The Royal Flush

By: Racetrack's Goil

Author's Note: Hey, hey all! This is the sequel to "Ace of Hearts" by moi. You CAN read this one as itself if you want to, but I don't think you'll understand much…so I strongly suggest you read AOH first. I'm rather excited about this one because I have quite a bit planned out. It's going to be a bit different 'tone' than AOH because I don't have to follow along with the movie's plot.

Have half of the second chapter written already, so the update shouldn't be too long. Hopefully. This is a bit of a prologue/introduction thing, so not much happening.

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize from the movie is not mine.

So off we go, first chapter of The Sequel!


'Dear Diary,'

Hmm.

I frowned at the two words. I felt awfully dissatisfied at how they looked together. So…uninteresting. I squatted back in my bunk and carefully crossed out the 'Diary'. Then I bent over the paper, painstakingly re-writing the words. They turned out as:

'Dear Diary-…Journal,'

There you go. I smiled happily and twirled the fountain pen Artemis had given me. I think she stole it off some customer a while ago and never used it, so thus the giving.

I haven't done much writing at all for about two months and I have to admit, my penmanship is already terrible. Illegible. But then again, it always have been. Anyway, who's going to read it? No one else will, not if I can help it. It's called a 'diary/journal' for a reason. I've heard it's really useful to keep such things, but I'm not quite sure where. Maybe it was one of the mistresses back at the orphanage. Something about how letting out your emotions and seeing them in blunt print will help you sort it all out. Clears your mind (?). But I'm not doing this because I have problems or anything like that.

Oh, and it's not a big volume of a book and it isn't bound in expensive leather. I'm writing on the back of the newspapers I didn't manage to sell. I'm doing terribly at that recently and I have about a complete total of fifty papes piling up on me. The headlines, believe me, though they rarely are good, are worse than usual. There is nothing going on nowadays, so the newspapers have been duller than a spoon.

Talking about the strike, we've received different reactions from our success. Some people seem to respect us more, for going through it despite the bumpy road. Others look down on us even more; I suppose they don't like all the troubles we've caused. Either way, I'm glad it's over.

Nothing's happened at all after it finished, no problems has started, no troubles, nothing. That would be perfectly fine, but the thing was, it was two weeks after the strike and nothing even remotely interesting has happened. Every day was a repeat of the other: wake up, trudge off to the distribution center, buy papes, sell papes, go back home, and be bored. Maybe you would have liked this kind of routine life. I used to think I did. But after all the excitement from the strike and whatnot, it was getting freakishly uneventful.

On top of it all, I felt like there was something hanging over my head and I think I'm not the only one. Everyone's steadily growing tense every passing day and I try not to, but when you're with a band of street kids whose every nerve seem taunt, you start winding up yourself. It drives you crazy really.

The main reason for all this, of course, is Duke. Well, no. It's more like the absence of Duke. He's supposed to be in Brooklyn now, because Cat sighted him, but there's been no news whatsoever about him. I've heard all kinds of stories about him, none of them even remotely pleasant. He's done everything from stealing other people's girlfriends to trying to assassinate said people. He's supposedly a jerk of all jerks, a real, real horrid person who threatens to cut off hands with one of his knives.

I've never met him…but you know what? I'm just about appalled at myself for this, but…

A small, tiny part of me wants to.

Truly.

I know. It's horrible. I can't believe it myself. The closest I can to explaining myself would be that I want to see what kind of person would and could do such things, who'd turn right around against his best friend, and not care. Who had challenged Spot and nearly won. Most of me wants to never see him, but that small, tiny part feels intense curiosity. Though I suppose it's inevitable; the meeting, that is. Because - it really is horrid – he's out there, plotting away for revenge against my leader and boyfriend.

Boyfriend. Spot Conlon, my boyfriend.

Odd to think of him that way.

It's even odder to think that it's been two monthssince I first met him and became a Brooklynite. Then to think that I've actually stayed and stuck through. Being a newsie is the hardest thing I've ever been, but it also has been the most rewarding and well…dare I say it, fun. Really, it is. It's fun.

Well, it was fun. Now it's slowly becoming boring.

It's gone to the point that I'm actually missing my sudden meetings with a certain Philip Danford. Do you remember him? He's the leader of the Queens and we met by in an alley, quite by accident. Then we started bumping into each other quite a lot. He's such an interesting person, really, and such a gentleman. It's nice to be treated like royalty sometimes, especially from someone like Philip, who ironically looks like some black prince or something. And I don't even know him that well. He's even more of an enigma than Spot was, before.

