“Alexander, wake up!” Lafayette is shaking him like it’s the end of the world. And maybe it is.
“What?” Alex asks groggily.
“Someone ate all the Eggos!”
“You seriously woke me up because we’re out of Eggos?”
“Yes. But also it’s time to get up.”
Alexander rolls out of bed, trying to wake himself up. He gets dressed before going downstairs. He finds Laff staring in the fridge. “I wanted Eggos,” he murmurs. Alex walks over to the coffee machine and makes himself some coffee.
Turns out, the Eggos were just hiding behind some frozen food, so they have some for breakfast. After Hamilton drains the coffee, he’s still not feeling fully awake. Lafayette doesn’t notice until after he’s nearly drained it.
“Alexander! You know you can’t have that much coffee!”
“It’s fine, Laff.” He rinses his mug and puts it in the dishwasher. He grabs his bag and says, “Come on, we better get to the bus.”
They walk outside to find a clear sky. Lafayette keeps looking at him like a bomb about to explode, and he might. As soon as Laff spots John and Hercules, he says, “Alexander had two cups of coffee.”
“ALEXANDER HAMILTON, you know what happens when you do that!” John scolds.
“It’s fine, it’s fine. I was really tired, so I should be fine.”
When they get on the bus, Thomas looks mad as heck. Looks like he hasn’t gotten over what happened yesterday. But then again, who would?
They walk by quickly so as not to have a confrontation. But it is inevitable that one will happen eventually.
They’re fine getting to their lockers and entering class. That’s when trouble starts. Alex’s hands begin to shake, and his eyes dart from one thing to another. They have half of the period to work on their project, and that is what they are doing at the moment.
“Alexander, what did you find?” Charles asks, unaware that anything is wrong. But his friends know differently.
Hamilton’s words jumble together as he explains, “Well I only got so far before I started to get really weirded out. A lot of things that happened to him happened to me and I thought it was really really weird. But now I could read more of the book. I could read the whole thing right here right now and I would get all the information we need. What did you all find?”
They could hardly understand a word he said.
“Oh no,” Hercules whispers.
Alexander digs his book out of his bag and starts reading. Within a minute, he has turned the page. And those pages are big and filled with complicated words.
“I feel like I’m missing something here,” Charles remark, looking between Alex and his friends. “Is… something wrong?”
“Alright class, time to get to our lesson for the day.” Everyone heads back to their seats.
I sure hope Alex doesn’t act crazy around Eliza. He’ll be heartbroken if she won’t go on the date because she thinks he’s crazy, John thinks.
As Mr. Washington lectures them, they have to take notes. And ALex is writing at the speed of sound. This is one of the few benefits of too much coffee. The only problem is that his hand is shaking, so the handwriting isn’t as legible as it could be.
“Are you okay?” Eliza whispers to Hamilton.
“He had too much coffee,” John explains over Alexander’s shoulder.
Even though she’s only really known him for two days, she knows what kind of problem that can be. He’s just that kind of person. She nods and continues taking notes.
Thankfully, everything is okay in social studies. But next period, well… not so much.
“You will pay for that prank you played on me,” Thomas murmurs in his ear. “And trust me, you’ll never see it coming.”
“There’s nothing you can do that can beat the prank we played on you,” Alex replies.
“Oh really? Well, we’ll just have to see, won’t we?”
Class starts, and Ms. Fiona starts another lecture. Alex starts to twiddle with his pencil, and when her back is turned to write on the board, the pencil goes flying out of his hand and hits her square in the back.
She whips around, and her nice demeanor drops like a mask that doesn’t fit correctly. “Who did that?” No one answers. They would rat Alex out if they had been watching him and not trying to sneak in SnapChat on their phones. “Does anyone confess?” Guilt is trying to push its way to his countenance, but he shoves it back down. She shall not see weakness, he thinks.
“If no one answers me, you will all have to turn your ten page essay into a fifteen page essay.” Since Alex already wrote a twenty paragraph essay, this doesn’t affect him. He looks around, and when he sees that he doesn’t really like anyone in this class, he keeps silent. “Alright, your ten paragraph essays now need to be fifteen paragraphs, and they are still due tomorrow.”
Groans and murmurs of “What? No fair!” go around the room.
“If someone admits now, then only they will have to do fifteen paragraphs, and that will be their punishment.”
Oh, okay, that’s not so bad, Alex thinks. He raises his shaking hand and says, “I did it Ms. Fiona. I was twiddling my pencil and it accidentally hit you.”
“Thank you for admitting. I expect fifteen paragraphs tomorrow.”
“Yes ma’am.” He doesn’t let it show that he doesn’t mind since he already wrote that much and more.
