Author's Note: Wow, guys – over three years and twelve chapters later, Falling Down Stairs has finally come to a close. It's funny, looking back on those early chapters, how much my style and skill has changed. One day, I might think about cleaning them up. For now, I'll let it be.
A major shout out to everyone and anyone who has taken their precious time to read and review my story – you guys are fantastic. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Don't own Newsies in the slightest sense. Damn.
The gun looked and felt strange in my hand. The chain of events that led to me having the gun was blurry – someone who knew someone, who knew someone, who had an opium den, though you'd think that nowadays, the borrowing of weapons wouldn't be so convoluted – but there it was, hard and cold and oddly light.
I hurried down the dark, damp street, weaponry in hand, and my thoughts were oddly distracted. I had a mental image of who I was finding, but what I was about to do, I wasn't entirely sure. And my thoughts kept drifting back to something someone said….
Right. It had been outside the hospital, after Jack's body had been taken care of – whatever that entailed – and before any of us had any idea what to do with ourselves at that point. No tears, no eulogies, no flowers, just silence.
"So what now?" Blink had asked, somewhat inappropriately. "What happens to this bastard?"
"He goes on living," I had answered numbly. "And we just go on."
Racetrack, ever the sage one, had shaken his head. "Nah. After what he's done? He don't get to go on living no more." And he'd given me a long, hard look that was nothing short of motivation.
And so there I was, hurrying down the dark, damp street with weaponry in hand and with only the vaguest of ideas of what I was going to do when I got there.
Threaten him? Punch him? Use the gun? That was probably what would be expected of me, but nothing I could think of made any sense. I didn't even know what to say when I got there.
Nevertheless, I was striding – not purposefully, but frantically – toward the school that started it all. That place.
I would have preferred to have killed a man somewhere other than in a dormitory full of adolescent boys, but murderers can't be choosers and this would have to do. So I entered – late, past curfew, I knew, but soon enough it wouldn't matter.
Consequences, too, seemed to have an unsecured place in my mind. I knew he would die or at least suffer – what would happen to me? Fortunately, it didn't seem to matter, as I pounded the wooden steps without bothering to sneak quietly.
Manners went out the window as well as I forced the door to Mark's room open and saw him stretched out his bed. It was odd for me to see him so alone and unoccupied – he was usually surrounded by people and very much busy with whatever bullies did in their spare time. He looked oddly pleased to see me.
"Hello, David," he said, his tone civil but mocking. "And how are you this evening?"
My answer was a leveled gun.
His response was to laugh. "Oh David," he chortled, as he pushed himself off the bed. I couldn't remember him ever addressing me by my first name before today, but then I might have missed it between his taunts and punches. "Violence, really? Here? It's all so uncivilized."
I refused to flinch. "He's dead, you know."
Mark sighed and made an excellent job of looking concerned. When did he become a master of irony? "I thought that might have been the case. I know you won't believe me when I say I didn't have much to do with it, but you should anyway. It would be healthier for everyone."
"And how would that work exactly?" I asked tensely. It was odd, for me to be tense and him to be calm when I was the one with the gun. His expression was amused and honest.
"Because the chances of me, the son of very rich, influential people, being found guilty by a jury are very slim. That is, as compared to you, the poor, stupid one." There was even a modicum of surprise in his tone, as if it should have occurred to me how all this might look.
"I wouldn't call the man pointing a gun at your face stupid if I were you."
"And we all know how much everyone would like to be me, but sadly, that can't happen," he drawled as he examined a knick-knack on his bedside table. "So, again, it's really just better if we forget about all this."
He should have known me better by that point; words only incited me. "That's not going to happen."
Mark sighed again, suddenly exhausted by my fury. "Well, David, suit yourself, but be prepared for a very long downward spiral." And as if the argument was over, he kicked back on his bed. My arms were starting to hurt; he should have begged my forgiveness by that point.
"What do you mean?"
Mark sighed a third time, this time with exaggeration. "And you're supposed to be intelligent. Think, David. I have rich parents. My rich parents have expensive lawyers. If you shoot me and kill me here and now, you're going to prison for life. Don't you have a family or something? They'd be a bit put out, don't you think?"
My arms were starting to waver, both with exhaustion and with confusion. I hadn't been sure what I was going to do to begin with, but with the addition of my family in the situation, my feelings were even more confounded. Things were fuzzier than before, and the only decision I could make was to lower my gun slightly.
"So what would you propose?" I asked quietly, still furious but more wary.
Mark, of course, chose the tactless – and in all senses, wrong – approach.
"Well, I would suggest pretending that your boyfriend never existed and try to scrounge up some money for your unemployed father to pay his bills with," he replied cheerfully.
Suddenly, the gun wasn't even an issue as I dropped it and lunged for his throat with my bare hands.
Though it was the wrong moment to be anything but angry and determined, I was slightly impressed by my strength; through the combination of surprise and the force of my rage, I managed to have Mark pinned and was subsequently hitting his face haphazardly, not doing anything really but stunning him.
Unfortunately, Mark had much quicker wits in a fight and managed to kick me off with such force that I flew through the open door and into the hall. Of course, at the sound of bodies being tossed around on the hardwood, the other boys came running. Mark was immediately on me again, cheered on by his wealthy peers, and began pounding me with a much more strategic force than my slightly feeble punches.
But my determination won through and I managed to roll him off me and onto the floor, where I kicked at him with all my might. One of my legs was quickly grabbed and twisted painfully, with such force that I wondered if it was Mark and not one of his brain-dead lackies.
Somewhere in the crowd that had formed around us, I saw Jimmy's worried face, but couldn't manage to stop myself long enough to be concerned. Wrenching myself free, I scrambled for the gun and just caught it by my fingertips as Mark kicked me hard and square in the gut; this sent me skidding across the floor, the gun following. I grabbed it and, with a steady hold on my weapon, raised it without aiming. I opened an eye – it was pointed directly at the ceiling. I didn't shoot.
Instead, I made to stand and Mark kicked me again, this time sending me tumbling toward the hardwood stairs in our dormitory. The momentum was too much and as I rolled off the top step, I released the gun and clenched my body in preparation for the pain.
It didn't help; every jutting piece jabbed my body. In the distance, I could hear boys cheering and, closer to me, the gun following me down. As I rolled off the last step, bruised to the core, I reached again for the gun, feeling my fingers close around it seconds before a foot connected with my ribs.
I couldn't stand – I never would have managed it. But with one eye barely cracked open, I pulled the trigger.
I've heard that time slows down at moments like this, but from my perspective, the clock hadn't stopped. The bloody stain on Mark's stomach spread at the speed it should have; he staggered backward and fell at the appropriate pace. What didn't happen was me, trying to move my legs and bring myself to stand; I wasn't sure if it was shock or injuries that left me paralyzed on the floor.
It occurred to me afterward, as people swarmed around and I was grabbed and prodded and screamed at, that my life was a lot like my body on the floor – once the high and mighty, the instigator, the one in control, I'd taken a long, hard fall down the stairs. Now, numb and paralyzed, it didn't matter anymore.
None of it would matter anymore.
Author's Note: Sigh, poor Dave. Why do I keep doing these things to him?
That's all she wrote, guys. Thank you for sticking with me all the way!