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I Want To Believe

Chapter Text

Race sat down in front of the glass. A few seconds later Spot came out, with his orange uniform and handcuffs, and grabbed the phone. Race slowly put the phone to his ear.

“Race, I’m so glad you came. You have to know that I didn't do what they’re saying. I didn’t kill anyone!”

He looked at Race a little closer. He had dark circles under his bloodshot eyes. His hair was ruffled, not like it usually was, this was a wild “haven’t cared for my hair all week” look.

“Race?”

A tear slipped down Race’s cheek. “Spot, I… I don’t know what to believe. Jack and Davey… they said it would probably be best if I didn’t visit anymore.”

Rage boiled through Spot’s veins. “What? Why? Better for who?”

“Me… You…”

“Race, not being able to see you on a regular basis is killing me. Not being able to see you for six years?”

Race’s eyes were trained on Spot’s bruised knuckles. “You’ve already gotten into a fight?”

“Someone in here said the wrong things.”

Race kept staring, eyes glazed over. After a moment asked, “Is that why you killed him?”

“What?!”

“Cause he ‘said the wrong thing.’”

“I swear I didn’t kill anyone! You have to believe me!”

“I want to believe there's still good in you. But for now, I have to go.”

“Race, wait.”

Race ignored him and hung up the phone, turned and walked out of the room.

Chapter Text

Spot felt the sun on his face, fresh clean air. Yeah, sure, they had been outside but this was Central Park, not pavement and fences.
To clear things up, no matter what his records say, no matter what the jury said, he hadn’t done anything. He hadn’t killed anyone.
The only thing he could think about was the look on Race’s face the last time he’d seen him. He was looked tired, he had been put through things no one should be put through. Then he was told by his best friend that Race couldn’t go back to visit Spot. Spot could see the heartbreak on his face as he told Spot he wasn’t coming back.
Spot was out now. It was different now.
He looked down the street to his right. He saw Elmer. Elmer saw him. They ran to each other.
“You’re out!”
Spot laughed.
“Hey, El.” Elmer pulled out his phone. “What are you doing?”
Elmer put up one finger and put the phone to his ear. “Hey, Jack. You’ll never guess you I just ran into. What? No. It’s Spot, you ditz.”
Spot laughed. He turned and looked at the park. He watched the people walking, the kids on the playground, the birds in the trees. Then, he saw him.
Race. Albert was walking with him, Race’s dog padding along ahead of them.
Race’s eyes met his, his face breaking into a smile.
Elmer was still on the phone with Jack.
“Yeah, I’ll tell him.” He hung up and followed Spot’s gaze. “Well, I see I don’t need to call him.”
Race nudged Albert and pointed in Spot’s direction. That is when Spot noticed something he hadn’t earlier.
They were holding hands.
Not only had Race stopped coming to visit, but he didn’t even wait for him to get out.
Spot plastered a fake smile to his face as the two approached, race detaching himself from Albert to tightly hug Spot.
Spot felt a tear slide down his cheek. Betrayal or happiness, he didn’t know, nor did he care.
When Race pulled away, Albert hugged Spot. He may have been angry at Albert but he was still family.
They talked about what they did, Albert had graduated, Race was only one term from graduating, Jack had started to commision his art, Les had graduated high school, and numerous other things. Spot laughed when he needed to laugh, played along but really he just wanted to talk to Race, alone.
At one point, Elmer had said that Jack wanted Spot to come to his painting studio to visit.
“Can you give me a ride? I don’t have my car and don’t know how to get there anyway.”
Race spoke up, “I have my car, we can take you.”
Spot nodded. So, they walked back to the car, Race’s dog not leaving Spot’s side for some reason, and piled in. Race was driving (A/N: dear god save their souls), Albert in the passenger’s seat, and Spot in the back. As the two in front talked, Spot looked out the window, watching New York fly past, thinking about the memories he had of what seemed like forever ago.
But, they had all been with Race, he had always been there.
They were gone now.
Race was making new memories. Without him. With Albert.
These thoughts closed in on him, tightening around him like a noose.
“Hey, Spot you okay back there?”
He snapped back to reality. “Yeah, fine.”
“I wouldn’t blame you if you were car sick, Race drives like a maniac.”
“Shut it, Al."
Albert leaned around the seat. "It's true," he mouthed.
Spot laughed. The dog laid her head on Spot's lap.
"She really likes you, huh?"
"Guess so." 'Unlike some people.'
Race parked in the parking lot in front of a combined office building.
They all got out, even the dog, and went in, walking up to the third floor.

