Chapter 1: Mush: Evidence
Where was Mush at the reunion film-screening of Newsies? Someone should ask Kid Blink.
I imagine something elegant like a gold-leaf, hand-transcribed invitation, was sent out to all the newsies, as well as some of the big shots, like Kenny Ortega and
Joseph Pulitzer Robert Duvall. A special screening of the movie NEWSIES in Hollywood to celebrate and promote the National Tour of the Broadway musical, with a visit by the National Tour cast AND free popcorn. It was more than most people would be able to resist, so of course I went! (No really, I was there) And yet several original cast newsies were missing from the reunion last week. In the alternative universe that this particular Newsies slash shipper lives in, it's sometimes hard to distinguish between reality and fantasy. So here are some explanations for the missing newsies, in the way that I imagine it.
1. Mush: Evidence
It was Mush Jr. who had first opened the invitation. Fourteen-year-old Mush Jr. had just brought the mail in from the apartment mailbox, on his way in from school. Flipping through the envelopes, it was the fancy gold lettering that caught his attention. Much more interesting than the bills and historical reenactment catalogs. Having the same name as his dad was a bit confusing, and he often opened his dad’s mail. Though this one, it definitely looked like it was for him. Probably a birthday invite for one of his buddies.
“You are invited to an evening of Nubbin’ with all the Muckety Mucks.” He groaned and put the card back into the envelope. Definitely for his dad. More embarrassing Newsies stuff. Mush Jr. scratched at his fluffy, curly hair.
“Dad? Is dad home yet?” Kid Blink stuck his head out of the kitchen, a dish towel draped on his shoulder.
“Heya, Mushy. Didn’t hear you come in. No, dad’s not here yet. What’s that?”
Mush Jr. surrendered the letter as he walked by his dad and headed to the kitchen.
Kid Blink read over the letter with interest. “Dinner is in fifteen minutes, so take it easy on snacks,” he said, not looking up. “I wonder why I didn’t get one of these…”
“Probably because you don’t ‘live’ here, dad,” Mush Jr. said around a mouthful of cheez-its. “I don’t know who you guys think you’re fooling. Everyone knows about you guys.”
Kid Blink looked up at his son. “Cheez-it. It’s the bulls,” he muttered under his breath, as if it was old habit. Then he added, “Oh, be quiet.” But he knew Mush Jr. had a point. Blink had his mail sent to his office rather than to the apartment he and Mush had shared with their son since he was born.
When Mush was home 20 minutes later and hello kisses and ‘how were your day’s were exchanged, Blink showed Mush the invitation. They sat down to dinner and excitedly talked about plans to go to the movie, trying to guess who would make it the reunion. They loved their Newsies days and were thrilled to go and see their old friends.
It was Mush Jr. who kept Mush from going, in the end. When he came down with the flu the night before the reunion, Mush insisted that Kid Blink go without him. Kid protested quite a bit, but he found himself at El Capitan theatre just the same, where he was nubbin’ with such old friends as Specs and David.
During the movie, he was stunned by a few things. First, the sweet, angelic face of his Mush. Mush Jr. looked so much like him! Kid Blink had practically forgotten just how cute and innocent Mush used to look. And Blink was also stunned by just how obvious he and Blink were in their affection with each other. The arms over the shoulders, the shared drink during the toast in Tibby’s, the tummy pat at the end of the movie... The nostalgia was immense, and by the time the movie was over and the National Tour newsies were performing a quick dance number, Blink was convinced, he should come out to the rest of his friends. No reason to hide anymore.
The original cast from the movie was called up on stage for a photo op, and while they were posing, Pie Eater said, “So, heya, Blink. Where’s Mush tonight?”
“He’s with his son.” Kid Blink only hesitated for the briefest of moments before elaborating, “He’s with OUR son. Mush Jr. has the flu.”
Pie Eater, with amusement, said, “Hey, I hadn’t heard you guys had a kid. You guys…?”
“Yeah,” Blink said with his trademark grin. “We’re very happy.”
“Do you have a picture of the little tyke?” Blink pulled out his phone to show them a family selfie of Kid Blink, Mush and Mush Jr. Pie Eater looked taken aback.
“That looks like Mush’s twin! And not nearly as little as I was imagining.”
Blink’s grin faltered slightly. “Mushy… is 14….” Pie Eater guffawed, and Specs got curious.
“Okay, what did I miss?”
“Mush and Blink have been hiding their lovechild for 14 years!” Kid Blink blushed bright red, but he knew he deserved it.
