Ah, the last chapter...*sigh* So many memories.

*pause*

Actually there really aren't that many, since I've only been working on this fic for about two weeks. But let me have my nostalgia.

The last chapter. Where Racetrack can stop hanging around my house, eating all my top ramen and singing Bruce Springsteen songs, and at long last be reunited with his one true love, in the immortal fashion of Westley and Buttercup. And start eating all of HER top ramen. *glares accusatorily at Race*

RACETRACK: *is completely jazzed, managing to tap-dance, sing "The Racetrack Song" and accompany himself on harmonica at the same time* An' now, on ta da fic!

*~*~*

Racetrack's Quest

*~*~*

And so it happened that Racetrack Higgins entered the Duane Street lodging house, bruised and banged-up, soaking wet and giddy with frostbite, but still looking rather spiffy in his glittery skirt and ballet tights.

(Or so a certain young girl spying on him from the shadows would have said, at least.)

As he trudged up the stairs and walked into the bunkroom, Racetrack couldn't think of anyone he would rather see than Sapphy. It was just his luck that the bunkroom looked completely deserted. He moved among the empty beds, peering into the darkness as he called to her. "Sapphy? Sapph?" From the back of the room he could hear a low creaking noise from the floorboards. "You in there? Sapph—"

Suddenly, a strawberry-blonde blur streaked towards him, colliding with him and knocking him flat on his back. Racetrack looked up with one eye, and caught sight of Sapphy looking down at him from where she was straddling him around the waist, smiling like the sister of the Nissan man.

"Caught ya," she said.

And even after eight hours of walking all up and down New York, talking to the biggest nutcases in all five boroughs—Race couldn't help but smile at that.

"Happy half-birthday," he said, with some effort.

She smiled, rolled over and lay down next to him, as if testing the floorboards for softness.

"Good floor," said Racetrack, turning to face her.

"Firm."

"Yeh. Good for th' spine."

("Good for th' spine," probably isn't the most romantic phrase in the English language. In fact, there's a good chance that it doesn't even make it into the top ten. But when spoken by a soaking wet Italian in spandex who is lying next to you flat on his back and also happens to be one of your favorite people in the entire world, it would be hard not to laugh, and lean over, and kiss him on the mouth, as Sapphy happened to do at that moment. But maybe you just had to be there.)

"So, did ya get me anythin'?" she asked him, half-joking as he sat up smiling, having already caught her good mood.

He swallowed. Thoughts began to form in his mind; a plan emerged from the mists that wasn't even half-baked, in terms of logic—it was closer to being flambé'd. Or maybe pureed. Or slightly flash-fried, like halibut. Anyway, none of this bothered Racetrack. In this plan, there was the slightest chance of pleasing his sweetheart. And at this point, he would take what he could get.

"Yeh," he said, getting to his feet. "A good one. Y'know, not so good as a permanent box at da Sheepshead races. But it ain't bad."

Sapphy smiled as he reached down and pulled her up. "You know you didn't have to get me anythin'," she said.

"I know. I wanted to." Which was true. "Go wait in da goils' room...I'll be in dere in a second."

The plan, in essence, was this: Racetrack was going to root through all of the other guys' stuff, and see if he could find anything...present-worthy. It wasn't the most scrupulous method, but it was all that he had at this point. He just wanted to give her something beautiful and clever and loving and right...and if that failed, then just something.

In ten minutes, he learned this: Jack had an astonishing lint collection. Itey needed to find a better place to hide his loose change and Blink had serious laundry issues. Actually, all of them did. But that was about it.

Of course, Racetrack wasn't ready to take no for an answer. He would go out again tomorrow and find something. But tonight, even he had to admit that there wasn't much else he could do. Sighing, he leaned on the door leading into the girls' room, fumbling for a cigar. He could at least with her a happy half-birthday, for now. but while he was still fumbling for a book of matches, the door swung open, revealing him standing there. Sapphy was stretched out on her bunk, chewing in her hair. She looked up, smiling to see him wildly trying to keep his balance. "What'd you forget?"

Racetrack looked at her sheepishly. "Got a light?"

Sapphy straightened out, looking at him with a strange smiling expression on her face. "I know you, you're—you're shiverin'!"

Well, this set Racetrack to wondering. "I know you" was kind of a bizarre thing for Sapphy to say. Of course she knew him. Although, the shivering part was true enough.

And as Sapphy walked slowly towards him, Race realized two things:

1. Sapphy had a slight lilt in her voice, almost as if she was singing, and

2. he recognized the line she had just spoken. It was from a song that he
heard her sing all the time. And he knew the line that followed:

"It's noddin', dey turned off my heat—an' I'm jus' a liddle weak on my feet...would ya light my candle?" And by this time, Sapphy was almost laughing with happiness, wondering how long it had taken Racetrack to get this whole setup, even find the Mimi clothes—it was incredible. How could he have known? "What are ya starin' at?"

"Nothin'...your hair in the moonlight. Can ya make it?"

And so it went. They acted out the entire song, stopping short of Racetrack dashing out the door with his stash (which was actually a cigar). Sapphy caught him before he could manage that.

"How did you do all this?" she asked him softly. "How did you..."

"Aw, Sapph," Race said, brushing some hair away from her face, pulling her closer in. "It was noddin'."

"You're amazin'," she said. "But next time, I get to be Mimi."

And now, the only logical continuation was to kiss her, and wrap his arms around her; to bury his face in her hair and hold her too him and wonder how he had ever gotten so lucky...

"SURPRISE!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!"

As Racetrack and Sapphy leaped out of their skins and turned to face the door, they saw possibly the only thing that could have made the evening any better: The Great Meddazza, Ronnie and Matches-San, Crutchy Aaron Presley, Samwise Kloppman, Leader of the Pack Jack, Michelle, and the Little Village people all but breaking down the door, with Specs and Dutchy behind them holding a chocolate cake the size of Arkansas and the rest of the newsies filling the bunkroom, wearing paper hats and holding noisemakers.

"I think I chipped a tooth," said Racetrack.

And so it was that Sapphy's half-birthday party got underway. That night she accepted presents of an old sock, a pair of diamond earrings, a token to be redeemed at any time to see Snipeshooter swallow a worm, a bottle of chocolate body paint, free karate lessons from Spot, a plastic replica of the One Ring, and a ride on Jack's motorbike. But her gift from racetrack would always be the most precious of all.

(Yes, even more than the sock.)

And if you thought musical numbers from RENT were something...then you should have seen the talent show.

Jack's Evel Knevel act was particularly impressive, as was Crutchy's rendition of "Love Me Tender". Everyone agreed that Mush's drag act was the sexiest thing since Jessica Rabbit, although trumped in fruitiness by Snipeshooter & co's well-choreographed rendition of "Macho Man". At Sapphy's insistence, Maddazza performed with the help of the lovely and talented Racina—but everyone's favorite was Kloppman's one man show of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. By the time he had finished carrying himself up Mount Doom it was well past midnight, and the tired couple retired to their room, with a well-worn copy of the RENT soundtrack.

What went on that night is to remain between Sapphy and Racetrack. Everyone, after all, deserves their privacy. But I am told by reliable sources that if one thumps a pillow from that room particularly hard, clouds of glitter will still appear in the air.

But that is another story, and shall be told another time.