When they had finally made it, they stopped in front of one of the doors. Race knocked.
"Jackie, it's me, open up."
After a few moments, and many crashes and bangs, Jack opened the door. Albert and Spot traded confused looks.
“Hey, Spot, come on in.”
“Hey, Jack.” Spot walked in. As soon as Jack had closed the door, people popped up from all sides, behind tables and doors.
“SURPRISE!”
Spot felt the heat rise into his cheeks.
“Oh, my god.” Spot looked at Race, who was smiling proudly. “You did this.”
Race played innocent. “I have no idea what you mean.”
Spot laughed and went toward the crowd of people. He got hugs from everyone, Katherine, Sarah, David, Les (who was now taller than him, but really who isn’t?), JoJo, York, Buttons, Henry, Romeo, Smalls, and everyone else.
Nothing was how it should've been. His best friends, the love of his life, thought he was a murderer, as did everyone else.

Chapter Text

“Race,” Spot looked at the taller boy. “Can- Can we talk?”

Race gave Albert an apprehensive look. “Uh, yeah. What’s up?”

“Can we go somewhere private?”

Race glanced around. It hurt Spot, seeing him so nervous.

“Uh, yeah.” Race led him to the bedroom down the hall. “What’s wrong?”

“I... so much has changed.”

“You’ve been gone for five years,” Race snapped. “Things change.”

“I know, it’s just… a lot.” Race didn’t respond. A long silence stretched between them. He watched Race play with the silver band on his finger. “So, you and Al?”

“What do you want Spot?”

“I just… You know that I didn’t do anything wrong, right?”

Race sighed and rolled his eyes. He stood and pushed past Spot and walked back to the party. Spot followed him but continued until he was out the door and up a flight of stairs to the roof.
He watched the clouds speed past.

```````````````````````````

Spot picked at the half cooked food on his plate. A group of other prisoners were coming toward the table he was sitting at. He was alone.

They had a reputation of soaking anyone who ignored them. But Spot wasn’t one to just give in. He could take a soaking.

They were at his table. “Move.”

Spot shook his head. “I’m comfortable here.”

One of them cracked their knuckles. Spot laughed.

“Move,” they repeated.

“No.”

They were in the middle of the mess hall. If the four of them got into a fight, it would get the attention of the guards. If they chose a different place, it would be more under the radar.

They didn’t seem to know that. They stepped threateningly closer to him.

Spot had lived in Brooklyn his whole life. He’d dealt with worse.

‘Is this what Race would want?’

Race had gotten mad when he saw his hand last time. He didn’t want Race to know he’d gotten into another fight.

'Race isn’t coming back, remember?'

‘No, no. He is.’

Spot stood. He couldn’t deal with this, the men coming toward him or the intrusive thoughts.

“You know what? Here, sit here. I have to go anyway.”

They laughed. “I thought people said he was tough.”

Spot turned and walked away, wincing at the last comment. He went to his bunk.

‘Race isn’t coming back.’

‘Yes he is.’

‘He left you.’

‘No, he didn’t. Jack told him not to come, but he’ll be there when I get out.’

‘He never loved you. He lied.’

‘N-No he did love me. Does, he does love me. He still does.’

‘Are you sure? You said it yourself, he did.’

This spiral continued.

`````````
Spot shook his head. That was his daily routine. He would sit in his bunk, reminded of his years at the lodge with the boys. Then the spiral would continue further, giving another name of one of his best friends.

“How did you get out so early?”

Spot turned to see Elmer moving toward the edge next to him.

“Uh, a friend of mine is a P.I. ‘Proved I was innocent.”

Elmer nodded. “I knew.”

“Knew what?”

“That you didn’t do it.” Elmer didn’t look at him. He watched the setting sun, squinting a little. “I tried to tell them, I really did. They wouldn’t listen. They said all the evidence pointed to you. They said…” Elmer shook his head. “But I knew.”

“Why didn’t you come to visit?” Spot asked. He studied Elmer’s face. He wasn’t nervous like Race had been. He wasn’t scared to be alone with Spot.

“I… I tried. But somehow, Jack always knew I was going to the prison. He called it his ‘protective instinct’. Race said he had ‘Hatten kids, telling him.”

Spot clenched his jaw. He was gonna kill him.

‘No, no. Just kidding, I’m not gonna do that.’ He mentally laughed at himself.

“Thank you.”
Elmer finally looked at him. “For what?”

“Trying. After Race stopped coming, he stopped calling, too. You were the only one who called at all. Well, York called once a year to update me on the kids. But you, you called to… We had friendly conversations, not business.”

Elmer blushed. He looked down at the street.

