WARNING: This chapter is very… indescribable. Let’s just say it involves Maria, but not Alex (yet). Enjoy!
John gets a lot of (unwanted) attention at school the next day. Everyone is asking about the fight, what it was like in suspension, etcetera, etcetera. He still has to deal with lunch detentions with Charles, which will not be fun. Plus, they’re meeting again after school to work on their project, which means more time spent with Lee.
Surprisingly, John was able to keep up with all of his work and had nothing extra to do. During lunch, he said goodbye to his friends and went off to lunch detention. But we’ll get to that later.
As soon as Eliza sits down with her friends (Maria is still not here), Brooklynn asks, “Did you hear? Maria and James Reyes are dating now.”
Eliza is stunned. “I’m sorry, what?” she asks, completely shocked.
“Yeah,” Aurora pipes up. “Everyone is buzzing about it. And the cheerleaders are being super nice to her now.”
Poor Eliza just sits there dumbfounded. So looks over to the cheerleader table, and sure enough, Maria is sitting there, her new boyfriend at her side. He has is arm around her, and she’s leaning into him. “I thought we were friends,” Eliza murmurs.
To add to her troubles, Angelica comes over, upset. Eliza turns from upset to defensive in an instant. “Angelica, are you alright?”
She shakes her head slightly. “No, I’m not.” She sits down and begins to pick at her foot.
“What’s wrong?” her concerned sister asked.
“The way people are using my app is not the way I had envisioned it. It’s basically become another Facebook, and people are being rude to one another.”
“Hey, it’s alright,” Eliza says, rubbing her sister’s back. “The world is cruel, and somethings they take something beautiful and turn it into a monster. Just look at the cheerleaders.”
This makes a small smile come from Angelica. “Thanks ‘Liza. You always know how to make me feel better.”
“Well, you would do the same for me.”
Now we go back to John. He shoots a glare at Charles, and he returns one. Principal Frederick says, “Alright boys, your assignment for today is to scrap the gum off of the desks the classroom number 115.”
Both of them groan. Classroom 115 is the hotspot for people that like to put their gun under desk. He hands both of them gloves and scrapers before sending them off to work.
While scraping gum off the desks, Lee tells John, “You know, this is all your fault.”
“It is not! You were the one who provoked me!”
“But you still threw the first punch.”
“Yeah,and I broke your nose. Most satisfying day of my life.”
Charles looks like he wants to strangle him. He takes a deep breathe and instead takes his anger out on a piece of gum. It wasn’t as stuck as he thought it would be, and it rockets upward. To the amusement of John, it lands in Lee’s hair.
“EEEWWWW!! Get it out get it out get it out GET IT OUT!!!” John just sits there, doubled over from laughing so hard. “Yeah, laugh all you want. You’ll get one stuck in your hair too.”
Charles pulls out the wad of gum, bringing a few of his hairs with it. Much to his dissatisfaction, John doesn’t get a single piece stuck in his hair. Lee promises to take care of that someday.
They head back to Principal Frederick’s office five minutes before the bell rings, having only finished a third of the room. Well I know what we’re doing tomorrow, John thinks with dismay.
In a sour mood, John practically stomps off to science. Alex reads the mood on his face and doesn’t ask for details.
As the class wears on, John begins to grow bored. He pulls out a piece of paper and some colored pencils and starts to draw. Luckily, Mrs. Frazzle either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Alex was so focused on the teacher that he didn’t notice what John was doing until he wrote his name in the bottom right corner of the paper.
It’s two people standing in front of a blanket of stars. Both of them are wearing baggy sweaters, making it hard to define any features. The view is from behind, so you also can’t see any faces. The one on the left is obviously John, and his curly hair is pulled into a ponytail. The one on the right has dark hair that falls to their shoulders. John has one arm around the person, and the other is pointing toward the sky. In stars are the words John and Lexi.
“Wow, John, that’s really amazing!” Alex whispers. John looks up, startled. He covers up the drawing protectively. “John, there’s no use in doing that, I already saw it.”
His face turns red. “Oh, um, ah, what do you think?”
“I think it’s wonderful!” Alex exclaim-whispers. John gives him a weak smile. “But you know Eliza’s hair is a little longer than that, right?”
John looks at the picture again, and his mouth moves, trying to find the right words. “Oh, um, oops, uh, it’s hard to tell with the ponytail, ya know?” He lets out a nervous laugh.
“Boys! Would you care to pay attention?”
“Sorry Mrs. Frazzle,” Alex apologizes. When she’s not looking, he whispers, “It still looks good.”
