DISCLAIMER: Although I go to a high school where there are students who look (I swear on "Newsies" and all things holy [which is "Newsies"]) exactly like Snitch, Itey, Tumbler, Les, and one insanely cute freshman who could easily pass for David Moscow, I have been cursed not only in the fact that there is not one single person there who bears even a passing resemblance to Spot, Kid Blink, Racetrack, or Jack, but also in that Dalton, my annoying yet semi-cute preppie muse, must constantly remind me that I do not own and never will own the newsies.

(But if I would, I definitely would share them. Honest! I don't know how I would manage that.most likely I would upload them as zip files and put them on KaZaA. Then you could just download them onto your computer, and voila, your own private newsie.)

DALTON: *stares*

And I can run a practice test on Dalton!

DALTON: Eep.

Right...now, on one final note: this fic is a sequel. It's the continuing story of Samantha Conlon, who was introduced in a story I wrote over the summer called "The Newsie Princess of Brooklyn," begun the very day I first saw "Newsies". I started it out not knowing where it was going to go and it ended up pretty much as a prelude of what you are about to read. So, if you've already read it, well, that's happy-dance worthy. But if you haven't- it's not absolutely essential if you want to read this one, but...*puppy dog eyes* why wouldn't you want to read it?

DALTON: Oh, god, Dakki...not the puppy-dog eyes. Just let them read the damn thing, okay?

Oh, fine. Hey, you wanna say it?

DALTON: *in awe* Can I?

Sure.

DALTON: And now, on to the fic!

*~*~*

Home

*~*~*

I heard it said once, years and years ago, that tradition is something that people create in order to try keep the world from changing.

The comment was made by the kind of person who was taught to ignore me just as I was taught to ignore him, a man in expensive clothes with a clean, bland face and an aristocratic bearing, a woman hanging on his arm and every word. I was out selling the evening edition as bruised purple dusk fell over Brooklyn, and he casually dropped a quarter into my outstretched palm as he spoke that last tidbit, both of these things undoubtedly done to impress his lady friend. He was the kind of person I would usually have to run from or lie to about not having change in order to keep even a thin nickel. The kind of person who wouldn't even look at me twice, or anyone else in my position, the boys who shined his shoes and brought him his coal and ice and headlines. I was barely ten at the time, and already I knew these things. What I didn't know a thing about was tradition.

Tradition. New York City killed tradition. We were the epitome of modernity, a place people came to not because the streets were paved with gold but because it was the only way they could survive. Moving, changing, growing-the world's longest suspension bridge, the world's tallest building. Wealth butted up against poverty, Rockefellers with their minks and caviar strolling along the marble floor held up by the invisible masses. It was a city where children were sent off to work as breadwinners for their families, or simply worked to support themselves. And I was one of those children. What did I know of tradition?

Tradition for me was up at dawn, up, up, up, out of bed and get your papes, sell what you can, eat what you can't. Headline no good? Too bad, kid, it's a cruel world. Out late at night to try to make ends meet, gotta take care of yourself, you're not a baby anymore. Through the times out with Spot sleeping in alleyways barely getting by, and then to the lodging house, Spot's rise to power, lucky for you, your brother owns Brooklyn. Through the year with Jack out on the docks at night, through the Spanish American War, trying to squeeze out all the money you could. Then the strike, the bulls, the rallies, the scabbers, the win-since when was luck on our side? And then that long cold winter. Tradition was poverty, tradition was work, tradition was nothing to eat. Tradition was dead.

But still, I took what I could. A breakfast with Spot now and then, a visit with the Duane Street boys. And I had always relished my Sunday morning bath, even if more often than not it was nothing more than a swan dive off the Brooklyn docks. In the past few years, as my life had become more disordered and tumultuous than even I could have imagined, it was the only practice I even tried to observe. Four continents in six years, a thousand cities, a million people, and still a good hot bath on Sunday morning would wash my sins away. Sometimes I wondered if I had taken up with Boone simply because he owned a porcelain tub.

This was my church, my holy water, my communion. As the waves rolled over me, across my back and shoulders and hips, everything that had happened in the past week-in the past lifetime-gradually fell away, leaving only hot clean wholesome sweet. Clean. Yes. A bath was what I wanted now. A bath was what I needed.

