if he lets it.

But he forces himself to resist, to wait until Jefferson comes back upstairs and putters around in the ensuite bathroom for an ungodly amount of time, before slipping into bed wearing the same pajama bottom and shirt combo he’s forced on Alex. Probably the most informal clothes Alex has ever seen him in, making something adrift and achy float up and tighten in his throat. He blames that feeling for immediately grabbing for Jefferson once he’s in reach, embarrassed but pleased when those strong arms wrap him into an embrace with ease. God, it’s so fucking comfortable, his eyes instinctively drifting shut as he rests his cheek against the softness of Jefferson’s worn shirt. There’s nothing he can do to suppress the pleasant little shiver when one of Jefferson’s hands finds its way underneath Alex’s shirt to stroke languidly up his spine.

“Still think we should fuck,” Alex mumbles into Jefferson’s chest, feeling the answering vibration of his laugh.

“Can’t. Doctor’s orders.”

Alex sighs. He can feel himself drifting towards sleep. “We’re so good at it though.”

“Tomorrow,” Jefferson says softly. “If you still want to then.”

Alex wants to ask what the hell that’s supposed to mean, but the constant caress of Jefferson’s fingers lulls him deeper into the sweet fog he’s been fighting, the world slipping away in the face of that warmth and comfort.

*

Reality comes back to him slowly, floating lazily out of reach as he works his way into the light, registering the world in snatches as he surfaces and dips back under. His limbs, stiff beyond measure, as if he's barely moved from his curled up position all night. His eyes, too dry and so sensitive to even the dim light that it takes him several tries to keep them open. His head, buzzing in that persistent way that means he has to hurry to procure some painkillers if he doesn't want the ache to settle in.

Struggling out from underneath the heavy comforter to sit up and survey his surroundings takes longer than it should, not least of all because he's fighting his low-level panic at not knowing where the fuck he is the entire way.

There's a glass of water on the nightstand closest to him and Alex snatches it up, swallows it down with greedy gulps as he tells himself not to freak out. It's fine. Probably. The room he's in seems too plush for an organ shop operation anyway. Held in tasteful creams and dark blues, it practically oozes old money. Lee's? Possible, although Alex can't actually remember going home with the guy. And something bothers him about the entire setting.

Although he's certain he's never been here before, the room feels a little too familiar. Hesitantly, a horrible suspicion setting in, he grabs one of the pillows from the pile next to him and lifts it to his face, practically recoiling when the scent of fresh lilac and vanilla washes over him along with the memories of last night, knocking the breath right out of him.

Jefferson.

This is Jefferson's place. This is Jefferson's place because Alex got into a fight with Lee and someone fucking drugged him and Lafayette sent Jefferson to pick up the pieces. Which he did, for some unfathomable reason.

Alex doesn't know how long he sits there, staring unseeing into the distance, as he recalls, with freshly blooming horror, the extent to which he humiliated himself last night, every vivid detail flickering through his head like a low budget slasher flick.

Jefferson putting on his seatbelt for him. Jefferson carrying him. Jefferson holding him on his bathroom floor. Jefferson gently turning him down when Alex was practically begging to have sex with him.

"Jesus Christ," Alex says weakly, voice dipping and wavering in his raw throat. The rapid-fire of his thoughts - he has to leave, he can never look Jefferson in the eye again, fuck, they work together, he has to quit his job, he can't quit his job - numbs him, keeps him in place. The traitorous voice he viciously smothers at any other time tells him to just lie back down and pull the covers back over his head, to ignore the absolute parody his life is presenting itself as right now.

But Alex has never once given into that craven, apathetic impulse, refusing to back down and take whatever the universe is throwing at him. He's not going to start today.

He finds the bathroom on the second try, ignoring the vast walk-in closet he would have snapped pictures of at any other time for ridiculing purposes later. The shower is as big as Alex's entire bathroom at home and he uses the two nondescript bottles labeled 'Guest' to scrub himself down and wash his hair, studiously ignoring the looming question of just how many of his flings Jefferson brings here to find it necessary to have them available.