“Well, at least I’ve admitted it finally! And just where is Dutchy, Specs?” It was Specs’s turn to blush.
“Yeah, where’s Dutchy?” Pie Eater insisted. Specs opened his mouth to tell his story.
Chapter 2: Dutchy: Puppy Love
Where was Dutchy at the reunion film-screening of Newsies? Something tells me Specs probably knows.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
2. Dutchy: Puppy Love
“Yeah, where’s Dutchy?” Pie Eater insisted, as the group posed for their photo op. Specs opened his mouth to tell his story, blushing at the mention of Dutchy because, if truth be told, they were very new to the world of coupledom. If that’s even what it could be called. It was twenty-three-and-a-half years of being best friends, many near-hits, but always in the right place at the wrong time. Or was it the wrong place at the right time? Specs still wasn’t sure.
First there was Hull High, then Newsies, then Roundhouse. Three gigs in a row that got Specs and Dutchy into BFF realm. But then they sort of drifted a bit, with various TV episodes, Dutchy’s directing gigs, Specs’s band, not to mention Dutchy’s marriage to a WOMAN.
Specs still remembered Dutchy’s phone call that late evening a few years ago. When he told him that Miranda had moved out. Dutchy was beyond drunk, and though it had been over a year since they had gotten together, Specs dropped everything and headed to Dutchy’s Hollywood apartment.
Soon as Specs had entered Dutchy’s apartment (with the key that Specs kept on his keychain), Dutchy had leapt into his arms for a big hug. A little unusual for them, but sort of nice, if Specs was going to admit anything. Specs had led him to the couch, grabbed one of Dutchy’s open bottles of beer, and they got involved in watching The Godfather. They must have watched it four times in a row. Specs worked hard to get caught up to Dutchy’s drunkenness, and the two of them bonded over what they called “Race’s family,” with loud obnoxious laughter. Plastered as all get-out, Specs vaguely remembered a kiss or two or five before the two of them fell asleep on the couch together. Neither of which was mentioned after that night.
Then it was at least another year before they saw each other again. Not that they were avoiding each other. Dutchy was off doing his directing thing in remote parts of the world. Specs was doing his comedy stuff. In fact, if it wasn’t for the invitation to the Newsies reunion, Specs realized that he probably still wouldn’t have seen Dutchy. It was the invite that had prompted Dutchy’s facetime, after all, just a couple weeks ago. And all that had happened since then.
“Hey,” Specs answered his phone with a smile, the picture of the blond showing up on his phone screen.
“Did you get your letter?” Dutchy said, without any greeting.
“Letter…” The eyebrows of the black-goateed Newsie furrowed.
“You’ll have to be more specific than that, bro.”
“From Kenny!” Dutchy looked like he was practically on fire, he was bouncing around so much. Kenny… Oh. Kenny Ortega.
“Let me check my mailbox,” Specs was saying, walking through his house to the front door. There was a screech and a thud as he disappeared from the screen, then reappeared quickly. “Dumb dog got under foot.”
Dutchy whimpered. “You be nice to Micki! She’s a goddess!”
“Right. Well, one of these days you need to come back and get your dumb dog.”
“When I get out of this lease,” Dutchy whined, not explaining it, but Specs remembered that it was the lease he shared with his ex-wife.
“Dumb broad,” Specs muttered.
“Yeah. You find your mail yet?”
“Yeah, hold on, I--” Specs set the phone down so that Dutchy was stuck staring at the kitchen ceiling for a few moments while Specs flipped through his letters. Finally, he leaned over the phone to see Dutchy, his black hair falling foward into his eyes as he held up an envelope proudly. “Here it is!”
“Oh, hot. By the way, I’m outside. Come let me in.”
Specs shook his head. Leave it to Dutchy to just show up after a year of not seeing each other. He must have been sitting in the car in front of his house this whole time.
“It’s unlocked. Just come--” Specs didn’t even say ‘in.’ His phone went black and he heard the baby talk of his best friend.
“OOh, my sweet, adorable Micki! My beautiful girl. Mwah, mwah, mwah.” Dutchy was nuzzling and cuddling his little dog when Specs found him in the entryway.
“Bro, you should’ve known it wouldn’t have worked with Miranda when you found out she was allergic to chiuauas,” Specs teased, hoping it wasn’t too soon.
“You are so right,” Dutchy said, leaning in for a hug, still holding Micki. Specs obliged, though it was uncharacteristic of them to be physically close.
