When Alexander hears the grandfather clock strike eight, he is stunned. He usually never sleeps this late.
"Ugh…" he moans, peeling open his sand-encrusted eyes.
"Guh," Alex rasps, "What a night."
He is slow to wake. Though his shoulders ache, he pushes himself upward on the couch. No doubt, Alexander feels like death warmed over. He slings his stiff legs over and sighs. There is a dull pounding in his head, a crick in his side. He rises and shuffles over to the steps. They are daunting. He stares them down and takes a breath.
'You can do this…'
Each step he takes is an exacerbation. From lack of sleep, Alexander feels the limitation of his stamina. Once he reaches the peak, the floorboard creaks. While the sound of the creaking is, really, quite low, some distant voice bellows-
" Oooh… "
Alexander perks his ear up as he hears the low groan. Behind Philip's door, someone stirs. Alex grins.
"Ah," he chuckles, "Mr. Burr."
His cranium is throbbing. He hasn't even opened up his eyes. Aaron Burr is trapped in his hungover demise. He thrusts his pillow tightly over his ears. He hears his door squeak open, footsteps to follow.
"Who's're," he mumbles, his tone somewhat hollow.
In the cheeriest voice Alex could ever muster, he cheers, "Good moooorning , Mr. Burr, sir!"
Beneath the covers, Alex can tell Burr is wincing.
"Alexander… Could you lower your voice, please?"
He doesn't lower his voice: not by a peep.
He slithers over to Burr's bed and cooes, "How'd you sleep?"
Burr lifts the pillow from his face.
"Hamilton," he groans, "What did you do to me?"
"I suppose you didn't take well to the tea."
Alexander frowns as Burr turns green.
"Oh, I think I'm gonna be-"
"Woah, easy!" Alex gestures, panicking slightly "Just rest a bit. I can get you anything you need."
"Perhaps, a bucket?"
Alexander sneers. He can't resist.
"And maybe another cup of tea."
" Ohhhh ..."
Burr lurches in bed, clutching his stomach to hurl.
"Hold it, pal," Alex insists, placing the bucket by the bedside.
Alex bows, "Your wish is my command."
He turns on his heels to leave.
"Anything else you need? Crackers, perhaps? Glass of water?"
"No, I'm - Wait... Hamilton, where is my daughter?"
"Not to worry," Alex replies, "I'll check if she's up for breakfast."
Burr pales at the mention of food.
Alex tiptoes out, leaving Burr to his misery. He hears Burr's whale-like howls and scoffs.
Just a few doors down, through the third on the right, Alexander quietly lets in the natural sunlight. He's quiet to enter. Theodosia gently stirs. Alex grins.
"Knock knock" he says softly, "Good morning, Ms. Burr."
Theodosia rubs her eyes, steadily evading her slumber. She slightly trembles. Her paramore's father sits at the bedside before her. He gently feels her forehead.
He hums, "Not as warm. That's good. How are you feeling?"
Theo nods, "M-Much better."
"Good," Alexander nods, "I smell Mrs. Hamilton preparing breakfast."
Theodosia's eyebrow quirks. Alex continues.
"If you're feeling up to it, of course. Would you care to join us?"
She rubs her arm.
"I-I wouldn't want to impose."
Theodosia's spine stiffens.
"Oh. Well, thank you, Mr. Hamilton. You're a gracious host."
"Of all the guests we've had, you're the one I've enjoyed most."
Taken aback by his words, Theodosia smiles widely. This fades quickly.
"Mr. Hamilton, I owe you an apology."
"No," Alex waves, "Ms. Burr, I believe you're owed one from me ."
Her eyes squint.
"When you joined us for supper last, you were nothing but kind. And I behaved like an ass . I treated you quite poorly, and resigned you to treatment most unbecoming of a young lady."
He extends his hand.
"I truly hope you can forgive me."
She stares at the man. She feels achy inside.
"But, sir," Theo replies, "Philip and I lied ."
Alexander can sense her pride. He nods.
"I know... Philip told me the story from three months ago."
"Oh yes," Alex laughs, "He also told your father."
"What?!" Theodosia exclaims surprised, "Mr. Hamilton… Is Philip alive ?"
"Philip's quite fine," Alex assures, "Ms. Burr, back to you. I said many things I regret. But one claim is true... Philip is quite taken with you."
Theodosia beams. Looking down, Alexander's hand is still outstretched. She takes it.
"Mr. Hamilton, I care so much for him, too."
"I can tell," he grins, "Seeing your child happy? Who could want more, as a father?"
"-Mr. Hamilton, I need to speak privately with my daughter."
Theodosia and Alexander turn. In the doorway, they see a hunched-over Burr. Though his pallor is sickly, his expression is stern. Theo is visibly shaken. Alexander remains firm. He coolly stands up from the bed.
"Of course," Alexander says, "I'll be down in the kitchen, Mr. and Ms. Burr."
Alexander floats over to the door. He can see sweat seeping from Burr's pores. The man looks terrible.
Alexander is delighted.
