An Unconventional Prince
Jack stood in front of the full length mirror cringing at his profile and trying not to curse. He hated these stupid monkey suits. Why Sarah made him wear them was beyond him. He would be just as comfortable in his everyday clothes but seeing as they were attending a high society shindig with Denton, there was no getting out of it.
Why she put so much importance on what those fuddie-duddies thought was beyond his reasoning but if this was important to her, then it was important to him and the rest of the family.
"Are you almost ready?" Sarah peeked her head around his door frame and smiled. "You look great."
"Why do we have to go to this thing again?"
"Because it will be an education, Jack," David grinned walking into the room he shared with his best friend. "Isn't that what you always say when you need me to do something I don't particularly like?" He added, eyes twinkling, causing Jack to debate whether or not to rip that smug look off his face.
"Jack please try and have fun," Sarah wrapped her arms around him and he returned the embrace with ease. "I know this isn't exactly your thing but it was nice of Denton to invite us and it may open the door to wonderful new opportunities."
"Sarah I told you, I don't need a job, I've got one."
"Jack we've been engaged for a little over a year now. You promised me that as soon as you could you'd find a reliable stable job and we could be married. Have you changed your mind?"
"I understand that, but I also said I'd do that when I could find a suitable replacement with the newsies."
"When Jack?" Sarah asked and the argument they'd been having for the better part of a year began again. It wasn't until David put a hand on each one of their shoulders indicating that it was time to go, that the argument seized. "Please just try to pretend like you are enjoying yourself tonight." Jack nodded and followed them out into the street and onto the coach that Denton hired to pick them up.
The entire ride there Jack's mind raced, he knew the biggest problem with finding another leader was that he didn't want him found. He'd been avoiding naming a successor because the truth be told, he wasn't ready to let go. These boys, boys he'd grown up with, weren't just guys he knew, or friends he'd made, they were family. They never gave up on him and he felt by leaving he would somehow be giving up on them. But like Sarah reminded him, at every opportunity, he wasn't a kid anymore.
David put an arm around his shoulder and they exchanged a knowing glance. David always seemed to know what he was thinking and feeling before he did. Something that at times could be annoying but in certain cases, like this one, he found comforting. He nodded to his ally and friend, happy that he had someone on his side.
The coach stopped in front of the building that housed the New York Sun's main offices. A ballroom was constructed on the main floor for galas and such and that is where the event would take place. Denton walked out of the building in order to meet them. As hellos were exchanged Jack followed the Jacob's inside along with Denton.
As soon as they were inside the door Denton took Sarah and her parents aside and began a series of introductions. David on the other hand hinted for Jack to follow him over to the punch bowl with Les trailing behind.
"This is stupid," Les grumbled while fidgeting with his bow tie.
Jack wrapped an arm around the young boys shoulders and pulled him to his side, all the while agreeing with his comment. This wasn't a place for a little kid les's age. He should be home or at a pal's house playing marbles or something. But like him, Les was forced to endure the upper crust of society.
"Les it won't be long," David remarked putting a hand on his little brother's shoulder.
The three boys stood there for a few minutes talking over some newsie business when an older couple walked by. All conversation seized when they overheard Sarah's name associated with Denton's. From what they could make out Sarah had made quite a splash on high society but it was rumored that Denton's interests with the girl were more than friendly.
"Well you know, a girl like that is not exactly marriage material. Not for an upstanding member of society. I think she would do better off to marry a factory worker or coachman," the woman remarked to her companion.
"Well she is trying a bit too hard to fit in," A younger man walked over giving them each a quick hug. All the time Jack, David and Les continued to listen in. "She is pretty though."
"Don't you even think of it," the woman huffed. "No son of mine will be associated with someone so beneath him."
"They seem nice enough to me," the older gentleman interjected. "Still not the sort I would be seen with in respectable circles."
"People like that should remain where they belong, in the alleyways and bars. Can you believe the parents work in factories, how vulgar."