“New tattoo?” Specs asked, running a finger down Dutchy’s forearm.
Dutchy glanced down. Next to the matching “Carpe Diem” tattoo that they shared, was a sparrow exiting a cage. “Too symbolic?” he questioned, as if it wasn’t too late to be asking that question.
“Looks perfect.” Specs realized he was still hugging Dutchy and his now wriggling dog. Dutchy put his dog down, and before Specs knew it, Dutchy was returning the hug.
“Too long, bro,” he said, letting his cheek brush Specs’s cheek for the briefest of moments.
And though Specs was a 40-something year old man, he felt his stomach jolt like a teenage girl. “Dutch--” Specs started, but really wasn’t sure what he wanted to say, if anything.
But Dutchy grinned at him, grasping Specs’s shoulder tightly. “I know.” And they were hugging each other close, Dutching nuzzling Specs this time. Much better than the dog.
“So where’s Dutchy?” Blink prompted again, knocking Specs in the back of the head.
“Dutchy… Dutchy is with his dog,” he explained with a wan shrug. “His dog is sick, so he’s with her…. at my place.”
Pie Eater grinned. “Why is his dog at your place?”
“Because I’ve been taking care of her for a few years while I--- Well, while I waited for him to get his shit together, I guess,” Specs said, as if daring them to call him whipped, because that’s suddenly how he was feeling.
But Blink just grinned. “You’re a sweet man. Dutchy’s a lucky guy.’
And Specs smiled to himself, rubbing at his carpe diem tattoo. Yeah, they were both pretty lucky.
“Speaking of lucky guys,” Crutchy interjected. “Where’s Race?”
“...Probably with Spot,” Morris said.
Crutchy glared at the Delancey.
“Why are you even here at the Newsies reunion? You stink!” Crutchy taunted.
Morris rolled his eyes. “At least I showed up! Those bummers couldn’t bother.”
My first time ever writing Sputchy! :D Did you catch that Roundhouse reference?
Next chapter will be Sprace, obviously
Chapter 3: Race and Spot: Secret
Where were Spot Conlon and Racetrack Higgins at the reunion film-screening of Newsies? Both of them missing is a liiiiittle suspicious, don't we think?
3. Racetrack and Spot: Secret
Morris rolled his eyes. “At least I showed up! Those bummers couldn’t bother.”
That's what Morris thought. And what all of the others thought. But what they didn't know was that there was a black Firebird in the parking structure across from El Capitan Theatre. A Firebird that was parked next to a metallic blue Mustang.
The Mustang was empty. But the Firebird was having more action than it had seen in quite awhile, though its owner would not have been inclined to admit that.
Between the panting breaths of making out and groping, the Firebird owner, the black-haired Italian, remarked, "My car ... is way hotter ... than yours."
Spot nipped Racetrack's neck with his teeth, causing Race to yelp and shove Spot's head away. "Serves you right for talking too much," said Spot, ever vengeful. They hadn't meant to meet up in the parking lot. It was a coincidence that they had pulled in at the same time. And they had spent some time checking out each other's cars. And one thing had led to another, like it always seemed to...
"Got a hot tip for you," Race retorted. "Always agree with the driver of the car you're in." With that, Race turned on the ignition, put the car into reverse, and backed out of the parking space.
"What are you-- Are you kidnapping me?" Spot moved back into the passenger seat, from his precarious position of having been straddling Race. "Are you crazy?" He fastened his seatbelt derisively.
Race smirked at the other man, notably still scrawny after all these years. "Just as crazy as you, Brooklyn."
As Race's Thunderbird made its way through the parking structure, a little faster than he should've been driving, Spot took his words as a personal challenge. "I don't think you are as crazy as me. I don't think you've got what it takes."
"Yeah? Well you're full of stories that aren't true," Race taunted, paying for the parking with his credit card, and then letting his black car swerve out onto the main boulevard. They left the movie theatre with its flashing "Newsies: Now Playing" sign in the dust.
"Yeah, well you're full of talk, but never full of action."
"I feel a bet coming on," Race said.
Spot crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Alright. Let’s hear it.”
“Truth or Dare. Only, to prove that you're not a liar and that I'm not a wuss, you have to do Truth and I have to do Dare--” He stopped talking for a moment. “Whaddaya want to stake? Money?”
Spot rolled his eyes. “Money, we both have. I don’t need your money. I want something much better.”
