Disclaimer: just an idea. I own nothing.
New York is not a good place for a child. A ten year old, headstrong, little boy for that matter. The shadows hold monsters that will break spirits and bruise egos. But for Dallas Winston, it made him into what he was. The streets became his home after he ran away from his sad home, after his father couldn't look at the small boy without pelting Dallas over the head after his mother left. That day was still clear in his memory. And it still hurt. It been raining all day and Dallas had gone out to get his father more cigarettes. Mud had been slung all over his feet and jeans form running to save time.
The raindrops had stung his face when they hit and made him go blind when they flew in his eyes. But he made it home in time, only to find his father waiting at the door, looking Dallas up and down then scowling at the mud. He snatched the cigarettes and hit Dallas over the head hard, making the small boy cry out and stumble.
"What'd I tell you about wiping your feet? God Damn it Dallas, think for once." Dallas had looked at his feet and gulped, knowing what was coming next. "Just like your mother. Head in god knows what." Dallas had wanted to yell, scream at his father to shut his mouth and take it back. Out of all the things his father said to him, he hated it when he cursed his mother. Dallas had loved his mother with all his heart and always knew she was never happy in New York. It was always too much for her and Dallas knew she thought she needed better. But what he couldn't understand was why she didn't take him with her when she left. "She's probably dead and gone by now, the little broad." Dallas flinched at the thought and yelped when his father went to hit him again. "Damn it boy, your tracking mud." Then Dallas did something he wished he wouldn't have done.
The first slap didn't hurt as much as the others did. Those bruised and stung like hell. Then something inside Dallas snapped.
He hit back. Hard.
His father stumbled back violently, clutching cheek and hurling curses at Dallas. Startled and suddenly afraid of the consequences, Dallas ran. Ran until his lungs hurt from sobbing and gasping for air. He was sore all over and the concrete being his sleeping spot for the night wasn't helping. Days passed. Soon, Dallas found cops eyeing him on the streets, watching his every move until they turned a corner. They sometimes followed him into stores when Dallas needed to steal some food or medicine (though he'd gotten pretty good at stealing anyway and lying) He met kids his age and older who had ran away too and formed a bond. The kids where tuff and mean and drank vodka straight.
And Dallas loved it.
It was then he met Emma. A small, frail, black headed girl who had escaped her home at a whore house her mother and her had lived in and forced to work in. When Dallas was alone and thinking, she'd sit by him and just smile. It was her smile that kept Dallas's heart to go warm and his eyes see that there was good left in the world. They talked about things that only made since to them and laughed at the smallest things. Emma brought out the good in Dallas it seemed. Even though she was only Dallas's age, she seemed older and wiser than anyone else Dallas knew.
When the others decided one night to rob a grocery store, Emma was hesitant. The older kids went in first, mostly to distract curiosity. The younger stood outside, waiting for a signal. Emma stood near Dallas, shifting her feet.
"Don't go in there." She'd whispered painfully when the signal was shown and kids went in. "why not?" Dallas questioned, shifting his eyes back and forth. A small sweat has formed on his temples and he was growing nervous. "Just…I don't know…I have a bad feeling Dally. Just don't."
An urgent whistle was blown and Dallas looked behind his to see one of the older kids glaring at his and moving his thumb toward the door. Dallas sighed. This stunt would prove that he was worthy to live on the streets and one of the badass kids. Make some other kids look up to him. Emma stared at him pleadingly for a long time. "Please…" Dallas turned, whispering. "Sorry, Emma."
The older kid glared at Dallas when they walked in, hurriedly moving to an isle and looking around. The hair on the back of Dallas's neck stood up and a nervous shiver went down his spin when he felt eyes on him. The store was too quite. This was too obvious. Whispers where being said at the check-out counter. Dallas stuffed some Little Debbie cakes in his jacket and tried to breathe evenly. When he passed an older kid and exchanged glances with him…
The kid smiled and pulled out a heater so quick it made Dallas's head spin.
Bang Bang Bang Bang.
The gunshots where loud and stung Dallas's ears. Screams erupted in the air and then it was deathly quite. Dallas turned and saw blood on the white floor. It hurt his eyes. He wanted to scream and hit the kid who stood beside him, snickering. Kids hurried out the doors with food in hand, glancing quickly at the dead bodies. Dallas couldn't move. He didn't want to. Suddenly sirens where heard far off and the teen beside him cursed and thrusted the gun into Dallas's hands. "Here Kid" he said, taking off. Dallas stood, looking at the gun. He felt nothing. He really didn't want to fell anything.
