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The Adventures Of Spider Man and Iron Man (A Hamilton Story)

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Alexander Hamilton's alarm blared at four am. He got up from where he lay in his bed, stretching a bit before standing up. The cold air hit his boxer clad body as he made his way to his large window, staring over the New York cityscape. It was still dark, but the lights made it possible for Alex to make out almost every detail.

He began getting dressed, slipping on a black blazer over a white tee-shirt, as well as some black slacks. He grabbed his laptop and walked out of his room and into the main area of his penthouse. John Laurens was at his dining room table, head in his arms, dead asleep while paper was still spread around him. Alex started the coffee machine, and then went over to John, giving him a good shove.

"Ah!" John exclaimed, shooting up. He looked over and saw Alex, groaning a bit. "Shit, what time is it?"

"Four AM, Pepper," Alex smiled, admiring John's curly black hair and tan skin, splattered with freckles. John was what one would call attractive. Tall, toned, with light brown skin and an immense amount of freckles. His hair was a lions mane, untamed, unalterable. John was a good employee, and not too harsh on the eyes, which Alex enjoyed.

"Don't call me that," John muttered, standing up. He yawned, cracking his neck. "Shit, why didn't you wake me up when you went to bed?"

"You were awake, you were mumbling something to yourself, something about waking you when I needed you," Alex insisted, going to his kitchen. "Breakfast?"

John shook his head, sighing a bit. "I'm gonna go get another hour of sleep, maybe realign my back again."

Alex swallowed and nodded, looking to his fridge and pulling out some take out. "Alright."

John left, and Alex was back to quiet. His coffee machine beeped and he made himself a cup before heading up to his lab. He pressed his hand to the scanner, and the doors opened, letting him in. He set his food down as the technology came to life, lights coming on.

"Good morning, Mr. Hamilton," the almost human-like voice of the AI named Jarvis greeted as Alex sat down.

"Morning, Jarvis," Alex smiled. "Gimme a playthrough of the news."

A hologram-like screen appeared in front of Alex and reeled through highlights, in everything from big cities to small towns. Nothing could get past Alex. When that finished, Alex tossed his takeout container and looked at the large table, which had status reports on the technology in the building.

"Jarvis, I would like the elevators to be tuned up tonight," Alex stated. "How did the update go?"

"It went well, Mr. Hamilton," Jarvis answered. "She is all ready to be flown."

Alex stood and approached the suit. The gold and red shone lightly, and it turned on the moment Alex touched it. "I say it's time we take this baby for a spin, wouldn't you agree, Jarvis?"

"It's ready when you are, Mr. Hamilton," Jarvis responded.

Alex stood in front of the suit and it began to cover him until all he could see in the window reflection across the room was him. Alex smiled. "Jarvis, open the window."

The window was opened, and Alex ran at it, then jumped.

He lived in one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan, so the first few seconds he seemed to just stay there, then he began falling. He let himself fall, and let Jarvis list off the number of feet until he hit the ground. Around twenty feet, Alex activated the blasters and shot back up, doing a few flips in the air before coming to a stop, floating in the air and looking over New York.

Alexander Hamilton was most likely the richest person in America and the world. He ran a tech industry that created weaponry and new technology for American military and American allies. He also created technology to help construction, to help repairs, to help with anything that could be improved. In his free time, without anyone knowing, he was a hero some referred to as 'Iron Man'. He had never let the fact that he, Alexander Hamilton, was Iron Man slip. He decided to keep that part secret. But the job wasn't lonely. New York was too much chaos for one person, and about a year back, Alex had met a hero named Spider-Man.

Spider-Man was a small guy, skinny, but strong. The two had taken up fighting the bad that went on in New York together but had never revealed their identities to each other. It didn't feel right. They were heroes, and maybe if it was a slow night, they'd catch a Yankees game and heckle the ref in French, but that was it.

"Jarvis, any sign of Spider-Man?" Alex asked.

"No, Mr. Hamilton," Jarvis replied.

"Alright, then it's just me this morning," Alex nodded, taking off. His building was in downtown Manhattan, so he found himself making his way up to the Bronx, standing on one of the floodlights and looking over at the night crew, cleaning the stadium. He stood there for a moment, resting, before taking off and heading back to his building. He got there, sighing as he stepped out of the suit and turned it off. Then he got to work.

Hamilton, to most, was a cocky asshole. His intelligence often came to question, when in fact, he was incredibly smart. Alex liked to refer to himself as a genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist, which always made John roll his eyes.

John was Alex's one and only personal assistant, and probably the only person who knew Alex was Iron Man. John was originally an assistant for a lower-level worker, and good at his job. One day, he caught a mistake that Alex had made in the numbers, probably the only work-related mistake he had made in his life. John, furious, stormed up to Alex's office, which he had never even been to. This mistake could've cost the company billions, and John was not about to let that slide.

Now, normally, a lower-level employee wouldn't have gotten past the seventieth floor, but no one wanted to stop John. He was fired up, pissed, and ready to kill. People, people who could've squashed John under their thumbs stepped out of the way as he burst into Alex's office and began yelling at him. Alex had never been yelled at by an employee, little less, an employee of such a low level.

When security had approached John, John had reached into his satchel, yelling about how he had pepper spray, earning him the nickname 'pepper.' John had expected to be fired, but instead, Alex promoted him right up to his right-hand man, which came with a raise and his own living space in the building, on the floor just below Alex's. A lot of nights were spent on Alex's floor though since Alex seemed to be non stop, and John himself was a hard worker.

Overall, though, this thrice-married bachelor was living what he considered his best life. He had twenty-year-old scotch in his liquor cabinet, he had a hundred billion dollars in his bank account, and most importantly, he had an unlimited supply of technology to do whatever he pleased with. There were always scandals, always accusations, but Alex wasn't a violent person, he paid his taxes, and never stole or cheated. At least, not in business.

"Alright," Alex mumbled at seven-thirty rolled around. "Time to work."

He printed out some blueprints he had been making, rolling them up and adding a bit of tape so they stay closed before grabbing a thermos of coffee and hopping on the elevator. It stopped at John's floor and John got on, rubbing his neck. Alex immediately handed him the blueprints, causing John to grumble something under his breath that Alex didn't quite pick up.

They got to the floor Alex worked on, and instantly, four other people joined them, one of which got handed the blueprints. John pulled out his iPad, knowing people were about to start yelling reminders, and that if he didn't take it down, Alex would never remember.

"You have a meeting with the leader of the Asia district at noon!" Someone reminded.

"Actually, it's been moved to twelve-thirty, on account of some bad weather," John cut in.

"Mr. Hamilton!" Alex's lawyer, Robert Livingston, gasped.

"Aye, Bobby!" Alex greeted, sipping his coffee. "How's it hanging? How's the wife?"

"Wishing I didn't work so much, but that's not the point, something had happened," Robert gasped.

"Something's always happened," Alex groaned. "Doesn't misery take a day off?"

"Iron Man was spotted in the Bronx this morning," John stated.

"He should give me a call, he's looking a bit clunky," Alex chuckled. "I mean, the suit is just so bulky, I'm sure I could slim it down a bit. Where are his aerodynamics?"

John nudged Alex's side a bit, reminding him not to oversell it.

"Mr. Hamilton," Robert persisted. "You really need to listen to me."

"Bobby, you're gonna have to give me a sec," Alex told his lawyer. "Katie, is the conference room set up for my eight-thirty?"

"It is, Mr. Hamilton," Katie answered.

"Dorian, I would like Mr. Tanaka to have tea ready the moment he gets here, and make sure it's hot." Alex chuckled. "Does he know he has the same last name as Masahiro Tanaka? I mean, imagine sharing a last name with one of the best Yankees pitchers in the last twenty years. Alright, John, what did you do with the blueprints?" Alex asked.

"Gave them to Josh, who is right behind you," John answered.

"Josh! I would like all those to go into conference room B, those are for my three-thirty," Alex called out, not even looking back.

"Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Tanaka has requested food at the meeting," John mumbled, reading a notification that just popped up.

"Get me sushi from Uchu, it's the best damn Japanese restaurant in-"

"New York and Brooklyn," John finished. "Yes, we know. Katie, you get on that."

"What do they want?" Katie asked.

"I have it written down, what they both always get, I'm sending it to you right now," John responded, doing a few things. "Get it as late as you can, Mr. Tanaka hates stale sushi."

"Pepper, I forgot to ask, how is your mother?" Alex questioned, an almost fake amount of empathy laced throughout his voice.

John didn't trust that. "Don't call me that. Still sick. Robert, what is it?"

"Mr. Hamilton-"

"One second, Bobby, hey, Do-"

"Mr. Hamilton!" Robert yelled, causing Alex to stop and turn. He braced himself. "Miss Eliza Schuyler has died."

Alex's thermos hit the ground as the office went quiet. His breathing sped up as he stared, wide-eyed, at his lawyer. Alex's heart was about to beat out of his chest, and he felt his eyes sting and water. Flashes of what probably was the most beautiful woman Alex had ever seen went through his brain. The way she laughed, the way she would hold Hamilton.

Alex and Eliza had known each other since they were both twenty. At twenty-five, they had gotten married. At twenty-six, they had both signed their divorce papers. It was a hard divorce. They both loved each other, but they couldn't be married. Alex wasn't loyal, Eliza wasn't a doormat. Eliza, after they divorced, had spent a year or so away, not talking to Alex, not even seeing him, which hurt Alex, but she came back, deciding her and Alex could be friends, just friends. Alex married Maria Reynolds, which failed. Then Kitty Livingston, his lawyer's daughter, which again, failed. Alex decided, at forty-two, that marriage obviously wasn't his thing. He took the playboy part of his title very seriously.

"She's... dead?" Alex asked softly.

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Hamilton," Robert said.

"What happened?" Alex's voice was so small as he spoke.

"There was a car accident, she, she perished from her injuries two nights ago at eleven pm in Bellevue hospital," Robert explained.

Alex brought a shaky hand up to his mouth. He could feel tears almost. He could feel John's hand take his own. He quickly ripped it away, walking as fast as he could down the hallway to his office, slamming the door. He sat down in his desk chair, turning to face New York skyline. The sun was rising, tinting everything orange.

Alex placed his face in his hands and let a small sob break from his chest. He could feel the wedding ring he had worn with Eliza. It was now on his middle finger, just something he shared with his best friend. But now, she, she was dead.

"Oh, God," Alex groaned, wiping his eyes. "Shit, no, Eliza."

"Mr. Hamilton," a small voice said from the doorway.

"Dammit, Robert, what else could you want?" Alex snapped, turning around and watching John and Robert enter the office.

"Mr. Hamilton, that's not all," Robert stated, pulling out a few papers. "Ms. Schuyler, she, she had a child, and in her will, she claims he is yours."

Alex stood up, knocking his chair back against the window. "I'm sorry?"

"Mr. Hamilton, she says it's yours," Robert stated, pushing forward a piece of paper. "Here is a copy of her will, if you do not believe me."

Alex grabbed the paper, scanning it. "Phillip Schuyler." Alex slammed the paper down, running his hand through messy brown hair. "You're fucking kidding me. Of course, of course, Eliza would do this. A kid? Is she serious? I'm nowhere near father material, and she decides to, to do this?" Alex kicked his desk. "This is bullshit!"

"She didn't exactly plan on dying," John pointed out.

"Oh shut it," Alex snapped.

"Oh, ¿quieres decirme que me calle? Ve a comer una polla, pedazo de mierda," John scoffed, rolling his eyes as he scanned over a few papers Robert had given him.

"I don't understand you when you talk like that," Alex huffed. "Robert, what's the deal? Is the kid like a baby? How old is he?"

Robert shuffled through a few papers. "Phillip Schuyler, sixteen years old. Set to start his junior year in two months. Quite popular in the school art community, was apart of academic decathlon last year, and has never gotten lunch detention."

Alex looked down at his desk. "Where will I put him?"

"Guest room, right across from the one I stay in sometimes," John answered. "His stuff is being brought over and I'll meet the movers downstairs to lead them to his room. He will be here around five, seeing as he's currently discussing legal issues to do with his mother's property." John sighed, looking down at the iPad. "Lawyers will be coming over, to give you full custody over the child. Robert, I feel it necessary you stay with us for the majority of the day."

Robert nodded.

John continued doing things on the iPad in front of him. "Alex, I have pushed all your meetings to tomorrow, and sent an email to the company regarding some basic information about what happened and why work will be slow today."

Alex nodded. "Thank you, John. Make sure Mr. Tanaka-"

"Already booked him a hotel," John mumbled.

"Jesus, would this company be running without John?" Robert asked.

John shook his head. "I'm the only competent worker here, and yes, that includes my boss."

"Hey," Alex mumbled, crossing his arms.

"You know I'm right," John muttered. "Alright, movers will be here in an hour, lawyers are in the lobby, coming up. I'll go get them, bring them here. Robert, make sure he doesn't leave."

Robert nodded as John left.

"This is not how I saw this day going," Alex admitted, staring out the window.

"If I must be honest, Mr. Hamilton," Robert started. "We are in the same boat there."

Most of Hamilton's workday was spent signing papers. Alex, due to the fact that he didn't want a degree of separation such as a name, had Phillip's last name changed. John protested this, saying this shouldn't be legal without Phillip's consent, but since Alex was a legal guardian of the kid, it was. John got a lot of other work done, met with Mr. Tanaka to explain what happened, as well as a few other work associates.

Four-thirty rolled around and Alex was feeling anxious. The whole situation has been extremely under wraps to avoid media, and so far, it was working. John had got to Angelica Schuyler on the phone, the one who had helped pack up and separate Phillip and Eliza's stuff. She had explained to John the basic things to know about Phillip. John had written it all down and given it to Alex, who had barely looked at it.

"Phillip will be here soon, and-" John cut himself off. "Alex, are you paying attention?"

"What? Yes," Alex nodded.

John let out a long breath of air. "I understand that you are sad, but you must remember this kid is sad as well. He just lost his mother, and now he is moving in with a man he has never met, who apparently is his father. How would you feel if that happened?"

"It did happen," Alex muttered.

John bit his lip, thinking. "Then you should know what he needs." John looked down at his Apple watch to see a message from the receptionist downstairs, telling them that Phillip was here.

"Alexander, he's here, you need to go to him," John stated. "Come on, you can't just... He's your son."

"Why didn't Eliza ever tell me?" Alex asked.

"You're not exactly father material," John muttered. "Go."

Alex huffed and got up, walking out of his office and to the elevators. He stepped in one and let it take him down. He wasn't exactly the happiest to be doing this. Hell, he didn't even want a kid. He had never wanted a kid. Around thirty, he had gotten a vasectomy, and never looked back. Kids had never been something he wanted. Even John's daughter, Twelve-year-old Frances, who came over every other weekend, didn't like Alex, and Alex had only talked to her twice.

Alex got to the bottom floor and stepped out. He saw Angelica Schuyler, Eliza's sister, and then a boy standing next to her. He had on a hoodie and some basketball shorts. The hood was up, and headphones were around his neck. The lid of a baseball cap peaked out from under his hood, and he hugged his bag. He looked tallish, about Alex's height, so maybe five foot nine? Dark curls stuck out from his hood. He probably got those from Eliza. She had always had pretty curls, which was rare but not impossible for Asian people, but always straightened her hair. Alex thought she looked better with the curls, but Eliza usually just got them straightened so she wouldn't have to deal with it.

"Alexander," Angelica greeted curtly. She had never liked Alex from the start. She had been protective over Eliza, and so had Peggy, despite being younger than Eliza, seeing as the three of them had practically grown up together.

"Angelica," Alex replied.

Angelica took Phillip by the shoulders. "You can call me. I'll always pick up. I love you so much, Phillip. You always have a place up in New Rochelle." She pulled Phillip into a tight hug. "You call Theo, keep in touch with Peggy, I'll visit, I promise."

Phillip just nodded.

Angelica let him go and looked up at Alex. "You take good care of him. I don't even like that he's going to you."

Alex gave her a curt nod.

She sighed. "Okay, Phillip, I love you. I'll see you soon."

"I love you too," he replied in a quiet voice.

She kissed him one last time on the forehead before turning and leaving.

Phillip looked up at Alex, and for a second, they both just stared. It was weird. The whole situation was weird. Phillip was obviously trying not to cry, Alex was obviously uncomfortable. The two didn't want to be where they were.

"Have you ever seen how a business is run?" Alex asked.

Phillip shook his head.

"Well, you're about to learn," Alex replied. He placed his hand on Phillip's shoulder and led him to the elevator, pressing the floor number his office was on. The ride was awkward and quiet, but Alex began talking the moment they stepped off. "It's important to have competent staff. That is our accounting section, and they are probably the lifeblood of this. They make sure our taxes are sent out on time, that no one is stealing, all fun stuff."

Phillip felt like he was going to throw up.

"Most of my assistants work up here. Granted, I only have one I truly trust, but as the owner of a company, you need many to cover different categories." Alex gestured to his lawyer, who was giving the two an incredulous look. "That is Bobby, one of my lawyers, my personal favorite if we're being honest, and then over there? That's Dorian, he is specifically in charge of meetings. He's-"

Alex was cut off by a sharp slap on the back of his head.

"Ow!" Alex exclaimed, looking to see a pissed off and almost in awe John.

"What are you doing?" John asked.

"Showing the kid around," Alex answered as if it was obvious.

"Stop it," John snapped. "Stop, stop-" John slapped Alex's hand away from Phillip's shoulder. "Stop touching him." He smacked Alex again. "How blind are you to people's emotions? This is ridiculous! Out of all the people in this office, you should have the most empathy for his situation."

Alex swallowed hard.

"No, you know what?" John stepped between Alex and Phillip. "You go to work. Let me handle this since I do all the work for you anyway. Go."

"Pepper-"

John pointed down the hall to Alex's office. "Don't call me that. Go."

Alex rolled his eyes, walking down the hall.

John turned gently to Phillip. "I'm gonna take you to your room, okay?"

"Are you gonna get fired for that?" Phillip asked in a quiet and hoarse voice.

John shook his head, gently guiding Phillip back to the elevators. "Of course not. Alex would never fire me. I'm the only reason this company hasn't run itself into the ground." John stepped into the elevator with Phillip and pressed the button for the top floor. "Your room had a nice view of the Hudson. Of course, that means you have a view of Jersey, but, you also get some nice city sites." John looked at Phillip. "Do you need anything?"

Phillip shook his head.

"Okay," John nodded. "I'll make sure you get dinner. Do you have a favorite food or restaurant?"

"I'm not hungry," Phillip mumbled.

John swallowed, remembering the misery he went through when his dad died as they stepped into the penthouse. "Okay. Hey, look, Alex is, he's not very loving, but if you need anything, anything, just come find me. I live like, on the floor below." John pointed to the kitchen. "That's the kitchen." He led Phillip farther through the house. "Bathroom is right there, and, here is your room." John opened the door to show Phillip the room. It had about ten boxes and a duffle bag taking up space. "Do you need help unpacking?"

Phillip shook his head. "I just want to be alone."

John nodded. "Okay, I get that. If you're hungry at any point, just, call and order something, come get me, I'll probably be here anyway, and I'll pay for it. Or Alex will. Either one."

Phillip nodded.

"Alright, well, I'll see you tomorrow," John nodded, leaving. "I'm right downstairs if you need anything."

Phillip stepped into his room, pulling down his head and placing his baseball cap on the nightstand. He flipped on his headphones and turned up his music as loud as he could. He kicked off his Adidas slip ons, falling onto the bed. He let himself break, curling up and beginning to cry. He felt like he hadn't cried since he found out. He felt so sick, so scared. In the past two days, his world turned upside down. He lost his mother, their apartment was put on the market, and he was placed in the custody of a man he didn't even know.

Phillip sat up and went to his duffle bag, ripping it open and pulling out his suit. He got undressed, then changed into it, slipping his web-shooters on his wrists. The red and blue material was soft against his skin. He slipped on his mask, as well as some basketball shorts and opened the window, looking back at the door, before jumping out the window, letting himself fall, before clicking the web shooter and beginning to swing through the streets of Manhattan. He didn't think or speak, he just swung through the streets, trying to push away the undeniable truth.

 

Chapter Text

Phillip woke up around nine, bleary-eyed. He was supposed to have a cool art club meeting today. It started in an hour and a half. Phillip picked up his phone, seeing a few texts from Theo, a few from George, a few from Angelica, and one from Peggy. He closed his eyes again and put his phone down, pulling the blanket over his head and letting himself drift off.

He woke up again around noon. He took that time to go pee, tie his hair up, and put some socks on before getting back into bed. He wasn’t physically tired anymore, but mentally he couldn’t find the motivation to get up, so he found himself scrolling through Twitter. The words didn’t make it past his eyes, but it was something to focus on. He could read if he wanted to, but all of his books were in a box about four feet away, and he would have to find an X-Acto knife, which was in his big art box, which he’d have to find scissors to open, which were all the way in the kitchen, which would force him to get up.

Phillip pulled the blanket over his head, then immediately pushed it back down again. Wow, had it really been that long since he showered? He remembered needing to shower on his way home with his mom. It had been about two days that night, and this was what, day three or four since then? A week. It had been about a week since Phillip showered. And he reeked.

“Hey.”

Phillip opened his eyes to see John.

“Someone named Theo Burr is here. Claims she’s your girlfriend, just wanted to double-check.” John looked around for a second, before looking back to Phillip.

“She is,” Phillip mumbled, pulling the blanket up to his chin.

John paused. “Do you need anything?”

“Just her,” Phillip replied quietly.

John nodded and left. Phillip figured he should probably do something to clean himself up, clean up the room, do something about the way he smelled, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to, he physically felt like he couldn’t. The blankets felt heavy, his body felt heavy. Despite his skinny frame, he felt like he weighed a thousand pounds.

He and Theo Burr had been together for about a year now. They got together around the beginning of sophomore year but had known each other since high school started. Phillip’s first real friends were Theo, and another kid named George Eaker, a stoner who was a year older than both Phillip and Theo. Phillip didn’t really have many other friends, but he loved the ones he did have.

“Oh, Phillip.”

Phillip opened his eyes to see his girlfriend standing in the doorway.

Theo Burr was a tall firecracker of a girl. She was about an inch taller than Phillip himself, with long black curly hair. Her skin was a dark brown, her eyes even darker. She had a sturdy figure, one her Russian grandmother would describe as ‘like an ox.’ She was the unstoppable force that could meet any unmovable force with as much strength and vigor as she wanted.

“Hey,” she said with a soft voice, coming and sitting down next to Phillip. She gently rubbed his back, sitting criss-cross next to him on the bed. Phillip let out a low breath, closing his eyes and trying not to cry. Theo continued gently rubbing his back, sitting on the bed. “It’s okay,” she assured him. “You’re allowed to cry.”

Phillip broke. His body shook as he began crying. He sat up and hugged Theo, burying his face in the crook of her neck as tears rolled down his cheeks. Theo held him close, mumbling small things into his ear as he cried into her. Frankly, she felt a little out of her league. She didn’t know how to help someone through a loss like this.

“Did I miss anything cool?” Phillip finally asked, pulling away and wiping his eyes.

Theo shook her head. “Nothing’s ever cool without you, you know that, Phillip Schuyler.” Theo paused, sighing. “Phillip, baby, I mean this in the nicest way, but when was the last time you showered?”

Phillip almost smiled. “It’s been a week.”

“And how about food and water?” Theo asked.

Phillip shrugged.

“Sunlight?” Theo tried.

Phillip shrugged again.

“Alright, baby, here’s what we’re gonna do,” Theo started. “You’re gonna shower, I’ll order you us some food, and then we’re gonna go on a quick walk, just to sit outside for a little bit, alright?”

“I’m really not hungry,” Phillip muttered.

Theo sighed and gently took Phillip’s hand in hers, playing with his fingers. “You still gotta eat. I know it’s been too long. I’ll order something easy on the stomach, and I’ll eat with you.” She gently kissed the side of Phillip’s head. “I know it hurts, and I’m so sorry this happened. You know I loved your mother a lot, and it breaks my heart that this happened, but I’m not gonna let you spiral. We’re gonna do a little self-care right now, alright?”

Phillip nodded and sighed shakily.

“Now, you’re gonna go shower, I’ll get you some clean clothes.” Theo helped Phillip out of bed and made sure he made it to the bathroom alright. “Just gotta shower, baby.”

Phillip nodded and leaned in, kissing her forehead. “Thank you.”

Theo gently rubbed his arm. “I’ll be here when you’re done.”

Phillip went into the bathroom and Theo got to work, pulling out her phone and ordering some Pho while finding some clean clothes for Pip. She got him some basketball shorts and a tee-shirt, as well as socks and underwear, and laid it out on his bed. She then unpacked some of the other clothes, placing them in the dresser before folding up the duffle bag and putting it in the closet. She noted that he needed more shelving, and pulled out a stack of sticky notes and a pen from his backpack, writing it down. She knew if she didn’t unpack a little for him, it wouldn’t get done for months, so she got out some stuff, unfolded his big art desk, which had been pushed into a corner, and made sure his big bin of art supplies was nearby, as well as his sketchbook and big portfolio.

Phillip was probably one of the best artists in the school, and, in Theo and Eliza’s opinion, New York. Phillip was a street artist. He was overflowing with name tag stickers, highlighters, a sketchbook full of ideas. Because street art was illegal though, much to Phillip’s distaste, a lot of art was done on big thin slats of wood, large pieces of canvas. Of course, he occasionally dabbled in watercolor, when a show was coming up and he wanted to make some money. Usually, the shows were just school things, but some of his art had made it into the mayoral building, and usually most of it sold.

Theo sighed, pulling out a framed picture of Phillip and his mom. Phillip was seven in the photo, and he and his mom were at Six Flags, most likely with Angelica or Peggy, since they weren’t taking the picture. It was sweet.

Theo put it back in the box, deciding it wasn’t the time to be hanging that up. She left the unpacking at that and only that. His art and clothes. She knew if the mood to create hit him, it could be easily pushed away by the idea of unpacking, so Theo cut out that obstacle and then placed herself on his bed, pulling out her phone.

Her dad texted her, asking her why she wasn’t home yet. She texted back that she was with Phillip and left it at that. Her father had never liked Phillip, considered him a bit of a reckless and unlawful kid. Sure, it was her dad, the chief of police, who had to deal with the fact that half the stickers that ended up on street signs were Phillip’s, but because of the reasoning voice of Theo’s mother, he never forced Phillip and Theo in a Romeo and Juliet situation.

“There he is,” Theo smiled when Phillip walked back into the room, a towel around his waist.

Phillip nodded and got dressed, turning away from Theo a bit. When he was finished, he tied up his hair and looked to his art supplies. “Thank you, Theo.”

“Your clothes are in your dresser, and I made a stick note of what you need, which is some shelving for your books,” Theo explained. She stood up and took Phillip’s hand. “Come on, let’s go wait for the food outside.”

“You just won’t let me wallow in my own filth, will you?” Phillip said, a slight joking tone threaded into the comment.

Theo shook her head. “Nope. It’s ‘cause I love you.”

Phillip almost smiled, stepping into his slip-ons and taking her hand so they could leave the building. Theo held his hand and pressed floor one on the elevator. It started to plummet and both of them, due to the fact that they were sixteen, started jumping. It felt like they were flying for a moment from the speed of the elevator.

Phillip grabbed his chest, just to imitate Theo as they jumped. Most of the time, it would’ve earned him the flick of a middle finger, but today Theo just smiled at him, rolling her eyes lightly. They stepped off onto the first floor and saw the take out guy walking in. They waved him down and paid, before taking Phillip outside to eat. He flinched and squinting at the sunlight as they both sat down on the steps.

“So, you’re livin’ with the richest guy in Manhattan now,” Theo mumbled as they dug into their food.

“I am,” Phillip nodded. “It’s not really… it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.”

“Pray tell?” Theo asked, looking up.

Phillip shrugged. “I think I’ve talked to him once. He’s not very, what’s the word… ah, yes, loving.” Phillip looked down into the Pho. “Kind of emotional whiplash.”

“That John guy seemed nice,” Theo commented.

Phillip shrugged. “Yeah, he knew enough to just give me space. He checked on me a couple of times last night, and once this morning.” Phillip paused. “Thank you, Theo, for coming over. I know this probably isn’t the funnest thing to do.”

Theo nudged Phillip. “You’ve been there for me, why shouldn’t I be there for you?” She gently kissed his shoulder. “How are you feeling?”

Phillip scratched the back of his head. “A little numb, I’m gonna be honest with you. I just…” Phillip looked back down at his food. “I can’t really believe she’s gone.” He swallowed hard. “I mean, she was my mother.”

Theo rested her forehead against Phillip’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Phillip. But you know she loved you very much, right?”

Phillip nodded.

Theo sighed. “Do you want me to come to the funeral with you, or would you like to be alone for it?”

“Please come,” Phillip requested softly. “She loved you too, she would want you to be there. Your parents can come if they want.”

Theo nodded.

The two ate in relative silence, their sides touching. When they finished the meal or as much as they could, then went back inside to the air-conditioned building. The security desk already knew who they were, so a quick nod and they were in an elevator going up.

“My dad wants me home by seven,” Theo stated as they walked into the large penthouse.

“Mm, maybe you can ignore him,” Phillip suggested as they tossed their food into the trash.

“Maybe I can not get you sent to jail for kidnapping,” Theo shot back.

Phillip groaned, pulling Theo into his arms. “Maybe it’s worth it.”

“No, you already have a warrant for your arrest in New Jersey-”

“I do not, I just got the cops called on me in New Jersey,” Phillip corrected.

Theo rolled her eyes. “So you refuse to go back why?”

Phillip shrugged.

Theo sighed, gently pushing a few strands of Phillip’s hair out of his face. “Let’s go watch some Netflix. I’m gonna braid your hair so it stays up and out of your face.”

Phillip nodded and they went back to his room. They pulled out her laptop and they both decided on The Office and Theo got to work, sitting on her knees behind Phillip and beginning to braid his hair.

Braiding Phillip’s hair was a bit of a thing between the two of them. Theo absolutely adored the curly hair Phillip had, and Phillip liked having his hair touched, so oftentimes, Theo would braid his hair. She would usually do two braids since Phillip had an undercut. A lot of the times, when it was hot, Theo would, without being asked, would throw Phillip’s hair up into a bun.

“What did I miss in the AP English meeting?” Phillip asked, knowing that he was taking that in his upcoming Junior year, and the AP classes always had an end of year meeting.

Theo shrugged. “Not much. I have a book in my bag that she was passing out, and she gave me an extra for you. Of course, knowing you, you’ve already read it.”

“Which book?” Phillip asked.

“Gatsby,” Theo answered.

“We can all agree that Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway would’ve made a better couple than Gatsby and Daisy,” Phillip mumbled. “I have my own copy.”

“Of course you do,” Theo chuckled.

Phillip sighed. “At least I have the fucking summer to mope. I’m gonna see if I can still go to those art classes I was gonna do though.”

“You shouldn’t rush yourself,” Theo stated. “No one is going to judge you for needing time.”

Phillip shook his head. “She always wanted me to do good in art. I’m not gonna let her down, not now, not ever. With great power comes great responsibility, that’s what she told me, that’s what she always said.”

Theo gently kissed the top of Phillip’s head. “You know I love you, right?”

Phillip nodded. “I love you too.”

“Alright, just making sure,” Theo chuckled.

There was a knock on the door and John stepped in, looking at Theo and Phillip. “Hey, I got away for a few seconds. Do you kids need anything?” John glanced down at the iPad in his hands, groaning at a message from Alex about rescheduling a meeting. “Food or drink or something?”

Phillip shook his head.

“Alright, well, I gotta get back to work,” John nodded. “Alex is being an ass.”

“Shocking,” Phillip muttered under his breath.

John chuckled. “Just holler if you need anything, I’ll be on floor ninety-nine.”

Phillip nodded and John left.

A few hours past, and soon enough, Theo had to go home, so they got up and walked out, Phillip gently kissing her lips before waving and walking back inside. He found the elevator and went back up to the floor he had been on all day. He found some food in the fridge, leftover Chinese food, and made his way into his room.

The way Phillip saw it, he had two options. He could eat and then sit in bed for the next couple of days, or he could eat, draw, and then sit in bed for the next couple of days. Not wanting to put in a lot of effort into anything, he grabbed his small sketchbook and a pencil and sat down, eating the cold Chinese food and drawing. He heard his father and John come in, he heard them sit down and begin to work. He even heard his father complain about the absence of some cold Chinese food. It almost made Phillip laugh, except there was the impending doom that he was, in fact, going to have to spend the rest of his child life with this man.

Phillip sighed. “Momma, please, help me get through this.”

 

Chapter Text

The summer went by. Phillip spent a lot of it inside, working on art, eating utter crap, spending time in his room, ignoring texts from his friends. He and his father didn’t talk much, if at all. To Phillip, it felt like they were more roommates than anything. John always made sure Phillip ate and had everything he needed. Phillip didn’t go out much at night, didn’t even touch his suit. He laughed at rumors that Spider-Man had perished, but truthfully? He didn’t feel like being the hero. He just wanted to be sad.

School was starting up tomorrow though, and Phillip figured it was time to go out again. It was about nine at night, and Phillip was sitting on top of a building, wearing his basketball shorts and his suit. He had gained a slight bit of weight from the fact that he had done practically nothing all summer, so instead of just wearing the tight blue and red material, he slipped on some shorts and went out.

His suit wasn’t anywhere near advanced. Light blue slim cotton pants, a long sleeve tee shirt the same shade of a blue. A red hoodie with the sleeves cut off and the Spiderman symbol painted onto it so expertly by Phillip, and then some red socks since he couldn’t wear shoes. He tried wearing shoes with his costume, but then he couldn’t stick. His mask was red, with white material covering the eyes. He could still see, which was good.

The New York air was warm, but a storm was coming. Phillip was tired, but he needed to be out. He knew he would slim down once school started back up and he started going out at night more. But he also knew he was allowed to be sad for a summer. The city still had Iron Man.

The funeral for Eliza had been sad. Alex had attended, but it was like he wasn’t even there. Angelica and Peggy had been there, and they were the only ones there for Phillip. Phillip’s mom had grown up in and out of foster care, and her only family had been the Schuylers, who took her in when she was sixteen. There weren’t a lot of people there, and Phillip was grateful for that because the fewer people who saw him break down in front of his mother’s coffin the better.

“Spidey!”

Phillip looked up to see Iron Man flying over and landing next to Phillip.

“I haven’t seen you in a while, man, I was getting worried,” Iron Man laughed.

Phillip shrugged, looking up at the sky. “Just been workin’ through some stuff. It’s hard to have a life outside of being a superhero. How’s the night look?”

“We should really be watching Fifth avenue, got some gala going on, Kingpen might try something with his goonies,” Iron Man replied. “Wanna ride?”

Phillip nodded and Iron Man flew a few feet. Phillip shot a web at Iron Man’s chest and pushed himself off the building, holding on as Iron Man flew through the streets of Manhattan to fifth street.

“What’s with the shorts?” Iron Man asked. “I mean, they fit your look, but I ain’t ever seen them on you.”

“Too much take out,” Phillip replied. “Just need to work off a bit of fat before I’m back to just this, you know?”

“I do,” Iron Man replied, laughing a bit. “It’s why I don’t wear just tight blue and red. You should let me design something for you.”

Phillip rolled his eyes as they got closer to fifth street. “What did I miss over the summer? I saw some shit on the news, but I’m gonna be honest, I was pretty tuned out for the most part.”

“Uh, Green Goblin escaped from prison, so we gotta be on a lookout for him,” Iron Man recalled. “Cops claimed to have checked Kingpins place, but you know he’s got em all in his pocket.”

Phillip snicked, thinking about Theo’s dad, the chief of police. “I don’t think he’s got all of them, but lower-level officers are easily bribed off.”

“That’s true,” Iron mumbled. “You wanna talk about what happened?”

Phillip shrugged as he was set down on the edge of the gala building, overlooking the guests. “I dunno, I just lost someone kinda important to me, shit got turned upside down. I dunno, it was weird. I didn’t exactly want a lot of shit to happen, but if I make it through these next couple of years, I’ll be good.”

“You got this,” Iron assured Phillip, sitting on the building next to him.

The two fell into silence for a little bit, watching over the streets below them. Phillip remembered when he would come home too late from doing this, and his mom would already be up for her nursing job, since she liked to have time in the morning, and she’d scold him, but there's still be half a pot of coffee for him when he woke up an hour later.

“It’s not really fair that all heroes have to have a tragic backstory,” Phillip muttered.

“They don’t have to,” Iron Man replied.

“Name one hero that doesn’t have a tragic backstory.”

Iron Man paused. “Well, Captain America-”

“He was frozen in the ice for a hundred years, he missed the entirety of The Office. Pretty tragic.”

Iron Man snorted. “The real tragedy was his hair.”

Phillip let out a laugh.

“Well, what about Hawkeye? Huh?”

“No one cares about Hawkeye, all he does is shoot arrows somewhere in Virginia.” Phillip rolled his eyes. “Does he even count?”

“You’re right.” Iron Man thought for a few more moments, tapping his fingers against his suit. “I dunno, that God who like, what did he do, he kidnapped that chick, but like, they were in love or whatever?”

“She dumped him, his mom died, his brother betrayed him. Next.”

Iron Man smiled and shook his head. “You, for a little while at least.” He paused, reading over a small news alert that appeared in his mask, before blinking for it to go away. “You still got your girl?”

“I do.” Phillip smiled a bit, though he knew Iron Man couldn’t see it. “She’s… She’s awesome. She’s like, I dunno. She’s this badass warrior queen sort of, and God, she’s beautiful.”

“When you gonna pop the question, huh?” Iron Man bumped Phillip’s side a bit. “Come on, feels like you’ve been talking about her like this since you showed up.”

Phillip laughed. “I’m pretty sure her dad would kill me. He hates me. Thinks I’m nothing but trouble. I’m gonna give it a few more years. I know she doesn’t really want to rush into anything. I could probably marry her right now, though.” Phillip paused, remembering the way his mom would tease him and occasionally send him links to engagement rings, always saying ‘this one would go with her eyes’ or something like that. Deciding Phillip didn’t want to fall down this rabbit hole, he looked to Iron Man. “What about you?”

“You know, still trying to woo someone who’s not ever gonna like me the way I like them. It be like that.” Iron Man sighed. “Maybe someday.”

“Maybe someday.” Phillip leaned back, sighing as he slipped down the side of the building a bit so he could have something to press his back against. It had been bugging him. “I think I fucked up my back.”

“How so?”

“I dunno, just kinda woke up like that. It’s been bothering me.” Phillip tried to pop it but winced. “I haven’t been to a chiropractor in forever.”

“I’d schedule an appointment,” Iron Man suggested.

Phillip sighed a bit, wondering how he was gonna get Alex’s insurance cards. “Good idea.”

-

The next morning, Phillip dragged himself from bed. It was the first day of school, and he hadn’t seen anyone, with a small exception of Theo and George. Any plans he had went out the window. Sometimes he texted people to let them know, sometimes he didn’t. He was supposed to go on a drive with a few of Theo’s friends and Theo down to Philly for Fourth Of July, but he spent his fourth watching shitty daytime television and trying to draw.

But, with the end of summer, came the end of Phillip doing nothing but moping and eating pizza rolls. He was convinced the sauce was the only reason he didn’t develop scurvy.

He was a bit self-conscious about the obvious weight gain but threw on some basketball shorts, a hoodie, and some vans slip ons. His hair was freshly washed, and up in a ponytail. Theo had already sent him a picture of her first day of school outfit, a pair of denim overall shorts and a flannel over them, to which Phillip had replied with the ‘I love you, bitch’ vine.

Phillip walked out into the kitchen, seeing John sleeping, leaning over the kitchen island, papers spread around him. Phillip gently pushed his shoulder. “Hey.”

John shot up. “I’m awake mister Hamilton!”

Phillip paused. “You know, you have a bed. Actually, you have a whole penthouse. Well, I supposed a Penthouse would be on the top floor, but-”

“Yeah, yeah, I just fell asleep,” John mumbled, yawning. “What are you doing up?”

“First day of school, I gotta be up early if I wanna catch the subway to Queens, ‘cause that’s where my school is.” Phillip opened the fridge. “Does Alex never eat anything he prepared himself?”

“No, he’s rich, why would he do something himself?” John snorted a bit as he stood up. “Can you press the button on the coffee machine?” John found the sandwich he had been eating around three am last night and took a bite. “Do you want me to just arrange for a ride for you? Or you could just borrow a car if you’ve got your license.”

Phillip paused, the container of Chinese take out in his hand. “What kind of cars do you got?”

“What kind of cars don’t we got?” John chuckled. “What car would you like?”

“Do you have a Lamborghini?”

“We have three.”

-

Phillip, for the first time all summer it felt, was laughing out of pure joy as he drove down the Manhattan streets. The yellow Lamborghini was so low to the ground he felt like he was lying on the concrete. Radio up, headed to Theo’s house. He had gotten in the car, started it, then promised to pick Theo up. He had also made a mental goal to drive every single car in the garage.

It felt so good to just drive like this. He maybe was going too fast, but this car had Hamilton Industries license plates, no one was gonna pull him over.

Phillip whizzed through the streets of Queens until he got to his girlfriend's apartment building. He got out of the car, leaning against it and texting her that he was there. He felt a bit underdressed but had found a pair of sunglasses in the glove compartment that made him look cool. He texted George, asking him if he was ready for school. George replied with a selfie of him, still in bed, his middle finger up.

“Phillip… who’s car is that?”

Phillip looked up at Theo and her dad, who always walked her out. “It’s mine.”

“You bought a Lamborghini? Nice try, who’s is it?” Aaron asked.

“Okay, so it’s not mine, but-”

“Phillip!” Theo gasped. “You stole a car?”

“No!” Phillip intervened. “No, no, it’s Alex’s.”

Theo gasped, laughing a bit. “Does he know you have it?”

“Well, no, but his assistant does!” Phillip smiled. “Now can we freak out about it?”

“Yes!” Theo jumped a bit. “Holy crap, that’s such a cool car! Also, the sunglasses? I like them. Did you buy those?”

“No, I found them.”

“Okay, hold on, before I let my daughter drive around in this death trap-”

“It’s not a death trap,” Phillip mumbled.

Aaron heaved a sigh. “Who is Alex?”

“My… parent,” Phillip answered. “I moved to Manhattan with him after what happened, and he has an assistant, and the assistant has been making sure I’m like, alive, and the assistant lent me the car so I could get to school.”

Aaron nodded. “Ah, yes.” He kissed his daughter on her head. “Have a good first day, sweetheart. Come home by five, your momma is cooking Mexican.”

“Okay, baba.” Theo smiled. After Aaron was out of earshot, Theo turned to Phillip and kissed him. “You are just full of surprises.”

“It’s only one,” Phillip pointed out.

“Mm, and the fact that I got all dolled up for the first day and you threw on the hoodie you’ve been wearing since freshman year,” Theo complained.

“Hey! I wore sunglasses!” Phillip laughed, pecking her lips. “Here, put your bag in the trunk, then let’s head out.” Phillip got into the car and popped the trunk, which was in the front instead of the back. “Okay, there we go.”

“So Alex seriously doesn’t know you have his car?” Theo inquired as she tossed her bag in the trunk and closed it.

“It’s not his only one, so I should be fine.” Phillip buckled up his seatbelt, waiting for his girlfriend to get it. “Maybe I’ll just pick a new car every day for the rest of the school year, and we can just pull up and be that couple.”

“We have never been that couple. If anything, it’s Lauren and Paul.”

“Who the hell names their kid Paul?”

Theo snorted. “Paul’s parents.”

“Our kids are gonna be named Luke and Leiah.”

“No Star Wars!” Theo laughed. “I like… I really like Anthony, Tony for short, or Peter. Peter is a really cute name. Virginia if it’s a girl, though, or Mary.”

“Peter seems like a spaz,” Phillip chuckled.

“That’s your child you’re talking about!” Theo slapped Phillip’s thigh.

“Well, he’s currently not alive, and the Lambo doesn’t have room for a car seat, so…” Phillip snorted a bit, pushing up his sunglasses. “I don’t think I’ve seen Alex in a few days.”

“Has he been gone?”

“No, it’s just a big apartment, and I only have been coming out of my room at noon and three am, so usually I just run into John.” Phillip. turned on his blinker, checking his rearview mirror to make sure no one was coming up behind him too fast.

Theo opened the glove compartment, looking around in it to see what it had. “What’s John doing in your apartment at three am?”

“He ‘n’ Alex work late together in the living room, so usually he’s passed out on the couch. I’ve started waking him up and stuff, just so he can go sleep in his own room.” Phillip scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Alex just goes to bed and leaves him there.”

“Is your dad-”

“Not my dad,” Phillip corrected quickly.

“Sorry, is Alex like, ADHD or autistic or something? I mean, he’s obviously insanely smart, but he’s terrible with people and in interviews, he never stays on the same topic, and he just… I dunno. Did you ever root around in the medicine cabinet to see what he’s got?”

Phillip shook his head. “We don’t use the same bathroom. Mine is just across the hall from where I sleep, and his is connected to his bathroom, I think. I dunno, I’ve yet to really explore the place.”

“You’ve been living there all summer, what have you been doing?” Theo laughed.

“Drawing and watching shitty day time television, moping, gaining weight.”

Theo reached over and placed her hand on Phillip’s thigh. “You look fine.”

“Yeesh. I usually lose ten pounds in the summer, not gain twenty. Football tryouts are in a few days though, so I’ll lose it.”

“Boys, so finicky,” Theo huffed. “For the record, I like it.”

“It’s a dad bod,” Phillip complained, pulling into the school parking lot.

“Yeah, that’s the new thing, Phillip. Dad bods are hot.” Theo flipped down the sun visor to check her makeup.

“Skipping the first day of school and smoking weed with me in my penthouse is hot too,” Phillip tried, smiling mischievously.

“Funny.” Theo flipped up the sun visor. “Come on, George is already here.”

Phillip popped the trunk before taking the keys out of the ignition. “How the hell is George already here? Fifteen minutes ago I got a selfie of him in bed still.”

Theo laughed, grabbing her bag, along with Phillips and closing the trunk. “You know he lives close and moves fast. He’s shorter than both of us but damn, he can run.”

“You think I can get him to join football this year?” Phillip asked.

“Prolly not, you know he’s a nerd.”

“Yo, Schuyler! Nice car! Who you fuckin’ with to get that kinda treatment?” A guy on the football team called out.

“Your mom!” Phillip replied.

“So vulgar,” Theo commented, taking Phillip’s hand.

Phillip leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Mm, I love you, and I know that if you love me too…”

It took seconds for Theo to burst into song. “What a wonderful world this would be!”

“My theatre gal. You think Hovest is gonna do a musical this year?” Phillip asked.

“I hope so. Newsies was fucking exhausting last year, but it was pretty intense.” Theo suddenly waved. “Georgey!”

George Eaker stood up, smiling, eating his Cheetos with chopsticks. “Hey, guys!”

“George, use your fingers like a normal fucking person,” Phillip snorted, reaching into the bag and getting a handful.

“Haven’t seen you in a damn minute, Schuyler, where you been?” George asked, punching Phillip’s shoulder lightly.

“Ask your dad,” Phillip smiled, earning a groan from Theo. “Football this year, Georgey, come on, at least tryouts.”

“I’m a book kid, you know this Phillip. Why don’t you get your artsy-fartsy girlfriend to join?” George suggested, pointing to Theo. “She’s got the thighs of some warrior princess.”

“I’m not allowed to join the boy's football team,” Theo deadpanned.

“It’s twenty nineteen, gender is but a construct,” George chuckled. “Where you livin’ now, Pip? I stopped by ‘round your place around June, but it was empty as fuck.”

“Yeah, I’m over in Manhattan now,” Phillip mumbled, walking up.

“Aye! Traitor!” George laughed. “Why you livin’ in Manhattan?”

Phillip looked at George, a flat look on his face. “My mom died.”

George looked over at Phillip, brows creased. “Yeah, dude, are you okay?”

“Dude, it’s fine, don’t worry, I’ve had all summer to mope, and it shows, I’m kinda ready to like, be… normal again.”

“Mm, well, you can be normal with whoever, but not with us,” Theo chuckled. “You know we don’t do normal.”

“Yeah, of course, you don’t,” Phillip laughed, hearing the bell ring. “Okay, let’s get started.”

-

“My car! Where is my car!” Alex yelled, storming through the office. “Where is my fucking car! Where is it? Where’s Pepper? Where’s Phillip?”

“John’s in your office, sir,” someone called out.

“Thank you for not joining in the flock of incompetence!” Alex stormed to his office and threw open the door. “Johnathan Laurens, I demand you call the police right now!”

“Oh? Why so?” John asked in a bored tone.

“Someone has stolen my car!” Alex sat down in a big huff. “I can’t believe this, I pay for security and this happens? Well, jokes on them, because I have trackers in all my cars.”

“Yes, for when you forget which club you were at last month because you got hammered and woke up in Harlem?” John raised an eyebrow amusedly.

“Why are you just sitting there? My car has been stolen! Call the police!” Alex crossed his arms, tapping his foot impatiently.

“Your car has not been stolen,” John sighed. “You do have a meeting at three though, and-”

“Then where is my car?” Alex exclaimed.

“I’m guessing somewhere in Queens, seeing as Phillip is only just now getting out of school. He texted me and said he was to take his girlfriend home and go get some food with one of his friends so he should be back around four?” John hummed. “Anyway, this meeting-”

“Tell him not to eat in the car. You leant him my yellow Lamborghini?” Alex threw his hands up. “How could you, John? Why would you do that? You know that’s one of my favorites.”

“Yeah, I leant him that car, and I also took him back to school shopping, and I made sure he had enough clothes, and I made sure he had a good lunch for the first day, and I wished him luck and gave him a hug.” John let out a long sigh. “I shouldn’t be parenting for you, Alex, but just like everything else-”

“Oh, you think you do everything for me? I do plenty of things on my own.” Alex glared at his assistant.

“Like fuck you do!” John stood up, setting his iPad down on Alex’s desk. “You think you can do all this? Fine! You do it. You schedule things, you make sure everything is in order, you make sure your clients are happy. Lord knows I could use an afternoon off.”

“Wait, John, wait, where are you going?” Alex asked, feeling panic begin to rise in his chest.

“To take a goddamn nap, in my bed, not bent over your kitchen table, like I do every night.” John huffed. “Good luck.”

“John, you walk out of my office, you’re fired,” Alex threatened.

“Like fuck I am.” John laughed, looking back at Alex over his shoulder. “You need me. You know you do. I’m the only assistant you’ve kept for this long, and there’s a reason for that, but I’m not about to be a goddamn doormat. If you think you can do what I do for you? Then fine, you have…” John looked at his watch. “Three hours and forty minutes of this. Have a nice evening mister Hamilton.”

John smiled victoriously as he walked out of Alex’s office. He waved to a few of his coworkers and got in the elevator, going to his floor of the building. John got a text from his ex, telling him that Frances was coming over this Friday. John smiled, texting his daughter and asking her what she wanted to do this weekend.

John didn’t exactly enjoy that he only saw his daughter every other weekend, but he knew it was for the best. He worked a lot and didn’t have a lot of time to be a good parent. Also, there wasn’t much for her to do where John lived. Sure, it was big, but it was very minimalist as John enjoyed. A lot of open spaces, windows, not very entertaining, except for the TV and Xbox system. But, she couldn’t play video games for a week straight.

John got to his place and instantly went to the bathroom, turning on the shower. He felt a little antsy, knowing he wasn’t working, but the hot shower helped. Perhaps the job was shitty, but the perks were absolutely amazing. John was pretty sure there was a maid service that stopped by once a week, but John was a clean person by himself, so not much ever changed. If he had a half-full laundry basket though, he would always come home to it folded on his bed, perfectly washed.

John finished his shower and got on some sweatpants - sweatpants! At two in the afternoon! - before sitting down in front of his TV with some takeout and an Xbox controller. He put on his headset, turned on Grand Theft Auto, and let himself forget that he was supposed to be working. 

“No, no, dude, bazooka, get the-” John paused when he heard the elevator open, looking over. “Hold on guys.”

In walked Phillip. Phillip paused, looked around, and then looked at John. “I’m on the wrong floor.”

“Well, you’re always welcomed anyway,” John shrugged.

Phillip peered over. “Are you playing GTA?”

“I am,” John nodded.

“Do you, can I-”

John cut off Phillip’s request. “Headset and controller are under the TV, this round is almost over, and then we can add you.”

“Yo, bro! Who you talkin’ to?” One of John’s GTA buddies asked.

“My friend Phillip,” John answered, shooting a cop. “He’s gonna play with us next round.”

“A’ight.”

The round finished up and John added Phillip into the game quickly. Phillip got comfortable, sitting criss-cross as the game started. John nudged the takeout box filled with an unreasonable amount of cold chicken tenders towards Phillip as they began playing.

“Okay, guys, Phillip is only sixteen so please don’t say anything too gross!” John requested into the headset.

“Why are you hanging out with a sixteen-year-old?” Someone, John couldn’t really tell who, asked.

“‘Cause he’s my neighbor and my friend,” John answered. “Okay, let’s go kill cops.”

“Whoo!” Phillip cheered.

The two of them played for another hour or so, before getting bored and scrolling through the TV channels. They ended up agreeing on the second half of the fourth Sharknado movie, which they had both seen and enjoyed.

Both of them were rather surprised when Alex burst into the apartment angrily, throwing his arms up. “I shut down the office for the day!”

“I”m guessing my job is hard, hm?” John asked, taking his iPad back from Alex.

“You’re getting a raise,” Alex mumbled grumpily. He then turned to Phillip. “And since when is it okay to take my car?”

“I needed a ride to Queens,” Phillip shrugged.

“So take the bus! Or the subway!” Alex threw his arms up.

“Alex, you have about eighteen cars, I don’t think it’s going to kill you if Phillip takes one of them to school in the morning.” John took a bite of a cold chicken tender. “Buy him his own if you’re so upset about it.”

“We could transfer him to a Manhattan school,” Alex mumbled to himself.

“No, we will not,” John stated.

“Yeah!” Phillip huffed. “I like my school, Alex.”

“Yeah, I don’t like you calling me Alex, it’s Mr. Hamilton to you,” Alex started.

John burst out laughing. “That’s just ridiculous. I don’t even call you Mr. Hamilton.”

“You called me that today!” Alex gasped.

“Sarcastically.” John rolled his eyes and looked at Phillip. “This is what I have to deal with every day.” John looked back to Alex. “Look, if you don’t want him using your cars, then you have to buy him his own. He has a license, and he obviously can drive well.”

“Then fine! I’ll buy you a car if you leave mine alone.” Alex huffed. “Pepper, what car should I buy him?”

“Don’t call me that. Muscle car,” John answered simply.

“Great, could you get on that? I got work to do.” Alex waved almost before exiting the apartment to head to his own.

“Is he just, is he…” Phillip shook his head, closing his eyes. “All the dad’s in the world, I had to get the douche bag with control issues.”

John sighed. “He, he’s not that bad, sometimes.”

“He didn’t check on me once this entire summer.” Phillip crossed his arms. “He’s a shit parent. I don’t know how my mother put up with him.”

“Well, she obviously didn’t for very long.”

Phillip almost chuckled.

“Alex did love your mother very much, I know he did, he just, he’s not a very good husband. They were close friends though, even if you never knew it. I met your Mother, I met her several times actually, she was quite sweet. I can see where you get it from.”

Phillip sniffled and wiped his eyes. “I miss her.”

John muted the TV and pulled Phillip into a gentle hug. “I know you do. The hardest thing in the world is to lose a parent.”

A small hiccup escaped Phillip’s chest. “I miss having a parent who loves me.”

“Oh, honey, Alex loves you,” John assured Phillip.

“No, he doesn’t.”

John sighed. “I promise you, he does. He just… he has issues with showing any other emotions besides irritable and cocky.”

Phillip laughed a little bit.

“And if Alex can’t be there for you, then I can. I care about you very much, Phillip. You remind me of my daughter in some ways.” John patted Phillip’s shoulder. “So if you ever need a family dinner, someone to talk to, someone to play video games with, or even just company, I’ll be here.”

Phillip nodded, smiling a bit. “Thank you.”

“So, tell me, how was your first day of school?” John asked. “Did anything fun happen?”

“I got to see a bunch of people I hadn’t seen all summer, which was nice. I’m gonna try to play either basketball or football, not both though. I think I’ll probably have better luck with basketball because I have more time to get in shape for tryouts.”

“I’ll always go play with you. We have a court in the gym in this building. Fifteenth floor, by the way, if you wanna know,” John offered.

“Thanks,” Phillip smiled. “Oh, and, and, there’s an art show that my art teacher wants me to enter my art in. I have about three weeks before I need to enter, so I hope I can make a few new pieces, not just enter my old ones.” Phillip thought for a moment. “Oh, my girlfriend’s dad, he did think I stole that car.”

“Does he not like you or something?” John asked.

Phillip shook his head. “No, no, not at all. Says I’m too reckless. He’s the chief of police though, so I figure he would say that about anyone who dated his daughter.”

“Dude! You’re dating the daughter of the chief of police?” John gasped, laughing. “That takes balls.”

“I really didn’t know he was the chief of police until I started dating her and as some intimidation method, he told me he was the chief of Queens police, and like, I just nodded, said that it was cool, and then it was time to eat dinner.” Phillip snickered a bit. “He just, he doesn’t like me. I don’t know why, I don’t think I’m a bad kid.”

“It’s because you’re dating his daughter,” John answered. “I mean, when my daughter dates, there’s no way I’m gonna like any boy she dates. Not a chance.”

“She’s bound to,” Phillip pointed out.

“I don’t have to like it,” John replied.

Phillip chuckled. “I should probably head up to my room. I gotta get some work done.”

“On the first day?” John laughed.

“Got a quiz in APUSH tomorrow,” Phillip shrugged. “Gotta know the key members of the federalist party, as well as the democratic-republicans.”

“They’re all stupid old white men, they don’t matter,” John chuckled.

“You’re not wrong,” Phillip shrugged, standing up. “Thanks, it was nice to do something besides mope in my room.”

“You’re always welcomed, Phillip,” John nodded.

Phillip grabbed his bag and made his way upstairs. Alex was nowhere to be seen, but Phillip didn’t mind that. He found some leftovers and began studying at the kitchen counter. He ate and studied a bit, before deciding it was time to go out. He put on his suit, opened his window, and shot his web to a building nearby. He was headed to Queens, just to look over the place, and then, hopefully, stop by Theo’s place for a bit. He had managed to hide a hoodie and some large sweats up high using some web fluid, so it worked out.

-

“Spiderman has appeared on my radar,” Jarvis announced.

Alex looked up. “Where’s he at?”

A screen showed up in front of Alex, a projection from what was obviously a street camera. You could see Spiderman sitting on top of a building, eating a bagel, scrolling through his phone. Alex smiled, standing up.

“Jarvis, suit me up.” Alex stood up and parts of his suit began flew onto him, connecting, until soon enough, he was Iron Man. He walked out onto his balcony, sighing for a second before taking off, headed to Queens.

“Sir, an incoming call from John Laurens.” John contact appeared on the screen in Alex’s mask.

“Accept it,” Alex answered.

“Hamilton,” John groaned. “Can you not take off so loudly?”

“Sorry, sorry, I’ll work on that.” Alex chuckled. “Jarvis, make a note to work on mufflers. Is there anything else I can help you with, John?”

“Yeah, you should probably be nicer to your son, since, you know, you’re his only parent,” John suggested.

“He has you,” Alex scoffed.

“I’m not his parent.” John sighed. “You mean something to him, whether he wants you to, whether you want him to. You are his parent. Step it up.”

“End call,” Alex huffed. “Jarvis, how do I be a good parent?”

“Sir, I have run some calculations and decided that you are not parenting material, and would highly suggest you do not have kids.”

“Go to sleep, Jarvis,” Alex muttered.

Alex continued his trek to Queens, where he found Spiderman sitting on top of a building, popping the last bite of a bagel in his mouth. Alex waved and sat next to Spiderman, smiling a bit under his mask.

“Wassup, Spidey?”

“Eh.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Spiderman sighed, pulling out a packet of Skittles. “What’s up with you?”

“I don’t get teenagers.” Alex shook his head. “I mean, maybe I’m not total parent material, but they just, I don’t get them.”

“I don’t either,” Spiderman chuckled. “What’s the problem? Maybe I can help.”

“I dunno, I just, I feel like teenagers aren’t the same species as us. I mean, they just…” Alex shook his head. “I dunno, Spidey, I don’t know how to parent a teen.”

Spiderman thought for a moment. “Maybe just give them space, but not too much space. But don’t like, smother them.” Spidey laughed. “Like, let them grow as a person, but remind them that you’re still their dad, and you love them no matter what.”

Alex nodded. “That’s smart. Do you have kids?”

Spiderman shook his head. “Not yet. The missus wants a load of them, though, but we’re still young. We’re gonna give it a bit, get married first.”

“Ah, marriage, my one failure in this world.” Alex laughed. “What about you?”

“Just workin’ through some family stuff, tryna understand why my mom would marry a douche.” Spiderman sighed. “It don’t matter too much anymore, I guess, but still. It’s just, I dunno.” A laugh escaped his chest. “Families are overrated sometimes.”

“You’re tellin’ me,” Alex sighed. He was about to say more when he spotted something going on. He nudged Spiderman and pointed to a bank. “Yo, check it.”

Inside, there were four men, wearing masks and messing with the ATM. Spiderman pushed himself off the building and shot a web out to help him swing down to the street level while Alex used his blasters to lower himself down.

Spiderman pushed open the door and stood behind the men, sighing, checking his wrist impatiently. “Is this gonna take much longer? I have my nephews birthday party in ten and I need to get him a present.”

The robbers turned around to see Spiderman, Iron Man right behind him, chuckling a bit.

One of the robbers pulled out a gun but Spiderman was already on it, grabbing it with one of his webs. Two charged Alex, who easily batted them away. One was struggling with a bag, and Alex about to go get them, but they pulled out a gun and shot at Alex. It wasn’t a bullet, it was a blast of purple energy that shut off everything in his suit. Alex fell back a bit, hitting the wall and sliding down.

“Jarvis, Jarvis, what happened?”

“Sir, your suit will take thirty seconds to reboot,” Jarvis answered.

“Shit, shit, shit.” Alex looked over to see Spiderman, who seemed to have a bit more than what he could handle. “Jarvis, can we hurry it up?”

“Fifteen seconds, sir,” Jarvis answered.

“Hold on, Spidey, I’ll be right there,” Alex mumbled to himself. The man with the gun was reloading it, getting ready to point it at Spiderman. Alex felt his breathing speed up. He knew Spiderman didn’t have the same armor he did. “Come on, come on, come on.”

“Reboot complete.”

Alex instantly blasted the man with the gun, sending him into the wall. Spiderman shot a web at the man, who dropped the blaster.

“Spidey, behind you!” Alex called out.

Spiderman ducked and Alex shot a blaster at the man with the wrench. Someone with a knife slashed at Spiderman, but missed, and was shot against the wall with webbing. The last of the robbers were tied up as police arrived. Alex and Spiderman waved to the cops before Spiderman shot some webbing to the chest part of Alex’s suit and they both went flying into the night. Alex jumped when Spiderman suddenly let go, dropping to the street, but laughed when he saw the guy getting a churro.

“Give me some warning!” Alex called out, landing and coming over.

“Sorry, I have my wallet on me, and I wanted a churro.” Spiderman laughed as he held out two fingers. “I’ll get you one too.”

“You don’t have to,” Alex chuckled.

“I have the money.” Spiderman handed a churro to Alex, and then took one for himself, pulling his mask up a bit and taking a bite. “I love Queens. It got better street food than Manhattan.”

“Liar,” Alex scoffed.

“No, it’s true, ‘cause Manhattan got all them hipsters. Queens is hella free of that shit. The hipsters ain’t traveled up to us yet.”

“Cost of livin’ still wack though.”

“It ain’t. I lived in a two-bedroom for eighteen hundred a month for a while. Moved in with some sort of family right now, but I miss the place, gonna head back when the time is right.”

Alex looked over. “Dude, if you’re struggling with money, I can help.”

Spiderman shook his head. “No, no, it’s just, it’s complicated. I just have to wait a few things out right now. It’s not awful though, there are some good parts.” He laughed a bit. “I got a cool art thing that I’m gonna be involved in. Do you know what time it is?”

“About eleven,” Alex answered.

“I should get home. Will you be good without me?”

Alex nodded. “You go, see ya lady. I’ll handle it just fine. Probably head down to Brooklyn, seen how they doin’ and shit like that.”

Spiderman finished off his churro and waved, pushing himself off the building and beginning to swing through the streets. Alex smiled to himself. That was a funny kid, but he was good, smart. Alex knew he should probably be feeling fatherly over his actual son, but he couldn’t help but feel that for Spiderman. Obviously, he was young, maybe in his early twenties, and Alex hoped that someday they could drop the secret identities and just be friends, real friends. The kid was smart, and Alex knew he’d made an awesome addition to Hamilton industries. It hurt Alex to know the kid was struggling with his family, but he was glad he could be there for him.