“Okay. The winner gets to unveil the loser’s deepest secret.” Stopped at a stop light, Race looked at Spot expectantly.
"Deal." Spot spit In his hand and held it out to Race, who spit in his hand as well and they shook firmly. "So where are you driving me?”
“Thought we’d grab some dinner,” Race replied, pulling into the very busy parking lot of In-N-Out Burger.
“Burgers? Classy. I’d like to give YOU an in-n-out. If you go through the drive thru, I'll make it worth your while,” Spot said, gesturing toward Race's pants.
“Fat chance am I gonna let you get French fries grease on my fine interior,” Race said, petting his car suggestively while pulling into a parking spot. “Though I think you're full of it, Spot. First Truth. You ever blow someone in a car while on a main street like this?"
"I think you know the answer to that," Spot said with his lips curling into a smirk. "You were there, after all. And I was ready to do it again, if you weren't such a wuss." Racetrack couldn't help but smirk back. He knew he wasn't a wuss in this area. And he had forgotten about that one time.
"That's right. Thanks for that little memory. You ever screw in a moving car?"
“Nice try. My turn." Spot looked evil as he got an idea. “And I think you're too much of a wuss to do what I'd do. So I Dare you: Go down on me right here.” He unbuckled his seatbelt and wiggled his hips.
Race rolled his eyes. “I’m here for the hamburger, not the bratwurst. And I said, no messes in my car!"
“So you concede, just like that?” Spot taunted. “We barely started playing!” Race rolled his eyes again, then reached over, roughly undoing Spot’s belt and pants. It wasn't the first time he'd done this to Spot. More like the twelfth. Just never out in the open like this. But if this was how Spot wanted to play... Before he got to the prize, though, Spot swatted his hand away. “Okay, okay. I didn’t think you’d really do it.” Spot did up his pants with a grin. He opened the door of the car.
Race looked relieved, but was slightly disappointed, if truth be told. He hid his disappointment with the question, "Truth: You ever screw in a moving car?” as he locked the car doors.
Spot snorted. "Only a few times. It pays to have a chauffeur." He looked mighty pleased with himself. "You?"
Race answered. "Of course. I've even done it in the front seat of a moving car." It was Race's turn to look proud.
"Well yeah, but you're short, so that's pretty easy for you." He wondered who Race had been with...and who had been driving... Then shook his head. He didn’t want to know. He opened the door to the hamburger joint, holding it open for Race.
Race frowned. "I ain't that short. Least I'm not skin and bones."
"You mean skin and boner," Spot corrected him, with a short laugh, gesturing to his own pants. “Since you wouldn’t take care of it for me.”
Racetrack chose to stare at the menu rather than reply. Spot stood closely beside him, then said in a whisper, “I dare you to order and eat a five-by-five, animal style.”
“You’re on,” Race said with a grin.
As Race struggled to finish his five-patty, five-cheese burger with grilled onions, and Spot picked at an order of fries, the two of them bantered back and forth a few more Truths and Dares.
Spot admitted, with slight reserve, that he had once had a crush on Sarah Jacobs and Swifty the Rake, "but not at the same time!" Race had to balance a French fry on his nose while taking a selfie, and post it on Instagram with the tag "#Sexy.
Spot admitted that he hadn't lost his virginity until he was 25, and that Race had been his first time. Race hid his surprise. And then Race had to pay for that truth with the next dare. Race had to ask the couple in the next table over for a threesome, and when they agreed with enthusiasm, he blushed, mumbled excuses, and ran out of the restaurant, grabbing Spot's hand to drag him out with him. Spot was still laughing when they got into the car, and after a moment Race cracked a smile, shaking his head.
"I never thought they'd actually say yes," he muttered. He looked sideways at Spot, whose laughter was abating, but still had twinkling eyes. "Truth: is this the best time you've ever had with me?"
Spot, with a grin, nodded. "Definitely the best time we've had together. At least in awhile. And we've had some moments."
Race looked pleased that Spot had said that. They HAD had some good times. Then Spot gave him his next dare. "I dare you to kiss me."
"Spot. That's hardly a dare--" Race started to protest, then Spot leaned forward and pressed his lips to Race's. The kiss felt much different than the hyperactive making out they had done in the parking structure, or the various random casual hook-ups they had experienced together in their 20+ years of knowing each other. This kiss was sweet, and somewhat jolted Race.
When Spot pulled back a moment later, his eyes shifted away from Race's, almost as if he was embarrassed.
"What the hell was that?" Race blurted, sounding a little more offended than he meant to sound.
