Never Bet on Love
Author's Note: Whoah, it's really been forever since I last updated this story! So sorry; I was getting caught up in so many of my other muses that I had to put this story on the backburner for a bit. :P But I'm back and completely inspired to write more!
First off, I'm sorry to say but I'm gonna be trying to focus on more of the 'main newsie characters' and probably won't give minor newsies their own chapters. I hope you won't mind, it'll help keep the focus of the story on track and keep things rolling and down to the final New Year's Party scene! Also, I'm still using the characters so many people were kind enough of 'lend' me. However, if anyone feels they want to take their characters out, feel free to tell me and I'll definitely comply with your wishes.
Mattie "Bolt" – NadaZimri
"Dee" Thain – Melian the Maia
Hyde – pmochizuki
Mikey - pmochizuki
Chapter 12: Day Three – David
David checked himself out one more time in the small mirror of the likewise small washroom of the Jacob's apartment. He frowned slightly as he fingered the slight tear in his coat sleeve. When did he get that? He shrugged, knowing he could get his sister to patch it up quickly.
Looking at himself in the mirror, he saw just how much he had changed in six months. Six months already? Or was it only six months? Before he couldn't imagine going out without looking at least presentable in public and now here he was, his vest partially unbuttoned and ink stains on the cuffs of his sleeves.
Shaking his head, he decided to leave his appearance be. There was no helping the stains and as for the unbuttoned vest… he actually liked it better that way.
"Come on Les! We're off!" Grabbing his younger brother and quickly saying good-bye to the rest of the family, David and Les ran down the stairs and off into the street. The sun was actually out and there was less snow on the ground compared to the day before. David didn't like the cold and was thankfully for what little warmth the sunlight offered.
Les was running ahead while David kept a leisurely pace, his eyes glued on his younger brother. How the kid seemed to get into the most interesting situations. Just last week, Les had almost bowled over a blind man and David had to apologize profusely for almost a full half-hour, trying to keep the blind man from calling the cops.
The two of them had by now almost reached the distribution center; David could pick out several of his friends already lining up, joshing around and talking loudly. He saw that Jack, Racetrack, and Bumlets were talking together though as soon as they saw David, waved for him to join them.
Yet just as David lifted his hand to wave back, he felt someone push him from the side. Startled and caught off guard, David stumbled even as he felt a hand reach into his pocket where he kept his money.
His money! Why the sorry little…!
Recovering his balance as quickly as possible, David didn't even think as he automatically began to chase the pickpocket. "Stop thief!"
It was most definitely a street urchin from what David could tell from the back of the fleeing figure. Even as he was pushing himself to the limit to catch up with the thief, David knew that the kid had no chance as he was the taller. David didn't naturally have a hot temper but at the moment he had never felt more angry at someone. Well, it was the first time anyone had tried to steal from him… and he definitely didn't like the feeling!
The pickpocket rounded a corner into a back alley and David followed straight after him. He yelled once more for the person to stop but it didn't matter. The thief wasn't stopping.
Another corner then another corner. And before he knew it, David and the thief were at a dead end.
"Got you now," David wheezed, tired from all the running but feeling a bit smug that he had his would-be thief now cornered. "Give me my money back and nobody gets hurt."
To his surprise, the person who turned around slowly to face him was not the face of a lad but a young girl. A young girl with a very smug look on her face.
"Nobody gets hurt, huh?" she mimicked. She tauntingly pointed at something behind David.
Even before he turned around, he cursed his immense stupidity. Yeah, he had this 'girl' cornered at a dead end. In a narrow alley. A very unfamiliar alley…
"Look what we got heah, a little lost rat."
David turned around to face three rough looking characters and another fairly tall girl. The guys were tall and broad shouldered, dark scowls on their faces; faces which David could easily imagine on the covers of "Wanted" posters for some hideous crimes. The girl also had a scowl on her face though to David it seemed that unlike her apparent 'partners-in-crime,' the scowl was aimed more at the situation rather than at David.
Not sure of what to do, David slowly began backing up towards the dead end, hands up in a calming gesture. "All I want is my money back, I'm not looking for any trouble here…"
The girl who had been the one to actually pick his pocket sauntered towards her friends. "If you weren't looking for any trouble, you shouldn't have chased after me."