-

Phillip had a backpack he had webbed to the top of the doorway on the roof of Theo’s place. It just had a quick change of clothes in it, sneakers, a hoodie, and some joggers. Phillip changed out of his suit quickly and into his regular clothes, just so Theo didn’t know who he was. He then climbed the fire escape until he got to her window, gently tapping it.

Theo was an insomniac and thrived off of a solid six hours, so oftentimes, she wasn’t in bed until midnight. This meant, when Phillip tapped on her window, she was quick to open it, letting him in and giggling to herself quietly.

“There’s my boy,” she smiled. “It’s nice to have you sneaking into my room again.”

“It’s nice to be back.” Phillip pecked her lips before quietly flopping down on her bed. “Whatcha doin’?”

Theo sat at her desk chair, sighing. “Math.”

“Gross,” Phillip mumbled.

“Yah, Dad wanted me to be in that advanced class, so we got homework every goddamn night.” Theo groaned. “Why are you the only light in my life right now?”

Phillip shrugged, smiling. “‘Cause I’m dummy thick.”

Theo snorted, covering her mouth so she wouldn’t laugh too loud and wake her parents.

“Hnnng, Theo, I be tryin’ to sneak into your room, but I’m dummy thick, and the clap of my asscheeks keeps waking up your dad.”

Theo had to bite down on her thumb to stop herself from laughing. Phillip laughed too, biting the inside of his cheek. He smiled at Theo, feeling his cheeks heat up. She was so pretty when she laughed.

“I love you,” Phillip breathed out.

Theo smiled. “I love you too. Do you know anything about calculus?”

“This is what you get for taking Geometry in eighth grade. Now you’re a junior and taking AP calc. No, I don’t, because I’m a science kid, and taking Algebra two.” Phillip looked at Theo’s walls, smiling at a few pictures the two of them had taken together. Some were of them at Coney Island for their six month anniversary. “You know, baby, our one year is coming up.”

“September eighth,” Theo smiled. “What should we do?”

“What day is September eighth?”

“Saturday,” Theo answered.

“Then how about we spend the day together, hm?” Phillip, looked at his girlfriend, who was leaning over her homework. “We could go to Manhattan, or, or, we could wake up early, go to Six flags.”

“Do we have the money for six flags?” Theo asked.

“I live with a billionaire, I’ll just ask his assistant for some money.” Phillip laughed a bit. “We could take, take the Lambo, or we could take a convertible. It’s an hour and a half, we could get on the road by seven, be there by nine-thirty, I could get us a fast pass, and we could spend the day there. You know, take naps in the grassy area together. We can bring extra clothes so we can change after the water rides.”

“I wonder if my dad would let me go alone,” Theo chuckled.

“Oh, baby, you don’t have to tell him,” Phillip tried.

“Yeah, okay, and then we’ll have the entire state looking for us.”

Phillip waved his hand. “Everything is legal in New Jersey.”

Theo smiled, standing up and sitting on her bed with Phillip. “You are trouble, Phillip.”

“Nah, babygirl, I’m just…” Phillip thought for a moment. “I’m just fun.”

Theo rolled her eyes and laid down next to Phillip, sighing. “Do you like Manhattan more than Queens?”

Phillip shook his head. “Not really, it’s too… touristy. I miss Queens.”

“Queens misses you.” Theo rolled on her side, brushing a few curls out of her boyfriend’s face. “My momma wants you and your… Alex to come over for dinner.”

“Why?”

“She said she wants to meet your family.”

Phillip cringed. “She’d have better luck meeting his assistant.” Phillip laughed bitterly. “It’s such bullshit because Alex is my actual dad and yet John is the only one who checks in on me, who lets me talk to him. Today, we played GTA and watched Sharknado together, and Alex only yelled at me for using his car.”

Theo sighed. “That’s bullshit. I dunno, you don’t have to invite him if you want, I can give my mom an excuse of why it’s just you.”

“No, I’ll invite him. Maybe he’ll, I dunno, step up. I haven’t really tried much either, so, maybe shit can change, you know?” Phillip looked at his girlfriend. “Mm, I like you, Theo Burr.”

“I like you too, Phillip.” Theo leaned in and kissed Phillip’s lips. “Did you just eat a churro?”

“I did,” Phillip chuckled.

“Mm, I wanna churro, kiss me again.”

Phillip laughed, kissing her again. “I should probably head home.” He sat up, stretching a bit. “Hey, I’ll see you, alright? I’ll pick you up tomorrow. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Go to sleep.” Phillip kissed Theo’s forehead. “Night, babe.”

Theo pulled a blanket over herself. “Night, babe.”

Phillip climbed out her window, blowing one last kiss to her before climbing up to the roof again, changing back into his suit and beginning his trek back to Manhattan. He caught a train going across a bridge, and then stopped to get a smoothie. He somehow climbed the Hamilton building with only three limbs and got into his room, breathing heavily. He set his smoothie down and got changed into some sweats and a tee-shirt. He turned on his lamp for his art desk and began drawing, sipping his smoothie until it was empty. He tossed it and continued on the sketch he was doing. He finished off his smoothie and tossed the cup, continuing his sketch.

Phillip jumped when there was a knock on his door. He rubbed his eyes a bit, looking at the blaring one am on his alarm clock before clearing his throat. “Come in!”

The door opened and surprisingly, Alex poked his head through. “Hey, why are you still up?”

“Just, working,” Phillip muttered, looking back at his arm. “Lost track of time.”

Alex nodded, almost awkwardly. “Well, you have school tomorrow, you should sleep, alright?”

Phillip nodded, yawning. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”

Alex paused, standing awkwardly. “There’s a Tesla roadster, model three, in the garage. Elon gave it to me for my birthday last year, but I don’t really like it. It’s the red car in the back. It’s yours if you want it.”

Phillip was a bit surprised by this. “Uh, yeah, sure.”

Alex coughed and pulled out the keys, coming forward and handing them to Phillip. “You do need a ride to school. Its plugin is right in front of it, so you just gotta remember to plug it in when you get here.”

Phillip nodded.

Alex shifted on his feet awkwardly for a second. “Well, go to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Alright,” Phillip nodded.

Alex paused for a second in the doorway of Phillip’s room. “Goodnight, Phillip.”

“Goodnight, Alex,” Phillip replied.

Alex left, both of them feeling a little awkward and uncomfortable. Phillip took Alex’s advice though, shutting off his light and going to his bed, lying down and closing his eyes. He almost smiled as he drifted into sleep. Maybe things were changing.

 

Chapter Text

Honestly, y'all prolly don't know how much it hurts to write Pip and Alex like this

Phillip knocked on Alex’s office. “Hey, uh, Alex?”

Something on the other side of the door was knocked over. A few more noises were made before Alex’s voice came through. “Come in.”

Phillip timidly stepped in, never having seen Alex’s office before. It was pretty cool, Phillip had to admit it. Very high tech, very open, big windows. John was sitting in the corner, sipping coffee and filling out forms. Phillip waved to him before looking to Alex. “Uh, my girlfriend’s parents invited us to dinner, and I mean, you don’t have to come, but, I mean, if you want to, it would be alright.”

“Tell John, he’ll put it in my calendar,” Alex mumbled, not looking up from his work.

John smiled a bit sarcastically, looking at Phillip. “Hey, hun, when's dinner?”

“Uh, this Friday, there were hoping,” Phillip shrugged.

“Great, Alex has nothing in his calendar,” John smiled, clicking on a few things. “Alright, do you have an address?”

“Yes, the apartment building on sixty-sixth in Rego Park. It’s the building right next to ninety-nine nineteen, sixty-sixth road parking garage. Theo’s apartment is apartment eighteen D, on the fourth floor.” Phillip was surprised at how quickly John could write. He was following along quite well. Phillip gazed back over at Alex, who didn’t seem to be paying attention. “Do you think any of this information has absorbed in his head at all?”

“I’m listening,” Alex deadpanned, huffing a bit.

Phillip laughed.

John looked up at Phillip. “Alright, he’ll be there. If he’s not, I’ll kick his ass.”

“I’m still listening!” Alex huffed annoyedly, turning around in his chair.

John snickered. “Alright, do you need anything, Phillip? Dinner? Money?”

Phillip shook his head. “No, no, thank you though. I’ll be fine. Uh, yeah. I’m gonna go work on some art, yeah. I might order a pizza.”

John pulled out a wallet and handed Phillip a fifty dollar bill. “There you go.”

“I can’t take your money,” Phillip said slowly.

“Don’t think of it as my money, think of it as his,” John smiled.

Phillip paused, then nodded and took the money. “Thank you.” Phillip waved a bit to John and would’ve waved to Alex as well if not for the fact that Alex was currently balls deep in his work. Disappointed but not surprised, Phillip sighed a bit and walked out of the room, going to go get himself dinner.

“Why do you do that?” John asked once Phillip was out of earshot.

“Do what?” Alex asked.

“Ignore him,” John answered.

Alex let out a long sigh. “I don’t ignore him.”

“You can’t look up from your work for two seconds, you can’t say, ‘sure Phillip, of course, I’ll come to dinner with the parents of someone very important in your life.’ I mean, Alex, it’s obvious you aren’t parenting material, but you can at least show a little effort, you know?”

The businessman groaned as he pulled back up the screen of the edits he was making for his suit. “Jarvis, run diagnostics on my blasters.” Alex turned to John. “Look, I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. Do you know what I was doing at sixteen? I was living on my own, I was working, going to school, and taking small steps to start my own business. I know first hand that no sixteen-year-old needs coddling. If I knew Eliza as I did, I know she babied him and coddled him and gave him everything he wanted. He needs some tough love.”

“He needs a loving parent.” John let out a long breath of air. “God, Alex, you really shouldn’t use yourself as an example. You isolate your emotions from people and look at you! You are in your late forties, you’ve been married and divorced, what, three times? You don’t date, you don’t even show love to your friends, the few you have. You didn’t get love as a child, and you refuse to show emotion as an adult.”

“Yeah, well sometimes that’s just how life is,” Alex snapped. “I didn’t ask for that bullshit, but it still happened, and you know what? It made me a hard worker, it motivated me, it made me ready for the real world.”

“It made you mean. It made you mean and cold.” John shook his head. “God, I don’t know why I hang out with you so much.”

“Well, what about you? All you do is work,” Alex pointed out.

“Yeah, ‘cause I have a boss that doesn’t do anything for himself. And you know what? I went on a date just last Saturday, so I’m one up on you.”

Alex paused, crossing his arms. “How was it?”

John scoffed. “Awful. They were annoying, not my type.”

“Don’t go on blind dates,” Alex suggested.

John laughed, tilting his head back. “That’s probably a good idea.” John sighed, looking at Alex. “Can you at least try? You have to remember that you are not Phillip’s first choice either, but he needs a parent. He needs someone. You are his father.”

Alex cringed. “Barely.”

John ran his hand through his hair. “You are impossible.”

“But you love me,” Alex chimed.

John shook his head. “I love my daughter, Alex. I love her because she can love me back. I do not waste my time on unrequited connections.” John sighed and looked back down at his papers. “He deserves someone, Alex. He deserves a family.”

“If Eliza had thought so, she would have placed him in custody of one of her sisters.”

John slammed his fist on the table. “Dammit, Alex, you didn’t deserve her, you don’t deserve him, and you don’t deserve me.” John stood up, beginning to pack up his papers.

“Where are you going, Pepper?” Alex asked.

“Don’t call me that. I’m going to go down to my apartment to finish this up.” John tucked some hair behind his ear. “You’re pissing me off.”

“Oh whatever, I don’t need you,” Alex scoffed.

“I think we both know that’s not accurate, Alexander.”

With the slam of a door, John was gone. Alex leaned back in his chair and groaned lightly. John was always a bit of a mystery to him. Sometimes they had fun, they really did, but John was always peeved at him for one thing or another. Alex didn’t get it. If John hated him so much, he could easily leave. Lord knows he has enough money. But he didn’t. Alex didn’t often expect that in assistants. Most of them quit in a week, John had been working for him for two years.

Alex sighed and looked back to his projected screen in front of him. “Jarvis, tell me the diagnostics.”

“Sir, to make the blasters quieter, they must ignite and project you upwards much faster. This could be cause for lack of control of the suit, and increase the risk of a crash by fourteen percent.”

“Good, get my robot on that.” Alex pushed himself in his roller chair to another part of his desk, where he was working on the design. “I don’t like the bright red the suit had now, and the gold is too shiny.” Alex put in some commands to darken the red and matte the gold. “Jarvis, how long would it take to make a wifi portal that can reach to the entirety of Manhattan?”

“Estimated week, sir.”

“Good, let’s do that. Text John and tell him I want a press meeting tomorrow.” Alex began working on the design for the satellite. He had always liked the idea of free internet for the world. Sure, Elon Musk was trying, but Alex knew he could do it quicker.

“John responded with a tan thumbs up emoji, sir.”

Alex nodded. “Alright, cool, let’s do this.”

-

It was the night of the dinner and Phillip was at George’s house. Dinner was in half an hour, so Phillip and George were currently working on a Lego death star together. Phillip had some nice clothes to wear to dinner in his bag, and when it was time to get ready to go, Phillip would change into them. For now, though, he was wearing Adidas sweatpants and a white tee-shirt, both of which were stained with hot Cheeto dust.

“Okay, so I think I’m just gonna do basketball this year,” Phillip mumbled. “Football is just too…” Phillip shrugged, glancing at the instructions. “You know, violent.”

“And academic decathlon, right? Remember, it’s our friend group thing, and Theo is in charge this year. She’ll beat you if you don’t join, and she’s your girlfriend, she’s allowed to.”

Phillip laughed, tilting his head back. “Yeah, I will, I promise.”

George grabbed a handful of Cheetos and shoved them in his mouth. “You know what? I think I should get a girlfriend.”

“What about that blonde chick, what’s her name, Betty? Betty Brant? She’s cute. Got a kinda, you know, like, nerdy.” Phillip took a sip of his Mountain Dew. “She’s fun and short, and sometimes excitable.”

“In my dreams,” George scoffed.

“Yeah, wet ones.” Phillip snickered as George threw Cheetos at him. “Truce! Truce!”

George laughed. “Hey, it’s almost time for you to go get to ya girl. Get dressed.”

Phillip wiped Cheeto dust off on his pants before pulling them down and pulling out a pair of khaki joggers to slip them on. “Does my hair look dirty?”

“You should probably throw it up,” George shrugged. “I don’t know why you have long hair anyway.”

Phillip shrugged. “Gives Theo something to do. Also, my momma liked it.”

George paused and sighed. “Phillip, I’m so sorry about what happened. I know I’ve told you it before, but just, your mom was an amazing person. She was just about the only mom I’ve ever had too.”

Phillip sighed and nodded, slipping off his tee-shirt and putting on his white dress shirt. “Yeah, she really did love you, George.” Phillip shook his head. “But, but none of that right now. We’re almost done with the death star, which has been waiting for us to continue it all summer.” Phillip smiled a bit. “So hey, tomorrow is Saturday, I’ll come over, and we can watch Lord Of The Rings or something while doing this.”

“Build a Star Wars death star while watching Lord Of The Rings?” George shook his head, carefully placing the lego set onto his dresser. “You’re a disgrace to nerd culture.”

“Well, I’ve been a disgrace, seeing as I have a girlfriend,” Phillip sniggered, earning him a cheetoh to the face. He clipped on his tie, seeing as he had never learned to tie a real one, and then threw his bag over his shoulder. “For real though, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“You got a key,” George smiled, waving a bit.

Phillip walked into the living room of George’s apartment, waving to George’s dad before leaving. He made his way to the parking garage, unlocking his car and getting in. He sighed, checking his phone to see absolutely no texts from Alex, and then began driving. He got there quickly, parking in the parking garage and stretching out of the car, telling Theo he was there. The walk to the apartment was quick, and he was there soon enough, being welcomed in by Theo’s mom, Dosia. Dosia, a nurse at Queen's hospital, liked Phillip. She knew he treated Theo well, and he was always respectful, so there was nothing not to like.

“Pip, sweetie, come in, come in. I haven’t seen you in a minute, boy, lemme get a look at you.” Dosia held Phillip at arm's length, smiling. “You look good, Phillip. Healthy.”

“Oof, tryna work off some summer weight,” Phillip laughed.

“You look fine, not as bony.” Dosia welcomed Phillip in. “I didn’t know if your dad was a vegetarian or not, so I just cooked vegetarian.”

Phillip cringed. “He’s not my dad, he’s just, he’s the guy I’m living with.”

Dosia’s smile faltered at that, and she felt her heart twang a bit. “Well, I cooked your favorite. Lasagne.”

Phillip smiled. “Great, I can’t wait.”

“There’s my boy,” Theo smiled, coming into the kitchen.

Phillip turned and let his jaw drop. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

“Oh, do so,” Theo nodded.

“Thou art hot.”

Theo snorted, tying her hair up and she came over to her boyfriend, offering a gentle kiss on the lips. “Your… Alex here?”

“No, he uh, he said he’d be there on Tuesday though, and John put it in his calendar, so like, he knows it’s happening, and I gave him your address and everything. A meeting probably just ran late.” Phillip draped his arms over Theo’s shoulders. “It’s good to see your face.”

“You saw me two hours ago,” Theo laughed.

“Mm, but sometimes I miss you.” Phillip gently kissed her forehead. “Me ‘n’ George are almost done with the Death Star.”

“Ooh, then you can start on the Lego set called ‘getting a life.’” Theo smiled cheekily.

“Wounded! I have been wounded!” Phillip cried out, gripping his chest.

“Can’t have that,” Aaron commented sarcastically, coming into the kitchen. “Is your dad here yet?”

“No, he is not, I should, I should call him.” Phillip excused himself and pulled out his phone, finding Alex’s contact and pressing call. He waited a few seconds as it rang before Alex picked up.

“This is Hamilton,” Alex called out. It was loud where he was.

“This is Phillip.”

“Hey! Phillip, what can I do for you?” Alex asked, laughing a bit.

“Uh, maybe tell me your current location?” Phillip rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly.

“I am… I am in Dubai, I think. Why do you ask?”

Phillip paused, biting his lip hard enough to draw blood and make him wince. “Of course you are.”

“Is John trying to get in touch with me? Tell him I moved the meeting to Dubai, so that way I could test out the weapons I was selling for the buyer.”

Phillip rolled his stinging eyes. “Yeah, John was trying to get in touch with you. I’ll let him know. Bye.”

“Wadaea!” Alex called out before hanging up.

Phillip’s head dropped as he felt tears come to his eyes. “Just what I get for trying.”

“You okay, baby?” Theo asked softly, coming towards him and putting her hand on Phillip’s shoulder.

“He’s in Dubai,” Phillip laughed bitterly, shaking his head. “God, I don’t know why I expected anything different. Didn’t care about me for the first sixteen years of my life, no reason for him to start now.” Phillip paused. “I should go.”

“It’s okay if he’s not showing up, you can still have dinner with us,” Theo offered.

“No, thank you, I just, I kinda just wanna head home,” Phillip mumbled.

Theo nodded softly, gently kissing Phillip’s shoulder. “Okay, I’m gonna have my mom pack you a doggie bag, okay?”

Phillip nodded and sniffled. “Thank you. I’m sorry.”

“No, Phillip, this wasn’t your fault.”

Phillip laughed a bit. “I probably shouldn’t have put so much faith in him that he was gonna be a decent fucking person for once.”

Theo gently gripped Phillip’s hand. “You deserve better.”

“I got you, and that’s the best I could get,” Phillip smiled softly.

Theo squeezed Phillip’s hand, kissing his shoulder again. “Alright, I’ll go ask my mom to pack you a doggie bag.” Theo began walking into the kitchen, Phillip behind her like a stray puppy. “Hey, momma? Something came up, and Phillip needs to head home, can we pack him a doggie bag?”

“Oh, no, what happened?” Dosia asked.

“Just, something with Alex,” Phillip answered vaguely, pressing his lips together and looking down.

“Okay, sweetie, lemme get you a piece of my lasagne, hold on.” Dosia pulled the tin foil off the glass pan that had been cooling and cut a nice corner piece out, setting in a Tupperware and handing it to Phillip. “It was nice to see you, sweetie. Let’s try again another time, alright? I never work on Fridays, and we can also do a Monday or a Saturday if it would be better. Whatever works.”

“Thank you,” Phillip nodded, taking the extended Tupperware.

Theo gently leaned over, kissing Phillip’s cheek. “I love you, I’ll see you soon, alright?”

Phillip mustered a smile. “Alright, I love you too. Have a good night.”

“You too, Pip.” Theo pecked his lips before seeing him out the door.

Phillip knew it was a miracle that he could wait to get to his car before breaking down. He rested his head against his steering wheel and cried. He probably could’ve managed to stay there longer, cry harder, but he pulled himself together enough to make the drive home. All he wanted to do was eat lasagne and draw, maybe watch a documentary or something.

Phillip got into the elevator and pressed penthouse, sighing a bit. He got to the top and changed out of his nice clothes and into some sweats, sitting down at the table and eating the lasagne. It was good, but anything Dosia made was good.

When Phillip finished dinner, he got out his sketch pad and began drawing as a movie played in the background. He felt alone, and wouldn’t mind some company. He almost regretted leaving but knew he wouldn’t have been able to make it through that dinner without having an embarrassing break down. In front of Theo, and hell, even Dosia? He would’ve been fine with that, but Aaron? Phillip wasn’t exactly in the mood for that today.

The elevator dinged and John walked through, wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. “Hey, Pip, where’s Alex?”

“Fucking Dubai,” Phillip muttered.

John paused. “Why is he in Dubai?”

“I don’t know, a meeting, whatever.” Phillip swallowed hard, trying not to bring up those emotions again.

“Did he leave after dinner or…”

“No, he’s been in Dubai. He sounded like he was at a party or something when I called to ask him why he wasn’t showing up.” Phillip laughed bitterly.

“I’m gonna kill him, I’m going to kill him.” John ran his hand through his hair exasperatedly. “Does he have no empathy towards you? Towards me? Oh, God, if he’s in Dubai, then that means he’s going to be hungover tomorrow, and he’s going to have to make up work he missed, which I’m going to have to assist on, and then, then him blatantly ignoring what I put in his calendar! I reminded him this morning!” John threw his arms up. “Why I still work for him is beyond me.”

“At least you can leave,” Phillip muttered.

John sighed lightly. “Me and my daughter are going to watch a movie. I came up here to invite you and Alex. Would you like to watch a movie with us?”

Phillip paused. “Really?”

John nodded. “Yes, of course. You already got cheated out of something nice tonight, you deserve something to make up for it.”

Phillip smiled a bit, standing up and grabbing his sketchbook. “Thank you.”

John nodded, smiling and inviting Phillip into the elevator with him. Phillip had never been in an elevator without shoes, and maybe it was small, but it felt like some rebellious thing.

They go to John’s penthouse and stepped out. Phillip felt a bit timid, though he didn’t know why though. It was just a younger female John, right? Well, that’s not how kids usually work. Phillip knew that. Despite being close to his mom, the two were very different.

“Frances, sweetie, this is Alex’s son, Phillip,” John introduced as the two of them walked into the living room. “He’s gonna be watching a movie with us tonight. Phillip, we decided on Megamind, is that okay?”

“Oh, yeah, Megamind is my favorite,” Phillip smiled honestly. It was a bit of a lie since his real favorite was WALL-E, but Megamind was good, it had humor. It reminded Phillip of being out and on the job. He didn’t really have any arch-villains that would do bad things just to defeat him, but every now and then, he’d stumble upon an overly sarcastic villain that would go back and forth with him a bit. It was always a shame to Phillip when he had to see them into the back of a squad car.

“Hi, Phillip,” Frances smiled. She was a young girl, with lots of freckles and dark curly hair. She was messing with a fidget spinner, as well as bouncing her leg.

“Hi, Frances,” Phillip replied, sitting down next to John. John played the movie, offering Phillip a blanket, which was greatly appreciated. Phillip finally checked his phone, since it was too dark to draw, and he saw a text from Theo.

Theo: My parents got into a fight

Phillip: Pray tell?

It was a few minutes before Theo replied.

Theo: I don’t wanna rant to you, you seemed pretty bummed

Phillip: Nah, go ahead. I’m watching a movie with John and his daughter so I’m feeling better. Spill the tea, sis

Theo: Lol

Theo: Just, we all know my dad isn’t always psyched about you and me dating, but my mom is okay with it. Anyway, after you left, my dad went on some tangent about how it was disrespectful and my mom was like ‘dude he’s going through some stuff and obviously something was up. He wouldn’t have left for no reason.’ But my dad was like, just being a dick, and it really pisses me off because you know what? Shit got turned upside down for you and you’re doing a really good job at just trying to be alive right now and my dad doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s hard for people to deal with emotions. He just fucking represses them and then offers no support when anyone else has an issue

Phillip: I’m sorry I caused that fight

Theo: You didn’t, my dad did. He’s being a dick, lately. Wants me to break up with you

Phillip: Your dad and I will never agree on that

Phillip: I kinda like having you around

Theo: Oh, kinda?

Phillip: Yeah, lil bit. When you cook

Theo: If I could smack you I would

Theo: Don’t let my dad bother you. He would disapprove of anyone I dated. He’s just like that, you know?

Phillip: Do I know what it’s like to have a dad who gives a crap about me? No. But yes, I know

Theo: You should probably sneak into my room tonight

Phillip: Why so?

Theo: Because my computer finally downloaded the updated version of League Of Legends and we need to play at least a couple of rounds together

Phillip: YES

Phillip: I'LL BE THERE WHEN I CAN

Phillip: I'LL BRING MY LAPTOP

Theo: Yay! Now watch the movie, don’t be rude

Phillip: Love you

Theo: Love you too, darling

Phillip put down his phone and looked up at the movie, sighing contently. He knew exactly what most teens did when they snuck into their girlfriend's room, but the idea had never interested him or Theo, so it worked out.

The movie continued. At one point, they all took a break so John could make popcorn, and they could all pee. Phillip really did have to pee and was grateful to finally go. When the break was done, they all got back to watching the movie.

It ended on a good note, Frances laughing as Minion swam in the fountain. Phillip stood up and stretched, saying something about needing to sleep. John nodded, waving goodbye as Phillip made his way up to the top penthouse. Phillip was quick to pack his backpack with his headset, laptop, and charger. He put on his web-shooters, as well as his mask. Sometimes, when he was just using his skill to get from one place to another, he just put on his mask.

Phillip slipped on his Nike sneakers, as well as a drug rug sweater, then tied his hair up, put his mask on, and jumped out the window. He let himself fall for a second, feeling the wind rush past his ears. The ground got closer, and closer, and closer, and then…

Fwip!

Phillip was swinging through the streets of Manhattan. He made it to the other side of the city pretty quickly, then swung across the Brooklyn Bridge. He saw a few people looking up, and would try to wave down to them.

“I love you, Spiderman!” Someone yelled.

“I love you too!” Phillip yelled back.

Phillip got to Brooklyn, then made his way over to Queens. He was flying through the streets, and he almost, almost made it to Theo’s apartment building without any mishaps, but he was clumsy, and being Spiderman didn’t change that.

“Fuck!”

Phillip’s hand slipped off the webbing and he went flying face-first into a building, then fell onto the hard concrete. He coughed a couple of times, lying on his back and staring at the sky through his mask. He had a pain in his hip that he knew would go away, but leave a nasty bruise. He sighed, trying to get up, then falling back down. Sometimes he would get hurt, really hurt, and his body would need a second to repair itself.

“Yo, Spiderman, you good?” Someone asked.

Phillip pushed himself up on his elbows. He saw two people, who looked like they were coming back from a party, standing on the sidewalk and staring at him. “Yeah, yeah, I just fell from about a hundred feet, so I’m kinda aching, but you know, it’s all cool.”

The guy held out his hand, pulling Phillip to his feet. “Where you headed, dude? It’s late.”

“Girlfriend’s,” Phillip replied. “Just gonna hang.”

“A’ight Spidey, I see you,” the girl laughed. “You go get some pussy.”

Phillip almost flinched. “A’ight, you guys have a good night. Stay safe.”

“We will,” The guy nodded.

Phillip shook himself off and shot a web out, then continued his trek to Theo’s apartment building. Once on the roof, shoved his mask and web-shooters into an inside pocket in his bag and climbed down the fire escape until he got to her room. He knocked on her window a few times, and seconds later, was climbing into her room, laughing. “Hey, Theo.”

“Hey babe,” Phillip laughed.

“You seem winded, did you run here?” Theo asked.

Phillip struggled to think of a lie, but then realized he could just agree. “Yeah, I did. Didn’t wanna get grabbed.”

Theo rubbed Phillip’s chin. “Yes, that would be awful. C’mon, let’s play.”

Phillip pulled his laptop out of his bag and sat down on Theo’s bed next to Theo, plugging in his headset. He was about to sign in, but something about her laptop caught her eye. He moved his hand and then laughed.

“Baby, do you have a Spiderman sticker on your laptop?” Phillip asked.

“Yah, he’s cool, ‘n’ they were givin’ out at a cafe a few days ago,” Theo replied. “Don’t hate.”

“But like, why Spiderman? Iron Man is much cooler.” Phillip was being honest. Iron Man was way cooler. As a superhero, and as a person.

“Yah, but Spiderman doesn’t need all the fancy machines, he just, he does his thing. He seems genuinely nice, but awkward as hell. Did you ever see when that news station caught him for an interview?”

Phillip remembered that day and remembered how uncomfortable it was. “Yeah, I remember seeing that I think.”

“Poor dude looked fuckin’ nervous,” Theo laughed.

“Are you gonna leave me for Spiderman?” Phillip joked.

“Yeah, I am. Sorry, I meant to tell you earlier. Him and I are leaving town tonight.”

Phillip didn’t mean to laugh as hard as he did at that but ended up having to bite down on his thumb so as not to wake Theo’s parents up. Theo was quickly shushing him because she knew there was a very high chance her dad would come into her room with a loaded shotgun if he thought someone else was in there.

“I’m kidding! I’m kidding!” Theo gasped.

Phillip still chuckled, leaned up and kissed her. “For the record, if you were Spiderman’s girlfriend and not mine, I’d be very jealous of Spiderman, and not afraid to seduce you and steal you away from him.” Oh, the irony.

“Well, for the record, you’re much cuter than Spiderman,” Theo chuckled.

“Oh, am I?”

Theo nodded. “Spiderman probably doesn’t shower enough or pulls mad hoes and can’t commit.”

“Prolly,” Phillip nodded, knowing he showered at least every other day and pulled no hoes.

They played for about four hours. Eventually, though, Phillip decided he needed to get home. He kissed Theo goodbye and left. Decided he was too tired to swing all the way home, he put on his mask and web-shooters and swung to the Subway station, waiting at the stop. He pulled his hood up and played on his phone until the train got there. He got on and sat down on the train, sighing and scrolling through his phone.

“Can, can we take a picture?”

Phillip looked up and saw what looked to be a father and son, standing in front of him. Phillip nodded eagerly, pulling down his hood. “Of course, of course.”

“Were you just fighting a criminal?” The kid asked.

Phillip nodded, deciding a video game counted. “Yes.”

“Did you win?”

Phillip nodded again, though Theo did kick his ass. “Of course I did. The good guys always win.”

“Alright, smile!” The dad snapped a few pictures, then thanked Phillip before sitting back down. Phillip leaned back and closed his eyes, listening to for the announcement of his stop. It took a minute to get home, but soon he was entering the building and making his way up the elevator and into the penthouse. He had his mask and gloves off, thankfully, because the moment he walked in, he was greeted by Alex, sitting at the kitchen table.

“Well, well, well,” Alex tsked.

“Fuck you,” Phillip scoffed.

“Young man, if you are living under my roof, you’re treating me with respect,” Alex stated in a firm voice.

“Respect? Fuck your respect! Fuck you! You’re not my dad!”

“I am your dad!”

“Well, you suck!” Phillip held up his middle finger, rolling his eyes. “You genuinely don’t care about me, so stop acting like you do!”

“Phillip, you’re my son, I obviously-”

“Stop it! You can’t make it up to my mom for not being there! You can’t prove to her that you could’ve been even sort of a parent, you know why? ‘Cause she’s dead! So stop acting like you have any interest in me at all! You avoided me for the first sixteen years of my life, what’s two more?”

There was deadly quiet in the room.

“Phillip, I loved your mother very much,” Alex mumbled softly.

“Yeah, well good for her.” Phillip clenched his jaw. “She was probably that last bit of proof that you have a heart.”

Alex swallowed hard. “You want to be left alone? Fine, go to your room. I don’t need you to like me, Phillip. Believe it or not, I’m not too psyched about this either.”

“Glad we’re on the same page.” Phillip nodded, storming off to his room. He slammed the door as loud as he could and huffed, falling onto his bed. “Well, this has sucked.”

 

Chapter Text

“Phillip, will you stay a moment and talk to me?”

Phillip almost groaned. It was the end of the day, and he didn’t have any homework, so he was looking forward to just going on patrol, relaxing, catching up with Iron Man and ranting a bit about the fuck ass weekend he had. But, because this was his art teacher, Mrs. Feinman, and she had been supporting him his whole high school career, he smiled and nodded, putting away his fine liners and closing his sketchbook.

Mrs. Feinman, a round and warm woman, sat down at the table with Phillip, smiling. “What are you working on?”

Phillip shrugged. “Kinda been out of it, just practice.” He opened his sketchbook, showing her a few things he was doing to practice and stay in the zone. Nothing with any particular passion. “Waiting for inspiration.”

Mrs. Feinman nodded. “How are you?”

Phillip laughed. “God, I feel like that’s the only thing people ask me anymore.” Usually, he would say he was fine, but Mrs. Feinman was one of his favorite teachers, and he had her class for two hours a day. He was in a double AP class with her, and it was probably the only time he felt normal. “I dunno, it’s just, everything is weird right now.”

“Your mother was a wonderful person,” Mrs. Feinman assured him. “Are you staying with your aunt, now?”

“No, my uh, my father.” Phillip almost flinched at the word.

“And how’s that?”

Phillip chuckled bitterly. “Awful. Some people just shouldn’t have kids, Mrs. F.”

The teacher chuckled lightly. “I’m sure he cares about you.”

Phillip shook his head. “I moved in around the beginning of summer, and I think we’ve talked about a total of… six? Yeah, six times.”

Mrs. Feinman sighed softly. “I’m sorry, Phillip. You know you can always talk to me, right?”

Phillip nodded. “Thank you.”

Mrs. Feinman offered a small smile. “Well, this wasn’t the only reason I wanted to talk to you. You’ve been selected for a governor exhibit in three weeks. He’s actually, he’s commissioned you for three new pieces, it’s part of some arts in the school's thing. You don’t have to do this, it’s a lot of work for three weeks, especially with the effort you put into your work, but I think you should.”

“Yes, yes, I would love to, can we, should I, should I call him?”

“I’ll tell him. You can feel free to sell your pieces here too, and it might be a good opportunity to make some money.” Mrs. Feinman patted Phillip’s hand. “I really hope things work out for you Phillip. I just want to make sure you have a good support system. Do you have places you can stay if something happens?”

Phillip nodded. “I got Theo if I sneak in, and then George. I’m sure a few dudes on the basketball team would let me crash at their place for a day or two.”

“And if you need anything, you can always talk to me, or a counselor, or another teacher.” Mrs. Feinman patted Phillip’s hand again and then stood up. “Now, go have some fun. Make sure you sleep enough tonight.”

“I will,” Phillip chuckled.

He walked out of the classroom and to his locker, grabbing his bag, and the said met up with Theo, who he was graciously giving a ride home. One of the other dudes on the basketball team was talking with her, but obviously, he wasn’t flirting. Theo was friends with most of Phillip’s friends, and most of Phillip’s friends were guys. He knew they'd never make a move, and he knew neither would she.

“Hola, Mami,” Phillip greeted, putting his arm around Theo and kissing her cheek.

“Hello, Phillip,” Theo smiled.

“Yo, dude, tryouts are next week. We gon’ see ya there, ight?” Conner, a guy Phillip had played with since Freshman year, asked.

“Yah, I’ll be there,” Phillip nodded. “A’ight, we gotta bolt. See you ‘round, man.”

“Aye, you know it, baby,” Conner laughed.

Phillip and Theo walked towards Phillip’s car, which was, by far, the nicest car there. Phillip opened the door for Theo and then got in on the other side, chuckling. Phillip leaned back for a second, sighing and looking over at Theo.

“You okay, baby?” Theo asked.

“Sometimes I just wonder what it would be like if you and I drove down to Jersey and lived in a little studio apartment and had a cat and made good ramen and I could work for an art gallery and sell my work, and you could be a drama teacher at a high school, and we could just be happy, and sleep too late on the weekends.” Phillip closed his eyes, imagining that.

“Mm, you can’t go to Jersey, remember? You’ll get arrested,” Theo reminded.

“God, my mom was so pissed at me that day. He put her big floppy sunhat on me and pushed me onto the PATH train ‘n’ we could fucking hear the cops coming up the steps as the doors closed,” Phillip laughed, turning on the car.

“Well, you shouldn’t have destroyed private property,” Theo chuckled.

“I don’t regret it,” Phillip huffed.

“I know you don’t, baby.”

Phillip drove through the Queens streets until he got to Theo’s apartment building, parking next to the sidewalk and looking over at his girl. “You know I love you, yeah?”

“I do,” Theo chuckled. “Hey, see you tomorrow. Don’t get into too much trouble, alright?” She pecked Phillip’s lips. “Love you. Call me later.”

“Will do, princess,” Phillip smiled.

She closed the door and Phillip made his way to a parking garage, awkwardly changing into his suit and stepping out of the car, locking it and slipping the keys into his pocket, along with his phone and wallet. He found himself climbing to the top of the parking garage, sitting on the edge of the roof, staring over the people. He stood up, feeling the wind sway him a bit. Heights always got to him.

He remembered when he first got his powers, when did a shitty design for web-shooters, found a chemical formula that worked after ruining several pairs of jeans and getting a second-degree chemical burn on his arm. He remembered being in this exact situation, staring at the ground before him. He was afraid then though, he wasn’t now.

Phillip jumped off and let himself fall for a moment before shooting out a web and catching himself, swinging down sixth. He narrowly avoided flying face-first into a light post, shooting a web at a bagel shop to avoid it. He was going to keep going, but he saw a sign for an art shop that said ‘sale!’ so he dropped down and walked in.

He could hear whispers about him as he walked around, but in their defense, you don't often see Spiderman trying to get a good deal on spray paints. He scanned the spray paints, picking out a few colors, putting them in his basket. He then made his way over to the watercolors, brushing through them until a palette caught his eye. It was his mother's favorite palette. It was just an array of blue colors, but she always would use them. She and Phillip would do art together on the building roof. It would always be funny to see Eliza painting so happily while Phillip in his respirator mask would be going batshit with a can of spray paint.

Phillip checked out his stuff, tipping a bit before finding a good roof to stick his stuff too and continue patrolling the streets. It was a quiet night, and Phillip found himself getting a bagel and a slushy and sitting on top of a building, watching over the streets. He was near Theo’s house but hadn’t hoped to see her, since he knew she was probably doing homework, but the person he did see was Mrs. Burr, so, he hopped down and fell into step beside her, startling her a bit.

“Oh, Spiderman!” She exclaimed. “I didn’t see you there.”

“My apologies for the start,” Phillip said in a rough Jersey accent. “I simply thought you could use some company when walking home.”

“Thank you, Spiderman,” Dosia laughed. “How has your day been?”

“It’s been good, I’ve just been patrolling, making sure nothing bad happens. Had a great churro from the lady on fifth.” Phillip smiled a second, thinking about the cinnamon. “How about you?”

Dosia sighed. “I worked the morning shift at the hospital. I have a coworker who I miss very much though. Her name was Eliza.”

Phillip’s heart twinged. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Oh, it hurts, but I’m thankful that her son is still around. He and my daughter are together, and they are quite nice.” Dosia smiled. “He’s a sweet boy.”

Phillip’s cheeks warmed up.

“Well, this is me. Thank you for walking me home, Spiderman. The company was nice,” Dosia smiled, patting Phillip’s cheek.

“Have a nice day,” Phillip nodded.

“You too!” She called out as she walked inside.

Phillip stood there smiling for a moment.

“Yo, Spidey!”

Phillip looked up to see Theo sticking her head out of her window.

“You tryna peg my mom?”

Phillip shook his head. “No! You’re pretty cute though!”

“Ha, nice try, I have a boyfriend,” Theo smiled proudly.

“Bet he’s not as hot as me,” Phillip boasted.

“He’s not!”

The teen was almost offended.

“He’s hotter!”

“Damn, well, if you want somethin’ new, I’m here,” Phillip offered to his girlfriend.

“Nice try,” Theo replied, closing his window.

Phillip smiled and began swinging through the streets. He stopped on the side of a building when his phone began buzzing. It was his girlfriend. He smiled happily and answered the call, pulling up his mask a bit and pressing the phone to his ear.

“Hey, gorgeous,” Phillip smiled.

“You would not believe what just happened!” Theo ranted.

“Oh?”

“I got hit on! By Spiderman! He was walking my mom home and I asked him if he was trying to peg my mom, which he said no to, and then he said I was pretty cute, so I told him I had a boyfriend, and the creep had the audacity to say ‘I bet I’m hotter.’ Like, shut up! You probably have a pedo stache and a foot thing!”

Phillip burst out laughing.

“It’s not funny! He hit on me when he knew I had a boyfriend!” Theo huffed.

Phillip was still laughing.

“Phillip!”

Phillip calmed down a bit, still chuckling. “Did you tell him about my striking good looks?”

“I did. You’re way better than Spiderman anyway. He’s just some dude who fights crime. You have a warrant in New Jersey and a cool car.” Theo huffed. “If Spiderman ever hits on me again, just you wait, I’m gonna kick his ass. I’m gonna go all Brownsville on him. He better watch out. Ain’t no fuckin’ web-shooters can protect him from me. I’m fucking crazy. I’ll eat his goddamn girlfriend.”

Phillip lost it again. “I bet Spiderman could kick your ass.”

“I’d like to see him try.”

Phillip smiled and shook his head. “If Spiderman hits on you again, I’ll beat him up, I promise.”

“We can team up against him,” Theo laughed.

“I love you,” Phillip mumbled.

“I love you too,” Theo replied. “You know-”

Phillip’s attention was pulled away when he saw something. A building was blown open, the cars next to it flipping. “Theo I gotta go.” Phillip hung up, shoving his phone in his pocket and swinging down. He lifted a car off of another car so that the people could get out. People in clown masks filed out of the building with what looked like files. This was weird, people never stole files.

Phillip shot out a web to take one of their handguns away. A bullet fired at him but he dodged it, helping push some people behind a car. Phillip shot a web and flew up, trying to get closer to them. Bullets were flying, people were screaming.

“Hey, guys, you know what kind of traffic you’ll be creating?” Phillip asked. “Come on, some people got work.”

“Stay out of this, Spiderman!” One of them yelled, shooting at him.

Phillip shot a web at the gun and grabbed it. “That’s cheating. Who’re you workin’ for, huh? Kingpen? Green Goblin? I always considered Goblin more of a henchman, but you know, maybe he’s branching out. Good for him.”

“We workin’ for ourselves kid. Come on, it’s gonna hurt a lot less if you just let us go,” one of the guys yelled.

Phillip laughed. “Alright, now, come on, are we gonna fight or what? I got dinner plans with-”

One of them pulled out a gun, but it didn’t look like a gun Phillip had seen before. Too shiny. He aimed it at Phillip, and Phillip couldn’t get out of the way in time. Then, a blue wave of energy shot out of the gun, hitting Phillip right in the chest.

Phillip didn’t really know what happened. One moment, he was jumping down from the side of the building he was hanging off of, the next moment, he was on the ground, shattered glass around him. His ears were ringing, and his head was aching something bad. He could feel something wet on his stomach. His breathing was ragged. He could hear yelling and sirens. He closed his eyes for a second, groaning, before pushing himself up. He saw a car speeding off in the distance, he saw flashing blue and red lights.

Phillip found himself leaning against a stop sign, coughing a bit. He looked down to see a gash in his stomach. Blood soaked through his suit, which meant he was going to have to buy another blue long sleeve shirt and a red hoodie. He could do the design on the hoodie himself though.

“Sir, please sit down, let me look at your wound,” an EMT requested, pulling Phillip towards an ambulance.

“No, no, I’m fine,” Phillip mumbled. “There are other people, they need help, and-”

“Please sir, just sit down. Let me look at the wound,” the EMT continued. “Do you know where you are?”

“I’m in Queens,” Phillip responded, being pushed down on the end of the ambulance. “Look, there are other people who need-”

“Sir, I took an oath to give equal medical treatment to everyone. Just because you are Spiderman, doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore a laceration on your abdomen. Can you pull up your shirt?”

Phillip paused, then removed the red sleeveless hoodie and pulled up his blue shirt. The EMT got to work, cleaning it and bandaging it. It hurt, definitely, but Phillip knew it would be gone in a few days. That’s how things always were. Ever since that freshman bio field trip, when he got dared to sneak into a lab by George. Ever since he felt that stinging bite on the back of his neck. Ever since he passed out and woke up in the school nurse's office. Oh, what fear had gone through a fourteen-year-old Phillip when his hand wouldn’t unstick from the nurse bed.

It had been terrifying, trying to figure out what was going on, but he figured it out eventually. It took a lot of trial and error, it took a lot of hard falls, concussions, scraped knees and elbows, and minor chemical explosions on the roof of his apartment building, but he got the hang of it. He became Spiderman. Of course, his web-shooters wouldn’t be where they were without Iron Man. The second time they fought crime together, Iron Man saw just how much Phillip struggled to get the web-shooters to work, so he offered to design a better version, which was way better than what Phillip had going.

“You know, you saved lives today,” the EMT told Phillip. “If you hadn’t gotten those people behind that car, they would’ve been hit with that blast, thrown against the building, just like you. I don’t know how you’re still walking.”

Phillip shook his head. “I’m Spiderman, I always get up. The people of New York, they need someone to get up.”

The EMT helped Phillip up. “You should kick back a few days. Let Iron Man take the lead or something, I know you two work together. This is a nasty wound.”

“It’ll heal,” Phillip mumbled.

“Still. Spiderman deserves just as many days off as the rest of us.”

Phillip put his ripped hoodie back on. “Evil never stops, and justice never rests. Have a good one.”

“You too.”

Phillip began swinging through the streets, back to pick up his art supplies and go back to his car. He needed a new top for his suit, and then he needed to edit it a bit. Phillip swung back to his car, the bag of art supplies he picked up in his arms. He got in the car and changed. It was painful. His stomach hurt. His body hurt. But, he managed to get back into his clothes and drive to Joann's. It was stupid, but they sold plain clothes with no design for art, and that’s what Phillip needed. He got his blue long sleeve shirt, his plain red hoodie, and then began the trek home.

He decided to stop at a bagel shop though because nothing sounded better than a bagel with cream cheese and lox. He walked in, flinching a bit, and stood in line. Then, something caught his eye on the TV. It was him, but sitting in the ambulance, getting cleaned. That wasn’t what got him to be so shocked though. It was the headline.

‘Is Spiderman brown?’

“Oh, God,” Phillip muttered. People were about to get real racist, weren’t they?

 

Chapter Text

“I think this is just another example of immigrants stealing good American jobs,” the Fox News reporter said. “Why doesn’t he go back to his country and fix whatever is going-”

Alex turned off the TV. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Spiderman is brown and people are racist, welcome to the real world, Hamilton,” John replied, looking over a few papers. “I mean, come on, if people knew Iron Man was a Carribean immigrant genius, they wouldn’t be having a party.”

“Okay, but like, the thing about Spidey is, he was born in Queens. He’s literally not an immigrant. Why do they assume he’s an immigrant because he’s brown?” Alex asked.

“Because people are racist,” John replied.

“Yeah, but just because he’s brown doesn’t mean he’s an immigrant,” Alex argued.

“People are still racist.”

“But-”

“Alex, why are you arguing this with me? Frankly, I’m glad Spiderman is brown. Show’s my daughter that brown people can do whatever the fuck they put their mind to, but people are racist. They always have been, always will be.” John shook his head. “If you’re so angry about it, then use your stature to say something about it. Defend your friend.”

“I think I will,” Alex nodded. “Call a press conference for…” Alex thought for a moment. “Jarvis, what time is it?”

“It is two-thirty in the morning, sir,” Jarvis answered.

“Jesus fuck,” John mumbled.

“Call a press conference for eight-thirty,” Alex told John. “Go to sleep now, though. We have to be up in a bit.”

John stood up, gathering his things. “You should sleep too.”

“I’ll catch a nap later today,” Alex mumbled, looking over something.

“No, you should sleep.” John grabbed Alex’s arm. “Stay in bed until seven, I’m serious. You don’t have anything until eight-thirty, you should really relax for a morning. Get a good four hours.”

Alex chuckled, letting John pull him to his room. “I’ll try.” Alex shook his head a bit. “I don’t say it enough, but thank you for all you do. This company wouldn’t run half as well as it did if you weren’t here.”

John rolled his eyes. “I know.”

Alex stopped in his doorway. “Thank you, Pepper.”

“Don’t call me that.” John shook his head, smiling. “Have a good night, Alexander.”

Alex found the courage to reach forward and squeeze John’s hand. “You too.”

John left and Alex sighed. He was about to go to bed, and then he saw it, the small line of light under Phillip’s door. Alex sighed, throwing his head back, and then made his way to Phillip’s room. He knocked on the door and then opened it lightly. He sighed, seeing Phillip asleep over his desk, snoring lightly. Alex considered just leaving him but decided that was cruel, especially since the kid had school tomorrow.

“Alright, bedtime,” Alex mumbled softly, shaking Phillip awake lightly.

Phillip sat up groggily, groaning. “I’m not late.”

“No, you’re not,” Alex agreed. He helped Phillip into bed and pulled the covers over the kid. “You need to go to sleep sooner.”

“M’kay, mom,” Phillip muttered.

Alex paused, then sighed. “Goodnight, Phillip.”

“Mm-hm.”

Alex hesitated, then gently kissed the top of Phillip’s head. “I love you.”

Phillip was already asleep.

Alex sighed and turned out the light, then closed the door and walked back to his room. He changed into some pajamas and sighed, lying down. “Jarvis?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Set an alarm for seven-thirty.”

Alex’s phone buzzed to confirm that Jarvis followed through with the request, and Alex closed his eyes and went to sleep.

The next morning he woke up at six. He canceled his alarm and went out to the kitchen, finding Phillip already there, eating cold Chinese food over the sink. Phillip made brief eye contact with him, before looking back down. Alex cringed and found some Mexican food in the fridge.

“What did Eliza do? For food, I mean,” Alex asked softly.

“She cooked,” Phillip replied.

Alex laughed and shook his head. “She did, she always cooked. I always felt bad, making her do all the work, but she wouldn’t let me in the kitchen.”

“You felt bad, making someone else do all the work,” Phillip deadpanned.

“Your mom wouldn’t have married me if I was the man I am today,” Alex pointed out.

Phillip paused. “Why’d you change?”

Alex looked down at his food. “I’m a Hispanic immigrant businessman, Phillip. I’m not allowed to be nice. I know I’m an asshole, but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am, and I wouldn’t be able to help the people I do.”

Phillip paused, then nodded, putting away his food. “Did you hear about Spiderman?”

“I did. People are mad because an immigrant is stealing more jobs. Wait till I remind them that an immigrant stole the spot of the richest man in America. Spiderman doesn’t deserve that backlash, so I’m gonna stir things up a bit, bring their attention away.” Alex stood up. “Have a good day at school.”

“Thanks,” Phillip nodded.

Alex went up to his office with his food, working on something for a little while. Around eight, John came in, pulling Alex’s rolling chair away from his desk. Alex was startled by this action, seeing as he had headphones in, and found himself jumping up and turning around to see who had gotten into his office. “Jesus Christ, John!”

John laughed.

“You’re a real devil, you know that?” Alex chuckled, taking off his headphones and setting them on his desk.

“You need to get ready, mister,” John pointed out. “Come on, you’re always late for these things because you can’t decide on an outfit. Drycleaning just got back, and I don’t want to do this painstaking process of getting you dressed five minutes before we’re supposed to be there.”

“Awh, but it’s way funner if we do that,” Alex pouted.

“More fun, and no, it’s not.”

“Come on, Pepper, I’m sure we can find a way to kill the time,” Alex chuckled, looping his fingers in his assistant's belt loops.

“Don’t call me that, and no! That was one time! You need to get over that.” John grabbed Alex’s wrist and began dragging him to his room. “I’m serious. You need to pick out something to wear.” John opened Alex’s closet and began looking through his clothes. “Why don’t you ever wear colors?”

“Come on, Pepper, we have some free time,” Alex whined.

“Every time you call me Pepper, I put a penny, in a sock, so soon enough, I’ll have something to beat you with when you piss me off,” John informed Alex.

“Well, if I call you Pepper as much as I do, you already should,” Alex joked, sitting on his bed.

“I do. Don’t piss me off,” John replied. “Okay, black blazer, no sweatpants this time, how about, how about a dark blue shirt? Does that sound good?”

“Sounds perfect. Hey, I was looking through my old tech, and I realized some blatantly obvious things I could do to improve Franky’s leg. You think you could bring her in?” Alex requested.

“She says the leg works fine,” John told Alex.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t. It stalls, I know it does, and I finally figured out how to fix that.”

John huffed. “Alex, you don’t have to keep fixing things. Some things are just fine the way they are.”

“John, if everyone lived like that, nothing would get done.” Alex chuckled a bit. “Just, lemme fix it. Please?”

John rolled his eyes. “Fine, but can you make the improvements quickly? I don’t want her to hobble around on a crutch for six hours like she did last time.”

“It’ll take forty-five minutes at most,” Alex promised, slipping off his pants. “Wasn’t the six-month check-up recently?”

John nodded. “She’s still cancer-free, which is good.” John turned around and jumped at the sight of Alex without pants. “Give a man a warning.”

"Nothing you haven't seen before." Alex rolled his eyes, getting up and taking a pair of slacks from John’s arm and slipping them on. “I don’t see why I have to dress nice. I’m the richest man in America, if I wanna wear sweatpants and eat Cheetos with chopsticks, then it’s my damn right as an immigrant.”

John rolled his eyes. “Because. Come on, don’t be a pain, get dressed.”

Alex slipped off his shirt and stopped for a second, running his hand over the hunk of metal in his chest. He remembered the Hell he went through, the man, Yisen, who helped him get out of the endless prison. “You think this is weird?”

“Hm? No,” John replied.

“You don’t think it’s weird that I have a hunk of metal in my chest that keeps me from going into cardiac arrest?” Alex deadpanned.

John shook his head, handed Alex the button up after he had put on an undershirt. “You know medically, what you have is a pacer. You’re not the only one, yours is just on the outside, but I’m sure you have something in the works.”

“I do,” Alex nodded. “Any more blind dates?”

“Nope, I met someone at the gym though.” John helped Alex into his jacket. “We’re going out on Friday.”

Alex felt his heart twang. “Are they as cute as me?”

“Oh Alex, everyone is cuter than you.”

Alex turned around and smacked John’s shoulder. “Fuck you.”

“You would, too,” John teased.

“Damn right,” Alex nodded. “Okay, where is this press conference being held?”

“Tenth floor,” John answered.

“Who’s gonna be there?”

“Every tabloid and small-town magazine from Manhattan to Queens. Then the Times is probably gonna show, NBC, ABC-”

“Too many acronyms,” Alex mumbled.

“And our personal friend, J cubed from the Daily Bugle.” John fixed a bit of Alex’s hair. “Get ready for that.”

“Joy,” Alex muttered. “Okay, time?”

“Enough for you to get a bite to eat and some water, but nothing else.” John patted Alex’s arms. “Go, get some food. I’ll go down and make sure everything is set up. I need you to come down in ten minutes, you got that, Hamilton? Ten minutes.”

Alex nodded. “Ten minutes.”

Twenty minutes later, Alex was walking off the elevator, being greeted by a flustered John. “I have been holding them off for ten minutes! What happened? You said ten minutes, Alex. Where have you been?”

“Sorry, sorry, had to write a few things down. Got some ideas. Also had to piss.” Alex ran a hand through his hair. “Alright, I’m ready.”

“Wait, wait.” John pulled Alex so he was facing them. “You just…” John fixed Alex’s collar, straightened his jacket, and tugged his dress shirt down a bit. “You look a little rumpled.” John smoothed out Alex’s jacket with his hands. “There were go.”

Alex made brief eye contact with John before looking down. “Thank you.”

“Of course, now, let’s go get em.”

The two of them walked into the press conference room, greeted with a hundred cameras and a hundred voices. Alex waved in a suave manner while John just held up his hand, not wanting to deal with the strobe-like flashing. Alex sat down and sipped his water, then made sure John was down too before holding up his hand to silence the voices.

“Today, I’m here to talk about a close friend of mine, Spiderman.” Alex smiled for a camera flash. “Recently, it has been revealed that he is a man of color, and the backlash has been, in my opinion, quite ridiculous. What true reasons do we have to attack a man who has done only good for this city?”

“Many Fox News reporters are saying he is an immigrant stealing good American jobs,” one reporter shot out. “Do you agree?”

“The job of what? Being Spiderman? When Spiderman shows me a pay stub for fighting crime, then sure, yeah, I’ll say that an immigrant took a job is doing damn well at it.” Alex chuckled a bit.

“How well do you know Spiderman?”

“Now, I don’t know Spiderman too well, but I do know for sure that he is also not an immigrant. He was born in Queens. I don’t know who decided that because he was brown, he was an immigrant, but really? Come on, if you’re worried about immigrants stealing American jobs, I should be your main focus. I’m a proud Latino immigrant, and I am also the richest man in America. I work for the American government and provide most of the technology the world uses today. I mean, come on. Why does Spiderman get to be labeled as an immigrant stealing jobs when I am literally an immigrant who stole the spot of the richest man in America from an American and stole the spot of best tech company in America from an American?” Alex threw his arms up. “What does a guy have to do to get some credit?”

“For the record,” John started, leaning into his microphone. “The goal of Hamilton Industries is not to unseat American companies and CEOs, but to create a form of energy and technology that lowers carbon and CFC emissions.” John wasn’t going to mention the billions of dollars worth of war weaponry. Arms dealer wasn’t exactly a title he could handle right now.

“Mr. Hamilton, due to your friendship with Spiderman, are you also friends with Iron Man?” A reporter asked.

“Yes. The technology Iron Man uses has had my input.”

“Do you know who Iron Man really is?”

Alex shook his head. “No, and if I did, I would not tell you.”

“Where in Queens in Spiderman from?”

Alex shrugged. “Queens isn’t very big, he’s from Queens.”

“Do you support Spiderman now that you know he’s brown?”

Alex nodded. “I’m a Latino man, and whether Spiderman be mixed, Asian, Latino, I support him.”

“Mr. Hamilton, off the topic of Spiderman, how are you feeling now that the two year anniversary of your public mental breakdown is coming up?”

Alex froze.

“I don’t believe that’s on topic,” John cut in quickly. “As interesting as it is, the personal life of a celebrity, Mr. Hamilton’s is just that, personal. Please keep questions on the topic of Spiderman or Hamilton Industries.”

“Mr. Hamilton, what were you doing in Dubai three weeks ago?”

“Business trip,” Alex answered. “I have been working with Dubai vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, Moshammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to reduce CFCs in his country.” Not a total lie, but weaponry was tested and sold.

“Is it true that you’ve expressed an open mind to meet with Kim Jong Un in North Korea?”

Alex nodded. “I do not involve myself in the political matters of this country, or any other country, but the earth is not a political matter. If Kim Jong Un wishes to meet with me about the well being and quality of his country, then I am open to the idea as well.”

“Don’t you think this could upset American allies, seeing as you work for them as well?”

“I don’t pick sides. I do what’s in the best interest of my company, and my family.” Alex took a sip of his water.

“Speaking of family, Mister Hamilton, is it true you recently took custody of your son, Phillip?”

Alex swallowed. “Phillip’s mother passed away at the beginning of the summer, and in her will, she specifically stated she wished Phillip to be placed in my care, so my son Phillip has been living with me since then.”

“Phillip’s mother was your ex-wife, Eliza Schuyler, correct?”

Alex nodded. “I don’t see how this is relevant to my business.”

“With the death of your ex-wife, who you remained close to, as well as the two year anniversary of your public mental breakdown, people wonder if you will-”

“Excuse me!” John cut off. “Mister Hamilton’s breakdown is not the concern of this press meeting! The only person who should rightfully worry about Mister Hamilton is me, and the rest of you need to focus on his business.” John stood up. “Press conference over, mister Hamilton has a meeting he needs to get to.” John grabbed Alex’s arm and helped the man out of the room and into the elevator. “God, the nerve of reporters.”

“Why does my personal life interest them so much?” Alex muttered.

“I don’t know.” John shook his head. “You know, when I was a lower-level employee, I never had to put up with any of this shit.”

“You also lived in a shitty studio apartment in the Bronx,” Alex reminded.

John rolled his eyes. “You’re ridiculous.”

“I know.”

Alex sighed, wiping his hands off on his pants. “That was a bad tablecloth?”

“Hm?”

“The tablecloth.” Alex shook his head. “It was bad. It was polyester velvet. I just, I didn’t like it. I need to shower.”

“Okay, it’s what, almost nine? You shower, we have a meeting at ten.” John paused, noticing the anxious look in Alex’s eyes. “Hey, are you okay?”

“I just…” Alex shook his head. “I need to take a shower.”

“I’ll push off this next meeting until ten-thirty so take your time.” John turned on his iPad and messages an assistant. “I’ll talk to someone about the table clothes. I’ll tell them I have an issue with them.”

Alex nodded, rocking back and forth on his heels. “Thank you.”

The elevator dinged, and Alex got off. John pressed the button and went right back down to the tenth floor, finding the conference room empty with just people cleaning up. They jumped when he walked in. Sure, he wasn’t the boss, but he was the voice of the boss, just as feared. Hamilton’s ex-wife, Kitty, would call John the Jesus Christ of Hamilton Industries. John was nowhere near Jesus Christ though.

“Who is in charge of the tables?” John asked.

A timid man raised his hand, stopping his folding of the tablecloth.

“I hate this table cloth. I don’t know what cheap polyester bargain bin you fished it out of, but it’s trash.” John huffed. “You’re new, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” the man nodded.

“Do not, and I repeat, do not switch the table clothes.” John threw his arms up. “Who keeps in touch with Danny? Ten years and not a damn problem, but the moment he leaves, I’m pulling my hair out! You, you do what Danny did. Danny was good at his job. We did not hire you to change things, we hired you to keep things the same. If you have a complaint, you can quit, or you can suck it up. This company runs on efficiency, not some intern level employee who wants to be the trail setter of table clothes.” John huffed. “What are all of you standing around for? Finish cleaning this room.”

John turned on his heel and walked out of the conference room and back into the elevator. He went to the second floor, to the cafeteria. He hadn’t caught breakfast, having woken up late, and wanted at least a bagel. There were a few interns in line, but they moved to let John get a sesame bagel and a packet of cream cheese. John paid and sat down, spreading the topping onto his bagel and taking a bite.

He sighed, seeing a notification that he was needed on another floor. “Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime, it’s why I eat on company time.”

-

“Hey Spidey,” Alex smiled, sitting down next to the guy. “What’s up?”

Spiderman shrugged a bit. “Not much. I’m just kinda tired. I didn’t sleep too well last night. I had a Starbucks Dragon fruit thing on my way home, since it’s going out of season really soon, and I forgot it had caffeine, so I stayed up till two drawing because I was gonna draw until I got tired, and then I didn’t get tired, so I stayed up too late, got hungry, ate a lot of food, and then passed out around three only to wake up at six.”

“Yeah, I stayed up too late too,” Alex chuckled. “Hey, I uh, are you okay? Just, you’ve kinda been getting a little bit of hate.”

Spiderman shrugged. “I’m fine. I used to get bullied a lot in school before I was kinda cool for playing on the basketball team and having a girlfriend, so I have a thick skin.” Spiderman laughed and shrugged. “I think it’s funny, more than anything. Like, I got bitten by a radioactive spider in a lab by accident and I’m stealing jobs? If anyone else would like to be Spiderman, I’ll gladly take some time off, maybe go to Europe, I dunno.”

Alex nodded. “You’d like it there. You should take your girl. She’d probably like it too.”

“You know, she doesn’t know I’m Spiderman, so I hit on her once, as Spiderman, and she called me up two minutes later and ranted about how I hit on her.” Spiderman snorted.

Alex chuckled. “That’s awesome man.”

“What about you? How’s it going with your love interest?”