The sirens growing closer brought him back to reality and he ran. He slipped and fell into the pool of blood that had formed in front of the door. His horse cry rang out and he jumped up, skidding and slipping out the door. Why he didn't drop the gun, he didn't know. He just ran. The sirens grew closer to him and shouts of stop rang in his ears. It wasn't until the weight of a full on body tackle by a cop that sent him tumbling to the ground did he stop.
You really don't know hell until you've been to Juvenile Hall. Kids that have seen too much and done too much. They've been hardened and shaped in vicious hoods that will kill you at any given moment.
Or worse, break you.
Dallas sat, huddled in a corner, pressed against the iron bars as his cell mates yelled and fought each other. He felt vulnerable and sick and wanted to go back to the others. But most of all, he wanted his mother. She would hold him and tell him everything would be alright. And he would believe that. His comforting pocket knife had been taken in his strip search at the station, where he was questioned forcefully and yelled at. The blood all over him had the cops convinced but the social worker knew better. Dallas had silently thanked her for telling the cops to only give him 3 months here instead of 2 years. He shivered at the thought and quickly glanced around. Other guys glared back at him and whispered to each other. Dallas cringed and went to burry himself in his mind. Anything to avoid the harsh cries and yells of Hell.
The next few days where torture for Dallas. Older boys stole his food and hurled harsh curses at him. They shunned Dally and beat him whenever the guards weren't around.
The boy that was causing all this trouble was Chuck.
Chuck was a tall, muscular, and 18 year old with a big body but a small head. His head was shaved and his teeth were yellow. Dallas cringed at the very sight of him and tried not to show his fear. He fought back like hell whenever they took a swing at him, but always ended up on the dirty ground, coughing up blood. Chuck would laugh and whisper in his ear "Pussy" and leave. What were worse were showers.
They all showered together in one big room, no walls to hide there selves. Guards stood at the doors, making sure no one got out or no fights were issued. The stools in the small dressing rooms were where Dally would sit and wait until the whistle was blown. Dallas had heard guys talking bout rapes that were done to break the tough new kids, but Dallas was always alert and hid whenever some boys came in.
The day Chuck found him was the worst. "Hey, look what I found here, fellas." He yanked Dally by the collar and threw him on the ground. The other boys laughed and spit on him. Dallas quickly glanced around for an escape but found none. When he tried to get up, Chuck put a foot on his back and pushed hard. Tears threatened to come, but Dallas pushed them down. He was terrified but he knew he couldn't show it.
That would only make it worse. It was only when he felt the tugging of his pants did he yelp and fight back. HE kicked, bit, and punched, but the others held him down and hit him in the face, telling him to shut up or else.
A sock was stuffed in his mouth and he gagged. Black was seeping around his eyes and the tears where close, close enough for him to drown in them.
But he didn't let them fall. Not even when it was over, he didn't cry.
Back in his cell, he refused to let himself go numb. Back in the streets, kids told him that was the worse thing to do. Pain is your friend. It tells you you're still alive. Dallas thought this over and over under he thought of a plan…
The lunch tables where packed as usual and Dallas stood alone, placing a small, metal, butter knife in his pants. Chuck stood laughing and punching a few friends playfully on their heads.
It made Dallas sick.
When Chuck went to throw his trash away, Dallas hurried and sat down in chucks seat. The others threw looks at him, curiously wondering what he was doing. When Chuck came back, he glared and hit Dallas over the head. "Oi boy, MOVE." Dallas stayed, waiting. Chuck hit him one more time and threw his hand down on the table.
Dallas flung out the knife and stabbed Chucks hand to the table, pinning it there. Chuck screamed and withered with pain. The others scouted away and moved towards Dally, a new leader born. Dallas leaned toward Chuck, whispering violently, "Touch me again, and it's your dick next" Chuck cried out in terror and tried to get the knife out. When the guards asked, the other boys didn't rat, only said Chuck had done it to himself for attention.
Dallas claimed he didn't know Chuck.
Everything was okay then.
After his time was up, Dallas found himself there many times over the years. He found kids from the streets and talked often to them. When he asked of Emma, they would shrug and say she disappeared. By the time he was 17, the guards knew him well and greeted him by name. The judge said, alas, this was Dallas's last chance. After this, Prison. Dallas had laughed and glared playfully at the judge. "Sure" and was led away.
When he got out, he went on the hunt for Emma. The sudden urge to see her was strong and he was worried something had happened. What with that pretty face and all.…
The occasional bar hopping was a good start. He'd always ask around then get shit faced. People in New York didn't seem to care what your age was, nor if you ended up dead in the gutter the next day. People seemed to know Emma well. Saying she came in for a job then two days later leave. Dallas smiled whenever he heard this. She reminded him of his mother. Never could stay in one place for to long. When he did find her, she was prettier than ever. Her black hair had turned to a light dark brown and shed filled out. He sat down at the bar table and waited until she turned around. When she did, her blue eyes met his and she gasped, dropping the glass she was holding.
