28. "stand behind me." With Jack and Crutchie please :)
Thank you so much for the prompt (and to everyone else who sent some, I got 11 new ones tonight so I’m a very happy writer!)
Trepidation swirled in Jack Kelly’s stomach before they went out that morning. This was something big, something huge. A strike. They had never done anything like this before, although Jack knew what it was like to be on the wrong side of the law.
He threw his arms over the balcony of the penthouse and just sighs as he thinks of all his boys and what today means to them. If they don’t do this, all respect for them goes down the drain and they end up fighting for survival even more then usual.
However Jack knew there were going to be risks. What if twenty scabbers show up? Sure, Jack knows his boys can handle one or two but twenty? That was basically a whole army. He also knew the Delanceys would be there and they always amounted to trouble. Just the other day the two lowlifes had pushed Crutchie and taken his crutch. What would they do if they found him defenceless?
Jack shuddered at the thought and glanced back around at the lad waking up on the mattress behind him. Crutchie yawned softly, blinking before looking up at Jack with a goofy grin.
“Did I dream everything or is today the day Jack?”
“Today is the day alright kid. The day we go to war.”
“Yeah…we'se gonna show Pulitzer where to shove it!” Crutchie beamed. Jack looked at his younger counterpart with fear. Sure, Crutchie was enthusiastic and tenacious but he was at a distinct disadvantage even though he refused to believe it.
“Listen eh Crutchie,” Jack started, sitting on the mattress beside his still half asleep friend. “You gotta be careful today, okay?”
“Jack I’ll be fi-”
“No Crutchie, I’m serious. If anything happens today, stand behind me. Or Davey. Or Race. Promise me.”
Crutchie sighed dejectedly.
“Good.” Jack slapped Crutchie on the back. “Now c'mon lets go wake up these slackers.”
“Uh, you go Jack. There’s something I gotta do.” Crutchie said, scratching the back of his head.
“Ah Crutch, I don’t want ya to get all offended.”
“I’m not Jack.” Crutchie paused and smiled up at the older boy. “Really. I have an idea.”
“Alright then.” And with that Jack scampered downstairs to awaken Specs.
It was until Davey was starting to get the boys spirits higher that Jack saw Crutchie again.
“Ahhhhhh!” He screamed as he showed them the handmade, crooked sign that said ‘Strike’.
Jack winced when he saw it. Even though he was proud of Crutchie for trying to get behind the cause, this just dampened the others expectations. Davey and Les quickly put them in their place though, Davey speaking about how it’s the sign that embodies the courage of facing our fears.
Jack approached Crutchie when speaking of brotherhood because, to be honest, while all the newsboys were Jack’s family, Crutchie truly was a brother to him, a person in which he could trust with all his secrets and his life.
When Crutchie asked Jack “We really doing this?” with fear yet blind trust shining in his eyes, Jack felt his heart shatter a little. Crutchie was relying on him, was putting his faith in him. If he screwed this up…he wouldn’t though. This was for his boys.
Once the fighting had broke out Jack lost Crutchie for a while, focusing on the battle in front of him. All guns blazing, this was the fight that would truly start this revolution, Jack knew that. If they could just survive this, Jack knew he could get Brooklyn and the rest of New York on his side.
At one stage Jack spotted Crutchie doing exactly what he had promised Jack, hiding behind Davey. He was crouched down low, hands over his ears to block out the noise. Jack knew loud noises scared the wits outta Crutchie, something about screaming or shouting always made him start to shake. He could remember clearly when Elmer had ran into a wall and bent his nose, shouting and swearing as he did so. After tending to Elmer, Jack found Crutchie shaking and crying softly in the corner, afraid to even look up at his best friend. It wasn’t long after that when best friend had slowly merged into boyfriend, the lines blurring.
Jack ran over and grabbed Crutchie by the shoulders, whispering “It’s okay. Are you okay?” Crutchie nodded and stood slowly. “Good. Love you.”
And it was with that that Jack ran off to help fight again. He was so immersed in the fighting he didn’t hear the gasps of horror from his fellow newsboys, didn’t hear the screams of terror and pain. He was too involved in trying to not get bludgeoned by a cop.
He didn’t hear until it was too late. Too late to help. Too late to berate the other boys who didn’t go to Crutchie’s rescue. Too late to do anything.
Jack disappeared off the face of the earth for a couple of days. Davey, Kath and Les had convinced him to come back to the strike.
Jack knew he had to stand behind his boys like he had told Crutchie to do to him.