Alex shrugged. “Good and bad. I dunno, I’m scared of letting people in, but he’s also the only person I can feel close to. I have… I don’t make friends. I grew up alone, and it’s just, it’s hard to be friends with people. I like focusing on work more.”

Phillip nodded. “I get that. I dunno, I have a few close friends, my girlfriend, my friend George. That’s really it though.”

Alex looked over at Spiderman, clapping him on the shoulder. “You know, I just think I should tell you this, but I’d be proud to have you as my son.”

Spiderman looked down. “That actually means a lot to me.”

Alex wrapped a comforting arm around Spiderman. “If any Fox reported bugs you, just lemme know, I’ll blast them.”

Spiderman laughed. “Alright, I can do that.”

Alex smiled under his mask. “Good.”

 

Chapter Text

Phillip was, for the first time in a while, excited. He had just gotten dropped off his art pieces at the government building. Most of them were for sale, except for the one he did with his mother’s favorite. He wanted to keep that one. Phillip had already invited the Burrs. He didn’t really have anyone else to invite, besides Alex and John. Angelica was working, Peggy was in Peru, and his mom…

Phillip knocked on Alex’s office a couple of times. He heard something falling, a curse word, and a loud laugh from John, then a pained ‘come in.’ Phillip stepped in and saw Alex mopping up spilled coffee while John chuckled. Alex made brief eye contact with Phillip before continuing the mop coffee off the table. Some projection of a satellite was showing above the table, a few of the pieces isolated and zoomed in on.

“What’s that?” Phillip asked.

“Satellite we have above Africa, near Nyger,” Alex answered.

“What’s it do?”

“With any luck, provide high-speed internet and clearer phone and a radio signal to most of North Africa,” Alex replied. “It’s just a side project.”

“Doesn’t Africa need like, vaccines and clean water?” Phillip suggested.

“Well, they won’t get any of that if secluded villages with only a pilot’s radio can’t get a signal,” Alex pointed out. “Communication is what makes the world go round, Phillip. There’s a reason there’s not a single place in New York that has bad reception, and it’s not because AT&T updated their satellites or whatever.”

John rolled his eyes. “His ego is huge.” John coughed. “What do you need, Phillip?”

“I have an art show tomorrow at six.” Phillip handed John the postcard-sized flyer. “The Brooklyn Museum, you’ll see it when you walk in. You probably know where it is. It’s just a one night kinda deal, and then the art will be up for a few more days after that, but that’s really it. Anyway, I was an artist selected for an art in our schools kinda thing, and my art is gonna be on display, along with a bunch of other kids. I want you guys to come.”

John gave an apologetic smile. “I wish I could, but me and my daughter have plans tomorrow night.”

“Oh, no, it’s totally okay, your daughter comes first, I get that,” Phillip nodded. “It’s probably gonna be kinda boring.”

“I would if I could, and next time, I’ll be there, I promise. He can go though.” John nodded to Alex.

“Wait, don’t I have that meeting?” Alex asked.

“You did, but you don’t anymore, because your son has an art show, and you’re going,” John decided.

“Client is gonna be mad,” Alex pointed out.

“Client can sit in his shit in a five-star hotel in New York City if he wants, but you have something to do.” John smiled at Phillip. “He’ll be there.”

Alex sighed, then nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be there.”

“You promise?” Phillip asked, a bit immaturely.

“You want me to pinky promise or something? I said I’d go,” Alex scoffed.

Phillip smiled, looking down at his feet. “Cool, alright.” Phillip looked back up at Alex, who was back to work, then to John. “I should probably get on the homework I’ve been pushing off. Uh, yeah, thank you.”

John nodded. “Have a good night, Phillip. There are leftovers in the fridge, or I can PayPal you some money from Alex’s account if old Chinese food doesn’t sound good. Actually, I’m just gonna PayPal you the money right now, because that Chinese food has been in there for a minute. If you need help with your homework, just ask me.”

“Thanks, night,” Phillip nodded, waving. “Night, Alex.”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah, and you,” Alex muttered.

Phillip rolled his eyes, sighing as he walked out of the office. He pulled out his homework and began working on it. His classes weren’t particularly hard, but not easy either. He was taking precalc, physics, APUSH, and AP Lit, as well as a double AP art class. He had luckily knocked off all his needed gym credits with sports, so he didn’t have to waste his day in the gym. It wasn’t that he didn’t like working out, but working out just for the sake of working out was ridiculous. He wanted to be doing something. It’s why he liked basketball. That, and he had major hops.

Phillip finished up his homework and then went into his room, grabbing some art supplies. He grabbed some tarp and skinny wooden palate, as well as some spray paint cans. He put his painting mask around his neck, and slipped on a dirty t-shirt and some Carharts, before making his way to the elevator. He pressed the roof button and made his way up to the dim and chilly roof.

“Jarvis!” Phillip called out.

“Yes?” The automated voice replied.

“Turn on the roof lights.”

The lights flicked on and Phillip found it was the perfect amount of lighting for painting. He set down the tarp, then the wooden flat over it, before shaking up his yellow spray can and beginning to paint.

“Jarvis!”

“Yes?”

“Play the Yankees game.”

The voice of John Sterling filled the roof and Phillip smiled as he painted. He at one point accidentally sprayed himself in the face with white, but it was okay because none got in his eyes, Most of it was on his cheek and in his hair, with the exception of the part covered by the strap on his painters mask. Phillip finished and left it there to dry. He had done this before, and it wasn’t messed with. He’d take it down in the morning.

He came back downstairs and realized just how late he had stayed up. He ended up falling asleep in just his boxers, then waking up late. It was a mess, trying to get dressed for school, forgetting entirely about the paint on his face and hands. He threw on a hoodie and some baggy paint-stained jeans and bolted out the door, backpack in hand. He stopped and got a churro on his way to pick up Theo, hoping he’d get there in time.

“I’m here! I’m here!” Phillip gasped, getting out of his car when he got to Theo’s apartment building, seeing as she was already in front, waiting for Phillip.

“What’s on your face?” Theo asked.

Phillip paused. “I have something on my face?”

Theo laughed. “Phillip, did you spray yourself in the face last night with spray paint?”

Phillip’s eyes widened. “Oh, my God, I did.”

Theo rolled her eyes. “Come on, I’ll help you get it off at lunch.” She got in the car, reaching over and grabbing Phillip’s hand as he began to drive. “Are you excited for your show tonight?”

Phillip nodded. “I invited Alex.”

Theo looked over. “That’s good.”

“Is it?”

Theo shrugged. “Maybe. I dunno, maybe things are changing. I mean, you did say was being… nicer.”

“I dunno, I don’t really, I don’t have high expectations.” Phillip snorted a bit, looking at Theo. “I don’t just want to set myself up for heartbreak.”

“Hey, I’m sure he’s gonna come. Just, have some faith.” Theo squeezed her boyfriend’s hand. “Manifest, Phillip.”

Phillip smiled a bit. “Be honest, how obvious is it that I have paint all over my face?”

“Pretty obvious,” Theo admitted, giggling. “Don’t worry, it’ll come off all the way in the shower. Hey, you better dress nice, tonight. You’re going to be meeting the Mayor again.”

“I will, I will, I promise,” Phillip chuckled.

Theo licked her thumb and tried to get some of the paint off of Phillip’s cheek. “You are chaotic, you know that, love?”

Phillip nodded, smiling a bit. “I do.”

-

Phillip clipped on his tie and stared at himself in the mirror. He had to be at the gallery a few hours early to help set up, but that was okay. He was quick to grab his wallet and phone before making it out of the penthouse and down to his car. He felt a little nervous, and he didn’t know why. He had done a million art shows like this before, why was this one any different? Why did the idea of it make his hands shake so hard he couldn't get the key in the ignition?

Then it hit him.

This would be the first art show that his mom wasn’t coming to.

A wave of nausea hit Phillip and he quickly opened the door, leaning out of the car so he wouldn’t vomit on the seats. He gagged, a bit of stomach acid in his throat but nothing else. Phillip sighed, sitting back and staring at the garage wall. His hand fumbled with his phone as he dialed the only number he could think to call.

“Hey sweetheart,” Dosia chimed when she answered. “What’s up?”

“Hey, Dosia, hey, are you busy?” Phillip asked.

“No, no sweetie. Are you okay? You sound worried.”

“I just…” Phillip shook his head. “This is my first art show without my mom, and it’s kinda setting in, and I’m sorry for calling, and I just…” Phillip shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Oh, Phillip…” Dosia sighed. “Okay, honey, it’s okay. I know your mother would be very proud of you. I know she would be taking an unreasonable amount of photos, spamming my phone with them. I know she’d show up two hours early with you and help set up. She’d stay there the whole night. And you know something, Phillip?”

“Hm?”

“She’s with you right now. I know it’s not the same. I know she can’t tell you this herself, but I promise you, I promise you, she loved you so much, she was so proud of you, every day. She loves you so so much.” Dosia sniffled. “She was a wonderful woman, Phillip.”

“I just miss her so much,” Phillip choked out. “I miss my mom. I want my mom back.” A sob broke from Phillip’s chest. “I miss her so much. I just want to see her again.”

“You will, she’s going to wait for you, I promise.” Dosia sighed. “How long until you have to get there?”

Phillip sniffled, wiping his cheeks. “I dunno, half an hour.”

“You come over, I made cookies. Let me give you a hug and a snack.” Dosia sniffled as well. “I know this is hard. Believe me. Going to work still isn’t the same without her. I remember... I remember always comparing my schedule with her, cheering when we got the same shifts. She would make work so much better.” Dosia laughed, her voice cracking a bit. “We once had this patient, and she, she was crazy, and she threw her tray at me, and I was covered in food and oatmeal, and Eliza gave me her extra scrubs because I didn’t have any.”

Phillip laughed. “My mom always helped people.”

Dosia paused. “You know something, Phillip? Humans live so long because we need to learn how to love, but some people, some people are just born knowing, so they don't have to live as long as the rest of us. Your mother was born knowing. She was the most loving person I have ever met. She was my best friend. I loved her like a sister, and I love you like a son. I know I’m not her, but if you ever need a mom hug, a movie night, a family dinner, please, come over.”

“Thank you,” Phillip nodded.

“Now, you stop by, lemme give you a hug and some food. You might be a little late, but that’s okay.”

Phillip smiled. “Thank you, Dosia. I’ll be there in fifteen.”

“We’ll be here.”

Dosia hung up the phone and sighed, staring down at the kitchen table. She grabbed a napkin from the center of it and wiped the mascara off her cheeks. It was probably good she was going to shower before she went to Phillip’s art show because she could never remove all of her running makeup quite right.

“Hey, honey, what’s wrong? Who were you talking to?” Aaron asked, coming into the kitchen and sitting down next to her. “Baby, hey, don’t cry.”

Dosia wiped her cheeks, leaning against him. “That was Phillip, and oh God, Aaron, he’s so…” Dosia hiccuped a bit. “He’s so scared. This is the first art show his mom won’t be at, and God, it hurts me so much to know that he’s hurting. No child should ever have to lose their mother.”

“Dosia…” Aaron sighed.

Dosia wiped her cheeks again and stood up. “I told him to stop by before he goes to set up for his show. I’m gonna pack him a little snack bag.” She grabbed a napkin and a paper bag, then began filling up a plastic baggy with some snickerdoodle cookies Theo had made earlier. “His mother used to do this. She would make him some food whenever he needed to help somewhere. I don’t want him too…” Dosia shook his head. “I don’t want him to be hungry.”

Aaron nodded.

“I’m gonna pack him some carrot sticks,” Dosia decided, filling a bag with the vegetables. “And snap peas.” Dosia opened the cabinet. “Do we have beef jerky left?”

“Don’t give him the rest of the beef jerky,” Aaron complained.

“He’s a growing boy! He needs protein!” Dosia found it and emptied it into a bag. “Okay, and a little note.” She scribbled out ‘You’re gonna kill it. I love you’ onto a napkin and put it in the paper bag. “Now it’s ready for when he gets here.”

“When who gets here?” Theo asked, walking into the kitchen.

“Phillip it dropping by real quick so I can give him a hug and some food. His mom would always make him a snack bag, and I don’t want him to get hungry.”

“He’s always hungry,” Aaron pointed out. “He eats us out of house and home whenever he’s over.”

“All he eats is takeout at Alex’s, he probably enjoys the home-cooked food that’s not infused with the taste of styrofoam.” Theo grabbed a bag of corn chips and began munching on them. “It’s not like you’re the one cooking.”

“Since I am the one cooking, I would like everyone to know I don’t mind feeding Phillip.” Dosia smiled lightly. “How are he and Alex?”

“Phillip says it’s not really better, but not really worse.” Theo shrugged. “He doesn’t really like talking about it, but from what I understand, it’s a pretty unloving relationship over there.”

“I never liked Hamilton either. Something about him is off. He’s too… He’s too smart.” Aaron huffed. “He’s up to something, I know he is.”

“Can you stop being a cop for like, two seconds?” Theo huffed.

“I don’t know why you don’t like Phillip, Aaron. He’s a sweet kid,” Dosia mentioned, turning on the tea kettle.

“He’s reckless!” Aaron defended. “He’s worse than that Spiderman kid! You know, Spiderman, he just shows up once a day, zip zap zop, and he’s the hero, but my boys are out there every day, no mask, no superpowers! And what do we get?”

“The privilege to kill unarmed black men on the streets?” Theo suggested.

“Not funny,” Aaron huffed.

Dosia shot a look at Theo. “Aaron, you be nice to Phillip. He doesn’t need anyone being mean to him. You may be his father in law one day.”

“Bah,” Aaron mumbled.

“Will you still walk me down the aisle even if Phillip’s the one waiting for me, baba?” Theo asked, kissing her dad on the cheek.

“With a shotgun in my hand, yes,” Aaron chuckled. “But you’re seventeen now, so you’re not going to get married for another twenty years.”

“I’m not gonna put off marriage until I’m thirty-seven,” Theo groaned. “I’m gonna jump into the shower. If Phillip comes while I’m in, just knock on the door and I’ll step out for a sec to give him a kiss.”

“Alright, honey,” Dosia nodded, pouring some hot water into a mug. Theo left and Dosia looked to a grumpy Aaron. “Why do you really not like Phillip?”

“Because he’s dating my daughter,” Aaron complained. “Everything was just fine when they were just friends, but he just had to ask her out.” Aaron shook his head. “I don’t want him to hurt her. Men can be bad, Dosia, I would know. I have to shut down a lot of locker room talk. I don’t want my daughter to get hurt.”

“While I agree that men can be bad, I really think you are underestimating Phillip. He was raised by women’s march feminist Eliza. He grew up surrounded by women.” Dosia chuckled. “One time, while you were out, both me and Theo got our periods at the same time, and we were out of products, and Phillip went out and bought us pads, tampons, chocolate, Aleve, and a good chick flick.” Dosia smiled softly. “Phillip is a good kid, Aaron.”

“Yeah, well he’s still dating my daughter.” Aaron huffed.

“Awh, sweetie.” Dosia wrapped her arms around Aaron from behind and kissed his cheek. “You’ll live. Now gimme a kiss.”

Aaron turned to her, smiling. “You’re lucky I love you.”

“I love you too.” Dosia leaned in and pecked Aaron’s lips. “You’re my favorite husband, you know that?”

“I’m only your second husband,” Aaron pointed out.

“And last,” Dosia finished. “Remember when we were twenty, and my husband would leave on a business trip, and you would come over for the weekend, and we’d…”

“Remember when we were in the shower together and he got home and he came into the bathroom to say hi and I had to crouch down behind the curtain and pray?” Aaron chuckled.

Dosia laughed. “So risky.”

“Worth it. It was always worth it.” Aaron sighed, finding her hands. “I love you, more than anything. More than everything. You are the pearl in Ethiop’s ear.”

“Mm, my sweet Julius Caesar.”

“My darling Cleopatra.”

A knock on the door got Dosia to jump. “Must be our son in law.”

Aaron groaned.

Dosia opened the door, inviting Phillip in. “Baby, it’s good to see you.” She pulled Phillip into a tight hug. “Mm, you look so handsome.” Dosia picked a hair off of Phillip’s dress shirt. “Six o’clock, right?”

Phillip nodded.

Dosia licked her thumb and got a smudge of blue paint off of Phillip’s cheek. “Your artwork is enough to make you look like an artist, you don’t need to cover yourself in paint too.”

Phillip chuckled nervously. “Are you sure I look alright?”

“Are you wearing a clip-on tie?” Aaron asked.

Phillip turned nervously. “I don’t know how to tie a real tie.”

Aaron sighed and stood up, walking out of the room. He came back a few seconds later with a black tie in his hands. He took off Phillip’s clip-on tie and popped the collar of the white dress shirt. “You need to learn how to tie a tie.”

“My momma never knew, and Alex isn’t gonna teach me.”

“Can you shave?” Aaron went on.

“I can shave my legs.”

“Can you shave your face?”

Phillip was quiet.

“Okay, what are you doing tomorrow?” Aaron asked.

Phillip shrugged. “Nothing, really.”

“You’re coming over. I’m gonna show you how to tie a tie and shave your face. You need to learn at some point, because I draw the line at my daughter dating someone with a rat stache.”

Phillip nodded. “That’s fair.”

Aaron tightened the tie a bit. “There we go. Okay, now you have a tie, a real tie.”

“It’s not my fault I was raised by women only,” Phillip chuckled.

Dosia smiled handing Phillip the paper bag full of snacks. “So you don’t get hungry. You have beef jerky, cookies, and some vegetables, as well as some water. You have no Tupperware to worry about returning, so don’t worry.”

“Thank you,” Phillip smiled.

“Theo is in the shower, but she asked me to knock and tell her when you’re here so she can slip on a robe, so gimme a second,” Dosia explained.

She left and Phillip looked down at his feet, then back at Aaron. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, of course.” Aaron paused. “I know how hard it is to lose your mother when you’re young. Eliza was a very wonderful person. I loved her very much.”

Phillip smiled. “I did too.”

Aaron clapped Phillip’s shoulder. “It’s gonna get easier though. I promise.”

“I hope so,” Phillip nodded.

“Hey, baby!” Theo smiled, coming into the kitchen wearing her robe and her shower cap. It was bright pink that said ‘Ask then touch’ all over it.’ Since Aaron grew up Muslim, Theo would engage in the religion during holidays, which meant she would wear a hijab for Ramadam, Hijra, day of Ashura, and other holidays like that. Dosia was raised Christian, so they also celebrated Christmas and stuff like that. Theo’s life was a blend of the religions, but she said it wasn’t a bother. Phillip’s mom was a Buddhist, so he was raised with those ideals. He didn’t know for sure, but he had from a few places that Alex was Jewish, but he wasn’t sure. Alex didn’t act very Jewish, and he sure as hell didn’t go to synagogue on Saturday.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

Theo rolled her eyes at the small tradition. “Oh, do so.”

“Thou art hot.”

Theo snorted and kissed Phillip’s cheek. “It’s nice to see you. Seven o’clock, right?”

Phillip nodded. “Right.”

“Okay, I gotta finish showering, but I’ll see you in a minute, alright?”

Phillip smiled. “You will. I love you.”

Theo pecked Phillip’s lips. “Love you too.”

Phillip waved to everyone and then left, going back to his car and making it the rest of the way to where the exhibit was. The museum always did the art in our schools for the Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan area. A few artists were selected from a few different areas. Phillip had done this last year too. He honestly didn’t know how he had gotten well known, but his art teacher had seen something in him Freshman year, and then later alluded to the fact that Phillip’s middle school art teacher had shot her an email saying he needed to get out there and be public with his art.

“Yeah, ya body talks! Ya body talks!” Phillip sang along. “Say what you like! Ya body talks!”

His music taste had always been more alternative. He loved Mumford and Sons, Judah and the Lion, Houses, Bleachers, everything like that. He liked the feeling of the music. It was relaxing. It reminded him of when he first got his license, and he and George would sneak out at night and drive through Queens with the radio up way too high.

“Phillip, baby, it’s good to see you,” the museum Curator, Kristen Windmuller-Luna. She was a pale woman with curly hair and a nice face. “Come on, you’re one of the first ones here. I’ll show you where we are.”

“Not the same as last year?” Phillip questioned.

Kristen shook her head. “No, we had another exhibit, but luckily, we built a new branch, so that’s where we are.” Kristen lead Phillip into a large room with many places to hang the art, as well as some tables being set up for food. “We printed out your art descriptions and prices.”

“No price on the blue watercolor, right? That one’s not for sale,” Phillip reminded.

“I don’t remember. If there is a price, it’s at the bottom of the card, so we can just cut it off. That watercolor is beautiful, Phillip. I’ve never seen you work with watercolor. Don’t get me wrong, the things you can do with a can of paint is amazing, and the abstract work conveys quite a lot, but this watercolor was… it’s beautiful.” Kristen paused. “It’s of your mother, right?”

Phillip nodded as they approached his part of the wall. His art was packed in boxes, waiting to be unpacked and hung up.

“Well, she would’ve been proud.” Kristen smiled at Phillip. “So, you have plastic hooks, the little things to put on the back of your wood slats in case you don’t have them already, tape, red dots for when pieces sell.”

“Aye yo, Pip!”

Phillip turned and smiled at William Frazier, a guy he knew and associated with at these sorts of things. “Hey man, wassup?”

Will came up to Phillip and bro hugged him. “Haha, dude, it’s been a minute. Where you been? Thought for sure you’d be at some events over the summer.”

“My mom died,” Phillip stated before he dabbed.

“Wait, f’real?”

Phillip shrugged. “I mean, yeah. I was doin’ that all summer, so I prolly wouldn’t have been very fun to be around anyway.”

“Shit, dude, are you okay?”

“Yah, I started drinking gamer juice to cope, so it’s all Gucci.” Phillip turned and began hanging up his art. “How’s ya girl?”

“Left her, onto this dude named Eric now. He’s pretty cute.” Will rocked back and forth on his heels. “Are you really good, Phillip?”

Phillip let out a small laugh. “I’m making it. Just tryna not focus on it all the time. How’s your mom?”

“She’s okay. Finally left my bastard father, which rocks.” Will chuckled. “A’ight, I got like, a few more things to do before I’m done, but finish up soon so we can have a bit of time to kill and catch up.

“A’ight,” Phillip nodded.

The hour went by surprisingly fast, but Phillip had a moment to sit down with Will and another artist friend of theirs, Eryca, and snack. Phillip almost started crying when he read the note Dosia left but held it together, thankfully. The snack bag was good, and Phillip was grateful because, by the time he could sit down, he was famished.

“Okay, kids, gather round!” Kristen announced at fifty-fifty. When she had the sixteen or so artists gathered around, she began to speak. “Now, you all have such amazing works, and I’m very excited to show them off, but I want to run through the checklist so we don’t have another Benny scenario like last year.”

Benny, the kid who straight up hung his art up on the wrong wall last year, smiled sheepishly.

“Now, doesn’t everyone had their art hung up? Does everyone have their little description cards and prices next to the pieces? Does everyone have their red dots? Does everyone have their bios up by their walls? Is everyone well fed and hydrated? Is anyone getting blisters?”

“My heels a rubbing my foot bad, can I change into my sneakers?” Alondra asked.

Kristen nodded. “Yes, sneakers are always welcomed here. We’re artists, not businessmen. If Phillip is allowed to wear jeans, then you all are allowed to wear whatever you want.”

“Okay, well, in my defense, my girlfriend decided to wear the skirt I planned to borrow from her,” Phillip joked.

Kristen smiled. “Alright, well, is everyone ready?”

The group of kids nodded.

“Alright, let’s do this.”

-

George was the first one of Phillip’s friends to show up. Phillip smiled and laughed, hugging his friend. George hugged him back and definitely distracted him a bit. George definitely liked the art. George wasn’t a big art person, but he always showed up at Phillip’s art shows to be supportive and eat the cheese cubes.

“Dude, it looks awesome.” George smiled at the painting of Eliza. “You did good. God in your hands.”

“Thanks, man. I really appreciate you coming,” Phillip chuckled, throwing his arm around George. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask, when are the three amigos gonna do another campaign?”

“I’d love to, but I’ve been hella busy with this AP class.” George shook his head. “Bet we could do a quick one over break if we didn’t sleep.”

“Nah, let’s just wait until things calm down. We got movie binges for break.” Phillip squeezed George’s shoulder. “Theo’s dad said he was gonna teach me how to tie a tie tomorrow.”

“Damn, are you gettin’ points with him?” George asked.

Phillip shrugged. “I dunno.”

“How’s ya art sellin’?”

“Two pieces down, two to go. Makin’ bank.” Phillip chuckled.

George laughed, wrapping his arm around Phillip’s waist and giving him a side hug. “Congrats dude, you deserved this. Any sign of Daddy douche?”

“Let’s not call him that,” Phillip gagged.

“Yah, but he’s low key a dilf.” George laughed, then winced when Phillip smacked the back of his head. “Nah, but for real, where he at?”

Phillip turned his head and looked around. “I dunno. He’ll be here. He’s not gonna show up early, or even on time by any means.”

George laughed. “I’ll be your dad.” George nodded. “Hmm, yes, very good sport. I’ll tell you what, when we get home, you can mow the lawn while I yell at the baseball game.”

Phillip laughed. “Basically.”

“Hey, kiddo!”

Phillip turned to see the Burr family, smiling and waving at him. He smiled. “Hey, guys!”

“The Burrs!” George smiled.

“Hey, Aaron!” George's dad laughed.

“Yo, wassup Eaker?” Aaron laughed, bro hugging the dad.

“Not much, man,” George’s dad replied.

“Hey, baby,” Theo smiled, kissing Phillip’s cheek. “Georgey, are you stealing my boyfriend?”

“Didn’t wanna tell you, but yeah, I am.” George leaned up and planted a wet kiss on Phillip’s cheek. “He’s my sugar daddy now.”

“Yah, me ‘n’ George are going to the Bahamas.” Phillip chuckled, leaning in and kissing Theo’s temple. “Thank you for coming, baby girl.”

Theo smiled softly, looking at his art. “How did I luck out and get such a talented boyfriend?”

“It was the food you would make for me.” Phillip sighed and looked around.

“He still not here?” Theo asked.

Phillip shook his head. “No, but he’ll come.”

Theo nodded in agreement. “He will.”

A few hours went by. The rest of Phillip’s painting sold, except for the one of Eliza. The Burr’s left around nine, the Eaker’s shortly afterward. The show went to nine-thirty, and Phillip still had hope. He still hoped Alex would come through. He still could maybe picture Alex walking through the door, maybe apologizing for being late. But then the last person left, and Kristen dismissed them, telling them they could pick up the art on Sunday, and just like that, it was done.

Phillip managed to wave goodbye to people, promise plans, before making it out to his car and sitting down in the driver’s side, placing his head down on his steering wheel and hiccuping. He didn’t feel like crying in his car again, so he sucked it up and made his way back to the Hamilton building, parking and taking the elevator up to his floor.

It hurt more to see Alex sitting at the kitchen table, just working. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt less if Alex was doing something, but he wasn’t. He was just, just doing that. He didn’t even do anything instead, he just stayed home and didn’t care. Oh yeah, that hurt.

“And just where have you been?” Alex asked.

“What was tonight?”

Alex paused. “Huh?”

Phillip sighed, willing his voice not to crack. “What was tonight?”

“A meeting, but it got moved to tomorrow for some reason,” Alex mumbled, looking back at his laptop.

“Yeah, why was it moved? What was going on tonight that you said, no, promised you were going to be at?”

Alex paused, thinking. “Look, kid, you’re gonna have to help me out on this one. I can’t figure out riddles.”

Phillip let out a long breath. “I had an art show tonight.”

“Oh, how was that?” Alex asked, glancing at his laptop.

Phillip rolled his eyes. “Fuck you.”

“What did I do?” Alex gasped. “You can’t just tell me to fuck off every time you’re mad, that shit doesn’t work.”

“Oh, what do you care?” Phillip laughed. “I don’t know why I have any faith in you to step up and be a good father anymore. You obviously don’t give half a shit about me.”

“Phillip that’s not true,” Alex sighed.

“Or is it? Because you know what, you didn’t show up in my life until my mom died! You just feel guilty for leaving her alone-”

Alex stood up. “Phillip, Christ, I didn’t even know you were alive! Stop holding that over my head, because that’s your mom’s fault. If I had known-”

“If you had known, what? You would’ve sent twenty bucks and a birthday card once a year, and then nothing, huh? You wouldn’t have been a good father! You’re not a good father!”

“I’m trying my best!” Alex defended.

“Bullshit! That’s bullshit! You, you, that’s, fuck you! Jesus Christ, you don’t even fucking care about the people around you! You overwork John and all your other employees, you can’t even both to show up for me, you don’t even stay loyal in your marriages! There’s a reason you’re fucking alone, you know that?”

Alex swallowed hard.

“Yeah, whatever, fuck this. I’m going to bed.” Phillip stormed off to his room, muttering curses under his breath.

Alex sat back down, staring at his work. He slammed his laptop shut and stormed up to his office. He kicked over his office chair, letting out a loud ‘fuck’ as he did so. He went to the corner of his office and sat down in it, pushing himself back into it to stop feeling like his world was spinning.

Alex sighed and closed his eyes, swallowing hard. “Deep breaths, deep breaths.” Alex shook his head a bit. “Deep breaths.”

He was thankful no one was around. No John, no skittish intern, not even Jarvis, who was off for updates.

No one saw the great Alexander Hamilton, billionaire playboy philanthropist, richest man in America, bow his head and cry.

 

Chapter Text

Phillip and Alex hadn’t really talked much since that night. The occasional nod but that was all. Alex knew he had to talk to Phillip though. There was a big gala coming up, and Phillip not showing up was gonna look odd. Alex didn’t want to knock on Phillip’s door, because that was awkward, so he camped out in the kitchen. Phillip was a teenager, he would have to come out to eat sometimes.

Alex was surprised to see that Phillip didn’t come out from four am to three pm. Not even he could go that long without food, and he was pretty lacking in self-care. Alex was almost worried, so he ordered Chinese food, and then texted Phillip when it arrived, telling him that there was food.

Not two minutes later, Phillip stumbled out of his bedroom. He looked like he had just woken up. His hair was messy, tied up, and kind of greasy. He was obviously groggy and poured himself a cup of cold coffee before grabbing a container of Low Mein to take back to his room. Alex saw Phillip make a move to leave the kitchen and caught it just in time.

“Wait, Phillip, sit down.”

Phillip paused. “Why?”

“Just, please?”

Phillip sighed, taking a swig of his coffee and sitting down. He opened up the container and grabbed a pair of chopsticks, taking a bite. “Yeah?”

“Phillip, I’m sorry.” Alex shook his head. “I just, I’m sorry.”

The teen swallowed hard. “Okay.” He took another bite of his food. “That all?”

Alex let out a shot of breath from his nose. “Look, I’m not, I know I’m not a good parent. I never meant to have kids, I, I just, I don’t live a kid-friendly life.”

“I figured that by now.”

Alex nodded. “Growing up I never really had loving parents. I was on my own by sixteen. My mother, she uh, she died when I was a little younger than you are.” Alex shook his head. “And it’s just, it’s hard for me to, it’s hard for me to pick up social cues, to express emotion, to, to really just, be empathetic. It’s one of the reasons your mom left me.” Alex almost laughed. “Don’t ever think I left your mother, she was the one who left me. She knew she deserved better.”

“She did,” Phillip agreed.

Alex chuckled. “Look, I just, I do care about you, Phillip. I would’ve been there if I could’ve. I should’ve been there. For everything.” Alex paused. “I’m sorry I have never been the father you deserve.”

Phillip was wary.

“But we can’t, we can’t live like this for the next two years. We need to find some form of common ground. We can’t just hate each other.”

“I can. I’m extremely petty,” Phillip assured Alex.

Alex tilted his head back, laughing. “Okay, yeah, you are my son.”

Phillip rolled his eyes a bit.

“Look, we need to just, we need to meet in the middle somewhere.”

Phillip paused, looking around the kitchen. “Frankly, I know we’re never gonna be an actual family-”

Alex felt his heart twang at that but knew that the statement was fair.

“-But I, I’m sick of being that kid who doesn’t have a parent show up to anything. I don’t care if you ignore me while we’re at home, but can you at least show up so people can stop looking at me with such pitying looks? I’m, I’m sick of being the kid who lost his mom and was left with his shitty dad. I’d just, I’d like people to at least think something in my life is going right.”

Alex nodded. “Okay, I can do that.”

“Can you? Because you haven’t, yet,” Phillip pointed out.

Alex nodded. “I haven’t, but I will.”

“Okay, what? You need something from me?”

“Look, it’s no secret I have acquired a certain amount of fame,” Alex started. “But-”

“Wait, you’re telling me that you’re famous?” Phillip’s brows creased in sarcastic confusion. “But that makes no sense. You’re so modest.”

“Oh yeah, you’re mine,” Alex snorted. “No, look, just, I have to make public appearances sometimes go to galas, shit like that. I don’t like it. Frankly, I don’t like being around too many people. Business meetings are barely stomachable. But, I have to go. And as much as I tried to prevent it, news of you being my son got out.”

“Wait, why didn’t you want people to know?” Phillip asked.

“Because you didn’t ask for this life.” Alex looked around. “I mean, I’m forty-two, I’m kinda used to it, and I’m an adult. You’re just, you’re just a kid, and media can be mean. I mean, it got out that Spiderman was brown and I still see racist news articles about it popping up on my dash.” Alex shook his head. “Anyway, there’s a big gala this Friday, and I was wondering if you, maybe, would wanna come. If you say yes now and then don’t end up going, I’ll get it.”

“No, I’ll go. I’m not an asshole who says I’m gonna go to something and then cancels.”

Alex nodded. “That’s fair.”

Phillip looked around a bit, then took a bite of his food. “So, what, I have to dress nice or something?”

“Yeah. Dress like you’re meeting the mayor and it’s your wedding day.”

-

“Like you’re meeting the mayor and it’s your wedding day?” Theo asked, browsing the racks at H&M.

“I don’t know either,” Phillip replied. “I feel like I should get something nice.” Phillip picked up a pair of dress slacks. “Why is men’s fashion so boring?”

“Sexism, homophobia, men,” Theo listed.

Phillip snorted. “God, how do I pick between grey and black? They’re so different.” Phillip held up the pants that were basically the same shade. “Oh, should I do an ivory or eggshell shirt?” Phillip shook his head. “God, I can’t even decide. It’s all so diverse.”

“You could wear a purple shirt,” Theo suggested.

Phillip whined. “I’m an artist, why doesn’t H&M cater to my subtle homoerotic lifestyle?”

“Because your subtle homoerotic life has a girlfriend in it,” Theo reminded.

Phillip came up behind her, hugging her and resting his chin on her shoulder. “Maybe I can dress like Jesus.”

“Just don’t shower for a week and wear a sheet.” Theo snorted, turning around and pecking Phillip on the nose. “Come on, there has to be something that catches your eye.”

Phillip thought for a moment, looking around. “Okay, yeah, there’s one thing.”

“What is it?” Theo asked.

“She’s taller than me, dark brown skin, pretty hair, smells like…” Phillip leaned in, getting a whiff of his girlfriend’s perfume. “Mm, coconut oil and mango.”

“Freak,” Theo laughed.

“Baby, baby, please, gimme a kiss,” Phillip whined.

“Say please,” Theo giggled.

“I did!”

“Say it again.”

Phillip sighed playfully. “Theo Burr, love of my life, dearest darling, may I please have a kiss?”

Theo thought for a moment, then nodded.

Phillip didn’t hesitate, leaning in and kissing her lips.

She jumped away when her phone buzzed. She pulled away and checked her notifications. “Hey, our Starbucks is ready. I’ll get it. You, look for clothes.”

Phillip groaned. “Fine.”

Theo walked off and Phillip continued exploring the clothes. He wandered, and wandered, looking at things, until something caught his eye. It was a pair of jeans, so obviously not made for the gala. They were nice though, kinda worn, with a cool patch on them. Phillip began searching for his size.

“What the fuck is an eight?” He asked himself, checking the tag. “What does eight mean? Is that the inseam?” He shook his head, deciding it wasn’t worth figuring it out.

It didn’t take him long to realize he had wandered into the women’s section, but brushed it off, seeing as he was too indulged in the pretty colors. The women’s section was much more fun. There were overalls, for Christ’s sake.

“Where are the pockets?” Phillip muttered to himself, realizing most of the pockets on the jeans were fake. “Is this why Theo always carries around a purse?”

Phillip grew increasingly more confused as he explored. He cringed at a display of thongs because… ow. That shit had to hurt. Phillip continued along until his hand stopped at something. It was a red plaid skirt, a bit longer, but cute. Phillip pulled it off the wrack and placed it in front of his waist, spinning a bit in it. He found a mirror and gazed at himself with the skirt in front of him. It would go get with his combat boots.

“Gimme a twirl, princess.”

Phillip jumped, feeling his cheeks heat up as his hand fell and he turned and saw Theo. “I was just-”

“No, I like it.” Theo stepped forward. “What size is it?”

“Medium.”

“That’s too big for you.” Theo put it back on the shelf. “You have skinny hips, Pip. You are a small, at least.” Theo handed the small to Phillip. “Do you wanna wear a skirt to this thing?”

Phillip was quiet for a moment. “They don’t have any pockets.”

“No, they don’t.” Theo looked her boyfriend up and down. “But I can make you a pocket. I do it on my clothes all the time. I do pocket extenders on my jeans all the time. You can also shove your phone into your boxers or something like that.” Theo pulled a long green skirt off the shelf. “Try this one on too. It reminds me of you.”

“Wow, alright,” Phillip laughed.

Theo ushered him to the dressing rooms and waited outside, scrolling through her Tumblr until Phillip stepped out of the dressing room timidly, the plaid skirt on. Theo looked up, then let out a low whistle. “Damn, you should’ve started wearing skirts a long ass time ago.”

“Don’t objectify me,” Phillip whined jokingly.

Theo got up and straightened her skirt, pulling it down a bit. “Why is it so high up?”

“I don’t know where it’s supposed to stop,” Phillip gasped.

Theo placed her hands on Phillip’s hips, single out a part right below the top of his hip bone. “Here, pull them up to right here. You can go higher if you want, but this is where skirts usually sit.” Theo adjusted the skirt a bit. “Okay, gimme a twirl. Lemme see.”

Phillip gave a sarcastic spin, then a courtesy.

“Damn, baby, the look suits you.” Theo laughed, pulling out her phone. “Let’s see what George thinks.” She snapped a picture and sent it to George, who responded seconds later with a bunch of eggplant emojis, as well as peach emojis. “Looks like he’s into it. Try on the other.”

Phillip changed into the long green skirt and came out, striking a pose for Theo. “Am I beautiful yet?”

Theo kissed Phillip’s cheek, nodding. “Yes, baby, you are.”

-

“What are you wearing?”

Phillip flinched and turned to Alex, his hands shaking a bit. “A skirt.”

“No, no, not that, the tie.” Alex came forward. “You can’t wear polka dots with plaid. My son is not gonna be a fashion disaster. Hold on. Stay right there.” Alex left and returned quickly with a solid grey tie. “There we go, this will go better. Take your tie off.”

Phillip unclipped it, setting it on the kitchen table.

“You don’t know how to tie a tie?” Alex asked.

Phillip shook his head. “Theo’s dad taught me, but I forgot.”

Alex sighed, beginning to untie his tie. “Okay, come to the bathroom. We’re gonna learn how to tie a tie.” Alex lead Phillip to the bathroom and handed him the tie. “Okay, fat end on your right side. Now-” Alex began slowly tying the tie, making sure Phillip was following along. “Watch closely. This is an Eldredge tie knot. It’s the only one I wear where I wear ties.” Alex flipped the skinny end around. “Be careful, watch closely.” Alex shook his head. “Didn’t Eliza ever teach you how to tie a tie?”

“She didn’t know.”

“Didn’t she have any boyfriend’s or anything?”

Phillip shook his head.

Alex sighed a bit, finishing up the tie and looking to make sure Phillip did it right. “It was just you and your mother for sixteen years, huh?”

Phillip nodded.

Alex chuckled a bit. “Wish I had gotten that long with her.”

The teen shrugged a bit. “Shouldn’t have pissed her off.”

Alex laughed. “God, your mother was one of the strongest women I ever knew.” Alex straightened Phillip’s tie a bit. “There we go, now you look like you put thought into your outfit.”

“You think people are gonna be rude because I’m wearing a skirt?”

Alex shook his head, walking out of the bathroom. “They know I’ll have them killed.”

Phillip laughed. “That’s a joke, right?”

“Let’s hope we don’t find out.”

They walked out into the kitchen to find John, eating some leftover Chinese food with a suit on. The only constant in the Hamilton household seemed to be a medium order of Low Mein. It was Alex’s favorite, so he always ordered a lot of it. It was a comfort food.

“Ah! Don’t eat in front of me!” Alex complained.

“Sorry, sorry,” John mumbled, putting the food away. “Forgot you were fasting.”

“Why are you fasting?” Phillip asked.

“It’s Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday,” Alex started as the three of them went to the elevator. “I’m supposed to be forgiving people for the hurt they caused me, and making up for the hurt I caused them.” Alex groaned. “I’m not supposed to eat since it’s just a distraction, but this is more of a distraction.” Alex huffed, pressing the bottom floor. “Of course the gala is tonight. God, they’re gonna offer me food, and it’s gonna be good too, and I have to say no.”

“I called ahead and told them not to give you anything or serve you anything,” John reassured Alex. “Just, drink some water.”

“I’m gonna kick your ass,” Alex threatened.

“That’s not very Yom Kippur of you,” John replied.

“What’s this gala even for?” Phillip asked.

“Uh…” Alex shrugged. “I don’t know. John?”

“To thank our boys in blue,” John reminded.

Alex groaned. “I hate pigs.”

Phillip chuckled. “Me too.”

“Well, tough. You both have to go. Come on, Alex. All you have to do is say a few words and smiled for the camera.” John sighed. “I don’t exactly want to be here either.”

“Then why did we agree to come?” Phillip asked.

“Because the mayor invited us and it’s rude to say no.” John sighed, tilting his head back. “I can never breathe in these suits.”

“Phillip had the right idea.” Alex nodded to Phillip’s skirt. “Okay, okay.” Alex rolled his neck a bit, groaning. “I feel like there’s always something on Yom Kippur. Last year it was, was, oh, what’s his name?”

“Ben Carson,” John reminded as they stepped off the elevator.

“Yeah, it was that guy's birthday.” Alex groaned. “I just know they’re gonna have those good finger sandwiches at these things.” He sighed. “Next year, if something is planned on Yom Kippur, I’m just straight up not going. I have a whole ass holiday I need to observe. I’m supposed to be forgiving and redeeming right now.”

“What is Yom Kippur?” Phillip asked.

“It’s a day about a week after Jewish New Year, meant for you to forgive and seek forgiveness. It’s a nice holiday, it is, but you have to fast.” Alex shook his head, rubbing his eyes. “I don’t like not being able to eat, but I’m Jewish before I’m healthy.”

“Am I Jewish?” Phillip asked.

“Your mother was not Jewish, so no, you aren’t, not by Jewish law at least.” Alex waved down a limo and the trio got in. “Some people wouldn’t even consider me Jewish since it’s rare I get a moment to attend synagogue. But, luckily, I’m still technically Jewish, so…” Alex sighed. “I did not go to the Jewish equivalent of Sunday school and memorize the Torah until I was thirteen to end up an atheist.”

John snorted. “What’s so wrong with atheism?”

“Listen you repressed asshole,” Alex started in a joking manner. “Sometimes people like to have faith.” Alex looked at Phillip. “What about you? I know Eliza was a Buddhist or something like that.”

“Yup,” Phillip nodded. “Me too.”

“Good. Your mother had religion down to a point. She was the only one who knew what she was doing.” Alex chuckled. “God, why do they give free snacks in the limo?”

“Oh, Alex,” John chuckled. “You’ll make it.”

Alex leaned against John, whining. “Take me now, Pepper.”

Phillip snorted. “Pepper?”

John rolled his eyes. “It’s his stupid nickname for me. When I first started working for this company, I was a lower-level employee, worked on floor thirty-four, mainly did finance. Anyway, I caught a mistake that this fucker made-”

Alex smiled, his forehead pressed against John’s shoulder.

“And so I went all the way up to his office to yell at him.”

Phillip laughed. “So you’ve just always been unafraid of him?”

“Who’s afraid of me?” Alex asked.

“Are you kidding me?” John laughed. “You freak out employees all the time. The last guy you fired, you fired because you didn’t like his shoes.”

“I was in a bad mood,” Alex huffed.

John rolled his eyes. “Anyway, security came in to get me out and stop me from yelling continuously at our CEO, so I told them I had pepper spray, and I would use it on them if they came near me.”

“Did you?” Alex asked, obviously knowing the answer.

John shook his head. “I’m six foot four and two hundred pounds. I don’t need pepper spray. But I can’t just go around physically assaulting guards.”

Alex snorted. “I liked him so much that I fired the assistant I had, a quite incompetent girl who was always bugging me about taking a weekend off, and hired him.”

“Lucky me,” John chuckled sarcastically.

Alex rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I’m sure living in a penthouse for free in the middle of Manhattan is awful.”

John laughed as the limo pulled to a stop in front of city hall by central park. “Terrible.”

The three of them got out and were instantly bombarded with cameras and voices. Alex put a firm hand on Phillip’s shoulder, smiling for the cameras while John stood on the other side of the cameras, holding up his hand so to block his face. Phillip kept his head down as they walked through the cameras.

“Mister Hamilton, what can you tell us about your world wide free internet project?” A reported yelled.

Alex kept a firm grip on Phillip’s shoulder as he stopped, trying to position the kid so he was hidden from the cameras a bit. “It should be done in the next two months. Currently, I have been Facetiming with Elon Musk, seeing how we can collaborate with this since the technology is something I can speed up, but the space information is what he knows.” Alex smiled for a camera. “We hope to make it easier for not only struggling college students who can’t pay for internet, but also small rural communities all over the world to have better access to information, and contact to medical treatment.”

“Why financial gain do you think will come for this?”

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Alex shrugged. “I can’t take it with me.”

Alex continued walking inside, holding tightly onto Phillip. He was nervous, oh man he was nervous. He didn’t want Phillip getting pulled away and bombarded with questions and cameras. Eliza would have his head for that. She always nagged him, saying it was lucky he never had a child because no kid deserves to grow up like this. His wife after Eliza, Maria, said she’d have kids over her dead body, which Alex believed. Kitty really wanted kids though. Alex was always scared she was gonna poke a hole in the condom or something, so Alex, who knew well enough to listen to Eliza, got his tubes tied and never said anything of it. It lead to John laughing at him when he realized that Alex had a bag of frozen peas on his nuts, but in the end, she never knew.

They made their way through the group of people towards the stage. Phillip found himself holding up his skirt a bit, just because it felt like it would help him get around the people. Alex, at one point, stopped, turned around, and straightened Phillip’s tie, saying something about how it needed to be straightened.

They got on stage and sat in a row of seats in the back. Phillip immediately pulled his phone out of his pocket, scrolling through some art on Instagram.

“You know,” John started softly. “Usually, when people wear skirts, they have to sit with their legs closed.”

Phillip looked at his legs, then spread them a little more, looking back to John. “I’m wearing Spiderman boxers. They’ll be lucky to see my underwear.”

Alex snorted. “You like Spiderman?”

“He flirted with my girlfriend once,” Phillip shrugged.

Alex laughed out loud. “He does a lot more than the police.”

“Kills a lot fewer people,” John mumbled.

“Phillip!”

Phillip stood up, smiling at Aaron. “Mr. Burr, hi, hello. I didn’t know you were gonna be here.”

Aaron tilted his head. “It’s a gala thanking the police, and I’m the chief of the Queens police.”

Phillip nodded slowly. “Now that I think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Are the Theodosias here?”

Aaron shook his head. “They never want to come to these things. They’re having a girls night at home, so you know what that means.”

“Two pints of Ben and Jerry’s and rewatching Devil Wears Prada,” Phillip finished, chuckling.

“Phillip, who’s this?” Alex asked.

“Oh, Alex, this is Aaron, he’s my girlfriend’s dad.”

Aaron’s brows shot up. “You’re his… You’re Alex.”

Alex stood up, shaking Aaron’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Alexander Hamilton. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Aaron nodded. “It’s nice to meet you too. I should probably sit down. Phillip, I’ll give the Theodosias your love.”

“Thank you.”

Phillip sat back down, smiling a bit as he pulled his skirt over his knees a bit.

“So that’s the guy who doesn’t want you dating his daughter?” John asked.

Phillip nodded. “He seems to tolerate me more recently, but I think he just feels bad for me.” Phillip tucked a loose bit of hair behind his ear. “So, what exactly are doing?”

“Alex has a very vague speech he says at every gala like this. He thanks the mayor, compliments the cause, saying it’s very close to his heart, and then thanks everyone for coming, before sitting back down.”

“Don’t people notice?” Phillip asked.

“They do, but…” Alex shrugged. “I guess people stopped caring after I did.”

The mayor, Bill de Blasio, came up and began talking. Out of the corner of his eye, Phillip spotted Kingpen, sitting down and smiling. He kept an eye on him as people continued talking. Finally, after about fifteen minutes, it was Alex’s turn.

“Hello,” Alex started off. “Firstly, I would like to thank the mayor for inviting me here tonight. I’m very grateful I could come. The cause of…” Alex paused for a split second, trying to remember why he was there. “Of thanking our boys in blue, it’s very dear to my heart, seeing as I live in a city with police.” Alex gave a fake smile to the crowd. “Police do a job that no one else does, besides mall security guards. I’d like to personally thank the sixty percent of police officers who don’t beat their wives, for not beating their wives. The other forty percent can go to hell.” Alex nodded, so obviously not giving half a fuck about the gasps that elicited from the people. “Thank you, everyone, for coming out tonight.”

Alex sat back down and John huffed. “You could at least try and make it seem like you care.”

“John, I’m a billionaire in my forties, I don’t have to make anyone think anything about me.” Alex leaned back and listened to the rest of the speeches until they were dismissed to have dinner at the long tables. The trio was walking through the crown when someone interrupted their b line towards the tables.

“John!”

“Oh, Francis!” John chuckled, waving to a man. He was tall, with pretty grey eyes. Dirty blonde hair. He had a wild look to him.

Francis came right up to John and pecked him on the lips, smiling. “I was hoping to see you here, babe.”

John chuckled, rubbing Francis’ chin. “I told you I was gonna be here.”

“You get flaky on public events like this, though,” Francis pointed out.

Alex cleared his throat.

“Oh, shit, uh, Francis, this is my boss, Alex, and his son, Phillip.” John gestured to both of them as he spoke. “Guys, this is Francis, the guy I’ve been seeing.”

Alex shook Francis’ hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Francis replied. The man shook Phillip’s hand, his smile faltering a moment. “Alright, well, I should get back to making sure that Billiam has everything he needs.” Francis pecked John’s lips one more time. “We’re still on for Saturday, right?”

John nodded. “We are.”

“Cool.” Francis looked to Alex and Phillip. “It was nice meeting you both.”

Alex huffed a bit as Francis left. “You know, that was very unprofessional.”

“What?” John rolled his eyes. “Come on, Alex, you once had sex at one of these things-”

“Ew.”

“Sorry, Phillip,” John apologized. “But anyway, I don’t believe kissing the guy I’m dating is unprofessional. Believe me, that’s probably the least unprofessional thing that’s gone on here.”

“Still. You’re working. You wouldn’t kiss someone in the office.”

“Maybe I would.”

“I’m still here,” Phillip reminded.

Alex huffed. “Whatever. It’s whatever. Don’t do it again.”

John rolled his eyes as they all sat down. Phillip felt an awkward air between the two and briefly wondered if they were exes. They kinda acted like it sometimes. Not exes that hated each other though. No, they acted like exes who broke up because of circumstance and not feelings, which made for an awkward seating arrangement.

Dinner came and Phillip picked at it silently while Alex made dry conversation with people sitting near him and John tried to drown his boredom in champagne. When dinner was done, people were free to roam, Alex found some other rich people to talk to, John went to talk to Francis, and Phillip realized he was the only person under thirty in the room.

“Alex says the exact same speech at every event like this, you know that?”

Phillip turned and smiled at Aaron. “So I’ve heard.”

“But every time he fits in some little jab at whatever the event is.” Aaron leaned against the wall next to Phillip. “You should’ve seen him last year. We did a charity for the women’s shelter and throughout the speech, he just vagued about how housing prices are too high and landlords should not exist the whole time.”

“Ironic for a billionaire to complain about that,” Phillip snorted.

Aaron looked around. “I really shouldn’t be telling you this. It’s confidential, but…” Aaron shrugged. “Few years back, I was workin’ a case for tax evasion on your dad.”

Phillip snorted. “Ironic.”

“I know right? He wasn’t guilty, but you gotta check up on guys like that. Anyway, turns out, his net worth is a lot, but he’s barely got a million in the bank account. Most of it goes right into his company. It’s how they have all that tech.” Aaron chuckled. “Believe it or not, he’s not the highest-paid employee there.”

“Who is?” Phillip asked.

“Janitors.” Aaron found Alex in the crowd. “I would get paid more as a janitor there than I do as a cop.”

Phillip smiled softly. “My mom always told me that the only people I had to be nice to all the time were waiters, retail workers, janitors, and garbage collectors.”

“She’s right.”

“Can I ask you something I’ve always been too afraid to ask you?”

Aaron gave Phillip an almost unamused look. “Depends.”

Phillip paused for a moment. “What’s it like working as a black Muslim man in the police?”

Aaron sighed. “Uh, tiring I guess. Being black and alive in a society that values white lives more is, it’s difficult. I just, I have to earn respect a white officer is already granted. My wife goes through the same thing, my daughter too. Being dark-skinned, you gotta prove your worth. You lucky you hella light-skinned, you know that?”

Phillip nodded.

“I dunno. I feel like a traitor a lot of the times I put on the uniform. I joined though because, because I wanted to marry Dosia, and well…” Aaron paused. “I wasn’t always so good.”

Phillip gasped. “No! Really?”

Aaron looked around. “I used to have my own thing. Me and a few buddies would do art on buildings… uncommissioned.”

Phillip laughed. “You were a street artist?”

Aaron nodded. “That’s why I took a bit to warm up to you. You’re like, you just remind me of myself, and I know exactly what I did with the ladies back in the day.”

“Oh, I’m not cool enough to have ladies, plural.” Phillip shook his head a bit. “Besides, I don’t think I could do better than Theo. She’s the only girl in our school who can hit all the notes to Candystore from the Heathers soundtrack, and she knows the entire choreography to Newsies, so I mean…” Phillip shrugged.

Aaron chuckled. “You do make my daughter happy. But the moment you break her heart, remember I do have a lot of evidence that you’ve been vandalized street signs.”

“Noted.”

Aaron eventually got pulled away and Phillip was back on his own, wandering around. John and Francis were standing together, leaning against the wall, and Phillip didn’t want to disturb that. Alex was arguing with a few people, and Phillip didn’t want to disturb that either. He ended up sitting on the front steps of the building, a napkin full of cheese cubes to tame his stomach.

“Hey, kid.”

Phillip turned around to see Alex.

“You wanna ditch this bitch?”

-

“So, where are we going?” Phillip asked as the two of them sat in the back of the limo.

“Found out from the mayor himself that your art is still hanging up in the Brooklyn Museum,” Alex stated. “Gonna be there for another week, so I thought we should go.”

“It’s closed, you know,” Phillip pointed out.

“I designed the entire security system on that building. I can disable it from my phone.” Alex chuckled a bit and looked out the window for a moment. “So, you do art?”

Phillip nodded.

“Your mother always did art. She was a watercolor person though, and from the looks of my roof, you use spray paint.”

Phillip chuckled nervously. “It’s the only place I can paint without sticking up the room with fumes.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a roof.” Alex smiled softly. “What else? Is it just art?”

Phillip shook his head. “I’ve got basketball tryouts in a week, and then I also do Academic Decathlon.”

“You’re well rounded. What colleges are you thinking of?”

Phillip shrugged. “I don’t really know. Where did you go?”

“Columbia,” Alex told him. “I got a business major, and then went to law school.”

“That sounds boring.”

Alex chuckled. “It wasn’t interesting, that’s for sure, but I started up my business like that. We were mostly a tech company in the beginning, but we’ve expanded.”

“Where did you learn all that stuff? Like, the design and stuff?”

Alex shrugged. “I took a lot of shop and coding in high school. Got a biotech minor, took coding classes, physics. Hell, even chemistry came in handy. A lot of the tech I do, it’s new, they don’t even teach it in college, so I just learn about it as I go.”

“That sounds dangerous.”

Alex shook his head. “Nah, it’s fine.” Alex looked out the window. “Nothing will ever change if you don’t take risks.”

They arrived at the museum and Alex unlocked it as they walked inside. Alex waved at a security guard, smiling. “Hola, Jaun, que pasa?”

“Ya sabes, muy bueno. ¿Tú?”

“Mismo que usted, Solo estoy aquí con mi hijo.” Alex continued walking, following Phillip through the halls. “You ever learn Spanish?”

Phillip shrugged. “I took Spanish one and two in my Freshman year, but I don’t really know it. I tried to learn Chinese so I could understand what my mom rants about when she’s mad, but that didn’t really work out.”

Alex chuckled. “I tried to learn Chinese for her too. It’s… It’s a hard language to learn. Hats off to those who know it and speak it. Ballsy.”

Phillip lead Alex into the room with all the art. “A lot of this stuff isn’t mine. They pick a couple kids from each district. I’m still technically in the Queens district since I go to school in Queens.” Phillip stopped in front of some sculptures. “This is my friend William’s work. He lives up in the Bronx, but we always see each other for these art things.”

“He’s good,” Alex commented.

Phillip continued leading Alex through the art until they got to his. “And this is mine.”

Alex placed his hands behind his back, looking at the wall of art. He was quiet for a while, occasionally letting out a low hum. The art was mostly abstract, except for the one of Eliza, but that was it. Alex nodded, then finally looked back to Phillip. “This is what you do when you’re still up in your room at 2 am?”

Phillip nodded.

“You should still sleep more, but this…” Alex smiled, clapping Phillip’s shoulder. “This is good. I’m proud of you.”

Phillip beamed. “Thank you, Alex.”

 

Chapter Text

“Ow! Shit! Ow ow! Fuck! Dammit! Shit!”

Phillip rolled around on the concrete, trying to calm his aching stomach. He had just lost his grip on the webbing and flown face-first into a light post. He was lying on the ground, groaning, hugging his stomach as he waited for the pain to subside.

“Are you okay, Spiderman?”

Phillip opened his eyes and saw his girlfriend, Theo, standing over him. “Oh, my angel! How I knew this day would come. Here to take me to heaven, I suppose.”

“You’re fine,” Theo scoffed. “I still have a boyfriend.”

“No!” Phillip gasped, somehow pushing himself up. “How could you do this to me? I thought you loved me!”

“I love my boyfriend,” Theo huffed.

Phillip took her hand, smiling. “Is he as good as I am?”

“He’s better, he doesn’t flirt with other girls,” Theo huffed annoyedly, taking her hand back.

“I can give you a ride home,” Phillip offered, falling into step next to her.

“Not interested,” Theo replied.

“You don’t want to fly through the streets in the arms of Spiderman?” Phillip gasped. “Pray tell, good lady!”

Theo stopped, brows creased, then turned to Phillip.

“What?”

“You just…” Theo shook her head. “Nevermind.”

“No, what?” Phillip asked, adjusting his mask a little bit. “Come on, you gotta tell me now.”

“No I don’t, you’re not my boyfriend, I don’t have to tell you anything.”

Phillip groaned, deciding to walk on the side of the buildings instead of the sidewalk. “You’re no fun.”

“How do I know you’re not some thirty-year-old with a foot fetish? I’m seventeen,” Theo pointed out.

Phillip chuckled. “What do you even like about this boyfriend so much? Huh? What does he have that I don’t?”

“An extensive knowledge of Shakespeare's classics.” Theo looked over at Phillip. “Are you done?”

Phillip shrugged in a nonchalant manner. “Maybe.”

“Don’t you have a-”

Gunshots. Something in Phillip’s side burned but he pushed Theo behind him and looked for the source of the shot. He could see a man on a roof with a gun. People were screaming, and Phillip knew he was the one being aimed at. He quickly climbed a stop sign, then jumped onto the building behind him before shooting a web to the other side of the street. He swung over quickly, trying to ignore the pain in his side. The gunman took off, and Phillip was about to start chasing him when the pain of the wound finally caught up with him.

“Ow, oh, fuck.”

Phillip was feeling light-headed. He had been shot before; this wasn’t the first time someone had tried to kill him, but oh man, bullets really took a number out of him. He was dizzy, definitely not in his best state, so of course, he tripped over the side of the building, landing on the dumpster before finally hitting the ground. He let out a long groan because of course he just had to fall off a building.

“Jesus fucking christ, you’re a clumsy little spitfuck, aren’t you?” Theo huffed, walking into the alleyway.

“Waah,” Phillip groaned, trying to stand up, but relying heavily on the dumpster.

“Sit down.”

“You don’t tell me what to do, you’re not my mom.” Phillip’s head was spinning. “My mom’s dead.”

“You seem like you have a concussion,” Theo mumbled, dropping her bag and pulling out the small first aid kit she carried around everywhere.

Phillip slumped against the wall. “It’ll heal. Everything heals. You know, shit just fuckin’ heals for me.” Phillip smiled at Theo, who was sanitizing her hands. “You’re pretty. Pretty girl. Pretty pretty pretty.”

“Shut up before I let you bleed out.” Theo pulled out an alcohol wipe. “Is the bullet still in you?”

Phillip nodded, then sat up, pulling up his suit and finding the bullet, which was luckily sticking partway out. Ever since that spider bit him, he didn’t really get deep cuts or gashes, even bullets only went in partway. Phillip pulled the bullet out and flicked it across the small alleyway he was in.

“That looks like it hurts,” Theo mumbled, taking an alcohol wipe and wiping down the wound.

“It does,” Phillip chuckled. “Okay, okay, my head’s not hurting as bad, I think the swelling went down.”

“So, what? You just, you heal really fast or something?”

Phillip nodded. “Once got gashed in the stomach, and it was all better in a day.”

Theo hummed. “I’m just gonna put a bandaid on it, yeah?”

“Yeah, that’ll work.” Phillip paused for a moment. “Thank you.”

“Least I can do, seeing as you’re in love with me and I refuse to leave my boyfriend.”

Phillip tilted his head back and laughed. “Maybe I am in love with you, huh? Maybe I look at you and I see the sky, the stars, and the moon. Maybe I see the ocean in your hair and clouds on your cheeks. Maybe I see my life in your eyes.”

Theo paused, then huffed. “Find another girl. I see my life in someone else’s…”

“What?”

Theo was quiet.

What?”

Theo looked up, brows creased. “Phillip?”

Phillip’s blood ran cold, his eyes widening under his mask. “Wha… excuse me? What?”

“Oh my God.” Theo stood up. “It is you! What the hell?”

Phillip stood up. “Now, now, hold on, hold on, what are you getting at?”

“Oh don’t you dare do that. There is no one in the Queens area that has a birthmark that looks just like India on their stomach.”

Phillip began climbing back on the wall. “Well, look, hey, maybe there is, look-”

“Don’t you climb up a wall to get away from me!” Theo crossed her arms. “Where the hell do you think you’re going, huh? You can’t just avoid me!”

“Yo, Spidey, you good?”

Phillip was grateful to see Iron Man, flying above them. “Gimme a ride!”

“I swear to God!” Theo yelled.

“I’ll call you!” Phillip promised as he shot a web to Iron Man’s chest and flying away. He was breathing heavy. Of course, of course, he’d be stupid enough to get shot in front of his girlfriend and forget he has a very unique birthmark right around the place he got shot. Got, three years for nothing. Three years of sneaking around and hiding and making up excuse after excuse for every bruise. All to be messed up by a stupid bullet.

Iron Man set Phillip down on a building and flew down next to him. “What happened to your side?”

“Got shot,” Phillip answered casually.

“Why?”

Phillip shrugged. “They don’t like me alive.” He patted the wound. “S’okay though. I got patched up.”

“That girl down there seemed pretty mad at you.” Iron Man chuckled. “You piss her off or something?”

“That was my lady.” Phillip chuckled a bit. “I think she’s mad at me. She didn’t really know that I am who I am until just now.”

“Yikes.” Iron Man laughed. “I remember when my uh, my friend, he found out that I was Iron Man, and oh my God. He yelled at me for an hour straight.” Iron Man laughed. “It was funny, honest.”

“How’s that going, huh?”

“He has a boyfriend.”

Phillip shook his head. “Oof. Maybe you should try to move on, huh?”

Iron Man groaned. “Yeah, that probably is a smart idea. I don’t really move on, though, I just lose interest.”

“Then, lose interest,” Phillip suggested.

Iron Man sighed. “I’ll try. What about you and your girl, huh? She seemed pissed.”