He'd smirked and nodded, getting up when jumped over the bar table and hugged him warmly. He'd hugged back all the same, feeling his cold heart grow a little warm. "Oh Dallas, I told you not to go in that store. I got so worried you where killed and …God. I'm glad you're okay."
Well, I'm not entirely okay, sugar.
The met for dinner later on, smiling and remembering all times back on the streets.
"Oh my god, do you remember when Dale wanted to go fishing on the frozen lake over in central park and fell in?" Emma laughed, her eyes watering from it as she sipped her water slowly. Dallas cracked a grin and nodded, loving the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled. They reminisced some more, glad to have each others company. He walked her home that night, the cold air swirling around them, causing there hug they shared at her doorway to be more affectionate.
"I really missed you, Dally." She whispered, pulling back to look at him.
"I miss you too, Emma." He kissed her softly on the lips, hands cupping her cheeks. Shed responded and wrapped her arms around his neck lovingly, stroking his silky hair. When they pulled apart, they'd smiled and went into her apartment.
Over the next few months they were inseparable. Dallas unofficially moved into her apartment and tried as hard as he could to stay out of trouble. But the occasional tire slashing to ass holes was acceptable, right? Other than that, Dallas thought life couldn't get better. To him, Emma was his world, his everything. Sure they fought, over the stupidest things, but always made up a few hours later. Emma seemed to understand him more than anyone. Though, the fact that he never wanted to talk about his past bothered her, she never pushed. Mostly all she had to do was stare at him with those big blue eyes and he would give in. He loved those eyes to death and told her how beautiful she was everyday. She'd blush like mad and try to cover it.
"Dallas, quite saying that."
"Why, doll? You are."
He'd flash a devilish smile and wrap his arms around her waist, kissing her until they were both weak at the knees.
He sure did love that girl.
"Dallas?" she whispered one morning before the sun came up, when silence hugged the apartment tightly, the sound of a needle dropping could be heard.
"Hmmm?" he mumbled, still half asleep as he turned over, eyes closed lightly. Her felt her kiss his forehead repeatedly and rubbed his nose with hers. When she whispered two words that made his heart stop and his eyes shoot open, he was fully awake.
She smiled and sat up. "You heard me."
It took a moment to register in Dallas head that THAT was a good thing and he smiled too. He grabbed her by the arm gently and pulled her on top of him. "That's…That's great, baby." His eyes drifted to her stomach and he ran a hand over it. "Wow" he murmured, looking up at her with gleaming eyes. Emma only smiled back and kissed him softly.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Emma."
To celebrate, Dallas took Emma to the movies. Emma had been begging to see Gone with the wind for months and Dallas finally gave in, promising not to fall asleep. When it was over, it was dark out, the stars aligning the sky like diamonds, twinkling very brightly. Emma had a slight skip to her walk and Dallas chuckled as her tried to keep up.
"Do you want a boy or a girl?" she asked out of the blue, turning to look back at him with curious eyes. Dallas sighed and wrapped an arm around her waist.
"It don't matter, honey. I'm happy with what the baby's going to turn out to be."
Emma nodded, leaning into him a bit, placing a hand on her stomach. "I want a girl." Dallas heard her murmur quietly. He smiled and kissed her forehead. "A girl would be great, darling." They walked more down the sidewalk more, talking lightly of names and what the baby would look like. When they got to a deserted stop light, they waited to see if any cars would come. The hair on Dallas neck stood. Something was wrong…
Dallas jumped and turned around quickly, immediately putting Emma behind him. He blinked twice to make his mind believe what he saw. Chuck stood under a streetlight. His eyes were hollowed out and his face was a deathly pale.
He's been popping pills…
Dallas's eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. Chuck smiled and took a step forward. He said something in a slurred language that even Dallas couldn't understand. Dallas eyed the bulge in Chucks left pocket. Its ether a heater or a switchblade. He thought, cursing himself for not bringing one himself. Chuck held up a hand that was missing two fingers and half the palm.
"Member this, Dally? Think you could get away without me getting you back." He chuckled. The sweat on Dallas's brow picked up and he said out of the corner of his mouth to Emma for her to run home. But Chuck immediately pulled out a heater and pointed it at her.
"Move and Ill blow your fuckin brains out."
Anger boiled in Dallas mind and he lashed out. "Don't talk to her that way you Bastard."