The last time we met, he told me that after the strike, the boroughs would start turning against each other, as a matter of course. I wonder if it was true. I wonder if that's the reason why I hadn't seen him. Maybe Queens was harboring something against us. I know that Brooklyn had had trouble with them before, though I'm not sure how or why. Maybe it was happening again.

Or maybe, I thought dryly, I was thinking too hard.

I twirled my pen and felt a frown tug at my mouth again. Shaking off my thoughts, I turned back to the back of the rather pathetic newspaper sitting limply on my lap. I licked the tip of the fountain pen and scribbled away as carefully as I could.

'August 3rd, 1899-

Hello Diary-Journal person. Nothing to write. I sold papes today and the headline was about the Mayor being re-elected. Pithon guffawed in my ear when she saw it so I guffawed right back. Only saw a glimpse of Spot, but he half-smirked/smiled again.'

He does that a lot recently. I wonder what he's up to.

I shrugged to myself and then blew on the newspaper to dry the still slightly-wet ink. Maybe he was planning to astound me or something. My birthday was coming up this coming weekend. I was turning eighteen at last, but it's not like I'm bouncing up and down for joy. I don't want to grow up, actually. I'd rather I stayed sixteen, not haven gone to seventeen and now to…eighteen. Oh well.

Pulitzer's World has lost its popularity after the strike. The grim truth written by Jack and the others had been seen by everyone and Theodore Roosevelt (yeah, you heard me right) ordered it to be printed. Now, no one seems that into Pulitzer anymore. I think we'll soon have to be changing to other newspaper giants, maybe Hearst or Gammon. I guess we'll just have to see. I turned the pen back around to the paper.

'But you haven't a clue about who I am. Shall I tell you about myself? Shall I tell you everything, even though you probably don't care? Heh. Oh well. I shall pretend you do care.'

I'm writing to someone who I made up in my mind. Aren't I pathetic?

'I escaped the orphanage, got in a fight with a bully named Fire, met Spot Conlon, loathed him immediately, became a Brooklynite for some weird reason, got mixed up in a strike started by the newsies of Manhattan, Spot kept getting me out of trouble from Fire and other nasty people in general, and after a whole lot of stuff in between, it turned out that he loved me, and thus now we're together.'

My summer, stated in one long, grammar-defying, run-on sentence. It probably wouldn't make any sense to anyone. But who cares. No one's gonna read it, right? Anyway, I didn't want anyone to read it. Diaries are sacred. I'm planning to write everything in here, all my thoughts and opinions. All of a sudden, I looked at my diary/journal and felt extremely protective. It became something personal, secretive, and very, very important. I brandished my pen again.

'But wait. Well, duh. You're just a person I selfishly made up so I can unload everything on you. You don't even know what kind of person I am. I could be an escaped convict. A murderer on the loose. Shall I now inform you of all my darkest secrets? Well, actually, I don't have any. Any dark secrets, that is. Not yet, at least. I'm a normal girl, living more or less happily in Brooklyn as a newsie. But I feel restless.

Don't you ever feel like something's going to happen and you just know it's not going to be something too pleasant?'

Don't you? I do. I feel like something big is going to happen and I probably am not going to like it. But…oh well. Maybe I was being paranoid.

'I miss talking to people. No one's really talked to me recently. Not even Spot. He's gone a lot nowadays, busy with something or another. I think he's trying hard to figure out about Duke.'

See? Back to Duke again.

'But now I have you to ramble on to. I'm going to tell you everything. So yeah, you are going to find out all my darkest secrets when and if I someday make them. Happy?'

I sound like a dumb blonde, even though I'm a brunette. Sad. Very sad.

'And since you'll be sticking with me for a long time, I'd better write my name here. Just so you recognize me every time I make an entry.

-Ace'

No.

'I swore to tell you all my deepest darkest secrets and I'm already withholding one from you. Sorry.

-Ashley 'Ace' Benette'


Author's Note: I know it's a bit of a dull chapter, but I need a 'breather' before plunging right into the story. Next chapter will be much longer and will be full of goodies so hopefully won't be as boring. Alrighty? Hehe. Okay, hope you enjoyed it and please review!