Note to Caroline "Lucky" Conlon:

My dear girl, I am so sorry for not getting this back to you! My very deepest apologies. But this story is for you.

Cath took a quick peek into her brother's bedroom to make sure he was asleep. Then she tiptoed silently into his bedroom, carefully pulling the door shut behind her; she winced as the hinges squeaked and looked hurriedly over at her brother; but he did not stir.

She sighed silently in relief, and, reaching the ugly dresser and opening it, pulled out- a gun.

Smiling and nodding in satisfaction, she carefully stowed it in her belt and glanced over at her brother again. A look of fiendish glee spread over her face.

He wouldn't have any idea that his little, harmless, dumb sister had taken his gun.

She walked over to the open window, and, in a well-practiced and well-excecuted motion, grabbed the branch just outside of it, and swung herself out.

Landing on the hard ground below, she flinched; but no noise erupted from her chapped, pale lips.

She turned and made her way, in limping and yet confident hobbles, down the street.

If you'd looked closely, you would've realized that the limp came from the fact that one leg was slightly twisted, making moving at all painful for her.

But never a sound came out of her mouth.

Suddenly, quick as thought, a hand reached out of a nearby alleyway. Before she even had time to think, she was being dragged into the alleyway, her mouth covered.

She tried to struggle, but her leg made it hard, and what's more is that there were not two hands now, but four. And then six.

There's three of them! She thought frantically. Maybe running away wasn't such a great idea after all.

Just then, she remembered her gun. But I can't even get at it, much less use it! In fact, I'm not even sure I know how to shoot it!

The other part of her brain, the part that was still being sensible, said, It's easy, stupid. You just pull the trigger!

The other side argued back, But there's three of them, and I can only shoot it once that way.

Yes, but they don't know that!

All right, all right! But all that doesn't solve the problem of how I can get at it!

All of these thoughts whirled through her head in a matter of seconds. Just as she was about to throw herself towards the opposite wall to get out of their arms, she felt all the pressure they were putting on her disappear.

What on earth? She wondered, before seeing a figure rise from the ground and come towards her.

She whipped out the gun and held it before her in shaking hands. "Take one step closer," she gasped, trembling, "and I shoot!"

"Cath," said a low voice smoothly. "It's so good to see you again!"

"Who are you?" Cath whispered, barely able to squeeze the words out and keep her grip on the gun at the same time.

"I'm Spot. Remember me?"

"Spot?" Cath was utterly incredulous. "You're dead!" She added stupidly.

"Apparently, I'm not."

"But-b-but-!"

"Haven't you heard about me? I'm famous now! I'm the King of Brooklyn!"

Cath let the gun enter the boy's hands. "No. I haven't even been outside the house for ages. Papa doesn't approve."

"Oh, he's still alive, is he?" Spot's air was just as careless, just as cocky.

"Yes. Mama- Mama- isn't- though." Cath could barely get the words out.

The boys on the ground started to stir. "I'm sorry." Spot said hastily. "I know a place where you'll be safe though." He grabbed her wrist. "C'mon."

As he dragged her down the street, she barely had breath to blurt out, "Where?"

"You could become a newsie. Live in the newsies' lodging house. You'll get good money, what with that limp of yours."

Cath winced. She hated references to her defect. "A-aall riiiighht..." she replied doubtfully.

Spot gave her hand a little squeeze. "You'll be fine." He reassured her.

"It's so good to see you!" She said, changing the subject. "So- why aren't you dead?"

"Well," Spot said with a grimace, "that's a long story. I'll just sum up. After those thugs beat me up, and after your father dragged you away and confined you to the house, then this woman came along and fixed me up. Long story short, she sort of unofficially adopted me, and I started moving up in the world. After I got a job as a newsie, I made my way to the top, and here I am. The King of Brooklyn." He shrugged. "It's not all it's made up to be, but I get by."

"That's good." Cath hesitated, then said timidly, "Are you sure you don't mind me... tagging along?"

Spot looked at her in surprise. "Tagging along?" He repeated. "'Course not, Cath!"

"Oh, good." Cath sighed happily. "Are we almost there?"

"Yeah. This is it."

Cath looked up at a rickety building that looked as though it were about to collapse.

"Oh." She said, and I think we can forgive her if she sounded a little faltering. "It's- very- nice."

Spot looked at the building proudly. "Ain't it, though." He agreed happily.

Cath gave him an awkward side-hug. "Thanks." she whispered.

"It was nothing." He said, and led her inside.

Eventually, they got married. But that's another story, and, though it's a tale worth telling, I'm afraid I must needs go now.

Was that good? Did you like it? Was is horrible? Did you hate it? Well, tell me what you thought!

-Austra