Wow.....I really haven't updated this story in forever. But here goes.

Chapter 5: The Dance Hall

Three years had passed since that Chrsitmas of 1894. Fiona was now fourteen and Race, fifteen. Aine, clad in the dress Skittery and Dutchy had given her, had long been put on Fiona's top shelf. She outgrew the new coat soon enough and gave it to a young child who seemed to need it more than she.

The year prior, all of the girls had left the lodging house. They dispersed in all different get married, to work as a seamstress, to do something else. Except Fiona. She couldn't bare to leave the house, but most of all, she couldn't bear to leave Race. He was still her best friend, her confidant. And the object of her secret desire, which she would never tell anyone. All she wanted was for Race to catch her in his arms and kiss her good and hard. But she didn't know if Race thought of her as just a "chum", so she convinced herself she could never have him.

As a result of Fiona being the only girl, all of the boys developed these massive crushes on her. Her body was now shaping into that of a woman's, which distracted most of the boys. She was growing so fast, as they all were, that many times, she could not afford new shirts to keep up with the pace of her changing body. At this point in time, her shirt did not button all the way up, leaving the top of her breasts somewhat exposed. She didn't think anything of it as the boys were all brothers to her, but they certainly did.

That particular night, they were all headed out to dancing at Medda's place. Race sat on Fiona's bed with his legs crossed, watching her primp. He rolled his eyes further into his head as he watched her.

'I don't get dat woman.' he thought to himself. 'She thinks she's ugly when she's da most goigis thing I'se evah don't make no sense.'

Fiona ran the brush through her long blonde hair one more time before backing up and surveying herself in the mirror. She made a face as if she was disgusted with herself and sighed heavily.

"What? You look good. Why do you gotta act like you ain't attractive?"

"Cause I ain't." She told him, sitting down at the foot of his bed. He rolled his eyes at that. How could she be blind to the fact that every boy here had a boner every time she walked by?

Fiona was pretty, there was no doubt about that, but all the boys loved her just because she was their very own female. They were all at that age where their sexual drives were going all over the place and wanted nothing more than to be with a girl. Fiona just happened to be the only attractive one any of them really knew.

Racetrack took a puff of his cigar, knowing that he was absolutely no competition for Mush Meyers, who also had his eye on Fiona.

"Are you ready to go yet?" he asked her. She nodded as he stood up and offered her his arm.

She gracefully took it and looked him over, watching the way his mouth curled as he puffed on his precious cigar. His mouth was so gorgeous and she wanted nothing more than to kiss it slowly. But she shook the thought out of her mind as they made their way in silence towards Medda's.

"How's dat new dancah you boys were so gaga ovah?" she inquired after a few moments of silence.

"Her? She's aight I guess if you like dat type. Overly made up, ya know da deal. I like more natural women anyhow." he told her as the marquee came into view. He slowly lead her inside and offered her a seat.

As soon as she sat down, Mush Meyers made his way through the crowded, smoky room.

"Care to dance?" he asked Fiona, bowing before her. She giggled a little and accepted, looking over at Race.

"I'll save you a dance." She promised him and flashed him a grin. He returned the grin, but there was something odd behind it that she couldn't quite place.

Mush grabbed her by the wrist into the crowd. The further they moved in, the more smoke filled it became, causing Fiona to try and catch her breath when clean air passed through. She held onto Mush tightly, worried she might lose him through the whirl of the crowd. He danced with her for three songs, making her laugh and happy to see he brought a smile to her pretty face.

As soon as the third song ended, she looked up to find Race. She stood on her tiptoes to find him but he had become lost in the crowd of people much taller than he.

"Lookin' fer Race?" Mush asked, shaking her out of her thoughts.

Fiona nodded and grimaced slightly. "How'd you....?"

He shrugged and gave a knowing grin, one which made Fiona truly wonder what was behind that grin....what he knew that he wasn't letting on.

"I need a cigarette." Fiona told him flatly, anxious to be out of Race's sight. Truth be told, Race was quite figity himself not knowing where Fiona was. Mush was looking after her, he knew, but that wasn't enough. He always wanted his eyes locked on her.

Mush nodded at the proposition.

"I'll come out and have one wid you. It ain't right for a pretty young girl ta be out alone, lest somethin' might happen ta her."

Fiona smiled, grateful that the boys wanted to always look after her. Truth be told, the streets of New York weren't safe at night for anyone. Who knew what dangers were lurking behind that next alley way?

As they exited the hall to breathe some fresh air, Fiona noticed Meddah had come out with her dancers. A new one with light brown hair was dancing around, kissing all of the boys....her boys. Even though she cared about all the newsies at the LH, she didn't care what any of them did with other girls, just as long as Race...her Race, wasn't so much as looking at another girl.

She turned and saw the girl kiss Race's ear and whisper something into it. Afraid she might burst into tears, Fiona ran outside before anyone could see the look on her face. This was all so silly, she reasoned. Race would never go for her...this she knew, or at least thought she knew.

As they made their way outside amidst the other boys and girls with the same idea, Fiona feared that the lump in her throat might rise and make the hot tears welling in her eyes actually spill.

Noticing her grief, Mush offered her a cigarette and put a hand on her shoulder. "Its aight you know. He don't like dat girl."

"I'm not all shook up about dat." Fiona lied, taking the cigarette and lighting it and taking a small graceful puff from it.

Mush knew better, but decided not to press the subject. He leaned against the brick building, taking long drags on his cigarette and exhaling them through his thick lips.

Just then, Race came outside, puffing on his half smoked cigar. His eyebrows were knitted together and he looked somewhat distressed.

"You aight?" Fiona asked, almost too quickly for her own pleasure. "I mean, what's wrong?"

"I ain't feel so good." Race answered flatly. "I think I'm gonna go back ta da Lodgin' House."

Fiona nodded. "Want me to come with you?"

"Naw....I need some time alone." he said. The truth was, he couldn't bear to be around Fiona if he knew he couldn't have her. It ate him up inside and he knew one day he would burst, especially if he saw her with someone else...someone much handsomer and richer than he was. Yes, she surely deserved that as sweet and pretty as she was.

"o-okay." Fiona answered, sinking back to finish her cigarette and watching his frame disappear into the distance.

At that moment, the tears fell freely. She wiped them away with the back of her hand. She was sure Mush saw them, but he didn't say anything.