I totally don’t know what to title this but uh maybe give this a read?? I’ve never written newsies stuff before and nobody proofread it so don’t judge too harshly please!
The first time Davey has an attack in front of Jack he runs to hide it. Makes up a stuttered excuse about going to the bathroom and avoids Jacks usual friendly pats on the back just so he won’t notice he’s shaking. They were with Crutchie and Spot and Racetrack in a place that was too crowded, too loud, too much. David had only met Jack a few days earlier, considering he’d just transferred, and he desperately didn’t want the reputation of the ‘panicky scared freak’ that he’d had at his old school.
So when in the middle of a conversation he felt the familiar drumming of his heart and lump rising in his throat David gently pushed Jacks arm off of him. This earned a confused look from the table and a concerned “You okay Dave?” from Jack.
Dave. The lump in Davids throat grew at least two sizes larger and he stumbled out of the seat, glad that it was probably too dark to see the blush taking over his face. “B-bathroom” Silently cursing his stutter he rushed off before anyone could stop him. When the loud chatter of conversation seemed to bleed through the walls of the abandoned restroom it was all David could do to keep from sliding down the wall and crying.
“I 2 3 4 5” Slowly counting and going through his routine breathing exercises David felt his pulse slow and the lump in his throat unknot itself. Taking one last deep breath he walked back out to the group and made up some lame excuse about getting caught up when his mom called him. This led to the boys all teasing him about how ‘sweet’ he was, brushing off his weird behavior as just being David.
The second time he has an attack around Jack it’s during lunch. It was Davids second week at their school, and most of the boys had learned that David was not touchy. Although he was affectionate he showed it through exasperated sighs and sheepish smiles, because touch just wasn’t his thing (giving or receiving).
Jack was the one exception. The way he’d casually place an arm around Daveys shoulders and how he’d always greet him with a hug all made Dave feel safe. Jack was always patient, at first he’d constantly asked permission but within just a few days he and Davey had learned to communicate almost telepathically. And the boys all recognized this and respected it. Davey didn’t like being touched and if you did something he wasn’t comfortable with then you had to deal with a pissed off Jack Kelly.
So when Skittery’s (slightly annoying) cousin Franky sat a little too close to David during lunch it set red flags off in his mind. Choking out laughs and keeping his gaze fixed on Jack and Racetrack who were on his other side David tried to pretend he was fine. Tried to pretend that just the body heat of Franky wasn’t making his hands shake and his heart hammer.
“Ugh Collins is such a dick Davey!” Groaned Jack overdramatically as he chomped down on his pizza. “I mean who assigns a packet over the weekend?!” Scrunching his nose as his friend talked with his mouth full David gave Jack a stern look, smiling when Jack swallowed his food before speaking again. “Over freaking Romeo and Juliet! The most overrated book of all time!”
Across the table Romeo let out an offended scoff, which made them all burst into giggles. David had almost forgotten about The over enthusiastic kid sitting much too close to him until Franky casually draped an arm around Davids shoulders as he was laughing. Nobody else seemed to have noticed until Davids laugh suddenly cut off and he sat rigid.
Racetrack was the first to notice what had made David suddenly so uncomfortable and a fierce glare was sent to Franky. A few others (Romeo, Skittery, and Blink) also sent dirty looks to Franky but he didn’t seem to get the message.
Then Jack noticed, and right underneath the surface he was livid. “Hey Franky” he calmly greeted in a saccharine sweet voice. The mentioned boy leaned over David to hear what Jack had to say, which only made it worse.
Squeezing his eyes shut and hunching his shoulders closer to him David tried to slow his breathing. “How about you let go of Davey here okay Franky?” There was a sickly sweet venom to Jacks voice as he smiled at Franky.
Leaning back into his seat Franky laughed, “Aw, he yours Jack?” The comment itself made Jack nearly boil over but what happened next made the entire table mad.
He squeezed David and pulled him into his side, ruffling his hair. Shooting out of his seat David dashed towards an abandoned hallway, his legs shaking so bad he nearly couldn’t stand.
“He don’t belong to nobody you dick” A Seething Jack shoved Franky’s chair back before running after Dave.
'Not today not here’ David thought frantically. Everything around him faded into a blur as he gasped like a fish out of water, too panicked to even think of his breathing exercises. Slipping down to the floor he tried desperately to think of anything, resorting to tears when it didn’t work.
The discord inside Davids head calmed the tiniest bit as he recognized Jacks voice. But he was acutely aware of the fact that Jack was panicking a little bit too.