Phillip nodded. “Yeah, she is. I know she’s been spamming my phone, just haven’t had the balls to check.” He chuckled nervously. “I’ll visit her tonight.”

“Yeah, you better.”

Phillip touched his cheek and hissed. “I accidentally swung into a street post, I probably have a nasty bruise.”

Iron Man chuckled a bit. “You’re too clumsy for this job.”

Phillip nodded. “Yeah, I really am. Could be worse though.” Phillip smiled. “Okay, we can’t just sit here all day. I’m getting a feeling about something in the Bronx. Let’s go.”

“I’ll give you a ride.”

-

Phillip flinched as he climbed down the fire escape to Theo’s window. What he had sensed in the Bronx was real trouble, and ended up getting a semi thrown at him, which hurt. Phillip’s shoulder ached a bit, but he was overall okay.

Phillip tapped on Theo’s window a couple of times.

She jumped a bit, looked over, and then looked back at her laptop.

“Theo,” Phillip whined.

She ignored him.

Phillip began pressing his face to the glass, making funny faces. It was a tactic he used a lot when she was mad at him and wouldn’t talk to him, but it didn’t seem to work this time. Phillip groaned, leaning against the window. “Baby, baby.”

Theo rolled her eyes.

“Please mami, please mami, please mami, please.” Phillip gave her puppy dog eyes. “Come on baby girl. Please. Please.”

Theo still ignored him but was obviously cracking.

Phillip reverted to step three in getting Theo to let him in. “Ain’t no sunshine, when she’s gone. It’s not warm when she’s away. Ain’t no sunshine, when she’s gone! And she’s always gone too long! Anytime she goes away.”

Theo rolled her eyes.

“Wonder where this time, she’s gone!” Phillip continued, getting louder. “Wonder if she’s gone to stay! Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone! And this house just ain’t no home, anytime she goes away! I know, I know, I know-”

Theo got up and opened the window. “Dammit, Phillip, you’re gonna wake my parents.”

“There she is,” Phillip smiled.

“You, stay here. I’m gonna get some shoes on.”

“Where are we going?” Phillip asked.

Theo didn’t answer, just slipped on some flip flops and climbed out the window, pulling Phillip back up to the roof. She let out a loud breath, crossing her arms. “Were you ever going to tell me, Phillip?”

Play dumb! “Who’s Phillip?” Not that dumb!

“Don’t you get stupid with me.” Theo glared at Phillip. “You lied to me!”

“I didn’t!” Phillip shot back. “I just… kept a secret.”

“Yeah, a pretty big secret, Phillip!”

“Well, I’m sorry, but in my defense, I didn’t really know the code with secret identities and girlfriends!” Phillip held up his hands. “It’s not like I had a handbook or something.”

“Okay, well, you still should’ve told me!” Theo gasped.

“Okay, well, look, you did think Spiderman was thirty with a foot fetish, I didn’t want to let you down.”

Theo was trying to stay mad, but that made her laugh a little bit. “Phillip!”

Phillip shrugged. “Look, I’m sorry! I just, I didn’t really know how you’d take it, and I didn’t want you to get hurt or anything.” He stepped forward, taking her hands. “I didn’t mean to make you feel lied to, that wasn’t my intention, I promise. I just…” Phillip shook his head a bit. “I didn’t even tell my mom! It wasn’t like you were the only one who didn’t know.” A sigh came from the teen. “Look, I just, I didn’t know what to do. I got most my information from comic books! I’m sorry, but once you get your information from Deadpool, you’ve hit rock bottom.”

Theo chuckled. “I guess I can’t blame you for not knowing what to do. But I’m still mad I had to find out after watching you pull a bullet from your side.”

“Forgive me?”

“No,” Theo huffed. “You gotta kiss me first.”

Phillip leaned in and pecked her lips. “Better?”

Theo paused. “So, like, can you carry people while you swing?”

“How’d I know you were gonna ask that?”

-

“Ah! Don’t drop me, don’t drop me! Fuck!”

Phillip laughed, holding onto her. “Theo, relax, it’ll be okay.”

Theo was holding onto Phillip tightly, her head in his neck, legs around his waist. He had gotten his suit on, and his web-shooters, and was swinging through the streets of Queens, being extra careful since Theo couldn’t fall off a building and brush it off. He was doing well though, laughing as Theo held onto him.

“You want a churro?” Phillip asked.

“I do,” Theo told him, still holding onto him tightly.

Phillip dropped to the sidewalk, setting her down and walking to the churro lady. Held up two fingers and handed her a five-dollar bill, thanking her as she gave him the churros and going back over to Theo, who was leaning against a building. “You wanna sit on a roof? I can carry you up.”

“Aren’t I heavy?” Theo asked, still out of breath.

Phillip shook his head. “I had a semi-truck thrown at me today and I caught it.”

Theo’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Point is, it’s fine.” Phillip handed her the churros and picked her up, carrying her up the building and to the roof. She sat down on the edge next to him, handing him his churro before digging in. Phillip pulled his mask up and kissed her cheek, then took a bite. “I do this every night, you know.”

“Every night?”

“Yeah. I always come over to Queens at night, after school too. Make sure everything is good.” Phillip took another bite of the churro. “Just your friendly, neighborhood Spiderman.”

“So every time I saw Spiderman on the news, it was you?”

Phillip nodded.

Theo gasped. “You flirted with me, you asshole! And then you let me believe someone else was!”

Phillip laughed. “That was fun. You always talked so much shit about Spiderman, that’s why it was so funny to me. You genuinely thought I was a thirty year old with a foot fetish.”

Theo scoffed. “In my defense, you very easily could’ve been.”

Phillip looked over at her, smiling a bit. “You said I was cuter than Spiderman.”

Theo rolled her eyes. “Oh shut up.”

Phillip took another bite of his churro, sighing. “Is the magic gone now that you know my secret identity?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“Damn.” Phillip snorted a bit, popping the last bite of churro in his mouth. “You know, you can’t tell anyone, right? Like, it’s just, it’s not something that can get out. People try to kill me enough when I’m only Spiderman, imagine how much more I’d get shot at if they knew who I really was.”

“You better not die.”

“I don’t think I can. Not by unnatural things, at least. I’ve been shot a lot.” Phillip chuckled. “Still hurts like a mother fucker, but you know, at least I can survive it.”

“Stop getting hurt.” Theo nudged him. “I should probably get home. My dad always checks on me at night.”

“Alright, hold on.”

Phillip swung her home, and quickly changed on the roof, bringing her to mock him for his hulk underwear. He made sure she got down the fire escape alright, and then helped her into her window.

“Goodnight, Spiderman,” Theo smiled.

Phillip rolled his eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Don’t get hurt anymore, yeah? You got a lady to get home to.”

Phillip leaned in and kissed her. “Alright, I won’t.”

“I’ll see you to-”

“Theodosia Burr!” Aaron burst into the room, gasping. “And Phillip!”

“Oop!” Phillip kissed her one more time. “Good luck.”

“Run!” Theo gasped.

Phillip scrambled back up the fire escape, hearing Aaron call after him. He got to the roof and jumped over to the next building, then the next, before quickly climbing down and scrambling down the street, hoping he didn’t hear the whoop-whoop of a police car. He quickly got into the subway station and sighed, slinging off his backpack, which held his suit, and leaned back, sighing.

Something caught his eye, and he was quick to slip on his mask and his web-shooters. He slipped on his gloves and put on his backpack, going to the door of the car and peaking into the next car. Two men were holding up a guy who looked pummeled while another one hit him, yelling something Phillip couldn’t make out during the noise. All three were wearing creepy clown masks. Usually, when the villains were just stealing or looting, Phillip would engage in some witty conversation. Sometimes, they were very interesting to talk to. But this was different. Someone was being hurt.

Phillip opened the door and quickly shot his web at the guy hitting. He moved forward quickly, knocking him back and shooting some webbing to keep him attached to the wall. Phillip shot one of the bigger guys, and knocked the other back, thanking God that he was knocked out on a pole. The man who was getting pummeled fell to his knees, coughing.

“Hey, hey, what’s going on?” Phillip asked quickly.

“It’s…” The man coughed. “They’re stealing technology from the New York attacks of two thousand and twelve.” He coughed again. “They’re arms dealers, selling it for high prices. Ex-employees of Hamilton Industries, trying too-”

He was cut off when someone grabbed Phillip by the throat, lifting him up. “We don’t like spiders in our office.”

“Your office is a New York subway?” Phillip choked out. “God, I knew rent was high, but this is ridiculous.”

“You’re chatty,” the villain commented, squeezing harder on Phillip’s throat.

“Call it a vice,” Phillip gasped, his throat going hoarse.

The villain pulled out a metallic looking gun. It wasn’t like something Phillip had ever seen before, though the look rung a bell in his mind. “You know what we do to spiders around here?”

“Get a cup and some paper and put them outside?”

The villain laughed. “Wrong.”

Phillip felt like he got kicked in the chest, then he felt like he was being pushed through the roof of the subway car at a high speed, which he was. It was probably comedic to watch, Phillip bouncing between the roof of the tunnel and the subway cart until the train ended and he dropped to the rails below, but it hurt like a bitch. Phillip groaned loudly, ripping off his mask as he felt blood beginning to gush out of his nose. He was limping, trying to make it to the next subway station. It took him about ten minutes, but eventually, he was climbing up onto the platform, shoving his things in his backpack before pulling out his phone.

“Hey, this is Hamilton, if you leave a message, I won’t listen to it. Text me.”

Phillip groaned, then dialed another number, praying it would work.

It rang twice before John picked up. “Hey, Phillip.”

“I think I need you to pick me up,” Phillip croaked into the phone. His throat was still sore, and his knee was aching something bad.

“Are you okay? Where are you?”

Phillip looked to the station wall. “High street Brooklyn Bridge station.” Phillip coughed a bit, then wiped blood from his face. “I could just catch an Uber, but I don’t have any money, and-”

“No, no, don’t, don’t worry. Hey, stay where you are. Ten minutes max, I promise.”

John hung up and Phillip sighed, leaning over to his backpack to hide his suit a bit better and check how much blood was on his mask. It would come out, Phillip decided. He leaned back, continuing to wipe blood from his nose. The metallic taste was in the back of his throat and on his lips. He felt very dirty, and from the look of his pants, he was. God, he probably looked homeless.

“Phillip, Phillip!”

John’s voice rang through the station, causing Phillip to stand up and wave a bit. He was surprised to see Alex right there next to him, looking almost worried. Phillip just wiped his nose again.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Alex exclaimed, seeing Phillip. “You look like you just got hit by a train!”

Oh, the irony.

“Phillip, sweetie, what happened?” John asked, wiping more blood off of Phillip’s face.

Phillip hadn’t actually thought far enough to have a story of what happened. “I uh, I got jumped.”

Alex didn’t believe that for shit. The kid was covered in train grease. He knew exactly what it was, but he didn’t bring it up. “Alright, come on, come on, let’s get out of here.”

He placed his hand gently on Phillip’s shoulder and lead him up and out of the station, John with them. They got into the car and John sat in the back with Phillip, continuing to wipe blood from his face and inspect any injuries, as he did. It was very easy to tell John was a father.

“Alright, you shower when we get home, you stink of subway grease, and then we’ll patch you up, alright?” Alex continued driving. “What were you doing out so late anyway? This is usually about the time I tell you lights out.”

“I was just saying hi to Theo,” Phillip told them, which was true.

“What happened? We should call the cops! Check cameras, see who these thugs are!” John exclaimed, dabbing Phillip’s face with a napkin to try and get the blood off.

“No!” Phillip exclaimed.

John gave him a weird look.

“It wasn’t, it’s not worth it. They were wearing masks.” That part was true. “I just, I just wanna go home.”

“Okay,” John sighed. “But we could call the cops.”

Alex eyed Phillip through the rearview mirror, wondering if the kid knew how bad a liar he was.

They got home and Phillip got in the shower. John pulled off his dress shirt, which got some blood on it and washed his hands. “You know Phillip is lying.”

“I do,” Alex nodded. “I’m not gonna push it, though.”

“Alex, he’s obviously lying, what if he’s in danger? You kinda have to push it.”

“Yeah, what does that get me? I was pushed a lot as a kid, and guess what? Made me trust those people less. I didn’t wanna tell counselors why I wasn’t getting enough to eat at home, and why my parents never came in, why I had dark purple bags under my eyes and scars cigarettes that foster parents would smoke.” Alex shook his head. “Didn’t do shit, pushing me, so I’m not gonna push him. I am gonna get him some mace or something.”

“Still.” John shook his head. “He looked pretty fucked up. He was bleeding everywhere.”

“Kids bleed.”

“Alex.”

Alex waved his hand. “He’s gonna be okay. He’s got me in him.”

“Yeah, he’s also got Eliza in him.”

Alex paused, swallowing. “I’ll get out the first aid kit.” Alex went under the sink, pulling out the big box of medical stuff. “How’s Hank?”

“Francis.”

“Isn’t it weird that you’re dating someone with the same name as your daughter?”

“Spelling is different, and also, don’t bring it up.” John shook his head. “I can get over it.”

Alex hummed. “Trying to think what it would be like, dating someone named Phillip.” A shudder ran through the older immigrants. “No, nope, nope. Hate it.”

“I don’t know why you’re being an asshole about this. What does it even matter? Huh? What’s the big deal? Why do you care?”

“I don’t.” Alex opened up the first aid kit, avoiding eye contact.

“I think you do. Why?” John asked.

“I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

Alex shot a glare at John. “Why do you care if I care?”

“Because I work with you! I don’t want you to become a dick on a stick if I talk about my personal life.” John huffed. “Is this some HR thing?”

Alex crossed his arms. “What did we just say about pushing me?”

“Yeah, well I’m different.”

“Says who?” Alex scoffed.

“You! I’m the only person who talks to you the way I do without getting fired, and there must be a reason for that.” John stepped closer. “What’s the matter, Alex?”

The older man grit his teeth. “Go home, John.”

“No.”

“Go. Home.” Alex was mad now. “I mean it. Just, get out. Get out. Leave.”

“Alex, that’s not-”

“Get the fuck out of my house, John.”

John was taken aback by Alex cursing. Alex got mad, but he never really cursed, not angrily at least. John turned on his heel though. “Fine, whatever. Take care of your fucking kid for once.”

Alex sighed, watching John leave, then got himself a cup of water, sipping it.

“Where’d John go?” Phillip asked.

“He was tired, I sent him home.” Alex sat down, pulling the first aid kid closer. “Come on, sit down. Let me fix you up.”

“Are you qualified to do this?” Phillip asked.

Alex cocked an eyebrow. “Do you know who helped your mother study all through nursing school?” Alex began dabbing an alcohol wipe against a gash on Phillip’s forehead. “You wanna tell me what really happened?”

“No.”

Alex nodded, putting some antiseptic goo on the gash. “Okay.”

“That’s it?”

Alex nodded. “I’m not gonna make you tell me.” Alex tilted Phillip’s chin. “You get choked out? How’s your throat?”

“It’s fine, just a bit sore.”

“If it’s still sore by tomorrow, we should see a doctor.” Alex grabbed Phillip’s wrist, noticing it was a little swollen. “Move your fingers.”

Phillip did so.

“Alright, you just need to wrap it.” Alex got to work doing that. “You know, your mother and I met in my senior year of high school, her junior year.” Alex smiled. “Her father, he, he hated me. But I would always sneak into her room at night, just to see her.”

“Ew.”

“No, no, not like that.” Alex shook his head. “You kids have a dirty mind. I just wanted to talk to her. Your mother, she, she made me wait a very long time for everything. We didn’t kiss for half a year. She wanted to see if I’d stick around.” Alex chuckled. “I loved her very much.”

“I did too.” Phillip looked down and swallowed hard.

Alex tore the tape as he finished wrapping Phillip’s wrist. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her.”

Phillip sniffled.

“Oh no.”

“Shut up,” Phillip muttered, using his unbandaged hand to wipe his cheek. “She was my mom, I’m allowed to cry.”

“Oh, no, don’t cry, don’t cry, hey.”

This seemed to have the opposite effect, seeing as a small hiccup escaped Phillip’s chest.

“Crap, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you sad.” Alex very awkwardly patted Phillip’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

Phillip shook his head, standing up. He was still crying a bit but wasn’t in the mood for the cold half-assed comfort his father could only seem to muster. “Whatever. It’s fine. I’m gonna go to bed. I’m just tired, and I have school tomorrow.”

“Christ, kid.”

Phillip just chuckled, turning towards his room.

“Hey.”

Phillip stopped and turned a bit, eyes red and cheeks wet.

Alex stood and again, very awkwardly, patted Phillip’s shoulder. “She loved you very much, I know that for sure. And… and I do too.” Alex wiped away a few tears from Phillip’s cheek. “Go to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Phillip swallowed hard, willing his voice not to crack. “Night, Alex.”

“Night, kid.”

Chapter Text

John sat down at his desk in Alex’s office, red eyes and a sniffling nose. He sipped his coffee and pulled out the planner he used, alongside the iPad. “You have a meeting in half an hour.”

“Go home, John.”

“No, Alex-”

“I heard you two fighting last night. Take a day off.”

John paused. “When did you hear us fighting?”

Alex looked up from his laptop. “Came to your place to give you some bread I baked last night, heard you guys in the kitchen.” Alex stared back at his computer screen. “Are you okay?”

“He’s a dick.”

Alex hummed.

“You don’t care.” John stood up, going to the coffee pot and filling up his mug with more coffee. “You don’t have to pretend you do because you're my boss. I’m not gonna report you to HR if you’re a heartless asshole.” John blew his nose and sat back down. “I’m fine.”

“What happened?”

“Just, we always disagreed on a few things, and he tried to pull that ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kinda shit. Bullshit.”

“What did he say?”

“Just that my life obviously was prepared for a relationship, and I had feelings I needed to sort out, and I had prior engagements that deserved my attention.” John shook his head. “Fuckin’ stupid.”

Alex almost smiled. “You think he’s right?”

“Oh, shut up, it’s not like you care.”

“No, no, I think Franky boy might’ve had some points.” Alex was almost amused, leaning back in his chair, playing with his pen a bit. “Do you think you have any relationships or feelings you need to sort out before you get into a relationship? Or do you have certain feelings that prevent you from being in a good relationship, huh?”

“I thought having a boss with Aspergers would mean he would stay out of my life.”

Alex shrugged. “No, it just means I don’t know why you’re crying. What feelings you think are unsolved, huh?”

“Don’t we have work?” John asked. “You kick me out of your house a few nights ago for fucking with you, but the moment you do it to me, it’s okay?”

Alex smiled at John. “Come on, John, what’s wrong?”

“God.” John stood up, sniffling. “You’re an asshole, you know that?”

The voice crack is what made Alex’s heart hurt. He stood up, walking over to his assistant. “Hey, John, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

John wiped his cheek. “Fuck, sorry, I’m just, God.” John shook his head. “It’s been a rough morning.”

Alex took a tissue and dapped John’s cheeks. “You’re the face of this company, you’re not allowed to cry.”

John laughed a bit, holding onto Alex’s wrist. “I’m not the face of this company.”

“Well.” Alex threw away the tissue. “You are to me.”

John smiled softly, sniffling. “You need a vacation.”

Alex took John’s hand, swaying a bit. “Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama. Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go. Oh, I want to take you down to Kokomo, we'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow. That's where we want to go, way down in Kokomo.”

John laughed. “You’re lucky there’s no offices near you because I don’t think HR would approve of you slow dancing with your assistant.”

Alex hummed. “I designed this building so the only people who saw into my office were people I was expecting. Before you, I didn’t even let my assistants back here.” Alex chuckled a bit. “You’re just special, so special.”

“Why so?”

“I just like you more.” Alex stepped a bit closer. “I like you, John Laurens.”

John smiled a bit. “Oh yeah?”

Alex tilted his head up, feeling John’s breath fan across his cheeks. “Yeah.” Alex leaned in closer, and he could’ve sworn, he felt John’s lips brush his own, but then…

“Alex, I, I can’t.” John stepped back. “I can’t.”

Alex moved back too. “Of course, of course, that’s inappropriate. HR would have our heads, and-”

“It’s not just that, it’s you and me, we, we’ve always been so…” John shook his head. “Things are just too complicated between us to ever be like…” John gestured between the two of them awkwardly. “I mean, come on, Alex, you and me? That’s crazy.”

Alex nodded curtly. “Yup. Crazy.”

John paused. “Alex, you just-”

“No, no, I get it. I get it.” Alex walked back over to his desk. “Yeah, I mean, I get it. No, especially me, I mean-” Alex almost chuckled, shuffling a few papers. “I’ve cheated on everyone I’ve ever been with, I don’t exactly have the best track record. And I’m an asshole. Half the time we’re together we’re arguing.” Alex nodded. “I’m gonna take the day off.”

“Alex, don’t be like that-”

“You should too. Everyone should. Tell everyone. I’m shutting down the company for the day. Go, go pick your daughter up from school, hang out with her.”

John rolled his eyes. “Alex, you can’t just shut down because I rejected you.”

“I’m not shutting down. I just, I don’t…” Alex laughed. “I know when I’m gonna do something stupid and I’m gonna do something stupid if I stay here.”

“Come on, Alex. I’m going through a breakup, and-”

“And that’s fine.” Alex swallowed, smiling almost genuinely at John. “Look, it’s not a big deal. Whatever. We’ve had this conversation before, and we’ll probably have it a few more times. I just, I don’t want to be here right now.”

“Well, where are you gonna go?” John asked.

Alex thought for a moment. “I’m gonna pick Phillip up from school, and we’re gonna go to uh, I dunno, there’s probably a broadway show starting. We’ll do that.” Alex grabbed his wallet. “What, what high school does Phillip go to?”

“Grover Cleveland.”

Alex nodded, grabbing his wallet. “See you tomorrow, John.”

“You live a floor above me!” John called out. “You can’t avoid me!”

“I won’t!” Alex left the office and then the building.

He got into his car and drove through the streets of New York, making it to the parking lot of Phillip’s high school. He sat back for a moment, scrolling through a few things, trying to find something to do. He bought two tickets to some kind of freestyle rap group that had just opened on Broadway, then got out of his car. The school day wasn’t out for a little bit, but he bought matinee tickets, so if they wanted to grab a pizza or something before, it was time to go now.

“Hey, I’m here to pick up Phillip Hamilton?” Alex said to the office admin.

“Who are you?”

“I’m his dad.”

“Okay, we’ll have an aid go up and get him.” The office admin began writing a pass. “Will you bring him back or should we tell him to get his stuff?”

“Get his stuff,” Alex told them.

“Alright, he’ll be right down.”

The office admin handed the pass off to an aid and Alex sat down in one of the chairs, sighing. He pulled out his phone, seeing a few texts from clients, and seeing how John had replied to them since Alex was never allowed to talk to clients one on one over text because he had no filter at all.

“Alex?” Phillip mumbled, walking into the office.

“We’re gonna go do something that’s not school since I’m not working today,” Alex decided, standing up.

Phillip raised his eyebrows but nodded. “I mean, alright. I’ll have to email a few teachers.”

“That’s okay.” Alex put his hand on Phillip’s shoulder and they walked outside. “I brought my car, so we can just come back later to pick up your car.” Alex and Phillip got in the black low to the ground Lamborghini. “You can have the Bluetooth.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Phillip asked slowly.

Alex almost chuckled. “I’m always nice on days I don’t work.”

Phillip connected the phone to the Bluetooth and clicked shuffle on his personal playlist, then sat back, only to sit back up and try to skip it, but not in enough time. Suddenly, probably the worst song Alex had ever heard came on.

“Bitch, I look like I’m fresh off the runway. Bitch, I go crazy the dumb way! Bitches wanna be me, one day!”

Phillip skipped it at that part, then checked to make sure it wasn’t a weird song playing before sitting back.

“Wow,” Alex nodded, driving. “What is it with your generation and weird music?”

“The undeniable fear that our school’s could either get shot up or our planet could die leads us to a more communal version of dadaism and dark irony because the only way we can cope with our depression and survivor’s guilt is through light-hearted jokes as well as dadaistic humor, which was invented during the twenties to help people cope with the great depression.”

Alex paused. “What?”

“I did a whole paper on this. The difference between dadaistic humor a hundred years ago and today is that dadaistic humor isn’t a famed thing, it’s more communal.” Phillip chuckled. “Dadaism isn’t a key to fame anymore, it’s just stupid Gen Z and millennial kids laughing at a heavily fried photo of a croc.”

“Folk dadaism. What class did you do a paper for this?” Alex asked.

“History. They asked us to find something that had historical significance that people our age were heavily participating in. My friend George wrote a paper on baking bread and farming.” Phillip leaned back. “So, what are we doing?”

“Uh, you ever heard of Freestyle Love Supreme? The rap group?” Alex asked.

“Oh, yeah, they looked really cool, I heard they were going on Broadway or something,” Phillip mumbled.

“Well, they are on Broadway, and I bought matinee tickets.” Alex leaned back, driving through the streets. “It starts in an hour though, so we have a minute to grab a bite. There any good places in Queens?”

“Uh, yah, there’s a little Carribean place on the corner of Nostrand and Sterling,” Phillip told Alex. “It’s technically in Brooklyn. Two blocks west and three blocks south of the Brooklyn Children’s museum.”

“A’ight, sounds good.”

They got to the restaurant, which wasn’t too crowded, and looked at the menu. Phillip already knew what he was getting. The curried shrimp at this place was godly, and Phillip meant Godly. He and Theo would sometimes go here and then ate way too much.

“Curry goat with rice and peas,” Alex decided. “Got, haven’t eaten any Carribean food since my brother came up.”

“You have a brother?” Phillip asked.

Alex nodded. “Yah. We don’t talk much, but sometimes he brings his wife and kids up, and we can spend some time together.” Alex looked over at Phillip. “I don’t think you have any siblings. Yeah, I don’t…” Alex thought back to when he got his dogs chopped, which was during Kitty. If Maria had gotten pregnant, she would’ve aborted it, and if Kitty had gotten pregnant, she would’ve demanded child support so fast that Alex’s head would’ve spun. “Yeah, unless Eliza had twins, I think you’re an only child.”

Phillip laughed. “I don’t think I have a twin.”

“Okay good, I already have one kid keeping me up,” Alex joked.

“How am I keeping you up, huh?”

“Gotta make sure you go to bed. You fall asleep at your desk way more than you think.” Alex ordered for both of them, paying and then sitting down at a table near the window. “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”

“I do,” Phillip nodded. “She’s one of my best friends. Her name is Theo. She’s the daughter of the police chief.”

“You’re saying the chief of police is the father of the girl you’re dating? Ballsy,” Alex commented. “How’d you pull that off?”

“Her mom really likes me, and worked with my mom too.” Phillip went and got the food when it was put on the counter and the two of them went to Alex’s car, sitting for a moment to eat. Alex was happy to eat some Carribean food. It had been a bit.

“Okay, so Theo, that’s your girlfriend right?”

Phillip nodded.

“Did you meet her through your moms or through school?” Alex asked.

“Kina both.” Phillip shrugged. “I mean, we knew each other before high school, and because we didn’t go to middle school together, we didn’t really know each other, but then we were in high school. I was a nerdy little dweeb who fit into lockers and yes, could be knocked into a trash can if you hit me from the right angle. Theo was, Theo was the girl everyone thought was a junior because she was way taller than most freshman. She was five foot eight by eighth grade, and I didn’t shoot up until sophomore year, so she was six inches taller than me for a while. A lot of the seniors would hit on her.”

“Gross,” Alex commented. “Your mom was that kind of girl, you know.”

“She was?”

Alex nodded. “Yah. I was a sophomore when she was a freshman, but I wasn’t cool enough to ask her out.”

“So wait, how did you and her get together?” Phillip asked.

“Well, I spent my sophomore and junior year pining. You gotta understand, she was in some of my classes because she was crazy smart, you know? Was in my algebra two class in her freshman year.” Alex laughed. “No, uh, I asked her to senior prom, and then she uh, she said no.”

Phillip snorted his food a bit. “She said no?”

Alex nodded. “She said no. She said she’d save me a dance, and she did. And then we started talking and we just, it was like an instant connection.” Alex chuckled. “We were friends for a while, and then I graduated, and she was a senior year, and I told her I was in love with her, and she told me I had to wait until she was eighteen.”

“Whoa! Did you mess with my mom when she was under eighteen?” Phillip asked.

“Prom was when I was seventeen, and she was sixteen, and we were just friends until she was eighteen, so no, I did not. We got married, God, it’s been about twenty years now, hasn’t it? It’s funny, even after we divorced, we’d always get together for than anniversary and like, I dunno. Your mother and I were always friends. We were better friends than partners.” Alex looked almost sad for a moment. “We’re off-topic, you and Theo, that’s what we’re talking about.”

“Oh, well she was this Goddess, and I was this scrawny rat who couldn’t grow facial hair and had pits as smooth as ice.”

Alex laughed. “Sorry, those were my genetics. I didn’t start growing hair until twenty-three.”

Phillip scoffed. “Thanks.” He almost chuckled. “Anyway, since Theo knew me, she started going off at the guys who’d shove me in my locker, and then ended up being the one who would let me out. We kinda became friends, and then second semester we had an art class together, and we ended up getting really close, and then over the summer I shot up another four inches so I was finally brave enough to ask her out.”

Alex chuckled. “Yeah, I don’t think you’re gonna get much taller.”

“Damn.”

“Your mom was taller than me for a minute.” Alex began driving. “Was a big scam, ‘cause we got partnered up for a chem thing, and she was this Goddess who was smarter than me, and I was some spaz who never followed the rules.” Alex smiled.

“Did you really love her?”

Alex looked over at Phillip. “What kind of question is that? Of course, I loved her.”

“I dunno, you did cheat on her.” Phillip shrugged. “I think it’s a pretty valid question.”

“Yeah…” Alex shook his head. “Your mom got me at a time in my life when I wasn’t… I wasn’t good. You know, I had a rough childhood, she deserved better. I did love her though. I never cheated on her because I didn’t love her, you gotta understand that. She was probably the only woman I loved.” Alex almost smiled for a minute. “You couldn’t have had a better mother, Phillip. I promise you that.”

“What about your mom, huh?” Phillip asked.

“Uh, she wasn’t… she wasn’t great, I’m gonna be honest. It’s probably shitty of me to say that, but she just wasn’t a good mother.”

“So did you live with your father or…?”

Alex shook his head, crossing over the Brooklyn bridge. “I never had a dad. I was a foster kid for a while, then lived on my own after sixteen, which was rough.” Alex looked at Phillip. “Whatever issues we have, don’t you do that. Don’t go running off and live on your own. It doesn’t do any good for anyone.”

“I won’t.”

Phillip and Alex made it to the show just in time. Since Alex was VIP, he and Phillip were given complimentary drinks, Phillip’s being a virgin daiquiri since there was no way in hell that Alex would let Phillip drink, then they took their seats.

The show was amazing. Alex found himself laughing out loud several times. The rappers were good, and neither he nor Phillip could deny that. Alex was glad he cut work for this. Usually, when he went out to things like this, it was for work, and the shows were usually something boring, viewed from a booth where Alex could discuss the weapons of war he secretly produced. That was probably the company's biggest secret. It wasn’t illegal, and Alex knew that. The American government was very in the loop, and the weapons were only sold to America, and American allies. Granted, Alex didn’t believe anyone should die for an oil company, but after a breakthrough a few years ago, where he accidentally leveled ten acres of forest, he had been hired by the American government to create weapons of war for them and their allies.

Alex sighed when the show ended and the lights came back on. He looked to Phillip, smiling a bit. “How was that?”

“Better than chemistry and gym,” Phillip snorted as they both got up and began walking out.

“God, you’re taking gym?” Alex gagged. “I got out of gym.”

“How’d you do that?” Phillip asked.

Alex shrugged, stepping outside. “Not too hard when they already pity you.”

Phillip was about to say more, but then his phone buzzed. “Oh, hey, my friends are gonna go hang at Chipotle, you think you can drop me back off at school so I can get my car and meet them?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah, sure.”

They got into Alex’s car and Alex took Phillip back to school, finding Phillip’s car in the lot and parking next to it since most were gone.

“Hey, Phillip,” Alex started.

Phillip looked over at Alex. “Yeah?”

“I, uh, I’m glad I got to hang out with you. You’re a real good kid, you know that?” Alex chuckled. “I’m very proud of you.”

Phillip beamed. “Thank you. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Alright, be safe!” Alex called out as Phillip got out of the car. Alex pulled and waved to Phillip one more time before beginning his trek back home.

Phillip reminded him so much of Eliza it was crazy. It was obvious to see that she was his mother. Alex couldn’t help but think about what it would’ve been like if he had stayed with Eliza, and Phillip was born. What it would have been like if Alex built his empire and a family at the same time. Oh, the things he could’ve done. Waking up every morning in a bed next to Eliza, taking Phillip to school, being happy, not being so alone. Before Alex had John, or Phillip, or anyone, his loneliness would be cured by a few hookers he paid nicely to keep quiet, though the empty feeling would still remain when he woke up the next morning and the people next to him were meer faces and names.

Alex arrived back at the office building, sighing as he parked and made his way up into his penthouse, grabbing his laptop, before going to John’s floor. John was on the couch, playing a video game. Alex sat next to him and opened his laptop, working on a few designs for his suit. Every now and then, he would tilt the screen over to show John what it was, and John would nod, then continue playing.

“You feel better?” John asked after he finally finished playing.

Alex nodded. “Yeah.”

“You hungry?”

Alex nodded.

John got up and got two forks, and two cans of chef Boyardee’s ravioli. He sat back down and handed a can and a fork to Alex. “Welcome to flavor town.”

Alex laughed, pulling on the tab and licking the top of the lid before stabbing his fork into a ravioli. “How was your day?”

“It was…” John nodded. “I ate like shit and played video games in my underwear for a few hours, so yeah, it was good.”

Alex leaned back, letting John pick something on TV for them to watch. “Do you feel better?”

John nodded. “I think Francis was right.”

“How so?”

“I think I have some feelings I haven’t sorted out yet.” John shoved three raviolis in his mouth. “I gotta figure that out.”

Alex nodded. “There’s no rush. Life is the longest thing you’ll ever do.”

“God, it is.” John chuckled almost. “What’s on the agenda tomorrow?”

Alex shrugged. “That’s your job.”

“True it is.” John sighed. “Meetings, meetings, carved out an hour for you to go create. Make some weapons so we can bomb the fuck out of Russia or whatever.”

Alex snorted. “I gotta work on my suit.”

“How’s Spiderman?” John asked.

“He’s good. Seems kinda happier recently, I know he was going through some shit.” Alex looked at his phone, seeing the twelve unanswered texts from Angelica. “Liza’s sister wants to come down for Christmas or whatever.”

“Oh boy. Last time you two were together, it was messy.” John remembered that time Angelica had accompanied Eliza on a visit. “And Peggy?”

“She’ll be there, but she always comes over.” Alex sighed, looking at John. “I’m gonna have to see these people regularly, aren’t I?”

John nodded. “Yes, but I’ll be here, so you’ll be okay.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Alex closed his laptop and leaned up against John, closing his eyes. “Okay.”

John brushed a bit of hair behind Alex's ear, pulling a blanket over the man. “Okay.”

 

Chapter Text

“So I’ve been listening to Lizzo lately-”

“Are you gonna break up with Phillip?” George gasped as Theo sat down in the stairwell the group hung out in.

“What? No! Where did that come from?” Theo gasped, leaning against an almost concerned Phillip, who was eating old takeout.

“I dunno, whenever I listen to Lizzo, I always wanna break up with someone. I’m not dating anyone though, so I don’t have anyone to break up with, but like, I wanna drop some trash man like a hot potato and go to the club and make my asscheeks clap,” George described, picking up a hot pizza roll with his chopsticks and popping it in his mouth. He wasn’t Asian, to his knowledge at least, but he has a pretentious streak and tended to only eat with chopsticks or his hands.

Theo creased her brows. “Anyway, I’ve been listening to Lizzo lately, and I really like her.”

“Yah, she fuckin’ slaps,” Phillip agreed. “Bodhi day is soon. Lost a lot of the decorations in the move, I gotta go pick them up at the store after school. My mom’s old rice cooker is in storage, but I’m gonna go pick it up after school.”

“Do you need us to go with you?” George offered.

Theo got a pained look on her face. “I wish I could, but momma wants me home early since it’s my baba’s birthday.”

“Well, I can go, if you want me to,” George offered.

“That would be great, dude, thanks,” Phillip nodded. “Haven’t really gone since… well, since we put the stuff in there. There’s a few other things I wanna grab too.” Phillip sighed, taking another bite of the Thai takeout. “I’d kill for a home meal right now.”

“You know that’s Theo’s thing. My dad and I eat hella takeout. It’s why I’m fat,” George chuckled, patting his stomach.

“You had to be fat because Phillip is a fuckin’ skeleton,” Theo teased. “I’m right in the middle.”

“Mm, it’s sexy,” Phillip commented.

“I’m the fuckin’ dimmer switch, you black and white thots,” Theo joked.

“I’m Asian!” Phillip gasped.

“And I’m definitely not white!” George defended.

Theo laughed, popping a grape into her mouth. “You know, I could hang out with people who don’t share the same two brain cells, you know?”

“How dare you insult me ‘n’ George’s communal brain cells!” Phillip gasped.

“We’re stupid and we like it!” George decided.

Phillip snorted, accidentally breathing in some food and causing him to choke a bit, coughing for a moment.

“Jesus fuck, here.” George tossed Phillip a can of Mountain Dew, and Phillip opened it, taking a sip.

“Thanks,” the teen gasped. “Fuck, I saw Jesus. You know how hard it is to see something that’s not even your religion?”

Theo snorted loudly. “You guys are fucking dumb.”

“Dumb for you, baby,” Phillip commented.

Theo begrudgingly pecked his lips, then stole the can of Mountain Dew, taking a sip. “This shit is fucking disgusting.”

George started laughing, taking the can from Theo. “Phillip, remember that time we fuckin’ like, blended Mountain Dew and Doritos together and drank it while we did our Lego Batman video game binge?”

Phillip snorted. “That shit tasted awful! My kidney was straight-up dying, bro.”

George laughed, leaning against Phillip a bit. “Yah, me too.”

School went by, and soon enough, Phillip and George were driving to the storage center in Queens to pick up a few things. Phillip had the passcode to the lock, so he just had to show his ID and go in. He was driving through the streets, blasting music. No Diggity was playing since it was one of George’s favorites. Phillip was probably going a bit too fast, but it was rare he got open roads in Queen, so he wasn’t gonna waste it.

“A’ight, I wanna get to Manhattan before rush hour,” Phillip started and they began looking for the storage garage that had his mom’s stuff in it. “If I start getting nostalgic, remind me of the four hours of traffic I have to sit in if I turn into a little bitch.”

George chuckled. “A’ight, but we got a minute, so you can bitch up a bit.”

Phillip found the storage container and stood in front of it, sighing. “I’m not ready for this.”

George grabbed Phillip’s hand, squeezing it. “I’m here.”

“Thank you.”

George nodded. “Take your time.”

Phillip took a deep breath and then stepped forward, undoing the large padlock and opening up the garage. A whiff of his mother hit him, and then it was gone. Phillip swallowed hard, and then stepped forward, sighing. “It would be in a box labeled kitchen stuff.”

“Alright,” George nodded, carefully moving a few boxes out of the way. “Okay, I feel like I can ask you weird questions, yeah? I mean, I’ve seen your dick.”

“Yeah, you got the right,” Phillip chuckled.

“Have you and Theo ever had like… you know.” George wiggled his shoulders a bit.

“What?”

George sighed. “You know.”

Phillip shook his head. “I don’t.”

“Sex, Phillip. Have you and Theo ever had sex?”

“Dude! We’re digging through my dead mom’s stuff and this is when you decide to ask this question?” Phillip gasped.

“Thought it would take your mind off things!” George shrugged. “Hey, I found some kitchen stuff boxes.”

Phillip came over to where George was and pulled a few of the boxes down, opening them up with a little difficulty. He paused, staring at the contents. “It’s her cookbooks.”

“What, like, the ones she bought?” George asked, peering over.

Phillip shook his head. “This is just, this is all of our family recipes, the ones she came up with, the ones we came up with.” Phillip chuckled. “Apparently, her mom left her a bunch of recipes before she passed, and now, now I have them.” Phillip swallowed hard. “Okay, I’m taking these with me too.”

George opened a box and then nodded. “Here it is.”

Phillip reached over and pulled the rice cooker out of the box, smiling. It was older, teal, with little flowers all over it. “It wasn’t dinner if this thing wasn’t on.” He put it back in the box and put it next to the cookbooks. “Okay, that… that’s it.” Phillip brushed himself off a bit and looked around. “I know that someday I’m gonna have to give a lot of this stuff away.”

“What do you mean?” George asked.

“People don’t just… they don’t just keep dead people’s stuff. It’s gonna have to go at some point.” Phillip looked around. “Feels… wrong.”

“Like a ghost,” George mumbled. “I miss your mom. I know I don’t… I probably don’t miss her like you do, but she was the only mother I ever had.”

Phillip chuckled, almost bitterly. “Same here.”

“I try to live every day so she would be both proud and exasperated by me,” George smiled, tears forming in his eyes. “She was the best.”

A choked sob escaped Phillip’s chest and he was instantly pulled into George’s arms. The two boys cried together, the smell of Eliza surrounding them as if she was hugging them as well. Phillip’s mom, the closest thing to a mother George had ever got, was gone, and they were both trying to accept it. There were still days George would turn to go to the two-bedroom Queens apartment, instead of the Manhattan penthouse. George hadn’t really been inside, and from his understanding, Theo had been in only once. Phillip didn’t like being there, and it was obvious.

“God, alright, okay, we’re okay,” George laughed. “Okay, we just-” George wiped some of Phillip’s tears. “She wouldn’t want us to cry.”

“Yeah, she didn’t want me to get the cops called on me in Jersey, but guess what?” Phillip snorted, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “Okay, okay, rush hour, rush hour, rush hour. Let’s go. Can you grab the books?”

George nodded. “Yeah, of course.”

The two boys carried the things out of the area and back to the car. The two boxes just fit into the trunk, and Phillip realized that this car may not be the best for his lifestyle.

“But like, have you guys?” George asked.

Phillip rolled his eyes. “No, we haven’t.”

“Why not?” George asked. “I mean, I’ve had sex, and I’m a nerd.”

“I dunno, it’s just never come up,” Phillip shrugged. “We never really thought about it.”

George shrugged. “Huh, figured y’all had.”

“Do we give off that vibe?” Phillip asked.

“It’s not like a horny bastard vibe, it’s like, you guys are just so comfortable and blunt with each other, I figured it was a given.”

Phillip nodded, thinking. “Huh.”

“But like, whatever floats your boat, man. If you ‘n’ Theo are good without it, that’s dope.” George looked out the window. “How’s Alex?”

Phillip shrugged. “I dunno. He’s been nicer to me lately, but it’s still like, awkward, you know? Like, I feel like he doesn’t really want me to be there. John is nice, though. I think he and Alex are hooking up or something.”

“What? Do tell, gimme the inside scoop on America’s favorite billionaire.”

“That’s an oxymoron,” Phillip scoffed. “No, just, John is his assistant but they’re like, kinda awkward around each other something, but more in the way, Theo and I were awkward around each other when we made out and then I had to skedaddle.”

“Those two lunches were… weird.” George shook his head. “I dunno, maybe Alex has a secret wife.”

Phillip snorted. “Yeah, right. Feel like if he did, I’d have to hear it all night.” Phillip pulled up to George’s apartment building, smiling at his friend. “Thanks for coming, dude, I really appreciate it.”

“Yeah, of course.” George stepped out of the car, then leaned back in. “I’ll see you tomorrow, alright? It’s Saturday, so we have some Lego sets to build and some nerdy movies to watch. I’m thinking Monty Python?”

“British people aren’t funny, George. All they do is drink tea and lose wars. Let’s watch Suicide Squad.”

“Fine, but only ‘cause I know Harley is gonna leave that clown of a Joker in Birds Of Prey.” George waved. “Bye, dude.”

“Adios,” Phillip chuckled.

George made it into the building and Phillip began driving back home. He got home and almost vomited when he walked through the elevator, boxes in his hands. He could hear high pitched moaning, coming from what was obviously a woman, mass amounts of it too. Someone’s underwear was on the ground in the middle of the living room, but the moaning seemed to be coming from Alex’s room. Phillip quickly made his way to his room, getting changed into his Spiderman get up and jumping out the window.

“Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew,” Phillip repeated to himself as he let himself fall for a few moments. “Disgusting.”

Phillip shot a web and then began swinging through the city, trying to get that picture out of his head. He swung through the streets, making his way to the subway station so he could get over into Brooklyn. He dropped down on the concrete, and then walked into the subway station, hopping over the turnstile and standing on the platform, waiting for the train. It was five on a Friday, so pretty crowded, but overall, Phillip didn’t mind.

“Are you Spiderman?” Someone asked.

Phillip looked down at himself, fully decked out in his Spider suit. “Yes.”

“Why?”

Phillip paused, thinking. “I, I don’t know.”

They nodded. “Okay.”

Phillip spent some time swinging around Brooklyn, around Queens. He bought a churro, didn’t fall, practiced a few things, did a few flips and other things.

“Yo, Spidey, can you dance?”

Phillip looked down from the building he was sitting on to see a few guys he knew from school. He slid down the building, hitting the pavement, and then began feverishly Fornite dancing, bringing huge laughs from the group as they filmed them.

“How much money do you have?” One of them asked.

“I have sixty-nine cents,” Phillip replied.

“Oop, you know what that means.”

Phillip sniffled. “I don’t have enough money to buy chicken nuggets!”

The group was cackling, and Phillip had to laugh too. Then he felt it. Something was off. Something was off on the corner of fifth and eighteenth. Without even saying goodbye, Phillip took off, swinging down the street towards where the feeling was coming from. He ended up flying face-first into one of the police officers there, groaning.

“Sorry! Sorry!” Phillip apologized, helping him up. “What’s going on?”

“They’ve held up a science lab, which is weird. Villains like this, they, they usually hold up banks, shareholder offices.”

Phillip hummed. “At least those guys said eat the rich.” Phillip hopped up on a police car and looked over at the building. “Are there hostages?”

“Yes, four, right by the tenth-floor window.”

“Oh, easy.” Phillip jumped up on the building behind them, scaling it quickly, and shot webbing to the top of the other building, so he would hopefully land right around the area of the tenth floor. He landed on the ninth, and crawled up, peeking through windows until he found the room where the hostages were being held. The door was closed, but Phillip’s senses told him there was a guard behind it. Phillip shot webbing on the window, then adjusted it, making sure it was on every edge of the window, before giving it a big tug.

The windowpane came flying out of the frame and crashed down onto the road below Phillip. Phillip looked to the police, climbing down and away from the window a bit. “Do you have a rope ladder?”

Someone held it up and Phillip shot webbing at it, pulling it up. It was about six feet above the sidewalk, but it would do. Phillip climbed back up to the window and webbed the ladder to the window cill, climbing into the room.

“It’s Spiderman!” Someone gasped.

“Shh, shh,” Phillip whispered. “There’s a ladder, right outside the window. You guys get out, go.”

“The guard, he comes in every couple minutes,” someone warned.

“Just go, go, I’ll handle it.” Phillip helped a few people out the window before he heard the door open. Phillip quickly turned around, shooting webbing at his face and running out of the room, closing the door and webbing it shut so no one could get in. Phillip was smelling smoke and followed his nose to a lab. Men in Avengers masks were there, burning some files, saving others, smashing computers.

Danger!

Suddenly, Phillip was grabbed by the throat and thrown to the ground.

“Caught him! Knew the fuckin’ spider was gonna try ‘n’ save the day!” A man in a Thor mask growled.

Phillip was about to get up, but the man pulled out one of those strange metallic guns, but this one was different, bigger. A blue blast shot out, and suddenly, Phillip was in the worst pain of his life. It felt like his bones were breaking one by one, and needles were tearing his skin, and his organs were being squeezed to nothing.

Phillip started screaming. It was the only thing he could do. He hurt so bad. It was hard to realize that kerosene was being dumped on him, hard to realize that they were leaving, locking the door from the outside. The room was smokey, fire was everywhere, but Phillip could barely think of that. He was still in mass amounts of pain. It was like nothing he had ever experienced.

He pulled up his mask and threw up onto the carpeting, head spinning. He was curled up in the middle of the burning room, trying to breathe through the pain, but only taking in smoke. His bones felt broken, and he felt the heat of the fire on his back. All he could do was curl up and close his eyes.

Meanwhile, outside, Iron Man had arrived, just in time to watch the van speed off, police on its tail. He looked around and then got to making sure people were okay.

“Is everyone out?” Alex asked, putting to use the suits first aid mechanism.

“No, no, Spiderman is still in there!” A woman called out.

Alex froze, barely able to spit out a breath, then turned to the building. “Jarvis, look for life in the building.”

“There’s a body on the tenth floor. Vitals are low,” Jarvis responded.

Alex flew up to the tenth floor and through a window, into the hallway. He followed the screen on his mask, showing him where the body was. He came to a room, smoke leaking under the door, and then ripped it off its hinges, bursting inside. Spiderman was on the floor, crying and squirming. Fire had started to eat at the back of his suit.

Alex quickly scooped up the hero and flew him out of the building, onto the street below. Spiderman was yelling like an animal, not seeming to stay still. Alex set him down and Spiderman curled up, groaning and crying, still shaking. He lifted his mask a bit and vomited onto the pavement.

“Spidey, Spidey, what’s wrong?” Alex asked.

Spiderman couldn’t answer. He was crying out, gasping. Alex realized how bad this could look to the public eye and scooped him up, bringing him to the top of a building.

“Jarvis, give me a vital rundown,” Alex commended.

“A radioactive counterpart is blocking Spiderman’s radioactive cell rejuvenation. Currently, every bone in his body is broken, and he is undergoing cardiac arrest.” Jarvis listed.

“What can we do?” Alex asked.

“We can neutralize the power but the suit will shut down for ten seconds afterward.”

“Let’s do that!” Alex gasped.

He reached out, placing his hand on Spiderman’s shoulder, and felt the suit shut down and become ten times heavier. He managed to sit himself down, watching the countdown until the suit started up again. Spiderman was still curled up, but his animalistic cries had turned to heavy breathing.

“Kid, hey, are you okay?” Alex asked.

Spiderman nodded slowly, pushing himself up, flinching. He stumbled a bit, but was caught by Alex. “Ow.”

“Jesus, okay, there we go.” Alex brushed off Spiderman’s suit a bit. “Okay, yeah, I need to make you a suit.”

“No, no, I don’t want some bulky crap, I need to be sticky,” Spiderman groaned, holding his head.

“I can work with that. Look, just, let me, let me design a few things for you, okay? You can just try it out, because this… this isn’t working. You were on fire when I found you.” Alex sighed. “Why did you go in there without me?”

“You weren’t there, and there were people in there, I had to go,” Spiderman sighed. “Okay, I need to sit down.” Spiderman sat down near the edge of the building, leaning against the side a bit, groaning. “Fuck, my head.”

“Your vitals say you have a concussion,” Alex mumbled, sitting next to his friend. “Wait for me, next time.”

“Don’t be late, next time,” Phillip mumbled.

Alex paused, then chuckled. “Do you have any idea of what that was about?”

“I know they’re ex-employees of Hamilton industries, I know they’re using technology from the attacks of two thousand and twelve. Arms dealers, but it feels like-” Spiderman coughed. “It feels like they’re planning something more.”

“How’d you find that out?” Alex asked.

“Few weeks back, caught em on the subway. Got the fuck beat out of me by a train, but found out a few things.” Spiderman sighed, looking at Alex. “How’s things?”

“Things are… they are definitely not bad, but they’re not really good, either.”

Spiderman nodded. “Yeah, same here.”

Alex sighed almost.

“Sometimes I feel like you’re the only family I have left,” Spiderman admitted.

“I feel that way too,” Alex agreed, looking at Spiderman. “I’m okay with that though. Because I’m proud to call you my family.” Alex decided Spiderman still looked kinda out of it. “You should go home.”

Spiderman nodded. “I do. You think you can gimme a ride to Manhattan?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Thanks.”

-

It was exactly dignified, to be in an elevator with your father’s employees in nothing but a pair of basketball shorts, but there Phillip was, half-naked, praying to get to his floor soon enough. At last, he arrived, and made a beeline for the bathroom, starting a bath and grabbing his phone. The bath was ready, and Phillip got in, then FaceTimed Theo.

“Hey, baby.” Theo paused. “You look terrible.”

“I feel it,” Phillip groaned. “Wanted to hear your voice. Is your dinner thing still going on?”

Theo shook her head. “No. Mom and Baba are out seeing a movie or something, some kinda date or whatever, so it’s just me.”

“Okay, then I can freely tell you that I just had every bone in my body broken, and I have a concussion,” Phillip muttered.

“Jesus fuck,” Theo gasped. “Are you okay?”

Phillip nodded and groaned. “Yeah, yeah, I’m takin’ a bath right now, just tryna let things heal and shit. My shoulder hurts like fuck.” Phillip sighed, staring at his girlfriend. “But I’m happy to see your face.”

Theo smiled softly. “How’d it go, getting your mom’s stuff?”

Phillip shrugged, propping his phone up so he wouldn’t have to hold it and sinking down to his shoulders in the tub. “It’s got.” Phillip laughed. “George asked me if we had ever had sex as we dug through my dead mother’s stuff, so if that doesn’t describe our friendship perfectly, I don’t know what does.”

Theo snorted. “Why’d he ask that?”

“He was curious, said we gave off that vibe.”

“How do we give off that vibe?” Theo asked.

“I don’t know, actually. Let me loop him into the call.” Phillip dried off his hands and added George to the FaceTime call. “Georgey.”

“Phildosia, how are you?” He replied. He had his phone propped up as he painted some DnD characters.

“Why do we give off the vibe that we’ve had sex?” Theo asked.

“I dunno, you guys are just comfortable with each other, just figured it was because of that type of intimacy, but you guys got other intimacy I see every day, so I suppose it’s not really a sex vibe, just a comfortable vibe.” George shrugged. “Like, Theo, when you braid Phillip’s hair at lunch, that’s like, like, I feel like I shouldn’t be there like I’m intruding on a private moment or something.” George laughed. “Theo sucks Phillip’s dick and I could be right there but the moment they braid hair I’m coverin’ my eyes.”

Theo snorted. “I mean, alright.”

“What about you, George? You got a girl you’re into?” Phillip asked.

“No, uh, actually, there’s this cute ass dude in my chem class, he got pretty eyes ‘n’ shit.” George smiled. “Been talkin’ to him.”

“Ayye! Maybe when you ‘n’ him get together, we can all go on a double date or something.” Phillip smiled. A spark of pain ignited in his head and he groaned, putting his hand on his head. “Ow.”

“Are you good?” George asked.

“Yeah, yeah, head just hurts.” Phillip sighed, leaning back. “I should prolly go. I need to relax for a minute. Don’t plan any government overthrow without me, a’ight?”

“Alright, we love you,” Theo smiled.

“Bye!” George called out before Phillip hung up.

“Jarvis!” Phillip called out.

“Yes?”

“Please dim the lights,” Phillip asked.

The lights went down and Phillip closed his eyes, leaning back into the water. The tub was heated, so he didn’t worry about it getting cold. He turned on some music, and let his hands float on the water.

Phillip woke up, coughing. He had fallen asleep and slipped under the water a bit, breathing some in. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant way to wake up, but Phillip decided that three hours was well long enough to be in a tub, so he got out and drained the water. His head still hurt, but less, and his knees only ached a little. He grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist, going back into his room and getting on some comfortable pajamas. It was late, but he hadn’t eaten dinner, so he made his way into the kitchen. Alex and John were there, working on something, a mass amount of food on the kitchen island.

“Hey, kid, we ordered food,” Alex mentioned, looking up at Phillip.

“Mmf, thanks,” Phillip croaked out, grabbing a few painkillers for sitting down in front of the food and taking the pills with a bite of enchilada.

“You just wake up?” John asked.

Phillip nodded, yawning a bit. “Yeah. Had a headache.”

“You probably have low blood sugar, eat up.” Alex pushed a can of ice tea towards Phillip. “Caffeine helps.” The older man took a bite of some food before looking at his son. “Bodhi day is coming up. Do you wanna do anything for it?”

“You celebrate Bodhi day?”

Alex shook his head. “No, but your mother did, and she always called me for it.”

“Yeah, uh, I picked up her rice cooker from the storage center where her stuff is today, and some cookbooks, so maybe we can have a meal. They’re doing some at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Queens, so I’ll probably go over there.” Phillip shrugged. “It’s where me and my mom went.”

“I know, I know I’m not your mom, but if you need someone to go with you, I’ll go,” Alex offered.

Phillip looked up, hope in his eyes. “That would be really great. This would be the first year without her, and I don’t, I don’t wanna go alone.”

Alex smiled softly. “Yeah, I’ll be there.”

John was smiling towards his paper at the civil interaction between the two of them.

Phillip nodded, taking another bite of the food. “Thank you.” 

 

Chapter Text

Phillip was still hurting a few days later. His ribs still ached a bit, and his head had a slight pounding, but overall, he was better. He had taken a day off of school, which Alex didn't push, seeing as Phillip was in pretty bad shape. Luckily though, it was Saturday, the day before Bodhi day, so Phillip was just relaxing, watching daytime television and drawing.

"Hey, kid, how you doin'?" Alex asked, sitting down on the couch near Phillip.

Phillip shrugged. "Fine. Just doin' art."

"Are you feeling better?"

Phillip nodded. "Yeah, I just got hit with a bug, I think." That was a big lie. "My ribs kinda hurt though, I don't really know what that's about."

"You think we should see a doctor?" Alex asked. "If you need to, just tell me. I'm pretty sure you're on my insurance. Have you gotten your flu shot?"

Phillip shook his head.

"Neither have I. We should do that today, and well we're at it, maybe just make sure you're okay, yeah?"

"I have never needed a doctor before, and I don't need it now," Phillip scoffed.

Alex paused. "Are you vaccinated?"

"Yes, of course, I'm vaccinated." Phillip waved his hand. "I just don't go to the doctor. Don't see why I need to. Just an hour of waiting, another hour of waiting, and then what? They tell me I'm fine? That I should just drink more water? Yeah right, I don't need that in my life."

"Well, you gotta get your flu shot. I can't get sick." Alex pulled out his phone. "I have a doctor who does home visits, and-"

"God, you're that rich?"

"Hush. I just don't like being sick."

Phillip sat up a bit. "Why not?"

"Because."

"Because why?"

Alex let out a sigh. "Because that's how my mother died. And now especially, I don't want to get sick now, because I have you."

"Why would I be a motivator to not get sick?" Phillip asked.

"Because I don't want to leave you parentless, and I have a weak immune system." Alex confirmed the appointment on his phone. "Okay, we're getting our flu shots today." Alex looked up to see an almost in awe look on Phillip's face. "What?"

"I'd be parentless without you..." Phillip shook his head. "Just, that's a weird thought."

Alex sat back. "You know, my father left me when I was very young. I remember him a bit, but he, he left me and my mother and my brother. Didn't leave any money. And then my mom died, and my brother and I stopped talking, and I just, I didn't have a family. But you, you have a family. I know I'm not much, but I love you very much, Phillip, and I'll be your family, no matter what. Whether it's easy or inconvenient."

"What is the deal with your brother?"

Alex shrugged. "We kinda just... We have some issues. There was a point in my life where I had nothing and he wouldn't give me some help or money, and then there was a point in my life where he needed my help, some money, and I wouldn't give any to him." Alex shook his head. "It was a dick move on both our parts."

Phillip hummed. "How long has it been since that happened?"

"Eh, fifteen years," Alex shrugged.

"You should probably talk to him. Fifteen years is a long time to hold a grudge and let me tell you, I've held some grudges."

"One hundred percent, you got that from me." Alex laughed. "You know, it's funny because I see a lot of me in you."

"You do?"

Alex nodded. "Firstly, we have the same nose."

Phillip put his hand on his face, touching his nose. "God, we do."

Alex laughed. "It's weird. I never thought I'd have a kid, I'm going to be honest. I took extra steps to prevent it." Alex held up his hand. "Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for you, but I'm also thankful you're Eliza's. Some of the other women I've been married too..." Alex shuddered. "Anyway, it's kinda interesting, just to see the person you're turning out to be. I see a lot of Eliza in you."

"Can you tell me something about her?" Phillip asked softly. "Like, I dunno, a story?"

"God, I have so many." Alex chuckled. "Okay, the night she graduated, I took her out for our very first official date. You have to understand, she was still way cooler than me. I was just some burnout with a garage full of tech I stole."

"Where'd you steal it from?" Phillip asked.

"School." Alex laughed a bit. "Don't be as stupid as me. Your mother picked me up from a jail cell more times than I can count." Alex shook his head. "Anyway, I took her to this little restaurant on Coney Island, Mi Candileja. Put a fuckin' dent in my wallet, I'll tell you that, but it was worth it. We uh, we ate, and then we started walking around the boardwalk, and she was still in her graduation clothes. Not the cap and gown, no, but she had on this pretty blue sundress, and these heels, and when her feet got sore, I had to carry them while she walked with me. It was worth it though."

"She would never wear heels as she got older," Phillip mumbled.

Alex shook his head. "God no. She hated them." Alex sat back. "Uh, then we uh, we went on the carousel, because she wanted to, and she kissed me."

"Gross," Phillip commented childishly.

Alex laughed. "I would just like to point out, your mother was very bold. She made me wait a lot, but that was okay. She was worth it."

"You ever think about what it would've been like if you and my mom had stayed together and I had grown up here, with both of you?"

Alex nodded. "Probably every day." Alex shook his head. "It's always so funny to me because, throughout my other marriages, she would always yell at me, telling me to make sure I never had any kids. My other wives, they hated her, because we were so close, and well, they just thought we were still together or something."

"You don't exactly have the best track record." Phillip shrugged. "Did you and John date?"

"What? No, we've never, no, we didn't date." Alex paused. "Why?"

"I dunno, y'all got the vibe like, you were together, but then you broke up because like, you had to, and just didn't want to." Phillip snickered. "I dunno."

"You kids and your vibe checks," Alex huffed.

"Vibe check!" Phillip yelled before chucking his pencil at Alex.

Alex groaned. "You gen Z kids."

"Baby boomer," Phillip accused.

"I'm gen X, first of all. Second of all, I actually quite appreciate your generation. You guys get passed off as stupid and lazy, but I mean, look at all the corporations that are falling off. You're killing chains, which I really appreciate, and oil? Diamonds? Also, you're one of the most culturally aware generations that aren't gonna die off from HIV by the time you're thirty, so that's awesome."

"You're the next cooperation we're gonna takedown," Phillip threatened jokingly.

"I like to think I have a moral company. All my employees are paid living wages, we hire both trade and college kids, and my goal is to save the planet, not kill it."

"Bezos," Phillip coughed.

"Ugh, God!" Alex threw his arms up. "I hate that man! He's an asshole! Look, I probably could be a billionaire if I wanted to, but I'm not an asshole. I took economics in eleventh grade, I know that the hoarding of money can send us nose-diving into a recession. Ten dollars can be worth a hundred if it's spent."

"I'm taking econ next semester." Phillip shrugged. "I dunno, I finished math last year, so I'm just taking some for fun math classes."

"Your mother was like that. Finished everything early, and in her senior year, she took uh, what did she take? She took religious studies, AP art, European history, and some health care classes."

The elevator dinged and a doctor stepped out, smiling at Alex. "Hello!"

"Dr. Pendleton! Good to see you," Alex smiled, standing up and shaking the doctor's hand. "This is my son, Phillip."

"Nice to meet you, Phillip," Dr. Pendleton smiled, shaking Phillip's hand. "Okay, flu shots. Mr. Hamilton, I think you're the only one of my patients who will willingly get a flu shot."

"Nathan, I have a hunk of metal in my chest that's keeping me alive, a needle is nothing." Alex rolled up his sleeve. "How's the wife?"

"She's alright. Child number four is on the way." The doctor cleaned the area of skin and pushed the needle in. "My oldest wants to be a doctor like me." Nathan finished up the shot and looked to Phillip. "What about you, young man? What do you want to do?"

"Crime," Phillip answered, pushing up the sleeve of his tee-shirt.

"Good business, crime. Anything in particular? Or just general crime?" Nathan asked, swabbing an alcohol wipe on Phillip's arm.

"I want to rob billionaires and buy up golf courses, and then cultivate the land back into the natural habitat and give the land to native American organizations."

"He is your son," the doctor nodded.

"Hey, we gotta encourage our kid's aspirations." Alex shrugged. "Hey, his ribs have been bothering him for a few days now. He was sick for a bit, but they're still hurting, right Phillip?"

"It's not a big deal," Phillip shrugged. "Just tender."

"Okay, hold on, let's make sure you don't have pneumonia." Nathan grabbed his stethoscope and pressed it to Phillip's chest. "Cough."

