Author's notes: Ha ha… while I was writing this, I was watching SpongeBob Squarepants. It was that classic episode with the whole driving school hall monitor thing. Well, there's a Newsie fish that runs up to SpongeBob and Patrick and yells a headline about 'the maniac'. I remember seeing a screen cap of that part on a fan site a few days ago… Well, it was funny, anyway.

Oh, and for whoever asked, Irene can be pronounced several ways (I looked it up). I never really thought about how it was pronounced…

There is:

a. eye-reen (typical one)

b. er-ray-na (the German pronunciation)

c. Eye-reen-ie (the one I usually think in my head, and was most common during the time period. Yes, I looked that up, too).

It really doesn't matter. Oh, crap… once again, Irene's showing Mary Sue qualities… NO!

Also, I was chatting with a friend of mine who actually read this, and we were joking about the whole "BFC" thing… She asked if it stands for Brooklyn Fried Chicken… Ha.

Chapter Nine: There Ain't No Catch

Irene slept for hours. Evidently, Racetrack had let her sleep, because when she opened her door, she found the bunkroom completely empty.

She ran down stairs and looked at the old, deteriorating grandfather clock that had been there for as long as she could remember. It was already eleven thirty… she was an hour and a half late to see David.

Irene changed out of her nightdress, and drew a tepid shawl around her shoulders.

She knocked on her father's door, and received no answer. She pushed on the door, and found him asleep on his bed. She kissed his forehead, and retreated to the kitchen, where she found pen and paper.

Went to see David. See you at the normal time at the races!

Love,

Saint

It was a chilly day- Irene could see her breath as she walked outside. It was late February, and the frost was turning to slush. She sighed- she hated when the snow melted. They were in for a warm summer…

She walked the distance to NYU. On her way up the stairs to David's office, she tripped on the stairs. She gradually picked herself up, wincing at the pain in her right ankle. Her bag, carrying all of her supplies, had split open on one of the seams. She knelt down again and cleaned up the mess. Saint limped up the hall and knocked on the door.

"Uncle David?" she called out.

"Come in."

She opened the door and limped in. "I'm sorry I'm late. I-"

"It's okay, Saint," David said. "I figured that you'd be late after the dance last night. Sarah told me all about your dress, down to the very last detail."

Irene laughed. They both knew how Sarah could go on and on about things. She sat in her chair and rubbed her sore ankle.

"Did you hurt yourself dancing?" he inquired, with a smug look on his face.

"No. I sort of tripped on the stairs."

"I'll get some ice," David replied, and he exited the small office.

Irene sat patiently for a moment, and then decided to tend to her ripped bag.

She walked over to the splintering oak desk with rusted brass handles in one corner in of the office.

You'd think a night school professor would have a better desk, Saint thought.

Hoping that maybe she'd find thread and a needle to fix her bag, Irene opened a drawer. It had nothing but ink and pens in it. She opened another drawer. Still no materials for sewing. Deciding that David definitely did not possess his sister's talent for sewing, she decided to open one more drawer.

It's a wonder Sarah hasn't equipped him with enough thread to mend every uniform in the military.

Irene pulled on the rust covered handle and peered in. Although no sewing supplies were in the drawer, there was a manila folder. She opened it, and discovered a newspaper from July of 1899. The year she was born. The headline spoke of the much talked about (at least in the newsie world) strike of that year. She knew that her father was involved, but she didn't know too much about it.

Upon reading the headline, Saint heard the creak of the stairs as David came with the ice. Although it was against her better judgment (and the Ten Commandments), she hid the folder in the mess that was her bag.

She quickly sat in the chair, as David entered the room.

"Here you go," he said as he knelt and placed the ice on Irene's ankle.

"Thanks."

"So, where did we leave off the other day?"

---

"Your damn father and his late notice meetings," Pepper muttered as he flopped on the bunk with his last paper of the day.

"When's the meeting?" Ford asked.

"Tonight at the bridge."

"Where else? It's always at the bridge. You'd think ol' Spotty could come up with something more original." He rolled his eyes. "Wait, did you say tonight?"

"Yep," Pepper replied. "Ooh, you got a meeting with that girl you met at the dance last night."

"Shhh! Keep it down, Pep," Sam said as he quickly looked around to make sure no one heard. To his relief, no one had. "Uh, do you think you can cover for me tonight?"

"Mister Conlon, what may I ask is goin' through that head of yours? Remember Pipes Johnson?"

"Well, it's not like I'm missing more then one meeting."

"You of all people know the deal- four missed meetings-"

"And your friends will deal with you with their greetings. Yeah, I know. This is the first meeting I've ever missed! And it's not like you haven't missed a meeting before. Two, if I remember correctly."

"Hey, I ain't Spot Conlon's son. Tell you what- I'll tell them you're sick. This is it. No more."

"Fine. Wait… what's the catch?"

"There ain't no catch. I'm just glad you'se gettin' out for once."

---

At four in the afternoon, Saint walked- well, limped- to the races to meet her father. As usual, there he was in line to bet.

"Hey, 'Rene. Why you walkin' funny?" he inquired.

"Oh…" Irene replied. "This? I sort of fell on the stairs at David's."

Racetrack thought for a moment, and then tried to put on his most serious face. "I guess you can't go to David's anymore…"

Irene glared at him, and then they both erupted into playful laughter.

---

Race lost his bet. Irene sighed. That wasn't surprising…They were walking back to Duane Street. Right when they were about to turn a corner, Saint decided to speak up.

She looked at a nearby clock.

"Um, Papa?" she inquired.

"Hmm?" he replied, looking up from his empty wallet with a depressed look on his face.

"I have to go see someone, a friend of mine. I won't be home for supper."

Her father was puzzled. Where could she be going on a Wednesday evening?

"But it's Ash Wednesday… we'se was gonna go to church tonight."

"I'll meet you at the church, then."

"Eight o'clock sharp."

"Okay."

They parted ways, and Irene went over to Newsies Square. Usually, she'd skip it, but because of her ankle, that wasn't an option.

Saint found the Square barren and deserted. Most people were eating dinner right about now… it was eerily still. She sat on base of the statue, waiting for the boy named Sam to show up. She tapped her foot against a grimy puddle. She couldn't stand silence; when she was at home, nothing was quiet. The splash of the contaminated water satisfied her.

After about a half hour of nothing coming near her except for a flower cart and a stray dog, Irene began to think that maybe she had been stood up. She read a book from her bag, which still was ripped.

Five more minutes past. Still no Sam.

Finally, forty-five minutes after she showed up, she heard footsteps. Irene turned her head to the direction of the sound, and gave a sigh of relief as Sam walked over to her.

Author's notes: Hmm… OH WHERE, OH WHERE HAVE MY REVIEWERS GONE? OH WHERE, OH WHERE CAN THEY BE? I don't know! PLEASE review people! I want to hit 50 before I post the next chapter (I'm not saying I won't post it, just that I'd like to hit 50 soon)… C'mon! Eight little reviews!

Elyse: Sure, Pepper's cute and funny now, but just you wait… Thanks for being an awesome reviewer!

Queen of Doom: And they danced… Yeah… well, if you noticed (if you've read some of my other work) I have this really odd obsession with masked balls. And that was before I liked Phantom of the Opera… The Van Pelt Saga also has a masked ball in it, but the circumstances are completely different. Thanks for reviewing!

Let's see if you guys are psychic… What am I thinking?

If you guessed that I thinking, "Oh gee, I really hope that the readers review," then you're correct. Well, maybe not about the "Oh gee" part… ;-P