All he sees is black.
A hand pats his back. His lungs force him to hack.
That's not all. He's attacked! Out of the darkness, a white wolf pounces from a mound of snow: the beast is smothered in burgundy blood from head to toe.
Eardrums are pierced by the shrill cry. He looks up towards the sky - into the hurricane's eye.
There she stands - still, her hands are open wide. She's shining bright like the sun.
Icy water fills his lungs. His limbs start going numb and he plummets underneath to the briny bay's deep.
'You're asleep… C'mon, wake up. You're asleep.'
He kicks his feet. His arms slash through the water. Only making it harder, Laurens clutches his friend's leg.
"A-a-lex," he begs, "W-we gotta-"
'Gotta wake up. Wake up.'
- "Wake up!"-
...He didn't dream that. He knows that voice…
- "Wake up, boy!" -
'I-I'm tryin'!' he struggles to call out.
The water deafens every shout. No matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to rise up to the surface.
Nervous wrinkles stain his face. He's trying.
'I'm tryin'! I'm tryin'! I'm-'
From shore, she peers in.
"Going for a swim?"
Bubbles explode past his chin.
'P-pull me in!'
Her expression is almost bored. She brings her hand to her broad stomach and sighs.
"I suppose this is 'good-bye'."
'Wait!' He starts to cry.
'W-waaaait!' Tears sting his eyes.
'W...waaaai…' That's when he-
"Young man, pull yourself together."
There is a dryness of his tongue. His reddened cheeks are greeted with a cool, damp towel. Pools of sweat are pouring from his sallow brow. His whole body, in fact, is saturated.
He clasps his irritated throat.
"Don't speak," the General forebodes with a grin, "Quite the fever dream you were in, eh?"
Hamilton shrugs, though his fiercely aching shoulders protest. A rattling quakes in his chest. He hacks and expectorates: his lungs grow agitated. He riddles with his fit for a few minutes. It gives the General time to fetch another log to throw on the fire. Through teary eyes, Hamilton analyzes the scene. The once dwindling stack is now stacked to the brim with kindling.
The General smirks and grabs a wool blanket from a shelf.
"If you want somethin' done right, y'gotta do it yourself."
Washington drapes a blanket over the young man's sheet on the cot. He reaches for Hamilton's soaked forehead.
"Still hot," mumbles the Commander, "'Did quite a number on yourself, Alexander."
His tired, bag-ridden eyes shift down to the floor.
"...You pulled Lieutenant Laurens to shore?"
His eyes shoot back up.
'How does he know?'
With little voice, he manages to respond with a "Yup."
The General nods his head.
"Y'both could've ended up dead."
They're quiet for a moment. Washington picks up the rag. Then, he gently places it atop the stubborn soldier's head to dull his fever.
"Would you do anything different?"
Visibly surprised by the General's reply, Hamilton sits straight up.
"Wait, what?" he rasps.
"Lay back down," Washington snaps.
"That's an order, Alexander."
He fitfully obeys. The General has more to say.
"Young man," he starts, "Part of me is angry as sin. You were brash and reckless. You dove right in - not just a figure of speech. Each move you decided to make could've been a dire mistake. You didn't even take the time to think. To plan. To even strategize."
Washington looks down.
"And that's why Laurens is alive."
Hamilton's violet eyes leave their sockets. The General pulls something from his pocket.
"See this?" he brandishes a locket, "It was a token of thanks. From a woman. One day, I saved her child. By a snowbank, the thin ice broke beneath her son's feet. He went down."
Washington looks at Alexander.
"The boy didn't know how to swim. He would've drowned."
The General strokes the golden trinket with his thumb.
"My mind went numb. I didn't think. 'Just jumped."
Hamilton's stare is fixed on the locket betwixt Washington's grip. His eyes squint to reveal the initials, 'M.D.'
He quickly throws his face in his sleeve -
"hH'rrush'ooou!" he muffles a sneeze.
"God bless you! Well," Washington pulls a handkerchief from the pocket of his breast, "That's my cue to allow you more rest."
"Young man, you need sleep."
"I'll be fine-"
"Oh, I'm sure you will," the General smirks, "If you stay in bed for three day's time."
"Three days?!" Hamilton hollars, his voice letting out a crack.
That's when another bout of coughs begin to wrack.
"Alexander," firmly states the Commander, "Not another word."
"Young man, did I stutter?!"
"...No, I heard."
Washington rises from the bed, feeling Hamilton's forehead once more to be sure that his fever's going down. He turns his head at the sound of footsteps nearing the tent.
Alexander knows that voice!
The General greets the noise as he opens the tent's flap.
"Lieutenant, you need your rest."
"I plan to, sir," John hums, "B-but before I do, I-I need to know for m'self. Sir... how is Hamilton's health?"
Washington gestures to the cot.
"He can tell you himself."
Laurens takes a step, but is halted by his General's hand.
"Make it quick, now. Understand?"
Laurens nods. With hastened pace, he enters the tent with a grin. Alexander's smile, too, is at its brim. The two can't help but laugh as they tightly embrace: joy clear on each face.
"You idiot!" John cries.
"I know you are," Alex replies.
Laurens frowns, "Y'sound like shit."
"At least I don't look like it."
Without a word, Washington steps outside. Beaming with pride, he admires the orange sunrise. The General starts to stride to the stable. He pets a steed.
"Merry Christmas, indeed."