At any other time, it would make for delicious blackmail material. He tosses the towels he uses into the hamper once he's done, twisting his damp hair into a bun before slipping back into the sweatpants and shirt that are way too large on his frame. His own clothes are nowhere to be found. The memory of Jefferson undressing him like a toddler is only a drop in the bucket of his overflowing embarrassment at this point.

It takes him a moment to find the stairs once he steels himself to leave the bedroom, neither the size of the house nor the lavish furnishings particularly unexpected as he plods along the thick carpet. Rich people. The cat he encounters at the bottom of the stairs is a bit more of a surprise. He never took Jefferson for a pet person. Alex crouches down before he can think better of it, mouth twitching as the cat enthusiastically headbutts his hands before trying to climb onto his knees, almost making him lose his balance. He picks it up instead, cradling it in the crook of his elbow, which is met with a rumbling purr that would put a boat motor to shame.

Despite his dread at the imminent confrontation, Alex has to smile. He's always liked cats.

Jefferson practically springs from the armchair he's reading in when Alex enters the living room, crossing the distance between them with a couple of long-legged strides. Alex is so distracted by the sight of him in a soft sweater and jeans that he doesn't even take a step back when Jefferson looms over him, staring down at the cat in his arms.

"How did you manage that?"

And that's...not what Alex expected his first question to be.

"Tacitus doesn't usually like strangers," Jefferson says, leaning in closer to stroke the cat's ears and oh fuck, he smells absolutely fantastic.

"I'm good with cats," Alex says, because he is, then, because he can also never keep his mouth shut, adds: "Did you seriously not take advantage of the punning opportunity to name him Catitus instead?"

Jefferson doesn't even look up from where he's carding his fingers through Tacitus' long fur, his purr increasing in intensity until it feels like Alex is holding a lawnmower. “Is there anything in my life that’s not subject to your constant criticism?”

Alex thinks about it. “Your shower. Good water pressure.”

Jefferson’s mouth twitches up at the corner. "I already miss drugged you."

Alex glares at him. "That's a fucked up thing to say."

"You were so agreeable,” Jefferson says with put-upon wistfulness. “So sweet. So full of flattery."

"I don't remember that," Alexander lies, feeling lightheaded.

Jefferson is acting like he usually does. Which, yes, is a smug douchebag of the highest caliber, who will use anything Alex says or does against him, but Alex can't even summon the strength to be mad about that when all of his focus goes into puzzling out why Jefferson is pretending like this is all normal. Like last night hasn't permanently recalibrated the push and pull between them and given him the edge for what might as well be the rest of their lives.

"You're so tall," Jefferson says, affecting a terrible imitation of Alex's voice. "You smell fantastic. Your cock is the most amazing-"

"Oh, fuck off, I did not say that last part."

Jefferson smirks. "So you do remember."

"Only you would be vain enough to take it at face value. I was high."

Some of the easy amusement slips from Jefferson’s face at that and Alex immediately wants to take it back, retreat to the familiar battleground of their bickering.

“GHB,” Jefferson says, making a sort of aborted gesture like he means to touch Alex’s face and thinks better of it.

Alex frowns. “Sorry?”

“The stuff you were on. GHB. Martha called earlier.”

“Oh,” Alex says blankly.

“Gamma Hydroxybutyrate. It’s a central nervous system depressant. Usually odorless and colorless, which means it’s easy to slip to someone without them realizing.”

He rattles it off so quickly Alex just knows he’s gone and memorized the Wikipedia page or something. Jesus Christ.

“Right,” he says, feeling weird and off-kilter as the knowledge of last night hits him all over again, somehow scarier in the light of day. Someone drugged him. Without Alex having any fucking clue. If he didn’t have the wits to call Lafayette and if Lafayette didn’t send Jefferson when he did…

From the grim line of Jefferson’s jaw, his thoughts have gone into a similar direction. “You have any idea of who it might have been?”