The taller girl with the scowl on her face shifted her weight uneasily. "Come on guys, we got what we want. He sure don't look like he's got anything else on him so why don't we be on our way?"
"Shut it, Dee," the of the big thugs spoke. "Even though you may be right…" he turned to glare at the pickpocket. "You coulda targeted a better mark, doncha think, Bolt?"
The girl named Bolt, whom David could now name, flipped her dark haired bangs away from her face irritably. "He was an easy mark. End of story."
While they spoke, David was trying desperately to look for a way out. Why oh why was he in this mess? All he did was try to get his money back… it was the principle of the whole matter and there was no way he was letting anyone just take his money.
But he was starting to think he'd rather be safe and sound and a few dollars short than pockets full of coins and arms and legs in casts.
"All right now Mr. Easy Mark," another of the thieves remarked, putting the attention back on David unfortunately. "Let's see you empty your pockets to make sure we don't miss anything, ey?"
With a sudden feeling of dread, David realized that his grandfather's pocket watch was in his vest pocket. Something he wouldn't part with in the world. Not to some crooks. Not ever.
Unsure what to do, he just froze, wishing the whole situation away like it were a bad dream. Wishing for some way out.
The nastiest looking one of the bunch menacingly strode forward so that he was towering over David while the newsie tried hard not to start hyperventilating. "Hyde said to start emptying yoah pockets," he growled. "Unless you want a little… help, you bettah do as he says."
"Stop it," the girl named Dee protested. "Let's just get out of here, huh? We got his money and – "
"I thought I told ya to shut it," Hyde, obviously the leader, said, grabbing the girl roughly by the arm so that their faces were close. "Don't you be given me no lip or I'll make shoah ya have to deal with a split one. Get my drift?"
Before she could reply, he shoved her away. "Mikey, clean the kid out."
David, appalled by the rough treatment of the tall girl who had mutely stepped away to lean against one of the walls, remembered the huge guy named Mikey standing next to him. The thug was grinning, a rather unpleasant looking expression on a face such was his.
Before he knew what was going on, Mikey threw David a hard punch against his jaw, causing the newsie to fall to the ground with a yelp of pain. He thought he heard someone gasp but it seemed far off to him as he struggled to clear his ringing head.
Gingerly he touched his jaw and dazedly watched as the pickpocket girl was defiantly planting herself in front of Hyde.
"I didn't sign on for any mugging, you understand!" she shouted at the larger Hyde. "I may be a pickpocket and a thief, but I ain't gonna be a part of anything which beats people up! Dee's right, let's just get out of heah!"
"Dat ain't yoah decision, Bolt," Hyde hissed into her face. "Now stand down before I make ya."
To David's utter amazement, she didn't stand down. Instead, she lifted her chin up challengingly, as if to dare him to do something.
Unfortunately for her, these thieves weren't the ones who believed in 'honor among thieves.' In horror, David watched as Hyde backhanded her. She tripped backwards from the force of the blow as Dee ran to steady her.
"Touch her again Hyde and you'll never be able to use that hand again."
Every single one of them jumped slightly at the sound of a new voice and turned to face the newcomer. Who turned out to be none other than Jack Kelly.
David couldn't help breath a sigh of relief as he relaxed his balled up fists, reacting to Hyde's treatment of the girls. Surely if the big ape hadn't been standing over him, David would have launched himself against Hyde and tried to beat him within an inch of his life. Thank his lucky stars for Jack who had somehow come to the rescue. And thankfully he didn't come alone.
Bumlets was looking rather stern contrary to his usual carefree appearance, as was Racetrack who despite his short height was exuding a look of pure contempt as he chewed on his customary unlit cigar.
"Beatin' up on goils now, is that right Hyde?" Jack said slowly, sauntering towards the thief ringleader. "Not enough of a man so ya have to pick on goils?"
At this Hyde growled. "Well, if it ain't Cowboy, former Manhattan newsie leadah, turned scab… and let me try to remembah. Somehow yoah sorry little gang decided ta take ya in again. Didn't realize yoah group allowed backstabbers."