“Hey hey just breath okay? Count with me bud”
A barely managed nod enough for Jack and he was surprised when David grabbed one of his hands, squeezing tight. Wasn’t affection the reason for Davids current panic anyways?
“1 2 3”
Squeezing Davids hand Jack sat down across from him, letting out a relieved sigh when his counts were finally repeated.
“1-1 2 3”
They continued counting until Jack felt Davids hands stop shaking and his stutter all but vanished. “I’m sorry Davey, I knew Franky was sitting too close but I figured it wouldn’t get too bad.” The two sat with their back against the lockers, Jacks arm draped across Davids shoulders and David leaning into his side for support.
“Its fine, I get these all the time” Jacks breathing hitched and David winced. 'He thinks you’re a freak, a wimp. He’s gonna leave you like everyone else’
But Jack didn’t leave, he squeezed David just a little bit closer to his side. “Why didn’t you tell me Dave? Is that why you left at dinner the other night?”
And so they spent lunch and their free period discussing Davids anxiety and how Jack could help.
The third time David has an attack around Jack, Jack does everything he can to prevent it.
Several of their friends were in the band and so he’d joined Jack and Crutchie for a football game to see their friends play. David had yet to attend any games because a football game was just about the worst place for somebody with sensory overload issues and a pretty severe anxiety. But Jack promised he’d be with him all night, and so David allowed his best friends to drag him to the game.
“Popcorn Dave?” Crutchie asked, holding it out towards his friend who shook his head. Currently the three sat towards the top of the bleachers because it was less crowded and Jack assured David 'you can see better up here anyways’. Jack and Crutchie sat on either side of him, David leaning into Jack who had an arm wrapped protectively around his shoulders. After a particularly bad call yelling and shouts rippled throughout the audience and David nuzzled into Jacks scarf.
“It’s too loud Jacky” Wincing at the quiet tone of the curly haired boy who was hiding in his scarf Jack nodded.
Pushing Davids hair off of his forehead Jack placed a light affectionate kiss on the exposed patch of skin, which only made David burrow into his scarf more in an attempt to hide his intense blush. “How about I go get you a hat or some earmuffs?” After a second of hesitation David nodded because Jack wouldn’t take longer than five minutes and Crutchie himself had an anxiety problem and knew what to do if an attack happened. “I’ll be right back okay?” Gently Jack shifted David over towards Crutchie, who smiled brightly and held Davids hand to assure him that somebody was still with him.
Watching Jack walk down the stairs and away from him made Davids heart panic. He knew it wasn’t healthy, this unsafe feeling he got whenever Jack wasn’t around. Pushing it down he instead leaned into Crutchie who jumped a little in surprise because David normally wasn’t comfortable with much more than occasional hand holding.
A moment later he smiled and melted into the affectionate gesture, holding Davids hand just a bit tighter.
“Dave do you even like football?” Sheepishly David shook his head and Crutchie laughed. “Me neither, but Jack sure does have a way of convincing people to do things. Wanna watch Netflix on my phone instead?” With a nod David snuggled even further into Crutchies side.
That’s how Jack found them 10 minutes later when he returned with nachos and a cute red and yellow beanie for David. When he saw his best friend since kindergarten and his new best friend cuddled up on the bleachers and giggling hysterically at something on a phone screen he couldn’t stop the affectionate smile on his face. God he had already known he loved Crutchie, but now Dave comes along with his crystal clear blue eyes and his curly hair and sarcastic comments and random facts. Jack should feel guilty shouldn’t he? After all somebody had once told him it was impossible to actually love 2 people at the same time.
Then again, when did Jack Kelly ever listen to what anybody else said?
The fourth time, Jack’s the one who causes it.
He really hadn’t meant to, honest. What kind of dick would intentionally cause their friend/crush to have an anxiety attack?
A few weeks ago Jack had confessed to Crutchie, babbling about how he was in love with his best friend for what seemed like hours until Crutchie just laughed and pressed his lips against his. Jack thought that once he had Crutchie his love for Davey would go away. Not that he wanted it to but it made him feel guilty.
Little did he know Crutchie felt the same way.
When he’d first heard they were together Davids heart sank. The two people he had slowly fallen in love with were in love with each other. There would probably be no more safe touches, no more protective arms placed around shoulders. No mumbled Daves, and no bright Daveys. Jack and Crutchie had each other…so why would they need him?
And so he drifted. It started with little things like denying requests to hang out, or 'forgetting’ to respond to calls and messages. (Both of them knew Davey didn’t just forget things) And then it turned into avoiding them at halls, sitting next to Skittery who sat on the other side of the table from his usual spot. The last straw was when David completely walked past their table and took a seat on the ground, leaned against the wall.
