Disclaimer: Watch me sob; tragically enough, Spot Conlon's BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL face is not mine. Neither do I own the Brooklyn Bridge, sadly.

Claimer: Blank, and Nickel are mine, and so is whatever shit I plan to put into the mysterious package.


He was alone.

Actually, he knew he wasn't. He knew he was far from alone, and every Brooklynite instinct screamed for his fingers to pull out his slingshot and marbles, but he knew why he couldn't.

But for all purposes, he was alone, as he was supposed to be. He had come alone, without back up, and without a lookout or spy or messenger.

He shoved his hands into his pockets, and was reminded of the reason he was here, from the ransom note in his left pocket, hastily scribbled, and signed with a flourish.

That was why he was on the Brooklyn Bridge, because it was neutral territory. They knew that if they met in Brooklyn, he'd kill them for taking his sister.

"Hello, Spot." A voice came from behind him. Spot's instincts screamed, and his fingers twitched, but he couldn't give his opponent the satisfaction of seeing him act like a Brooklynite. "Miss me?"

"Where is Nick?" Spot demanded, turning calmly, though he was furious. His dark blue shirt was unbuttoned in the warmth, and though Spot was a skinny kid, he was as strong as an ox, and tough as a cockroach.

His opponent knew it, and grinned.

He was a tall boy, seventeen and that made him only a year older than Spot. He had dark hair, nearly black, and pale green eyes that glinted in the moonlight. He was dressed like a newsie, a street kid, and his trademark knives hung from his belt and suspenders. It was a warm night, or his knives would've been hidden by the clothes he had picked out for that purpose.

The boy who'd been branded Half-Dollar when he was young had changed his name to Horseshoe, but he'd given up both those names.

Now he was called Blank. That was his name, Blank, because when you addressed him, there was normally a wide open space you would fill with curses if the younger newsies weren't around you. He left this stain on the city, a horror of the kind you found in nightmares.

"Easy, Spot. Dontcha trust me?"

"'Bout as far as I can throw ya," Spot spat. "Now wheah's my sistah?"

"Right heah, Spotty." He signaled, and appeared a boy, holding captive Spot's sister, Nickel, who looked murderous. Her eyes flamed, but she didn't dare move, for the boy held a knife to her throat. Among the street kids, a knife was no joke.

Spot was relieved she was not hurt more than a few bruises, so he was willing to overlook the 'Spotty,' but she was still bruised, and she had a knife to her throat, so he swore to himself that he'd make Blank pay.

"You brought them?" Blank demanded.

"Yeah, I brought them." Spot snapped.

"Hand it ovah, then, or the girl dies." Blank promised.

"I want your word, foist," Spot pulled the package out of his pocket. "It took me two weeks to get this shit, and I want your word, that you'll never touch Nickel again."

Blank sneered. "And what'm I s'pposed to swear on? We both know I got no honor." That was true. Neither of them did, because there was no honor among thieves. There was, however, honor among newsboys, but Blank was hardly even that.

Spot gave a cold, blank smile, hard as foot-thick ice. "Swear on your mother's soul," He proposed, because he alone knew what had happened to Blank's mother.

"And you?" Blank demanded, turning red with fury. The sneer disappeared from his face at the mention of his mother.

"I swear by Brooklyn." Spot declared, and he could feel the pride of his borough behind him.

Blank shook his head. "Not good enough, Spotty." He nodded at his chest, where that silver key hung. "Swear by that, or the deal's off." He said, because he alone, besides Nickel, knew what that key meant.

Instinctively, Spot's hand went to the key, and those ice eyes added another layer. He gave the key a squeeze.

"Deal." He spat in his hand, and held it out. "You let Nickel go, and never touch her again, and you get what you're looking for."

"Deal." Blank said, spitting into his hand. He slapped his hand into Spot's, and barked, "Let 'er go!"

The boy who held Nickel slid his knife into its sheath, and pushed Nickel into Spot.

In that one moment, when Spot caught his sister, they were gone, the both of them, and however many had been lurking in the shadows.

"I'll moidah 'im!" Nickel growled, but Spot grabbed her arm.

"Not tonight, Nick. We're goin' home."

Nickel glared at him, but her green eyes, piercing as they were, had no effect on her brother, only on others.

She was younger, and looked more like their mother than Spot did. They had the same hair, that was sometimes blonde and sometimes brown, and that same sharpness in their eyes. But Nickel was more delicately carved, as if she was a willow while he was an oak, albeit a young, skinny one. She was fourteen, but that was old enough to be considered a full newsie, and young enough still to be ransomed to her brother.

Nickel sighed, and rubbed her throat where the knife had threatened her. She slipped her hand into her brother's, smiling gently as he stiffened, because he wasn't used to emotion.

"You're right, Spot. Let's go back to Brooklyn."

As they walked away, Spot dropped that package on the Bridge, for Blank.

He only hoped he wouldn't regret.