'Should I do it? ... Yeah, I should.'
"Mr. Burr," he whispers "If you'd like, I can save you some food-"
"Hamilton. Please, I'm not in the mood."
'God, that felt good!'
Amusedly, Alexander leaves the two alone. Theodosia squirms. Her father's face is hard as stone. Hand clutching his stomach, Burr trudges to the bedside. He slowly hunches down to sit, tears in his eyes. Theodosia's never seen her father look this bad.
"Papa," she swallows hard, "Are you mad?"
Burr expels a hot breath.
"Theodosia? You broke nearly every promise we had."
She bows her head as her father lists her misdeeds.
"Going to your lessons? Not leaving the side of your escort? You promised to do this... I promised your mother . I'd always keep you safe. I'd never let you go astray. Until that Hamilton boy went and blew you away."
Tears in her own eyes, Theo replies, "I should've told you. It was my fault that this happened."
"Theodosia, tell me right now …"
His brow softens.
"Does he make you happy?"
Theo jolts her head up. Her father is averting his stare. It's almost like he's unprepared for the answer she'll share. Bracing herself, Theodosia puffs out her chest.
" Yes. "
Burr grimaces. On her father's shoulder, she places her hand.
"Papa… He really is a gentleman."
"I doubt that," Burr quips, "After all, he is a Hamilton."
A small smile creeps on Burr's mouth.
Theodosia embraces him tightly and shouts, "Papa! I love you so."
"Theodosia," Burr gravels, a lump in his throat, "I love you more than you'll ever know."
He lets go of her. He coughs, ensuring his voice is clear.
"But no more lying . Do you hear? And I mean it, Theodosia Burr."
Theodosia kisses his cheek.
Gently, Burr kisses the top of his daughter's head.
"Father," she chimes, "Can we join the Hamiltons for breakfast?"
Forgetting his nausea until that point, Burr's face sours. He really doesn't want to, but his daughter's eyes are eager.
"Well," Burr hums, "I suppose we could… sneak down."
"Thank you, Papa!" Theodosia cheers, "I'll have to change, but I'll be right down!"
"Oh," Burr stumbles, "O-Of course."
He briskly leaves and shuts the door. Turning the corner, Burr tumbles down the stairs once more. Through the parlor, Burr enters the busy kitchen. It looks like Philip is the only one still sitting.
From his porridge, the young man looks up. He looks Burr in the eye. He gulps.
Philip's father's voice sounds elated.
"So glad you could make it! Biscuit?"
Burr raises a hand, "Theodosia will be along to eat in a minute."
Alexander hums, "Ah, I see."
Burr feels tiny hands clutch his knee.
"Hi, horsey man!"
" William !" Eliza scolds, "Your manners! Good morning, Mr. Burr ."
"Ms. Hamilton," he bows, looking softly to the tot, "Hello, William."
"Can we play again today?"
Eliza chimes, "We'd best be on our way."
Eliza's cheeks are crimson as she rushes off with her son.
Alexander looks on, giggling a bit. That's when he hears his eldest go into a coughing fit.
Alex calls to him, "Serves you right for jumping into a frozen lake."
"It's not like I did it for fun , for God's sake!"
"Watch your tone," Alex scolds, grabbing a scone.
"Alexander," Burr intrudes, "Could I talk with your boy... alone ?"
Alex looks over to his son. Philip's eyes are scared and pure.
Alexander looks back at Burr and shrugs, "Sure."
" Pops. "
Alexander winks to Philip, who's weak in the knees. He promptly claps Burr's shoulder.
"Take all the time you need."
Burr's eyes follow him as he exits. Once he's gone, Burr sits down across the table from Philip. He doesn't say a word. He just looks Philip in the eye. Philip feels his body shivering.
'Face him like a man. Don't cry.'
Uneasily, Philip shimmies in his seat and stirs.
"Um… Hhhow are you feeling, Mr. Burr?"
" Young man ," Burr's voice booms, "Let's get straight to the point."
"Sir?" he stupidly asks, "This... is about what happened last night?"
Burr nods, "To be sure."
Philip swallows, "Mr. Burr-"
Burr dismisses the boy, holds a palm to his face. Philip gasps.
"There are some lapses," Burr continues, "But I recall the gist of what happened."
Burr slams his hand on the table. Philip's spine goes erect.
"Young man, you are to treat my daughter with utmost respect . She can't be courting a ruffian. She has a legacy to protect."
"D...Does that mean-"
" Young man, you'll treat my daughter well. Am I understood?"
"As good as gold and better!"
"Good. And you'd better do it. 'Cuz if not-"
"I won't hesitate to break every bone in your body."
Philip wildly shakes his head. The two pause at the sound of footsteps.
Theodosia enters, tilts her head.
She cautiously sits down by Burr.
"Wwwwhat's going on?"
"Oh, nothing!" Burr smiles slyly.
He hands his daughter a hot-crossed bun.
"'Merely having a conversation with Mr. Hamilton."
Philip nods uncomfortably.