Before Spot knew what was happening, Elmer pulled him close and connected their lips. Spot hesitated at first, then leaned into it.
Elmer stopped, pulling away. He looked back at the door.

Mush.

Tears were streaming down his face. Spot suddenly felt guilty. He looked from Elmer to Mush and back again. Mush turned and stormed down the steps. Elmer took a deep breath and let go of Spot.

“El-”

“I know, it was wrong.”

“You need to go talk to him.”

Elmer shook his head. “He won’t listen. He’s been irritable lately. Honestly, he had it coming.”

Spot sighed. “You… Have you broken it off yet?”

Elmer shook his head.

The doors to the stairs burst open.

Chapter Text

Jack came storming at Spot. He swung his fist and connected with Spot’s jaw.

“Jack!” Elmer tried pushing him away. “Knock it off! What has gotten into you?” He had successfully put distance between Jack and Spot. He standing between them. Jack pointed at Spot.

“Get out.”

“Jack, please go back inside.” Jack ignored Elmer’s pleas. He tried to push past him but Elmer held him back.

“I don’t want to see you around me, around Race, or any one of my boys. Do you hear?”

Spot glared at him. “How long have you known me, Kelly? You really think I did anything wrong?”

“I ain’t talking about that, Conlon. You know that.”

“Really? Then what are you talking about?”

Jack shook his head. “Screw you, Spot.”

Jack walked away. Elmer watched him go. Then he turned to Spot and scanned his face.

“What was he talking about?”

Spot shook his head. “I have no idea.”

“Was it about us?”

“Doubt it.”

Elmer looked back at the door. A tear slipped down his cheek. Spot pulled him into a hug. Elmer wrapped his hands around his middle.

“I-I don’t know what I did to Mush.”

“He saw us kiss.” Spot pulled away just enough to look at Elmer’s tear-stained face. Elmer looked back at him.

“That’s not it. Starting last week, he’s just been… distant. He’d come home late, he’d ignore my texts and calls.”

Anger rose in Spot. “Was he cheating on you?” Elmer shrugged but said nothing. Spot hugged him again. “Hey, do you have an extra room?”

Elmer moved away, looking at Spot. “Why?”

“Race sold the house and moved in with Jack. Jack’s clearly not very happy with me. And everyone else is scared that I’m going to kill them in their sleep.”

Elmer chuckled. “Yeah, I do. Mush is probably gonna be gone anyways.”

Spot gave him a small smile. “We should probably get off the roof before Jack says I’m trying to throw you off.”

Elmer pulled away, putting his hands in his pockets. “You really don’t know why he’s mad?”

“Believe me, if I knew I’d go talk to him about it.”

They walked back into the building. Jack glared at Spot as he walked by his studio.

Spot stopped, turned to face Jack and walked until he was eye to eye with the Manhattan leader. Jack’s jaw tensed.

“I don’t know what you have against me. I don’t know why you’re mad.”

“Spot-”

Spot ignored Elmer. “I just want you to know: I’ll stay in my borough if you stay in yours.”

“You do know why I’m mad. One of your Brooklyn kids came and told me what you were planning.”

Spot furrowed his brow. “‘What I’m planning?’” Jack nodded. “I just got out of jail, like, three hours ago. I haven’t had time to plan anything, let alone tell my kids about it. And the only Brooklyn boys I’ve seen are
York and Elmer.”

Jack looked unconvinced. “You could’ve been planning this for a long time, how am I supposed to know?”

