long papes

Imagine Crutchie Worrying about Polio

“An’ then I told Morris to get out of my face,” you laugh, tying to tease a smile out of Crutchie. After a long day of selling papes, Crutchie seems a little more exhausted than usual. You’re doing your best to cheer him up. “And then ya know what I did?”

You stop and wait for him to ask you what you did. His eyes have a distant look in them, and he’s rubbing his bum leg.

“Crutchie? You alright?” you ask, concerned.

“Huh?” His head snaps up, and he sits up straighter on his bed. “Sorry. Just got my mind on other things.” Suddenly Crutchie grimaced and gripped his knee.

“What?” you ask, frightened. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothin’, (y/n),” Crutchie answers, obviously in pain. “Just nothin’.”
“Now don’t give me that,” you sigh, sitting next to him and rubbing his back. “I know you better than that, Crutchie.”

His eyes fill with tears, and his breath is coming faster. You hold him close, heart aching, not knowing what you can do to help him. A single tear falls from his eyes onto your (f/c) skirt as you draw his head onto your shoulder. He continues rubbing his knee all the while.

“It’s just,” he begins, voice cracking. “What if it happens again?”

“What if what happens again?”

“What if I get sick again? It hurt like this when I was sick,” he pauses. “It hurts like this a lot.”

“But you never say anything!” you exclaim. “Why don’t you tell us?”

“Ain’t no helping it. There’s no fix for it. Just gotta wait it out. No use botherin’ all of ya.”

“Well, Crutchie,” you murmur, rubbing his knee. “You tell me next time, alright? Does this help?”

“Yeah,” he replies and gives you a half-hearted grin. “Feels a lot better when you do it than when I do.”

“And if you do get sick again, you’ve got us,” you state, looking him in the eyes. “You’ve got friends now that you didn’t have the first time. We’ve got you.”

You two are quiet for a while. Simply being together is enough for the moment. You keep rubbing his knee, hoping all the while that the pain leaves him.

“(Y/n),” Crutchie whispers. “Thank ya.”

You smile and impulsively kiss his cheek. He cups your face in his hand and kisses your forehead.

Sitting back again, he smiles and says, “So, about the Delancys. You said what to Morris?”


Avignon, France (by Michel Liesegang)

Imagine Crutchie Bringing a Puppy back to the Lodging House

“I met da most beautiful goil on da way home,” Romeo sighs, leaning heavily on the railing of the stairway. It’s evening, and all of the newsies are returning to the Lodging House after a long day of selling papes.

“Ya say that about every goil ya meet!” Jojo laughs as he walks around Romeo and up the stairs, stealing Romeo’s cap in the process.

“It’s true this time!” Romeo cries, pounding up the stairs in pursuit of his cap.

You laugh as you watch their antics and then glance back out the front window. Rain pours down, soaking everything and everyone who decides to venture outside. A bolt of lightning splits through the sky, and you jump at a particularly loud crack of thunder.

Race is the next boy through the door. His blond hair is dripping wet, and as soon as he’s through the door, he takes his cigar out of his inside pocket and inspects it to make sure it hasn’t been damaged by the rain.

You give him a grin and then catch sight of the newsie you’ve been waiting for. You rush to the door and open it for Crutchie, who has his left hand tucked inside his shirt, carrying something. Crutchie smiles at you.

“You’ll never guess what I got you,” he says.

“Hmmm,” you muse, tucking a strand of (h/c) hair back into place. “Is it… a book?” He shakes his head. “Flowers?”

“Nope,” he says, grinning widely. Suddenly, a small yip comes out of his shirt.

“A puppy!” you cry as Crutchie takes a small black lab out of his shirt and hands it to you. “Oh, aren’t you the cutest thing!”

“A puppy?” Les cries from upstairs. He races down and stares at the dog. “Can we keep it?”

“Absolutely not!” Race says, making a disapproving face at the little puppy. “We can hardly afford to feed ourselves, let alone a dog!”

“We’ll ask Jack,” you promise Les. “Is it a boy or girl, Crutchie?”

“A girl,” Crutchie replies. “The baker’s dog had pups, and they was givin’ ‘em away for free. This one was the runt, so I thought I’d take her back here, give her a chance at life.”

Just then, Jack bursts in, ushered by a clap of thunder. Les is immediately by his side.

“Can we keep it? Please?” he begs.

Jack, confused, asks, “Keep what?” He then sees the squirming puppy in your arms. He takes one look at your pleading expression and sighs. “Fine! But I ain’t takin’ care of it.”

“I will!” volunteers Les, scratching behind the puppy’s ears.

“What should we name her?” Crutchie asks, smiling at you.

You start to speak, but before you can say a word, Les butts in. “Newsie!” he cries

“I like Ruby,” Race mumbles. Everyone looks at him, surprised. “What? If we’re keepin’ it, I might as well have a say in the name!”

“How about Newbie?” you suggest.

“I like it,” Jack says.

“I think we found a name,” Cruchie grins and pets the pup. “Newbie.”

“Welcome home, Newbie,” you whisper, burying your face in her fur.