Author's Note: And there we have it, the epilogue as was requested. A Virgin's Touch is now 100 percent complete. And, you know what, I kind of wish it wasn't. Hey – at least we have Obsession: CLAK, no?

I want to take this time to thank you to all the people who have ever read this. And, a huge round of applause to:

Rae, theingenue, Matchin' Laces, Aisling, Hair, caddyhat15, Bittah, madmbutterfly713, Elyse, pennylayne, Biddy, Bookie, GeckoPixie, Lady of Tir Na Nog, ct, Chill92, Utopia Today, midnight1899, and Bryna…

for actually, at any point, stopping to review this. It meant so much to me. You guys rock!

Once again, thank you for reading. You guys made the journey incredible. – stress.

Disclaimer: These are always mandatory when dabbling in fan fiction. If there is anything at all that is reminiscent of the 1992 musical Newsies, then it probably belongs to Disney. The characters of Luke/Rip & his family, Caitlin/Spindle, and Jessa, specifically, are mine, as well as others that may work their way into this story. Any others belong to their respective authors and will be noted in individual disclaimers.


A Virgin's Touch


They say that what men desire is a virgin who is a whore.
Maybe that's what I was looking for. It's what I made her, after all.



Once his decision was made Rip had no desire to recant it. Rather, his only concern was when he would be able to leave the Harlem Lodging House for good. Knowing Spindle as well as he did, he knew that it would not be long before she found him again. Following his accidental (false) admission of affection, the girl had made the trek from Queens more frequently than she had before. It was only a matter of time.

It was on the 24th of May that she finally returned to see him. For the first time in their near two year history, Rip actually saw her before her green eyes found him.

It was a beautiful day, quite warm for late spring, and he had already finished selling the morning edition of the New York Sun; the headline had been to dull for his liking and he did not feel up to peddling some great number of a dud paper.

So, with the sleeves of his faded blue button down shirt rolled up to his elbows, and his hands casually resting in the back pockets of his black slacks, Rip had taken to wandering about the nearby park. It was a beautiful day and he did not want to spend it with Trace at the den – after the strange dream he had, he refused to return to the smoky hours – or inside the Harlem House. Instead, he walked the outer edge of the park, walking under the trees, waiting until it was time to return to the distribution center for the afternoon edition, hot off the presses (hopefully with a better headline.)

The contents of the Sun became forgotten when he saw the back of a red-head walking a bit of a way before him. Without even seeing the girl's face, he knew it was Spindle; he could tell by the very way her body moved, swaying and swinging provocatively, as she walked. "Caity?"

The girl froze before spinning around, an annoyed look on her face. But, when she recognized Rip as the one who called her by her true first name, the annoyed look melted into happiness. "Rip? Rip!" She did not run to him – she was much too dignified for that – but she did a mild jog to arrive at his side. Before she could stop herself, or think about his reaction, she reached forward and hugged him.

Rip tensed but the tension was short-lived. Relaxing in her embrace, he lifted his arms and wrapped them around her tight. "Spindle," he called her now, murmuring into her ear.

In the coming years, when Rip looked back to the day that truly changed his life – the day he followed Spindle out of Harlem in favor of Far Rockaway, Queens – he could pinpoint that exact moment as one of the two moments that set the course of his life forever. It was at that moment that Rip made a promise; it was not a promise to himself but to the girl in his arms.

"My Spindle…"

Spindle heard his whisper and squeezed him in response before drawing back. "Do you mean it, Rip? Am I… your's?"

He took a deep breath before answering. "Of course. I… I love you." Ti amo? Maria…

"I love you, too, Rip. I always have." She leaned forward into him again, placing her head on his shoulder. "I told you. You belong to me," she added, whispering back to him. He could almost feel the curve of her grin as it pressed into his neck.

Rip felt awkward. There was that nagging sense of guilt in the back of his head that told him that what he was doing was wrong. That pretending to love the girl in a way that he could never do was wrong. But, what did it matter, really?

Spindle loved him, that much was obvious. She would do anything for him as she illustrated by attacking Aisling to earn his continued favor. And she had a hold in Queens where he could go and escape his own demons.

It really did not matter much at all.

He cleared his throat and, with a gentle push, stepped away from Spindle. It was still early and, before he lost his nerve, he wanted to retrieve his meager belongings from the Harlem House and start the journey to Queens. "Spindle. Does your invitation to accompany you to Queens still stand?" he asked in a voice akin to faux politeness. He did not, however, wait for her answer, preferring to continue in his statement. "Because I'd like to go with you."

"Of course. When do you want to go?" she asked, excitedly. Her face had lit up and, in that instant, her eyes lost that worn look. In that instant, her glassy green eyes did not remind him of loneliness or death; they shined with… Hope? Adoration?