Spot scoffed and turned back to Elmer. “Let’s go.” Elmer nodded.

~~~~~~~~~~

Spot climbed into the car. “What was he talking about?”

Elmer opened his mouth then closed it as he turned the key. “Elmer.”

“York told all the Brooklyn kids you were putting someone in each borough.”

Spot raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry?”

Elmer looked at him, then looked back at the road. “You didn’t say that?”

“No?!”

“Uh, wow, okay. You may want to talk to the other borough leaders cause… York told them too.”

Spot rubbed his eyes. “El, how would you like to be promoted?”

“What do you mean?”

“I need a new second. You up for it?”

“Uh, yeah but I don’t want people to think I only got the job cause… you know.”

Spot sighed. “Yeah, well. You’re the only one I can trust right now.”

Elmer smiled. “Oh, by the way, Race gave me all your stuff. I went through it and got rid of some and kept the rest in a storage locker. I kept the valuable stuff like your phone and computer in my house so it didn’t get stolen.”

“Really?” Elmer nodded.

“You wanna get your stuff now?”

Spot thought for a second. “Nah. But thanks.”

“No problem.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elmer sighed, putting his phone on the cushion next to him. “Jack’s sending Mush over to work out the ‘spies’ thing.”

Spot didn’t respond. Elmer looked at him. He was fast asleep. Elmer smiled and stood up and walked to the kitchen, leaving his phone behind.

They’d been back for about an hour. They hadn’t talked about the kiss. 'What was I thinking? He’s going to get back with Race. Then what are you left?'

He started to make some coffee. He grabbed a plate and put some chips onto it.

“Uh, El?”

“In the kitchen.”

“We need to get to the hospital.” Spot appeared around the corner, holding Elmer’s phone. “It’s Mush.”

Chapter Text

Elmer’s eyes widened and grabbed his keys. Spot followed him out to the car.

“Maybe you should let me drive.”

“You have to get a new license.”

“Elmer.” Elmer stood, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Let me drive. Please.”

He nodded and moved to the other side, climbing in.

Ten minutes down the road, Spot put his hand on Elmer’s. “He’s gonna be fine. It could be anything.”

Elmer nodded. He took a deep breath and wiped his face. “I shouldn’t have kissed you, Spot.” Elmer sniffed. “I’m sorry; I don’t know what came over me.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“This is all my fault.” Spot sent a glance at Elmer. His face was red and puffy. Every now and then, he wiped his face and sniffled.

“What do you mean?”

Elmer shook his head. Spot pulled the car into the hospital parking lot. “I just… I don’t know.”

Spot parked and grabbed his hand. “It’s not your fault. You didn’t lie to all the borough leaders, saying you were gonna set a spy in each one. You didn’t tell Mush to come talk to me about this.”

Elmer suddenly got quiet. “Yeah.” He got out and started walking to the building. Spot sighed and followed him.

The waiting room was filled with other newsies. Everyone smiled at Elmer but ignored Spot. Jack glared at him, though now Spot knew why.

Elmer already worked in Manhattan, which Jack hadn’t been happy about but agreed to. He eventually started calling Elmer one of his own, even though he grew up and still lived in Brooklyn. And technically was now
Spot’s second. York had told Jack that the whole over Brooklyn was going to come to Manhattan, that they were taking over.

Spot had power, but he wouldn’t use it like that. Jack thought otherwise. There were a lot of things Jack didn’t understand about Spot.

He wasn’t going to keep doing all this. He wasn’t here to make anyone mad, he was here for a friend. He avoided glares and nasty looks. Did everyone know York’s lies or was it some other thing?

Specs hugged Elmer. Jack stood. He made his way through the crowded room to Spot.

“Mush was on his way to talk to you about what York told us when this happened. Since you’re here, why don’t we just talk now?”

Spot nodded. “I don’t know what gave York the idea. I don’t want ‘Hattan. I’m fine with Brooklyn. I don’t need guys in other boroughs. They ain’t my business.”

“Then why do we have Elmer?”

“You guys were striking.” Jack laughed a little.

“Silver’s the one you really got to worry about. You thought I was mad.”

Spot rolled his eyes. “Silver has never liked me.”

Jack nodded in agreement and turned to survey the assembled group.

Elmer was still in Specs’ arms, taking in shaky breaths. Crutchie was next to Davey, who was next to Les. Crutchie stared into the distance, Davey was holding Les’s hand, saying words of comfort. Next, came the
twins and Henry, Ike sitting on the floor against his brother’s knees. Finch, Albert and Race were playing a card game. Smalls, Katherine, and Sarah were next to them. Blink, Sniper, and Tommy Boy sat on the floor
talking. York was on his own. He looked as though he had been up for weeks.

Spot walked over to him. “You okay?”

York shook his head. “This is my fault.”

“What?”

“If… If I hadn’t told everyone we were taking over ‘Hattan, he wouldn’t have been coming to Brooklyn.”

“Yeah, why did you say that?”

York looked around uncomfortably. “Can we not do this here?” Spot furrowed his brow. “What do you mean?” York avoided his gaze. “York, just tell me.”