Phillip coughed, then winced.

"Deep breath."

Phillip breathed in and flinched again.

The doctor sat back. "Hm. Your breathing sounds clear. Have you been coughing up phlegm, or feeling like you can get enough air? Or have you felt feverish, or a loss of appetite?"

Phillip shook his head. "Just hurts."

"Can you pull up your shirt?"

Phillip complied.

"Oh, wow, how'd you get this?" The doctor asked, running his fingers along a bruise.

Play dumb! "What bruise?" Not that dumb!

"Phillip!" Alex gasped. "Jesus Christ, that looks painful."

"I was playing basketball and some dude got too rough and elbowed me pretty hard the other day." Big lie. "It doesn't hurt."

"Hmm." The doctor nodded. "I'm gonna assume the rib is either broken or bruised. You need to be on bed rest for the next couple of days at least. Alex, do you have Aleve or Aspirin?"

Alex nodded.

"Okay, Phillip, you're gonna take two in the morning, two at night." The doctor pulled out an Ace bandage. "Do you mind if I wrap your torso up?"

Phillip shook his head and kept his shirt lifted as the doctor wrapped the bandage firmly around his ribcage.

"Okay, bed rest, relax." The doctor stood up. "You should take it easy in basketball."

"I'll try." Phillip leaned back a bit, waving to the doctor.

"Have a good day, Nathan." Alex saw the doctor out and then turned right back around. "There is no way that bruise is from an elbow." Alex sat down. "You wanna tell me what actually happened?"

"Look, I just got too rough playing basketball." Phillip shrugged. "It's fine."

Phillip had other things on his mind. Why wasn't he healing? He always healed. Why wasn't he healing now? Was this because of that blast? The one that Iron Man had to neutralize? Phillip was almost panicking. Was he losing his powers? He couldn't lose his powers. Regardless of the help Iron Man providing, Spiderman was still an important hero.

"I'm gonna go lie down." Phillip stood up, walking out of the room.

"Phillip, wait, we should talk about this!" Alex gasped.

"No thanks!" Phillip called back, going into his room. He closed his door and laid back on his bed. He knew what he needed to do. He needed to get back into Alchemax, he needed to find that fucking spider.

-

"We need to do a crime," Phillip told Iron Man as they sat down together.

As Phillip had suspected, his powers were fading, and fast. He wasn't as sticky, he wasn't as strong, and bruises were lasting far too long.

"A crime? Don't we fight that?"

Phillip shook his head. "It's different this time. That blast, the one you had to neutralize it, it fucked up something in me. I need to find the spider that bit me in the first place. Something is wrong. I'm not healing, I'm not sticking."

"You're not sticking?"

Phillip shook his head. "You know where Alchemax is? Upstate?"

Iron Man nodded.

"I need to get there, and get in unseen."

"I can do that."

-

Phillip was surprised at how much Iron Man actually knew about the building, but soon enough he was crawling through a vent with an earpiece in, listening to Iron Man's voice.

"Testing, testing, one-two, one-two, do you copy?" Iron Man joked in a deeper voice.

"Copy," Phillip replied, laughing.

"Alright, the spider room you're looking for is coming up. There's gonna be a vent, and you're gonna have to rip it open. You're usually pretty strong, but if you need it, the earpiece can turn into a blaster."

"Damn." Phillip continued crawling through the vent.

"I've been working on your suit. I'm guessing you wanna stick with the red and blue theme?" Iron Man started. He was sitting on the scanning where Phillip was to make sure he was in the right place.

"Yeah," Phillip nodded.

"I'm giving it communication, so if you're in a situation like you were when you got shot with that blaster, you can just call me before you go in." Iron Man coughed. "Don't do that again, but the way. You scared the shit out of me."

"Sorry," Phillip mumbled.

"Okay, okay, there's a vent right below you, right now, but wait a moment, there's a scientist passing." Iron Man paused. "Okay, go down, quick. You gotta go quick."

Phillip pulled off the vent and dropped into the room. Webbing was everywhere, and so were spiders. Phillip realized this might be harder than he thought it would be. He took a step, then suddenly, felt a pinching in his brain.

"Ah," Phillip mumbled.

"Hey, are you good?" Iron Man asked.

"Yeah, I just..." Phillip stopped when he saw something. A trail of four or so spiders headed right for him. They all looked like the one who bit him and seemed to be willingly coming towards him. Phillip kneeled down and held out his hand. The four spiders climbed right on, up on his sweater, and stopped on his shoulder.

"Are you okay?" Iron Man asked.

"Well, that was easier than I thought it'd be." Phillip shrugged. "I-"

"Get out of there! Get out of there! I'm seeing guns! They know you're there!"

Phillip gasped and shot a web up to the vent, quickly climbing up just as he heard voices. Phillip was crawling through the vents as fast as he could, making sure the spiders stayed with him. Some of them dropped down but continued crawling with Phillip.

Phillip got out, then picked up the crawling spiders as he got into the roof, where Iron Man was. "I found them! They came right to me!"

"Good, that's great, but we gotta go, we gotta go right now." Iron Man flew up a bit. "Quick."

Phillip shot a web to his chest and almost dropped when Iron Man took off. They could hear gunshots, but Iron Man swayed to the left and to the right, narrowly avoiding the shots. The four spiders were cradled in Phillip's hand. Iron Man made it to a bus stop and stopped, letting Phillip down.

"Hey, I'm gonna circle back, make sure any film is destroyed. Believe it or not, this was a crime, regardless of whether we're heros or not. There's a bus that's coming in five minutes. Keep the earpiece in, I'll call you to let you know everything's good." Iron Man looked back to Spiderman. "I'll have the suit ready by this Friday and we can give it a run, alright?"

"Thank you," Phillip smiled, holding the spiders.

"Get your powers back, take a few days." Iron Man looked back. You have extra clothes in that bag, right?"

"I do," Phillip nodded, looking at the bag he had grabbed before leaving.

"Okay, change, get out of sight." Iron Man put his hand on Phillip's shoulder. "It was nice hanging out with you. I'll see you soon."

"See you soon, man," Phillip smiled.

Iron Man left and Phillip changed into his hoodie and some joggers, as well as a pair of combat boots. He threw on a hat, then put the spiders in the little jar he had prepared, which had some sticks, and some dead bugs Phillip collected from a windowsill. The spiders climbed in the jar willingly and began to attack the dead bugs.

There was a slight squeaking that Phillip swore he could hear from them, it almost sounded like words, and he was slightly disturbed when the thought of diving into a dead fly to eat popped into his brain.

"Can you guys hear me?" Phillip asked softly.

The spiders stopped and climbed to the side of the jar, facing Phillip.

"Weird." Phillip shrugged. "You can eat."

The spiders went back to eating and Phillip waited a few more minutes until a bus showed up, then got on, paying the driver and walked to the back, the jar in his hand. He sat down and groaned.

"I could use a burger," Phillip muttered.

Another image of eating a fly flashed through his mind.

"Gross." Phillip looked at the spiders. "I should probably name you." One of the spiders moved forward and Phillip thought for a moment, before deciding. "Natasha." Another one stepped forward. "Janet." A third. "Peter." And then the last. "Uh, I dunno, Scott."

Phillip looked out the window, watching things go by. They got back to Manhattan and Phillip went and got a burger, then went and picked up some things for his spiders. A small cage, some climbing things, some dirt, bugs. Phillip brought the stuff home and set up the little cage in his room, letting the spiders climb in.

"Do we like it?" Phillip asked.

Peter jumped up on a stick and then started making a web.

"Sounds like we do." Phillip paused. "I need one of you to bite me, with your special radioactive spidery venom. You know, the stuff that gave us this connection in the first place."

Natasha began climbing up the wall, and Phillip let her out, holding her in his hand. She crawled up to his wrist and didn't waste a second, biting him. Phillip jumped, but let her do her thing. When she was done, she climbed back on Phillip's hand and stared at him until he put her back in the cage.

"Okay, guys." Phillip sat down in front of the cage. "I'll let you out when I'm around, I promise, but during the day, you gotta stay in here, just in case someone sees you and smashed you with a newspaper." A jolt of fear shot through Phillip's body and he jumped. "Oh, sorry! Sorry! That won't happen, just stay in my room, yeah?" Phillip sighed. I'm gonna go get you guys some water, I'll be right back."

Phillip put the spider cage on a small table near the window and went into the kitchen to get a small plate of water with a bit of sponge in it so they could drink it. "Alex! I'm cutting up one of our sponges!"

No response.

"That's a yes," Phillip decided. He cut up a new sponge and put it in a small saucer of water before bringing it back to his room. He put the water in the cage and then laid down. He knew he was about to get really tired, so he picked up a book and started reading.

Phillip passed out, book on his face, and striking amounts of radioactivity going on in his body.

 

Chapter Text

“Whatcha doin’?” John asked, looking at Alex, who was lying on the floor of his office.

“Brain’s not working,” Alex replied, keeping his eyes closed. “Can’t think. Too much.”

“You need something?”

Alex shook his head, then nodded. “The day to be over.”

“First night of Hanukkah is tomorrow,” John noted, sitting down. “Are we doing anything?”

Alex pushed himself up on his elbows. “We actually need to get some gifts for Phillip.” Alex sat back. “And Angelica is coming down.” Alex let out a long breath. “What do you buy for your son who probably hates your guts but is stuck with you until he’s eighteen?”

“An Xbox?”

Alex nodded. “Yes, what did you buy for Francis during the divorce?”

“Uh, Francis was one, so I didn’t really have to buy her love.” John looked over at Alex. “Are you stressed?”

Alex nodded. “Very.”

“Should we go Hanukkah shopping since you don’t really have anything to do today?”

“Yes,” Alex mumbled, sitting up. “Do you get Francis today?”

John shook his head. “Tomorrow though.”

Alex smiled. “I like Francis. I think she’s smart. What is her current career choice?”

“Biotech,” John answered.

Alex cheered. “Yes! I love that! I love it when gets like STEM careers, especially brown kids. Especially brown girls.”

John snorted as they walked down the hallway. “Why?”

“Because the more brown and black boys and girls in this job, the less pretentious white people.” Alex sighed. “When I retire, I want to find a woman to take over. I think a woman would do a much better job than any man I could hire. Women are organized and smart.” Alex smiled softly. “Eliza would run this place like no one’s business.”

“What if Phillip showed interest?” John asked.

“Phillip’s incredibly smart, but the kid’s an artist through and through. I wouldn’t think twice about hiring him for the design team if I must be honest.” Alex shook his head. “That’s not nepotism though. I’ve seen Phillip’s art, he’s good, and I bet he could be a great designer.” Alex walked into the elevator, looking at John.

“What?”

Alex just smiled, squinting a bit.

What?”

“Stop moving.”

John felt his cheeks heat up. “What are you doing?”

“Counting your freckles.”

John put his hand on Alex’s face and pushed him away a bit, smiling. “Dork.”

“You’re a dork, dork.”

“No, you.”

Alex crossed his arms, smiling. “Dork.”

John stared at Alex for a second, then shook his head. “Dammit.”

Alex didn’t expect the kiss, but oh, did he enjoy it. John had him up against the elevator wall, hands in his hair. Alex wrapped his arms around John’s neck, leaning into the kiss, moaning at the younger man bit his lip. John gripped Alex’s hip, placing a knee between his bosses legs. It was a mess of spit and moaning. They didn’t hear the elevator ding on a floor that was not the one they were headed to.

“Mr. Hamilton-”

John and Alex broke away, faces burning. Two interns and a low-level client stared at them, wide eyes. One of the interns was trying not to laugh. John stepped back, giving them room to step on. Alex, out of anxiety, pulled out his phone and began staring at nothing in particular. No one said anything, even after the interns and the client got off on the lobby. There was an awkward air between John and Alex as they walked through the parking garage.

“John, I’m-”

Alex was cut up when John quickly pulled him in the backseat of a black hummer. It took a second of them getting adjusted, but the make-out session was quickly resumed. John tugged off Alex’s tie and beginning unbuttoning the man’s shirt.

“Wait, are we, are we gonna…” Alex stared up at John.

“If you want to,” John replied, kissing Alex’s neck.

“I do, I do,” Alex nodded.

John looked at Alex, smiling a bit. “Cool.”

Half an hour later, Alex laid on top of John, eyes closed, sweat dripping down his bareback. The car was steamy almost, the windows fogged up. It was hot, but neither of them wanted to move. John could feel the metal in Alex’s chest pressing against his own chest, but it didn’t bother him. He just kept running his hand over Alex’s bare ass, sighing. The seats of the car were probably a mess, but neither of them cared.

Alex sat up, running his hand over the slight marks in John’s chest from the reactor in his chest. “We have to stop doing this.”

“Why?” John asked, touching Alex’s thighs.

“Because where is it gonna take us?”

John’s lips tugged down. “Can you please lie back down?”

“Why?”

John took Alex’s hand. “I wanna hold you for a little longer.”

Alex laid back down, and John hugged him, sighing.

“Maybe we’re not crazy,” John mumbled.

“Don’t say things you don’t mean,” Alex replied, curling a bit of John’s hair in his fingers.

“I’m not.” John trailed his fingers across the soft back of Alex, tracing over his spine and ribs, the scar that ran from his left shoulder to his right hip. “Maybe you and me, maybe we aren’t so crazy. Maybe we’re more than just quick hookups in the back of your stupid twenty-eighteen Hummer. Maybe we-” John stopped when he heard Alex sniffle. “Alex, hey, hey, what’s wrong?”

Alex sat back up. “You always do this, John.” Alex wiped his cheeks. “We hookup and you get my hopes up, talking this shit, and then the next day you change your mind.” Alex hiccuped. “I can’t fucking… I can’t do this! I can’t keep getting led on by you.” Alex shook his head. “You don’t even know, you… dammit, John, you mean so much to me, but I don’t mean that much to you, and-”

“You don’t know that!” John defended, sitting up.

Alex leaned his head against John’s shoulder, letting himself cry. “No, I don’t. I never have.” Alex hugged John. “The only time you ever act as we could be more is after we fuck.” Alex sniffled, leaning back. “John, I just…” Alex sighed. “I like you, John. I really like you.”

“I like you too-”

“No, you don’t.” Alex leaned in, gently pressing his lips to John’s. “It hurts, thinking about you marrying someone else, loving someone else, kissing them before you go to work, making them coffee on Saturday mornings, slow dancing in the kitchen. But you’re gonna be so happy when you find that person.” Alex kissed John’s lips one more time. “And maybe I would give anything to be that person, but I’d rather see you happy than see me happy.”

John swallowed hard, feeling tears come to his eyes.

“Lie back down.” Alex pushed John down and laid back down on top of him. “Don’t talk this time. Let me pretend I’m yours, and you can pretend I’m someone else.”

Alex closed his eyes, letting John hold him for a little longer. The car reeked of sex by the time they stumbled out of it, jeans not zipped, shirts not buttoned, hair down and messy. John tied his hair up and found the keys to a car. John drove, Alex sat in the passenger seat, finding a new radio station, since you lost reception to the station you were listening to in New York.

John pulled into a parking garage near a mall, and looked to Alex. “You really think you’re not that person for me?”

Alex shook his head. “Come on, John. We’re those people who, maybe, maybe if the circumstances had been better, it would’ve worked, but they weren’t, and we won’t. You were right the first time. You and me? That’s crazy.”

John stared at the wheel. “I think you’re wrong.”

“You’re contradicting yourself.”

“I know.” John looked back over at Alex. “I hope we can get on the same page soon. I feel like we’ve already wasted enough time.”

Alex smiled, nudging his hand over John’s hand. “Maybe we have, John Laurens. Maybe we have.”

The two of them did some holiday shopping, Alex making sure to buy Phillip enough gifts, and even some books for a few employees, including John. John got some gifts for his daughter, a few for Phillip, and one for Alex. They were awkward around each other, but eventually had to sit down in front of each other and eat some food together. Alex was quiet, staring at the mall sushi that wasn’t very good, while John scrolled through his phone. They probably looked like they were on a shitty date, or were split parents trying to hold it together for the kids.

“So you won’t be able to make eye contact with me for the next week, right?”

“What? Yes, I will,” John defended, not making eye contact with Alex.

Alex finished off his food and stood up. “Yeah, whatever you say. I gotta stop by a bookshop, so you can come, or you can do whatever you’re doing.”

John stood up. “I’ll come.”

The two of them walked quietly to the bookshop, avoiding walking too close. Alex cringed at the Christmas music that was playing throughout the store. The red white and green was bugging him. He missed the gold and blue his house had been slowly decorated with.

John looked over at Alex. “What’d you get Phillip?”

“A lot of art supplies, a few books, stuff like that.” Alex huffed. “My first Hanukkah with a kid. Hope I don’t fuck it up.”

“You won’t.”

-

“Whoa, it smells good out here,” Phillip mumbled, walking into the kitchen. “What did we order?”

“Glance upon your father, for this is the only time you will ever see him cook,” John chuckled sarcastically.

“Hardy har,” Alex mumbled, looking over the browned and overused recipes. “I’m making latkes, matzo ball soup, donuts, noodle kugel, and there’s challah bread that’s cooling. Happy Hanukkah, Phillip.”

“Happy Hanukkah.” Phillip sat down. “So, what?”

“We eat dinner, we pray and light the Menorah, and then we open gifts and I dunno, watch a movie or something.” Alex stirred the soup and checked the kugel. “Have you ever celebrated Hanukkah?”

Phillip shook his head. “Is your family like converts or something?”

Alex shook his head. “My mother was an Isreal immigrant to St. Kitts, and my father was Latino, so I have Jewish heritage from my mother, Hispanic heritage from my father. You have the blood of God running through your veins.”

“Do Christians not?” John mused.

Alex looked John in the eye. “No, those flip-flopper ass bitches don’t.”

Phillip snorted.

“I mean, look, all respect to all religions, but those Jesus religions are just idol worship.” Alex huffed. “I mean, you guys don’t even worship God! You worship Jesus.”

“God is Jesus,” John reminded.

“No, no, no! That’s just ridiculous! Look, okay, sure, a thousand years ago, some dirty socialist hippies walked around and like, whipped table makers or whatever, but was he the son of God or God or whatever? No! He just had mental problems!”

“Then you guys should’ve helped him instead of crucifying him,” John teased.

“I’m sorry, need I remind you how many people the Catholics killed for no fuckin’ reason? A little heresy and the Catholics sentenced you to death. Joan of Arc? What about her?” Alex huffed, preparing the donuts to be cooked. “You Jesus folk just love to blame us for killing him, but you know something? He was gonna die anyway.”

John smiled, placing his chin on his hand. “Maybe so.”

Alex jumped, pulling the Kugel out. “I mean, come on, you can be a prophet without straight-up lying. Look at Moses! He wasn’t like ‘oh I’m the son of God, blah blah.’ No! He was a prophet, and he saved our people.” Alex tied his hair up.

“Alex always gets mad about all the antisemitism in America around Hanukkah,” John explained to Phillip.

“It just pisses me off. There was that one year that fuckin’ asshole made that video of me getting pushed into an oven.” Alex shook his head. “I’ve got plenty of things to hate, I’m pretty open about my flaws, but people are just so unoriginal that all they can do is come up with some racist antisemitic parody video.” Alex huffed. “But, that’s not what matters right now, because I’m with my family, whom I love very much.” Alex came over and kissed the side of Phillip’s head. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Phillip smiled. “I am too.”

The oven beeped and Alex jumped. “It’s dinner time!”

Alex set up dinner with some help, and the three of them began eating. The closest Phillip ever had to Jewish food was a bagel, so this was all new, but exceptionally good. Phillip enjoyed the conversation, listening as he ate.

“So, Phillip, what do you plan to do for this Christmas break?” John asked.

Phillip shrugged. “Prolly some DnD, me and my friend George and my girlfriend Theo were gonna go up to the Bronx and vandalize some stuff with pro Hong Kong art.”

“If you get the cops called on you, call me.” Alex snorted, taking a bite of his latke. “I lost about four billion dollars from China because I support the protestors. I’ve been tryna figure out how to sneak some help over there, but they got it on lock. I’ve been in touch with some people.”

“Can you speak Chinese?” Phillip asked.

“Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Latin, Arabic, and Hausa.” Alex shrugged. “I’m not fluent in all of them, but I’ve picked a lot up over the years. Your mother taught me a fair amount of Chinese.”

“I tried, but I never got it right.” Phillip chuckled. “This is really good. I didn’t know you could cook.”

“Most people don’t.” Alex smiled. “Last wife I had, she was a devout Catholic, wouldn’t even look at a Latke.” Alex shook his head. “Crazy.”

“What, Kitty?” John snorted. “Didn’t she try to trick you into having kids with her?”

Alex nodded. “Last woman I’ll ever marry.” Alex looked at Phillip. “Don’t get married. They just try to take all your stuff after you cheat on them.”

Phillip snorted. “I think I’ll just not cheat.”

Alex paused, then nodded. “That’s fair.”

Dinner went by, and soon enough, it was time to light the Menorah. Alex had placed it on the mantle, surrounded by a few other Jewish relics. Phillip took a moment to appreciate the blue and gold decorating the apartment as he sat down on the couch, watching Alex place the tall new candles in the Menorah. It looked old, the shine not as obvious, and time obviously had taken its share of the beauty, but Phillip could still make out the Hebrew characters in the metal every time it hit the light.

“Guys, come here, we gotta do the prayer.” Alex smiled a bit. “I know it’s not really either of your things, but, please?”

Phillip and John walked closer, taking Alex’s hands and bowing their heads with Alex.

“Praised are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, who made us holy through Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights. Praised are you, our God, Ruler of the universe, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors, in those ancient days at this season. Praised are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.” Alex let out a sigh. “Amen.”

“Amen,” Phillip and John repeated.

Alex picked up a large match and swiped it against the mantle, then lit the large middle candle, and the first one, farthest to the left. “Happy Hanukkah, guys. I’m glad you’re here with me.” Alex kissed Phillip’s head and hugged John. “You are my two favorite people in this world.”

Phillip smiled.

“Present time, present time,” Alex decided.

“Oh, I got gifts, hold on, lemme get em,” Phillip smiled. He stood up and went to his room as Alex pulled out Phillip and John’s gifts. John’s gifts for Alex and Phillip were over on the table, which he grabbed. Phillip came out and handed a gift to Alex, and then one to John. Gifts were exchanged, and then they started opening them. Phillip thanked Alex for the new, leather-bound sketchbook, which he was in desperate need of, and thanked John for the Micron fine liners. John was quite happy about the book, The Agony And The Ecstacy, from Alex, and the art from Phillip.

“Alright, this one is from John.” Alex untaped the nice wrapping and pulled out a hoodie with the words ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’ on it, and smiled. “I’m never wearing anything else.”

“Oh lord,” John huffed.

“Okay, now, let’s see what this is,” Alex smiled, untaping Phillip’s present. He pulled out a very worn copy of The Picture Of Dorian Gray. “Oh?”

“I think it was supposed to be my mother’s gift to you. Look in the front cover,” Phillip told Alex.

Alex opened the book and then smiled, seeing Eliza’s messy handwriting. “To my dearest, Alexander,” he read aloud. “Who’s portrait would never grow ugly.” Alex flipped through the book, seeing her small annotations, her messy handwriting. “She always gives me books like these, or she used to.” Alex looked up at Phillip. “Thank you.”

Phillip nodded, sniffling a bit. “First holiday season without her.”

Alex pulled Phillip into a hug. “It’ll be okay.” Alex felt his eyes water. “She’s here.”

Phillip hiccuped. “I miss her.”

“Shh, I know, I know. I do too. But-” Alex pulled away and wiped Phillip’s tears. “She would want us to be happy.” Alex smiled. “We’ll see her again, it’s only a matter of time.”

Phillip nodded.

“Okay, let’s pick a movie. Since there are no good Hanukkah movies or Hanukkah movies in general, we can watch whatever,” Alex smiled, sitting on the couch.

“Didn’t Adam Sandler make a-”

Alex held up his hand. “I don’t want to think about it.”

Phillip snorted and sat down next to Alex, John on the other side, and the trio decided on White Men Can’t Jump. Phillip sketched quick scenes from the movie as they watched it. Eventually, it ended, and it was time to go to bed. John said goodbye and made his way back to his apartment, while Phillip helped Alex clean up. It was quiet, but comforting, with the sound of Tupperware lids being snapped closed, and dishes ending up in the dishwasher.

“You know, I know you have some of your mother’s old recipes. If you want to make one of her meals or something, you could, and I’d help. Granted, it’s been about seventeen years, God, seventeen years, but I did help Eliza every now and then,” Alex offered.

Phillip smiled. “That would be nice.”

Alex hugged Phillip. “Goodnight, kid, I love you. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Goodnight, Dad, I love you too.”

 

Chapter Text

“Mr. Hamilton, Miss Angelica and Peggy Schuyler here to see you.”

The receptionist's voice rang through the apartment.

Alex faked a smile for a very excited Phillip, who had been cooking all day, and told her to let them up. Alex went and picked up a few things, shoved some dishes in a dishwasher. He straightened his tie just as the elevator dinged. Angelica walked right in, no invitation needed, straight to Phillip.

“Hi, Alex!” A much friendlier Peggy greeted, hugging the man. “Long time no see.”

“Yeah, it’s been a damn minute.” Alex brushed some hair out of their face. “How’s life?”

“Feel like I read about Hamilton Industries everywhere. Eliza should’ve waited like, five years to divorce you, and she would’ve gotten so much more.” Peggy laughed. “Happy Hanukkah.”

“Happy Hanukkah, Pegs.”

Peggy turned to Phillip. “And there’s my favorite nephew! Look at you!”

Alex smiled at Angelica. “Hey, Angie, how’re you-”

“Don’t call me Angie.”

Alex held up his hands. “Sorry, forgot you still hated me.”

“Oh, Alex, hate is such a strong word.” Angelica smiled. “It’s true, but it’s still so strong.”

Alex looked to Phillip, who was engrossed in conversation with Peggy, then lowered his voice. “For the sake of Phillip, can you pretend to be my friend? We’re all he has left.”

Angelica swallowed hard. “You know you didn’t deserve her, right?”

Alex looked down and then nodded. “Maybe not, but I loved her.”

“Are you guys hungry?” Phillip asked, smiling brightly. “Alex and I have been cooking all day, and there’s a lot of food.”

Angelica nodded, smiling. “Yes, very. You know Peggy hogs all the snacks.

Peggy gasped, bringing their hand to their chest. “I beg your fucking pardon!”

“Then beg.”

Phillip laughed. “Dad, should we see if John and Francis wanna join us?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah, sure, I’ll text them.” Alex pulled out his phone. “My gift to Franky this year is that I’m redesigning her leg entirely. I’ve been looking at plans and decided it’s all junk, so I tossed it and redid it.” Alex smiled when John replied, telling him they’d be right up. “They’ll be up in a minute, let’s get everything out.”

Phillip and Alex got everything out of the kitchen, putting it on the rarely used dining room table. Plates and table settings were out, and soon enough John and Francis were walking through the door. Phillip greeted them with a hug and soon enough, people were sitting down, serving themselves up. The food was mostly Chinese, with a few Jewish dishes just since it was Hanukkah.

“Your mother would always make dumplings like this,” Angelica commented.

“It’s her recipe,” Phillip smiled proudly.

“He got up at four am with me,” Alex commented. “I’ve been cooking pretty non stop since Hanukkah started, so it was nice to have some company. My kitchen smelled like me and Eliza’s apartment every holiday we celebrated.”

“It looks killer,” Peggy commented, putting some food on their plate.

“Thanks, Unty.” Phillip put some food on his plate. “Should we pray, dad?”

“Oh! Uh, sure, yeah. Okay, everyone, serve up and don’t eat just yet, we got a prayer request.” Alex chuckled. “It’s not gonna be very long.”

“That’s okay.” Phillip joined hands with Peggy and Alex, smiling a bit as he bowed his head.

“Alright,” Alex started. “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, at whose word all came to be.” Alex nodded. “Amen.”

“Amen,” the table repeated.

“Let’s eat!” Peggy laughed.

“Yes! It’s been a long drive, and Peggy hogs the car snacks,” Angelica chuckled, taking a bite. “This is good.”

John nodded in agreement. “Yes, it is. Good job Phillip.”

Phillip smiled, took a bite, then stopped.

Alex noticed this, watching as any joy fell from the kid’s face as he swallowed. Alex didn’t want to bring too much attention to it, so he gently knocked Phillip’s knee with his own. “Are you okay?” Phillip sniffled a bit, and Alex realized he was two seconds away from full out sobbing, so he quickly stood up. “Come on, let’s go get something from the kitchen.”

Alex and Phillip rushed into the kitchen. Phillip had tears running down his face by the time they got there, so Alex pulled him into a tight hug. The two stood there for a while, Phillip shaking and crying in Alex’s arms. At one point, Peggy peaked her head in, but Alex just nodded, telling her he got it.

“Hey, hey,” Alex mumbled. “What’s going on, huh? Hey, shh, shh.”

“It’s not right.” Phillip sniffled. “She made it better, she… Oh God, she’s gone, she’s gone.” Phillip broke into sobs again. “She’s gone, my mom is gone.”

“Hey, hey, Phillip.” Alex held his son, sighing. “It’s okay, it’s okay.”

“It’s not, it’s not okay. She’s gone, she’s gone.” Phillip was almost hyperventilating.

“Hey, hey, sweetie.” Angelica walked through the kitchen door and pulled Phillip into a hug. “Hey, hey.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It should’ve been me. The only reason she was driving was because she was picking me up, and the only reason she was picking me up was because I didn’t want to walk, and it’s my fault! It’s my fault!”

“No, no, no,” Alex gasped. “It’s not your fault, it’s not, Phillip.”

“No, it is, it is.” Phillip went weak, and both Alex and Angelica caught him. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, shh, shh.” Angelica looked to Alex. “Can you go get Peggy?”

Alex nodded, leaving the kitchen and going into the dining room. “Hey, John, Franky? I think we’re gonna have to do a raincheck.”

John stood up, coming over to Alex and taking his hands. “Is Phillip okay?”

Alex swallowed. “This was just a lot, I think.” Alex squeezed John’s hands. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

John leaned in and kissed Alex’s cheek. “Okay, yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

John left and Alex looked to Peggy. “Come on.”

They went back into the kitchen and Phillip was still crying into Angelica’s arms. Peggy joined the hug and Alex, quite awkwardly, rubbed Phillip’s back. He seemed almost manic, but no one was thinking that. The kid had lost his mother not even a year ago, and here he was, surrounded by seemingly the only family he had left.

“I’m so sorry,” Phillip choked out. “I’m sorry it wasn’t me.”

“No, no, Phillip, Phillip.” Peggy took Phillip by the shoulders. “No, we would never, ever, ever wish that she was in your place. We love you both so much, and yes, it hurts that we lost Eliza, but if we had lost you, it would’ve hurt just as much.”

“I’m so sick of people telling me how wonderful she was, how much they loved her, how sorry they are!” Phillip was angry now. “I’m sick of it! I know! She was a wonderful person, but now she’s dead! She’s dead! God!” Phillip was tugging at his hair. “I can’t, I can’t, she’s dead! It’s my fault! Oh, God, it’s my fault!”

Alex recognized every sign of the panic attack Phillip was having but had no idea what to do. When Alex got manic like that, it was a weighted blanket and a dark room, but everyone was different.

“It’s my fault, oh my God, it’s all my fault.” Phillip was almost hyperventilating.

“Hey, hey, Pip,” Angelica started. “It’s not your fault, it’s not.”

“Oh, fuck, I can’t, I can’t do this.”

“Phillip.” Alex’s voice was strong but soft. “Phillip, can you tell me about that art project you’re working on for fun, the one with Biggie as the Buddha.”

Angelica gave him an incredulous look.

Phillip swallowed hard. “It, it, I’m trying to use an airbrush, to have more control over the colors, this time, which is new.”

Alex took Phillip’s hands and sat them both on the floor. “How’s that working, huh?”

“It-” Phillip hiccuped, tears still running down his cheeks. “It’s okay. I’m struggling, but it’s really easy to paint over mistakes with an airbrush.”

“Yeah? How far have you gotten?”

“I, I got the outline done, and I’ve been trying to get the base done. It is, for the most part, but I have to do some detail work.” Phillip wiped his cheeks. “I like spray paint more.”

“Why’s that?”

“Easier to commit crimes with.”

Alex smiled softly. “That it is.”

Phillip took a deep breath, staring down at his lap.

“You okay?”

The kid shook his head. “No.”

“You wanna go take a shower?”

Phillip nodded and stood up. “I’m sorry for ruining dinner.”

“It’s okay.” Alex hugged Phillip, kissing the top of his head. “Go, get clean, we can watch a movie when you’re done.”

Phillip nodded and left.

Angelica whipped her head over to Alex. “How’d you do that?”

The sudden attention made Alex jump, shut down a bit. “What?”

“You just, you got him to calm down like that.” Angelica snapped.

Alex shrugged, looking at his feet. “Eliza would do the exact same thing for me.” Alex walked into the dining room and began bringing food into the kitchen, eating it as he did since he was hungry. The three adults ate their plates over the kitchen island, hoping to scarf it down before Phillip came out. Alex packaged up everything else, putting it in the fridge.

“Wine?” Alex offered.

“I thought you didn’t drink anymore,” Angelica mumbled.

Alex shook his head. “Not casually, no. Occasionally I’ll have wine when I’m at a dinner, but one and done.” Alex looked back at them. I have a nineteen ninety-two screaming eagle whatever, cabernet sauvignon. It’s watered down with a lot of box wine though, so it’s probably mostly Our Daily Red, Organix version.” Alex laughed, pouring a glass for a nodding Peggy. “People drink the label, not the actual wine. I always get complimented for my shitty box wine.”

“I’ll take a glass,” Angelica nodded.

Alex poured her some, then pulled out a probably expired, half-drunk bottle of a Starbucks iced macchiato and chugged the whole thing.

“You’re still disgusting,” Angelica commented.

“Shout out to fuckin’ Eliza for coming into the kitchen and seeing me on top of the fridge, eating old take out and crying, and instead of screaming, just sighed and poked me with a broom till I got down.” Alex snorted.

Peggy choked on their wine a bit. “God, you were just a fuckin’ cryptic in that marriage, weren’t you?”

“Yeah, now it’s John who has to smack me with a broom,” Alex commented.

“Are you and John together?” Peggy asked.

Alex shook his head. “No, God no. Not even close.” Alex shrugged. “There was something there for a moment, and then he liked me, and then I liked him, and it’s just…” Alex shrugged. “We never got the timing right.” Alex looked up. “But you know, it’s okay. We just have other parts of our lives that deserve more attention. And I mean, Phillip being in my care, that’s still pretty new. I just have bigger things to worry about.”

“Hey, kid,” Peggy smiled, seeing Phillip walk through the door.

Phillip smiled lightly.

“Hey, Phillip knows how to work a TV, you three go get on a movie, I’m gonna make some popcorn. Angie? Peggy? Phillip? Popcorn?” Alex looked around. He got a chorus of yes’ so he got to work making popcorn while he listened to them playfully argue about the movie. By the time he came out, Zombieland two was on.

“Thanks, Dad,” Phillip smiled when Alex handed him a bowl.

“Okay, popcorn, drinks, okay.” Alex sat in his comfortable armchair, munching on the snack. The movie was funny, occasionally awkward to watch with family, but overall nice. Woody Haroldson was one of Alex’s favorite actors.

Eventually, Angelica and Peggy said goodbye, with a promise to come back tomorrow since they were staying in a hotel nearby. Alex sighed as they left, looking at Phillip.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

Phillip shook his head.

Alex sighed. “Sit down, let’s talk.”

Phillip let out a slight groan but sat down anyway.

Alex hummed, looking around for a second. “You know, I blamed myself for my mother’s death for a long time.”

Phillip perked up a bit.

“I got a really bad fever, and because we didn’t have any medicine, she was taking care of me, staying up all night, working, staying up all night. You do that, you’re gonna get sick, and she got my fever.” Alex shrugged. “She got fired since she couldn’t go to work, any health insurance we had, we lost, since this was before Obamacare, and also we were on Nevis.” Alex hummed. “We had a family friend who could get us Aleve, but when it came to meds, that was about it.”

“Did she…?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah, she did. James was gone, off at some rehab center, since he was a raging alcoholic at the time.” Alex almost laughed. “I blamed myself for her death for a long, long time. I just, I felt like it was my fault.”

Phillip swallowed.

“But it wasn’t. It was no one’s.” Alex put his hand on Phillip’s arm. “Neither life nor death discriminates, and you are the one thing in life you can control. Your mother was… strong, and she will wait for you, I promise. You will see her again.”

Phillip swallowed. “I just…” He shook his head. “I wish I could’ve just sucked it up and walked that night.”

“If you had walked that night, I wouldn’t have a son, and maybe that doesn’t mean a lot to you, but having you here makes Eliza’s death easier because you remind me that she is still here.” Alex tucked some hair behind Phillip’s ear. “You have a piece of her, right here.” Alex poked Phillip’s chest. “I see her in you every day, and it’s crazy sometimes.”

“I just, I want her here.” Phillip swallowed. “I don’t want to remind people of her, I don’t want to have a piece of her, I want to have her back. I want my mom back.”

Alex nodded. “I know. Some people you just think about every day. I know not a day goes by when I don’t think of my mother, but… I dunno, it gets easier. You stop remembering that they’re dead and start remembering the good when they were alive.” Alex swallowed hard. “You’re too young to be experiencing death like this. I wish things had been different for you because I know first hand how it can affect someone, but you aren’t alone, even when you feel like it. I know I’m not great at emotions, but you don’t… You know you don’t have to cry alone.”

Phillip swallowed hard. “I think I’m gonna sneak out.”

“You usually don’t tell your parent that,” Alex commented.

“Yeah, but I feel like we’re having a moment, so I’m gonna sneak out in half an hour to go see my girlfriend.”

“Do you need a condom?” Alex asked.

Phillip’s brows shot up. “What? No! Why?”

“Because you’re in high school and you have a girlfriend and you’re sneaking out to go see her. Come on, I may be awkward, but I’m not stupid. You’re seventeen in what, two weeks? You’ve had the same girlfriend for a year, you have my DNA so you’re obviously a stud.”

Phillip snorted. “No, no, Theo and I, we don’t, we’re not… We don’t do that.”

“How? I mean, come on, I’m not stupid.”

“I’m serious!” Phillip groaned. “We just, we don’t do that.”

Alex hummed. “Well, still, in case you ever do, use condoms, but not two, only one.”

“I took a health class.” Phillip stood up. “Alright, I’m gonna go change. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Alex smiled. “Have fun, tell her I said hi.”

Phillip nodded. “Will do.”

Phillip left and Alex went to his office, putting on his headphones and beginning to work. Alex was mostly a napper. His doctor called it polyphasic sleep, but he just called it ideal. He could only sleep for two to four hours at a time, then would go ten hours before needing another two to four hours. He had been like that ever since he was a kid, so he was used to it. Sleep would just weigh him down anyway. John just accused him of destroying his mental health, but Alex assured John it was normal.

A need for a nap hit Alex around eleven, so he put his head down on his desk and closed his eyes, drifting off to the background of Eminem rapping through his headphones.

“How did I know?”

Alex shot up. “Huh?”

“How did I know,” John repeated, “that you would be passed out at your desk when I came to check on you.”

Alex groaned, seeing that it was midnight. “God, shouldn’t you be asleep?”

“Had to pee.” John helped Alex up. “Are you okay?”

Alex nodded.

“Is Phillip okay?”

Alex hesitated, then nodded. “Had a panic attack, but I talked him down. He’s probably cuddled up to his girlfriend right now.” Alex shrugged. “What about Franky?”

“She’s asleep.” John lead Alex to his room. “Mm, you’re like a toddler sometimes.”

“Yeah, I know.” Alex laughed, falling onto his bed and spreading out over the blankets, sighing lightly and staring up at John. “You look like you want to join me.”

“You’re giving me those eyes.” John crossed his arms.

“What eyes?”

“Those eyes. That look. You’re staring at me like you’ve seen me naked.”

Alex smiled.

“Shut up.” John crossed his arms. “It’s never both at the same time, is it?”

“Hm?”

“You like me and I don’t like you, I like you and you don’t like me. Can’t we just sync up on one or the other?” John rolled his eyes annoyedly. “I feel like you only want me when I don’t want you.”

“Oh, John Laurens, don’t you play that game.” Alex pushed himself up on his elbows. “You can’t expect me to let myself be led on by you for three years and then not be unsure when you decide you like me after we fuck.”

John swallowed. “Still.”

Alex smiled. “Don’t pout like a toddler because your little lies had big consequences.”

“You’re a bitch.”

“I know.”

John paused. “You keep opening your legs more.”

“God, about time you fucking noticed.” Alex laughed, tilting his head back. “Thought I was gonna have to strip to get you to fuckin’ notice me.”

John climbed onto Alex’s bed, up between his legs, and began kissing the man’s neck. “You want me to fuck you?”

“No.” Alex held John’s face in his hands. “I need you to pretend I’m whoever you need me to be, and I need you to make love to me.” Alex ran his hand through John’s hair. “Don’t fuck me, make love to me. I won’t get mad if you say someone else’s name.”

“Why would I say someone else’s name when the only name I want to say in yours?” John asked. 

Alex let out a small huff. “I wish I could get over you.”

“I hope you don’t.” John swallowed hard. “I really hope you don’t.”

Alex leaned up and kissed John. “Stop talking, please. Just hold me.”

John sighed, running his thumb across the hair on Alex’s chin. “Okay.”

Thirty minutes later, they were back where they were when John pulled Alex into the backseat of that Hummer. Alex was lying close to John, trying to savor the feel of John’s arms around him. They had kicked the blankets off, and the sheets were almost damp from the sweat that came from them. The room reeked of sex, and Alex made a note to open a window.

“You’re my best friend, Alex,” John admitted.

“You don’t even like me,” Alex replied drowsily.

John sighed. “I should probably go back.”

Alex nodded. “Yeah, probably.”

But John didn’t, and the two stayed in bed together until the sun rose over the Manhattan skyline, and the smell of coffee wafted into the room. John was drifting, but Alex had been awake for a while. It mattered not though because Alex was perfectly happy to be exactly where he was.”

 

Chapter Text

“Okay kid.” Iron Man handed Phillip the new suit. “Go try it on.”

“This looks really nice, I don’t wanna break it,” Phillip admitted, holding it.

“You step into it and slip it on over your shoulders, then press the spider on the chest to get it to close up. The mask will sense the nanobots, so it’ll attach automatically. You have an AI system named Friday.” Iron Man ushed Phillip into the bathroom in the back building of a gas station in Brownsville. “Go, get in there.”

Phillip got in and quickly changed, following Iron Man’s instructions, then looked in the mirror. The suit was matte, and seemed almost metal, but felt like fabric. To test it out, Phillip began to climb the bathroom wall, which he did just fine. It was form-fitting but good. Phillip found himself sending a picture of his ass in the suit to Theo before stepping out.

“Does it got pockets?” Phillip asked.

Iron Man paused. “Pockets?”

“Yeah, like, where I can put my phone and wallet.”

“You need pockets?”

Phillip nodded. “I like pockets.”

Iron Man let out a sigh. “I’ll redesign it, but test everything else out for today.”

“You don’t have to.” Phillip stretched a bit.

“Okay, but I wanna make sure it fits. How do you feel? How does it feel?”

Phillip tugged at his crotch. “A bit tight in the ol’ web shooter, and I’m pretty sure my lady wants kids.”

“Jarvis, take a note. Needs pockets, more space in the crotch.” Iron Man looks to Phillip. “That all?”

Phillip flexed, moved around a bit, jumped a couple of times, then nodded. “Yeah, that’s about it.” Phillip started laughing. “You probably didn’t take into account that I’m dummy thick, and the curvature of my asscheeks is taking up more space than expected.”

Iron Man let out a long sigh. “Go change, I’ll take the suit back to my office, and then I’ll meet you in Forte Green?”

Phillip nodded. “Sounds good.” Phillip changed and then began making his way to Forte Green while Iron Man flew back to Manhattan. Phillip made his way to where he and Iron Man usually met, which was on top of the Brooklyn Museum. It wasn’t totally in Fore Green, but it was near it.

Phillip got himself a coffee and sighed, looking over the city and sipping his iced coffee. He pulled out his phone, smiling at a text back from Theo.

Theo: Hnnng, Iron Man, I be tryna save the city, but I’m dummy thick, and the clap of my asscheeks keeps alerting the bad guys

Phillip: ksksksksksks

Theo: Is that your new suit?

Phillip: Gonna be, but Iron Man has to make some adjustments since it cuts off the circulation to my dick and I’m pretty sure you want kids

Theo: What does your dick have to do with us getting kids

Phillip: Battling the other dads

Theo: Fair point. Come see me tonight

Phillip: Okay, should I pick anything up?

Theo: Nah, we got food at home. Love you. Come over around nine? Love you. see you then.

Phillip: See you then. Love you too

Phillip looked up, smiling as Iron Man showed back up at the museum. “How are you?”

“Good, good.” Iron Man nodded. “How are you?”

Phillip nodded. “Pretty okay. I feel like today's gonna be a boring day.”

Iron Man sighed, nodded. “Good. I’m tired. How were your holidays?”

“Good, I celebrated with my father, which wasn’t awful, saw some family, spent a night at my friend's house.” Phillip shrugged. “Overall, it wasn’t bad. I ate a lot.”

“Good, that’s what the holidays are about. Every holiday I celebrate is basically boiled down to ‘they tried to kill us, but they didn’t, so let’s eat.’ It’s pretty nice.”

Phillip laughed. “God, what a fuckin’ mood. Me every day.” Phillip laughed. “Me when I go to the movies with my girl and we buy a small popcorn and two waters and the total is eighty bucks and you’re like ‘that’s calm’ but on the inside, you’re on two percent battery.”

Iron Man burst out laughing. “Oh my God, Jesus Christ.”

“Nah, nah, nah, okay, no, you take someone on a date and you go into debt and the bank seizes your house.” Phillip cackled. “I take my girl out ‘n’ I’m like ‘here’s a stick of gum, let’s go spit at pigeons’ because that’s the only thing I can afford.”

“Oh man, oh shit.” Iron Man was struggling to breathe from how he was laughing. “Fuck, kid, that’s fuckin’ funny. You should do a Spiderman comedy.”

Phillip snorted. “Maybe.” He finished off his coffee and chucked it in a trash can across the street. “Kobe!”

“Oh Jesus Christ,” Iron Man chuckled.

Phillip sighed, standing up. “Okay, we should do something. Can’t just look like lazy immigrants stealing the jobs of qualified Americans.”

Iron Man snorted at that one. “I’m Mike Tobin, thank you for watching, and goodnight.”

-

Phillip climbed through Theo’s window. He had come from home, where he fed his spiders, and stole some food from the fridge for his girlfriend, then drove over. Theo was at her desk, doing homework since it was the last couple of days of break and she needed to get stuff done. Phillip flopped on her bed, huffing a bit as he ate cold dumplings. Theo smiled in acknowledgment, and the room was quiet for another half hour until Theo finished up her homework and came over, sitting on the bed, her legs over Phillip’s.

“Hey, baby.”

Phillip sat up and kissed her. “Missed you.”

“Missed you too.” Theo smiled, pushing some hair behind his ear. “How you doin’, huh?”

“Mm, I’m doin’ good Mami, you lookin’ fine as fuck for real, you know?” Phillip smiled cheekily, leaning in and kissing Theo’s cheek. “You lookin’ gorgeous tonight.”

“Love you,” Theo laughed. “What do you think would happen if my dad walked in right now?”

“I’d run like my life depended on it. Jump off the fuckin’ fire escape. Your daddy, he ain’t like me too much. Don’t wanna think about what we could do.”

“What could we do, Phillip?” Theo teased.

Phillip fell back on the back, looking at his girlfriend. “A whole lotta this.” Phillip sighed, taking her hand. “You’re beautiful, Theodosia Burr.”

Theo smiled softly.

“I ain’t ever seen a lady with eyes like yours, with a smile like yours.” Phillip was in a lovestruck trance almost. “You got clouds on your cheeks, an ocean in your hair, your curly black Brooklyn baby hair.”

Theo smiled softly. “You, you gonna spend the night?”

“I’d like to,” Phillip admitted.

Theo chuckled. “Let’s watch a movie. Lemme put my hair up first.” She got up and put her hair up in a bonnet, then grabbed her laptop, sitting down next to Phillip and cuddling up to him and turning on Netflix.

“What you wanna watch?” Phillip asked.

Theo shrugged. “Nightshift?”

Phillip groaned.

“Come on, Papi, indulge in my interests,” Theo whined.

“You know you get whatever you want when you call me that,” Phillip grumbled, letting her click on it and letting the show start. “I love you hella, a’ight?”

“I love you too, baby.” Theo kissed his cheek. “But I’m sorry.”

Phillip was confused for a second. “Why are you-” He was cut off by cold hands being pressed to his stomach. “Christ!”

Theo was giggling like crazy, holding her hands on his stomach.

“Baby!” Phillip whined.

Theo pushed away her laptop and got on Phillip’s lap, moving her hands around so they could find warmer places.

“Bitch!” Phillip gasped.

“Oh just for that-” Theo moved her hand right over his chest. “Ha!”

Phillip groaned. “You’re lucky I love you, you anemic clown.”

Theo smiled. “I love you, Phillip.”

“I love you too.” Phillip leaned up and kissed her. “Just you wait, one day, I’m gonna, gonna, gonna take you to some sweet little place in south Brooklyn, or the Bronx, or maybe all the way in California, and we can live in LA together.”

“Where do you wanna go?” Theo asked.

“I don’t care. A coast, not the south, and nowhere cold.” Phillip kissed her neck.

“What about Italy?”

“Perfect.”

“France?”

“Perfect.”

“Spain?”

“Baby, if you’re with me, it’s perfect.” Phillip smiled softly, taking her hand. “I love more than anything in this life.”

Theo chuckled. “You know, Phillip, I never thought I could love someone like I love you. But I here I am, a bitch in love.”

Phillip laughed, leaning back into the pillow. “What if we had kids?”

“What about if we had kids?”

“Like kids with us, like you got pregnant with my baby.” Phillip shrugged. “I dunno. I mean, we’ve never really talked seriously about-”

“We’ve talked about having kids a million times!” Theo laughed.

“No, not that, I mean like, the stuff we gotta do to have biological kids.”

Theo sat back. “Oh.” She paused. “No, we haven’t, have we?”

Phillip shook his head.

There was a small silence.

“I’m sorry, did I just make things really awkward?” Phillip laughed, sitting up a bit. “I mean, we don’t have to talk about it. It’s not a big deal.”

“Well, it is, and we should, I just…” Theo laughed nervously. “I’ve never really thought about it really, I just, it didn’t cross my mind.”

“Yeah, same here.” Phillip found her hand, taking it. “I mean, I just never really considered it something we have to do. I know other couples do it, but like, I just, I don’t think it’s like, a thing we have to do. Unless you want to.”

“Well, I mean, I kinda feel the same way.” Theo thought for a moment. “When I went to Katie Barker’s sleepover in eighth grade, we watched porn, and-”

“Why did you watch porn?” Phillip laughed.

“Have you ever been to an eighth-grade girl’s sleepover? We do everything short of murder,” Theo laughed. “Anyway, we were watching porn, and it just, it didn’t look fun to me, none of it. Don’t get me wrong, I like being physical with you, and I like kissing you and hugging you, but just, it looked so… so not fun.”

Phillip laughed. “I mean, I hear locker room talk all the time, and it’s like, it just seems like it would be disrespectful to you. I don’t think of you like that. Most of my fantasies about us are like white picket fence fantasies, you know? Being really in love and embarrassing our kids, having fun together, but just not… that.”

“Yeah…” Theo was quiet for a moment, playing with Phillip’s hair. “I dunno, do you think we’re weird for it?”

Phillip shook his head. “I mean, it’s cool we’re kinda on the same page.”

“I just like how we are, you know?”

Phillip nodded.

Theo hummed. “But if we do want to have biological kids…”

“I mean, we could get a turkey baster,” Phillip joked.

Theo laughed. “Gross.”

“Mm, we’ll figure it out, yeah?” Phillip brushed a curl out of her face. “I mean, we have time to think about it, and maybe we change our minds or whatever, but I’m fine with how we are right now, yeah?”

Theo nodded softly. “Yeah. Our kids would be a pretty brown, Muslim, Asian, Buddhist, Hispanic, Christian, freckled, curly-haired.” Theo laughed. “They’d have your nose.”

“I like your nose better, they should get your nose,” Phillip decided.

“I have a big nose,” Theo pointed out.

“Yeah, and it like, pulls your face together. You would look weird with a small nose. My nose is just weird and small, but not like, button. Like it’s my mom’s size but my father’s shape.” Phillip laughed. “You got a good nose.”

“Okay so they get my nose, but your eyes. I like that hazel shit you got goin’ on.”

“Okay, but that means they get your body shape. I don’t want our kids small enough to fit into lockers.” Phillip laughed. “And your hands.”

“Why not yours?” Theo asked.

Phillip held up his boney hands, with crooked from breaking them, and forever darker knuckles from the scrappy fights he’d get in and lose. “You want our kids to have my weird-ass boney hands?” Phillip shook his head. “Sorry, but I love our kids.”

“Okay, but they have to get more than just your eyes.”

“How about they get my freckles and all my Asian features. High cheekbones, round face, all of it. They can have my Asian.” Phillip chuckled. “Will our kids be Muslim, Christian, or Buddhist?”

Theo shrugged. “I don’t really have a religion, so probably Buddhist, yeah? I’d be a Buddhist. Feel like it’s peaceful.”

Phillip nodded. “It is.”

Theo sighed, leaning against Phillip. “Don’t you ever cheat on me.”

“Theo, I’m like, a six, and also I don’t think I could get a girl better than you.” Phillip laughed. “I mean, you’re way out of my league.”

“Yeah, I am, but you’re really nice, and also you make me laugh, so I’ll let it slide.”

Phillip chuckled. “Thank God.”

“Hey, honey, who are you-”

Phillip and Theo looked over to see Dosia, standing in the doorway. There was a very quiet moment where they all just stared at each other. Phillip was very aware that the mother of his girlfriend was there, and her daughter, his girlfriend, was sitting on his lap with her hands up his shirt.

“Okay,” Dosia nodded.

“You gonna tell dad?”

“No.” Dosia looked around. “You two need condoms?”

Phillip snorted, seeing as how they just got done talking about how they didn’t want to do that. “I don’t think so, no, thanks for asking though.”

“Quiet down a little bit, your father can and will wake up, get his shotgun, and chase Phillip out of the house… again.” Dosia chuckled. “Night, you two.”

“Night mom,” Theo smiled.

“Night mom!” Phillip stage whispered.

Dosia laughed, leaving.

“You would have a bullet in your chest if that was my dad,” Theo pointed out.

“I would have to jump off the fire escape, and then I would fall, hit the concrete, and pray that my broken hip heals before your parents get down.” Phillip smiled cheekily. “Swinging through the city, saving the day.”

“God, you’re dumb.” Theo pecked Phillip’s lips. “You gonna be Spiderman your whole life?”

“Yah, I think so.” Phillip shrugged. “Hasn’t faded yet.”

“Gonna work a real job?”

“Reporter would be could, journalist, something like that.” Phillip shrugged. “I could be a male writer. Hold on, hold on, lemme-” Phillip out on a deep voice. “Her breasts jiggled as she breathed. Her waist had the diameter of a broomstick but her butt was bigger than the earth.”

Theo bit her thumb to avoid laughing. “I love you.”

-

Phillip woke up, drowsy and a little stiff, at four am. He kissed Theo’s cheek and climbed out the window, stumbling down to the ground level and finding his car. He was only half awake and found his head snapping up a couple of times as he drove, but somehow didn’t crash. He got back to the building. He almost considered passing out on one of the lobby couches, but the understanding look from the security guard got him to make it to the elevator.

“Hold it!”

Phillip pressed the open door button and in walked Alex. There was a very quiet moment where they both stared at each other, not pressing a button for a floor.

“Where have you been?” Alex asked.

“Where have you been?”

Alex huffed. “Berlin. And you?”

“Theo’s,” Phillip replied. “You just get back?”

Alex nodded, pressing the button for their floor. “Yeah. Had an emergency with something, needed to go fix it.”

“Don’t you have people who do that for you?” Phillip asked.

“Yeah, but this was a big thing, and they would just do it wrong.”

Phillip didn’t miss the grease and dirty staining Alex’s hands and face. “Oh.”

“How was Theo?”

Phillip nodded. “Nice. We watched movies, she read me poetry, there was a point where we ordered a pizza, but we had to wait outside since her parents were asleep.”

“Did they know you were there?” Alex asked as they stepped onto their floor.

“Her mom did, but that was an accident.” Phillip shrugged. “They usually don’t.”

“I should ground you for that.”

“Do you even know what grounding me encompasses?”

Alex paused, then shook his head. “No.”

“Well well well.” John stood up from the kitchen stool. “Just where have you two been?”

“Theo’s,” Alex spit out.

“Berlin.”

Alex and Phillip looked at each other.

“Why would you go with me to Berlin?” Alex asked.

“Because it would make no sense if we were both at Theo’s,” Phillip replied.

“Oh, that’s right.” Alex looked back at John. “We were both in Berlin. For… comic con.”

John let out a long sigh. “Both of you, to bed. Alex, wash your hands. Phillip…” John nodded. “You look generally clean, so go to sleep.”

“Don’t gotta tell me twice,” Phillip mumbled, leaving.

Alex went to the sink, dumping a large amount of dish soap on his hands and beginning to wash them, trying to get the grease out. John sighed, staring at Alex as the older man washed his hands. There was a quiet in the kitchen, and it made the back of Alex’s neck itch, but he couldn’t scratch it, because his hands were wet, and if he did, he would get water on the back of his neck and he’d have to shower entirely.

“I miss you,” John started.

“Please don’t,” Alex mumbled.

“Don’t what?”

Alex couldn’t have washed his hands faster. “John. Don’t be stupid. Please.”

“Alex, just-”

Alex gave up washing his hands, grabbing a paper towel and drying them off. “Goodnight.”

“Alex, please don’t be like that,” John huffed.

“God, John, please, please, please-” Alex looked at his assistant. “Please, don’t do this, not right now. I’ve had a really stressful day, and I just, I don’t want to talk about this right now, and I just had a lot to deal with in Berlin and it was so fucking loud in that room and I don’t need to fucking deal with this right now.” Alex’s eyes were watering up.

“Alex, hey, hey, God, Alex-”

Alex jerked his arm away from John’s outstretched hand. “Leave me alone. God, John, I don’t know when we decided we could start actually being civil to each other, but I’m kind of sick of it. I’m sick of you! Who said you can just come into my house? You’re not my fucking boyfriend, you’re not even my fucking friend!” Alex let out a loud huff. “Go back to hating me or something, Jesus Christ.”

John swallowed hard. “You don’t mean that.”

“You wanna play those odds?” Alex laughed. “Come on, John. I know you like to think you know me like you have some secret part of me that the public doesn’t, but guess what? I’m an open book. I’m an asshole, I’m cold, I’m mean, just like they say. I don’t have friends, I don’t have fucking… fucking whatever this is! I’m a dick of a boss, and I’m not your friend, so just fucking… drop it. I had a schoolboy crush on you for a day two years ago, move on.”

John clenched his fists. “I get that you had a bad day, but you don’t need to be a fucking dick about it.”

“No, obviously I do because you have confused our relationship very much so. You work for me, that is it.” Alex pointed towards the elevator. “As your boss, I am telling you to leave.”

John shook his head, almost smiling. “God, you’re a fucking pussy.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me, Hamilton.” John laughed. “Can’t even fuckin’ parent, can’t keep a fuckin’ wife, and you know? Now I see why Eliza left you, and Kitty, and Maria. It’s because you’re a fucking asshole.”

“You know what, John? I don’t fucking care. I’ve never needed you, I’ve never needed them, I’ve never needed the people around me. I’ve done just fine on my own, and whatever found family you’re looking for, you’re not gonna find it here. It’s not my fucking fault your dad’s dead and your mom’s not far behind.”

Someone could’ve seen the air leave John’s body.

Alex swallowed hard, knowing that he went too far.

“God, fuck you.” John turned on his heel, leaving.

Alex stood in the kitchen, breathing heavily. He turned and walked to his office, closing the door and locking it.

He didn’t come out for three days.

 

Chapter Text

“Did I do something to Alex?” Phillip asked John as the man sat down at the kitchen counter, waiting for the takeout he ordered.

John looked over at Phillip. “What?”

“He hasn’t come out of his office in a few days,” Phillip mumbled. “Just wondered if it was something I did.”

“No, it wasn’t you, I promise, he’s just pissy.” John huffed. “He gets into moods.”

“Does it have anything to do with the fight you guys got in?” Phillip asked.

John paused. “How much of that did you hear?”

“None of it, but Alex was yelling, and he’s not exactly quiet when he talks,” Phillip shrugged. “Did you guys break up?”

“We were never dating,” John mumbled.

Phillip shrugged. “What happened?”

John looked over at Phillip. “You’re curious, aren’t you?”

Phillip nodded. “Also I have nothing better to do.”

“Things have just always been complicated between me and your dad, and they just got… more complicated.” John shook his head. “It’s difficult to explain.”

“Was Francis a marriage thing or did you forget a condom?” Phillip asked.

“Whoa! Francis was very planned!” John almost laughed. “She has split custody between me and my ex-wife.”

“Do you miss your ex-wife?”

John shook his head.

“Why?”

John shifted a bit uncomfortably. “Never had much of a thing for women.”

“Huh.” Phillip nodded. “I was like that for a while, and then I met Theo, but I mean, she’s gorgeous.” Phillip shrugged. “Exactly how complicated are things between you and my dad? Like, first base complicated?”

John creased his brows. “Alright, subject change.”

Phillip snickered.

“I thank God every day I had a girl,” John sighed.

An employee stepped through the elevator with the food, and John thanked them, setting it out on the kitchen table. He picked up Alex’s meal and walked to his office, knocking on the door three times and setting the food down, walking back to where Phillip was.

“I’m gonna head out if that’s okay?” John picked up his food, looking at Phillip.

“Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow or something,” Phillip nodded, leaning back with a mouthful of orange chicken.

John left and Phillip picked up his food, taking it to the living room. His birthday was tomorrow, but he didn’t want to celebrate it. Didn’t seem like such a big deal with his mom gone.

Phillip turned on the TV and sighed, eating the chicken as he watched some stupid soap opera. The sound of Alex in the kitchen made Phillip turn to see. He hadn’t seen his dad in about two days, so it was surprising to see the man, looking haggard and greasy. Phillip watched his father turn on the coffee machine and sit down, laptop in front of them.

“Hi,” Phillip mumbled, waving a bit.

Alex looked up, tired eyes. “Goodmorning.”

“It’s eight at night,” Phillip reminded.

Alex paused, checked his watch, then sighed. “You are right.” Alex looked out the window. “Why the fuck is it so dark?”

“It’s January?”

Alex sighed, then went into the cabinet, rummaging around until he pulled out a package of Twinkies and began to eat them.

“We have Twinkies?”

have Twinkies,” Alex corrected.

Phillip held up his hands, huffing a bit. He went back to eating and watching his soap opera, and, one the coffee was done, Alex went back to his office. It was a quiet night, and Phillip ended up passing out pretty soon after he ate, sleeping on the couch until three am, and then moving to his bed until five.

Phillip woke up to a Facetime request from Theo. Phillip clicked accept and smiled at her through the blankets. “Hey, ba-”

“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday deal Phillip, Happy birthday to you!” Theo smiled. “You’re seventeen.”

“Yes, I am, I really am.” Phillip groaned, checking the time. “Jesus Christ, it’s five am.”

“Yeah, you gotta wake up early if you’re gonna be seventeen!” Theo laughed.

Phillip nodded, closing his eyes. “Maybe.” He let out a yawn. “You could’ve waited another hour though.” Phillip was silent for a moment. “Are we doing anything today?”

“If you want to,” Theo offered.

Phillip shook his head. “No, I don’t wanna do anything.”

“Nothing?” Theo asked.

“Nothing.”

“How about I pierce your ear?”

Phillip opened his eyes. “What?”

“You want me to pierce your ear?”

Phillip paused, thinking. “Like, with a needle?”

Theo nodded, going over to her jewelry box and looking through the earrings that she didn’t like. “Yeah, I have a few earrings that would look good on you. You would look good with an earring. I dunno.”

Phillip hummed. “As much as I love the idea of you piercing a hole through my ear, I’m gonna have to pass.” Phillip hummed. “Really, just, let’s just have a regular day. I don’t wanna really do anything.”

Theo nodded. “Are you okay?”

“Just miss my mom. First birthday without her.” Phillip almost smiled. “She used to always wake me up by blasting Birthday by The Beatles, and then she’d let me show up late to school.” Phillip let out a small sigh. “I’m gonna catch another half hour, yeah? I’ll see you at school.”