Chuck laughed and pointed the gun to the air, shooting it once. Dallas flinched and tried to think of a way to get out of this. When Chuck pointed the gun to him again, Dallas narrowed his eyes. "You pull that trigger and I swear to god I'll kill you." Chuck smiled and said "Is that a threat?" Dallas stepped forward and closed his eyes when he heard the boom. When he heard Emma's scream and felt no pain, he opened his eyes. And right when he did, he wished he wouldn't of. Emma stood in front of him, swaying. Her white blouse that shed worn was leaking red and Dallas let a whimper escape his mouth when she turned to face him.
She breathed his name softly and leaned forward. Dallas lunged toward her and caught her around the waist, sinking toward the ground. He held her tightly, all at the same time shredding his jacket and pressing her wound hard to stop the bleeding. Her eyes watched him silently, her face growing pale. "D...Dallas." she mumbled, her voice shaking and her breathing slowing. Dallas tried to stop his hands from shaking furiously and looked down into her darkening eyes. "Emma. You're so stupid. Why? I could a got him." He almost had to force himself not to sob.
Emma closed her eyes tightly and sighed. "I was scared. My…reaction was to just get in front of you." Blood trickled out of her mouth in a small stream, causing Dallas's heart to ache and his hand instantly wiped it away. The blood stain grew around Emma's shirt and Dallas frantically tried to push harder. "Emma come on now, baby. Don't do this to me." A small tear ran down to the tip of his nose and dropped on her shoulder. He must have screamed help a thousand times and cursed when he found Chuck had ran. Emma's blood was everywhere and her breathing was slowing quickly. "Emma." He was sobbing softly now. It hurt to cry. It really did. She smiled softly at him and placed a blood caked hand on his wet cheek. Her voice was barley a whisper and he had to strain to hear her.
"Stop crying, dally." He shook his head, denying her. "I need you. Please." He gasped out, his heart feeling as if it was being ripped out. Emma smiled and whispered slowly…
"I…Love…You. You'll go on without me."
Dallas shook his head, his throat screaming at him. "I wont, I can't...I love you too much." Emily shook her head and winced. "You can. Trust…m...me. But…But" Tears rolled down her face as she said "know that I love you more than the world."
Then she died.
Dallas screamed no and cried until his throat felt as if it would bleed. He whispered I love you over and over until he couldn't talk. Revenge bubbled in his body and he swore to the corpse and himself that he would seek it and would make Chuck pay for what he did to his beloved Emma.
And he did seek revenge. Found out where Chuck lived and slit his throat while he slept. Then threw the body in the pond by a local park. But that didn't make him feel better. No, it made him number, more cold. He found himself trying to forget Emma and everything they had. Then…he would think about her and there unborn child. Tears had long been shed and never fell and his heart turned black, with no remorse.
Dallas couldn't look at Cherry after he told her his story. He felt ashamed for some reason and too open. When he told Sylvia bits and pieces of it, she'd acted all fake and sappy. He hated that. He really did. Then she'd whispered about how Emma must have been a bitch. Now, as he sat on his bed in the room he'd called home at Bucks, he felt awkward for some reason with Cherry there. She made him feel totally different and alive. His opinion about her sometimes changed everyday. She made him smile truly at the little things she did and laugh at them too she thought she had won the lottery when she found his tickle spot. They'd started out as friends after Johnny died and Dallas got out of the hospital. He'd convinced her to let him take her to the drive in and talk. When he got it through her head that they would JUST talk, she gave him a look and said fine. Over the weeks after that, they'd gotten closer and closer until it finally came down to this. She didn't say a word for awhile, just stared at him with round eyes. He looked at the wall for a long time, silently cursing himself for doing this. Then small arms wrapped around his waist and hugged him closer.
"Oh Dally." She murmured, holding him close. Dallas felt his heart warm and his throat begin to hurt. Everything he had built up for so long came crashing down as he leaned his head into Cherry's shoulder and cried. His arms immediately went around her and all she did in return was kiss his forehead and whisper over and over "its okay." She didn't think any less of him for this. She didn't think he was weak or anything. No pity ether. Just knew that everyone had a breaking point and Dallas needed to let it out.
After awhile, she found that the boy had cried himself to sleep against her, breathing gently. His face was softened out and he looked so innocent and boyish as he slept. Cherry smiled and leaned him down on the bed and placed his head gently on the pillow. Then she slid beside him and cuddled into his lean frame, blushing when he turned in his sleep, throwing his arm around her as he murmured her name. She leaned closer to his face quietly, seeing only if he was truly asleep, and kissed his cheek lovingly.
"I love you, Dallas."
And when she closed her eyes to rest, Dallas smiled and pulled her closer. She wasn't at all like Emma. Though he would miss Emma dearly for the rest of his life, he knew Cherry would always be there. No matter what. She accepted him. And that was all he ever needed.