“Okay that’s it. I gotta see what’s up with him.” Standing up from his seat Jack made his way over to David.
“Jack Kelly do not confront Dave- I can’t believe you!” Skillfully avoiding students Crutchie bounded over to Jack (or at least as close to bounding as one could get when they had to use a crutch) in an attempt to stop him. “Jack you’re going to overwhelm him! Just wait and we can ask him to come over after school or something and ask then!”
Turning to face Crutchie Jack sighed. “But he won’t Crutch. He’s avoiding us and I have to know why” Continuing his speedy approach towards Dave he stopped only when he was almost directly in front of Dave.
Despite the fact that he knew Jack would never actually hurt him David recognized the fact that he was now trapped against the wall. And that was no good. No good no good no no no no no. Swallowing his strawberry David kept his gaze fixed on Jacks shoes. “Y-yes?”
In a tone that came off much harsher than intended Jack asked him, “Why are you avoiding Crutch and I?”
Gripping his hands together Davids shoulders tensed up and he scrambled for an answer. How do you tell your best friend that you like both him and his boyfriend? “I-Its nothing”
“Oh so you just decided to be a dick and avoid us because of 'nothing’?” The moment the words came out Jack regretted them. Everybody had problems, and Jacks was not thinking before he spoke. “Shit I’m sorry I didn’t mean that Davey i-i just” kneeling down to Davids level he reached an arm out to pay him and flinched when David shied away, shaking violently.
“Oh now you’ve gone and done it Jack Kelly” Crutchie whispered harshly. Shooting a glare at his boyfriend he plopped onto the floor, fixing his gaze on David. “Hey hey can you count for me Davey? Just repeat after me, 12345”
Breathing shallowly David tried to copy, stutter and getting stuck and growing more and more frustrated until tears shone in his eyes.
He hated to admit it but god Davey had missed the sound of his nickname rolling off Jacks tongue. Missed it so much that just hearing it calmed him down. Missed it so much that he grabbed onto both Jack and Crutchie hands tightly.
Neither said anything but a glance was shared between them that seemed to convey everything they’d wanted to tell each other.
They both loved Davey, and each other. It was messy and different but it was what had happened.
A hesitant but protective arm was wrapped around Daveys shoulders and he nearly cried again, gripping Crutchies hand even tighter when he started to try and move. “I thought you didn’t need me anymore.”
Jack threw Davey an incredulous look and softly kissed his forehead. “We’ll always need you you goof.” Burrowing into his sweater David thought he would combust when Crutchie scooted next to him and placed another kiss on his forehead.
“B-but you guys have each other and I don’t wanna get in the way of your relationship because you guys deserve to be happy and I don’t wanna be an awkward third wheel so-” His rambles were cut off by Jacks lips on his. David 'walking mouth’ Jacobs was speechless as he looked between Crutchie and Jack in panic.
'Jack just kissed me??! In front of his boyfriend??’ When Crutchie leaned over to repeat Jacks actions David was even more confused. “I-I think I missed something here?”
His voice rose at least 2 octaves as he continued to panic.
“Well you see, I think I like you Davey.” The casual way Jack said it made David snort despite his panic.
“But, but Jack you have a boyfriend?”
“Yes I like him too” As if to prove the point Jack kissed Crutchie. For a minute or so David just opened and closed his mouth without making any actual noise. Crutchie had to bite back a laugh, figuring David would be a little offended if he laughed.
After the minute of David gaping like a fish Crutchie spoke up, “I like you too y'know Dave, and Jack. And we have a sneaking suspicion you like us both too.” Both older boys took the blush that crept up Davids neck as a yes. “So we were wondering if you wanted to be a relationship with us?”
At the renewed look of panic on Davids face Jack scrambled to calm him down. “It’s gonna be messy and weird and if you don’t want to then that’s fine. But we really do both like you Dave.” Squeezing his anxious friends shoulders Jack chewed on his lip as he waited for an answer.
“I-I’d like that, I really would.” Smiling shyly at his friends, boyfriends now he supposed, David nodded. “Yeah I think I’ll like that.”
The Art of Ismar David: Harmonizing Modernity and Religion exhibition curated by Yeshiva University students, under the direction of Professor Steven Fine, a joint project of YU Museum and the Center for Israel Studies’ Arts Festival 2017. Students: Gabriella Englander, Carly Friedman, Lea Lefkowitz, Esther Montrose, Judith (Hudy) Rosenberg, Rachel Schechter, Mindy Schwartz, Rachelli Topp