“I love you,” Theo offered.

Phillip blew her a kiss. “I love you too.”

He hung up and went back to sleep for a little bit, until his alarm went off, then pulled himself out of bed. He threw on a hoodie and some sweatpants, as well as some slides and found bile in the back of his throat from the idea of eating takeout for breakfast. God, he was sick of takeout.

“Okay, guys, gotcha some snacks,” Phillip mumbled, pouring a few wriggling mealworms into their tank, and dumping some water over the sponge in the little sponge bowl. He also gave them some dead flies he found on a window cill, as well as a dead moth. Flashes of killing and eating a mealworm went through his head and he found himself gagging a bit.

“You’re up early,” Alex commented. He had appeared out in the kitchen since Phillip had been gone.

“Yeah, it’s a Thursday, I have school,” Phillip nodded.

“It’s Thursday?” Alex asked. “Jesus Christ.”

Phillip filled up his water bottle. “So have you just been eating takeout your whole life?”

Alex nodded. “Yup.”

Phillip huffed and left the house, feeling a bit tired. He got to his car and sat in it, closing his eyes for a second. He felt tired and knew he probably didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. But, he drove to pick up Theo and then drove the two of them to school.

“You’re tired, baby, you should go home.”

Phillip shook his head. “No, I’m fine, I’m fine, I just gotta…” Phillip shook his head. “I just gotta get through the day.”

Theo took his hand. “I’ll be here.”

“I know.” Phillip leaned in and kissed her. “Thank you.”

Theo smiled. “Of course.”

Phillip's day was exhausting. He fell asleep in two classes and ended up saying no to an offer from Theo and George to go grab a bite to eat. He was tired and feeling kinda depressed. He said goodbye and got in his car, making his way towards Manhattan. It was raining, which was odd, but also shitty. The roads were slick, and Phillip could feel his car fishtailing a bit every now and then.

Somehow, Phillip made it home without crashing and stumbled upstairs. He went straight to his room and sat at his art table, staring at a half-finished rough sketch. It was supposed to me of his living room back at his mom’s apartment. He stared down at the minor details he remembered like the back of his hand. The endless stack of books around the couch, the paint stain on the carpet, the slippers.

Phillip shook his head as the sound of the car, crunching under the semi’s impact came back into his head. He could remember just how hard his head hit that window. He remembered how it felt to flip over and then again, hitting those cars on the parkway, spinning out, landing in the ditch. He remembered the sound of his mother, choking on her own blood. He remembered how she took his hand as they waited there for the police. He couldn’t move to help her. His legs were stuck and his arm was pinned to his seat. All he could do was hold his mother’s hand and try to figure out what had just happened.

Phillip stood up with enough force to knock over his stool and ran to the bathroom. He barely made it to the toilet before vomiting. All he could see was his mother, bleeding, choking on the blood.

He kept throwing up.

Phillip was dry heaving when there was nothing left. He felt like he was spinning, he didn’t know where he was. He climbed into the bathtub and turned on the shower, making the water as cold as possible. It soaked through his hoodie and sweatpants, knocking the wind out of him. He tugged at his hair, breathing heavily. He was still gagging and heaving, though nothing was coming up.

He couldn’t make noise, just shake and heave. His throat hurt, and the only thing he felt like he could do to help himself was tug on his hair.

Something finally broke and the sound of sobs filled the bathroom. Phillip was almost hysterical, almost screaming. His whole body felt like it hurt, felt like it did that night.

For his sixteenth birthday, Phillip had gone with Theo and George and all their parents to the skating rink and a drive-in theatre movie, since he was feeling very vintage. Everyone ate pizza and milkshakes and skated, and then Phillip, Theo, and George had proceeded to lose their fucking shit when Africa by Toto came on. Then they saw The Breakfast Club and spent the rest of the night trying to think of what reason they would go to detention since no one in the group had ever been to detention.

One year later, Phillip was sobbing hysterically in his bathtub, fully clothed, while freezing water poured over him. It was a downgrade, to say the least.

Eventually, the sobbing slowed down, and Phillip reached up, turning off the cold water and sitting in the tub, cold water dripping down his nose. He was shivering, still crying, but at least not as hysterical.

Phillip got up, hanging up his wet clothes and grabbed a towel, stumbling back into his room. He locked the door and dried off, then proceeded to wrap himself in blankets and sit down, laptop plugged in. He searched up long vine compilations and sat back, crying and watching them. He didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, just let youtube video after youtube video play on his laptop. He cried most of the night but tried to focus on the easy humor he had seen a thousand times.

Around six am, he walked out into the kitchen, looking at Alex, who was eating. “Can you excuse me from school today?”

“What? Why?” Alex looked up, then paused. “Are you okay?”

Phillip shook his head. “No.”

“Are you sick?” Alex got up and put his hand on Phillip’s forehead. “You don’t feel warm, but you look like shit, no offense. You just look, you look tired. Did you sleep last night?”

Phillip shook his head.

“Okay, go back to bed, okay? God, kid, you’re acting like me.” Alex turned Phillip right around and took him back to his room. “Go to sleep. Makes the hours go by quicker.”

“I miss my mom,” Phillip choked out, sitting on his bed.

Alex paused, then sat down next to Phillip. “You been thinking about her?”

Phillip nodded. “Yesterday was my first birthday without her.”

“It was your birthday yesterday?”

Phillip nodded, shrugging. “Just, I miss her. I miss having a mom. I just, I wish I had died with her. I wish I had died that night. I wish I was dead.”

“Oh, God, Phillip, Phillip, hey, hey.” Alex hugged Phillip close to him. “Okay, okay, okay, hey, no, no, don’t say that. Please don’t say that.”

“I hate this! I hate feeling like this!” Phillip began crying again. “I don’t know what to do anymore, I just don’t want to be here!” Phillip sobbed into Alex’s chest. “I want my mom!”

“Okay, okay, okay.” Alex sighed softly. “Okay, Phillip, I gotta go to work, but you’re gonna come with me, okay? Bring some blankets, your laptop, phone, whatever you want. You can crash on the couch in my office, but I’m not gonna leave you here, okay?”

Phillip nodded, sniffling.

Alex helped him gather his things and the two of them went down to Alex’s office. Alex helped set up Phillip on the couch and then got to work, trying to make up for the stuff he missed. Phillip turned on some Netflix show and answered a few texts, asking where it was.

“Alex, you’re in today, glad you’re not being such a little-”

“Phillip is in too!” Alex quickly cut in before John said anything.

John paused, then looked to Phillip. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“No, I’m an artist, I don’t care about school,” Phillip replied as the voice of John Mulaney played through his headphones.

“John, cancel my meetings for today, anything that needs to be signed, bring to me, and-”

“Phillip should be at school, Alex, you can’t just let him do whatever he wants, that’s not good-”

“John, you don’t know a thing about why Phillip isn’t at school and I would like to keep that way, as well as ask you to keep your head out of my parenting style. I understand you have been raising your daughter for twelve years while I have barely had my son for one, but trust that I know what I’m doing.” Alex sighed. “Please keep foot traffic in my office to a bare minimum today, yes?”

“Yes,” John nodded. “I’m going to go handle a few things you’re putting off.”

“Okay, you have fun,” Alex mumbled, staring at his laptop.

John huffed and walked out of the office.

“You two are awkward,” Phillip mentioned.

“Are we?” Alex mused.

“Yeah, you should just date, it would put aside a lot of the tension.” Phillip huffed a bit. “What’s the wifi password to this floor? I only got two bars from the wifi on our floor.”

“Click the one with our floor, and the password is ‘we are better than tesla,’ no uppercase no space,” Alex mumbled.

Phillip laughed. “Thought you and Musk were friends.”

“We are, which is why his wifi password for his place, which I occasionally go-to for work, is ‘we are better than hamilton.’ It’s a running joke.” Alex smiled. “You should sleep.”

“Sleep is for the weak,” Phillip muttered from under his pile of blankets.

Alex let off a small sigh, then went back to look for therapists in the Manhattan area that specialize in kids, and working up an Email to Peggy, asking for their help. Alex really didn’t quite know what to do. He couldn’t just ignore what Phillip said. Alex had been in that exact place, the sadness, the pain, the loneliness. Alex couldn’t count how many times he had stared down a bottle of bleach when he lived alone as a teen.

Most of the day went by, and there was very little foot traffic. Phillip dozed in and out, and when Phillip would fall asleep, Alex would go and get food for the both of them. Phillip was mostly a face and a hand sticking out of a mass of blankets. At one point, Alex went and found another blanket for Phillip, just because he knew he kept the office cool and he didn’t want Phillip to get cold.

“Gamil'ton, nam nuzhno prosmotret' eti fayly lichno, yesli vy khotite, chtoby my soglasilis' s etim,” A Russian accent started, walking into Alex’s office.

“Mr. Turgenev,” Alex gasped. “John?”

“I’m sorry, sir, he just, he says he won’t speak to anyone but you,” John huffed.

“Alright,” Alex sighed. “Mr. Turgenev, I’m gonna need you to speak English here, since Russian is not my forte.”

“These prices are-” The man cut himself off. “Who is this?”

“This is my son, Phillip, he’s going to be here today.” Alex looked over at his son. “Phillip, you think you can put your headphones on for a minute? Watch a movie?”

Phillip nodded.

“Okay, okay, prices.” Alex dug around in his desk. “John?”

“Got them right here, sir.”

Phillip turned on some Wes Anderson movie and almost instantly fell asleep. He woke up a while later and turned on Midsommer, which he had heard a few good things about, mostly from Theo.

It was weird, all the way through, though Phillip got it. Sometimes, the only way to get over the murder-suicide of your sister and parents was to go join a cult in Sweden and burn your shitty cheating boyfriend alive in a bear suit.

“Hey, Pip.” Alex stood up, shutting his laptop and standing up. “Can we talk?”

Phillip sat up, still wrapped in blankets. “Sup.”

“You comfortable?” Alex asked, laughing a bit.

Phillip nodded. “Yes, very.”

Alex sighed. “Phillip, I wanna talk to you about something. And before I say anything, I just want you to know that I love you so much, and I’m so proud to have you as my son, and never would I ever want to do anything but the best for you.”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Phillip mumbled.

“I know, it sounds bad, but I just…” Alex paused, searching for the right words. “I was wondering if maybe you thought it was a good idea to go stay with your aunt for a while.”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Phillip asked.

“No! No!” Alex held up his hands. “Not at all! I love having you here, and I love getting to know my son, because you are a great kid, Phillip, you really are, and I love you so much, and if I thought you had any interest in this company, I would hire you so we could work together and I could watch you grow, but I don’t think this stuff interests you.”

Phillip shook his head.

“Yeah, see? Look, I just…” Alex sighed. “I can’t ignore the things you were saying this morning! I can’t, I can’t do it. I can’t be a good parent and pretend what you said never happened. Phillip, I’m worried about you, and I want what’s best for you. If you think things would be better or safer for you at Angelica’s or at Peggy’s, then I want you to go there and be safe. I don’t want you to get hurt, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. I mean, Eliza would beat me, Phillip. She was never a violent person, but lord, if she found out her son was getting hurt under my watch, she’d take a frying pan to me!”

Phillip almost laughed.

“I want what’s best and safest for you, Phillip, I do, and if that means we don’t see each other for a while, then I’ll be happy knowing that you’re happy.” Alex gave a small sad smile. “And if that’s not what you need, then we can figure something else out. Therapy, and I hesitate to say this but, medication, or yoga, or, uh, I dunno, whatever. My point of all of this is, I want to do something to help you, and while I don’t want to force you into anything, I would like it if you picked something because I can’t just…” Alex shook his head. “I don’t want to come home and find you… yeah.”

Phillip swallowed. “Okay. Can I think about it for a little bit?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course, of course, I just, I want you to be thinking about it. And if you need anything, I’m always here, yeah?”

Phillip nodded. “Yeah.”

Alex sighed, looking around his office. “Well, it’s five-thirty, so let’s go.”

“Is it weird that you work a floor below your home?” Phillip asked, packing up his things, keeping the blankets around his so he mirrored that of an ancient Greek senator.

“No,” Alex shrugged. “I’m never really out of work mode anyway, because I like what I do for the most part.” The two began walking towards the elevator. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Criminal,” Phillip decided.

“Good career choice, but what if it doesn’t work out?”

Phillip thought for a moment. “Artist in Italy, maybe a concubine, although I wouldn’t mind getting really famous for some shitty poetry at twenty and then dying of an opium overdose at thirty-six. Live out the French romantic era, you know?”

“Good god, so much talent, wasted on the youth,” Alex joked. The elevator stopped at John’s floor, and Alex pulled out a file, stepping into John’s apartment and setting it on a table, before going back to the elevator and heading to the penthouse.

“You and John are weird,” Phillip commented. “Like, you have a lot of tension.”

“Yeah, it’s complicated,” Alex mumbled vaguely. “I ordered groceries. Real groceries, not just takeout. Figured you were getting sick of takeout.”

Phillip smiled as they stepped into the apartment, setting the groceries on the kitchen counter. “That’s cool. How’d they get here?”

“I have people who do everything for me, including sleep.” Alex chuckled humorously. “Come on, go sit down on the couch and find a movie. I’ll make some soup for you, alright?”

Phillip nodded, yawning a bit. “Alright.”

Alex smiled, kissing the top of Phillip’s head. “I love you, kid.”

“I love you too, dad.”

 

Chapter Text

“Spidey, hey, wassup!” Alex called out, seeing Spiderman sitting down on top of one of the lions in front of the New York public library, eating a sandwich.

“Oh, hey dude!” Spiderman smiled, standing up. He shot a web to the chest of Alex’s suit and Alex lifted him to the top of the library, setting him down and then sitting down next to him. It was a colder day, but Spiderman was wearing a new suit, the one Alex had designed, and it was keeping him warm.

“How’s the suit?” Alex asked.

“It’s good, it’s great, actually. I like having a little voice, and Friday tells me the traffic, and I get news updates! This is fun.” Spiderman took another bite of his sandwich. “God, this is good food. You ever been to Alidoro? The sandwich place over on thirty-ninth, between fifth and Madison?”

Alex shook his head.

“You gotta go, they make the best Italian food, and the subs are great.”

“Hey, you ever heard of Hamilton Industries?” Alex asked.

Spiderman nodded. “Yeah, I have.”

“I’m kinda signing a deal with them, to like, collaborate on tech and stuff like that. It’s probably a bit of a publicity stunt, but you should do it too. It might be a good opportunity.”

“Feels like lobbying,” Spiderman stated. “Heros that are supposed nonpartisan signing with a billionaire who does have a lot of control over politics, and a lot of other things. He doesn’t seem like an asshole, granted, but still, it feels slimy.”

“Maybe, but you gotta admit, he is the lesser of all evils. It’s not like, uh, I dunno, Jeff Bezos, or a Koch brother or something like that,” Alex shrugged. “You should think about it.”

Spiderman groaned, falling back. “I started therapy.”

Alex looked over. “Oh, yeah? My son started therapy recently. How are you liking it?”

“My therapist is nice, says I’m too reckless, and also I should stop blaming every little thing that happens on myself.” Spiderman shrugged. “I mean, she’s kinda right.”

“Once you blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault, shit starts going downhill, trust me on that.” Alex thought for a moment. “I hope things get better for you. You deserve to be happy.”

“Mm, maybe.” Spiderman chuckled. “I don’t really know much about the actual business side of Hamilton Industries if I’m being honest. I know the guy who runs it is like, kind of an asshole, but actually a really good person, and I know he’s been married a couple of times.”

“Uh, Hamilton Industries does a lot with creating modern technology to lessen the carbon footprint of companies. He is kind of an asshole, but he does wanna help the planet, so, that’s nice.” Alex shrugged, trying not to boast since he was good at that. “I think you should. I mean, I don’t wanna try to pressure you into this or anything, but it might be a good idea.”

Spiderman nodded. “I’ll think about it. Still, think the whole thing sounds slimy, but you bring up good points.”

Alex laughed. “You picking up anything on your spider tingle?”

“Please don’t call it that,” Spiderman groaned. “And no, I am not, not really, wait, hold on-” Spiderman paused. “No, I just had to fart.”

Alex burst out laughing.

Spiderman chuckled a bit, staring down at the cars below and tossing his trash in the trashcan a hundred feet below. “I think I’m being a shitty boyfriend.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, just ain’t really been around, kinda in a rough patch right now. Kinda be isolating myself, struggling to stay focused in classes, and shit like that. I dunno, just eh.”

“You should talk to her about it. I mean, I dunno, you should always come first in a relationship, and sometimes people need time. You’re young, and I know spending time with her seems very important, but I promise, I’ve had relationships where we’ve gone a few weeks or so without talking to each other, but if you’re strong enough, it’s not gonna matter.” Alex shrugged. “I don’t think you’re gonna have a problem.”

Spiderman smiled. “Alright, come on, I’m getting some vibes from upper Manhattan, we better go cancel some bitches with a vibe check.”

“I can’t believe this is what English has become,” Alex sighed. “Come on, hop on, let’s go kick some canceled ass.”

Spiderman laughed, shooting a web to Iron Man’s chest, and off they went.

-

John was not having a great day. It had been a busy morning since Alex wanted to go fly around and fight crime all day, so he was left with the aftermath of rearranging clients, signing off on things, but there was one business deal he needed to get Alex’s signature on. Well, not Alex’s, Iron Man’s, but they were the same person, so it was John’s job to track down where Iron Man was and get him to sign off on a few things since that business deal between Iron Man and Hamilton Industries was a real thing.

“Excuse me!” John called out from the sidewalk.

Iron Man was flying over the traffic slowly, Spiderman on his back, reading a book.

“Iron Man! Mister Iron Man! Mr. Man!”

“Please!” Alex laughed, finally acknowledging John. “Mr. Man was my father, call me Iron.”

John smiled sarcastically. “I need your signature!”

“You didn’t come here to just enjoy some conversation with me? Rude!” Alex laughed. “Spidey, this is John, Hamilton’s assistant.”

“Hi, John!” Spiderman smiled, waving.

“John, as much as I’d love to sign your papers, I can’t land. Spidey is trying to figure out Othello, and since I haven’t read the play in a very long time, I am too.” Alex laughed. “How’s your day been?”

“Stressful,” John replied. “My incompetent boss has left me to do everything alone and I really need your signature so I can maybe have a break and eat lunch.”

“What the fuck does sack, sactim... sanctimonious mean?” Spiderman muttered.

“Pretending to be very religious or righteous. Sometimes people who judge others harshly are sanctimonious,” John answered. “Can you two please pull over?”

“Why can’t Shakespear use English?” Spiderman yelled. “How the fuck am I supposed to interpret ‘but this denoted a foregone conclusion. ‘Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.’ Like, what the fuck does that mean? Jesus Christ!”

“I do not miss this,” Alex chuckled.

“Oh, for fuck's sake.” John climbed onto a car and began walking on the cars since New York traffic was close enough to where that could happen. The air was filled with honking, but John didn’t care. “Please! Just sign this!”

“What the hell are you doing?” Alex laughed.

“Trying to get you to do one thing that will take you five seconds!” John huffed, hopping from one car to another, trying to follow Alex and Spiderman. “Please, can you just-”

The light ahead turned green and suddenly the cars began moving, regardless of whether or not there was a person on them. In fact, because this was New York if you were walking on the roofs of cars, the cars were more than likely to start moving, with the hope of knocking you off their car, and possibly running you over.

“Shit!” John yelled.

Alex, within seconds, and swooped down and picked up John, saving him from the tires of a Chevy pickup truck. Spiderman managed to hold on and not lose his book, and then three of them flew to the top of a Chipotle building.

“Fuck!” Alex yelled. “What kinda stupid decision was that?”

“Whatever just sign this,” John huffed.

“You’re a workaholic,” Alex muttered, pressing a button so he could hold a pen in his hand and sign the paper. Spiderman had sat himself down, continuing to read Othello, trying to figure out what it meant, though, by the way he was muttering to himself, it wasn’t working out.

“Mister Spiderman, would you like a contract too? Granted, I don’t think you have any lawyers to look over it, but if you want to read it over, you can.”

“I think I’m good for now,” Spiderman decided.

John sighed, sitting down on the roof. “I need a nap.”

“You should get some Chipotle, it’s right below us,” Alex suggested.

John sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. “Remember, make sure you signed everything, please. I don’t want to do this again.”

“Yes, yes, everything.” Alex chuckled. “You put stickers where I need to sign, how thoughtful.”

“Thought you could use them.” John looked over at Spiderman. “Othello?”

“More like Oh-Hell-No,” Spiderman joked. “I was supposed to have finished it a few nights ago so I could write an essay for it that’s due tomorrow.” Spiderman shrugged. “Oh well.”

“Do not miss that.”

“How is Hamilton doing?” Alex asked, smiling at the candor. He always loved bringing up Iron Man in public interviews, just to get the people so close to thinking he was Iron Man, but not quite. There had been a few theories, which John shut down before Alex could even make a joke about it.

“Incompetent, so nothing’s changed,” John replied.

“I can tell how much you enjoy working for him,” Alex joked.

“It’s a dream.”

“Hey, something is about to happen,” Spiderman called out, looking around. “Yeah, yeah, my spider tingle is going off. Something is going to happen.”

“What do you-”

Alex was cut off by his suit shutting down. He couldn’t move, the suit wasn’t moving. It was supposed to work so that he could move, even if the entire thing was shut off, but it wasn’t. He could see through his dim screen, Spiderman writhing around, but couldn’t hear anything. John had been hit over the head and was limp.

“Jarvis, Jarvis, talk to me, come on, what’s going on?” Alex asked.

No answer.

“Fuck.”

Alex felt himself being picked up, dragged to the edge of the building, and then dropped. He fell maybe twenty feet and then hit the bed of the truck. Spiderman was twitching, curled up, but it looked like the pain was subsiding. John was thrown, much gentler, into the bed of the truck, and then a tarp was thrown over them. Alex tried to move, tried to get Jarvis to turn on, but nothing was working.

Alex closed his eyes and let things happen. He could feel himself getting dragged somewhere, getting sat up. Finally, a dim light came on on his mask, and he could see and hear.

“Javis, Jarvis, what’s goin’ on buddy, huh?” Alex asked.

“Your power is very low, I am functioning off of very little backup power.”

“Gimme the vitals of Spiderman,” Alex ordered.

“He’s alright, but heart rate is very high.”

“Okay, shut off for now.” Alex looked around. He could see Spiderman tied up in the chair next to him, and then he could see a big monitor in front of him, showing them. The room looked dark like somewhere someone would get a back-alley abortion. Alex was tied in a chair and could hear John struggling in the back.

“Well, well, well, the hero’s of Manhattan,” started a voice.

“This is weird,” Alex mumbled.

“Ocean breeze?” Spiderman guessed.

“Ocean breeze? Why the fuck are we talking about ocean breeze?” Alex muttered.

“This must be a Febreeze commercial. I’m guessing ocean breeze. Maybe, no, am I getting hints of fresh linen?” Spiderman hummed, thinking. “No, no, I’m going to stick with ocean breeze. Yeah?”

Alex snorted.

A villain came into view, long black trench coat, clown mask on, tapping their fingers together. Something about them, the smell, the way they walked, it was so familiar to Alex. He could’ve almost guessed who it was, but he couldn’t. It felt like he had been that way with most villains recently. Some of them were so familiar for no reason at all.

“Spiderman, Iron Man, how good to see you both. Spidey, you seem to be much less on fire than the last time I saw you.”

“It took me two weeks to get the smell of kerosene out of my suit, you know that?” Spiderman gasped. “That was fuckin’ rude. I don’t have money, I had to hand wash that shit. Handwash, mother fucker.”

“You both are always so chatty,” the villain huffed. “Mr. Hamilton, it seems you haven’t changed one bit since we last saw each other.”

“Yeah! I knew I knew you from somewhere!” Alex laughed. “Yeah, yeah, where do I know you from?”

“Irrelevant,” the villain replied.

Alex looked to Spiderman. “You know those people and they just, they’re so familiar, but you can’t place where you know them from?” Alex laughed. “That’s what I’m getting from this dude. Like, I know him, I just don’t know where from.”

The villain turned to the monitor, smiling. In the corner, you could see how many people were watching, and the villain seemed to be pleased by this. It was over five million, and there was no doubt this was playing on the jumbo TV in Time Square. “Citizens of New York-”

Spiderman cut the villain off. “Classy, good start, a little overused, but sensible and simple, straight to the point.”

The villain smacked the back of Spiderman’s head. “Are these your heroes? Sarcastic, easily captured, stupid?”

“Hey! I was reading Othello before you got us!” Spiderman exclaimed, trying to do anything to defend his honor.

“You were just yelling at it,” Alex pointed out, laughing a bit.

“Yeah?” Spiderman boasted.

The villain glared at them.

“Sorry, sorry, we’re ruining your monologue, continue,” Alex chuckled. “We won’t interrupt anymore, pinky promise.”

“Your heroes aren’t heroes, they’re mere people. You worship the ground they step on, make stickers and laptop cases out of them. You don’t even know who’s behind the mask.”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Spiderman muttered, trying to edge away from the villain a bit, maybe lessen his chances of whatever was coming.

“You won’t,” the villain agreed. “You are on live TV in front of millions of New Yorkers. All are so worried about their little heroes. What if Spiderman was a rapist?”

“Actually, I’m an immigrant stealing job,” Spiderman corrected. “Sorry, sorry, good American jobs.”

“I’m hungry,” Alex muttered.

“Enough!” The villain yelled. “It’s time New York finds out who you truly are!”

“Can’t do that!” Spiderman started, trying to move his chair away from the villain. It was too late though. The villain whipped off Spiderman’s mask. Dark curly hair fell to his shoulders, eyes wide. Alex looked over and gasped at the face. High cheekbones, hazel eyes, freckles, that curved nose that hooked right at the end.

Phillip?”

Phillip looked over, eyes wide. “Who the fuck are-”

The villain ripped off Alex’s mask.

Dad?”

The villain looked the most confused.

“What the fuck?” John yelled from behind them. “You’re fucking kidding me, oh my God, this is too fucking funny, oh my God.”

“You’re Spiderman?” Alex gasped. “Phillip Hamilton! Who gave you permission to be Spiderman?”

“Your mom!” Phillip replied childishly.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on, you can’t be Spiderman! That’s not allowed!” Alex started. “No! You can’t fight crime! You’re sixteen!”

“Why does that matter? It didn’t matter before you knew I was sixteen!”

“Because I thought you were anyone else!”

Phillip threw up his arms, breaking the rope that held him there. “What’s the difference between me and anyone else?”

Alex stood up, also breaking the ropes. “Because anyone else is an adult!”

“That’s not true, that’s not true, I know several people who aren’t me but aren’t adults! I know Theo, I know George, I know, I know Franky!” Phillip listed.

“Are you two done?” John asked.

“No!” Alex gasped. “I’m sorry, I tossed a semi-truck to my sixteen-year-old son? A fucking semi-truck? No, no, fuck this! You are, you are grounded!” Alex paused. “John, am I using that word right?”

“Yes!” John called out. “Can we like, do something about this?”

“One second.” Alex turned back to Phillip. “You are grounded from being Spiderman!”

“Grounded from being Spiderman? You don’t shit as a hero! You’re always late!” Phillip argued.

“Name one time I was late!”

“The time with the fire! When I got shot and you had to pull me out of that building! You were so late! You were fifteen minutes late and I almost burned on fire!” Phillip gasped. “And then there was the situation with the lion and the Bronx!”

“You’re still not over that? It was over a year ago!” Alex gasped.

“I almost got my arm bit off!”

“That was your fault for trying to take a selfie with it!”

Phillip rolled his eyes. “I need to make money somehow! I don’t have time for a job seeing as I’m the only competent hero in New York!”

“Don’t take that tone with me young man, I am your father!”

“You’re yelling at me too!”

“Well, I’m sorry!” Alex put his hand on Phillip’s shoulder. “This is a really high-stress situation and I’m not mad at you I’m just very surprised and very anxious right now because it’s not just my friend that is in danger, it’s my son!”

“It’s okay! We should probably try and-” Phillip paused, realizing the villain was gone.

“He fucking left you, dimwits!” John called out from the chair he was tied to in the corner. “You were too busy arguing!”

Alex’s eyes widened. “We were?”

John let his head drop. “God, Alex, you’re lucky Phillip has his mother in him, otherwise he’d be just as stupid.”

Phillip snorted.

“Well, where’d he go?” Alex asked.

“He’s probably gone.” John huffed. “Look, this rope is digging into my arms, and you two are making fools out of yourselves on live TV.”

Phillip looked back to the recorder. “Yeah, it’s still on.”

“Do you have anything to say to New York?” Alex asked.

“Eat the rich, silence the boomers, vote Bernie, save the planet, don’t look away from the concentration camps on the border!” Phillip yelled.

“This message has been approved by Alexander Hamilton of Hamilton Industries,” Alex smiled before shutting off the screen. “Okay, okay, let’s save John.”

“I don’t need to be saved, I just need you to cut the fuckin’ ropes,” John huffed.

“Watch your language around my kid!” Alex reminded.

“Yeah, watch your fucking language,” Phillip laughed.

Alex went over and cut John’s ropes. “Phillip, how are you? Are you hurting?”

“No, not really.” Phillip shrugged. “My rubs do hurt though, but I think I just need to relax a bit. Are you okay?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. John?”

John huffed. “Look, I’m fine, you guys should probably be more worried about the fact that you’ve both just been revealed as New York’s favorite heroes to the entirety of New York. Did anyone else know you were who you were before this?”

“Theo knew I was Spiderman,” Phillip offered.

“Oh, that was Theo? I remember that day.” Alex laughed. “You looked scared out of your wits.”

“Yeah, we got it figured out though, luckily.” Phillip smiled. “But you do bring up a good point, John. What are we gonna do?”

John walked over to a wall and ripped down a sheet, checking the street. “Look, no one is here, so can you like, fly away back to the building?”

Alex paused, staring awkwardly at his feet. “Uh, well, you see, any other situation, we could, but the issue is, that, well, uh, that blast we got hit with, it kinda, uh, well, you know, it kinda drained the power in my suit.”

“Oh Jesus fucking Christ.” John smacked his hand to his forehead.

Alex smiled. “Jarvis, briefcase.” In seconds, the suit was off of him, sitting there in the form of a sleek black leather briefcase, which Alex picked up. He buttoned up his blazer, then looked to Phillip. “Do you have clothes on under that?”

“It’s Spandex! Of course, I don’t!” Phillip ran his hand through his hair. “I could probably swing home, but I’d attract crowds probably. Where are we?”

“Uh, somewhere in Queens,” John mumbled.

“Okay, I could go to Theo’s. I don’t really know how to get out unnoticed.” Phillip shrugged, looking between the both of them. “I mean, I’m not exactly blending in material.”

“Alright, here’s the plan.” Alex set his briefcase down, pulling out his phone. “I’m gonna draw a lot of attention to myself.” Alex began to speak into his phone. “Jarvis, I need suite number six oh four in my direct location right now, we have a code four-twenty.” Alex looked back up. “Alright, Phillip, things are about to get really crazy, so you need to be able to get out of here as soon as this starts. You think you can do that?”

Phillip nodded.

“Alright, John, get ready, hold on tight to me, alright?”

“What?”

Alex grabbed John by the waist, and suddenly, it seemed like the roof of the building had been blown off, and a suit similar to Alex’s, but bigger, scooped Alex and John up, shooting off fireworks and playing Alice Cooper quite loudly. Phillip got the hint and began to swing towards Theo’s. People didn’t seem to notice him, as they were too busy walking after the loud almost amusement attraction. Phillip somehow made it through the streets, drawing very little attraction. He was going quite fast though, not exactly in the best control. So, as he narrowly avoided a streetlight, he didn’t seem to realize he was headed straight for Theo’s living room window, where Theo and her parents sat, watching the news reports about the Spiderman/Iron-Man ordeal.

“Fuck!”

It was a second too late, and Phillip rammed right into the window, breaking it and flying through, landing with a hard thud on the floor. He groaned and could feel glass crunching under him. He pulled his mask off, wiping some blood off of his cheek, then turned to the couch, where Theo, Dosia, and Aaron stared at him, wide-eyed.

“I can get Alex to pay for your window,” Phillip spat out. 

 

Chapter Text

It was a lot to explain to the Burrs. Aaron wasn’t exactly happy that Phillip had broken his window, and Dosia wasn’t ecstatic about the fact that Phillip got his face all cut up. But, Theo got Phillip some clothes, and Dosia put some tea on, and Phillip, rightfully so, explained everything. From how it started, to what was going on now.

Aaron sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “So, you’re Spiderman.”

Phillip nodded, playing with a loose thread on the Adidas sweatpants that belonged to Theo. Since he was a beanpole and she had thunder thighs, they were big on him, sagging in the back, but the large knit sweater she lent him was nice too. “Yeah, and I been Spiderman. Uh, I’m sticky? If you throw me against a wall or something, I’ll stick.”

Theo laughed, leaning her head against Phillip’s shoulder.

“Did Eliza know?” Dosia asked.

Phillip shook his head. “No. Only Theo knew for the most part, and that was an accident. See, I got shot-”

“You got shot?”

“And Theo was there-”

“Theo was there?”

“And she patched me up, and recognized the birthmark on my stomach that looks like India.” Phillip offered a small smile. “Yeah, basically, that’s it.”

“Are you sure that’s it?” Dosia mumbled, rubbing her eyes.

“I was responsible for that power outage a year ago,” Phillip offered.

Aaron gasped. “What? That was you? How?”

“I was fighting a villain in the electrical center and I got thrown into the transmitter thingy, and I blew it out, which really hurt.” Phillip nodded. “But I won. It was Goblin, he was trying to steal radioactive material. I don’t know why they would put it in the electrical station. Maybe for like, backup use? Anyway, I stopped that.”

Aaron closed his eyes. “I told you he was reckless.”

“On the bright side, I can’t get killed.” Phillip smiled hopefully.

“Well, that is a bright side.” Dosia pinched his cheek. “Okay, Theo, honey, I need you to go fix up his face, and I’ll start dinner. I’m guessing your father is too busy with whatever he’s doing tonight?”

Phillip nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Okay, we’re making ravioli.” Dosia stood up. “Pip, you should try and call your dad, just let him know you’re okay.”

Phillip nodded, standing up. “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” He kissed the top of Theo’s head and went into the living room, dialing his father’s number. He pressed call and waited, humming a bit. He got voicemail, so he began talking. “Hey, dad, I-” The phone beeped and Phillip realized his dad was calling him. He pressed accept and put the phone back to his face. “Hey, dad-”

“Phillip, Phillip, are you okay? Are you alright? Where are you? Are you okay? How are you?” Alex gasped.

“Yes! Yes! I’m fine!” Phillip assured him. “I’m fine! I just thought I should call you to tell you I’m fine. I’m at the Burr’s, hanging. Is everything good?”

“Yes, yes, just handling damage control.” Alex sighed. “Look, what do you need? Are you okay? Is everything okay?”

“Yes, but I did crash through their window, and that will need to be paid for.”

Alex sighed. “Okay, okay, I’ll talk to John, get their address. Are you okay? Any injuries?”

“I cut my face up a bit when I crashed through the window, but I’m good for the most part. I’m wearing my girlfriend's pants.”

“Whoa! I’m your dad! I don’t wanna know that!” Alex gasped.

“Oh my God! It’s not like that! She just lent me some sweats because I only had my suit!” Phillip scoffed. “You’re gross.”

Alex snickered. “Okay, I’m getting glares from John, I gotta go. Listen, I’m gonna pick you up at ten, alright? I’m gonna pick you up in a helicopter, on the roof, okay? Okay, and I’m gonna take you back home, yeah? Will you be ready at ten?”

“Yes, yes, I will be.” Phillip nodded. “What’s going on?”

“Just handling damage control, don’t worry.” Alex hummed for a moment, thinking. “Do you need money to order dinner for them? Do you need anything?”

“No, no, it’s okay. Ten, right?”

“Right, right.” Alex huffed. “Okay, John is about to come yell at me. I gotta go. Stay safe, I love you, goodbye.”

“Bye dad, love you too.” Phillip hung up and walked back into the kitchen where Dosia was cooking and Theo and her dad were talking. Phillip sat down next to Theo, smiling at her, before popping his back a bit.

“What’d your dad say, hun?” Dosia asked.

“He’s gonna pick me up around ten tonight, on the roof, with a helicopter.” Phillip smiled. “Anyway, whatcha makin’?”

“Just throwing together a quick meal. Quesadillas with beans and cheese and all that good stuff.” Dosia smiled. “Okay, do you kids have any homework?”

“Yes, but I’ll do it later,” Theo mumbled.

“I was supposed to commit war crimes for an English project, but I guess I’ll stick with just analyzing Animal Farm,” Phillip chuckled.

“God, Animal Farm,” Dosia chuckled. “I read that book as the Soviet party was dissolved.”

“There’s a kid who always wears a communist hat to our school,” Theo mentioned. “Phillip, have you seen him?”

“He’s in my gym class, yeah.” Phillip shook his head. “He needs to take Econ I swear to God.”

Theo laughed.

Dinner went by, and since it was a school night, Phillip killed time with the TV on low with Aaron while Dosia and Theo slept. They were watching some old NBC show when Phillip’s phone started ringing.

“Hello?”

“Hey! Phillip! I’m about to land on the roof, you should probably get up here!” Alex yelled a bit.

“Oh, alright.” Phillip looked at Aaron. “Hey, my dad is here.”

“Alright, I’ll walk you up.”

Phillip grabbed his suit and began walking up. He was barefoot, but he didn’t care much. The two got to the roof, and there was a helicopter, parked, and Alex leaning against it, checking his phone.

“Hi, dad!” Phillip smiled.

“Oh, Jesus Christ.” Alex came forward and pulled Phillip into a tight hug. “I was so worried about you. Are you okay? Okay, Lord.” Alex took Phillip’s face in his hands. “Are you okay? I was so worried about you, I didn’t want you to get stormed with paparazzi, or shot, or something.”

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Phillip assured him.

Alex pulled Phillip into another tight hug. “Good God, okay, okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.” Alex kissed the side of Phillip’s head. “Okay, okay, let’s go home.”

Phillip laughed. “Yeah.”

Alex pulled away from the hug and then shook Aaron’s hand. “Thank you, so much. I owe you a beer or something. Probably a window, actually. I’ll get Jarvis to send out a bot. I’ll try to make it kid-proof this time.”

Aaron chuckled. “It’s alright.”

Alex sighed. “Okay, okay, home time.” He put a hand on Phillip’s shoulder and guided him to the helicopter. “You ever been in one of these?”

Phillip shook his head.

“Okay, get into the passenger seat, put on the helmet, buckle up.” Alex got in the driver's side. “Buckle up all the way. I once had a Russian diplomat in here who didn’t think he needed to be fully buckled and I had to make a sharp turn and the dude almost fell out, which was awkward.”

“Has Trump ever ridden in this? Have you ever met him?” Phillip asked.

Alex gave Phillip an uncomfortable look. “He has never ridden in my helicopter, and yes, I have met him. It wasn’t great.” Alex looked over. “Helmet? Seatbelt? Everything?”

Phillip nodded. “Let’s do this.”

“Hope you’re not afraid of heights because this thing doesn’t have doors.”

Alex took off, and soon enough, they were flying thousands of feet above New York, headed back to Manhattan. Phillip was a little in awe, watching the city below, reaching his hand out of the compartment to feel the wind rushing past. It was late, so the city was dark and the lights were visible.

Alex had a hard time enjoying the scenery though. His head was wracked with worry. Worry for Phillip, worry for the press conference tomorrow. Worry about everything. He was terrified. More than anything, he wanted Phillip to be safe, and oh God, what if he couldn’t do that? Phillip’s safety was the one thing he could do for Eliza now that she was gone, and if he couldn’t keep that kid safe, then what could he do?

They got home and Alex sent Phillip right to bed since there was school the next day. Alex then decided he should make a pot of coffee and get some work done since there was no way he was sleeping tonight.

Alex laid out all his work on the kitchen table, pouring a mug of coffee and beginning to look over blueprints for a redesign of some wind-powered electricity, ways to make it more efficient. Laptop out, headphones on, Alex worked late into the night. He continued to try and distract himself from the anxiety he was experiencing, but it wasn’t working too well. He didn’t know what he needed to do though, so he kept doing that.

“Hey.”

Alex jumped, taking off his headphones. “Christ, John.”

John chuckled. “Come on, it’s bedtime.”

“No.” Alex shook his head. “I can’t, I can’t sleep.”

“I know, come on.” John pulled Alex out of his chair and into his bedroom. “Are you ready for tomorrow?’

“No, I’m not. You can’t be ready for this, John.” Alex shook his head. “It’s for Phillip though.”

“How exactly will spilling your dirty laundry all over the front page of the New York tabloids help Phillip?” John mumbled.

“They aren’t gonna talk about the high school Spiderman if they’re too busy writing the juicy details of my divorce.” Alex chuckled. “I just, I wanna take as much attention away from him as I can, yeah?”

John sighed, bringing Alex to his bedroom and laying him down. “Get undressed, slip on some sweatpants, let’s watch TV.”

“You’re gonna stop working to be idle with me?” Alex gasped, slipping off his clothes.

John tossed Alex some sweatpants and laid down next to him. “Yeah, I am. I figured you were up, and I’m not tired anyway.” John grabbed a remote and pulled Alex to his chest. “You gonna be okay, Alex?”

Alex nodded, hooking his leg with John’s and watching the channels. “You promise you’re gonna be there with me?”

John nodded, running his hand through Alex’s hair. “Yeah, I promise.”

Neither of them could sleep, so they ended up watching shitty Spanish soap operas until four am rolled around. John was drowsy, but he watched Alex stand up and stretch, watched Alex go to the window and look over the city. Watched Alex sigh, letting down his hair.

“You’re beautiful,” John mumbled.

“Am I?” Alex chuckled, running his hand over the reactor in his chest.

John nodded. “You know, you don’t have to leave yet. You could stay in bed with me.”

Alex sighed lightly climbing in bed and straddling John’s waist. “Do you still like me?”

“Yes.” John ran his hands down Alex’s bare sides.

“Why?”

“Because you’ve got this mind, Alex. You don’t show it, but you are so capable of love.” John tucked a bit of hair behind Alex’s hear. “You are so strong and so brave, and so willing to sacrifice yourself for the wellbeing of others. You care so much about this world and the people in it. God, Alexander.” John sat up, pulling Alex closer to his chest. “You’re flawed in all the right ways, and it’s beautiful.”

Alex rested his head against John’s shoulder. “I miss you, John.”

“Why do we have to miss each other?” John mumbled.

“We don’t.”

Alex took John’s face in his hands and stared into his eyes for a moment. The city sounds crept into the room from when they had opened the window late in the night. John’s cologne filled Alex’s nose and deemed his senses weak. Alex could feel the slight stubble on John’s face, though facial hair had never been the man’s forte and acne scars from when John was a kid. He could feel John’s fingers running over the scars on his back.

Alex leaned in and kissed John, signing into it. John hugged Alex closer as the two kissed. Unlike any other time they had kissed, they didn’t expect it to go anywhere. They just kissed. It was sweet but messy. Alex had never been a great kisser. He was awkward, and he had a lot of spit in his mouth that he could no longer swallow back when he was kissing someone, so it was messy. But John didn’t care. John was just happy he was kissing Alex.

The two pulled away and John leaned his forehead against Alex’s chest, sighing heavily. “I really like you, Alexander.”

“I know.” Alex sighed, running his hands through John’s hair. “I really like you too.”

“You think maybe we aren’t crazy?”

“I don’t know.” Alex sighed softly. “Maybe I don’t care though.”

John chuckled. “I think you do. You think everything over a million times in your head, I know you do. You are always thinking. I can see it.”

“Oh, you can see me thinking?”

John nodded, smiling down at Alex. “Yup, I can see you thinking. You got this look when you think.”

“What look?”

“The one you have when you think.”

Alex laughed, tilting his head back into the pillow, eyes scrunching up.

John sighed softly. “God, Alexander, you are the most beautiful thing on earth.”

“Am I?”

“Yeah, you are, dear boy.” John kissed Alex’s lips. “You kiss like a wet trout though.”

“Yeah, but I suck dick like a God.”

John chuckled, leaning his head against Alex’s. “God, you do.”

-

Alex sat down at the table, nodding at the table clothes before taking a sip of water. Press was bustling, talking, taking notes. John sat down next to Alex and put a hand on his thigh for reassurance. Alex smiled quickly then looked back to the reporters.

“Okay!” John started. “This is a questionnaire for Alexander. He has the right to veto any questions you ask, but any topic is on the table.”

“Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Hamilton, what can you tell us about your experiences as Iron Man?” Someone yelled.

“Uh, well, when I was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan, I had a reactor placed in my chest, with nuclear energy, to keep my heart beating essentially. And I had a man down there with me, who helped me build the first prototype of the suit. This was back in two thousand and eight. Anyway, once I got out and made my recovery, I began to look into the technology of the suit. It was mostly a free time sort of thing, but as I developed it, I realized I could do some good with it. So, that’s when I started using it to be a hero.”

“Is it true that your son Phillip is Spiderman?”

“I will not be discussing my son in this conference,” Alex stated.

“Why were you taken as a prisoner of war?”

“Because I was in Afghanistan testing out the American war weapons I had made for the US military. They were more precise and elite, and they minimized the number of civilians who would be caught in the crossfire. My company provides war weapons to America and American allies to lessen the aftermath of American bombings and attacks for citizens of middle eastern warzones.”

The press room fell silent.

“Mr. Hamilton, don’t you agree that your creation of war weapons goes against you climate activism?”

“On the contrary.”

John pulled out some papers. “If I may speak up for Hamilton, our weapon innovations are only thirty percent of what we do, and any residue and materials the weapons could leave behind is either biodegradable or raw materials themselves. They have been shown to lessen civilian casualties, and the money from the American government for these weapons funds the innovation to climate-safe power and heat sources.”

“Mr. Hamilton, what can you tell us about your breakdown in two thousand and nine?”

“Uh, it was stress invoked, I was deep into my alcoholism, I was suffering from severe undiagnosed PTSD, on top of my other mental issues I already deal with. I had pushed away some of my best friends, including John, and then it seemed to all come crashing down on me. It goes to show that the PTSD I got from a few months of being a prisoner of war? It’s probably nothing compared to the PTSD of veterans, sexual assault victims, people in abusive situations, and others, which is why my company has been looking into non-invasive ways to treat PTSD, ways that are affordable, so any level of income can afford it,” Alex explained.

John covered his microphone. “We have?”

“It’s been a side project for me.”

“Mr. Hamilton, what other mental issues do you struggle from?”

Alex nodded. “I grew up in foster care, moving from home to home, so I developed depression and an anxiety disorder, and when I was thirteen, I was diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of autism. I’m not ashamed to say I have Aspergers, because frankly, without it, I don’t think I could be where I am without it.”

“Mr. Hamilton, Do you take medications?”

Alex shook his head. “No, but I have nothing against medications either, I just have never found a need for them.

“Mr. Hamilton, what can you tell us about your relationship with Eliza Schuyler up until her death?”

Alex squeezed the tablecloth. “Uh, we were friends throughout high school, and we started dating after she graduated. We got married, and then we got divorced but remained friends up until her death. She was one of the best friends I had ever had, and she built this empire. I’ve found I get credit for a lot of things the people around me do.” Alex smiled at John. “Without my assistant, John Laurens, I don’t know where I would be right now. Since he’s started working for me, he has been one of my best friends, and even when he wants to beat the shit out of me, he still manages to help.”

John chuckled.

“Eliza very often pulled me out of depressive episodes, helped me take care of myself, knocked some sense into me when she needed to. She was smarter than me, no doubt. Everything I have I owe to her and John.”

“Mr. Hamilton, what can you tell us about your son, Phillip?”

“He’s a good kid with a big heart and a great grade point average. Next.”

“Mr. Hamilton, what’s your current stance on politics?”

Alex chuckled. “I actually have a message for Trump. Is someone filming?” Alex got back a few nods, and so he stood up and turned around, undoing his belt. “Our monster and chief, President Donald Trump, can kiss-” Alex pulled down his pants, just where his butt ended. “My fucking ass.” Alex pulled up his pants and turned around. “And I’ll wipe his fake tan off with the money he gives me for weapons that I use to stop climate change.”

John had his head in his arms, shaking with laughter. A reporter for Fox got up and left. Some reporters were chuckling, and one was losing her mind, filling up the room with her laughter. Alex smiled cockily sipping some water.

“Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Hamilton, who do you support in the upcoming election?”

“I’m a big Bernie fan. I do really like the dude. Jewish solidarity, first of all, and you know something? He’s really got some good plans for this country. I mean, I got a tax break over the span of Donald Trump’s presidency, but like, I didn’t need it. I know how much I’d be getting taxed with Bernie’s plan and it’s fine. It’s what billionaires need. In fact, Bernie, if you’re watching this, we should get together some time. Let’s talk about what we can do with climate change, let’s make a difference huh? I’ll catch you in synagogue in Queens one Saturday.” Alex chuckled. “So yeah, I’m a big Bernie supporter.”

“What do you think of gen Z and millennials killing corporations?”

“I don’t go out anyway, so what’s the big deal? Besides, their main victims are like, shitty things like oil and diamonds, so go them. Stick it to the old people.” Alex laughed. “I mean, they’re the future. We have to respect their existence or expect their resistance. I hope I leave a world they can thrive in.”

“What do you think of the crisis at the border, Mr. Hamilton?”

“There’s no crisis, there are concentration camps.” Alex sat back. “We have women and children, families, siblings, elderly people, seeking our help, seeking our freedom and refuge, and being placed in camps where they can’t shower, where they can’t drink fresh water. As an immigrant and a visible minority in America, I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that firstly, this isn’t even our first concentration camp, and secondly, that have a concentration camp at all. Most of my workers are immigrants since I prefer to speak in Spanish, and they are very skilled workers, who work very hard, and are frankly more deserving of those jobs. Immigrants are the only reason our economy hasn’t tanked yet, but with ICE locking them up, we’re losing time until we dive face-first into a recession Donald Trump has sent us into.”

“Would you ever have any presidential aspirations, Mr. Hamilton?”

“No, but I will not stay silent about the issues. I could make a better president than who we have now, but let’s face it, an old mop could make a better president than who we have now.” Alex shook his head. “It’s a real shame a country with the power to do such great things has to have such a shitty leader and a political party dedicated to nazis.”

“Mr. Hamilton, how has being Jewish affected your business?”

“Uh, all my inventions are Kosher certified,” Alex joked. “No, no, they’re not, I don’t think you can get wind energy kosher certified. No, uh, truthfully? My mother always taught me that because we were Jewish, we were never going to get handed good luck, but we could always fight for it, and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. The Lord has seen me and aided me along in my journey, and I thank her every day for where I am.”

“What can you tell us about your current relationship status, Mr. Hamilton?”

Alex smiled brightly. “I’m currently seeing someone, and I like to think it’s going pretty well.”

John faltered. Alex was seeing someone? Oh God, John’s worst fear was coming true. He was a side bitch for Alex. God, he always knew it was going to happen, but he thought that maybe, maybe Alex meant what he said in the morning, meant that he didn’t care if they were crazy. Lord, John should’ve known.

“Mr. Hamilton, what can you tell us about your son’s career goals? Is he to take over the company?”

“If he is motivated, and wants to, then sure. But seeing as my son is an artist, I will most likely be passing on the company to an outside hire. I would like to leave my company in the hands of a black or brown woman, which is entirely possible since I’ve met many who are overqualified STEM majors, but they’re working at Starbucks.”

“Why a black or brown woman, Mr. Hamilton?”

“Can anyone in this room name one black or brown woman in a CEO position?”

The room fell silent.

Alex folded his hands. “Alright, next question.”

“Mr. Hamilton, what was the cause of your divorce with your lawyer's daughter, Kitty Livingston?”

“My alcoholism and infidelity.” Alex shot a cheeky smile into the camera.

“Mr. Hamilton, you have been quoted saying you think America has given our police force too much power. Can you confirm that?”

Alex nodded. “Yes, I can. I think cops get too much power and too much leeway. They don’t get trained enough, and they are taught to kill.”

“Mr. Hamilton, is it true your son has been caught vandalizing city property?”

Alex shrugged. “I don’t know, and even if I did, I wouldn’t snitch. I’m not a bootlicker.”

The rest of the interview went by, and finally, Alex and John were walking out. Alex felt like he had just thrown up all of his insides, and really just wanted to shower. John was still feeling sick from the fact that Alex was seeing someone.

“So…” John started when they get into the elevator. “You’re seeing someone?”

Alex paused, giving John a weird look. “Yeah?”

“Who?”

Alex’s brows creased as he stared at John. “You. I’m seeing you.”

John jumped. “What?”

“John we’ve been dating since this morning!”

“That’s not fair! You didn’t tell me that! I thought we were just leaving it in an awkward position again!”

“No! I told you I didn’t care if we were crazy, and then you called me beautiful and we kissed and then I made you breakfast!”

John smacked his hand against his forehead. “Alex, you didn’t even ask me out.”

“So we’re not dating?”

John closed his eyes, smiling. “God, you’re an idiot.” John pulled Alex into his arms and kissed him. “You’re lucky I like you, Alex.”

Alex smiled, wrapping his arms around John’s neck. “So we’re together?”

John nodded.

“Guess this means we gotta go fill out a love document at HR.”

John chuckled. “No, not yet. How about we go take advantage of the big shower in your bathroom, huh? Show you what it’s good for.”

Alex’s face heated up. “Good God, Laurens. I’m all yours.”

 

Chapter Text

“So I guess it’s just you and me now, huh,” George sighed, leaning against the locker next to Theo’s as Theo touched up her highlight. “Two lone rangers, on the road.”

Theo gave George a weird look. “What are you going off about this time?”

“Phillip is Spiderman, Theo. He’s cool now. We’re officially his uncool nerdy friends.” George sighed dramatically. “Also, did you know?”

“Not for very long before it got out, and I found out by accident. He wouldn’t have told anyone, I don’t think.” Theo shrugged. “I don’t think he’s gonna ditch us.”

“I think he will. Fame makes people shallow. He’s already gone.” George huffed. “I miss him already. Respectfully though, Theo, I can’t be your boyfriend. I already have a heavy devotion to my D&D campaign.”

“George, he’s not going to ditch us, I promise. I talked to him right after the news broke, just last night, he seemed fine.” Theo shook her head. “You jump to conclusions a lot, you know that?”

George sighed. “Can I borrow your high light while we wait for him to never show up? I’m feeling pretty today.”

Theo handed George some high light and lipstick, letting him use her mirror. “He’s probably running late.”

“He’s never coming back. Face it, your husband is gone.” George dabbed highlight onto his cheeks. “What color lipstick should I do?”

“You look good with the dark purple,” Theo mumbled, looking down the hall for Phillip. Someone gave her a side-eye and she tugged down her shorts a bit. She had never been a skinny girl, so her shorts always rode up over her thighs. It was fine until some dude began starring a little too long.

Theo went into her locker and pulled out her long cardigan, feeling a bit uncomfortable. She still hadn’t seen Phillip and was beginning to get worried.

“Where is he?” Theo mumbled.

“Gone.” George looked down the hallway. “Well, not exactly, but basically.”

Theo looked down the hall and then sighed. Phillip was walking with the cool group, his notebooks in his hands, pencil case, hair tied up. The cool kids in their school weren’t exactly mean, but they were elite, mostly made up of the rich white kids, and once someone joined that group, they had no more outside friends.

Theo bit her lip.

There was a moment when Phillip didn’t quite see Theo and George, so he politely kept up his conversation with the cool group, feeling a bit awkward, but then he saw George over highlighting his face, and Theo popping some gum into his mouth. Despite how rude it was, Phillip quickly walked up to his girlfriend, planting a wet kiss on her lips.

“Phillip!” Theo gasped, laughing.

Phillip smiled, hugging her. “Missed you.”

“You saw me last night.”

“Still missed you.” Phillip smiled and took George’s face in his hands, wiping some stray lipstick away. “You are shiny.”

“Don’t you want to hang out with your cool friends?” George sighed dramatically.

“What’s he off about?” Phillip muttered.

“He thinks that now because you’re Spiderman, you’re going to ditch us for all the cool people.” Theo gave a small sarcastic smile.

“George, how little do you think of me?” Phillip laughed. “Those people don’t even like me. What do they want with some broke Queens kid?”

“Your dummy thick ass,” George decided.

Phillip tilted his head back, laughing. “George! Christ!”

“Come on, you dumbasses, we have places to be.” Theo grabbed Phillip’s hand and the three began walking down the hallway. George broke off at the English hallway, and Phillip and Theo made their way to the science hallway. Phillip kissed Theo goodbye and went into chemistry, sitting down and pulling out his notebook. He felt eyes on him and looked up to see the class staring at him.

“Yes?”

“So you’re Spiderman?”

“Sometimes.” Phillip shrugged. “Right now I’m tryna not fail chemistry.”

“Phillip seems to be the only one in this class with his priorities straight,” the teacher announced, walking in. “No superhero news is going to introduce our chemistry, so class, I hope you’re ready to learn because today we are talking about moles.”

The first half of the day went by relatively easy for Phillip. He had a little trouble getting through the people at lunch but finally got to the stairwell, where Theo and George were sitting. Phillip sat down and pulled out some food, munching on it as he closed his eyes.

“How are you doing, Spidey?” Theo asked, laughing a bit.

“Too many people are talking to me,” Phillip groaned.

“On the bright side, I haven’t even seen shit about you online because your dad just did a four-hour interview where he talked about everything.” George smiled.

Phillip cocked a brow. “What?”

“Yeah, I was looking for you online, see what they knew, and only two sights have focused on you. If you ever wanted to know your dad’s dirty laundry, now’s the time.” George showed a headline to Phillip.

“I don’t wanna know,” Phillip chuckled.

“Who’s he seeing?” George asked.

“No one,” Phillip replied.

Theo leaned over. “He said he’s seeing someone.”

“John probably, then.” Phillip shrugged, taking a bite of some food. “Theo, did your window get fixed?”

Theo nodded. “Woke up this morning and it was all better.”

“What happened to your window?” George asked.

Phillip smiled sheepishly. “I kinda swung through it.”

“You what?” George began to laugh. “Oh my God, Phillip! You’re so dumb!”

“All my brain cells are in my meat! I’m sorry!” Phillip began to put up his hair. “Do you guys wanna come over after school? I know we all have our laptops, and I’ve been in the mood to play some Doom.”

George nodded. “Yeah, that would be awesome.”

“I was gonna do some shopping but eh I’d rather play Doom with my two nerdy friends.” Theo chuckled. “We should do it.”

Phillip took a bite of his food, nodding. “Great, I’ll make a stir fry.”

-

The day finished up, and soon enough, the three of them were getting into the hummer Phillip had taken to school, since he wanted to draw less attention, and they began driving home. Because George didn’t want to third wheel, Theo was sitting in the back, George controlling the radio. He was blasting Asian hip hop in the car.

“So, is it true that people with Hummers have small dicks?” George asked Theo.

“This isn’t my hummer,” Phillip called out.

“And if it was, he’d be proof that that’s just a myth.” Theo smiled at George.

“Gross! I thought you guys didn’t fuck!” George yelled.

“We don’t, but Phillip wears grey sweatpants sometimes, and you know, I do look.”

“I’m more than just my meat!” Phillip complained.

“Big dicks mean you’re more likely to get sons than daughters,” Geroge pointed out.

Phillip gasped. “The Weasley’s.”

Theo huffed, looking up from her phone. “Phillip, I’m ordering us hot wings and burgers, but I don’t know what your address is. What do I write?”

“Uhh, just write the address for the building and reception will take it up, but make sure you write that the order is for me.” Phillip turned his head back for a moment. “Do you need me to PayPal you?”

“No, it’s fine, I just got paid, because some of us work.”

Phillip scoffed. “How much was the meal?”

“Like, fifty bucks,” Theo answered. “It’s really not that big a deal.

“George, can you PayPal her thirty-four bucks and I’ll PayPal you thirty-four when I’m not driving?” Phillip requested.

“Paypal me seventeen so we all paid an equal amount,” George told him.

“You guys are ridiculous,” Theo muttered. “I’m perfectly capable of paying for food. Starbucks eliminated its wage gap.”

“We know you can pay for stuff,” George defended.

“It’s not that we don’t think you have the money, it’s that we feel shitty if we eat the food we didn’t help pay for.” Phillip smiled at Theo in the rearview mirror. “Also, toxic masculinity prevents us from letting a woman be in any way better than us.”

Theo rolled her eyes playfully. “You two are weird.”

Phillip groaned as he pulled up to the car garage to see paparazzi in front of it, snapping pictures. “I’m gonna lean on the horn, guys.”

“Alright.”

Phillip pressed on the horn and began slowly driving into them, giving them time to move as he got through them and was let into the parking garage. He went and parked, leading his friends through the garage to the elevator.

“Your dad has a lot of cars,” George commented. “Isn’t he like, against carbon emissions?”

“Yeah, I asked him about that. Every time he gets a car, he makes it electric. They all just get plugged in for power.” Phillip shrugged. “It’s why the hummer was such a quiet ride.”

Theo took Phillip’s hand as they rode up the elevator. “Food should be here in twenty, I think. So, like, do we set up in your room?”

Phillip shook his head. “Nah, the kitchen is probably the best place because it has that island. Alex won’t mind, he’s probably gonna be working for a while.”

“Alright, cool.”

The three got to the penthouse and all began setting up their computers, pulling out mouses and mouse pads, Phillip putting on some music, soda being poured out, with the exception of water for Theo. The game was started and the three of them took off, playing at fast speeds, only pausing to eat the food for a minute. George's talent was able to play and eat at the same time, Phillip would try his best, and Theo was actually civilized enough to not dirty her laptop with buffalo sauce.

“Quick! Shoot that! Shoot it!”

“I’m trying, I gotta sneeze though!”

“Fuck, crap! It’s eating me!”

“What did I walk in on?”

Phillip paused the game and turned to look at Alex and John, who were standing in the elevator doorway. “Dad, John, these are my friends. This is George, and this is Theo.”

“I’m your girlfriend!” Theo gasped, mouth full of cold burger.

“That’s what I said,” Phillip assured her.

“Oh, Theo!” Alex smiled. “It’s nice to finally meet you! And George! God, it’s nice to finally put a face to a name.” Alex reached out to shake George’s hand.

“Look, I know you’re the richest man in America, and could ruin my life with a look, and I know it’s rude not to shake your hand, but I have been eating buffalo wings for the past hour, so I really don’t think it’s a good idea,” George admitted.

Alex laughed. “Nah, it’s okay.” He smiled and looked at Theo. “It’s nice to see you when you’re not chewing out my son for not telling you about his secret identity after he got shot.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Theo chuckled.

“Okay, you kids look occupied, so John and I are gonna go work on some sciencey stuff. If you need anything, just holler.” Alex kissed the top of Phillip’s head. “Please clean up when you’re done.”

“Alright.” Phillip smiled and unpaused the game, and continued playing.

Since they were teenagers, and they didn’t really have any impulse control, it wasn’t until nine at night when they all realized they were still playing video games.

“Holy shit.” Theo stood up. “I gotta get him. It’s late.”

“I’m just gonna stay here,” George smiled. “Phillip and I can pull another all-nighter.”

Theo rolled her eyes, calling for an Uber. “You two are going to be the death of me.”

Phillip smiled, standing up. “Come on, we’ll walk you out.”

He grabbed Theo’s hand and the three of them made their way to the elevator. Theo was tired since she hadn’t really slept the night before, so she leaned against Phillip, sighing. There was no elevator music, but George was humming, so it was alright. Theo squeezed Phillip’s hand and kissed his shoulder.

They got to the bottom and saw Theo off into her Uber, then Phillip and George went back up to the penthouse. Phillip ordered a pizza and some liters of Mountain Dew and then pulled out a family back of Cheetos. The two sat down in front of the TV, watching South Park and eating the shittiest food they could get their hands on.

George and Phillip had always been friends. Phillip was the scrawny kid who could fit into lockers and was way too soft to fight back, and George was the fat kid who spent his time writing up DnD campaigns in the back of the English classroom. It was their seventh grade teacher who paired them up for an assignment for the first time. It was Phillip’s Star Wars poster and his small collection of dice that got them both to push off the assignment and just play DnD all night. They were close after that, and seeing as George’s mom had taken off around the time George was five, Eliza became the closest thing to a mother he ever had.

“What are you kids doing up?” Alex asked, coming into the living room at ten.

“It’s Friday,” Phillip answered plainly.

Alex nodded, looking over the two. “That’s fair. Do you need anything?”

“No, not really.”

“George, are you spending the night?” Alex asked.

George nodded. “If that’s okay.”