"Now. I just have to get my bag from the House." He jerked his hand over his shoulder in the direction of the Harlem Lodging House. "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back."


When he returned, a cloth bag – belonging to Trace who, as Rip reasoned, did not need it nor could sell it for much – slung over his shoulder containing all of his belongings, he found it amusing to see that Spindle had not moved from the exact spot he had left her.

She was idly twirling a thick strand of red hair around one of her dirty fingers, her heeled shoes planted firmly against the dirt ground. When she saw that Rip had returned she smiled coyly and raised her hand in greeting.

Rip, eager to begin the journey, forewent any of the niceties. Instead, he grabbed her hand. "Which way do we go?"

Spindle took the hint and began to walk. She did not let go of his hand. They just walked in a heavy silence, many thoughts running through both of their minds at this new development in their relationship. Neither could find the words to say just yet.

He did not ask her, right away, how far the distance was from where they started in Central Harlem, a few blocks from the Harlem House stood on 133rd street, to Far Rockaway, in Queens. Rip had never gone below Blayard Street, the southern boundary of Little Italy; after running from home after Daisy's death, he had only gone north. After walking, without incident, straight west through Manhattan and past Spanish Harlem, before being confronted in the Negro portion of East Harlem, Rip eventually made it – accompanying Mack and his boys – to Central Harlem. He had spent two years within a 20 block radius; he had no concept of how far away any other boroughs were from where he stood. He had no real concept of direction at all.

Somehow, though, Spindle knew what was on his mind. With her free hand, she squeezed his arm. "It's far, Rip. I ain't gonna lie to you. I figure, between here and Far Rockaway, it's a good twenty-five miles or so. The fastest I've ever made it is about nine hours." She let go of his arm and started to walk forward, a vigorous pep in her step as she went. "If we start now, and don't stop, we should make it before nightfall. I've had a bed reserved for you at the boys' house," she continued, ignoring the face Rip made – not another boys' home, "ever since you told me that you might move eastward. I'm sure the idiots will be good to you."

For a moment Rip seemed to hesitate. But, as his feet started to slow, his mind kicked in. Don't forget what Maria told you. You must leave Harlem and you can not return to Little Italy. Wouldn't it be better to go to a place with someone you know rather than start over fresh and chance another Mack coming to you? Besides, Maria promised salvation. She promised she'd be there. He nodded and began to walk a bit faster.

She laughed. "That a boy, Rip. Gotta go a bit faster. Everyone is waiting to meet you. I've told all my girls so much about you that they're all eager to finally see you."

As am I, he thought, his thin lips twisted in a cruel fashion. He would not let any of the boys there take advantage of him – none would ever use him like Mack had. He would just have to show them how far he would go to keep his privacy and pride in tact.

Which he did.


"Should we wake him?" It did not matter, Rip was already awake. But he pretended otherwise.

"I don't know. He bothers me. Coming up in here like he owns the place. I think—" came a second voice. He was cut off when the owner of the first voice spoke again, quieting him.

"Hush, Danger. Do you know who he's with? Spindle." Rip, his face pressed against his pillow, smirked. I wonder just what kind of pull Caity has around this place. I thought that she was joking when she had it in her back pocket…

"Who the hell is Spindle?"

"The better question is who the fuck is Spindle," laughed the boy with the first voice. Rip lost his smirk. I should have known.

Though there were only two distinct voices that were having the hushed conversation beside the last bunk – Rip's new bunk, he heard as other boys joined in on the laughter. How well do these boys know Spindle?, he wondered, wiggling about in his new bunk now, giving the slight impression that he was waking. The laughter ceased almost at once.

The bunk had not been his when he arrived at the Rockaway Lodging House for Newsboys the night before but, after a quick show of rough masculinity – all it took was a threatening posture, a clear voice… and the maniacal waving of his blade (still slightly stained by Mack's blood) – the bunk became his.

It was no wonder the boys were pussyfooting around him. He was not asleep but he willed his lips to remain straight. He liked the power he had; at the Harlem House, he had not had any. Maybe Queens will be good for me.

"Well, I say that we leave him here," said the second voice, almost pouting.

Rip took that as his cue to open his icy blue eyes. He turned on his side and faced the two boys who were looking up at the upper bunk where Rip was lying. "Morning…Rocky? Danger?" he said, trying to remember if he had gotten the names right. There were not as many boys in the Rockaway Lodging House as in the Harlem House and, at any rate, Rip had always been good at names.

Both of them nodded sheepishly. The first boy, Rocky, squat with short dark hair and wide brown eyes, tried to manage a grin. "Time to sell the papes, buddy."