Everyone could see Jack's jaw clench as the Manhattan leader came eye to eye with Hyde. "Didn't realize yoah group allowed weaklings who didn't have the guts enough to take on somebody their own size."
In the blink of an eye, Hyde launched himself at Jack, signaling Racetrack and Bumlets to also jump into action, taking care of the third thug.
Which left David with Mikey who fortunately had forgotten completely about the newsie lying on the ground.
As Mikey moved to join into the fray, David quickly threw himself at Mikey's legs, causing the large man to fall hard to the ground. Though the guy was large, he unfortunately was fast as Mikey was soon trying to kick David in the face.
Rolling away to put some distance from the other's longer limbs, David got up on his feet and tried to remember all that Jack had taught him about fighting. He had been taught quite a bit… though if he had really learned anything was the question of course.
Yet before he could make one move, Bumlets was soon at his side, David assuming that the other thug had been put out of commission already. The other newsie, a very compact young man seemed hardly a match to Mikey. But Bumlets was the first to connect a solid punch into the other's midriff, causing the crook to bend over as his breath was knocked right out of him.
Clearly unable to react for at least a few seconds, David went right in to land a solid uppercut into Mikey's chin, causing the other to stagger back. David smiled as he shook his hand out. It was strange how something could hurt yet still feel sooo good… what would his family think if they saw him now…
With a kick to the back of the knee and another punch at the side of his head, Bumlets took Mikey out quick as a flash. Racetrack walked over to them, tsking over the prone body. "And he was such a big guy, too. Such a shame to be taken out so easily."
The three newsies gave each a smile before turning their attention to Jack and Hyde who were still at it. Realizing this, David started to move towards them but was stopped by Racetrack. "Let 'em at it. They've been wanting an excuse to have at each other's necks for quite a while and you've just given dem da right opportunity."
Before David could ask Racetrack what he meant, the two girls had run up to the three watching newsies. "You gotta go help your friend!" the girl named Dee pleaded as Bolt nodded in agreement. "You're not just gonna stand there, are you?"
"Was plannin' to," Racetrack said with a shrug as he went to lean against one of the walls, Bumlets following his action, both watching the fight as if it were pure entertainment.
David, Bolt, and Dee, looked at each other in shared amazement. "You can't be serious," David remarked. He couldn't understand the other newsies; what were they thinking? Why weren't they helping Jack out? He knew they were loyal to Jack but he couldn't for the life of him understand their actions.
"See, here's how it is," Racetrack explained, never taking his eyes of the Manhattan leader and ringleader thief. "You might not know but Hyde and his darlin' group was one of those hired by Pulitzer to set da trap on us newsies during da strike last summer."
Realization was beginning to dawn on David as he started putting two and two together. He whistled. Knowing Jack and how protective he was of his newsies, he could imagine just how much his friend must really hate Hyde.
If he was in Jack's situation, he knew that he too wouldn't mind taking a swing at the large bully.
So what else could he do but go lean up against the wall with the other boys to watch the fun?
What his family would think of him now…
Racetrack and Bumlets were now openly egging the fight on, yelling insults to Hyde which was starting David to turn red. He somehow still couldn't get used to the… ahem... colorful language the newsies could switch on in a moment's notice.
The two girls seemed completely used to such actions and had now shrugged the newsies nonchalance off to also join in as spectators.
Jack took a solid hit right in his ribs causing the five onlookers to wince in unison.
"You can take it Jack!"
"My grandma could hit harder than that!"
"Come on, Jack, finish him already!"
"Give 'im a broke nose for me Jack!"
As the others cheered the Manhattan leader on, David turned to observe the girl named Dee who was next to him. She seemed more serious and of the practical type, choosing to remain silent. Yet her brown eyes were taking everything in attentively and there was no mistaking the slightly turned up corners of her mouth.
She turned suddenly to face David and after a few moments gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry about the… well, you know…"
David shook his head. "It's all right. Times are hard."
"It's not as hard as all that," she muttered back. "I should never have hooked up with these guys."
"Then why – "
"Times are hard."
Sensing that there was really nothing else to be said for she looked like she was going to clam up, David instead said, "By the way, the name's David."