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Alex assured him. “Just making sure in case you needed a ride still.” Alex got some leftovers from the fridge. “You two, try and pass out before it gets too late. No allnighters, they mess up your sleep schedule.”

“Okay, dad.”

“Keep the TV low, alright?” Alex came over and kissed the top of Phillip’s head. “I love you, kid.”

“I know, Dad.”

Alex paused. “You gotta say I love you back.”

Phillip stared at Alex incredulously. “Are you serious? I got friends over-”

“I love you, Dad,” Alex quoted.

“This is ridiculous-”

“I love you, dad.”

Phillip sighed, dropping his head. “Dad, I love you.”

Alex smiled, ruffling Phillip’s head. “That’s a copy.”

George snickered as Alex walked away. “That’s a copy.”

Phillip slugged George’s shoulder, scoffing. “Shut up.”

George hummed, sipping some Mountain Dew and watching TV. “I gotta ask, what changed? I mean, you used to hate the fucking shit out of him, and you were just pissed at him, and it seemed like he wasn’t too fond of you either, but now y’all are like an actual father and son. Like, where did that come from?”

Phillip shrugged. “I dunno. I know part of it is me just latching on to the nearest parental figure I have since I mean, who else is there? But he has stepped up, you know? I mean, he’s not a perfect parent, but who is?”

George nodded. “I see that. But still, if you do ever need a place to stay, I got you.”

Phillip smiled. “I know you do.”

“So have you and Theo had sex yet?”

“George!” Phillip threw an empty Mountain Dew bottle at his friend. “What the hell!”

“I wanna know!”

Phillip laughed. “No, we haven’t. We talked about it and agreed we weren’t really into that, so that’s where that got left. Have you finally got a girlfriend or something?”

George shook his head. “Been too busy. I’ll pick one up on my way home tomorrow.”

Phillip snorted. “Dude, you’re weird.”

George smiled. “I know.”

-

The next morning, after George had left and the living room was cleaned up, Alex sighed, sitting Phillip down at the kitchen table.

“We need to talk,” he started.

“Oh boy,” Phillip mumbled.

“So, you’re Spiderman.”

Phillip nodded.

“And as your parent, I need to make sure you’re safe, alright?” Alex hummed. “Look, you’re a high school student, and as important as New York’s safety is, you also have grades you need to focus on, school you need to attend.”

“Are you grounding me from being Spiderman?” Phillip gasped.

“No! I’m not grounding you from being Spiderman, I promise, but there should be some rules, guidelines, something! What did your mother do?”

Phillip shrugged. “She never found out.”

Alex sighed. “Dammit. She always knew how to handle things.” Alex sighed. “Okay, alright. You can’t go out as Spiderman if your GPA is below a three-point oh. We’ll stay home, see what you’re slipping in, and I’ll help you figure it out, okay?”

“What if it’s an emergency?” Phillip asked.

“Then you can go, but I decide what an emergency is.” Alex thought for a moment. “You can’t stay out past ten on weeknights.”

“What?” Phillip gasped. “That’s not fair!”

“You have to be up at six! Teens need to get at least eight hours of sleep, you’re lucky I’m even letting you stay out until ten. You should at least get getting enough sleep.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Phillip muttered.

“No going into burning buildings alone. No fighting crime alone. Always call me.”

“Hold on, hold on, you take forever, and I heal super fast, so it doesn’t even matter,” Phillip defended. “When you can start arriving places on time, I’ll stop fighting crime alone.”

“You didn’t heal when you got shot with that gun,” Alex pointed out.

“Yeah, what is the deal with those guys?” Phillip muttered.

“You know something? I’ve actually been doing some research on this, come one.” Alex lead Phillip into his office and pulled up a few things. “From what I know they’ve been targeting research labs that are side projects in my company for my war weapons. I don’t like having the creation of that stuff in this building, too many people. Anyway, the other day, this showed up.” Alex pulled up a video camera of someone going through the dumpster behind the building. “Luckily, any important files always get incinerated, but this isn’t a homeless person looking for food. People have been doing this.” Alex pulled up a few more videos. “See? So I’m wondering if this is targeting my company or if it’s something much bigger and they need my technology.”

“Well, when I was on the train that time you guys had to pick me up, I heard it was ex-employees of Hamilton Industries stealing tech from the twenty-twelve attacks on New York,” Phillip mentioned.

“God, I remember those attacks. My company handled the cleanup. This was back before anyone knew I was Iron Man.” Alex thought. “That would explain the radioactive power of the guns they’re using. And-” Alex stopped. “Hey, wait for a second, we’re not talking about this right now.”

“Come on, we should figure this out,” Phillip whined.

“Look, whatever. I’m sure now that Shield knows who I am, I’m gonna be getting a visit.” Alex shook his head. “God, that Avengers crap was ridiculous. ‘Earth’s mightiest heroes.’ Shut up Thomas, you spent most of the time under some wizard spell. Fuckin’ weirdo.”

Phillip snorted. “So they don’t know who you are?”

Alex shook his head. “Didn’t want them too. Of course, now everyone does.” Alex shrugged. “I don’t care that much though. I didn’t have much of a reason to keep it a secret.”

Phillip flopped down in a chair and looked around. “How do you power this much stuff?”

“Uh, well, we use a mix of solar power and nuclear power, wind power, anything that’s safe. The windows are a technology I developed. They look normal, but if you look close enough, you can see tiny clear wires running through them. We based the design of these wires off of bioluminescent jellyfish. Have you ever seen those?”

Phillip shook his head.

“Well, they’re really cool.” Alex pulled up a video of the flashing sea creature. “You see the way light runs up their tentacles?” Alex zoomed in. “I saw that and thought that was pretty cool, and they’re almost entirely clear, so I figured there had to be some way to harness that and turn it into a form of electricity.” Alex pulled up another graph of the design. “Currently, we don’t have the funding to make this worldwide, so we’re working on ways to make it cheaper to create and install, but we’re getting there.”

“So you just like, genuinely do things so the planet can keep existing?”

Alex nodded. “Check out this design for a machine that’s in the words. It’s solar-powered, and three hours of sunlight can give it forty-eight hours of power without sunlight. Guess what it does?”

Phillip shrugged. “Dad, I’m gonna be honest with you, I have no idea.”

“It’s supposed to roam the ocean and pick up trash.” Alex zoomed in on the design. “See? Right here it floats just on the water so no fish or anything get caught in it, but then it has these fan sort of things on the sides that suck trash down and expel the water.” Alex moved it up so Phillip could see the top. “When the trash level presses this sensor, it sends off its coordinates and it can be picked up, emptied, and then put right back into the ocean. It’s about thirty feet deep, this design is not to scale, so it can pick up a lot of trash before that happens. Hopefully, production can be cheaper than bioluminescent solar power. Right now, we’re just trying to figure out how to make it work.”

“How do you know all this?”

“I went a hundred thousand dollars in debt and stole old computers from my high school.” Alex chuckled. “Nah, it took a lot of late nights and a lot of debt. I remember, this was like, right during the divorce with your mother, I was sleeping on my friend's couch, I was like, so broke. I had nothing. I was in thousands of dollars of debt, and I get a phone call, and I’m exhausted from working all day, and I’m like ‘hello?’ and it was the fucking head of the department of defense, and he’s like ‘hey, we just got your blueprints in the mail, and this is fucking insane. We’re gonna fly you down to Washington DC and let you work until you’re hallucinating.’ So, in two thousand and three, I got my first grant and began working. Then I just sort of took off.” Alex shrugged a bit. “It was luck.”

Phillip hummed. “It’s weird, I would see you on TV a lot, and I was like ‘wow, he probably lives a really exciting life’ and now that you’re my dad and I live with you, I realize how wrong I was.”

Alex threw his head back, laughing. “That’s fair, that’s fair. And hey, I’ve always been your dad, I just… didn’t know for a while.”

“Do you think my mom would’ve ever told you? Or me?” Phillip asked in a small voice.

Alex sat back. “Yes, but I don’t think it would’ve been for a while. She always knew the right time to do things.” Alex laughed, thinking. “You know, now that I look back, I don’t know how I didn’t know. She disappeared for like, a year after the divorce, but I just thought she was like, you know, doing her thing. And then like, the weight gain she had when she got back. I probably would’ve noticed something if I wasn’t so busy.”

Phillip hummed, looking around. “I dunno, sometimes I just wonder what life would’ve been like if my mom didn’t die.”

Alex chuckled bitterly. “I get that.”

Phillip looked up. “You were in foster care, right?”

Alex nodded. “My whole life. Your mother would always joke that if people knew how great I was gonna be, I would’ve gotten adopted.” Alex chuckled. “God, I miss her.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Alex put his hand on Phillip’s shoulder. “She’d probably be happy that we’re at least getting along.”

Phillip nodded, sighing. “I’m glad I still have a family. I mean, you could’ve said no.”

Alex paused. “Why would I say no?”

“You didn’t really like me at first,” Phillip pointed out. “And I mean, I wasn’t exactly fun, moping around and shit like that.”

Alex looked down, thinking. “Look, Phillip, I was terrible when you first came into my life. I treated you horribly, and I am, truly, sorry for that. I regret the things I said and did almost every day. It was just, I was trying to handle Eliza’s death too, and God, you just…” Alex shook his head. “You look like her, and you look like me, and it was just, it was weird at first.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“It’s no excuse though. You deserved a father. You were hurting too.” Alex reached out and touched Phillip’s shoulder. “I hope you know that I am here for you.”

Phillip nodded. “If it makes you feel better, Iron Man you did help a lot.”

Alex chuckled. “I’m glad I could do something.”

Phillip shook his head, then began laughing. It started off just small but turned into big belly laughs. “Oh my God! Do you know how many times I ranted about you to you?”

Alex laughed with Phillip. “Yes, I remember.”

“And just, the whole time! It was you!” Phillip shook his head. “Man, that’s fucking crazy.”

“Language.”

“English.”

Alex sighed. “One more thing.”

“Oh, God.”

Alex chuckled. “It’s not bad, I promise.” He paused. “What would you say if I told you me and John got together, huh?”

“I’d say about time.” Phillip snorted. “You two are crazy awkward around each other, you really should date.”

“Oh, well, then good news, we are.”

Phillip raised his eyebrows. “Oh?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah, it’s pretty new, but uh, yeah, we’re dating, finally. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, John is nice. It’s better than someone I don’t even know.” Phillip smiled.

Alex shook his head, smiling. “Alright, go shower, you smell like Mountain Dew and Cheetos dust. I’m sure my couch smells the same, with the added teenage boy farts.”

Phillip snickered.

“Oh, and Phillip?”

“Yeah?”

Alex smiled. “I love you, kid.”

“I love you too, dad.”

 

Chapter Text

Alex smiled, staring a still sleeping John through a sea of covers. It was five am, the light was just appearing, and the dim outline of John’s face. John was lying on his side, facing, and Alex could almost trace those collar bones, that small tuft of chest hair that Alex knew trailed all the way down to his stomach. Alex could almost see the freckles, and God, those cheekbones. The ears that stuck out just a bit too much, the lips.

“Stop staring,” John mumbled.

Alex smiled, hugging his pillow. “You’re awake?”

John nodded. “Unfortunately. What time is it?”

“Five.”

John groaned. “I don’t wanna go to work.”

“Let’s not. Let’s just stay in bed all day. Let’s never get up and go back to work.” Alex pulled John closer to him. “Let’s never leave this bed, and we can watch shitty sitcoms and other bad rom coms and eat take out and…”

“And what?” John asked, smiling.

Alex shrugged, placing his hand on John’s cheek. “Oh, you know.”

“No, I don’t.”

Alex laughed, leaning in and kissing John’s lips. “John, you know.”

John smiled against Alex’s lips and let his hand slide under the covers to Alex’s boxer covered hip. Alex’s hand ran through John’s hair, tugging it lightly since he knew John liked that. John pulled Alex a little closer, grunting lightly.

“Before this gets too far, I would like to-”

John screamed. “Who the fuck!”

Alex jumped, looking over at the figure who had stepped out of the darkness, groaning when he realized who it was. “John-”

“Fuck!” John, still panicking, fell out of the bed, but managed to reach up and chuck a lamp at the figure, who stepped to the side to dodge it.

“John! John!” Alex gasped. “John, it’s fine!”

“Who the fuck is this? What is he doing in our fucking bedroom?” John grabbed a blanket to cover his almost naked body.

“John, this is the guy who runs Shield. This is George-”

“Ahhh!” Phillip burst through the room, web shooters in hand, shooting at Washington. “Take that!”

Washington dodged all the hits, and Alex’s wall was now coated with web fluid, as well as broken glass from the lamp.

“Phillip! Phillip! It’s okay!” Alex yelled over Phillip’s screaming.

“But you guys were screaming! And John’s on the floor!” Phillip gasped.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Spiderman,” Washington smiled.

Phillip looked down at his pajamas, which were some Spongebob boxers and a ratty grey t-shirt, then back up at Washington. “It’s nice to meet you too.”

Alex sighed, getting up and slipping a robe on, seeing as he was only wearing boxers, then waved to Washington. “Come on, I’ll put on some coffee.” Alex looked back on the floor. “John, you can feel free to join us.”

“I’m gonna get dressed.”

Alex nodded. “Come on, George, come on, Phillip, let’s go talk.”

The three of them walked into the kitchen, Alex drowsily putting on coffee, seeing as it was five am. Phillip flinched at the lights, going into the fridge for some leftovers.

“I can see the relation.”

Alex jumped, turning, then groaned.

“Holy shit!” Phillip jumped. “It’s the Avengers!”

“Washington, you could’ve told me to put some pants on,” Alex mumbled, tying his robe.

“Oh, come on, Hammy, we all were just so excited to see that ass of yours.”

For once, Alex was surprised. “Mars, hey, sweetie. Haven’t seen you in a while? How’s life? How are things? Didn’t know you were an Avenger.”

“Yes, your whole two thousand and twelve deal was right when I was getting some information about Russia.” Maria smiled a bit, crossing her arms in front of her black jumpsuit. “Aren’t you going to introduce us?”

Alex nodded. “Ah, yes, Phillip, these are the Avengers. That big brooding fella in the back, that’s Hercules, God of rain.”

“Thunder,” Hercules corrected in a deep voice.

“Then, the one in the cute little jumpsuit with the smoking body, that’s Lafayette, or Captain America, as you might know, him.” Alex chuckled.

“Always a pleasure to see you, Hamilton,” Lafayette groaned.

“That annoying looking bitch with the hair is Hawkeye or Thomas. He’s the one without the tragic backstory that we always make fun of.”

Phillip snorted.

Thomas rolled his eyes. “You guys are truly related.”

“And then this cutie over here is my ex-wife, Maria, who is a… prostitute?”

Maria rolled her eyes. “I hope you managed not to pick up on your father’s blatant sexism since he never seems to realize he’s being a gross man. I’m an international spy and probably one of the few reasons our country is still functional.”

“I was raised by my mother,” Phillip shrugged. “If it makes you feel better.”

“Who? That ditz Kitty?” Maria scoffed. “Was not a fan of her.”

Alex held up his hands. “No, no, I got snipped with Kitty. This one is with Eliza.”

Maria almost smiled. “Eliza. She’s… she’s interesting. Better than Kitty, at least. How’s she doing, huh? You two still denying you’re in love?”

“She’s dead,” Phillip nodded.

Maria paused, the small smirk falling from her face. “She’s dead?”

Alex sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah.”

Maria stepped towards Alex, taking his hand. “I’m so sorry. May her memory be a blessing.” She turned to Phillip, taking his hand. “May her memory be a blessing. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Phillip smiled softly. “Thank you.”

Maria hummed. “I met her a couple of times, she was a wonderful person, very strong, and she didn’t let that bag of blood and Chinese takeout push her around, not once.”

“Good.”

Alex scoffed.

“I always get forgotten,” a soft voice complained. “Hello, young Phillip, my name is-”

“James Madison!” Phillip gasped. “You’re only my girlfriend’s favorite nuclear physicist and mine too! Your study on advancements in nuclear detection and inspection, as well as the design for the tech to do it, amazing! Oh my God, and your advancements in engineering machinery to last longer and move quicker and more precise in space? Genius!”

James paused, smiling. “Hamilton, you have a smart kid.”

Phillip beamed.

“He gets it from his mother,” Alex assured James.

Hercules stepped forward. “It seems the human child is much better than the father.”

“God, you freak.” Alex turned towards his kitchen again. “Okay, assholes, sit down at the counter, let’s chat. I’ll make coffee. Who wants some?”

“Please,” Maria mumbled. “Only thing I miss about you is your coffee.”

“I’ll have some,” James called out.

Phillip raised his hand. “Me too.”

“Coffee would be great,” Washington smiled.

“And I’ll make some for John,” Alex decided, filling up the pot and turning the machine on. “Alright, you freaks of nature, half of you are genetically enhanced, the other half are unearthly beings, and you’re in the middle of my kitchen, so I’m guessing there’s something going on.”

“Where’d you put my mealworms?” Phillip asked, looking through the fridge.

“Kid, I know you’re Spiderman, but you don’t have to-”

“It’s for my pets!” Phillip gasped. “I have my own spiders, remember?”

“Oh, behind the ketchup.”

Phillip nodded, pulling them out. “Thanks.”

Alex turned to the group of people in front of him, huffing a bit. “I don’t have all day.” He looked at Maria. “What are you smirking at?”

“Just the fact that you have a kid and you haven’t seemed to fuck him up yet.” She chuckled. “He seems nice, smart, considerate. How’d you pull that off?”

“I didn’t. Eliza is the one who formed him, I’m just watching him until he can watch himself.” Alex shrugged. “You want I should order a pizza? Ooh, or there’s this really good shawarma place that just opened up.”

“God, enough about food.” Lafayette rolled his eyes. “We’re here for actual serious matters, not just a breakfast date. Washington, was is really necessary to have him?”

Washington nodded. “Yes, he may not have the build of a hero-” Washington looked over at Alex, in an untied robe and some boxers, scratching his chest, a bit of his stomach hanging over the hem over his boxers, slouched and obviously sleep deprived. “-But he has the capability, and a son who sticks to things.”

“Heh, literally,” Phillip snorted, coming back out, this time with pants.

“Okay, let’s cut the chit chat,” Thomas intervened. “We’re all here, now let’s get down to business”

“To defeat, the Huns,” Phillip hummed, shaking his shoulders a little bit.

Alex snickered.

“God, all Hamilton boys are the same,” Lafayette muttered.

“As much as I love hearing you all take digs at each other, we should really be focused on the task at hand.” Washington sighed. “We have recently been picking up signs of people working with some alien force directly linked to the two thousand and twelve attacks. I’ve also picked up people stealing important documents from your company, as well as the tech that you were responsible for cleaning up, Alexander.”

“I don’t know how these people keep getting in!” Alex gasped.

“They are your ex-employees, they probably know someone on the inside.” Phillip tried leaning over someone’s shoulder but was successfully blocked.

Washington laid out a few papers. “As you can see here, we have been logging thievery, and we recently sent Maria in to do some snooping around, and this is what she found.”

“What did she find?” Phillip muttered, still not able to see.

“Jesus Christ.” Alex shook his head. “This is… this is going to be world-ending if it succeeds.”

“And look,” Lafayette pointed out. “Right there in Queens.”

“In Queens?” Phillip huffed, then got an idea, seeing as his web-shooters were still on. He climbed up the wall and onto the ceiling, then shot a web, slowly lowering himself down above the counter until he could see what they were talking about. “What’s that?”

“Jesus!” Thomas gasped.

“Hi.” Phillip looked down. “Is that below Queens?”

“Yes, it’s a reactor, it can collapse the entire tri-state area into the ocean, and then even more. Millions would die.” Washington sighed. “We need to stop this from happening.”

“Well, do we even know who’s involved?” Alex asked. “I mean, I like to be positive-”

Maria snorted.

“-But do we have anything to go off?”

“I would guess they are working in the Queens subways,” Washington mumbled. “But, I can’t be sure.”

“That would actually make sense,” Phillip chimed up.

“Not now, kid,” Laf mumbled.

“Hey, listen to him, he’s smart,” Alex put out. “He’s offering more than you have, you star-spangled shit.”

Phillip laughed. “That’s good. Anyway, no, I was headed home from my girlfriend’s house one night, and, and I was taking the subway, right? And so I see something going on in the next car, and it’s these guys who have been stealing shit, right? And we have to do a whole fight, and I end up getting shot through the roof of the subway, and it really hurt, but, but, it would make sense if they were working in the subway because I feel like they always go there.”

“You feel like they do?”

“He has a tingle, it’s legit,” Alex offered.

“Don’t call it a tingle,” Phillip shuddered. “Anyway, I did a project on this, and there’s actually a lot of abandoned subway tunnels, and when I was too scared to vandalize actual buildings, I would always sneak down there. There’s this empty station in Queens, and it had a bunch of empty shops and shit. If I was gonna destroy New York, I’d plan it in a place like that.”

“This kid is crazy,” Thomas mumbled.

Phillip shot some webbing at him, hitting his suit. “Rude.”

Thomas stared at Phillip with wide eyes. “What is this?”

“It’s a chemical formula for molecular adhesiveness. It’ll come off in a couple of hours.”

Alex high fived Phillip.

Washington chuckled. “Alex, you think you can-”

“Scan New York’s subway system? Yeah, I can do that. Let’s go to my office. Phillip, you should get ready for school.”

Phillip groaned. “Come on! I wanna be an Avenger! Last time I checked, this thing is under Queens, which is my birthplace! I don’t think I should have to go to school.”

“You want to be an Avenger?” Lafayette laughed. “You’re what, fifteen? Kid, leave this stuff up to the adults.”

“Can it, Laf.” Alex crossed his arms. “We could actually use someone who uses his head, not just his arms. Whoever said you got to play team captain? You don’t decide who gets to do what.”

“And I suppose you think you do?”

“No, I do.” Maria smiled. “And I like Phillip. I knew his mother, and I regrettably know his father. Both are smart, and I have no doubt that Phillip is smart too. Let’s go to Alex’s office.”

Phillip climbed back up and jumped down from the ceiling, following the adults into Alex’s office. Alex began working instantly, asking James for assistance, since they needed to do some quick coding to be able to scan the machine. Phillip sipped the coffee he had grabbed and pulled up the stats for his suit, which Alex had updated.

“Alex, babe, is-” John stopped, staring into Alex’s office. “Jesus fucking Christ.”

“Babe?” Maria mused. “Did you two finally fess up?”

Alex let out a sigh. “Everyone, this is John, my boyfriend.” Alex went up to John, leaving James to code by himself for a moment. “We got some stuff we gotta do. You can hang or whatever, but I won’t be in today.”

John nodded, letting out a sigh. “Okay, yeah, figured.” He pecked Alex’s lips. “Stay safe. I’ll handle things. Call me if you need anything.”

“Okay, I will.” Alex squeezed John’s hand and then turned back to continue coding. “Phillip, pull up some of the stuff we were collecting, give ‘em the rundown.”

“Okay.” Phillip began to pull up the file with all the information, making sure Maria, Thomas, Laf, Herc, and George were gathered around. “We know they’ve been rummaging around in the trash for this building, but any important information is always shredded. They’re using tech that’s… well, it’s pretty wild. Are any of you radioactive?”

“I am,” James offered, looking up.

“Okay, well, you should avoid getting shot. I got shot, and within days, my power started fading and also, it hurts like a motherfucker.” Phillip pulled up a few more files. “These are the people who have left Hamilton Industries, and we made a facial recognition for the employees that left and scanned all the film we have of these guys. It was difficult since a lot of them were wearing masks, but luckily we figured out who most of them were via recognition, and the weirdest part? They all died within two months of each other in twenty-fifteen.”

“So they are… what do you earthlings call them…” Herc shook his head. “Ghosts?”

“No, no, they are very much alive,” Phillip laughed. “But they’re off the radar. So, we cross-referenced, did some research on the people who died in that two month period, eliminated the impossibles, children, elderly, people who obviously had nothing to do with it, etc. etc. and then we got these people.” Phillip opened up a file that had pictures of about thirty people. “Now, we’ve been trying to keep a lookout for these people, but they’re good.”

“Done!” Alex and James yelled together.

“Thanks, dude, for the help.” Alex high-fived James and the group gathered around Alex and James. Alex pulled up the application. “Okay, we’re scanning for radioactive material, the gamma rays emitted by the tech and human life.” Alex paused, then turned to James. “You did specify that it’s human life, right?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Just, like, there’s a lot of life in the New York subway, and most of it’s not human.” Alex pressed a button, and the hologram reloaded. The map zoomed in to a spot under Queens, showing all three checkmarks for what they were looking for. “It’s kismet.”

“That’s right where I lived,” Phillip mumbled.

Alex hummed. “We should probably do a raid, and… what’s that?” He zoomed in, then pulled up some stats for the heat source. “Holy fuck.”

“What?”

“They’re running it.” Alex stood up. “It doesn’t look like it’s at full power, but-”

The ground suddenly jolted and the office went dark. The whole city went dark. There was a moment, a small moment when you could look over at Manhattan and not see a single light in the city. It was almost beautiful. And then, just like that, it was over. The light came back on, the ground stopped moving, everything was normal.

“Holy shit.” Alex went to his restarting system, typing a few things, making sure everything was there. “Okay, okay, they’re running this. Time is of the essence, so we need to make a battle plan. James, Jemmy, buddy boy, my favorite genius. You think you can figure out what that blast was? All the tech is free for you to use.”

“It’s what I do best,” James chuckled.

“Okay, Washington, the floor is yours.”

The day was spent coming up with a battle plan. Phillip was very happy to actually be involved. Laf or Thomas would occasionally chime in with some comment about Phillip being too young, but surprisingly, Herc started taking up in defending Phillip, saying something about how he was a warrior when he was only fifteen.

The whole group turned to the door when it opened. When they realized the person walking in wasn’t John, they all drew their weapons. Well, besides Phillip.

“Don’t shoot!” Theo yelled.

“Ah! Ah! Don’t shoot her!” Phillip found himself shooting a web at Thomas’ bow, knocking out of his hands. “That’s my girlfriend!”

“Oh, Jesus Christ, hi Theo,” Alex mumbled.

“Sorry, sorry, John said I could just walk in, and I kinda forgot you guys were all, like, armed.”

“Wait, how does she know we’re here?” Washington asked.

“I sent her a snap selfie,” Phillip replied.

“Phillip,” Alex laughed. “You probably shouldn’t do that, seeing as some of us are top secret and shit like that.”

“Oh, whoops.” Phillip chuckled, walking over to his girlfriend, kissing her cheek. “Hey, baby. How are you?”

Theo chuckled. “I’m good, I’m good, just kinda realizing I’m dating an Avenger.”

Phillip laughed, then gasped. “Guess what!”

“What?”

Phillip pulled Theo over to where James sat. “Look!”

Theo jumped. “Oh my God!”

James smiled. “Hello, I’m James Madison.”

“Oh, holy crap, your theory on gamma radiation and a livable planet that’s not the earth is fantastic! And oh my God, your innovations in radioactive molecular fission and fusion? Amazing! I mean, how did you do that? I would assume such small splits and fusions would cause nuclear explosions, but if you had the right metals and stabilizers, as well as neutralizers, I can see how it would work.” Theo paused. “I’m sorry, you probably know all this.”

“No, no, it’s nice to hear someone talk passionately about what I do.” James smiled. “Are you in STEM?”

Theo nodded.

Alex jumped, clapping a bit. “Good! Phillip, I like her! She’s good! Big approval!”

Theo smiled. “I’ll let you guys finish up. Pip, I’ll hang in your room for a minute?”

Phillip nodded, kissing her cheek. “Yeah, that sounds fine. I love you.”

“Love you too.” Theo patted Phillip’s cheek, then left the office.

Phillip sighed deeply, smiling.

“Wow, it looks like being terrible with women isn't hereditary,” Maria nodded. “Alex, I don’t know how you did it.”

“He was raised by his mother,” Alex replied. “Okay, so-”

“I don’t think he should be doing this,” Laf cut in.

“Laf, are we still having this argument?” Maria groaned.

“No, look at him. He’s happy, he hasn’t seen half the shit we have. I mean, come on, he has people he loves, he has a girl, he has a happy life. Being an Avenger, being a hero at this level, doing this, this could ruin him. Look around. None of us have ever had a happy ending.”

“This is different,” Alex pointed out.

“How? He’s fine now but next thing you know, something happens to his girl, something happens to you.” Laf shook his head. “He doesn’t deserve that heartbreak.”

“No, I want to do this. I want to help,” Phillip argued. “That’s not fair. You don’t get to decide what I do.”

Alex paused. “You have almost a point.” He turned to Phillip. “When this goes down, you think you can get Theo and Ned and their families here? We can make sure they stay safe. This is probably one of the most protected buildings in New York. I can keep them safe.”

Lafayette shook his head. “You’re being ridiculous.”

Hercules let out a big laugh. “You call him ridiculous? Look at you, you cannot let anyone do something without your approval. On my planet, we feed you to the children.”

Phillip snickered.

“Listen here, just because you’re a king of some flat earth society, don’t mean jack shit here. You on my turf, and-”

“Your turf is Brooklyn, Manhattan is technically my turf,” Alex put in.

Lafayette sighed. “I don’t know why I agreed to this.”

“You didn’t have a choice, son,” Washington smiled.

James stood up. “As much as I love this, we do have some things we need to be watching for, things we need to be doing.”

Thomas nodded. “I can go parole the area in Queens if you can send me the coordinates.”

“I’ll go too,” Maria offered. “You may need backup.”

“Me and Alex can work on some coding and shit, see if we can get a better handle on what’s going on here, chemically,” James suggested, earning a nod from Alex.

“We’ll perfect the battle plan,” Washington nodded, looking to Laf and Herc. “Phillip, you go hang out with your girlfriend.”

“Okay, but if you need me, just holler,” Phillip smiled.

Washington nodded, chuckling. “Alright, kid. Have fun.”

“I’ll order Mexican, does Theo have anything she doesn’t eat?” Alex asked.

“Pork,” Phillip replied.

“Alright, got it. Love you, kid,” Alex called out.

“Love you too, dad.”

Phillip left and Maria turned to Alex. “He’s a good kid, Lex.”

Alex smiled. “Yeah.”

“How’d you do it?” Washington snorted.

Alex shrugged.

Maria sighed, ruffling Alex’s hair. “Glad you got something to be happy about. You needed it.”

Alex smiled cheekily. “You know, I’m six years sober now.”

Maria softened, taking Alex’s hand and squeezing it. “I’m proud of you Alex, really. You seem a lot happier.”

Alex nodded, squeezing her hand. “I am.”

Chapter Text

Phillip couldn’t sleep. He didn’t know why he couldn’t sleep, but he just couldn’t. His alarm clock said it was two am, but he felt like he had just woken up from a twelve-hour nap. The room was either too hot or too cold, too loud or too quiet. His phone had nothing on it, he wasn’t in the mood to draw, so he was just stuck there, staring at the ceiling.

Phillip rolled on his stomach, kicking his blankets off and groaning. There was nothing he could do. Nothing he could enjoy, so he got up. Phillip slipped on a tee-shirt, a zip-up hoodie, as well as some basketball shorts, then grabbed his phone and left. He popped in his earbuds and began walking, headed for a twenty-four-hour market. He was craving a sandwich and a gallon of milk, and there was only one place that made his favorite sandwich.

Phillip stepped through the doors of Space Market, eyelids drooping. Africa by Toto was playing over the shitty intercom, and there was only a checker boy at the front, flipping through a porno magazine, not making an attempt to hide it from Phillip.

“Are those any good?” Phillip asked.

The checker boy looked up. “What?”

“The porno.”

The checker boy shrugged. “It kills time.”

Phillip nodded.

“Aren’t you Spiderman?”

Phillip closed his eyes, then opened them. “Yeah.”

The boy hummed. “Are you into Asians?”

Phillip paused, creasing his brows. “I don’t really care.”

“Then go for Hustler or Barely Legal.” The checker boy looked back down at his Genesis magazine.

Phillip walked to the back and grabbed a gallon of milk, an Italian club sandwich, and then went to the magazine aisle. Phillip zoned out, staring into nothing as he stood in front of the magazines. He regretted going out. He was tired and still had a forty-minute walk back to the house. He zoned back in and realized he had been staring at a gay porno mag for the past five minutes.

“Hustler,” Phillip mumbled. “Hustler, Hustler.”

He found the Hustlers and picked up five different ones, then walked back to the counter. Five Hustlers, a gallon of milk, and a sandwich. The checker boy hummed, nodding with approval, and then bagged up Phillip’s stuff.

“Long night?”

Phillip nodded. “Long night.”

The checker boy chuckled, handing Phillip his bag. “Have a good one, Spidey.”

“You too.”

Phillip took his stuff and walked down the streets of New York, headed back for his house. He opened up the gallon of milk and took a sip, huffing. He knew it was probably far too late to be out, but he was looking forward to eating his sandwich.

Phillip jumped when his phone started ringing but pressed the button on his earbuds to answer it. “This is Phillip.”

“Hey, where are you?” Alex asked. “You’re not in the house.”

“Oh, I wanted a sandwich, so I got a sandwich.”

“Okay. Will you be home soon?”

Phillip nodded, though Alex couldn’t see him. “Yeah, I will.”

“Alright, stay safe.”

“I will.”

Alex chuckled. “Love you.”

“Love you too, dad.” Phillip hung up and took another sip of his milk. His music played as he crossed the street, waving to the taxi that slowed down for him. His feet were sore by the time he got home, but he was happy to be in the elevator, still drinking his milk as he went up to his floor. He stepped out, only to see Maria, Thomas, and Alex all hunched over the kitchen table, mumbling.

Alex looked up, over at Phillip. “Hey, kid.”

Phillip smiled lightly, sipping his milk, which he had been steadily getting through on his walk home. “Hi.”

“Put your bags away, come, sit.” Maria smiled a bit. “We’re talking about secret hero stuff.”

Phillip smiled, returning his Hustler magazines to his room and then coming out with his sandwich and milk, sitting down. He looked over some plans, some maps, humming. “So, what’s the deal?”

“None of us could really sleep, so we’re coming up with attack plans. Alex had maps for all the sewer systems in New York, and the subways, so we’re trying to line up our subway with the sewer, you know?” Thomas pointed at a red line they had drawn out. “This is where we’re at so far.”

“Is this on the A-line?” Phillip mumbled, pointing to a spot.

Alex nodded.

“You’re missing a station then.” Phillip grabbed a pen and marked a spot under the corner of fifty-second and a hundred and thirty-sixth. “There’s an old station here. I use to go vandalize it with my friend. It’s pretty old.”

“Wait, wait, secret stations?” Maria mumbled.

“Oh, yeah, Queens has lots of em. So does Brooklyn. Manhattan has a few.” Phillip marked up a few more places. “A lot of these I’ve been too. They’re pretty fun, but you have to memorize the train schedule so you don’t hop onto the tracks and become a sandwich two seconds later.” Phillip took a bite of his food. “I almost got arrested in this one.”

“Chaotic,” Maria nodded.

Alex chuckled. “You’re crazy, kid.”

“This actually helps. Alex, we should do a system run, see if there’s more secret stations. I mean, maybe that’s what these guys are operating out of.” Thomas paused. “God, what time is it?”

“Four,” Alex replied. “Phillip you should sleep.”

“Maybe.” Phillip shrugged. “It’s too late. I’ll take a nap sometime today if I’m tired, but I just haven’t been able to sleep tonight. Should I turn on the coffee machine?”

“Yeah, that would be great, actually.”

A yawn caused the group to look over at the kitchen doorway, but smile when they realized it was just John, groggy. “Baby, you didn’t come to bed last night.”

“Sorry, Pepper, I was working on some things,” Alex smiled, pecking John’s lips. “Phillip’s got the coffee machine going.”

“Ah, thank you, Pip,” John mumbled. “Did you sleep?”

Phillip shook his head. “I wanted a sandwich.”

“Christ, you Hamiltons.” John shook his head, sitting next to Alex. “What’re we doing?”

“Subway stations and sewers,” Maria answered.

“Fun.” John looked over at Phillip. “Are you just drinking an entire gallon of milk?”

Phillip nodded.

“Okay.” John kissed Alex’s cheek. “I’m gonna shower and get dressed. I’ll handle things at the office for you today. You guys do your superhero thing, I’ll be a regular civilian.”

“Give yourself some credit, John Laurens.” Alex leaned up, kissing John’s chin. “Not everyone could do what you do.”

“I know.” John smiled. “Save me some coffee.”

He walked off and Alex sighed, resting his chin on his hand. “Where were we?”

“Damn, even when we were married you never looked at me like that,” Maria joked.

“You never looked at me like that either,” Alex pointed out, smiling.

Maria rolled her eyes. “You’re still just as stupid as the day I met you, Hamilton. I have no idea how I didn’t get hard evidence that you were Iron Man.”

“Honestly, me neither,” Alex admitted with a shrug.

It was a boring day. Being a superhero in the moment was really fun, but God, planning it out? Phillip hated it. He had never planned out anything in his entire life, ever. He just did it. It’s why he had so many near-death experiences on the job. Planning was… it was mind-numbing. Phillip found himself zoning out, playing games on his phone or working on the tech for his suit, instead of tuning in to what was actually going on.

“Phillip, you should nap.”

Phillip’s head snapped up, looking to his dad, who had spoken. “Huh?”

“Go take an hour nap. You look tired.”

Phillip nodded, standing up. “I am tired. I’ll be back in an hour.”

“Alright, kiddo.” Alex smiled. “Rest up.”

Phillip nodded and walked out of the room, sighing a bit.

“Are you sure he can do this?” Laf asked, leaning back.

“Yes, I am.” Alex nodded. “He’s a strong kid, he’s done a lot more than you know.” Alex looked to Laf. “The kid lost his mother and was saving New York. He’s strong.”

“The child seems like he is scared,” Herc pointed out.

Alex thought for a moment. “I know I seem like a bad parent right now, but he needs to at least feel like he’s helping someone. It’s been a really hard year for him. He lost his mom, a lot changed. He just… I want him to know that we need him here.”

Maria pressed her lips together. “Is he okay?”

Alex swallowed. “He’s not in agony, but he needs to feel needed.”

James sat back and crossed his arms. “He seems like a brave kid, Hamilton. Maybe reckless, but I blame you for that.”

Maria chuckled.

“It’s obvious he’ll be able to help, and we do need him, let’s just look out for him, alright? He’s still a kid.” James leaned forward. “Do you have any other babies you don’t know about?”

Alex shook his head. “Don’t think so. I got my tubes tied pretty early in my marriage with Kitty, so I would’ve known, and Mars would’ve just gotten an abortion if I knocked her up, so-”

“Isn’t that illegal?” Laf spat out.

“Asshole, it’s not the twenties anymore. Women have rights and shit.” Maria laughed. “Besides, I can’t get pregnant anyway.”

Alex perked up. “You can’t?”

“Part of my training was getting my tubes snipped permanently. We all make sacrifices.” Maria looked at Laf. “What about you, batshit? You make any sacrifices?”

Laf nodded a bit, looking down.

“Let's hear it,” James chuckled.

“Uh, when I flew into that ice, I left behind Adrienne.” Laf pulled out a compass, turning it so everyone could see a faded black and white picture of a pale woman with pretty curls. “If I was gonna marry someone, it would’ve been her.”

“Marriage is for chumps,” Alex scoffed.

“Don’t you have a boyfriend?” Thomas laughed.

“Yeah, but we’re not gonna get married.” Alex shrugged. “I don’t see the point of it. I mean, Mars, back me up. Was anything about marriage fun? The wedding was stressful and once it was over it was like, a legal binding of our friends with benefits.”

“He’s right,” Maria shrugged. “I know Tommy's got a wife and kids.”

“Yeah, I do.” Thomas smiled a bit. “What about you, James?”

“Never was my thing.” James shrugged. “I dated a bit in college, but once I got genetically altered, I figured I should just lay off for a little bit.”

Alex laughed.

Maria reached forward and took a sip of her water. “Okay, Alex, who was your favorite wife?”

“Eliza, no question about it. She was my best friend.” Alex smiled a bit. “Even if we weren’t the best partners for each other, we were always good friends. I loved her very much.”

Maria paused. “She was always very nice. Knocked some sense into you.”

“Oh, yeah, she was always good at that.” Alex laughed.

James groaned. “Coffee, I could use a coffee.”

“Should we order Starbucks?” Thomas mumbled. “I could kill for a latte.”

“I’ll get it.” Alex pulled out his phone. “Gimme your orders.”

“Mocha frappe extra shot,” Maria called out.

“Hazelnut latte, two shots,” James mumbled.

Herc paused. “I do not know what Starbucks is.”

“You’ll be fine without it,” Alex assured Herc. “You got enough energy going through your veins. I’ll stick to my own coffee because I have taste. Laf?”

“I’m good.”

“Thomas?”

“Uh, white chocolate mocha latte, triple shot.” Thomas leaned back. “How do you manage to stay so normal living a life like this?”

“Are you kidding me? Nothing could make Alex into a fame absorbed asshole. His fame only gave him the right to wear sweatpants to interviews,” Maria laughed.

“John doesn’t let me do that anymore,” Alex huffed.

“Because John is too smart for you.” James chuckled a bit. “I gotta admit though, this tech is pretty cool, Hamilton. I mean, the bioluminescent solar panel windows? Outstanding. You’ve got a cool thing going on.”

“James, you can always come and spend some time here. You have a great mind, and I really would be open to collaborating on something, or even just house you while you work on it in my lab. I mean, you’re probably the only person I would trust up here because you’re the only one who knows what they’re doing. I don’t even let Elon up here.” Alex chuckled. “Jemmy, you are always welcomed.”

James smiled. “I might have to take you up on that offer, Hamilton.”

“Good, you’re always free to.”

The group talked for a little longer before they finally decided it was lunchtime. Half-finished Starbucks in hand, they went out to the kitchen and argued about takeout for a few minutes before finally deciding on Thai. Alex made sure to order Phillip some lunch since it hadn’t quite been an hour yet.

“Food is not allowed in my lab unless you’re James or me or Phillip or John, so we are eating out here,” Alex announced.

“Why are they allowed to have food in their lab?” Maria asked.

“Because I trust them with my life,” Alex replied.

“Fair enough,” Thomas nodded, grabbing a spring roll.

“One thing I do not miss about the twenties was the food.” Laf took a big bite of his pad thai. “Man, this shit is so good.”

“Did you order me any?” Phillip’s groggy voice started, coming into the kitchen. He was still in some pajamas, rubbing his eyes.

“Yes, Pip, red curry and rice.” Alex pulled out Phillip’s order and handed it to him. “Do you feel better?”

Phillip nodded. “Yeah, I do. The nap was helpful.”

“Good. Eat up.”

Phillip went and grabbed his almost finished gallon of milk, sipping it as he took bites of his curry and rice. “So, we come up with anything new while I was asleep?”

Thomas shook his head. “Not really. Just kinda went over some things, sent updates to Washington, since he can’t stay in one place for more than five minutes, argued over which Starbucks drink was the best.”

“Fair enough.” Phillip let out a yawn. “What’s the deal with the radioactive guys? Any updates?”

“No, not really.” James thought for a moment. “I’ve been picking up low-level readings, but not enough to really cause any power outages, or like, you know, earthquakes. We did look into more secret stations though, and one of them lines up with where the radioactivity was coming from, so that’s really helpful.”

“Cool.” Phillip finished off the milk and chucked it into the trash. “Kobe!”

“Oh, God, the Knicks,” Alex muttered.

“The Knicks? Having a good season? It’s less likely than you think.” Phillip snorted. “We only like the Knicks because we’re New Yorkers and we share a brain cell with the other six million people in this state.”

“Fair point.”

Maria laughed. “God, this is why I live in California for my free time.” She smiled. “LA is all L-O-V-E for me.”

“Hipster,” Thomas accused.

“At least I don’t live in fucking Arkansas,” Maria shot back in a joking manner.

“I live in Montana,” Thomas scoffed.

“Sorry, that’s so much better,” James chuckled.

“Your planet is too big,” Herc complained. “Have smaller spaces.”

“Sorry, buddy.” Alex clapped Herc’s shoulder. “We’ll try.”

The rest of the day went by in a similar manner. Eventually, John came back, and hung out in the lab with the heroes, taking notes and chiming in with small conversation. Mentally. The day had been exhausting, so dinner was more takeout, and all of them lying around the living room, watching Sharknado. Phillip was trying to eat without sitting up, which led to a lot of noodles being spilled on his face.

“I miss real Chinese food,” Phillip mumbled aloud, chewing on his low mein.

“Let’s go to China,” John replied.

“Why the hell not?” Alex chuckled.

Thomas sighed. “You guys should probably have your loved ones go somewhere safe when this goes down.”

“He’s right,” James agreed. “You felt that jolt if this machine gets up and running, you’re gonna want your friends to be safe.”

Alex nodded. “The safest place I know is here. Phillip, let's get in touch with the Eaker’s and the Burr’s, John, let’s get Franky over here.”

“Yeah, I’ll get in contact with Martha.” John pulled out his phone.

“And Pip, we can call your friend’s families tomorrow, alright?” Alex sighed. “God, I’m getting too old for these battles.”

“You’re forty,” Maria scoffed.

“Forty-three,” Alex corrected. “And there’s no such thing as being too young to be too old for something. The moment you get back pain, you’re allowed to be too old for this. We’re gonna need a new Iron Man eventually.”

“Oh, hush up, old man,” John scoffed. “If Phillip can be Spiderman, you can be Iron Man.”

“Phillip can live off of pizza rolls and Mountain Dew for a month straight and still be just as energetic. You know what would happen to me if I did that? I would die, John. I would die.”

John paused. “Phillip, have you actually done that?”

“Yes,” Phillip answered, dropping some noodles into his mouth.

“Didn’t you just… didn’t you crave like, a vegetable?” Maria asked, concern in her voice.

Phillip shook his head. “I could’ve kept eating that, but my girlfriend held me down and forced me to eat oranges and carrots so I wouldn’t develop scurvy.” Phillip chuckled. “Shit, I should probably text her. Haven't talked to her since yesterday.”

“Phillip! Don’t be a bad boyfriend!” John gasped.

“I’m not! Sometimes we just don’t have time to talk to each other. We get it. Theo has gone a couple of days without texting me. We didn’t even talk that much over summer break. We just… We know we love each other.” Phillip smiled, grabbing his phone and sending Theo a Snapchat selfie of him with noodles all over his face and nothing else.

“Man, I was not that good in relationships as a kid,” Laf scoffed.

“I just sip respect women juice,” Phillip replied.

Lafayette paused. “You sip what?”

“Respect women juice. I’m a himbo so I sip respect women juice and have about two brain cells,” Phillip answered.

Lafayette shook his head, closing his eyes. “I don’t know why I asked.”

Later that night, when everyone was in bed, Phillip found himself dialing Theo’s number and opening up a Hustler magazine and sipping his water. He came face to face with a pair of boobs and a boomer style comic about being horny.

“Hey, baby,” Theo chimed. “Whatcha doing?”

“Drinking water, reading Hustler.”

Theo paused. “Like the porn magazine?”

Phillip hummed. “So what happened was last night I didn’t sleep and I went to get a sandwich and some milk, and the checker boy was reading a porno, and I was like ‘are those any good?’ and he was like ‘yeah’ and then told me to get Hustler, so now I have five Hustlers and I’m just flipping through one.” Phillip hummed. “A lot of white girls.”

“Christ, Phillip. What’s the point of this?” Theo laughed.

“I want to know what porn is, Theo.” Phillip looked intently at a photo. “That’s what a vagina looks like?”

“No, it’s harrier,” Theo replied.

“You don’t even see what I’m talking about,” Phillip laughed, taking a sip of water.

“Yeah, but I know pornstars shave, and you should know that vaginas do not look like that. Mine has more hair, I can assure you.”

Phillip nodded. “Looks like the monster from Alien.”

“Phillip!” Theo gasped, laughing.

“It does!” Phillip chuckled. “Oh, ew.”

“What?”

“I just saw a dick. Dick’s are ugly, Theo, you should know. They’re like...” Phillip shuddered. “They’re like angry sea creatures.”

“What’s with our sex organs and just being generally weird looking?” Theo snorted.

“Boobs are nice,” Phillip commented. “Got a nice look. Soft.”

“Boobs are sex organs.”

Phillip paused. “They aren’t?”

“No, they’re just sex characteristics.”

“So why can’t you whip out your tittys whenever you want?” Phillip asked.

“The patriarchy.” Theo heaved a sigh. “You’ve never seen my boobs.”

“No, they fell out at the pool that one time and I had to hold up that towel so you could get them back in and I accidentally saw your tits.” Phillip chuckled. “I like the way your body looks though. You’re really soft and really warm, and you’re like… a great hugger.”

“Mm, I’m glad my existence can benefit you somehow,” Theo snorted.

“You benefit me every day by being my girlfriend.” Phillip chuckled. “Oh, gross, come.”

“Ew.”

“How are we gonna have biological kids if we’re repulsed by the process,” Phillip joked.

“Turkey baster,” Theo reminded.

Phillip laughed. “I love you so much, Theodosia Burr Jr.”

“You promise?”

“Promise.”

Theo sighed. “Maybe I’m just being stupid and young and in love, but I want to marry you, Phillip. I want to marry you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Theo paused for a moment. “Am I being stupid?”

Phillip shook his head, setting down the porno and staring at his ceiling. “No, you’re not. I wanna marry you too. Let’s just elope the moment we turn eighteen and run away to a small flat in Italy.”

“I want a wedding,” Theo chuckled.

“I don’t wanna wait. I would marry you right now, Theo. I would run away with you. I would spend the rest of my life with you starting right now.” Phillip smiled, sighing. “I am so fucking in love with you, Theo. You are my love, my life, my everything. My heart.”

Theo chuckled. “You’re a dork.”

“I pour my heart out and that’s what I get?” Phillip scoffed, laughing. “You’re really lucky I love you, you know that, Theo Burr?”

Theo laughed. “I love you too.”

Phillip turned off his lamp and closed his eyes, rolling on his side and listening to Theo’s breathing for a moment. “You’re my favorite person, Theo.”

“You’re mine.”

Phillip closed his eyes. “Stay on the line?”

Theo hummed. “We can wake up together.”

“I’m not gonna wait around for your lazy butt to get up at noon though,” Phillip snorted.

Theo scoffed. “Rude!”

“Yeah, I’m so rude.” Phillip closed his eyes. “I love you, Theo.”

“I love you too, baby.”

“G’night.”

“Goodnight.”

 

Chapter Text

"Mrs. Burr, how nice to meet you." Alex smiled, inviting the Burrs into the house. "And Mr. Eaker, very nice to make your acquaintance. I'm so glad you all agreed to come."

"It's not every day Iron Man tells me I'm in grave danger," Dosia pointed out. "Phillip, hello sweetie."

"Hi," Phillip smiled, accepting a kiss on the cheek from Dosia, then pecking his girlfriend's lips and bro hugging his best friend.

"Okay, alright, I'll show the adults to the guest rooms, and Phillip has set up his room with a big blanket fort or something like that for the kids to sleep in. Feel free to order whatever take out you want, just write the address of the building, and reception will take it up." Alex smiled. "Oh, also, I would like to introduce my partner John Laurens, and his daughter Frances."

"Hi," John smiled.

"Okay, I'll take you guys to your rooms."

The adults left, and George quickly looked at Phillip. "Is Thor here?"

Phillip nodded. "They're all in Alex's office."

"You think Thor would dick me?"

Theo burst out laughing. "George!"

"Hey, there's a kid around!" Phillip gasped.

"I've heard way worse," Frances scoffed.

"So you two are technically step-siblings," Theo nodded. "What's it like not being an only child, Pip?"

"Awesome. Frances is the best sister I've ever had in my entire life," Phillip beamed.

"I'm your only sister," Frances pointed out.

"My point stands." Phillip chuckled. "Franky, by the way, this is George, the closest thing to a brother I have, and this is Theo, my lady, my love."

"It's nice to meet you, Frances," Theo smiled.

"We should order some food." Phillip pulled out his phone. "Mexican? Dominos? Pita Pit? I could get us that and we could order some Starbucks too."

"Pita Pit?" Frances offered.

"Hell yeah," George nodded.

"Watch your fucking language," Phillip gasped, opening up the Pita Pit app.

"Phillip!" Theo laughed. "Frances, what district you livin' in, huh? Queens? Brooklyn?"

"My mom lives up in the Bronx, so I live up there and go to school on the upper west side. I heard you were from Queens?"

Theo nodded. "Yah, but I was born in Brooklyn."

"Okay, orders?"

"Gyro," Frances told him.

George smiled. "Falafel."

"I want a falafel too," Theo put out.

"And I want a Philly." Phillip put in the orders and the address then opened up the Starbucks app. "Okay, Theo wants a gingerbread chai latte, George wants caramel frappe, I want a hot chocolate and Frankie, what do you want?"

"Matcha latte," Frankie told him.

Phillip ordered and the four moved to the living room as the adults got back from dropping off their stuff. Alex ordered dinner for the adults and sent Phillip some money since Phillip paid for all of the other dinners. They all waited until the food got there, and then went into the dining room, drinks and food in hand.

Dosia cleared her throat. "So, Alex, if I may ask, what exactly is going on?"

"Oh, you know, radioactive multidimensional reactors under Queens ready to cause mass destruction and death, the usual." Alex smiled a bit. "We'll make sure it's okay though."

"Sounds good," Dosia chuckled.

"Hey, Lex, Spider boy, can I borrow you for a second?"

Alex looked up to see Maria poking her head into the dining room. "Yeah, sure."

"It's Spiderman," Phillip informed her.

"Okay Spider-Boy," Maria nodded. The two Hamilton's left the room to the hallway, letting Maria talk. "Alright, guys, you think after your little family dinner thing is done, you can come and work with us for a minute? We really got some things we need you to know."

"Yeah, yeah, totally. How long will it take though?" Alex asked.

"I don't know," Maria shrugged.

Alex hummed. "Phillip, Phillip, we should just, we should do it now, alright? Will they be okay to talk?"

Phillip nodded.

"Alright, go get your food, let's go figure this out." Alex walked back into the dining room. "Hey, we're gonna have to bolt for a little bit, but feel free to raid the kitchen, there's wine for the adults, take whatever. John, darling, will you manage?"

"I will," John smiled softly.

Alex pecked his temple and then he and Phillip left the dining room, food in hand, to go do superhero things.

Theo sighed, watching Phillip go. She would never say this out loud, but God, she was scared. Terrified actually. Just patrolling every day bad guys got Phillip hurt so much, but this was the real stuff. The Avengers were on it, for Christ's sake, and God, she didn't want her boyfriend to do it. She was scared he was gonna get too hurt and wasn't going to come back from that. Scared that she was gonna lose her Phillip.

"Hey," George mumbled. "You alright?"

Theo looked up, realizing she had been staring into her food for a while, not really doing anything. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine, just spaced out."

"Alright, weirdo," George laughed. "Eat up, we have a long night of restless sleeping and nervous puking."

"Whatever," Theo scoffed, smiling a bit.

Dinner was going by smoothly, when suddenly, Alex came running through with Phillip under his arm, cupping the kid's face. "Bloody nose! Bloody nose! We have a bloody nose!"

"Oh, Christ," John mumbled, getting up. "What happened?"

Alex got Phillip to the kitchen sink and leaned him over it, taking his hand away and turning on some water to wash the blood off of his hand. "Herc wasn't looking where he was walking and accidentally jabbed Phillip in the face with his elbow."

Dosia got up and walked into the kitchen. "Okay, let me see." She tilted Phillip's face and hummed. "Okay, yeah, that's broken."

"Can you put it back into place?" Phillip asked.

"You want me to just put it back into place in the middle of your kitchen?" Dosia chuckled.

"Is he okay?" John asked, walking in.

"Broken nose," Alex told John, drying his hands off.

"I'm gonna put it back on three, okay?" Dosia put her thumbs on either side of Phillip's nose, holding his face. "Okay?"

"Okay."

"One-" Dosia put it back into place, then grabbed some paper towels, catching the blood and holding it to Phillip's nose. "Don't tilt your head back. I don't know how much you'll bleed, and if you swallow too much, you'll get sick."

"Is the child alright?"

"Yes, Herc, he's fine. Human children are extremely resistant, I promise," Alex chuckled.

"Yeah, it's only a little blood." Phillip smiled, holding the paper towel to his nose. "Besides, if anyone's gonna break my nose, I'm glad it's the God of Thunder and not Scott Muller from eighth grade."

"Awh, Phillip." Dosia kissed the top of Phillip's head. "Scott Muller was the meanest kid in the world."

"He was." Phillip took the paper towel away, washing some blood off his face then smiling. "There we go! All better."

"The earthling heals fast." Hercules smiled, putting a big hand on Phillip's shoulder. "He will do well in battle." Hercules turned to Dosia. "And you, you are beautiful. My name is Hercules Mulligan, God of thunder. It is a pleasure to meet you."

"Oh, oh my." Dosia smiled a bit. "I'm Dosia Burr."

"Watch yourself, she's married," Phillip mumbled.

Hercules backed up a bit. "Nevermind then."

Dosia chuckled a bit.

"Hey." Theo poked her head through the kitchen. "You okay?"

Phillip nodded, laughing a bit. "Yes, yes, I'm fine."

Theo walked over, holding Phillip's face in her hands and looking at his nose. "Hmm, not quite." She leaned up and kissed the bridge of his nose. "There we go, now it's all better."

Phillip smiled. "I love you."

"I love you too."

The evening went by, and eventually, Phillip and Alex officially rejoined them, accompanied by Maria, who was bored with working as well. They turned on the TV and had small conversations, laughing. Eventually, though, they did have to go to sleep. Alex went back to his office, and the kids went to their room. Aaron and Dosia brushed their teeth, and then climbed into the guest bed, cuddling close to each other.

"Hamilton, he's a... character," Dosia mumbled, thinking about how all over the place he seemed during the conversations.

"God, he is a fuckin' character. It's not so hard to see where Phillip gets it now," Aaron mumbled. "I mean, what even is going to happen? We don't know anything."

"Worst case scenario, we get a free dinner and a night in an almost hotel." Theo ran her hand over Aaron's hand. "I think Alex and Phillip are sweet, regardless of whether or not they're a little crazy. Alex seems like he had Asperger's or something."

"What? No, he's so smart," Aaron scoffed.

Dosia rolled her eyes. "Aaron, I hate to break it to you, but most of the autistic people I meet are unreasonably smart, they just struggle in the social department. It would make sense." Dosia shrugged. "It seems like he and Phillip are getting along more, though. That's good. Phillip deserves a dad."

Aaron huffed. "I don't like that he's dating our daughter."

"I know." Dosia leaned in and pecked Aaron's lips. "But out of all the boys she could've gotten with, I think Phillip is definitely the best. And you know something, honey? My dad didn't like you at first."

"That's because I'm a certified homewrecker," Aaron mumbled.

"God, sometimes I try to imagine what it would've been like if you had never been the server at my favorite coffee shop, or if you had never built up the nerves to put your number on my cup, even though my engagement ring was very obvious."

"Mm, if you hadn't wanted me, you wouldn't have called." Aaron chuckled. "God, Dosia, what if they stay together?"

"Then they get to spend as much time as possible with the one they were meant to be with." Dosia leaned up and kissed Aaron's lips. "We were all young once, Aaron. Remember that."

Aaron groaned.

"And you know? Alex and Eliza met in high school, and-"

"And look how that turned out," Aaron scoffed.

Dosia rolled her eyes. "They did love each other. You know that. You just gotta put a little more trust into our daughter, okay? She does know what she's doing."

"But she's my baby girl," Aaron mumbled.

"If we had a boy-"

"Dosia, please, it's late, I can't handle your feminism right now," Aaron groaned.

Dosia laughed, kissing Aaron's neck. "You know I'm right."

"Yeah, I do." Aaron hugged Dosia. "I love you so much."

"I love you too." Dosia kissed Aaron's chin, then closed her eyes, breathing in the scent of her husband. "Goodnight."

Theo, on the other hand, was having the opposite of a good night.

George and Phillip had already passed out in the pile of blankets, and the penthouse seemed to scream with silence. Theo was up, staring out at the city, worrying. She was feeling almost sick, thinking of what could happen. All she could see whenever she closed her eyes was Phillip's dead body, torn suit, blood dripping down his face, lying in the New York streets. God, she was terrified.

Theo felt herself begin to cry and she got up, leaving the room and walking to the kitchen, looking for the glasses so she could get some water. She tugged down her velvet shorts, smiling at the memory of when Phillip first saw her in these. She had worn them out of the house, alone with a hoodie since she was meeting Phillip for lunch. She remembered how he had made such a scene when he saw her, pretending to pass out on a bench, going on and on about how she was gonna kill him like that.

"Mami."

Theo jumped and turned around, seeing Phillip in some checkered boxers and a grey tee shirt. "Fuck, Pip, you scared me."

"Mm, sorry." Phillip came up to her and hugged her, letting his hands fall to her hips, slipping under the hem of her shorts and tracing the stretch marks. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just, thirsty."

"You were sniffling. Are you crying? Why are you crying?"

Theo sighed. "I'm fine, it's fine, I'm just kinda worried for you, that's all."

"Mami, Mami, why you worried? Nothing's gonna happen to me." Phillip smiled, kissing Theo's temple. "I got that, that Queens muscle. I'm tough as shit. Ain't nothing can hurt me."

"Yeah, but Phillip, Phillip-" Theo pushed Phillip back a bit. "This is different. This isn't... Phillip, I'm scared you're gonna get really hurt, hurt where you can't come back from it." Theo shook her head. "And I don't want to lose you Phillip, and I'm scared I'm gonna lose you. I'm scared I'm gonna lose you and oh God, I can't lose you Phillip, you're my best friend. I love you so much, I don't wanna lose you."

"Hey, hey, no Theo, don't cry, Theo-" Phillip pulled her into a tight hug.

"I love you so much, and you're so fucking good, Phillip, I don't want to lose you." Theo buried her head in Phillip's neck. "I can't lose you, baby."

"No, hey, shh, don't cry." Phillip cupped the back of her neck with his hand. "Shh, shh, it's okay. Hey, hey." Phillip hummed a bit. "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older? Then we wouldn't have to wait so long? And wouldn't it be nice to live together in the kind of world where we belong? You know it's gonna make it that much better when we can say goodnight and stay together." Phillip hummed a bit more. "Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up in the morning when the day is new? And after having spent the day together hold each other close the whole night through? Happy times together we've been spending. I wish that every kiss was never-ending. Oh, wouldn't it be nice?"

Theo smiled a bit.

"Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true. Baby, then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do. We could be married and then we'd be happy. Oh, wouldn't it be nice?" Phillip kissed the side of Theo's head.

"You gotta promise me, you're not gonna get hurt, alright?" Theo looked at her boyfriend.

Phillip held up his pinky.

"God, you're a dork." Theo linked pinkies with Phillip, sighing softly. "I love you so much, Phillip. You're my best friend."

"I love you too."

Theo sighed, then reached back, unclipping her necklace. It was just a gold chair and little gold circle, with Theo's initials engraved on it. She reached around and clipped it around Phillip's neck so he was now wearing it. "Here."

"What's this?" Phillip asked, reaching up and touching the chain.

"A reminder." Theo leaned in and kissed Phillip's lips. "That you got someone who needs you to stay alive, okay?"

Phillip nodded, smiling softly. "Got it."

Theo took a deep breath, holding Phillip's face in her hands. "Come on, you have a long day tomorrow. Let's go to sleep."

"Yeah." Phillip leaned in and kissed Theo one more time. "I love you."

"I love you too, Phillip."

Phillip pecked Theo's lips, before taking her hand and walking back to his room. He curled up with her under a blanket, letting Theo rest her head on his chest. The two of them looked out through the big window, over the bigger city. Theo's hand found Phillip's, squeezing it lightly. Phillip closed his eyes, hugging Theo closer.

"Goodnight, fair lady."

"Goodnight, my prince."

 

Chapter Text

"What the Jesus fuck?"

Phillip looked over at Thomas. "What?"

"Was that your back?" Lafayette asked.

Phillip nodded, cracking his neck.

"Oh my God!" Maria exclaimed. "Alex! Your kid is popping like a popcorn machine!"

"Yeah, he does it every morning." Alex shuddered, listening to Phillip crack his hips and ankles, then his toes and knuckles. "Jesus Christ, kid, do you have arthritis?"

"No, I just pop a lot." Phillip rolled his neck again, then cracked his shoulders. "Besides, you should always limber up before a fight."

"This isn't a fight, we're just, making sure the entire tri-state area doesn't fall into the Atlantic ocean." Lafayette sighed.

Phillip leaned back, looking out the window of the van they were in. "Sounds like a fight."

"He makes a point," Alex muttered from the row behind them. "Where are you going anyway?"

"Queens," Maria answered. "God, what time is it?"

"It's like, four," Thomas replied.

Phillip yawned. "Can we stop and get coffee?"

"The entirety of New York could be destroyed and you want coffee?" Lafayette asked.

