DISCLAIMER: The inspiration for this is all courtesy of the wonderful Jenna's Last Jam who has given her permission to allow me to continue her wonderful masterpiece that is 'A Beautiful Love' I just hope that I can live up to her standards by producing something as brilliant as the former story of the same title.
This story takes place two years after Rooster and Lily were sent to jail for attempted murder of Annie Warbucks. Miss Hannigan is now living at the Warbucks residence along with Punjab who has helped to find her a job in Warbucks' office. Miss Hannigan has passed the responsibility of the orphanage to her brother Daniel (Rooster) Hannigan and his fiancee Lily St Regis.
She drummed her fingers on his shoulder.
"Oh nothing" She gave him an affectionate hug and sat down on the cold floor. She looked at Rooster as he read the newspaper. The curve of his face was covered with stubble. She figured he hadn't thought to shave in a while. Lily looked around the kitchen. She heard the children running upstairs. She was close to yelling, but contained herself. Those kids had been through enough crap, she didn't want to add to it.
"So, ya gonna get a job Daniel?" He looked up at her. She'd always called him Rooster, right up until he had tried to kill Annie, and all for the sake of $50,000. So once he'd been released from jail and become a new person, she'd reverted to calling him by his real name Daniel, and to show his gratitude, he no longer used his rooster crow in conversation, or even when he visited his sister at Warbucks Mansion. He felt he already had a job. Ever since his sister had left the orphanage to him, he spent most of his time trying to give the orphans the best life they could have. He told Lily he was a changed man. She said he wasn't. She said it was just another side to him that he didn't know he had.
"You want me to get a job?"
"Well." She stood up and straightened her plain dress. "Not really. We have to take care of the kids. And we still have to have time for us." He had missed Lily when they were in jail. They hardly ever got to see each other. She was the first person he loved. And the only one. "We've been engaged for over a year Daniel. Are we ever gonna get married?" She sat down on his lap. He put his arms around her. He had been wondering about that.
"Of course we are Lil. And all the girls can be in the wedding." Lily giggled. He knew of how she loved the girls. She talked about how they bonded over poker or something. He didn't even know that they played poker. Apparently neither did Lily. Their heads turned toward the ceiling as they heard little feet coming down the stairs.
"LILY! ROOSTER!" It was Sarah. She was the loudest. "MEETING IN THE LIVING ROOM!" Lily bounced off of Rooster's lap. They walked into the large parlour while holding hands. What is this about? Lily thought. The ten girls filed in to the living room one by one. Sarah came over to Lily and Rooster.
"Alrighty...so we'se fed up with you two."
"Excuse me young lady?" Daniel repeated.
"When are you guys gonna get married?" Lily and Daniel erupted into laughter. Lily thought that they were going to threaten to move out or something. "Since you two can't answer that question, we decided to answer it for you. And you two are going to get married today!" Kay the eldest announced firmly.
"Kay, we can't get married just like that. It takes planning." Explained Lily in amusement.
"Oh it does, does it?" Kay retorted crossly. "You'se two stayed loyal to each other for just over five years whilst Rooster was in jail and we know that you love him, and he loves you…"
"Kay, one day you'll understand. It's not as easy as that."
"Stop talking crap, you know you love each other. What's the difference with two rings, huh?"
"I ain't got the money to buy my wife a wedding ring. I hope you don't mind, Lily."
"No, of course not. The engagement ring's just fine."
"Oh, but it was stolen, Lil. I want to leave all that behind me."
"You didn't really steal it, Daniel. You just took it from a dead body. It's called 'looting'."
"Lil. I promised myself when I was released from Sing Sing that this was gonna be a new start for me. I do love you, Lily St Regis."
"I know you do, Daniel Francis Hannigan, and I need to tell you, Daniel, I've been using that name for so long now it's become part of me, but Lily St Regis isn't my real name."
"Of course, I knew that." Daniel told her, "Girls. Could you give us a moment, please?"
"Sure." Agreed Kay and Sarah, "just take your time, we'se in no hurry."
Once they had left, Daniel Hannigan took his sister's former seat and sat back in the chair. Lily sat on the edge, looking slightly tearful.