They shook hands but before anything more could be said, they heard Racetrack yell, "You got 'im now!"
David turned just in time to see that Jack had Hyde down on his knees, the bigger guy bleeding from his nose. Hyde was trying to wrestle to Jack to the ground but the newsie leader was having none of it. Stepping back just out of reach, Jack gave one – two punches at Hyde's face before the thief finally dropped flat to the ground, obviously out for the count.
Even before Hyde's head hit the ground, the spectators were running towards Jack. "Heya Jack, ya did good!" Bumlets exclaimed, pounding his triumphant friend on the back.
Seeing Jack wince at Bumlet's enthusiasm, David became worried. "You all right, Jack?"
Waving the worry off, Jack just smiled. "Nevah felt betta!"
They all heard Dee snort. "Boys…"
Jack gingerly touched the cut at the corner of his mouth as he looked at the girls. "Mind introducin' yourselves ladies?"
"The name's Dee," the taller girl said. "This here's Bolt."
The introduced girl crossed her arms over her chest and murmured a hello.
Jack was now narrowing his eyes slightly at them and David could see the girls were going to get a talking to. "Listen heah, I don't really have anything against pickpockets or the likes. It's just dat when pickpockets target me boys is when I'se get upset."
"Oh, so it's all right to pickpocket as long as we make sure we don't steal from you or your… newsies, well that's classic," Bolt said bitterly. "Beggars can't be choosers."
"But pickpockets can," Jack pointed out. "Just cause we got a job sellin' papes don't mean it's the best profit making job in the city. Pick someone's pocket who can afford it, got it? Cause we can't."
The girl opened her mouth as if to say something but seeing the glare in the Manhattan leader's eyes, chose not to say anything but nodded sullenly.
"All right, let's get this whole thing settled, nice and easy. Would ya do David da honor now and give him his money back?"
Bolt looked up at Jack innocently but the effect was ruined as Dee elbowed her in the ribs. "Give it back, Bolt."
With a death glare at her friend, Bolt reached into her pocket and held out her hand full of David's coins. "Fine, take it back."
David slowly moved closer to her and gingerly took the coins from her hand. He counted the money and frowned. Wait a minute…
"Um… I think I had $3.15 and you only gave me $2.90."
Hearing that, Racetrack and Bumlets moved to stand slightly behind Bolt, there stances making it clear that if she tried to run, she wasn't going to make it.
Bolt however had now taken up the same body posture as when she had stood up to Hyde. She planted her feet firmly and was meeting David's eyes with hers, lit up in a challenge.
David nervously looked at Jack who was just watching the scene unfold, his eyes kept on Bolt. Once more meeting her eyes, David thought about all the things he could do.
He could demand she give him all, and he meant all, his money back. She would probably refuse.
Then he could of course drop the whole matter…
This time he really looked at her. From the dirty cabby hat on her head down to her dusty shoes. From her sharp, hazel eyes to the grim lines of her mouth. Here was a girl from the streets having already experienced a hard life; David could bet there was a sad story behind her hard exterior.
And David, being who he was, knew there really was only one thing he could do.
"Of course, I could be wrong."
Everyone's eyes which had been on Bolt snapped back on David with obvious surprise, Bolt looking at him with the most surprise of all.
"What?" Racetrack exclaimed dumbfounded.
"You shoah," Jack said, narrowing his eyes at David.
But David had made up his mind. He shrugged as he put the returned coins into his pocket. "I got all my money back."
David knew that Jack wasn't buying into his words. Fortunately, Jack wasn't in the mood to pressure David into telling the truth. Actually, he seemed to be in a good mood from his run in with Hyde.
"All right, rescue mission complete, it's back ta work now," the Manhattan leader said. He tipped his hat to the girls. "May we nevah meet undah such circumstances again. Perhaps on another occasion?"
Bolt snorted while Dee seemed to be smiling more at Bumlets more than anything. And suspiciously enough, Bumlets was smiling at her in a pretty friendly fashion, too…
Racetrack noticed this and rolled his eyes. "Why doncha stare at each other some more; make it moah obvious to everyone."
The two quickly looked away to glare at Racetrack who only shrugged.