"Indeed," the teen states, unease on his face.
She stares at the men. Their queasy smiles are still on her.
Theo mumbles, "O...kay, sure."
With the Senator still recovering from his rough evening, the Burrs stay through supper.
"You're both leaving?" Eliza asks, "Are you feeling well enough to travel, Mr. Burr?"
"Quite sure," Burr insists, "We've inconvenienced you enough, Mrs. Hamilton."
"You've been no bother at all," Eliza replies, "Children! Come say goodbye."
As she grabs her cloak, all the Hamiltons rush to hug Theodosia.
"Do you really have to leave?"
"Angelica, I'm afraid so."
John calls, "C'mon!"
Alexander Junior chants, "Yeah, please don't go!"
Meanwhile, Burr stares at the scene. He feels a familiar grip brace his knees.
"'Bye, pony man," William sighs.
The child clearly has tears in his eyes. Burr looks down, pats the boy's head.
"Maybe… One day, we can play again."
William's smile is at its brim.
Burr continues to strap his cloak in. He hears someone clear his throat. As he turns, who else would be there, at the front door?
The Bastard. Orphan. Son of a whore.
"Burr," Alexander whispers, "Thank you."
Two words Burr never thought Hamilton knew. Burr looks down at Hamilton's outstretched hand.
"Alexander, this changes nothing. You understand?"
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Burr."
Burr's eyes water.
"Thank you and… Philip for taking care of my daughter."
They shake hands. Alexander glances at his current rival. His former idol. His former brother-in-arms. His former co-counselman.
...His former friend.
Alexander goes to open the door when Burr speaks.
"Let's never speak of this again."
The Hamiltons are all standing in the doorway. The head of the house opens the door, the cold air rushing through. From behind it, Philip muffles a-
" Hhrr'aa aschooo !"
Burr turns. His brow furrows.
Burr says softly, "Christmas is coming."
Alex whispers to his wife, "So is Paul Revere."
Eliza hisses, " Alexander !"
"What?" Burr questions.
Alex chuckles, "Nothing."
Burr clears his throat.
"Hate the sin, love the sinner," he turns to Philip, "Perhaps, you can join us for Christmas dinner."
Philip, while startled, smiles.
"I'd like that very much, sir! Thank you!"
"No," Burr extends his hand, "Thank you. "
Philip shakes it. He takes a quick glance behind Burr. He locks eyes with Theodosia. His cheeks, once again, are rosy.
Burr takes notice. He looks at the children, then to Alexander. His rival is shrugging. Burr coughs, making sure is voice is clear.
"Theodosia, I'll ready the horse. Stay right here?"
"Yes Papa, of course."
With all the other Hamiltons gone, Alexander claps the shoulder of his son.
"Son, it's getting cold."
Philip looks back desperately.
Alexander winks and heads inside.
"Not too long."
Philip cranes his neck, ensuring that his father is gone. He gently cradles Theodosia's hand into his own. Her piercing, hazel eyes reflect against the falling snow.
She shrugs her shoulders.
"So... Some day, huh?"
"You said it."
"I'm... glad you're okay."
"Yeah. Well, thanks to you ."
Philip waves her off.
"Ah, what'd I do?"
"Jumped into a frozen lake to save me, like a lunatic!"
"I needed a shower anyway. 'Did the trick."
They both giggle a bit. He pulls tighter Theo's cloak.
"'Y'sure you're bundled up enough for the trip home?"
"I've got somethin' on my mind to keep me warm."
His eyebrow quirks, brushing his hands through his curly mane.
"Jusqu'à samedi prochain."
"Ugh," Theo groans, "Next Saturday seems so far away."
Gently, Philip caresses Theodosia's cheek. Closer, his nose is barely an inch from her ear.
She hears him say, "Well, this oughtta hold you over 'til Saturday."
Ever so lightly, he kisses her cheek. Theodosia squeaks. She feels her knees go weak. As she laughs, Theodosia tussles Philip's curls: now covered in snow. She jerks her head as her father calls.
"THEODOSIA. LET'S GO."
Philip extends his arm. Theo takes it. Through the crunches of snow, eventually, they make it. Philip steadily assists her as she hops on the horse. Burr tips his hat, readying for their course. His tongue clicks, commanding the horse to go.
Theodosia blows a kiss.
"See ya, Theo."
Wistfully, Philip sighs. He watches them ride off into the night by the light of the moon. It's brighter than usual. Or maybe, it's just the stars caught in his eyes. The reflections of the sparkling snow speck below him. That's when a rapier wind rips right through him.
"Shit, it's cold."
'That's not the wind.'
He hugs himself for warmth, turning to face his house as he stands on the lawn.
Alex yells, "Y'PLANNING TO STAY OUT THERE 'TIL DAWN?!"
Philip calls back, "I was just coming! I swear, I-"
"YOUNG MAN," Alexander chides, "YOU'RE STILL SICK. GET INSIDE."
As he runs, the winter wind continues to sway. Quite like Theodosia… It blows him away.