"Just proving I'm crazier than you," Spot muttered, crossing his arms and looking out the passenger window.
After another moment of staring at Spot, Race said, still a little dazed, "Truth: Do you wish we were more to each other? More than just casually screwing around?" Race's question hung in the silence of the car, his dark eyes searching the face of the other man.
Spot's steel eyes clouded slightly, as he met Racetrack's gaze. "Looks like you won the game," he said, refusing to answer.
Race had obviously ruined whatever moment they had shared with his outburst. Huffily, he turned the ignition in his car and headed back to the parking structure. With a twinge of regret, he noted that it was after 10:00 pm. The movie had already started. So not only was he missing out on seeing his other friends, stuff was suddenly weird with Spot.
Race pulled into the parking spot next to Spot's Mustang. He killed the engine and they sat in silence for about a minute. "So what secret are you going to tell everyone? That I was a 24 year old virgin?"
Race covered his face, groaning loudly into his hands. Then he pulled off his newsboy cap and threw it at Spot in frustration. "What is your problem, huh? Why do you feel the need to take the easy way out?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Higgins," Spot said cooly, reaching for the door handle.
"Wait, Spot. Just wait a moment." Race reached for Spot's arm. "I lost the bet, too."
"Since when does Racetrack Higgins admit to losing a bet?" Spot snarled.
"You dared me to kiss you, but you were the one to kiss me," Race explained. "In the In-N-Out parking lot?" As if Spot wouldn't know what Race was referring to.
But that just made Spot angrier. "Okay, you've made your point. You didn't even want to kiss me. See ya." He was reaching for the door, but Race clicked the door lock and Spot, fumbling, couldn't for the life of him find the unlock button.
"No! No, I mean..." Race's voice was softer as he touched Spot's shoulder. Spot stopped flailing at his touch. "Can I try again?" Spot turned to look at Race expectantly, and this time Race closed the gap between them, and kissed Spot, matching the sweetness of the previous kiss.
Then Spot nodded his head and mumbled, "Okay. You're right. I DO wish we were more. Happy?" His voice was a notch calmer than it had been, but it was still testy. Everyone knew Spot hated being put on the spot.
"Nah. Not happy, unless..." Race looked down at his hands for a moment. This would be so much easier if Spot looked happy about the prospect. "Not happy unless... We make something of it." Spot didn't reply. So Race kept taking. "Not interested? Well, I'll roll you for it. I win, we make something of this," Race said, gesturing between the two of them. "You win, you can just walk away."
"Ya bum," Spot said with a grim smile on his face. He grabbed Race around the neck and pulled him close, holding Race's head to his chest. "Like hell I will walk away."
"So after twenty years of just messing around, it seems like we're finally getting somewhere," Race teased, letting his head rest on Spot's chest.
"Yeah, well don't get yourself too excited. Even if you did just prove yourself as crazy as me." Spot finally found the lock on the door and was getting out. "Come on."
"Where are we going? The movie?" Race walked up next to Spot, and Spot wrapped an arm around Spot's waist.
"To see those dirty rotten suckers? No thanks. We're going to my car. You think yours is hot? Wait til we try out mine."
In the movie theatre, the newsboys finished up their photo op and started socializing. Crutchy remarked to Morris, "well, I'm sure Race and Spot have a very good reason for not being here. Just like Jack."
Several newsies looked up at the mention of Jack. "You know where Jack is?"
"I don't," Crutchy said. "But I bet Dave does."
Chapter 4: Jack: I'm Here
So where was Jack at the reunion film-screening of Newsies? We all want to know! But after their falling out 20-something years ago, even Davey has no idea.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Several newsies looked up at the mention of Jack. "You know where Jack is?"
"I don't," Crutchy said with a sly, knowing smile. "But I bet Dave does." The newsies had all finished their big group picture and some were chatting with the press while others were catching up with fellas they hadn’t seen in awhile, or bonding with the newer (younger) newsies.
David Jacobs felt his stomach flip-flop at the mention of Jack and himself in the same sentence. Why would Crutchy suggest David knew anything about Jack? They hadn’t seen each other in years. Not since…
“So this is how it’s gonna be, Dave?” Jack Kelly’s testy voice had questioned, as the two of them stood in the alley that second day back to selling newspapers after the strike, at the end of the movie. All the other newsies had headed out in masses, probably excited to get back to having change jingling in their pockets, ready to do kid things again like in-line skating and amateur movie producing (hello, Blood Drips on Newsies Square). But Davey had higher plans than just pennies and hobbies. And Jack wasn’t going to let him go without confronting him about it. “Youse gonna bail on all of us and head out with… him?” Jack’s accusation continued.
