“Newsies of Manhattan!”
It was so easy to follow the trail of Jack’s voice. Crutchie turned himself so he could face his friend fully, watching as he leapt onto the platform, a grin adorning his face. The confidence he exuded… he could feel it. He could feel himself wanting to climb up along with him and start to shout to the rest of New York that they were officially on strike. He wanted to join his speech. Alas, his disability made sure that he wasn’t able. Oh, well. As long as he could watch Jack do his own thing, he supposed. He watched as Jack grabbed Davey’s arms, essentially throwing him to his side. He smiled a bit, giggling at how Davey stumbled about to get his posture back to normal. Les hopped up next to him, Crutchie leaning up against Race.
The cheers were nearly drowning Jack’s voice out. No, not nearly. Were. They could all see how Jack’s lips moved to form words, yet the sound was so quiet in comparison. Crutchie kept his eyes on Jack, silently trying to get his attention- Ah, no need. Jack’s fist would raise into the air, commanding that silence fall over the crowd of newsboys. He gestured towards them, and almost instantly, they got closer, crowded around, waiting for Jack to say more. Crutchie knew this would be great. This strike… it was going to be good. He knew it was going to be. If Jack was heading it, if Davey was the one organising things… it would all be well. They’d show Pulitzer, alright, that, he was sure of. He’d be kicking his rear out of that fancy chair of his, force him to see that the newsies of New York meant business.
Oh, it would take time for the rest of New York to fall in line with them, he knew this. But they would, he had a feeling in his gut that they would be backing them right up. He pushed loose flocks of blond out of his eyes, eagerly awaiting Jack’s words, now that silence was over the crowd.
“Look at this. We got every damn newsie in Manhattan, now don’ we?! Soon, them folks like Pulitzer ‘n Hearst ain’t gon’ be tryin’ to raise no price, no, they’se gon’ be beggin’ for us to come back while eatin’ the damn pavement we stand on today!”
He slammed his fist onto his palm, and as soon as the gesture was completed, a roar of approval rushed through the crowd. Crutchie lifted his crutch into the air, throwing his arm around Race’s shoulders to keep himself upright as he cheered. Race stumbled as he did so, but he was easily able to support his weight. Crutchie could feel those tears of joy pressing his eyes. Jack made eye contact with him, grinning and kneeling down, reaching out so he could snatch the cap right off of Crutchie’s head, a playful hit being administered. Crutchie faked his pain, an over exaggerated flinch being his response. Jack held it back out to him, and as he put his crutch back on the ground and threw his arm on it, he took it and placed it right back onto his head, going silent as Jack leaned back down.
“Yeah, yeah! We may be their workers, but in the words of Davey, they will respect our rights! We do their work, so, they bettah be damn well givin’ us a seat at the table! We ain’t gon’ let them stomp us into no curb, no, we’se gon’ be takin’ every damn thing they can throw at us!”
Again, the words of Jack prompted roars, cheers. Energy surged through each and every newsboy, even Davey was seen throwing his fist up into the sky. Jack seemed to see this, taking his wrist and keeping it up in the air for a longer period of time before letting go. See? With words like these, their fight? Oh, it was just starting, and Crutchie could only think of how well this could end for each and every one of them. They’d be treated like equals, hell, maybe he and Jack could finally go to Santa Fe! Santa Fe was what was promised, a life where he wouldn’t have to be relying on some damned crutch, no, he could toss it aside and breathe in the fresh air! He could just… be around Jack, and that was perfectly okay with him. As soon as this damn thing ended, though.
As soon as-
That prompted everyone in the crowd to go entirely silent. Davey and Les went pale as the shot was heard. Crutchie, at first, didn’t realise what it had been. Until he saw the blood gushing from the centre of Jack’s forehead. The fire that had been burning in those chestnut hues had been snuffed so quickly. Soon, gravity took control, grabbing Jack and tossing him right onto Crutchie, knocking him onto the ground. The silence melded into screams of terror. Race’s cigar dropped from his mouth. He stared down at Jack’s body, and Crutchie trapped beneath. What had… oh god, oh no. Oh no- This couldn’t be reality. Crutchie shoved Jack off of him, rolling him into his back and kneeling by his side, keeping his hands on his chest as he shook him.
“Jack! Jack, Jack- Jack! Wake up! Jack!!” He screamed these words at the top of his lungs. Davey had, at this point, shoved Les behind him, nearly pushing him off of the platform. His own eyes were focused on someone else entirely. Race slowly turned his attention towards the newcomer, his fists clenching. However, Crutchie didn’t particularly care. He was focused on Jack. Blood was oozing from his head, there was a smile that was now permanent, a reminder of the events of a mere few seconds ago. Crutchie could feel his eyes burn. He shook Jack with more roughness, continuing to scream for him to wake up, ignoring how tears were sliding down his face. This- Everything had been calm before! What had happened? What the fuck happened?! People were now crowding them, some looking towards the platform, yet most eyes were on Jack.
“Help- Help, help, he’s- He’s bleedin’ real bad! Look! Someone- Finch? Romeo? Specs? Someone- C’mon, he’s dyin’!”
Oh, not dyin’. Dead. He was dead. A shot like that to the head was sure to kill. But dammit, he didn’t fucking care. He- He refused to accept this as part of reality. No way in hell could this be reality. Yet a part of him knew it was. A part of him knew so well, that this was nothing short of reality. This was all the real world, and he had to accept it one- No, he refused to. He shook his head, letting his forehead touch Jack’s chest as he broke into wails. He felt a hand on his back, one that was meant to soothe, yet did nothing of the sort.
Now, who was this shooter?
“Oi, you- Let go of me! Albert, get the fuck off, I’m sluggin’ this bastard!”
“Oh, like hell you are!”
Crutchie forced himself to look through teary eyes, at this murderer. He could barely make them out, yet he could see a dark, yet desaturated green jacket blowing in the wind. A red band on the left arm… some symbol was on it, he couldn’t tell what it was, or what it stood for. However, he could assume it was nothing good. Black hair, that was what this… man had? Man? He assumed so, the mustache told him so. Everything told him so. The gun was now adorned with the blood of Jack, it was sickening. Crutchie damn near puked at it. The eyes, a dark brown, would grab onto the cobalt of Crutchie’s irises, making sure he couldn’t look away. He was trapped, and honestly, he didn’t know what there was to do about that. A smile, a smile that was filled with nothing but… what? Why did he look like this was funny? The gun was pointed at him, now. Race continued to writhe in Albert’s arms, no one could move quite fast enough to block Crutchie. Davey was too focused with Les. He tried to run forward, only for someone to grab him and throw him back to where he came from, forcing Les to fall into the crowd.
One word, that was all that was uttered to him before there was nothing else. A heavily accented one, an amused one.