John smiles weakly. Little does he know it’s not Eliza I drew, he thinks, glancing at his best friend in the whole wide world.
At the end of the day, they meet at Hercules’s house to continue their project. Charles is as rude and annoying as ever. But this time, he’s not complaining about the Hamilsquad or the project.
“I can’t believe she broke up with me!” he whines, right in the middle of Alex practising one of his lines.
“Charles, shut up, we don’t care that you two broke up!” Hercules says for the millionth time.
“But I do!” he whines.
“Charles tu ferais mieux de te taire maintenant ou tu te trouverais dix pieds sous terre,” Lafayette threatens.
“Woah, dude, that’s a little harsh, even for Lee, don’t you think?” Alex asks. Lafayette huffs and crosses his arms.
They continue practising, only being interrupted by Lee periodically. And by periodically I mean every two minutes. Finally, John says, “Lee, here’s the deal. We either actually get stuff done from now on and practise again on Monday,or we don’t and we practise tomorrow, Saturday, and Monday.”
This finally does the trick, and they are able to make some progress (finally). At 5:00, they usher Charles out the door.
“Finally, we got rid of him,” Herc says, only half joking.
“I know right?” John says.
“Well, we better leave too, mon ami. We have homework to do,” Laff says, practically dragging Alex out of the door. John follows along, and Herc waves goodbye.
That night, Alex’s dreams are troubled. But when he wakes up the next morning, his dreams are the dreams that you can’t quit place.
Thank goodness today is Friday. Alex walks downstairs to find his friend Laff making breakfast. It’s 5:30 in the morning.
“Jeez Laff, how early did you wake up?”
“About an hour ago.”
“AN HOUR!” Alex screeches.
“Hey, people are still sleeping!” Laff scolds quietly. Alex makes himself coffee, and Lafayette sets a plate of crepes on the table for him. He puts the extras in the freezer and sits down to eat.
“Have you finished packing?” Lafayette asks.
“Is it that time already? Shoot, I gotta get on that.” Alex says. It’s time for him to go to John’s house, since it’s the first day of September tomorrow. He’ll stay there until December.
“Don’t worry mon ami, I’ll help you pack after school.”
“No problem. Now let’s get to school.”
For once, they’re the first ones at the bus stop. John comes along not to long after, and so does Hercules.
“Finally, it’s Friday,” John says.
“Agreed,” Herc says.
“Plus,I’m going to your house today, John. But I forgot to pack yesterday, so I’ll need all to you to help me with that.”
“Of course,” John replies.
“You got it,” Herc adds.
They climb aboard the bus and sit in the back. Alex pulls out his phone to check his grades, but notices that his phone is at 10%. He must have forgotten to charge it last night.
“Hey, John? Can I borrow your portable charger?” he asks.
“Sure!” he replies, handing him the charger.
They talk about a lot of useless stuff on their way to the school. When they get off the bus, Thomas and James are waiting for them.
“Hey Thomas!” Alex says in a mock cheery voice. “Where have you been? Hiding from the humiliation I brought you?”
He’s speechless for a moment before replying, “No.”
“You hesitated,” Lafayette points out.
“Nobody asked you Lafayette.”
“No one needed to,” Hercules defends.
Thomas just rolls his eyes. Behind him, Aaron Burr comes up. “Hey Aaron!” Alex greets.
“Hey,” he murmurs before turning to Thomas. “Have you told them yet?”
“I was about to.”
Alex is confused. “Told us what?”
“Oh, just that Eiza was flirting with me.”
Alex raises an eyebrow. “Oh really? And what exactly did she say?”
“She told me I looked hot.”
“And when was this?”
“Are you as dumb as you look? She ment hot as in temperature, not looks. Honestly dude.”
“Just keep telling yourself that,” Thomas says, walking away with his friends in tow. Alex just rolls his eyes, and they go to class.
John just can’t handle Mrs. Lloyd’s boring lecture, so he asks to go to the bathroom. She lets him go.
As he’s walking out of the restroom, about to go back to class, he hears crying. He looks down the hall and sees Maria, tears streaming down her face. Even though she may be one of the cheerleaders, John still walks over to her.
“Are you alright?” he asks. She looks up to him, fear in her eyes.
“J-John, i-it’s y-y-you, th-thank go-goodn-ness.” she stutters before her words are cut off by sobs.
“Hey, hey, it’s alright, don’t cry,” he comforts. He wipes away one of her tears with his thumb. Oh, why does John have to be so nice?