"Rip," repeated Rocky. He bowed his head and backed away from the bunk.

Rip turned to look at the second boy, the one who had seemed so tough when he thought that Rip was asleep. He was an oafish character with shaggy sandy colored hair and small dark and watery eyes. Those eyes, once they saw that Rip was almost glaring at him, were darting about nervously. "Morning Danger."

The boy stumbled, his false confidence fading. He seemed to be about Rip's age but, the Harlem boy could see, he had not been on the streets too long. He was soft. Rip smiled and Danger almost winced. "Morning Rip," he said quickly before retreating from the bunk.

None of the other boys in the bunkroom even looked up, all of them suddenly interested in the morning washing up process.

Rip laughed to himself as he climbed down the side ladder of the bunk. I think I'm going to like it here.


After Spindle had shown him the way to the Rockaway Lodging House the night before, shortly before the curfew at ten o'clock, she had made him promise to meet her at the corner building so that they could sell together their first day. He agreed to meet her but refused to agree to sell with her. He wanted to explore the new land, he told her, and she reluctantly nodded. He did, however, agree to accompany her to the Distribution Center.

When he left the Lodging House, not much longer after he had woken up, he was not surprised to see that she was already waiting for him. Before they had arrived at the House, she had convinced him to take a quick detour to an abandoned lot where she slated her own lust. He readily gave in to her advances; it had been ages since he felt a woman's touch. It may not have been the virgin's touch that he continued to desire, but he needed it all the same. It was during her climax that Spindle, once again, asserted that he belonged to her before quickly, while whimpering, changing her words that she, equally, belonged to him. He knew, then, that he was to be stuck with her in the new territory. The sight of her, already waiting at the corner, affirmed his assumptions.

They did not say a word to each other as they walked but it was not an awkward silence – it was companionable and friendly. With every passing moment that he had spent with Spindle, he was further succumbing to the idea that they were meant to be. They needed each other in their own dysfunctional ways.

The walk from the Lodging House to the Distribution Center did not take long. It was a bigger building than the one Rip was used to, complete with an iron gate that was open. There were plenty of boys milling about, many that he did not recognize from the Lodging House though it had been the same in Harlem, but there were also equally as many girls. There were hardly any girls that were willing to sell newspapers in Harlem and the sight intrigued him.

He turned his head to make such a comment when he saw her. She was standing amidst a group of three girls but his eyes found her; to Rip, she was standing apart. It was almost as if he saw the same glow about her that he had seen in his dream.


He blinked his eyes twice before letting them fall back on the girl that stood just outside the gate, a stack papers held daintily in her arms. Her light brown hair was a mess of curls, her feminine blouse and long flowing skirt fit her slim frame perfectly. Her nose was slightly upturned and, he could see, her eyes even crinkled at the ends as she laughed at something her companions were saying.

He could not remove his eyes from her just yet. Vaguely he heard Spindle announce that she would buy their papers at the window but he just waved her on. There was something beginning, deep within him. Rip could feel it growing and, if he had to put the sensation into words, he would have said that it felt as if his soul was on fire.

I found her. I found Maria. She's here.

Some part of his consciousness told him that it was impossible, that the girl he saw from across the Square was not his dead sister. But it was much harder to comprehend the fact when he was confronted with a girl who so resembled her.

My salvation… Grazie Dio... Grazie Maria..., he thought, thanking both his sister and the Lord for sending this girl to him – it could only be the work of such beings to forgive his transgressions and bring his love back to him.

He did not speak to her just yet. He was only brought out of his reverie when he saw her leaving the area alongside a short blonde girl. He would have followed her but, at that moment, Spindle appeared at his side, offering him his newspapers. "Are you sure you don't want to come with me, Rip?"

He stared at the red-head for a moment, pushing the image of the girl out of his head. For now, he would spend his time with Spindle. It had just dawned on him what sort of danger the girl might be in if Spindle learned that she was, in his eyes, Maria reborn. She had always been so jealous of his dead sister and it was hard to forget what had happened to Aisling when showed attention to him. He would not lose this girl.

Even if it took every ounce of cunning and deceit he had. Besides, it was not like he was not destined to burn for all eternity anyway. He would just have to do with Heaven on Earth, instead.

"Come, Spindle. Let's go."

Until tomorrow, my new Maria.

Fino al domani, il mio nuovo cuore.



Grazie Dio… - Thank you, God…
Grazie Maria… - Thank you, Maria
Fino al domani, il mio nuovo cuore – Until tomorrow, my new heart


Okay... Now go read Obsession: Cuts like a Knife. It picks up right here and starts with the girl's point of view. Poor kid, she has no idea what she's in for... :)