Disclaimer: I don't own newsies. I do own the locket, but you'd be more than welcome to take it from me, if you'd like. (throws the locket as far as she can, only to have it double back and hit her in the forehead). In fact, I might even pay you. (pause) PLEASE?

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The Proper Way to Die

(A.K.A. More Metafic From Dakki, Because She's Just That Bored And Blockbuster Accidently Gave Her Porky's Instead Of Blackadder II, Goddammit, So She Has To Channel Her Anger Somehow.)

DALTON: ...I'm never letting you rent movies again.

And now, on with the fic!

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It always starts out innocently enough. You're the sole survivor of a train wreck, maybe, a sinking ship, a rich family's financial demise. Finding yourself on the streets, you have no idea how to fend for yourself, and eventually have the obligatory run-in with the Delancey brothers. Mush is out selling that day and, hearing your terrified screams, rushes to the scene and beats Oscar and Morris to a pulp. Then, he picks you up and takes you back to the lodging house.

Mush is so sweet. He lays you on his own bunk, lets you bleed all over his nice clean sheets, and thinks about how beautiful you are even when you have bruise the size of a spaghetti squash forming on your cheek. When you finally come to, he's the first thing you see, and afterwards, you follow him around wherever he goes.

When he invites you up to the roof to look at all three of the stars in the Manhattan night sky, you show him the locket your grandfather gave to you when you were born, with your initials carved on the front and a lock of your silky hair inside. After you tell him of how you ended up on the streets, Mush, overcome by emotion, takes you in his arms and kisses you with wild abandon.

Everything is going so perfectly; you are finally happy again. But fate intervenes on the very next day—the day that you insist on selling by yourself for the first time. Mush is worries, of course, but you kiss him softly, ignore his warnings, and go with your modest stack of a hundred and fifty papes to Central Park.

What you don't know is that Oscar and Morris are there that day, too, and are determined to get back at you, after you have slipped through their fingers. This time, Mush doesn't come fast enough. By the time he arrives, even he sees that it is too, late—as he holds you in his strong arms, you bleed on him a little for old time's sake, and whisper your last dying words to him—"I will always love you." And then, with the last of your strength, you tear the locket from your neck, and press it into his shaking hand. For the rest of his life, he carries it around with him, keeping it to remember you—the love of his life.

The next time around, you decide to make things a little more complicated. You're a newsie from childhood, beloved by all the boys, and absent from the movie only because you were visiting your grandmother in Winnipeg (why you're supporting yourself selling newspapers when you have perfectly good relatives willing to take care of you is yet another mystery of the universe, such as crop circles, or the fact that the candidate with more hair always wins the presidential election). You were Jack's best friend back when you two were kids, and now that Sarah has abandoned him it is up to you to teach him to live (and love) again.

Jack is so sweet. You go for walks in the park, sell newspapers together, go out for dinner and kiss in the rain. One night, after coming in from the cold, both of you frozen stiff from the winter night, making ghosts with your breath, you sit together in front of the fire, alone in the lodging house, everyone else (including Kloppman) out to see Medda's show at at Irving Hall. Fingering the hand-knitted scarf you presented to him as an early Christmas gift (of course you can knit. All girl newsies can knit), Jack looks at you adoringly with his soft hazel eyes, and confesses of his undying love for you.

For the rest of your life, you will never again be able to look at a hand-knit scarf again without blushing all the way up to your ears.

For the next few weeks, things go absolutely swimmingly between you two. Suddenly, one day, you discover some unsettling news—it turns out that Jack was lying about that tragic horse and buggy accident for all these years, because you're three weeks late. After some consideration as you wander around the city with a What Now? look on your face (preferably while it rains), you decide that you are happy about this news, and hope that Jack will be too.

You are just running up the stairs when you stop short, seeing something that unsettles you—Sarah is crying in Jack's arms. Apparently, she is expecting as well, and has come crawling back to him, begging for his forgiveness. Being the really swell guy that he is, he tells her that of course, the past is in the past, and tomorrow they will go down to city hall, get married, and raise this family together. Just as he is speaking these fateful words, he sees your horrified face in the corner of his eye. As you run away, hindered by your tears, he takes off after you, and catches you just as you reach the street.

"I thought you loved me!" you scream.

"What was I supposed to do, she's about to be the mother of my child!"

You pause dramatically, and straighten yourself to your full height, looking him straight in the eye. "And I'm about to be!" you cry.

With that, you take off, and this time, he can't catch you. He searches high and low for you, and it is only nine months later that he thinks to go to Winnipeg (Jack isn't the sharpest crayon in the Crayola box of life), where you have retreated in shame. But he arrives too late. You have died in childbirth—but your daughter, your beautiful daughter, is still alive, and delivered into his arms. He notices that she holds something in her tiny fist, and, prying her fingers open, he sees that it's the locket you always used to wear—with your initials carved on the front and a lock of your silky hair inside. Holding your daughter in his arms, he vows that he will never forget you—and he will never love again.

Pretty soon, all you think about is your own funeral. You can spend hours imagining it, even more than you used to spend on your wedding. You picture yourself in an enormous church, full of bright stained-glass windows depicting St. Valentine and Mary Magdalene; the newsies, sitting in the worn wooden pews, are bathed in gold and crimson light, their hands cast in cobalt in deep shades of plum, their hair colored emerald green. One by one, they walk slowly up the aisle to gaze upon you where you lie as tranquil as an orchid in your white coffin, your pale shoulders adorned in fragile white lace, your hair lying soft and wavy against the white satin lining. Your fragile skin and barely parted ruby lips are hidden by the drifts of cut flowers the newsies bring to you—hyacinths from Skittery, pink roses from Snitch, lilies-of-the-valley from David and an enormous bouquet of irises from Spot. Kloppman, barely holding back his tears, lays a single white lily up on the coffin as it is lowered into the hard earth.

The other boys don't do nearly as well. One by one they fall to their knees, sobbing as they never have before, not when they lost parents, brothers, sisters, fellow newsies. For now they have lost something irreplaceable. Now, they have lost you.

Of course, inevitably, you always run into the same dead end—once you've planned about the eulogies, flower arrangements, music, attendance, and everything else you could possibly think up, there isn't much else to do. You're dead. End of story.

But then, of course, there are always new scenarios to be spun out, new newsies to claim as your own. And if they always end the same way, well, who can blame you? After all, there's only one way to keep a perfect love. Spot would have cheated on you anyway.

Sometimes, as you lie in bed wondering whether Skittery would cry more than Jake or vice versa, you wonder if it's healthy to spend so much time fantasizing about your death. But then again, there's nothing in the world quite as fun as planning your own funeral. And besides, as long as you think of new ways to work that locket in, well...the show must go on.

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A/N: That was supremely ridiculous, but much fun to write. Blame it on the muse; he's been on overdrive lately, and typical Oregonian weather hasn't helped.

I'm gonna go rent Blackadder II now; it's the only way to save my sanity.

Review if you believe in fairies.

SPOT: ...I resent dat.

(grins)