Phillip nodded. "I'm tired."

"Maria, the glove compartment should have five-hour energies. Pass some back, yeah?" Alex requested. "Phillip drink one. Did you get breakfast?"

Phillip nodded, taking a bottle and passing the rest back to Alex. "Snagged a bagel."

Alex downed a bottle and put the rest in the cupholder. "God, I'm way too old for this."

"I'm technically a hundred years old," Lafayette pointed out.

"Yeah, but you were iced America for most of those years, so any age complaints you have aren't valid at all," Alex mumbled.

Phillip finished his Five Hour Energy bottle. "This bitch empty, yeet!" He threw it and it hit the back of the chair in front of him, bouncing back and smacking him right in the face. "Ow."

Alex burst out laughing with Herc. The scene even earned a chuckle from Maria, which was difficult, Alex could attest. Phillip huffed at the laughter that filled the van from his little mishap and miscalculation of where the bottle would land.

"What the hell does yeet mean?" Lafayette muttered.

"Distance throw," Alex answered. "And Kobe means precision, like this." He chucked his bottle and hit Lafayette in the back of the head. "Kobe!"

"I'm gonna pull your spine out through your mouth," Lafayette threatened.

"Boys, boys, calm down." Maria huffed, pulling into an empty lot. "Jemmy Jams, this is where you said it should be, right?"

James remained quiet, leaning up against the window.

"James!" Alex yelled.

James shot up, breathing heavily, looking around.

"Aye, buddy boy, it's a'ight, don't go turnin' green giant on us right now, we got our vegetables." Alex smiled cheekily at James.

James hit his shoulder playfully. "What was the question?"

"This is the lot, right?" Maria repeated.

James pulled out his phone, doing a few things on it. "Yeah, yeah, this is it."

"Alright, before we get out and climb through the sewers, is everyone armed? Is everything working? Phillip?" Alex looked at his son. "Is your suit all good and charged?"

Phillip nodded. "Can I go into instant kill mode?"

"No." Alex paused. "I'll tell you when you can. We haven't gone over what instant kill mode has, and the only reason I allowed it was because we're going into a dangerous situation. So, just, don't activate yet, because once you're in instant kill, it's kinda all you can do."

"Are we done with the father-son lecture? We got other things to focus on, like, you know, the end of New York as we know it," Thomas pointed out.

"Alright, alright. You know, Thommy, you have kids too, how would you feel if one of them were going out into this mess?" Alex mumbled, getting out of the van, setting the briefcase his suit turned into on the ground and activating it.

"I wouldn't let them be here in the first place," Thomas pointed out.

"Well, your kids aren't sticky like mine."

"I could be an octopus," Phillip mumbled, climbing up the van to stretch a bit more. "Just lost four of my tentacles. I mean, what's the difference between me and an octopus?"

"Bones," Maria pointed out.

"There's no actual evidence I have bones," Phillip pointed out.

"You broke your ribs just this November," Alex gasped, laughing as his suit started up.

Phillip thought for a moment. "We have no proof that actually happened."

"Okay!" Maria started. "We're going in through the sewers, yeah? This is gonna be gross, but it's the safest we can be when going in."

"If I had to save New York, I simply would not take the sewer. RIP to the Avengers but I'm different," Phillip snickered.

Alex tilted his head back, laughing.

"You two are so obviously related, and I don't know how you didn't figure it out sooner." Maria tied her hair up. "Come on, let's do this." She found the sewer plate and pulled it up, with ease almost, tossing it. "Hurry it up."

"Damn, girl, when'd you get ripped?" Alex asked, approaching the manhole.

"I've always been ripped, you've just had your eyes on other places."

Alex chuckled nervously. "Fair enough."

The group got down the manhole into the deep sewage. It was deep in the city and dark. Phillip was almost freaked out. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face, and if something happened and you got trapped down there? You're fucked. God, not just that, but the scritch scratch of whatever New York created mutant could survive down here.

"Hey, kid, say 'activate night vision' so you can see," Alex mumbled, putting his hand on Phillip's shoulder.

"Friday, activate night vision," Phillip stated clearly. Suddenly, it was much easier to see. Everything was tinted green, but at least he could see.

"Are you okay?" Alex asked.

Phillip nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine."

The group got oriented and began walking, James and Maria leading. James knew where they were going, and Maria had a light. Since Alex and Phillip would get whited out by the light, they were in the back. Alex kept his hand on Phillip's shoulder, watching their surroundings. Phillip gagged when he almost stepped on a dead rat. How a rat survived down here was beyond Phillip's knowledge.

"Is everyone alright?" Maria called back.

Everyone in the group offered an affirmative and continued walking. It took a couple of minutes, but they finally stopped. Phillip didn't notice they stopped, so he ended up running face-first into Herc, who laughed, turning and putting a hand on Phillip's shoulder.

"Careful, Spiderchild, I don't want you to fall!" Herc laughed, holding Phillip steady.

"Spiderman, it's Spiderman," Phillip corrected.

"Okay, Spiderson," Alex smiled.

"Alright, we climb up this latter. It should lead directly into the abandoned train line which passes right by the station we located them at." Maria jumped and grabbed the first rung of the latter, pulling herself up until she could put her foot down. "Hope you guys got upper body strength."

"Jams, I'll give you a boost," Alex offered, walking up and lacing his fingers together so James could step into them and get a boost.

"Thanks," James mumbled, stepping into them and jumping up. Alex boosted him until he was up, then let other people pass until it was finally Phillip's turned Alex held up his hands for Phillip to boost himself up.

"Dad, I played basketball, and also I have super strength, you really think I don't got hops?" Phillip scoffed. Phillip shook himself out a bit, then jumped high enough to grab the second rung. He boosted himself up and climbed up after everyone else. Alex pulled himself up too, and the group climbed up, entering an old tunnel with a lot of vandalism in it.

"Have you done anything in here?" Alex asked Phillip, looking around.

Phillip shrugged. "Maybe. All the tunnels start to look the same after a while. If I see something of mine, I'll point it out."

"You should be reprimanded for your vandalism," Lafayette called out. "It's against the law."

"So is being a little narc, Laf," Thomas mumbled.

Alex snorted. "So, how much more walking?"

"Stop complaining," Maria groaned.

"I never complain," Alex muttered.

"You complained all through our marriage! Alex, you complain so much that I put it as one of my reasons for divorcing you. You complained in the divorce court which is why that reason was so valid! You literally complained about the seats! You complained about your fucking lawyer, who was the father of your next wife!"

Lafayette tilted his head back, laughing.

"Just because I can get a woman doesn't mean you have to make fun of me, dicksicle," Alex scoffed.

"Enough with the jokes about me freezing!" Laf gasped.

"Yes, Captain ice cube," Herc snarked.

There was a moment of silence.

Phillip snickered. "Americold."

"Spidershit," Lafayette shot back.

"Hey!"

"Watch your mouth!"

"Uncalled for!"

"Rude!"

"That's my son you're talking about!"

A chorus of voices chimed in, defending Phillip and scolding Laf for being mean. Phillip cackled, trying to muffle his laughs.

"Alright, alright, everyone shut up, we're getting closer," Maria mumbled.

The group quieted down as they approached the station. They all climbed up in it and looked around, seeing nothing. It was slightly confusing. No one really knew what was going on. It was just... a station. An old, abandoned station.

"This doesn't make any sense," James mumbled, looking at his phone. "Everything points to it being right here."

"Oh, they're probably in the back part then," Phillip nodded, walking up to a big wall. He knocked on it a couple of times, nodding when a hollow echo replied. "There we go, they're just past there."

"There's a back part to some of these stations?" Maria asked.

Phillip nodded. "Yeah, usually there are, which is why a lot of them are abandoned. No shops moved in, maintenance was too hard. It's why most of the stations are just simple stations, no shops or anything. Me and my friend George would hang out in the back area of these stations of break shit."

"Why?" Thomas asked.

Phillip shrugged, tapping on the drywall that blocked the entrance to the back part a bit more. "It was late, we were kids, and God wasn't watching."

"Yep, he's your kid," Maria mumbled to Alex.

Phillip leaned down, picked up a brick, and smashed the drywall in with it. Sure enough, there was a space behind it. Phillip smashed out a big enough hole, and they all began walking. It was eerily quiet, but Phillip seemed right at home, kicking an old bottle. "Oh, it's in there. That shop."

"How do you know?" Lafayette asked.

"His tingle, he has a tingle," Alex answered.

"I told you to stop calling it a tingle! That's weird!" Phillip huffed, jumping up a bit. "Okay, let's do this."

"Jam, you wanna go beast mode on us?" Alex asked.

"Not yet. Beast mode me might forget what we're doing," Jame mumbled.

"Do you have to call it beast mode?" Thomas grumbled.

"Sorry, sorry, yes, I'll transform into the mutant that lives torturously inside of me and controls my every action and thought and fills me with radioactive material daily when I'm ready." James huffed. "At least Alex doesn't tiptoe around what I am, doesn't act like I'm a fucking patient in a hospital."

"Enough, all of you," Maria whisper-yelled.

Phillip cracked open the door to the shop. "Come on, it's open."

"There's nothing in here," Laf muttered.

"Trust the Spiderboy," Herc replied. "He has a tingle."

"It's not a tingle," Phillip groaned. He stepped over some glass, through the shop, all the way to the back. "Guys, there's a light on under this door to the break room."

"Wait, wait-" Alex approached Phillip, standing next to him, blasters ready. "Okay, night vision will shut off automatically. Open it."

Phillip opened the door and the group was ready to attack. They were all expecting some small meth lab esque area, large men hunched over small tables, but it looked more like NASA headquarters. High-tech lab stations, all facing a large window.

"This tech," Alex mumbled. "This is... This is my tech."

Maria looked at Alex. "What?"

"Yeah, I recognize all of this. I was gonna redo the tech at NASA for a little while, but then I got bored and passed if off to Elon, who did a much better job than I could've." Alex ran his hand across the metal. "They used my blueprints."

"Hey, uh, guys?" Phillip waved his hand over to the big observation window. "You should see this."

The group came over to where Phillip was standing and gasped.

The room was huge, maybe the size of a football field, and just as tall. It was glowingly white, clean, seemingly blank, with another viewing window on the other side. On each side of the large room, there were two large metal reactors. It was... it was unreal. The tech was achingly familiar to Alex and all too real to Phillip. It had the same design as the guns that caused him so much pain.

"What the fuck," Thomas mumbled.

"Well said," Maria replied.

"Hey, something's about to happen," Phillip mumbled.

"Like what?" Alex asked.

Phillip paused, then farted. "Never mind, I just had to fart."

Herc laughed. "That is funny."

Phillip hummed, staring out over the large room. "Wait, no, something's about to happen." Phillip gasped. "Something's about to happen! Something's about to-"

Alex had to grab James and Maria as the group was flung through the glass. Heat hit their backs, as they were thrown out and into the room. The room was cylinder-shaped, so the ones who could handle it slid down while Alex held onto Maria and James, lowering them down quickly.

"Phillip!" Alex called out. "Phillip, are you okay?"

Phillip groaned, pushing himself up. "I'm fine. I think I broke my wrist, but it'll heal in a second." Phillip looked up. "We've got company."

"Well, well, well, Alexander Hamilton, New York's favorite hero." Kingpin smiled, standing at the edge of the window, his New York accent echoing through the room.

"I'm right here," Phillip huffed.

"Father and son, and then the whole Brady bunch!" Kingpin laughed. "What are you trying to do? Huh? Get you and your friends killed, Hamilton?" Kingpin laughed, looking around. "Do you like my new toy? Cost a fortune, worth every penny. I must thank you though, most of this tech is yours, stolen from under your nose. You're really quite careless when you're fawning over your unrequited assistant."

Alex laughed. "Yeah, aren't I? How's the wife?"

Kingpin almost growled.

"So, what does this thing do anyway?" Alex asked. "It looks like a draft for a thing I did for NASA to create a better engine."

"Uh, if I may-"

"Doc Ock!" Phillip laughed. "Good to see you!"

"Ah, Spiderboy, or should I say, Phillip." A tall wiry woman with messy hair stood next to Kingpin. "Welcome. This is an interdimensional transportation reactor. You can pull people from other dimensions, dimensions where they didn't die, pull them into this dimension." Doc Ock looked down. "Isn't there someone who's dead who you want back, Phillip? Don't you want her back in your life?"

Phillip's knuckles cracked from how hard he was clenching his fist.

"Yeah, see, the issue with that," Alex started. "Is that you're gonna turn New York into the ocean, and I kinda live here, so, yeah, we're gonna have to stop you."

"Stop us?" Kingpin laughed. "Hamilton, that's where you're wrong. You can't stop us. We already succeeded." He looked back. "Kill them."

In minutes, Kingpins gremlins were out at going after the group. Scorpion, Green Goblin, Tombstone, Electro, Rhino, Lizard, and even Doc Ock, joining in the fun.

"I got Doc Ock!" Phillip called out.

"The big one!" Hercules decided, claiming Rhino.

"Jams, now might be time to go into beast mode," Alex muttered. "How are you gonna do it? We need to get you angry."

"That's my secret, Hamilton." James stepped forward, taking off his cardigan. "I'm always angry."

In seconds, James had transformed into the lurching green creature, eight feet tall, muscles bursting. He let out a loud roar and then ran straight for the group of villains, leading the rest of the Avengers. Phillip took Doc Ock like he said, dodging the electric tentacles, shooting webbing at her.

"Phillip! Instant kill mode!" Alex yelled.

"Cool!" Phillip kicked Doc Ock and disoriented her long enough to get the words out. "Friday, activate instant kill."

His vision tinted red, and fighting suddenly got a lot easier.

"Watch out, Spiderchild!" Herc yelled.

Phillip managed to narrowly dodge a hit from Rhino, only to be smacked against the wall by Doc Ock. Alex hit her with a blaster, knocking her off Phillip, but his moment of weakness gave Green Goblin a good chance to knock him back. James, or Hulk, was bashing Electro, while Maria and Tombstone fought it out.

"Dad!" Phillip yelled. "Something's gonna happen!"

"Again?" Thomas gasped, getting slugged in the jaw by Lizard.

"Yeah, we're-"

"Phillip!"

One moment Phillip was upright, then he was not. His ears were ringing, his head was spinning. He must've gotten hit hard. He tried to sit up, but Doc Ock quickly shoved his back down, wrapping the claw on one of her tentacles around Phillip's neck.

"Any last words, Spiderboy?" She laughed menacingly.

"Can I get a moment to think about it?" Phillip asked. "Do you have a pen?"

"Goodbye, Phillip," she smiled.

Suddenly, she was yanked off of Phillip, grabbed by Hulk. Hulk seemed angry. "Leave Spiderboy alone!" He spun her a few times before throwing her back into the open window. "Puny villain."

"Thanks, Hulk," Phillip mumbled, coughing a bit.

"Hulk smash."

"I have to say," Kingpin started. "This has been entertaining, but really, I have something I need to do."

"Kingpin!" Alex yelled, flying up. "If you start this machine, there could be no going back. Everything you know will be gone. Is this worth it?"

"You don't know what it's like to have a wife and child ripped from your arms!" Kingpin roared. "All you do is make mistakes! Your mistakes have been a real pain in the ass, too."

"King, buddy, we can-"

"I'm done talking." Kingpin walking over to a station. "It's go time."

"Alex! Get down!" Maria yelled.

Alex shot over to Phillip, shielding him just as the reactors turned on. There was a blast of heat, and then color filled the room. Everyone was in awe. It was almost beautiful, the way the lights shone, the reds and blues and pinks and greens, everything. Phillip felt an itch under his skin, but he knew it was from the radioactivity.

"What is going on?" Alex mumbled.

"Ain't it beautiful?" Kingpin laughed. "I hope you're ready, it's a hell of a light show."

"We need to get back up there," Laf called out.

"Laf, boost me up!" Thomas requested.

"Phillip and I will try to shut it off manually!" Alex yelled.

"We'll hold em off!" Maria offered, narrowly dodging Rhino.

Phillip shot webbing to Alex's chest and the two of them flew up to one of the reactors, beginning to look for a manual panel for shutdown. Alex found one, but it was the fucking wires that neither of them could figure out.

"Shit, shit, shit," Phillip mumbled.

"Hey, deep breaths, it's okay." Alex paused, putting his hand on Phillip's shoulder. "We're gonna be okay."

"What if we're not?" Phillip choked out.

Alex retracted his mask for a moment, then pulled up Phillip's masked and kissed his son's forehead. "We're going to be okay, Phillip. I promise. I'll be here. I'll keep you safe." Phillip nodded, and Alex put his mask back on, pulling Phillip's down in the process. "Okay, what if we just cut all of them, and-" Alex yelped when his grip on the reactor suddenly lessened. "What the fuck!"

"Holy shit, the..." Phillip paused, sticking himself to the reactor. "The fucking gravity."

"Oh, my God."

It seemed like the floor of the room had split open. Buildings from another New York was coming to them. Voices could be heard, oh God, it was like Hell was coming to them. Alex quickly took off, blasting over to find the others. Phillip was shocked to see Kingpin pushing his way towards where the buildings were popping up, and he knew that couldn't mean good news, so he kicked off as well, shooting webs so he could have some control.

"Kingpin!" Phillip yelled.

"Stay out of this, kid!" Kingpin yelled.

"No! New York is kinda where I live!" Phillip replied, dodging a car that came flying past them. "You have to shut it down!"

"No! You should know the most what it's like to lose the people you love!" Kingpin grabbed Phillip and threw him against a subway car. "Stay out of my way, kid."

"No!" Phillip struggled to follow Kingpin. "You can't do this! This is my home!"

"I don't care!" Kingpin kicked Phillip away and slipped into a subway train as it passed.

Phillip managed to slip into the back car, breathing heavy as he tried to keep his balance and make it to the front where Kingpin was. He kept falling, getting jostled, but he knew he needed to make it up there. "Kingpin! Kingpin, you can't do this!"

"Phillip?"

Phillip stopped dead in his tracks, feeling his heart speed up. He turned around, pulling off his mask, then gasped.

She was almost glitching, but she was there. She was wearing her nurse uniform, a black cardigan over the baby blue. Her hair was up, she looked almost tired, but God, it was his mother. That was his mom.

"Mom!" Phillip screamed. He ran over to her, pulling her into his arms. He was sobbing, holding her as tightly as he could. She smelled just like she did, she was hugging him just as she did, she was his mom. "Mom, oh my God, Mom, Mom, oh, God, Mom." Phillip was weak against her. "Mom, oh Mom."

"Phillip, Phillip, what's going on? Why aren't you at home?" Eliza asked, wiping his tears.

Phillip was almost confused, and then it hit him. She was from a different universe, one where she lived, one where he was at home, and she was getting home from work. One where he hadn't lost her. One where they were still happy.

"Mom." Phillip pulled her into another tight hug. "I love you so much, I love you so much. You are the best mom anyone could ask for. You gave me so much, and I'm so sorry if I've ever hurt you. I love you."

"I love you too." Eliza was still confused. "Phillip, what's going on?"

Phillip swallowed hard. "Mom, everything is gonna be alright, okay? I'm gonna see you at home, I promise. We're gonna have dinner. It's gonna be alright."

"Phillip, you're scaring me," Eliza gasped. "What is going on? Where am I?"

"I love you, Mom." Phillip hugged her, then kissed her cheek. "It's gonna be okay. Just sit down. I'll see you soon."

Eliza paused, then nodded, patting Phillip's cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too, mom." Phillip almost couldn't turn away, but he did, and he didn't look back. He put his mask back on and ran through the cars until there it was. Kingpin, staring at another woman who was glitching. He looked like he was begging, the women looked confused, and was glitching a lot more than Eliza did.

"Vanessa, please," Kingpin gasped.

"I don't know why I'm here." Vanessa shook her head. "I'm leaving."

"No!" Kingpin gasped.

Phillip took this moment to shoot webbing at Kingpin, giving this Vanessa woman a chance to leave, wherever she was going. Kingpin turned to Phillip, growling. Phillip did not expect to be body-slammed out of the train, but God, it hurt. Kingpin was huge, so it didn't exactly help Phillip's already aching state.

"You ruined my chance!" Kingpin screamed, hitting Phillip. "How could you!"

"Fuck!" Phillip was trying to get out of Kingpin's grasp. "Alex! Maria! Herc! Someone!"

Kingpin wrapped his hand around Phillip's throat. "Oh no you don't! You took my family away from me, now I'm gonna make sure you never see yours again!"

Phillip choked, trying to kick at Kingpin but failing awkwardly. "Please."

Kingpin squeezed tighter.

"Fuck off my ex-husband's son!" Maria yelled, making it over at a high speed and navigating herself to Kingpin's shoulders, squeezing his neck with the inside of her thighs. Phillip had done a move like that before, but he used his calves because he only meant to disarm. Maria wanted to kill.

Kingpen struggled with Maria, trying to get her off, letting go of Phillip. This gave Phillip a chance to shoot webbing at Kingpin's face and hands. Phillip was on a roll, pretty much only hitting Kingpin, until the surface he was standing on got jolted and he hit Maria in the side with some webbing.

"Sorry!" Phillip called out. "It'll come out with some baking soda!"

"You're good, kid!" Maria replied.

Kingpin pulled out a gun, and Phillip was quick to grab it with his webbing, tossing it off. "Nope! That's cheating!"

Kingpin roared, grabbing Maria by the calf and pulling her off of him, throwing her onto a passing building. "You and me, Spidey."

Meanwhile, Alex was struggling to get Rhino off of Herc. Hulk was too busy with Scorpion, so it was up to Alex and his blasters, while also fighting off Tombstone. "Thomas! You think you can help out, over here?"

Thomas turned and shot an arrow at Tombstone, before going back to his fight.

Alex finally managed to bast Rhino hard enough to knock him cold, then grabbed Tombstone by the arm, tossing him into the mess of buildings and radioactivity sprouting up from the floor of the room.

"Where's Phillip?" Alex called out.

"He's fighting Kingpin!" Laf replied. "I saw him go up after him! Doc Ock was following, and so was Maria!"

"Shit." Alex looked to Hulk. "Buddy, you think we can speak to Jemmy Jams?"

"Hulk smash!" Hulk replied.

"Alright, well when you're done." Alex turned and blasted electro. "Guys, we need to shut off the machine! Jarvis, where's the shutdown button to this thing?"

"The shutdown button is located in the viewing room, but shut down at this stage may cause severe bodily harm, due to the radioactivity, which will most likely result in death."

Alex swallowed hard. "Where's Phillip?"

"Should I set course for Phillip Hamilton?"

"Hold on." Alex looked over the group. "I'm gonna find Phillip and Maria!"

"Okay! We got this, go!" Thomas replied.

"Jarvis, set course for Phillip Hamilton." Alex blasted Electro once more before taking off. He narrowly avoided flying cars, buildings, subway cars. Alex's course changed several times, so he knew Phillip was moving, or on something that was moving. Alex finally came into view of Phillip and was utterly terrified. Phillip was trying to crawl away from Kingpin, spitting up blood, mask off. They looked like they had been fighting for a while.

"Phillip!" Alex yelled. Phillip looked up, and Alex was about to shoot forward when someone grabbed him. "What the-"

"Not so fast, Alexander," Doc Ock laughed, her voice shrill and piercing. "You're gonna have to deal with me, and her-" Doc Ock lifted one of her tentacles and there was Maria, legs kicking as she struggled to breathe.

"Mars!" Alex struggled to break away from Doc Ock's grasp. "Come on, Liv, let me go!"

"No! You ruined me! You ruined my life! This is what you deserve!" Doc Ock used another tentacle, ripping the face part of Alex's mask off. "You haven't aged well, Hamilton."

"I had a kid, stressed me out," Alex replied, still struggling. He could feel the metal in his arms cracking.

"I heard that!" Phillip called up, shooting webbing at Kingpin.

"Your blasters are shutting down, sir," Jarvis announced.

Alex huffed, looking at his son. "Phillip, throw him off his rhythm!"

Phillip almost smiled. "Oh no, Kingpin, you're not getting me to no secondary location!" Kingpin got closer and Phillip began kicking. J. J. Bittenbinder was right, Kingpin didn't really know what to do with two size nine socked feet coming at him. Phillip kept kicking. "That's the Bittenbinder method, mother fucker!"

Meanwhile, Alex managed to blast the tentacle holding Maria by the throat, distracting Doc Ock for just long enough to blast the tentacles that were holding him.

"Alex!" Maria yelled up. "We need to turn it off!"

"Turning off this machine could result in severe bodily harm that will most likely lead to death," Jarvis repeated.

Alex's breathing began to speed up, as he looked at the scene around him, blasters broken. His son, fighting one of the highest powers in New York, and he had no idea what to do.

"You've been a pain in my ass since day one, Spidey." Kingpin wiped some blood off his lip. "Why do you think I tried to have you killed?"

"Jokes on you, buddy! I'm immune to bullets!" Phillip hopped a bit.

"Bullets? No, that wasn't me." Kingpin laughed. "I'm not that stupid, but certainly, you must remember that night, driving home from your silly little basketball game, down the i-ninty-five with your mother in the car. Come on, Phillip, you think I didn't know who you were?" Kingpin laughed. "Killing your mother got you off the map for at least a little bit."

Phillip stopped. "You... you sent that semi to hit us?"

"How does it feel, Phillip? Your family was taken away in the same way mine was." Kingpin smiled smugly. "I could bring her back, you know. With this machine."

"You killed my mother," Phillip mumbled.

"I could bring her back."

Phillip clenched his fists. "You killed my mom!"

All he could see was red. All instincts went out the door as he lunged at Kingpin, letting out a guttural roar. He was doing everything he could to hurt the man that took so much away from him. Took away his home, his mother, his happiness, everything. Phillip was doing everything in his power to hurt Kingpin as much as Kingpin hurt him.

Kingpin grabbed Phillip by the throat and threw him to the wall of the building they had been fighting on. Phillip yelped, feeling class puncture his back as Kingpin brought his fist up and smashed it down into Phillip's chest. Phillip could hear something crack, and oh God, it hurt. Phillip was screaming, trying to get away, do something, but Kingpin kept dragging him back over the broken glass, hitting him.

"You're gonna be fun to kill, Phillip, just like your mom." Kingpin brought his fist up, then yelled when something was thrown at it. Alex had taken off the arm part of his suit and chucked it at Kingpin. He had no blasters, but as long as he could throw things, he'd do it.

"Get off my son, Kingpin!" Alex yelled, pushing off a car so he could get closer. "We're gonna win this, you know we are!"

Kingpin laughed. "You've already lost, Hamilton. Look around. If you had just shredded your documents, none of this would've happened."

Alex paused, realizing Kingpin was right.

"This is all your fault, Hamilton, now it's time to pay the price." Kingpin threw his arms up, gesturing to everything. "This certainly wasn't your plan, but isn't it much better?"

"No!" Alex shook his head. "You're not going to win." Alex looked up, seeing the broken observation window come into view. "I'm sorry Kingpin, I know what you're looking to find, but I can't lose my family."

Alex took off, running across the building, jumping straight towards the observation window. He could hear Kingpin running after him, but kept pushing himself off of things, jumping, dodging, until he got to the room. It wasn't hard to find the emergency shut down button, seeing as it was labeled.

"Hamilton!" Maria called out. "You'll die!"

"I have to shut it down!" Alex yelled back.

"Dad! Please!"

Alex looked at Phillip, tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Phillip."

"You can't stop me, Hamilton!" Kingpin yelled, climbing into the room. "I am inevitable!"

Alex turned to Kingpin, his hand on the button. "I am Iron Man."

He pressed it, and then his world turned black.  

Chapter Text

Eliza Schuyler was, by far, the hottest girl in school. Wide cello hips, pretty eyes, long dark hair, plump pink lips. She had a loud laugh, and god damn, her ass looked so good in those high waisted jeans. Every boy was in love with her, and it seemed they all had a better chance with her than Alexander Hamilton.

Alex was a scrawny senior, living in a shitty apartment with a few roommates. He was, by all means, a nerd. Patchy facial hair, skinny build, big clunky glasses with a crack in them. He knew everything about everything, it seemed. Teachers hated him, seeing as he fucked off in class all the time, but still managed to pull together an A. Alexander Hamilton was the epitome of a fuck-up, but at the same time, an utter genius. No one quite had proof that he was stealing the old computers from the school, but everyone knew.

Alex and Eliza had been paired up in AP bio for a project. See, no matter how smart Alex was, Eliza was smarter. She was the only junior in AP bio, and God, she made Alex nervous just being there. So when they found out they had to do a project together? Oh, man, Alex almost passed out.

Eliza was a genuine person though. It was easy for Alex to just relax around her. They'd goof off in the school library, draw dicks in the textbooks, make jokes about their teacher's untamed beard. Eliza was an artist, so the only art Alex had hanging on his wall was a drawing she had done. It was of their teacher, sprinkling seeds onto his bare chin, watering it, and growing a beard. It was the only thing in that whole apartment that was worth looking at since Alex's roommates weren't exactly connoisseurs of taste.

It was a cold February day when Alex looked over at Eliza, smiling lightly. She had on cuffed high waisted jeans and a striped shirt. She looked gorgeous. God, Alex didn't know how it was legal that a girl like that could be so perfect.

"Hey, Liz," Alex started.

"Mm-hm?" Eliza looked up at him, smiling.

Alex let out a sigh. "Uh, you know, this is uh, this is probably a stupid question, but, uh, you know-"

"Jeez, Hamilton, spit it out," Eliza laughed, brushing some hair behind her ear.

Alex chuckled, looking down for a moment. "I was just wondering, you know if you wanna go to prom with me?"

Eliza raised her eyebrows, pursing her lips. "Oh, uh, thank you, I'm flattered, really, but I'm already going with Tommy Paplakovich from my homeroom."

"Oh, okay," Alex nodded. "That's okay."

"Come anyway, though."

"Come to prom alone?" Alex chuckled. "I'll pass."

"You won't be alone. Come with my group of friends, or just come. I'll save you a dance, I promise." Eliza smiled at Alex. "Please come? Come on, I wanna see what you look like when you're all cleaned up."

"Oh, bold of you to assume that I won't be wearing sweatpants," Alex laughed.

"They won't let you in if you're wearing sweatpants. You gotta dress nice, shower." Eliza pointedly looked at Alex's long greasy brown hair.

"Okay, look, I was gonna shower last night, but all the hot water was used up," Alex scoffed. "I hate cold showers."

"I like them. They're refreshing." Eliza chuckled. "So, you'll come, right?"

Alex groaned. "Okay."

"Come on, it's worth it. It's your last year, you gotta go to prom." Eliza knocked Alex's shoulder with her own. "I'll make it worth it."

Alex wiggled his eyebrows.

"Gross, you freak!" Eliza laughed. "Come on, we got a project to do."

Alex smiled, shaking his head, then went back to searching the textbook for any useful information.

The night of prom came and Alex was showered, hair up, with his nicest clothes on. Clip-on tie, white dress shirt, tweed jacket, and some jeans, since he never owned dress pants in his life. He spritzed some of his roommate's cologne on, then went to the door.

"Adios! Nos vemos en unas horas!" Alex called out.

"Manternerse a salvo!" Juan, one of his roommates called out.

"Joder el culo de Eliza!" Manny snorted.

"Repugnante," Manny's girlfriend mumbled.

Alex rolled his eyes and closed the door, making his way to the subway station and catching the A train down to his school. He tried to keep his hair as nice as possible, up in its bun, but pieces were falling out at an alarming rate. By the time Alex got to prom, he had a fair amount of hair framing his face, but he didn't care. He flashed his school ID and walked in. The theme was under the sea, and God, Alex wished he could've drowned himself.

"This was a bad idea," Alex mumbled. But, he stayed because he knew Eliza wanted him to come. So, he poured himself some punch and sat down on the bleachers, watching people dance. He felt very out of place. Emily Smith was trying to make eye contact with Alex, but Alex was easily refusing to look anywhere but the watery punch on his lap.

He spent an hour on those bleachers, watching people, looking for Eliza, but not finding her. Alex knew that as long as Tommy Paplakovich was Tommy Paplakovich, Eliza would be in the back of his Subaru with her panties hooked on the shift and her bra slung over the passenger's seat. The man was a total dog.

Alex huffed a sigh and got up. Eliza was probably long gone. He wouldn't bring it up on Monday, though. He didn't want to make her feel bad. He wasn't really expecting much, honestly. Tommy Paplakovich was hot, and he had a big dick. It's only fitting that the hottest girl in school gets with the hottest guy. And what did Alex think was going to happen? Eliza was way, way, way out of his league. She was smart, funny, overall perfect, and Alex was... he was just some scrappy kid from Washington Heights. They were from two different worlds.

Alex tossed his punch cup and let his hair down, walking out of the school. The cool New York air hit him like a truck. It smelled like pollution, and was filled with cars honking and... crying?

There on the steps, a girl in a long spaghetti strap dress, light blue. Dark hair was down, over her shoulder. She was shivering, rubbing her arms, and sniffling lightly. Her silver heels were off and next to her. Alex let his head lull back, groaning quietly because he knew he was gonna leave his jacket with this poor girl, and never get it back, and walk home in the cold. But, he was a gentleman, so he wasn't about to let her freeze.

"Excuse me, do you-" Alex stopped upon seeing the girl's face. "Liza?"

"Oh, God, Alex." Eliza wiped her running mascara, sniffling a bit. "You came."

Alex sat down next to Eliza, slipping off his jacket and putting it around her shoulders. "Eliza, hey, what's going on? What's wrong?"

"I"m sorry I didn't save you a dance, I just, I got sidetracked, and-"

"No, no, don't even apologize." Alex placed an arm around her, trying to help warm her up. "What's wrong?"

Eliza sniffled. "It's nothing, I'm fine."

"Hey, talk to me." Alex hugged her a bit closer. "I'm here. I showered and everything. You can talk to me."

Eliza laughed, still crying, and wiped her tears. "You know, I had about twenty guys ask me to prom this year."

"Oh, yeah, me too," Alex joked.

Eliza laughed. "I know Tommy Paplakovich is a dog, I just said yes because he was the first one that asked." Eliza shook her head. "He wouldn't stop groping my tits, and stuck his hand up my dress during the second song." She let out a small hiccup. "God, he's such a cunt."

Alex frowned, looking at his lap. "I'm so sorry, Eliza."

Eliza sniffled. "It's fine. It doesn't matter."

"He shouldn't have done that." Alex took one of Eliza's hands and planted a small kiss on it. "You want me to beat him up?"

"Yeah, right, you'd get your ass kicked, Alex," Eliza smiled, wiping her cheeks.

"Maybe, but I bet I could get a few good hits in." Alex chuckled. "And you know, it would be worth it."

"God, for a genius, you're pretty stupid." Eliza leaned her head against Alex's shoulder, sighing.

Alex smiled, resting his head against hers. "We should get out of here."

"Hm?"

"Let's go get a burger or something. Come on, this night doesn't gotta be shitty. I'll pay." Alex looked at Eliza, smiling.

Eliza sighed a bit, her dimples showing. "Okay, okay. Let's go get some food." She grabbed her heels and slipped them back on. "You can have your jacket back. It's cold."

"Liz, you're wearing nothing over your arms. You need it more than I do, I promise." Alex placed her arm around her. "You just gotta walk close to me so I stay warm."

"Oh, do I?" Eliza laughed, raising her eyebrows.

Alex nodded.

Eliza paused, sighing. "Do I still have mascara on my face?"

"Hold on." Alex held her face in his hands, wiping some mascara off her cheeks. "There we go." He paused, staring at her. "God, Eliza, you are gorgeous."

Eliza laughed, slapping Alex's chest lightly. "Shut up."

Alex put his arm around her as they began walking. "Just for the record, you're way out of Tommy Paplakovich's league."

"You say that about every guy," Eliza pointed out.

"And I'm right." Alex laughed. "You severely underestimate how awesome you are."

"Am I out of your league?" Eliza asked.

"Way." Alex nodded a bit. "Eliza, in this world, people are like animals. You are this tigress at the top of the food chain, and I am like... a capybara."

"A capybara!" Eliza laughed.

"It's true!" Alex smiled, listening to that loud laugh. "You are so far above me that I cannot even see you."

"I think you underestimate yourself, Alex," Eliza chuckled.

"I think I estimate myself just fine. I mean, come on. I'm a nerd. I'm not cool, I have no redeeming qualities. I'm lazy, my room's a mess, I have no friends."

"Hey!" Eliza gasped, smacking Alex's arm.

"What?"

"I'm your friend, Alex."

Alex paused, thinking. "Oh my God, you're my friend."

Eliza tilted her head back, laughing. "You're so weird, Hamilton!"

Alex nodded in agreement, crossing the road with her to the burger joint. "I'm just a capybara trying his luck with a tigress."

"Fucking nerd," Eliza snorted.

Alex held open the door for Eliza, smiling and bowing a little bit. "M'lady."

"Thank you, good sir."

Alex followed her in and they sat down. A waitress handed them menus and Alex picked his up, looking through it. "You know something, Eliza?"

Eliza looked up. "Hm?"

"When I asked you to prom, this is exactly how I pictured our night going," Alex admitted.

"You mean you wouldn't have stuck your hand up my dress by the second song?" Eliza asked.

Alex shook his head. "I'm not gross."

"You're right, Hamilton, you're not."

The two ordered food and drink, then sat back, smiling and looking at each other. They ate their burgers, and then ordered milkshakes, still talking. An hour had passed since they walked into that burger joint, but neither of them noticed. The conversation was just too riveting for them to even glance at the clock. Eliza was out past curfew, but she didn't care.

"Okay, can I ask you something?" Alex started.

Eliza sat back, sipping her milkshake. "Hm?"

Alex paused for a moment. "Are you happy?"

Eliza's mouth quirked, and an eyebrow popped up. "Yeah?"

"No, like, not just right now, like, overall." Alex paused. "I see you with all your friends in the hall, and you always look so ingenuine."

"What? Are you saying I'm an ingenuine person?" Eliza asked, getting defensive.

"No, I'm not, I'm not." Alex held up his hands. "You just, you don't look happy."

Eliza sat back, sipping her strawberry milkshake. "Can I be honest with Alex? Like, really honest?"

Alex nodded.

"I don't think any of my friends like me." She looked down. "I don't think anyone really likes me. Sometimes I wish I was ugly, I wish I was a fucking capybara."

Alex chuckled.

"Because, I mean, maybe if I was ugly, maybe if I was just average, people wouldn't always want something from me." Eliza shook her head. "I don't think I have a reason to complain, but I mean, God, you're the only person I feel like I can be genuine around."

Alex smiled softly.

"I don't want to know if my other friends actually like me for me." Eliza swallowed hard. "I know the answer, but I don't want to admit it." She looked at Alex. "I think you're my best friend."

"You're my best friend too." Alex thought for a moment. "You promised me a dance, right?"

Eliza nodded.

Alex got up and walked to the old jukebox, putting a dollar in and selecting a song. He hummed, coming back to Eliza and holding out his hand. "May I have this dance?"

Eliza smiled softly. "You may."

She stood up and Alex pulled her into his arms just as the song started. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong played through the speakers as Alex and Eliza danced slowly together. Eliza rested her cheek against Alex's shoulder, closing her eyes and humming the song. Alex hugged her waist, singing along with Louis Armstrong, making Eliza smile.

Alex loved the way Eliza felt pressed against him. He loved the way she fit into his arms. He loved her. God, he was so in love with her. He kissed her shoulder, hugging her closer as the song went on.

"Dream a little dream of me," Alex sang along with the end of the song, smiling.

Eliza paused, looking at Alex, smiling.

Alex stared back at her, feeling his cheeks heat up. There was this moment when they got real quiet, and for a second, Alex could've sworn they were the only people in the world. It was just Eliza and her blue velvet dress, just him and his polyester dress shirt and jeans.

Eliza smiled, leaning in and pecking Alex's cheek. "I should really get home."

Alex nodded, finding her hand and taking it. "Let me walk you home, just so I know you got there safely."

"Thank you."

The walk to Eliza's house was quiet, but the two held hands, humming songs together. Eliza still had Alex's coat wrapped around her, and her feet were sore, but she was okay with it. She did truly like spending time with Alex.

"Okay, this is me," Eliza announced, stopping in front of a brownstone house.

Alex let out a low whistle. "Nice house."

"Where do you live?" Eliza asked.

"I'm up in Washington Heights, just a small apartment." Alex shrugged. "It's not much."

"I'd like to see it someday," Eliza smiled.

Alex held up his hands. "Trust me, you wouldn't. It's a mess. Manny and Jaun are worse than me."

"Brothers?" Eliza guessed.

"No, roommates," Alex replied.

"What about your parents?"

Alex was about to speak, but the door opened. There, in the doorway, was Angelica, another senior. Her hair was up in a kerchief and she had on a silk robe. "Eliza, you're past curfew."

Eliza sighed. "I know, Angie."

"Mom and dad waited up." Angelica paused. "Who's this?"

"We have English together," Alex pointed out.

"And?"

Alex gave a forced smile to Eliza, who had a tired look on her face.

"I'll be in in a second, Angie," Eliza called out.

"Mm-hm," Angelica mumbled, going back inside.

"Siblings," Eliza muttered.

Alex chuckled.

"Do you have a phone at your house?" Eliza asked.

Alex nodded.

Eliza opened up her purse and pulled out a pen and some paper, writing down her number. "This is my landline. You should call me sometime. If I don't pick up, tell whoever is on the other line that you need to talk to me about the project." Eliza smiled, handing the paper to Alex. "I'll see you on Monday."

Alex nodded, shoving the number is his pocket. "Yeah, yeah, Monday. I'll see you on Monday."

Eliza smiled, taking Alex's hands and leaning in and kissing his cheek. "Thank you for making this night not suck. Really."

"Anytime." Alex chuckled. "I'm always happy to swoop in and make your nights not suck."

Eliza took off Alex's jacket and wrapped it back around his shoulders. "Goodnight, Alexander."

Alex sighed dreamily, watching Eliza climb the steps to her house. "Goodnight, Eliza."

Eliza smiled at Alex one more time before entering her house.

Alex turned and began walking to the train station to get back to the heights. He stared at the pavement, feeling as though his smile might split open his face. "I'm gonna marry her."

Chapter Text

Renaissance means rebirth in French. The renaissance was in response to the black plague, which pillaged Europe's population, especially Italy. The plague was spread by the fleas on rats, which explained why mass amounts of rats died in the street as the plague took off. Some people blamed God, some people blamed the Jews. Some people blamed both. These people were called flagellants, and they went around the country, punishing themselves and killing Jewish people. They managed to kill over half the Jewish European population.

The renaissance was a social, religious, and economic response to the black plague. Because people realized how quickly life could end, religion stopped being the main focus. The renaissance took off in Italy the most. Thanks to new methods of mining, and a revival of the wool industry, plus a surplus of workers, the economy was revived as quickly as it fell. New ideas spread thanks to the revival of classical Latin and Greek works, plus the invention of the print and press.

The Medici family ran the renaissance in Italy. They sheltered and hired artists such as Leonardo DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Rafael, Donatello. In fact, they once saved Donatello for being prosecuted and put to death. The first thing you need to know about this is that most, if not all, of the renaissance artists, were gay. In fact, Michaelangelo was so gay, he couldn't even draw women correctly. He just drew men with lumps on their chests.

Donatello was most likely also gay. But besides that, he was a great artist. One of his greatest accomplishments was molding the first bronze free-standing statue since the era of ancient Greece, which, at this point, was about eighteen hundred years ago. The statue was of David.

Now, if you've ever seen David, you'll know he's often portrayed as a twinkish boy, with soft and almost feminine features. He's not hard to look at. In many ways, he does represent the ideal man, at least the ideal white man. Donatello held up to this, maybe a little too much.

Oh, David, with his pretty wavy long hair, his almost feminine pose, one hand on his hip, the other on his sword. The way his leg bends and his almost erect nipples allude to a subtle eroticism that Donatello must have planned. The head of Goliath, being brushed but David's foot. Not in a cocky way, but in a sultry way, almost as if he's killed a lover.

And then the feather.

Out of the traits listed, it was the feather that truly got Donatello in trouble. That long feather, coming off of Goliath's helmet, all the way up David's thigh, almost brushing the bottom of his buttocks. Oh, how erotic it truly was. You can almost see women, passing it and fanning themselves.

Now, the catholic church was still a power, but a power that barely touched the Medici's. The Catholics saw this erotic art of a male and decided the statue itself meant homosexuality. They wanted to punish Donatello, and without the Medici's, this story could have ended very differently. The Medici's, Italy's leading art buyers, swooped in like the political power they were and assured the church that their good friend Donatello would never do such a thing and that they would swear on the bible that Donatello was a good man.

What a chuckle it must've been for Donatello to hear that.

Perhaps, the Italian Renaissance was peak society. There was love, life, art, none of the cares of daily life. Greek and Latin writings were restored, artists were brought into the spotlight. The arts were celebrated, vanity was normal. People would drink and dance, for why shouldn't they? Life is good.

Catholicism, in the end, ruined it, but that can be said for many things in history.

See, rebirth can mean beauty, it can mean a fresh start. It can mean stripping away all the depression of a previous era, starting anew. As long as you don't let Catholicism come in and wreck it, it can be a wonderful thing.

That's how Theo Burr felt when shaving her head.

Phillip had help hack off the majority of hair, and then made sure Theo didn't miss any patches. Theo sighed, looking up into the mirror. Her face looked rounder, but her cheekbones were still noticeable. Her ears stuck out a bit, but it made her eyes look bigger.

Phillip nodded. "I like it."

Theo ran her hand over her head. "I like it too. Am I still just as pretty to you?"

Phillip smiled, pulling Theo into a hug and planting a big wet kiss on her cheek. "You are the most beautiful girl in the world."

Theo rested her hands against Phillip's. "How are you doing?"

"We're figuring it out. Life is..." Phillip paused. "It's different."

"You wanna talk about it?"

Phillip shook his head. "It's slowly getting back to normal. A lot has happened in the past six months though."

Theo paused, then leaned up, kissing Phillip's cheek and leaving a lipstick mark. "I love you, Pip."

"I love you too, Theo."

Theo leaned against the bathroom counter. "Senior year starts tomorrow."

"I'm not going."

Theo cocked a brow. "Why?"

"Senioritis," Phillip answered.

Theo laughed. "You'll pick me up, right?"

Phillip nodded.

Theo pecked Phillip's lips. "You're a stunner, Phillip."

"No, you," Phillip replied, chuckling a bit. He jumped when his phone buzzed, pulling it out. "Oh, shit, it's John. I gotta go. Dinner's in a bit." Phillip kissed Theo one more time. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Wear something nice," Theo requested.

"No promises." Phillip slipped his phone out of his pocket and began walking out of the apartment. "Love you, baby!"

"Love you too!"

Phillip left and jogged to his car, getting in and trying to avoid hitting red lights. The ride from Queens to Manhattan was a little long, but he pulled into the garage, huffing a bit. It didn't take much longer to be stepping out of the elevator and into the penthouse. He tied up his hair and dropped his gym back on the couch.

"I'm home!" He called out.

"Hey, Flip," Frances smiled, looking up from the kitchen table.

"Hey, Franky. Where's John?"

"I'm right here!" John laughed. "I'm making dinner. We're doing Mexican tonight."

Phillip sat down at the kitchen counter next to Frances. "Franky, you ready for eighth grade?"

"No." Frances sipped her water. "I need more summer."

"Don't we all," Phillip snorted. "Don't worry, middle school sucks, but this is the last year, so if you make it through this, then it's free sailing. High school is way better."

"Speaking of high school, it's your last year," John pointed out. "How are you feeling about that?"

Phillip shrugged. "I dunno. I gotta start applying for colleges."

"Yeah, where are you thinking?" John turned around, looking at Phillip.

"Maybe somewhere upstate. Albany, Buffalo." Phillip shrugged. "NYU's got a great art program though, or Pratt. Maybe somewhere in Jersey."

"Jersey's crazy, but yeah, it might suit you," John chuckled. He looked back to the food on the stove. "Okay, I think we're ready. Let's eat."

"Late night?" Phillip guessed.

John nodded. "When is it not?"

Phillip snorted and the three of them served themselves some food, sitting back down and digging in. Phillip and Theo had gone to the gym together that day, so he was famished. Whenever he worked out, his diet increased by two. So, he loaded up his burrito and dug in, not caring if he was eating like a slob.

"Napkins," John reminded as a squirt of salsa and sour cream fell from Phillip's burrito onto the plate.

Frances grabbed some napkins, placing one next to Phillip before sitting down and eating her food too.

"So, what classes are you taking?" John asked.

"Uh, I got calc, AP art, AP Econ, and AP chem, and then two free periods, so I'll get a job or something." Phillip shrugged. "Theo's taking a full load."

"Where's she thinking of college?" John asked.

"Queens or something. Maybe Jersey though. We're both applying for colleges in the same area." Phillip took another bite of his food, then proceeded to talk while chewing his food. "Franky, what classes are you taking?"

"Uh, the usual math, science, English, history bunch, and then I'm taking a STEM mechanics class, and health."

"No gym?" John mused.

"Next semester," Frances replied.

"Keep your grades up, it's worth it," Phillip promised. "Literally nothing is more important than homework."

"Didn't you almost fail your math final because you were too busy fighting crime to study?" Frances mused.

"Yeah? And? Learn from my mistakes," Phillip scoffed.

The elevator dinged and someone stepped out of it. "Hello, familia!"

"You're late!" Phillip called out, mouth full of burrito.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," John scolded.

"I could not get out of there." Alex sat down, leaning his cane up against the counter. "Amour, could you make me a burrito?"

John stood up, kissing Alex's cheek. "Yeah, hun, I can."

"Gross," Frances muttered.

John wrapped his arms around Alex, planting wet kisses all over Alex's face. "Oh my love, my life. My dearest, Alexander. How I love thee. Doth thou love me the same?"

"I do, I do," Alex gasped dramatically.

Phillip gagged.

"How was your day?" John asked, going to make some food for Alex. "Did your leg bother you much?"

Alex shook his head. "No, the American Embassy building in Japan was good with elevators, so I didn't have to do a lot of walking." Alex cracked his back. "Phillip, Franky, are you two ready for school tomorrow?"

Both of them groaned.

"They're ready," John assured Alex.

The last six months had been something of a roller coaster.

Alex had pressed the button and shut down the machine, which unfortunately caused a lot of infrastructure damage. There were injuries, but no fatalities. Hamilton Industries handled the repair of everything, houses and all, cost-free. This, of course, was John's call.

When Alex pressed that button, his entire body shut down. They were able to get him to a hospital pretty quickly, but because he had lost blood flow to his brain for a bit too long, and because the blast from shutting the machine off had caused some damage to his head, he was thrown into a coma.

Alex was in a coma for two months. He woke up at noon on a Tuesday, speaking only French. Doctors said this occasionally happened, but Alex had completely forgotten how to speak English. It was obvious it frustrated him, seeing as he hadn't spoken to his son in two months, and all he could say was a flurry of French. Alex regained the ability to speak English pretty quickly, seeing as some things would unlock that part of his brain again, but he was still working on it.

The damage he had suffered manifested itself physically too. His right arm, the right side of his face, and the right side of his torso was burnt, very badly. Doctors said he was lucky he could still see out of his eye. He had to get reconstructive surgeries for his hand, and couldn't walk very well without a cane. He was in PT though, slowly regaining fine motor control, though he would never get back what he had.

The blast itself had hurt Phillip. It wasn't quite as bad as the guns, but man, it hurt. The Avengers had to get out of the machine room, or they would've been sucked God knows where. Phillip was carried about my Laf, Maria by Hulk. It was terrifying.

Phillip had to get bitten by his spiders again but didn't go right back to being Spiderman. For a while, New York was so shaken up by what had happened, no one needed a Spiderman. No criminal would be stupid enough to try something while the Avengers were in town. Most of them stayed in town for a while, just until Alex woke up. James remained, even after he knew Alex was okay since Alex's offer to work together was exciting. James was living in the penthouse below them now, where John used to be. John had moved up with Alex, to help take care of him, and to be with his boyfriend.

While Alex was in his coma, John took over parenting Phillip. Both were scared to lose Alex, so a lot of nights were spent crying on the couch over some takeout while watching a film. John made sure Phillip knew he wasn't alone.

John and Phillip were there the day Alex woke up. It was May. Phillip was flipping through channels on the hospital TV but stopped on HGTV.

"Alex hates this channel," John commented, watching the commercials. "I love it, but he always makes me turn it off."

"I just like making fun of the people," Phillip snorted. "That's what me and Theo do."

"Welcome back to House Hunters," the narrator started. "Today we are with Amy, a stay at home astronaut, and her husband Paul, a butterfly therapist."

"Non."

John paused, then looked to Phillip, who seemed equally shocked. "Did you say that?"

"No, did you?"

John shook his head, then looked to Alex.

"Non," Alex groaned again. "Je déteste ce spectacle."

"Oh my God, Alex!" John stood up, quickly grabbing the nurse call button.

"Dad!" Phillip gasped.

"Éteignez pour l'amour de Dieu Alex moved his head a bit, squinting his eyes.

"What's he saying?" Phillip asked.

"I don't, I don't know," John mumbled.

"Éteignez," Alex huffed. "Où est la télécommande?"

"You called?" A nurse started, coming in.

"Uh, he's awake," John muttered, pointing at Alex, who was trying to sit himself up but still hadn't even opened his eyes.

"Oh, my God." The nurse stuck her head out into the hallway. "Doctor! Patient H is up and at 'em!"

In seconds, the room was flooded with doctors, checking vitals, joints, flashing lights in Alex's eyes. In was quite a mess, and John had to pull Phillip back. Phillip was crying since his dad had just regained consciousness, but John knew the doctors needed to work.

"Do you know your name?" A doctor asked.

"Quelle? Qu'est-ce que tu dis?" Alex gasped. "Où suis-je? Où est mon fils? Où est mon John? Qui es-tu?"

The doctor paused, then turned to John. "Is English not his first language?"

John shook his head. "It's French."

The doctor nodded, thinking. "I think when Alex hit his head, something happened, and he forgot..." The doctor hummed. "There's no easy way to put this. He forgot how to speak English."

John creased his brows. "What?"

"John, Phillip," Alex choked out. "Laisse moi parler a ma famille."

The doctor hummed. "He seems to know who you two are. I'm going to bring in a translator so we can make sure he knows who he is. Be gentle."

The doctor stepped aside and Phillip was instantly at his dad's bedside, hugging him, tears in his eyes. Alex held onto Phillip tightly, stroking his hair, kissing the side of his head.

"Mon fils," Alex repeated. "Mon fils, mon fils."

John went to the other side of the bed, joining in the hug. "Alexander, oh, God, Alexander."

It was a tearful reunion, enough to make even the most emotionless person tear up. Neither of them left the hospital for a week after that. They just wanted to spend time with Alex. They communicated through a translator, talking and talking. Phillip explained what happened, John caught Alex up on company things. Luckily, the only thing Alex seemed to have lost was his ability to speak English, so otherwise, he could function mentally.

He also had the chance to chew out John and Phillip for posting a picture on his Twitter of John with his finger up Alex's nose.

But things slowly did start to go back to normal. They were still trying to figure things out, Alex was still getting frustrated as his limited mobility and English, but he was getting better. John was helping as much as he could, working to make the house easier for Alex to get through. Luckily, there weren't many stairs in the first place, just a few step-ups to certain places, but it still tripped Alex up every now and then.

"So, college?" Alex asked.

Phillip groaned, popping the last bit of his burrito in his mouth. "Do we have to?"

Alex nodded. "Tell me five schools you have an interest in and I will leave you alone. Promettre."

"Promise," John corrected.

Alex nodded. "Ah, yes. Promise."

Phillip groaned. "Pratt, NYU, Fordham, Montclaire, Berkley." Phillip smiled sarcastically. "You done?"

"I am, I just want to make sure you're thinking." Alex took a bite of his food. "You're an art school kid, Phillip. You've got real talent, you should pursue that."

"Artists don't make any money here," Phillip pointed out.

"Bah, I've got connections," Alex huffed.

"I don't want to be famous because you bought me into anything," Phillip groaned.

"Oh, no no, you have to get into your college on grades and merit. I'm not gonna lift a finger. I know art buyers and critics, yes, but I'm not gonna pay them to like your art. Who knows? They might think you're shit, but at least you'll know they're being honest."

Phillip rolled his eyes. "Theo will be my sugar mommy. She wants to be a dermatologist."

"There we go. If you can't make money, you find it." Alex smiled. "He got that from me."

"He did?" John mused.

"Eliza was rich." Alex shrugged. "Don't get me wrong, she was awesome too, I didn't just marry her for the money, but the money was a perk."

"Manwhore," Frances muttered.

Phillip snorted, covering his mouth and silently laughing.

"Hardy har," Alex chuckled. "Okay, everyone had school supplies, right? Phillip, you have your singular paper clip? Frances, you have all your pencils and paper and notebooks and stuff?"

Phillip paused. "I lost the paperclip."

"Christ, he lost the paperclip."

John laughed. "Okay, what should we watch tonight? I think since Phillip and Franky have to go to school tomorrow, they should pick, and Phillip don't say-"

"Midsommer," Phillip immediately answered.

"No!" Alex gasped. "I'm not watching that! It was weird! Also, Franky is not allowed to see that yet."

"Bill and Ted?" Franky suggested.

"Hold on, the only acceptable eighties movie is Lost Boys," Phillip started.

"God, Lord, no movie from the eighties is valid." Alex hummed. "Clueless?"

"Clueless," Phillip nodded.

"Never seen it," Frances admitted.

John gasped. "Child services, take her away from me, I'm a terrible parent."

"Okay, it's official, we are watching Clueless tonight," Alex decided, downing some water. "I have another surgery in like, two weeks."

"What's this one for again?" John mumbled.

"To fix my hip. Gonna add onto my PT load, gonna have to miss two weeks of work, but it should help me walk a little better, and a little better is better than what I've got going on right now," Alex snorted.

"If you would let yourself heal for a little bit, I'm sure things would be easier," John scolded.

"Takes too long." Alex waved his hand. "I got things to do, people, to see."

"Your father is a masochist," John mumbled pointedly at Phillip.

"Hush," Alex scoffed.

Later that night, the family was curled up on the couch, watching clueless. Phillip had made himself another burrito and was eating it over a plate, watching the movie. Alex was a little zapped, having just taken some painkillers, so he was leaning back against John, eyes only half-open.

"It's kinda weird that he's her ex-step brother," Frances decided at the end.

"And also he's like, in college and she's a high school student," Phillip pointed out.

"Your mom was a high school student when I was in college," Alex grumbled.

"Yeah, but you guys weren't dating." Phillip picked up his plate, standing up. "Alright, I'm gonna head off to sleep time. Theo told me to try a little bit for the first day, and that means I gotta shower tomorrow morning."

"Alright, brush your teeth," John reminded. "Franky, you go get ready for bed too, and I'll get Alex into bed."

"I can get into bed myself," Alex muttered, not opening his eyes.

"I know." John stood up, helping Alex up and pulling him into his arms. "Alright, there we go." John helped Alex to their room, lying him down. "There we go. Are you comfy?"

Alex grabbed John's hand, groaning. "I'm sick of you having to take care of me."

"I know."

Alex swallowed. "Do you still think I'm beautiful?"

John took Alex's injured and scarred hand, pressing it to his lips. "God, Alex, you are so beautiful to me. I promise." John leaned down, pecking Alex's lips. "I'm gonna make sure the kids get in bed, okay? I'll be right back."

"I might crash," Alex mumbled.

John nodded. "I know. I love you."

"I love you too. Tell Phillip to come to say goodnight to me. He didn't, and I don't wanna fall asleep before he does."

John smiled. "I will." John walked out of the room, sticking his head into the hallway. "Pip, come to say goodnight to your dad."

"Eh 'an ih a mimuh!" Phillip replied. There was the sound of spitting, and then the faucet running. "Okay, sorry, I was brushing my teeth."

"Good. Hurry, he's crashing as we speak," John chuckled, ruffling Phillip's hair.

Phillip walked into the room. Alex had pushed himself up a bit and held open his arms for a hug. Phillip was quick to hug him, smiling.

"I love you three thousand kid." Alex kissed the top of Phillip's head. "You be safe tomorrow, okay? Call if you need anything."

"It's school, not war," Phillip pointed out.

"Yeah, I know." Alex shrugged. "Still."

"I love you too dad."

Alex nodded. "Hey, I'm real proud of you, Phillip. Whatever you do, I always will be."

Phillip smiled. "Alright. Goodnight, dad. I'll see you in the morning."

"I'll see you in the morning."

Phillip left, and Alex sat back, sighing. He was tired. So tired. His head was lulling, but he wanted to wait up for John. It took a little bit, and Alex had to shake himself out a couple of times, but he made it. John walked in, chuckling at a drowsy Alex, and proceeded to slip off his shirt. He laid down next to Alex, pulling him into a hug.

"I love you," Alex hummed.

"I love you too," John sighed, hugging Alex a bit closer. "You gonna wake up early tomorrow?"

"When do I not?" Alex chuckled.

"Fair point." John kissed the back of Alex's neck, closing his eyes. "Goodnight, baby."

"Night, John."

Alex's alarm blared at four am. He got up from where he lay in his bed, in John's arms, stretching a bit before standing up. The cold air hit his boxer clad body as he made his way to his large window, staring over the New York cityscape. It was still dark, but the lights made it possible for Alex to make out almost every detail.

He began getting dressed, slipping on a black blazer over a white tee-shirt, as well as some black slacks. He grabbed his laptop and walked out of his room and into the main area of his penthouse. He turned on the coffee machine, and then made sure Frances and Phillip had lunches. He made sure the lights were dim enough to where Phillip could stumble in and find some coffee.

He worked for about an hour and a half until Phillip stumbled into the kitchen, groaning and going straight for the coffee.

"Morning, senior," Alex smiled.

Phillip groaned.

"Oh, don't bitch, everything gets so much easier after this," Alex chuckled.

Phillip nodded, finding some food. "You think I could eat and shower?"

Alex thought for a moment, then nodded. "I don't see why not."

"Okay." Phillip took a bite. "Perfect."

Alex chuckled as the kid walked out. A few minutes later, John walked in, kissing the back of Alex's neck, smiling. "Hey there, buttercup."

"Morning, dearest." Alex turned his head, kissing John's cheek. "How'd you sleep?"

"I slept well, and you?"

Alex nodded. "Pretty okay. I have PT today so I'm taking off early."

"What kind of PT?"

"I think we're swimming today." Alex gave a sarcastic smile. "At least it's something."

"Hey," John started. "Things are going to get back to normal. You're pushing yourself too much. I think it would help a lot if you just gave it a rest."

"I don't have time for that, John," Alex complained.

"You do." John pecked the crook of Alex's neck. "I love you."

"I love you too."

The morning went by quickly, and soon enough, Alex was watching Phillip throw his hair up and slip his shoes on. God, Phillip looked so much like Eliza, but he had Alex's nose, that was for sure. It was crazy to think that Alex's kid was almost a functioning adult.

"Hey, buddy, come on, we gotta get a picture," Alex started, standing up.

"Why?" Phillip asked.

"Because. I always told myself, if I ever had kids, I'd take pictures with them on their first day." Alex stood up. "John?"

John took his phone, chuckling a bit. "Okay, you two, get together."

Phillip groaned.

"Come on, you're never too old to take a picture with your dad." Alex hugged Phillip to his side, smiling at the camera. Phillip smiled too, and John took the picture. Alex took his phone back and nodded. "Thank you, John."

"Yeah. I gotta go wake Franky up." He hugged Phillip. "Good luck, stay safe. I love you."

"Love you too," Phillip nodded as John left to go make sure Frances was awake.

"Hey." Alex pulled Phillip into a tight hug. "I love you, kid. I'm so happy to have you as my son." Alex kissed the side of Phillip's head. "You're the best thing in my life, Phillip."

Phillip smiled. "I love you too, dad."

Alex held Phillip at arm's length, looking him up and down. "Alright, you look high school ready. Tell Theo I said hi, and tell her that the internship starts in a week."

"Still can't believe my girlfriend has an internship with you," Phillip groaned.

"She has a lot of potentials." Alex sighed. "Okay, you got everything? Books? Paper? Suit? Web fluid?"

"Oh, is something going on today?" Phillip asked.

Alex nodded. "It's New York, Phillip, something's always going on. I'll brief you after school. Meet me on top of the Brooklyn museum?"

"Got it." Phillip smiled. "Bye dad, I love you."

Alex looked at Phillip, and for a moment, let it sink in how much his life had changed in the past year. He used to wake up alone, but now, now he had John right next to him. The house used to be so quiet no matter what time it was, but now you can always hear Phillip playing music or doing something or another. Alex didn't miss his Apple Store life, his lonely solitude, his bare fridge and his one night stands. He didn't need that. He had a family.

Alex chuckled. "Bye kid, I love you too."

 

Chapter Text

Y'all should check out my new fic, Death of the Romantic. It's a lams. Kiss kiss.