But that’s not all of the trouble that starts. In his next class, they have to read one chapter of Animal Farm. Everyone is told to put there book down and wait quietly while everyone else finishes. Alexander is one of the last ones to finish, but that’s not because he’s a slow reader, because he’s not. He didn’t read just one chapter; with the energy the coffee gave him, he finishes the whole book.
When everyone is done, Mr. Sherman says, “Alright everyone, tomorrow we will read chapter two.”
Alexander raises his hand and asks, “Mr. Sherman? What if we already finished the book?”
“Well, if you’ve read the book in the past, you’ll just have to reread it.”
“No, what I mean is, what if we finished the book in class today?”
“Well, I finished. I mean, it’s only 112 pages, and who can stop reading at one chapter.”
“What’s your name again?”
“Well, Alexander, stop lying and wasting my time time. You did not finish the book.”
“Sir, I did finish the book. You can even give me a test on it right now and I would ace it.”
“Then you’ve probably read it before! And like I said before, you just have to reread it with the class.”
“Mr. Sherman, I have not read the book before, and I did just finish it now.” His temper is beginning to flare. And when his temper flares, it gets uglier.
“Alexander Hamilton, stop talking back!”
“I am not talking back. I am simply defending myself! You’re just envious of me because I could finish the book in half and hour while you had to focus all of your energy to finish it in a week!”
“Alexander, go to the principal’s office. Now.”
Alex packs his stuff, making sure he makes lots of unnecessary noise while doing it. He wonders what his friends would say if they were in here.
He would slam the door if he could, but since he can’t, he just lets it swing shut, hoping it makes a loud noise. It doesn’t. He makes his way to the principal’s office, with one shoulder strap over his shoulder and his ID swinging back and forth. As he gets closer, he remembers something: Principal Frederick is “King” George’s father. And that’s not good.
When he gets to the office, he hands the pass to the secretary. “Go ahead in,” she says, handing back the pass.
The principal is waiting for him, his fingers interlocked in front of him. He has greying brown hair and striking blue eyes. “Please sit down,” he says in a deep voice, gesturing toward the seat across from him. Alex sets down his backpack and sits down. His Skechers keep blinking.
“I like your shoes,” Principal Frederick comments.
“Thank you, sir.”
“There’s no need to call me sir. Just call me Fred. Anyway, we’re here to talk about your behavior. Mr. Sherman told me you were disrespectful during class. Not to mention, you were also rude to my son. But Georgie always picks on younger kids, so that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Could you please explain from your point of voice what was going on.”
“Sir, it’s an easy explanation. We were supposed to read one chapter of Animal Farm, and I ended up reading the whole thing, so I asked Mr. Sherman what I should do tomorrow since I finished it. He thought I had already read it before, but I haven’t. He then thought I was lying about reading the whole thing, and I wasn’t lying. And then… well… I said that he’s just envious because I could finish the book in half and hour while he had to focus all of his energy to finish it in a week.”
“Well, I can see both sides of the story, and I think you should have just kept your mouth shut. I’ll let you off with a warning this time.” The bell rings. “Now you better get to class. I hope I never have to see you in my office again. Have a good day.” Alex grabs his things and heads off to French.
Well, the word got around, they said, “This kid’s insane, man! He argued with Mr. Sherman and had to go to the principal’s office!”
As soon as he sits down, John asks, “Alright, what happened?” Alex explains everything that happened.
“And you did read it?” Hercules confirms.
“Of course I did.”
“This is one of the ups of too much coffee,” Lafayette points out.
“Alright everyone, settle down. Time to begin our lesson,” Mr. Lacroix says.
During lunch, a few people come over and ask Alexander about the principal’s office. One of them is Eliza.
After he tells her the story, she asks, “He let you off on a warning?”
“That’s weird, because someone else talked back to Mr. Sherman last year, and Principal Frederick put her in ‘in school suspension’. And it was also a stupid argument!”
“Maybe he’s sexist,” John offers.
“No, because he did the same thing to another boy last year. So why did he let you off with a warning? I mean, I’m not complaining or anything, but it’s rather strange.”
“Maybe he doesn’t want to deal with Alex’s temper,” Lafayette remarks, clapping his friend on the back.
“I don’t know, honestly,” Eliza sighs.
Behind her, Maria walks up and says urgently, “Eliza, we need to talk.” She glances over at the boys, and her eyes linger on Hamilton for a second longer than necessary.
She takes one last look at the boys before saying, “I’m coming.” Maria pulls her away from the crowd of people.
“I need some advice. So, I was at my locker today, and I’m lucky enough to have a locker right next to James Reyes. You know, the hottest and most popular senior here. Well anyway, I was grabbing some books from my locker when he asks me, ‘Aren’t you a cheerleader?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, why?’ while inside I was freaking out that the James Reyes was talking to me.