“C’mon, Jack. You said yourself, what does being a newsie give you but a dime a day and a few black eyes? This movie was fun, but I need to think of my next big thing. Brian has offered to take me with him as he goes on the road as Ace War Correspondent. I can pursue writing... journalism… even photography! Brian said he’d take me under his wing and teach me everything I needed to know. It’s even better than school.”
“BRIAN?” It sounded so weird to Jack, Davey saying Denton’s first name like they knew each other. “Teach you everything you need, my ass. You know what Denton really wants you for? Do you know what guys like him--lonely, middle-aged men--want with young, naive, good-looking boys like you?” Jack spat back, raising his voice into the empty alley. Davey tried to ignore the jolt in his stomach when Jack called him good-looking. He swallowed back the hope that gave him. Too little, too late, he told himself.
“Please, Jack. You and I are both not as young as you make it out. We’re both only eleven years younger than he is. And I’m not as naive as you make it sound, either.” Davey’s chin jutted out in defiance. “As it so happens, we have already had RELATIONS. Last night.” He let the word drip with innuendo. Jack took a step back. He looked stung, and David wasn’t sure if he liked that he had hurt Jack, or if he felt bad. Maybe it was a bit of each, if truth be told.
“Oh, yeah? Have you, now?” Jack’s voice wavered. “So those moments you and I had … those was just all fun and games to you, was it? Going to Brooklyn together, printing that paper together, taking down Pulitzer together, leading all these kids together in their first feature film… did I just imagine there was somethin there between us during all of that?”
David felt a bit of regret. No, Jack hadn’t imagined it. Their stolen glances, usually resulting in little smiles and short giggles… Jack’s casual arm slung across Davey’s shoulders more times than he could count… re-watching the movie now, dozens of years later, had brought all of this back to David. There was no hiding the chemistry he had had with the leader of lower Manhattan. As painful as it was for David to see it splashed across the big screen, it was also invigorating. It reminded Davey how it had felt to be young(er) and naive(er).
Davey glanced toward the empty seat that had been saved for Brian Denton, Ace War Correspondent, for the newsies reunion. The chair that had not been used this evening.
Jack and David hadn’t seen each other since David went off with Brian, it was true. But it wasn’t just David that had abandoned Jack. Jack had gone off with Sarah, abandoning Davey, too. So Davey and Jack had gone opposite ways.
At Crutchy’s suggestion that “Dave might” know where Jack was, Davey glanced up from the picture he was posing for, a picture that included his sister, Sarah, and his brother, Les. It wasn’t the first time Sarah and David had been in the same room together for over 20 years (Jack hadn’t disrupted Davey’s family THAT badly), but the tenseness was impossible to hide. Seeing Jack kiss Sarah up on that big screen had certainly rekindled some poor feelings between the two of them, even as they trying to pretend to smile for the press.
David felt the accusatory glare Sarah was giving him even before he looked at her. “You know about Jack? Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Sarah pressed. She had probably lived these years with similar regret as David. Heck, maybe she should have gone off with Denton and Davey could have gone off with--
David felt even more uncomfortable. He had longed--no, he had pined--to see Jack Kelly again. But no, he couldn’t offer any explanations for their former leader’s absence. He had no knowledge about what had happened to him. Admitting that to the fellas and now his sister filled him with embarrassment. He cleared his throat and tried to sound casual. “Jack Kelly… How do I begin to explain Jack Kelly?”
Crutchy spoke up. “Jack Kelly is flawless.”
Kid Blink nodded. “I hear his drawing hand is insured for $10,000.”
“I hear he does car commercials… in Santa Fe,” said Boots helpfully.
“His favorite movie is Batman,” Les spoke up.
“One time he met Teddy Roosevelt in a carriage…” Snipeshooter said.
“...and he told Jack he was pretty,” Pie Eater added.
“One time he punched me in the face… it was awesome,” Morris Delancey said dreamily.
Sarah shook her head. “That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m asking where Jack Kelly is. You all seem to think he had as good of an excuse as Racetrack to not be here…”
“Racetrack AND Spot,” Pie Eater pointed out. There was definitely meaning behind Pie Eater’s tone. Davey winced. Oh, god. Jack better not be doing with Denton what they all knew Spot was doing with Racetrack. Luckily Specs spoke up before David had to dwell on THAT thought too much longer.