Jack had heard enough and was about to step forward when David gently grabbed his arm and lead him and his brother outside onto the terrace. Jack was fuming and by the looks on his friends face David's anger was boiling below the surface as well. They needed a minute to calm down before they ripped those people apart.
"What did they mean, by beneath them?" Les asked David.
David looked down into the innocent eyes of his brother and forced a smile upon his face. He wanted to vent his opinion about their so called comments about his family and about Sarah, but that wasn't him, and it definitely wasn't something a child should hear. But apparently Jack didn't get the message.
"It means they think they are better than us."
"It's true ain't it?"
"Better than us, how?" Jack looked down at Les and immediately regretted what he'd said. True as it might be, he shouldn't have said it.
"You don't worry about that. How about a dish of ice cream, I see a few left on the dessert table. Wanna grab us a couple?" Les looked up with a huge grin on his face and rushed back into the ballroom colliding into a young man and causing him to spill his drink.
"Look what you did," he snapped, examining the damage.
"I'm sorry mister, I didn't see you."
To Les's surprise the man grabbed his arm and tugged a bit too roughly. "Well next time you should watch where you're going," he growled causing a few raised eyebrows from the people nearby. "What are you doing here anyway? This is no place for you."
"He's with me," Bryan calmly walked over and released Les from the man's grip. "He's my guest tonight along with his family and I suggest you treat him as such.
"Oh look, Mr. High and Mighty himself."
Denton was about to step forward with a few choice words but a hand rested on his shoulder and he was forced to hold his tongue and his temper. "Now boys this isn't the time or the place. If you want to exchange polite un-pleasantries I suggest you do it on the front page." Mr. Harris who was one of the senior editors for the Sun eyed his two prodigies with a silent warning. "Now I recommend we commence the festivities and remember that we are gentlemen." He eyed the other young man knowingly while he stated the final phrase.
Sarah and her parents were in another part of the building and didn't see the commotion but David and Jack sure did. If Denton hadn't stepped in they would have. When the other man stalked away they stepped in beside Bryan and Les.
"Who was that guy?"
"His name is Robert Peterson."
"What's his beef with you?" Jack asked.
"He's been vying for my position at the Sun for a few months now. He claims he can do a better job."
"So not exactly one of your supporters," David noted. "He's got a short fuse."
Denton turned to the boys and smiled. "You two don't miss much, do you?" They exchanged a look and returned the smile.
"How about we discuss this a bit more in detail, a little bit later?"
They nodded and Denton left them turning his attention to an older woman with a sweet disposition. The boys in turn looked Les over and satisfied that he had faired the ordeal well, all three made their way over to the dessert table together.
The next few hours went by without incident or much else. Denton continued to make the introductions and Jack found that not all the party guests thought as this Peterson did. Which came as a bit of a surprise to him, since he was still thinking about the conversation they had overheard earlier in the evening. Taking a peek at his companions he realized something else. The Jacob men seemed bored and a bit out of place, but the two Jacob women were apparently having the time of their lives.
"Jack this is driving me nuts," David whispered to him. "I talked to my parents and they said we could walk Les home if we wanted too."
Jack sighed (a little too loudly) with relief and David had to force back a smile. As they said their goodnights and made their way toward the door, Jack spotted Meyer and couldn't help but feel a bit sympathetic if not some pity for the poor man. This was going to be a long night for him, not that it hadn't been already.
As they made their way outside and down the few steps to the sidewalk, a fresh breeze picked up and wiped the slate clean of the last few hours. The musty smell of cigarettes and perfumes gone and left its place was nothing but the desire to forget.
"Damn Davey it must be past midnight."
"Eight, Jack. It's eight o'clock," David corrected slipping his watch back into his vest and trying not to laugh at the bewilderment on Jack's face. "Wanna head over to the lodge for a little while?"
"Hey yeah," Les agreed wholeheartedly and the three made their way over to the lodging house that housed their extended family members.
AN: And so it begins. This story centers on the relationship between Sarah and Jack and a few obstacles they have to overcome in order to stay together. :)