It happens in an instant. He suddenly finds her hands on his chest and her lips on his. John is absolutely shocked. Multiple camera shots go off. He shoves her off of him and sees that she has a smirk on her face.
James Reyes comes out of the shadows, holding his phone. “Hello there John,” he says, danger in his voice.
John looks between the two of them, still in shock. That was his first kiss ever, and it was with Maria.
James looks through his phone and says, “Oh, it looks like this one will do.” He shows John the picture. He happens to have his eyes closed in it. Maria has her face contorted into one of anger, and it looks like she’s trying to push him away, when in reality she was holding him in place. John’s hand is still on her cheek because he was too dumbfounded to move it. In other words, the picture makes it look like John was the one who forced Maria into the kiss, not the other way around.
“What are you going to do with that picture?” John asks, his voice filled with fear.
“I’m going to post it on Angelica’s app. Unless…” He smiles wickedly.
“Unless you do something for me.”
“Are you blackmailing me?”
“Yes we are,” Maria pipes up. “The whole thing was set up. We just had to wait for you to go to the bathroom. We’ve been waiting a couple days, actually.”
John turns to James, who says, “Here’s what’s going to happen. I will post this picture if you don’t do exactly as I say. If you do end up doing what I say, I will delete it. Now, here’s what you have to do. Originally, I was going to ask for money, but then I thought ‘Well, that’s no fun. It needs to be worse than that.’
“So, I decided on this: I’m having a party at my house on Saturday. You, and you alone, have to come. Don’t bring your friends. And, let’s say, you have to get drunk. Oh, and this is the article that will be posted if you don’t do it.” He shows him the article. The title is crude; so crude that he knows James will get kicked off of Angelica’s app for it.
John just stares at him in disbelief.
“So what’s it gonna be?”
John thinks through his options. If he does it, James will continue to blackmail him with the picture. Plus, he might get addicted to alcohol. If he doesn’t do it, everyone at the school will hate him, and think he’s… the terrible word James used in the article.
John takes a deep breath, probably about to regret what he’s going to say. “I won’t do it.”
This throws Maria and James off guard for a moment. James composes himself and says, “Are you sure? Last chance.”
“I will not do it.” John say defiantly.
James shrugs and hits Post. Now begins one of the worst days of John Laurens’s life.
The first thing he does is pull out his phone. He texts Alex, Laff, and Herc in a group chat, Do not believe what you will see about me on Angelica’s app. The picture is not what it looks like. He then rushes off to class before he’s gone too long.
The teacher doesn’t question him when he slides into his seat. He sees that a few people are on their phone, and they’re looking at the article. He looks around to see who else is in this class with him. Burr is sitting next to him, but he’s too much of a good child to look at his phone during class. Eliza will take one look at the title and not go any further because she is too innocent. Charles Lee, however, is obviously on his phone, and John doesn’t even want to think about what he will do.
Alex has his phone on silent, so he doesn’t know about the article or John’s text. Yet.
After class, John opens his locker to grab something for his third period. A few notes fall out of his locker. Even though he’s scared to look at them, he reads them anyway. They all fall into one of three categories: calling him names, saying ‘How could you?’, or ‘Could you tell me how you pulled that off?’ He throws them all in the trash.
On his way out of third period, Alex is stopped by Jefferson. “Hey, have you seen the picture of John?” he asks.
“No…” Alex says, worried.
“Well you should look at it later.” He then rushes ahead of Alex.
During French, they are given some down time after they finish the test, as long as they move to the back of the room. Alex pulls out his phone. The first thing he reads is the text from John. This makes him even more curious.
He pulls up the article and stares at the picture for a really long time. So long that John is finished with his test (he likes to take his time) and is sitting beside Alex. Laff and Herc are here, too. They read the article, but they believe what John told them.
John glances at Alexander’s phone and is not as surprised to see he has the article pulled up. It’s the look on his face that concerns him.
“Alexander are you alright?” he asks. This snaps him out of his daze. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts.
“John…” is all he manages to get out.
John is baffled. “You don’t actually believe that, do you?”
“Why shouldn’t I? What’s one more lie to you?” The bell rings, and Alex leaves behind a stunned and hurt John.
Instead of going to lunch, Alex goes to the bathroom. He just needs some alone time to gather his thoughts.
On his way to detention, after explaining what really happened, John asks Laff and Herc, “What do I do now? He might never speak to me again!”
“It’s alright mon ami. We’ll talk to him. And good luck with Charles, you’ll need it.” John nods and goes to detention, hoping his friends will talk some sense into Alex.