Alex shakes his head helplessly. “The place was packed. Could have been anyone.”

Any of the assholes he shot down none too nicely. Fuck. Alex is never drinking on his own again.

“Lee?” Jefferson asks, his voice tight.

“Doubt it,” Alex says, watching as the line of Jefferson’s shoulder relaxes a bit. “He got out of there pretty quickly.”

“He shouldn’t have left you stranded.”

Alex shoots him a humorless smile. “I told him that even though I’m fluent in three languages, I still couldn’t find a combination of words to properly express how much I wanted to stuff his tie down his throat to watch him choke on it.”

Jefferson lets out a bark of laughter, then sobers, eyes narrowing inquisitively. “Why even go out with him in the first place?”

And now they’re treading dangerous ground indeed. Alex opts for the truth, the Reader’s Digest version of it anyway. “He asked.”

Something sharpens in Jefferson’s eyes at that, something dark and entirely zeroed in on Alex. Once again Alex’s brain seeks to remind him of how very closely they’re standing together, the way he has to tip his head back to meet Jefferson’s gaze. When Jefferson finally glances away, Alex has to fight the urge to exhale loudly in relief.

“Martha said you should eat something.” Jefferson is already moving towards the kitchen, Alex trailing after him somewhat hesitantly, carefully depositing Tacitus on one of the bar stools arranged around the marble-topped kitchen island before perching himself on another one right next to it. He watches, wide-eyed, as Jefferson retrieves a covered bowl from the oven and slides it in front of Alex, like this is just what they do.

“Chicken soup?” Alex asks, wishing that his voice sounded a little less like he’s never seen actual food before.

Jefferson shrugs. “Family recipe.”

Which is just...a lot. Silently, Alex takes the spoon Jefferson hands him, forcing himself to ignore the weirdness lingering over this entire tableau along with the realization that Jefferson is apparently just going to watch him eat now. Alex has no clue why the idea makes him feel so self-conscious. Jefferson has had a front-row seat to Alex sucking his dick dozens of times, it’s not like this is going to be even half as messy.

Still, he can’t shake the strange feeling, the silence unnerving him to the point of trying to initiate a conversation in between every spoonful of unsettlingly good chicken soup. “How do you know Martha?”

Jefferson points at him and Alex stares back, perplexed, until he catches on, glancing down at the faded W&M shirt he’s still wearing. The reminder makes him flush and he forces himself to keep meeting Jefferson’s eyes. Maybe he’ll think it’s the soup. Alex is certainly not going to let him know how much wearing his clothes affects him, the way he wants to grab the collar of the shirt, and drag it up to his nose to inhale the freshwater scent clinging to it.

“College sweethearts?” He tries to make it sound teasing, wincing when it comes out…not that.

Jefferson raises an eyebrow. “You’re awfully invested in our relationship.”

“Fuck off,” Alex says, too damn quickly, wanting to bite off his own tongue immediately when Jefferson smirks. “Apparently all that good breeding still doesn’t allow you to recognize small talk, but normal people-“

“You asked Martha that same question last night,” Jefferson cuts him off. “And you’re the last person to talk about manners. I still remember that rant about the redundancy of thank you cards.”

“There’s no point,” Alex says immediately, because he is right about this, damn it. “It just goes around and around with people thanking each other-“

“People like to be thought of,” Jefferson says lightly, which, wow, double meaning there.

Alex brutally pushes down the small flutter of panic. “So I’m curious about the medical professional literally at your beck and call on a Friday night. Sue me.”

“Oh, I would love for you to say that to her face,” Jefferson says drily, still looking way too pleased. He’s just watching Alex, all dark eyes and slight smile like he’s figured something out that Alex hasn’t yet. It makes Alex want to toss the remainder of the soup in his smug face. “And like I said, we’re old friends.”