“Oh, you mean JACK Kelly. Yeah, he was here,” Specs said in a serious voice.
“He was? Where did he go?” Sarah asked curiously.
“He put an egg in his shoe... and beat it,” Crutchy finished what Specs started. Specs and Crutchy laughed loudly together, clutching each other with amusement. Leave it to Specs and Crutchy to be the token jokesters when Race was missing. Sarah sighed and turned to look at David. David shrugged a little unhappily.
“Maybe you oughta try asking her,” David suggested warily, pointing to the auburn-haired girl in the magenta dress and who was chatting with one of the newer (younger) newsboys. Sarah turned around to see who he was pointing at, and she froze.
“HER?” Sarah said, eyeing the one and only Katherine Plumber. Sarah straightened her back and purposely headed over to Katherine. Their conversation was out of hearing range, so David turned back to look at the others.
“I don’t know what you think you know, but whatever it is, you don’t know it,” David said to the others once Sarah was away. Crutchy held up his hands in mock surrender. David didn’t wait around for anyone else’s response. “Now it was nice seeing you all, but I need to get out of here.
No one stopped Davey as he stalked off the stage. He was back to the green room, collecting his coat off the coat-rack, when he heard a “pssst.” Davey paused for a moment, at first thinking he had imagined it. Nope, there went another “pssst.”
Davey turned around, expecting to see the stage manager with a promotional copy of the broadway recording, a giveaway for everyone who had attended the reunion tonight. That Jeremy Jordan didn’t have anything on Davey’s Jack Kelly, as far as Davey was concerned, but he wasn’t going to admit that to anyone, and he wouldn’t say no to a free CD.
He stopped suddenly at the sight of Jack Kelly. No, not Dan DeLuca. HIS Jack Kelly. His stomach lurched as Jack stepped forward. David simultaneously took a step backward.
“Wait… Dave,” Jack said, reaching a hand out to him. His fingers brushed Davey’s forearm, but Davey didn’t make to return Jack’s gesture. “That was some movie, huh?” When Davey said nothing, Jack added, in a quieter, careful voice, “That was really something… between you an’ me.”
Davey frowned. What nerve of Jack! “Why are you even bringing up this mythical ‘something’ that is between you and me?” Davey asked, air-quoting the word something with bitterness. “I haven’t seen you for over twenty years, you know that?”
“Twenty-three years, Davey,” Jack corrected him.
“Which is over twenty,” Davey retorted. “And over twenty years ago, you kissed my sister.” Might as well just throw it all out there, right away. “...Instead of me.” No reason to hold back. Walking Mouth, indeed.
Jack visibly swallowed, and Davey felt satisfied that he had silenced Jack, at least for the time-being. “This is true… I did. But you and Denton…”
“Didn’t happen until after you kissed my sister.” David was all set to defend himself. He had done this in his head many times over the years. “I mean, Brian and I had some sweet moments before that, when no one was looking, don’t get me wrong. And he certainly shared with me that he had interest in me. But he waited until I approached him to do anything. And I didn’t approach him until you chose my own sister.” Davey held up his hands dismissively. “And a lot of good it did me, anyway.”
“But your man, Denton…”
“Had something much better to do, in the end. Better than doing a snot-nosed kid, chasing after his hero, I guess. And Sarah? Why’d you go and break her heart?” Davey accused.
“Had to try to be a hero on my own merit. Without you.” Jack’s voice was quiet. “And again… a lot of good it did me.” When Davey didn’t say anything in return, Jack added, “Are you alone?”
Davey scoffed, looking away from Jack, refusing to let Jack see how shaken he was by this question. “Of course. You?”
“Nah,” Jack replied in a soft tone, fiddling with his jacket zipper in a nervous way. Of course Jack wasn’t single, Davey thought. He was a hero, an artist, a one-of-a-kind miraculous individual. How would someone like him be single? “Well… Sort of,” Jack added.
Davey looked up at Jack in confusion. “Sort of? How is someone sort of single?”
“Oh, I’m definitely single. But not quite alone.” Davey frowned for a moment in confusion. The confusion bloomed to understanding as Jack held out his phone to show him the picture of a little girl.
“My Alice. Seven years old now. This picture was last year.” Jack’s eyes glowed in such a way that Davey could tell he was very proud of the little girl, with the deep brown eyes and very jack-like smirk on her face.