While John is dealing with Lee’s rude remarks, Laff and Herc are on the hunt for Alex. After seven whole minutes of searching, they finally find him in the bathroom. A single, quiet sob is what gave him away.
“Alex? Are you okay?” Hercules asks. He tries the stall door. “Please let us in,” he adds.
Alex opens the door a crack. Even the small sliver of his face that they can see is glistening with silent tears. “What do you want?” he asks, his voice sore from crying.
“We need to talk,” Laff says. Alex wipes away his tears before coming out of the stall. Laff motions for them to go outside.
When they sit at their table, Hercules says, “Alex, the image is not what it looks like. John explained it to us, and-”
He is cut off by Alex, whose face has turned as hard as stone. “Of course you take his side,” he spits at them. He’s turned from upset to angry as fast as turning a light on.
He grabs his things and walks away. Lafayette and Hercules look at each other, both wondering the same thing; What do we do?
Alex finds Burr sitting with Jefferson and Madison. Not his favorite people in the world, but it’s better than nothing. “Um, is it alright if I sit with you guys for a while?”
“Oh, did someone lose his best friend?” Thomas taunts.
“Yes,” Alex replies shortly.
“Sure, you can sit with us!” Aaron says, patting the empty seat.
“Thanks,” Hamilton says, sitting down.
After just one lunch period with them, and without the support of his real friends, Alex has changed entirely. He has because something he would have become if it hadn’t been for his friends.
First off, he is swearing more often. Second, he’s going to a party Saturday night. Third, he is hanging out with the wrong group of people, and he isn’t paying as much attention in class. It’s the beginning of the downfall.
John has to sit with Alex in science, and he notices all of these differences. Maybe I should have just done what James said… he thinks. NO! Don’t you dare think that! He scolds himself.
But who would care. It’s not like anyone is gonna tell my story. Will they? He sighs and rests his chin on his hands, trying his best to pay attention. He then comes to a resolution. If Alex won’t be himself, then I will do it for him. He decides to do what Alex would do. He pays more attention in class, and is ready to do all of his homework early. He will show Alex what it is like to have a Hamilton around you. Then maybe he will be his old self again.
After school, Alex begins to pack his things. He tried asking Laff if he could stay here longer, but Lafayette refused. So, all of Alex’s OLD friends are helping him pack. No one talks. Hamilton really doesn’t want to stay at John’s house, but what other choice does he have? I mean, I guess John’s mom does make good hamburgers…
When he pulls out the hidden box from under his bed, he remembers what is hidden in there. All of his secrets written down on paper. And the last thing he putin there… He puts the thought out of his mind and and puts it in one of the three duffle bags he’s using to move all of his stuff.
An hour later, everything is ready. Alex, Laff, and Herc all grab a duffle and walk out the door. On their walk over, Hercules says out of the blue, “Please Alex! Please just talk to John. Even just hearing him out would be great.”
Alex ignores him. “Come on mon ami, you can’t ignore us forever!”
“Yes I can,” Alex realies. Just then, he gets a text. It’s from Eliza.
Hey, I saw you weren’t sitting with your friends today. Is everything alright?
He replies to her while walking. They’re not my friends anymore.
Does this have something to do with the article? She asks.
Of course it does! What he did was unforgivable!
Alex, John posted the TRUE story on the app. Read it, and maybe you will change your mind.
Oh, of COURSE you’re siding with John. Everyone I used to care about is siding with John.
Wait, I’m someone you USED to care about?
No, no! I meant my old friends! I care about you!
Yeah, uh huh. Don’t speak to me until you make up with your friends. You’re obviously not yourself.
Alex just stares at his phone in disbelief. His temper flaring, he replies, Well, I don’t need you anyway!
He shoves his phone in his pocket.
On the other end, tears begin to stream down Eliza’s face. She likes him, she really does, but she will not be with him if he is acting this way.
John asks, “Is everything alright?”
Alex just sends a glare in his direction. They arrive at John’s house and bring everything upstairs to set up. Based on the number of rooms in the house, Alex shares a room with John. The bean bags have been moved and his matress is there now, all set up. They set the duffle bags down and begin to unpack.
They hang clothes on his side of the closet, organise his papers on his desk, and put away everything else that he brought. When his ex-friends aren’t looking, he hides the small box in the closet. If he moved it two feet to the left, it would be right next to John’s secret box. But, that doesn’t happen. They both just stay in the closet, only two feet apart.
Once everything is unpacked, Laff and Herc go back to their houses. Alex takes his hair out of a ponytail and lets it cover his face before sitting on his bed and scrolling through his phone. John begins to work on his homework, trying to live up to the Alex standards so that maybe, just maybe, his efforts will make Alex come back.