“You never actually said that,” Alex points out, hating himself a little for it. He shifts himself sideways to lean against the counter when Jefferson rounds its corner, eying him warily. Ignoring him, Jefferson sidles right into his space, and something in Alex snaps, because he hears himself say, in a tone that so clearly contradicts him even as the words leave his mouth: “Whatever, it’s none of my business. Sleep with whoever you want.”

“What if it’s you I want to sleep with?” Jefferson sounds so fucking nonchalant, like it’s not costing him anything to admit it.

It knocks the breath right out of Alex’s lungs. “That would make it slightly my business.”

He hates how strained he sounds, but there’s nothing to do about it now, not when Jefferson’s arm is already fitting itself around his waist, pulling him flush against that broad chest. The movement almost makes him slip off the chair and he grasps onto Jefferson’s shoulders for support, fingers folding into the soft fabric of his shirt. He’s so warm and solid and close, really, no one can blame Alex for what happens next.

The kiss is soft at first, but quickly grows into something insistent, something sharper, something that pools heat down Alex’s spine like sunlight as Jefferson licks into his mouth. The slight tensing of muscles beneath his clinging palms is his only warning before Jefferson hoists him up and onto the kitchen counter, slipping in between his thighs, which spread easily to make room for him. Even though his body is betraying him by sending clear signals as to just how welcome Jefferson is in his space, Alex tries to fix a stern look on his face. He can’t allow Jefferson to cotton on to just how much Alex enjoys being manhandled by him.

He’s got a couple of inches on Jefferson like this, which is admittedly nice, allows him an entirely new angle to explore that soft mouth from, to nip at it until Jefferson growls and drags him back in by the back of his neck, fingers curling around the fine hair there. But it’s also not a position conducive to actually following through on what they’re so rapidly barreling towards at their usual breakneck speed.

“Fuck.” Jefferson nips viciously at Alex’s mouth when he starts to laugh. “Who designed these fucking countertops?”

“Someone who didn’t imagine their clients would want to defile Italian marble by fucking on it I guess,” Alex retorts, shrugging when Jefferson draws back to give him a questioning glance. “What, you think I’m too poor to recognize a type of stone?”

“I think you talk too much,” says Jefferson, hands already sliding under Alex’s thighs to pick him up again.

“Never heard that one before,” Alex snorts, then digs his heels into the back of Jefferson’s thighs as he carries him right out of the living room. “What the fuck? The couch is right there!”

“That’s a Cecotti!” Jefferson sounds scandalized, not even out of breath as he climbs the steps.

“I don’t understand your priorities. Are you one of those people who don’t allow food around their furniture?”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Well, for one-“

Alex doesn’t get any further than that. Jefferson silences him with another lingering kiss as he maneuvers them into his bedroom, apparently entirely on sense memory. Alex expects to get tossed onto the bed, breath hitching with punched out surprise when Jefferson lowers them down in one controlled move instead, showing off his considerable strength, before practically enveloping Alex, hands running up his sides and dragging up his shirt as he kisses the corner of his mouth, his jaw, the arched line of his neck.

“What’s on the table, darlin’?”

Fuck, Alex wishes that silken murmur wouldn’t sink right down to his bones and set him ablaze from the inside out. But his body gives him away immediately, hips jerking up and mouth falling open on a gasp, cock already tenting the soft lines of the sweatpants he’s wearing.

“Anything,” he gasps and they both go still, Alex in embarrassment at the neediness the word betrays and Jefferson in apparent contemplation.

“Anything?”

“I-“ Alex begins and then stops, a little helpless when he realizes it’s true and feeling even more vulnerable for it. It’s not like he’s never admitted to the same, but somehow it hits differently here, in Jefferson’s bed, his house. “Yeah.”

He would let Jefferson do anything. Whatever he wants.