“I was going to say she’s beautiful. Is she katherine’s?” Davey asked, trying to figure out where this child came from.
It was Jack’s turn to look confused. “Who?”
Davey shrugged. “Just a girl reporter, apparently.”
Jack shrugged back. “Apparently.” Looking down at the picture, he added, “Alice’s mom left.” He was quiet a beat, and when Davey didn’t say anything else, he added, “So I’m on my own, but not alone.” There was something about the way Jack spoke that showed Davey he had matured.
“Why did you come, but at the same time, not come, tonight?” Davey asked Jack. “Why stay hidden? Why not join all of us on stage, reuniting with old friends?”
“Why do you think, Dave?” Jack asked, saying Davey’s name in that tone that Davey had imagined in his thoughts more times over the last couple of decades than he cared to admit.
“Because Sarah is here, and you didn’t want to face her after leaving her?” Davey accused, trying to hide his feelings still.
Jack snorted, but he didn’t look particularly offended. “Davey. Didn’t Sarah ever tell you what happened between us?” Davey shook his head, so Jack continued, “She left me. For a mutual friend of ours, I might add.”
Davey gaped. “You’re kidding. Why would she leave you?” He didn’t even care who this person was that she had left Jack for. He was too busy trying to wrap his head around the idea that anyone would want to leave Jack.
“Probably because I talked way too much about you, and not enough about her,” Jack admitted with a shrug. Davey’s heart skipped a beat at that admission. Jack continued. “No, I don’t mind running into her. Might be nice to see her, actually. I’d like to tell her how glad I am she left. Because if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have Alice.” He glanced back down at the picture on his phone one more time, a soft smile on his lips, then slipped it into his back pocket. “I am more concerned about all the all of the ribbing I’m sure to get from the guys, after being a complete imbecile and not going after you instead of kissing your sister.”
Davey met Jack’s gaze. “Wait… are you saying…”
“You an I both made mistakes, it’s true. But like you just pointed out, my mistake led to your mistake.” Jack cleared his throat as he crossed his arms in front of his chest. “The guys all knew how I felt about you… how I feel about you. How could I hide it, even now? I got a little too much pride to come back into your life, my tail between my legs, with an audience.”
Davey rubbed at the back of his neck, trying to gather what Jack was getting. “Jack… are you saying…?” He laughed, his eyes crinkling. “Your tail between your legs, Jack? Really?”
“I was phenomenally wrong for kissing Sarah. As much of a gem as she is, I regret it immensely,” Jack said, his eyes on Davey, full of daring possibility, his hand again reaching out to Davey, gripping Davey’s shoulder with a hand.
Davey shook his head. “I don’t regret it. It was the right thing to do,” Davey said firmly. Jack lowered his eyes and his hand at the same time. It looked like he was going to turn away, so Davey reached a hand out to cup Jack’s cheek, then sliding the hand to the back of Jack’s neck, pulling him closer. “If you hadn’t kissed Sarah, and gone that route, you never would have had Alice. And I’d regret THAT.”
Jack licked his lower lip. “Dave…are YOU saying…?” Davey WAS saying exactly what Jack was also saying. They moved together simultaneously, their lips finally greeting for the first time, twenty three years too late, or maybe finally right on time. The kiss was more romantic than Davey had ever hoped, and better received than Jack had ever expected.
A moment later, Davey pulled away. “Can I meet her? Your daughter?” he urged Jack, slipping his other hand around Jack’s neck.
“Um… maybe?” Jack teased. “I don’t usually introduce her to people I’ve only kissed one time.”
“Then I’d say we have a lot of kissing to do,” Davey retorted with a chuckle, pulling Jack into another kiss. But again Davey pulled away another moment later.
“Who did my sister leave you for?” Davey asked.
It was Jack’s turn to laugh. “Skittery.”
Davey gaped. “Skittery?!” He made a thoughtful noise with his mouth. “I guess I can’t blame her there…”
“That’s it. You are NOT meeting Alice,” Jack argued, but Davey was laughing, so Jack laughed, too.
“Where IS Skittery, anyway?” Davey added. “Why didn’t he come tonight, if he and my sister are so happy together, having this secret love affair?”
“Ask your sister. I’m sure she knows where he is.”
Almost 4 years later, I'm inspired to finish this little gem. After all, it was the first time I saw my beloved toursies! And I think the idea was too interesting not to finish. This chapter is particularly meta and I'm incredibly amused, even if no one else is.
Next (and last) chapter is Skittery!