After a few minutes, John asks, confused, “Alex, aren’t you gonna work on your homework?”
“Why does it matter?” he replies bitterly.
John is absolutely shocked. Alex isn’t going to do his homework?
“Alex, you need to keep up with your schoolwork! Even Jefferson does his-”
“Why does it matter?” he repeats, cutting him off.
“Seriously, only one lunch with them and suddenly you’re a whole new person?”
“Well, maybe I was always this person!” he retorts.
John gets up and goes downstairs. He finds his mom, who is cooking, and asks, “What are signs of depression?”
She looks at him, slightly concerned. “Why do you ask?”
“I think Alex might be depressed. You see, something happened at school today… and, well, he’s not himself. He’s hanging out with people he hates, he refuses to do his homework, and he has his hair down, covering his face, which is something he does when he’s upset.” John leaves out the part about what happened at school.
“He might be. Just talk to him about it.”
“What if we’re not on speaking terms?”
John’s mom stops what she’s doing and turns to him, shocked. Tentatively, she asks, “John, what happened at school today?”
John opens his mouth, but closes it again. He then looks down at the ground, as if his feet are suddenly really interesting.
“John, is everything alright?”
He looks back up, tears in his eyes. He hugs his mom, who hugs him back. “I messed up I messed up I messed up but it’s not my fault she did it she did it she forced me she did it,” he rambles.
“She? She did what?”
He takes a shaky breath and tells her what happened, still holding on to her tight. When he’s finished, she lets him cry for a little bit.
John asks, “W-what do I d-do?”
“Well, try to talk to him. Maybe do something that you always do together. He’ll come around eventually.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure.” He gives her one last hug before going upstairs to talk to Alex. He’s still on his bed, scrolling through his phone. John thinks he sees tears a tear roll down his friend’s face, but Alex wipes it away quickly.
“Hey Alex,” John says hesitantly.
“Go away,” Alex replies.
“It’s my room, too, so I’m not just gonna go away.”
“Then don’t talk to me.”
John sits back down at his desk, working on some more homework. Then he gets an idea. “Okay Alex, I’ll make you a deal. We’ll play some sort of game together, and if you win, you don’t have to do your homework today or next week. But if I win, you have to do your homework all next week and today. Plus, if I win and you don’t do your homework, then I have permission to take away your phone for a week.”
Alex looks up, intrigued. “What game did you have in mind?”
Alex grins and holds out his hand. John takes it, and Alex says, “You’re on.” What he doesn’t know is that John has been practising, and is now an expert at Mario Kart. Alexander is, too, so this will be the ultimate test.
Right as they’re about to play, Mrs. Laurens calls, “Dinner!”
They head downstairs. John’s mom made hamburgers because she knows Alex loves them. Unlike Lafayette’s house, dinner is filled with conversation. Henry and James talk about their day and kindergarten and preschool, respectively, and Mr. Laurens talks about his day at work.
Alex is silent most of dinner, while John engages in the conversation, trying to pretend that nothing happened at school.
“Hey Alex!” Henry says. “Do you want to play cars with James and I?”
“I’ll do it tomorrow, right now John and I are going to have a Mario Kart competition,” Alex explains.
Henry grins from ear to ear. James pipes up, “I call the blue one!”
“James, you alway get the blue one!” Henry complains.
Before they can argue any more, John’s mom says, “Boys, no fighting at the dinner table.”
Everyone is silent for a moment before John’s dad asks, “So how was your day Alex?”
Alexander really doesn’t want to answer, but he doesn’t want to be impolite, so he replies, “Okay, I guess.”
“Is everything alright?” Mr. Laurens urges.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Alex says shorty.
After they’re done eating, they head upstairs to play Mario Kart. “I’m gonna win,” Alex says,
“I your dreams,” John replies. This is something they do every time they play.
Alex is shocked when John beats him in the first round. “You just got lucky!” Alex says. When John wins the next one, Alexander’s excuse is, “I haven’t played in a while, I’m rusty.”
John also win the next two, meaning he won the round. “HOW THE HECK DID YOU DO THAT!!” Alex screeches.
“I’ve been practising.”
“Of course you have,” Alex murmurs.
“Now go do your homework properly or I take away your phone.” Alex groans, but obeys. Well, that’s one weeks worth of homework he’ll end up doing. Hopefully, by then, they become friends. Especially since Lafayette’s birthday is Thursday, September 6th. Speaking of which, they need to go shopping for presents…