Silently I slipped out from under the covers, careful not to wake Boone. I shivered as I was drenched by the chill air, air that hinted at ice. The fire that had been lit last night was down to its last glowing embers by now, and I did my best to get it strong again. Fumbling only a little, I managed to fill the copper and set it on the wood stove so I could have hot water for my bath. In the past few weeks I had learned to work well in the dark, and had in fact become better acquainted with it than I had ever hoped to be, as kerosene and candles were costly where we lived and gas light all but nonexistent. Darkness surrounded me on all sides now. I rose in the dark and dressed in the dark, cooked in the dark, walked in the dark, slept in the dark. What little light there was came around noon, bleak and gray and cold, and seemed to leave before it had even arrived. And that, too, was fading fast. I had come to Alaska because it was a place filled with rivers and wolves and adventure, because it was a place where the sun never ceased to shine. Now I was trapped in eternal night, and I didn't think I would ever get out.

I had arrived in Fairbanks a few days after the summer solstice, and now it was early December. It was the longest I had stayed in one place since I had left Brooklyn, a little over six years ago. After getting on that train in New York, I had gone across the country to San Francisco, then up to Oregon where I traveled along the coast to Vancouver, cutting across central Canada to Montreal and then Cape Breton Island, up to Newfoundland and across the ocean to Dublin, the original Conlon family home. Then some time in England, and down to France and Spain, over to Morocco and to Italy, Greece, Russia, through Shanghai and Canton, then drifting through the Indian Ocean until I got to Perth. Across Australia, Sydney and New Zealand, then up to America through the Pacific with a stop in Hawaii. California again, through Texas and into the Southern states and the Florida Keys. Up along the East Coast as far as Philadelphia, and then Canada, through the Yukon Territories and, at last, Alaska.

Alaska. Into the arms of Boone, who offered me a warm bed and the chance to rest for a while. I had been traveling for so long--drifting through, doing odd jobs, taking in laundry, cooking, waitressing, house-painting, until I had scraped enough money together to move on, leaving whatever relationships I had forged behind--that I had forgotten what it felt like to sit still. As I poured the boiling water into the tub I knew I could no longer deny that the time had come for me to settle down. But not in Alaska. Not like this.

I had adopted the habit of going to bed in my underthings, an old shirt I had worn in New York handed down to me by one of the boys wrapped around my shoulders. Now I undid the buttons and eased the laces that held the whole ragged thing together, and let my clothes fall to the floor. Easing into my Sunday morning bath, easing into my Sunday morning. I didn't clean so much as purify. Could a bar of soap and some hot water really make you forget your whole life? No. Always, no. But every Sunday I hoped the answer had changed.

How long was I in there that morning? A long time. But it wasn't long enough. It never was.

It is impossible to tell time in Fairbanks. A precise measurement would be Later. So it's impossible for me to know how long I had been in the tub when Boone came in with the telegram, only that the water was cooling and the sky was still dark and now it really never would get light in Alaska, because I was going to leave before there was any light to see, leave it plunged in darkness and never come back. I knew all this the minute I saw what he held in his hands. Telegrams always meant news, especially when you never got any news at all. More than that, telegrams meant bad news. Joy you could wait to hear about; something you didn't want to know couldn't seem to get to you fast enough.

He handed it to me wordlessly, knowing he would find out soon enough what it said simply by looking at my face. I sat up a little, reached out with a wet hand, and took it.

SPOT HURT BAD STOP TROLLEY STOP MIGHT NOT MAKE IT STOP COME HOME NOW STOP LOVE BROOKLYN

Stop.

I stood up, fast. Water sloshed out of the tub, spilling over onto the floor. My head filled with wool and for a moment I couldn't see. I reached out to try to steady myself and Boone took hold of my arm. As soon as I could stand, I pulled away from him.

"What is it?" he asked.

"My-my brother. He's been hurt. I have to leave."

"What?"

"I have to leave. I have to go home. Now."

I stepped out of the tub, pulled some clothes on--whatever I found on the floor--and began hurriedly to pack. At some point in the last minute or so my mind had separated from my body, not some dreamy floating-above-ground experience, but ripped away, hanging by a thread. My movements were clumsy as I stumbled around the bedroom, and it wasn't long before I sat down heavily on the bed, trying desperately to calm myself.

"Sam, can't this wait?"

"What?" I said, startled.

"Well...I mean, it can't be that bad. And besides," he added. "It's only your brother."

I looked at him coldly. "How can you even say something like that?"

Boone scratched his head. "So you're close?" he said. "With this brother of yours--Spike, is it?"

"Spot," I said, standing up resolutely and pulling out my suitcase from under the bed. "His name is Spot. And he's not just my brother. He's my entire family."

I looked over at Boone, saw the look on his face. I wondered if I had come all this way just to live in squalor with a man who only cared about my comings and goings because they affected how he ate. This journey had started out as a way to spend some time alone, to think, to learn to be happy again and get away form the suffocating streets of New York. But now I was just hiding, running, trying to cover up my tracks. I had needed to go home a long time before this.

I was on a train headed east that very night.

*~*~*

TBC...