“So then he goes, ‘Well, I was wondering why you don’t hang out with the other cheerleaders.’ And so I was like, ‘Oh, well, they’re not really my type.’ And then he says the best thing ever. He goes, ‘Funny, they’re not really my type either. All of them are as fake as Barbie dolls. But you, you’re not afraid to be yourself.’ Before I can say anything, he leaves, and adds, ‘See you around, cutie.’ Isn’t that amazing!”
Eliza feels happy for her friend, but she’s skeptical. “Yeah, Maria, that’s amazing. But… sorry to trample on the parade, but I think he’s just using you.”
“Using me? He seemed really sweet and genuine.”
“They all do. But trust me, he’s not. He’s probably just as stuck up as the other cheerleaders.”
Maria grows angry. “You know, a real friend would just be happy for me. And for once, I thought I had a real friend.” She stomps off.
Meanwhile, Alex is watching them talk, wondering what they’re saying. When Maria stomps off, he remarks casually, “Girls are so confusing.”
“You weren’t even listening to the conversation,” John replies.
“I know. I’m just saying that in general.”
The bell rings, and they all rush to their next class.
During PE, Alexander gets great satisfaction at watching Jefferson run laps with everyone else, while he gets to sit on the benches because of his sprained ankle. To make it even more fun, every time Thomas passes him, he says, “Run faster,” which, for some reason, really annoys him.
As John jogs around the gym, his mind ends up wandering to Cora. First day of school, and she admitted her crush. She barely even knew him. Or did she? What if she’d been stalking him over summer because a friend told her about him? The possibilities are endless. Then again, this gives him the excuse of “I barely know you, so I can’t make a decision.” In reality, he’s-
“Hey. It’s John, right?” Jefferson’s voice interrupts his thoughts.
“What do you want, Thomas?” John replies in a slightly heated voice.
“Hey, no need to start off on the wrong foot here.”
“We already started off on the wrong foot yesterday.”
“Let’s just pretend nothing from yesterday happened. Now, back to what I wanted to say. I was wondering if you could tell me a few things about Alexander.”
“Because it’s not my information to tell.”
“Well, he won’t talk to me, that’s a non-starter.”
“Are you a teenage reporter or something?”
“Okay, so you won’t answer questions about Alexander,” Thomas says, ignoring John’s question. “What about you? I say you talking to a girl the other day. Her name is Cora, right? Anyway, the way she’s acting around you makes me think…”
“Well, that maybe she likes you. And you like her back.”
“And what makes you think that?” Laurens questions.
“Oh? So you don’t like her, then?”
“I never said that.”
“Well, your tone hints at it. So, if you don’t like her, then maybe-”
“Jefferson, I think John wants to be left alone,” Alex remarks as they pass. They only have a few more laps to go before they can be done.
Before Thomas pulls ahead, he tells John, “I know what you are. Even if he’s too blind to see it, not all of us are.” He lets out a low cackle before jogging ahead.
John slows down, slightly shocked. Lafayette catches up to him and asks, “You alright mon amie?”
Laurens shakes himself out of it and replies, “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.”
“Because you repeat yourself when you’re lying.”
“No I don’t, of course I don’t!”
“You just did it.”
Johns sighs and says, “Fine, fine. He just guessed about Cora and I.”
A few minutes later, they’re heading to the locker room to change. John is deep in thought, and it takes Alexander five times to say his name before he responds.
“Hm?” John says, confused. “Oh, sorry Alex, I was just thinking.”
“Yeah, about that. You’ve just seemed kind of… down lately. Is everything alright?”
“Yeah, yeah, everything’s fine.”
“John. I’ve asked you a million times, and I’m going to keep asking until you answer. Is everything okay?”
“Yeah. I’m just… uh… thinking about all of the research I have to do for social studies.” He attempts a smile, but it fades quickly.
“Alright, if you say so…” Alex says sketically just as the bell rings for the next class.
Later that day, on the bus home from school, John tries to put on a straight face. He tells himself, Straighten the spin, smile for your friends. Everything’s fine, everything’s cool.
While they’re at John’s house, their conversation eventually drifts to girl and Alexander’s date on Saturday, two days away.
At some point, Hercules asks John, “So, any updates with Cora?”
“No, not really,” he replies. He begins to grow nervous, but doesn’t let it show on his face.
“You know, I think this might be the first time a girl’s liked John. At least, one that admitted it,” Alex remarks thoughtfully.
“Nah, I bet there were loads of girls who had a crush on him,” Laff counters. “I mean, come on guys, he likes turtles. Girls find that adorable.”
“But most girls like abs and an accent more than adorableness,” John says, eyeing Laff with a look that says I’m talking about you. “But others like smarts and personality.” He looks at Alex. “They also fall for the flirts.” He glances at Hercules.