"What is it, Lily?" Daniel asked softly.
"I should have told you everything from the start. I was born on the skids. My parents abandoned me when I was eight years old. We had nothing. I stole stuff from the street sellers to feed myself and my brothers and sisters. When I was old enough, I got myself a job in this bar in Jersey City, and the guy who owned the place used to like me to sing cos he said I had talent. So much for talent, I tried every theatre from Radio City to the Roxy and no one would take me. So I reinvented myself, got myself a new name, and became the Lily St Regis you see before you. Then, that wonderful day when I was workin' in that crummy bar, you came in and flipped that guy's wallet from his back pocket. I was so impressed I spilt that stuff all over you, but you didn't care. You were suave, sophisticated and dangerous. You seemed to know what it was like to be left to fight on your own, so…"
"Lily, I don't care about what you did, I love you, I loved you from the second I laid eyes on you, and if you think that I'd walk out on you cos you changed your name and identity then you got me all wrong."
"Daniel, I'm Sadie Oldengwen, that's my real name. If you want to marry me as Lily St Regis, I won't object, but I'd rather die than go back to being Sadie Oldengwen."
"Well, you're always going to be Lily St Regis, and I don't care what anyone says about you. You're my Lily, and that's how you'll stay."
"Oh Daniel!" Lily leaned over and wrapped her arms around him, knowing that he loved her, and always would, made her feel safe and secure.
"Lily, why did you start calling me Daniel? Was the old Rooster Hannigan not good enough for you?"
"No, of course not, Daniel. I just thought…you wanted to be someone new, so you wouldn't want to be known as Rooster Hannigan any more. I'm sorry if you thought I was insulting you, but you know, I often see you on the bridge in my dreams, climbing those railroad tracks to reach that little girl and I think, God, I could never imagine you being like that again. If you remember, when you and your sister first came up with the plan you and I trapped all those kids in a closet and I vowed afterward that I'd never have such brats, well, I didn't mean it."
"You're saying what exactly, Lil? Cos remember, this orphanage is already over crowded, and until this damned Depression ends, that's the way it's goin' to be."
"But who knows when it will end? Daniel, if we can get married, I want to…"
"Have some kids? Lil, there's no way that's appropriate at the moment. Look, we have almost 250 kids here, and they're all under the age of fourteen. We can't be selfish, you know."
"Oh, ok." Lily replied half heartedly.
"We ain't gonna make the same mistake my sister did."
"What, you mean, letting work get the better of you and eventually driving you to drink?"
"Daniel, that isn't going to happen to us, you know."
"Lil, it's the only thing I worried about when I got stuck in Sing Sing. You don't know my sister. This could all have been part of a big scheme of hers."
"Well," Began Lily, cheekily, "like brother like sister, huh?"
Daniel laughed and turned back to his newspaper.
TEACHERS AND UNEMPLOYED DESPERATELY NEEDED
"Lil, this is it. This is what we've been waiting for."
"What is it? Oh my God, a boarding school in New Jersey?"
"Lil, let's get outta New York. There's nothing here for us."
"And what about the kids? We can't just abandon them?"
"We'll take 'em with us. Don't you see, Lil? I can get a job as a janitor, you as a teacher and the kids can have education. It's like it was planned."
"But Daniel, what if we get there and the places are already filled? We can't take that chance."
"If we go and bring the kids later, it could work. I'll call Aggie and see if she'll watch the kids."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, Daniel."
"Lil, believe me, we're doing the right thing."
"Ok, call her."
Daniel picked up the phone and dialled the Warbucks residence.
"Hello? Drake speaking. This is the home of Oliver Warbucks."
"I'd like to speak to Agatha Hannigan please."
"One moment, sir. May I ask who is calling?"
Daniel put on a convincing English accent.
"This is Humphrey Saddleton, Miss Hannigan's former lawyer."
"Right, sir. Miss Hannigan, a Mr Humphrey Saddleton on the phone for you."
"What do you want, Rooster?" Groaned Miss Hannigan as she took the phone.
"How did you know it was me, sis?"
"Only you could convince the Warbucks' butler that you were an English attorney."