York took a deep breath. He stood and grabbed Spot’s arm, pulling him out the door. When they were a good distance out of earshot, York started.

“You.”

“What?”

“That’s why I said what I did. You don’t think about the things that you could do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You have so much power, not only over Brooklyn, but over Manhattan, Statin, the Bronx, Queens, all of ‘em. You could just bring them together, then you don’t have to intimidate people to get what you want.”

Spot looked at him, shocked. “Okay… but why would I do that?”

“See you wouldn’t. That’s why I did.”

“That doesn’t answer the question.”

York sighed. “You aren’t a good leader.”

“I’m sorry?”

“You intimidate people.”

There was a pause.

Spot shifted. “Is that it? That’s your only reason?”

“You were in prison for five years.”

“It wasn’t my fault! You, of all people, should know that!”

“How?!” York shouted. “How am I supposed to know what you do in your freetime?!”

“You don’t need to know what I do, you should know me well enough to know I didn’t kill anyone!”

“Yeah, okay.” York was unconvinced. Spot glared at him.

“Spot!” He turned to see Elmer in the doorway. “The doctor came back.” Spot re-entered the hospital with Elmer, leaving York to be annoyed by himself.

When they got back to the waiting room, all the other newsies were on their feet, eyes trained on the man in white.

He finished his speech as they entered. “I’m sorry. We did everything we could.”

“Oh my god.” Everyone turned to look at Elmer. He was frozen.

“Elm-” Elmer shook his head, taking ragged breaths and backing away from the scene. Spot moved closer to him and put his hands on his arms. Elmer pulled away.

“No, no. I… I…” Tears were streaming down his face. He turned, pushing past York in the doorway. York continued in and looked at the faces of his surrounding friends. There were quiet sobs and sniffles.

Understanding dawned on him.

“He… this… I’m so sorry.”

Jack looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“This is all my fault. Oh god.”

Henry stepped toward him. “York, what are you talking about?”

But York was already gone.

Chapter Text

Everyone watched the door, confused. All except Jack. Jack turned to Spot, who was rubbing his eyes.

“What was that?”

“He blames himself.”

“For what?”

Spot looked at him. “Mush.”

Jack scanned the shorter boy’s eyes. He sighed and grabbed Spot’s elbow, leading him back into the chilly afternoon air.

“What did he do?”

Spot shook his head, trying to hold back the emotions that had welled up over the past day. “He… He felt like because he told everyone that we were talking over, he killed Mush. Honestly, I’m not dealing with him;
I’ve got to find Elmer before he gets himself hurt.” Spot scanned the parking lot. “Can I get a ride to Elmer’s? He must’ve left.”

Jack nodded.

**************

Spot groaned as Jack pulled up to the curb in front of Elmer’s house.

Jack laughed. “You have fun with this one.”

“You’re just going to leave me with her?”

“Yeah. Now get out of my car cause I have to get back to the hospital and get the rest of ‘em.”

Spot groaned again and climbed out. He approached the redhead. The husky at her feet sat up on her front legs.

The girl was several inches taller than Spot, with dark red hair. She wore a deep purple v-neck shirt. Even though she smiled, it was far from reaching the grey eyes hidden behind her glasses.

“Silver,” he said, nodding in greeting. “How’s Queens?”

 

“Great. It’s at it’s finest. You step in, you’ll screw it up."

Spot laughed. “It’s all a misunderstanding. My former second…” Spot wasn’t sure how to phrase it. “We’re not stepping in.”

She loosened her posture. “Good.” She began to scratch just behind the dog’s ears. She opened the car door behind her. Haven jumped in.

Spot looked around, looking to see if Elmer had actually been here. “Silv, did you see Elmer? He left the hospital and I’m not sure where he went.”

She turned to face him. “The hospital?”

Spot went quiet. “Mush was in a collision earlier. He didn’t make it.”

“Oh my god.”

Spot nodded, pleading the tears not to fall. “It hit Elmer pretty hard. I don’t know where he is though.”

Silver looked passed him at an approaching car. “‘S that him?”

Spot turned and sighed in relief. Elmer was parking his car on the curb.

“Elmer, where were you?” Spot stepped toward him.

“Hi, Silver.”

Silver smiled a little. “I’m gonna go. Spot, Fai said she was coming to talk soon.”

“Will you tell them, Ink, and Jack to meet at Jacobi’s tomorrow? We’ll go over it then.”

Silver nodded again and climbed into her car. She drove away as Spot guided Elmer into the house.

“Where’d you go?”

“People say going on car rides alone helps clear your head. It didn’t work.”

Spot smiled. “Maybe that’s for somewhere other than Brooklyn.” He watched Elmer as he began to busy himself around the house.

“Elm.” Elmer ignored him and kept going, moving things more forcefully. “Elmer.”

He stopped. His hands were still on a stack of papers. They stood in silence for a long time.

“He was my best friend. I hurt him.” Spot wasn’t sure how to respond. “I’m sorry, Spot. I need you to leave.”

“What?”

“I… You can’t stay here.”

“Elm-“

“Go.”

Spot took in a breath. He nodded and moved toward the door. He was half out the door when he turned to look at his friend.