"Come on, my fella newsies, it's getting' late." Jack gestured in the direction out of the dead end. "Let's get a move on."
Jack gave a nod to the girls and started walking off, albeit with a slight limp in his left leg which David saw but chose not to comment. Racetrack followed right at his heels, Bumlets a few moments later as he was saying good-bye to Dee.
David took one last look at Bolt who was watching him with curious eyes. Much to his own surprise, he gave her a smile. "Have a nice day," he said to her before he, too, walked away.
Except for the soreness in his jaw, David felt pretty good at the moment. He had taken down… well, had helped take down, a nasty thug who thoroughly deserved and had done his good deed for the day. He didn't know what possessed him to allow the girl, Bolt, her 25 cents. It had been worth taking away the sternness in that petite, pretty girl. What would his family say indeed when they heard what had happened…
Bolt held back a frustrated sigh as she was peered around the corner of the building she was hiding behind. She had lost sight of them a few minutes ago and was trying desperately to find sight of them…
Well, more like sight of him…
Pushing her annoying dark bangs off her forehead, Bolt tried to come up with a plan of action. It was a couple of hours or so after the 'incident' that had taken place in the morning, all of which was spent following the newsies and trying to find the opportune moment.
She hated being indebted to anyone, particularly to newsies. How she hated them…
Yet the one she had picked the pocket of, he seemed different. When she first had set eyes on him, she hadn't realized he was a newsie. He was too… too… what's the word… 'straight' looking. Clean-cut.
She of all people should have realized that you didn't have to look particularly skuzzy, dirty, or poor to be a newsie. Take Matthew for instance…
Remembering him only brought back a mindful of bitterness that she didn't want to deal with right now. So she brought her eyes to focus on her 'prey.'
All right, she had to admit, this David character was cute in a stiff way. He walked too tall, too confidently, his smile was real and not forced, and he had spoken in a clean, educated accent.
Bolt chewed her lip thoughtfully. Yeah, he had been stiff, but he had allowed it to let slide that she still had one of his quarters in her pocket. Maybe he was just stupid and really hadn't known how much he had been carrying. Of course, he didn't seem like the type of person to miscalculate anything.
So he was stupid to let someone pick his pocket and keep some change. Or was it really stupidity?
Suddenly, the newsie spoke something to his selling partners and began walking slightly away from the others, still yelling out the headlines. Deigning it to be the perfect opportunity since they were finally in a pretty crowded area, Bolt slipped behind a rather tall and broad pedestrian, hiding behind his shadow perfectly.
Finally things were looking up for her. After she gave this guy back his two bits, she could finally get back to her business of making a living. Of course, there was no way she was going straight up to him and offer the coins; she didn't want to have any more to do with them than she had to. Besides, he might do something pityingly honorable and try to make her keep it. Well, she wasn't one for charity. Not now, not ever.
The man she was hiding behind veered off in another direction so she smoothly starting walking behind another pedestrian. Little by little she was getting closer to the newsie and the end of her little mission. Almost there…
She was now just about to brush past him for the perfect 'drop,' the perfect position for her to just reach out slightly and drop the two bits into his pocket…
Before she realized what was about to occur, one of the pedestrians stopped to buy a paper from David. The transaction was completed in a matter of moments and the newsie stepped back slightly to tip his hat in thanks to the customer; stepped back just enough that he bumped into Bolt.
Cursing under her breath and hoping he wouldn't turn around, Bolt quickly tried to put distance between them. Oh, great…
"I'm really sorry about that – " The newsie had turned around to apologize to her and as soon as their eyes met, he froze. "Hey, it's you!"
Bolt inwardly groaned. Why did he have to be the type of person who apologized for every little thing! It had been just a bump! It could have happened anywhere on the street! And he just HAD to apologize!
While she fumed, he was furrowing his eyebrows down at her. "You weren't trying to pick my pocket again were you…"
"No," Bolt bit out, annoyed at him, annoyed at the situation, annoyed at this whole, entire day. Naturally just everything turned out wrong for her.
To her alarm, the newsie was starting to feel inside his pockets. He stopped when he reached his back pocket and with a frown, slowly took out the two bits she had slipped in as they had collided.