What he wants is apparently to take Alex apart slowly, taking his time in a way neither of them could ever afford to during the frantic encounters they’ve shared so far, nearly ripping each other apart in their eagerness. He has Alex writhing and trembling on one, two, then three of his fingers as his mouth maps every inch of him, from the quivering muscles of his belly to the soft skin on the inside of his thighs, holding them open and apart with deft hands. When he finally arranges them to his liking, Alex stretched out on his front with a pillow under his hips, he has to wrap an arm around Alex’s waist and chest to pull him back into the slow, rolling thrusts of his hips, Alex too blissed out to be of much help as the thick drag of Jefferson’s cock turns him inside out and trembling.

He comes quickly, not able to hold on once Jefferson grinds sparking sweet pressure into that perfect spot inside, and he shivers his way through the remainder as Jefferson keeps fucking him with lazy, luxurious thrusts, Alex’s hole clenching around him desperately, overworked and way too sensitive.

Jefferson shushes him with that honey-rough voice he gets once he’s inside Alex, stroking the damp slope of his spine with gentle fingers even as his hips work ceaselessly to fill him over and over. “You said anything. This is what I want.”

It’s the sort of delightful cruelty Jefferson has always liked to unleash on Alex when they’re in bed, but it feels heavier this time around, more meaningful, the implication in the languid way he goes about taking his pleasure from Alex frightening in its intensity. Something’s changed. And as Alex turns his hot face into the soft sheets to muffle the wanton whimpers spilling from his kiss-flushed and bitten mouth, he can’t help but wonder if they’re going to be able to handle it.

*

Of all the ways Alex imagined having to eventually fess up to the fact that Mystery Dick is actually Jefferson, he never thought that it would follow on the heels of the strangest day of his life, most of which is spent rolling around Jefferson's huge bed nursing his drug hangover. By the time he drops Alex back at his apartment, his entire body is a map of pleasant aches and exhaustion.

He's entirely unprepared for the avalanche of missed calls and text messages once he plugs his phone in to charge, staring at the screen lighting up over and over in dismay. His friends know. Lafayette must have connected the dots somehow and apparently went on to spill the beans to everyone else.

Herc and Peggy seem to find the whole thing hilarious and Alex quickly mutes that particular message thread, just to get some respite from the constant requests for dick pics and memes that are flowing in. Eliza appears more bewildered than anything, sounding increasingly skeptical as Alex assures her of his well-being, trying not to get too graphic without having to lie to her at the same time.

John and Angelica are furious. John because Alex never told him and Angelica because it's Jefferson and each of those conversations is exhausting in its own way.

Angelica presents him with a fully formulated list of reasons why sleeping with Jefferson is a terrible idea and Alex can't actually disagree with any of them, which is why he cuts her off twenty minutes in. He's a little afraid something horribly embarrassing such as "He held me and it’s the first time I’ve felt entirely safe with someone in the last fifteen years." is going to slip out, which, although the truth, is something he's barely been able to admit to himself in the past 24 hours, never mind a woman who once threatened to open Jefferson's jugular with the heel of her Louboutins.

The only person who doesn't appear completely gobsmacked by the news is Lafayette. He's also the only one Alex calls of his own volition, mostly to bitch him out for not keeping his damn mouth shut and the entirety of the Lee debacle.

"Why would you send him to pick me up?" he demands because honestly, this whole revelation business? Definitely started with Jefferson being surprisingly non-dickish in his usually dickish way.

"He insisted," Lafayette says, not sounding half as contrite as Alex thinks is appropriate. "There was nothing I could have done. He was out the door as soon as I told him you were in trouble."

And doesn't that just get the traitorous little cogs whirring in Alex's mind.

"Fuck," he mutters, when he recognizes the pleased flush in his cheeks for what it is. "He was worried about me?"

"Oui." Lafayette just sounds amused now, maybe a bit exasperated. "And I thought this little dance between you two had gone on for long enough. You're welcome."

Alex just hangs up then, silencing his phone before burying his face in a pillow and letting out a muffled scream. It doesn't help much. The shirt and sweatpants Jefferson gave beckon him from the end of the couch where he tossed them into a pile upon his arrival. Alex determinedly ignores them as he flops over to stare at the ceiling, no matter how much he wants to inhale the lingering trace of Jefferson's scent in the fabric.