“Okay, we get it. You think girls would like us more than you,” Alex says. “But Cora seems to like you. She didn’t fall for any of us.”
“Maybe she would have if Lafayette and Hercules were able to sit with me in Mr. Castillo’s writing class. I mean, we’re kind of close enough to say a few things, but it’s not like Hey, here’s another cute guy. Which one will you choose?”
“Oh come on mon amie, give your the benefit of the doubt,” Lafayette encourages, nudging John.
“Yeah. You sound like you don’t want girls to like you,” Hercules jokes. Little does he know…
“Well. What if… Well let’s just say, hypothetically, if I didn’t like her, what would I do?” John hopes that his friends have some good ideas, because he sure has none.
“First of all, find the right time and place. Don’t interrupt her if she’s studying for a big test or talking with her friends. Wait until the time is right,” Hercules starts.
“Be nice when you break the news to her. Don’t lead her on and make her feel like you’re about to ask her out. Maybe say, ‘I think you’re a really nice person, but…’ And then just tell her,” Lafayette continues.
“Make sure you don’t run away after you say it. Listen to what she has to say. Tell her you’d like to be friends if she wants it too. But of course, this is all hypothetical,” Alex finishes. But Alex knows better.
John looks down and bites his lip.
“Or… is it?” Hercules asks.
“Well, she seems like a nice girl and all, but… I guess she’s just not really my type,” John admits. He’d already told Alexander this, but it still feels good to get some of the weight off his chest.
“Is that what’s been bothering you?” Lafayette asks.
That was part of what was bothering him, but not the whole thing. So he was glad for a valid excuse. “Yeah. I’m glad to get that off my chest.”
“John, you know you can tell us anything. We won’t judge you. We’re friends, and friends look out for each other,” Alex assures.
“Yeah,” John says quietly.
Alex notices something flicker across his friend’s features, but it was so brief he couldn’t tell what it was. He ignores it.
After everyone is back at their own house later that day, Alexander begins to read more of the Hamilton book, taking notes as he goes. The weirdness of it is starting to fade, right up until he sees that Alexander Hamilton’s friends were Hercules Mulligan, John Laurens, and Lafayette. And one part, about Laurens, well, it gets him thinking. Everything else is correct, so why wouldn’t this be?
Back at John’s house, they’re all sitting at the dinner table when his little brother Henry asks, “Who’s Cora?”
John’s head whips around so fast he might have given himself whiplash. “What?” he asks, his voice going up an octave.
“I heard you and your friends talking about a girl named Cora. And your friend Alex said she had a crush on you.”
John’s eyes narrow and he begins, “You little-”
“John Laurens, watch your language. Now, why don’t you tell us about this Cora?” his mom says, her voice all sugar and spice not everything nice.
“Just some girl at my school,” John replies, stabbing a meatball with his fork a little more forceful than necessary.
“Well, she doesn’t sound like just some girl to me,” his father remarks.
“It’s nothing. She’s… uhm… she has a crush on Hercules!” John lies.
“That’s not what I heard! I heard him spe-ck-ifick-ally say she liked you!” Henry argues defiantly. Although, he did say specifically wrong, but he is only five.
“Shut up,” his older brother says through clenched teeth.
“You know, you wouldn’t say shut up unless Henry was onto something. So go ahead and tell us, son. Don’t worry, we won’t judge.”
“Just some girl that has a crush on me,” John murmurs.
“We couldn’t hear you, darling. Could you speak a little louder?” his mother asks.
“I said, she’s just some girl that has a crush on me.”
“John and Cora sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marr-” Henry is cut short when John places his hand over his brother’s mouth.
“We’re not in love,” he explains.
“John, it’s perfectly okay to have feelings for someone-” his mother begins before being cut off by her son.
“But I don’t like her. That’s what we were talking about. About how I could tell her that I don’t like her.”
“Well, you’re going to have to start opening up to girls, sweetie. You always seem to avoid them at all costs.” His mom gives him a sweet smile.
John mumbles something.
“What’s that you said?” his father asks, curious.
“Nothing you’d understand,” Laurens says. He pushes his plate away and adds, “I’m not hungry anymore. I think I’ll just go do some more homework.”
He scrapes the rest of his food into the leftovers bin before going upstairs. Without even looking at them, he knows his parents exchanged a look of worry. He does as he said he would and works on homework. But he also watches a few videos on a certain topic that he wants to investigate.
That night, Hamilton lies awake in bed, thinking of possibilities. It’s funny that he’s actually in bed right now when it’s just past ten o’clock. His eyelids begin to grow heavy, and for the first time in forever, Alexander Hamilton falls asleep before eleven o’clock.