This was a very random idea. I went to see West Side Story and I LOVED it. I've always loved the film; it's one of my all time favourites. But I'd never seen it in theatre before and it was just brilliant. The guy playing Baby John was only 16!
It was in the overture where I saw the guy playing A-Rab holding an arm out to protect the boy playing Baby-John when they pass the people playing the Sharks. I thought, "Aww, isn't that nice?" And then I randomly decided to expand on that on what may have spurred the character to be so protective of Baby John. Thus, this weird fic was born!
A-Rab was the one who encouraged the Jets to let Baby John in the gang. Perhaps to some people, because of this A-Rab would seem like a good guy. Afterall, Baby John had no one else. But A-Rab knew the truth, and so did the Jets. A-Rab was not a boy like that. A-Rab had done a terrible thing letting Baby John into the violent gang.
You see, A-Rab was the second youngest of the Jets. Before Baby John, A-Rab was the one who was bossed about, patronized, even bullied sometimes by Action or Big Deal. He knew they were like family, but he had gotten sick of being the youngest. But what could he do? A-Rab had no one else but the gang. He relished being a part of it, but even when being part of the big boys, A-Rab was the littlest man.
It all changed the day he met Baby John. He was just plain John back then. Just a plain kid. He wasn't one of the lucky ones; he was lonely like the rest of the Jets. But A-Rab sometimes wondered if he'd left well enough alone whether Baby John had a better chance of making something of his life without the Jets.
It was a Monday evening; the sun was setting rapidly as if fearing what the hoodlums would make of the night. After parting with Tony and Action, A-Rab had been slouching home, dragging his feet reluctantly when he heard a commission from a narrow alley. Three boys about A-Rab's age were jumping some kid. Any other day, A-Rab may have said, "That's his problem." But then –whatever possessed him to- A-Rab took a closer look at the cowering boy. He couldn't have been older than thirteen. Maybe even then, on a different day A-Rab still would have scarpered. But this very day A-Rab had been pushed too far by Action, and Riff had been forced to step in between them. Action had started it, but A-Rab was the newest member, so he was the one who got the disappointed looks. It wasn't fair, and it wasn't fair what was happening to this kid. Even from where A-Rab stood he could hear the kid crying. What sick SOB would pick on a child?
Before A-Rab knew what he was doing, he had sprinted over too quick for them to notice until it was too late. Grabbing one by the cuff of his neck, A-Rab punched him in the jaw. He went down easily enough, but the two other guys were ready by then, forgetting the kid. A-Rab put up a good fight, but only ten seconds into the fight he knew it was too tough.
He breathed in, and bellowed out his infamously loud war cry. "JETS! JETS!" The guys backed off immediately and out the corner of his eye A-Rab saw the kid gawk up at him in awe. A-Rab couldn't be sure whether he had been heard; surely Tony and Action weren't that far away. Either way, the bullies got over there fear and together they jumped A-Rab, kicking him and punching him to the ground. Even the guy he had knocked down had recovered. The rest of this memory was blurry. It figured; A-Rab always forgot the most important stuff. It turned out that Tony and Action had heard, and they ran over just in time to see kid A-Rab was 'saving' throw a mighty punch on the biggest guy that were beating the crap out of A-Rab. Keen to join the fight, Action and Tony beat the bullies black and blue and they practically crawled away, swearing to never show face in the Jet's area again by the time the sun had fully set, lingering to watch the end of the fight. A-Rab was bruised; Tony and Action were fine, and the kid?
"'You alright?" A-Rab asked gruffly, gingerly prodding his elbow.
He nodded nervously. After seeing how they fought, the poor kid was too scared to look at them the wrong way.
"What the hell did you do?" He breathed, looking down the alley after the retreating bullies.
He mumbled, "T-they said I wasn't allowed to walk down here no more as it was their hang out place, but I sort of said this belonged to the Jets hands down," He shrugged his shoulders awkwardly. "Everyone knows that."
The Jets exchanged looks.
"What's your name?" Tony asked.
"Johnny." He mumbled.
"You live around here?
"How old are you?" Tony questioned.
"Who cares?" Action snapped, already growing bored. "Let's get out of here."
"Now hold on, this kid saved my neck!" A-Rab protested, trying to keep Tony interested. An idea had struck.
"That's pathetic." Action scoffed.
"Naw," Tony shook his head, "you saw what happened. This kid here," he gestured to the meek Johnny, "he just threw himself into the fight without fear. I've never seen anyone so young fight like that before. Except Riff." He laughed.
"So?" Action said.
A-Rab suddenly muttered to Tony. "Hey, I think we should let him in."
Tony turned to A-Rab cautiously, while Johnny stood ignored, wondering whether he was meant to be listening.
"It takes more than this to get into the Jets, you know that." Tony reminded A-Rab.
He scratched the back of his head and said slowly, "Yeah…I know, but… he's got potential, you gotta admit."
Action rolled his eyes. "You seriously want this baby in the Jets?"
"How old are you?" Tony asked again.
Johnny looked up, alarmed. "W-who me?"
Action slapped his forehead. "Jeez…"
"Yeah, you." Tony said, ignoring Action.
"Just turned fourteen."
Tony had made up his mind. "Come by the playground tomorrow around twelve. We may be there or not, depends what the others think about initiation."
"But that's school…" Johnny started, but the three incredulous looks stopped him. "O-okay, I'll come."
Even when the Jets took Baby John under their wing, he was still the most timid, quite sensitive. When the fights got particularly nasty, everyone could see how upset he got even though he tried to hide it. A-Rab once confronted Riff about it.
Riff waved a hand dismissively. "Hey, he's with the big boys now. He'll be okay. He's doing good."
Yes, A-Rab had done a terrible thing letting Baby John into the violent gang. It was the guilt of that which had first spurred him on to protect the kid. By making it his responsibility that Baby John was safe, A-Rab could feel better about shifting his status of the gang onto Baby John. As the time went by, A-Rab found a friend in him, and came to care of him like a younger brother. He would usually keep an eye on him in fights, stick up for him when Action or the others were too harsh, and taught him the ways of the Jets.
The day the Emeralds were beaten, Baby John got in trouble. He got pummelled with a bat, and A-Rab, who had seen the whole thing, was too preoccupied with avoiding bricks to go over. Tony had jumped out with nothing put an armful of garbage and took down the four guys –and even swiped their baseball bats and to use against the leader later on. He'd stood there, over Baby John and faced the gang fearlessly. If anyone was a good guy, it was Tony. All A-Rab could do was pick Baby John off the ground, they ran to the back of the gang while the Jets chased off the gang.
The others had noticed it, but never mentioned how concerned A-Rab got. Although later that day, Baby John had an interesting conversation with A-Rab. They stood against a brick wall, their lanky shadows stretching up it as the sun set not unlike the day they first met.
"I don't think I ever really said thanks for getting me into the Jets."
"Really, after today you pick the time to say thanks?"
"Yeah! Today was the best day of my life."
"...You got beaten with baseball bats. You must have had some pretty miserable days."
"Well gee, that wasn't the good part. The best part was when you guys were there to save me!"
"What? Man, I hate it when you bug me like that."
"Sorry, it's just…"
"Sorry, no what is it?"
"I just wanted to know if you were alright."
"I wasn't exactly the one who saved you, you know."
"Well sure, but we all look out for each other. Even if Tony was the one to actually save me."
"You think so?"
"Well sure. You're a boy like that. You all are."
It was then that A-Rab decided that even if he'd done a terrible thing letting Baby John into the Jets, he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm a man, not a boy."
There you go! Like? Not like? Let me know, thanks for reading!