Too far.

Too late.

There have been very few times Alex has wished for a lesser intellect, for his insight and inquisitiveness to be dulled from its razor-sharpness to something manageable and less double-edged. Now though. Now he’s wishing for something, anything to make that sea of certainty inside him recede.

John is right. Eliza is right. Angelica is right. All of them have accurately surmised and assessed the situation. More importantly though, Lafayette is right and there is very little Alex can do about it at this point, heart made up even as his mind struggles with the idea.

Jesus. He is so fucked.

*

There’s that whole cliché about Mondays. Alex could never relate. He thrives off his work, the weekend an unwelcome disruption of the draconian rhythm he’s adopted. Today is perhaps the first time he’s not eager to make it to the office, wary of the trouble lurking ahead, the combined weight of his friends’ concerns no longer kept at bay by turning off his notifications. Nevertheless, he makes it through the morning, not precisely managing to evade the live-action replay of the arguments he’s been through already, but keeping them confined to a minimum by not venturing from his office, waving away every single daring intruder on the pretense of a scheduled conference call after a few minutes.

The one person he’d actually like to see is conspicuously absent though and by the time noon rolls around, it’s begun to eat at Alex, eroding his newly won certainty in a way none of John’s, Eliza’s, or even Angelica’s well-founded doubts had.

What if he’s been worried about the wrong thing? Concerned himself with the winding, treacherous road ahead when really there’s no road to tread at all, just him stumbling through the dark like an idiot.

Alex’s hackles are thoroughly raised when Jefferson finally sticks his head through the door, sidling inside in spite of Alex’s glare.

“There’s this nice little Korean place that does amazing Bibimbap a few blocks from my house. They deliver, too.”

Alex leans back in his chair, narrowing his eyes at Jefferson. Resenting how much he has to tip his head back to meet his gaze because Jefferson has made his way all the way around his desk and is now perching on its edge. “There’s a bodega on my corner where they’ll microwave a frozen burrito for you at four in the morning. It’s a health code violation waiting to happen but the pigeon in the entrance area adds character.”

Jefferson blinks. “What are you doing?”

“Offering insight on the dining experience in my immediate neighborhood without context,” Alex says flatly. “Was that not what you were doing?”

It’s petty. Alex knows it is, knows he’s being an asshole right now, and Jefferson for some reason is smiling as if he expected this. How he can expect anything when Alex can’t even sort through his emotions himself Alex has no idea but it fuels the resentfulness that’s taken up residence in his chest and he crosses his arms as if he can keep it tucked close to his heart.

“No,” Jefferson says like it should be obvious. “That’s not what I’m doing.”

He pauses then, clearly expecting Alex to do his part and ask. Alex doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction, but damn it all, he has to know.

“What are you doing?”

Jefferson smiles. “Asking.”

Something wild and stupid bursts open inside Alex, pulling him in several directions at once. He tries to cling to belligerence because Jefferson is late and this whole morning he’s left Alex to think himself into increasingly dark corners, but it’s rapidly slipping away from him, the smile that’s tucked itself into the corner of his mouth giving away too much, everything he’s tried so hard to hold back.

“That’s your idea of a first date? Take out we’re not allowed to eat anywhere near the furniture?”

“The idea is a stroll through Georgetown, getting dinner, followed by as much sex as we can manage to sneak in until we have to go to work again,” Jefferson says, raising an eyebrow. “I’ll even do all the work on that last one, so it’s not like you’d have to adjust. Interested?”

He’s such an asshole. A smug, arrogant, infuriatingly condescending asshole. Alex likes him so much.

“Yeah,” he hears himself say, not even caring that the door is open and the entire office will know before the hour is out what he’s just agreed to. It’s hard to care about those things when Jefferson is looking at him like that, dark-eyed and smiling. So obviously pleased Alex repeats himself, smiling, too. “Yeah, okay.”