"What? Did you…?" David looked up at her, down at the coins, then back at her. Shifting her weight nervously, Bolt tried to look nonchalant. She didn't expect for the smile which lit up his face. "That was awfully nice of you."
Taken aback, Bolt automatically tried to get a rise out of him. Because, wasn't he supposed to be mad at her? "Yeah, that was awfully stupid of you, letting someone close enough to pick your pocket… again."
He laughed. "Yeah, you could say that. Today was actually the first, and second time, anyone ever tried to pick my pocket. I have to say, didn't realize I had to be this careful on the streets."
Wha… what? He was laughing? Bolt could hardly take it all in and couldn't help but stutter out, "You… you're, umm… not, you know… mad at me?"
The newsie shrugged as if he didn't really care. "Hey, times are hard. Besides, you tried to stop Hyde and his bunch from beating me up. And you did try to give me my money back. And that's something."
"Yeah, well, whatever." Bolt thrust her hands into her pockets, not meeting his eyes. This was getting too awkward so she decided to do what she did best when meeting with some obstacle, conflict… or in this case this confusing guy: she was gonna bolt. "All right, well, you know, I gotta go."
But before she could turn on her heel and run back into the alleys she was more comfortable with, David had reached out to grab her by the arm. "Hey, not so fast," he said. "You must have been following me all morning to try to return my money. I have to make it up to you somehow."
"You, make it up to me?" Bolt shook her head mentally. Was this guy truly out of his mind?
"Yeah, you really didn't have to. Besides, that looks like it hurts."
At his look, Bolt touched the side of her face where Hyde had backhanded her. It didn't hurt if she left it alone which she quickly did. "Yeah, so how were you thinking of makin' it up ta me?" she said, raising on eyebrow. "And doncha even think about trying to give me some money or something. I don't accept no charity."
The newsie seemed to think a moment before he hesitantly spoke. "Well, how about a free meal?"
She narrowed her eyes. "And what's that's supposed ta mean…?"
"What I mean is that someone I know is having a huge New Year's party," he explained. "There'll be food, poker games set up… you know, a party."
Bolt was not for the first time today taken aback. "And you're inviting me to yoah… party?"
"It's not really my party, but yeah, if you'd like to go with me."
Though she didn't like the thought of having to go some party for she never had experienced such a thing, she did like the idea of some free food. "Dis ain't no high society thing, is it? Cause I ain't exactly got a gown or something in me closet."
"No, no, nothing like that," he assured her. "It's a New Year's party held for all the newsies of the city."
The blood drained in her face as it registered what he had said. A party for all the newsies of the city… Quickly she asked, "You mean, newsies from… all over?"
"Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, the Bowery, you name it," he explained.
Bolt wanted nothing more than to run away right then and there and get away from him. Go to this party, was he crazy? She'd never get herself into such a predicament particularly if she would somehow run into Matthew. Never, ever, ever.
Maybe it was time to stop running.
Before she realized she had made up her mind, she nodded to the newsie. "And your shoah you want me to come with you?"
David smiled one of his genuine smiles. "Hey, you're the first person to pick my pocket. You're special."
She blushed at his words though she tried to hide it with a cough. "Well, whatever."
"How bout we work the details out, say the day after tomorrow? We can meet in front of the distribution center when I go to get my papers."
Thinking about it for a moment, Bolt agreed. What was she to lose? She might get to see Matthew and put the whole thing finally into the past.
Besides, this newsie kept surprising her. And strangely enough, she liked the feeling.
"Sounds good ta me."
"And by the way," he said as he offered his hand, "the name's David."
She took the hand in a firm handshake. "Yeah, I know. Nice ta meet ya David."
And she could have sworn it but as she was turning away to leave, he whispered, "Same here."
Author's Note: So, what do you think? Dave has found his girl! Exciting, isn't it? Please review and tell me what you think! I'll be replying to reviews as soon as I get them from now on… I hope you guys are still writing because without inspiration from my readers, who knows, I might not get to writing again. :P Just kidding, I'll still read. But remember, you readers are still very important!
Next chapter, some more of Racetrack and his 'goil' Ashley Bennet. Perhaps a bit of Kid Blink/Helena, too.