"Ha, sis, you know me too well. Listen, Lily and I are thinking of going to New Jersey, there's some work there we'd like to do. If we get the jobs, we'll bring the kids with us, but we need someone to watch them while we're away."
"No, Rooster. Not even for twenty five bucks, not for a hundred. Didn't anybody teach you about money in Sing Sing?"
"Sure they did. It was all they talked about. I just need you to watch the kids for…two days, that's all."
"I just got my act together…I ain't gonna blow it all again."
"What, putting alcohol in the bath?" Scoffed Daniel, "sis, they're kids. You treat them right, they'll treat you right."
"Oh yeah…this comes from my brother who chased Annie up the V and O bridge two years ago, just so he could get his hands on 50,000 bucks!"
"I'm not that guy any more, sis."
"Sure. And how's Miss Sticky fingers?"
"Lily's fine, we're gonna get married."
"Ha!" Aggie Hannigan laughed, "You? A husband? Don't make me laugh Rooster. You'd drop her for Miss Honey Tones any day."
"What does she mean, Daniel?" Questioned Lily, snatching the phone.
"no she does…Agatha, this is Lily speaking."
"Hey there, Miss Sticky Fingers. You wanna know something about my baby brother?" Her words began to slur, "Well he's a player. He likes to mess around, ya know. So be careful with your commitments, missy."
"Daniel would never cheat me!" Retorted Lily crossly.
"Don't believe that, missy. If he wants someone new, he'll drop you like a 10 cent coin."
"I don't believe it." Lily threw the phone down on the table, causing Daniel to snatch it up.
"I won't have you telling Lil what to do, sis."
"It's just the truth, Rooster. You'll be lookin for another handout soon."
"No, sis. I've changed. I just need you to look after the kids for two days. That's it. Just two days."
"If the New York City Board of Orphans find out I'll be put inside. You want that, Rooster?"
"No. They won't find out. They hardly ever check. It won't matter when we get the jobs. We're taking the kids with us if we do."
"So if you get the jobs, you're taking those brats out of New York?"
"That's right. All 250 of 'em."
"That's the best thing I've heard in ages. They keep coming here to visit…Annie and getting' in my way. You're gonna take 'em off my hands for good if I let you go for this dumb job?"
"That's right. I'm even gonna leave $500 for ya."
"Where'd you get that kinda cash?"
"All those suckers in Sing Sing."
"Rooster. You never change."
"Thanks sis. You'll do it then?"
"You're gonna be the death of me, Rooster."
"Come round tomorrow morning."
Daniel replaced the phone.
"Is it true? You stole 500 bucks in Sing Sing?" Lily demanded coldly.
"How else do you think we've been able to survive?"
"Daniel, you promised me you didn't do anything underhanded in jail."
"Lil, 500 bucks is nothing."
"It is to a lot of people. How could you lie to me like that?"
"Lil, don't take it pers'nally. I lied to protect you."
"Sure. You're just the same as before you went into jail. The same old Rooster, flipping wallets and deceiving people."
"Lil, that money is stored away. I've been saving it for an opportunity, like this. I won't have you travellin' on the back of some flea ridden truck, you're gonna be travelling in style."
"I don't care any more. You lied to me. Me! The one person I thought you really cared about!"
"Lily, I do care."
"You don't. You wouldn't have lied to me. I bet all that stuff your sister told me was true too. You'd drop me for some Fifth Avenue sweetheart at first sight."
"Lil, my sister likes to stir up trouble. But you don't need to worry, she's gonna watch the kids while we're in New Jersey."
"Who said we're still going? How can I trust you now?"
"Lil, please. You just have to."
"I don't have to do anything." Lily retorted crisply, "I don't need you to tell me what I can and can't do."
"I'll go to New Jersey on my own, Rooster."
He grabbed her arm.
"Lil, come on. Everything's perfect now. Let's not spoil it."
"Let go of my hand, Rooster. I need some time to think." She ran out of the room and upstairs. Daniel did not follow her. He sat down in his sister's chair and looked in the mirror. He saw himself as Rooster Hannigan, the player, the thief, the scoundrel, not the face he wanted to see. He had tried so hard to convince himself that he was a new person. He had changed, hadn't he? Or was it all a farce?