Do You Swear You Won't Forget Me?
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. I DO, however, own Sparkles, and anyone else you don't recognize. So don't steal them! Unless I give you permission. Which is an oxymoron.
A/N: The other day my muse woke up, for which I am grateful, and so are you. This chapter took forever, and I apologize. The rest will come sooner.
I'd like to give one collective shout out to all of my reviewers. You're the only reason I keep writing, so thanks!
Read this! You'll notice that this chapter is written in third person instead of first. I'll do that when I want you to know what other characters are thinking. It shouldn't be too confusing.
Also important! I've reposted a few of the other chapters, with only minor tweaks. I've also changed Sparkles' real name from 'Sandra' to 'Lily'. I simply decided I like the latter over the former. And no, although I am a Radio Free Roscoe fan, my character has nothing to do with RFR's Lily Randall. Thank you, and enjoy!
Chapter 05 – Guess That Everything You Heard About Is True
Bumlets leaned backwards in his chair until his shoulder blades touched the wall behind hi. His face was set in a worried expression as he vacantly surveyed the room. It was alive with energy, every newsie wanting to tell the story of how he'd sold his hundredth paper, or how he narrowly escaped the Bulls after running off with his 'free' meal.
"What's wit you, Bum?" Bumlets didn't notice as his fellow newsie made himself comfortable in the seat beside him, because just as Racetrack was sitting down, the Lodging House door clattered open. In walked Sparkles, her shoulders hunched but her head held high.
Bumlets vaulted foreword, the two front legs of his chair slamming against the ground. In his attempt to squeeze past both Racetrack and the table at full speed, his leg caught the inside of his abandoned chair and he half tripped, half jumped over Race's knees. Bumlets shook free of the chair and it clattered to the ground next to a bewildered Racetrack.
"Sparks," be began, slightly out of breath when he reached her, "where've you been?"
Sparkles stared ahead. "Out," she answered, oblivious to her friend's concerned eyes.
Her gaze seemed reluctant to meet his, and instead it swept searchingly around the room.
"Where's Jack?" she finally peered out at him from beneath stubborn wisps of hair that had shaken themselves loose from underneath her hat. Bumlets hesitated.
"He's upstairs, but - "
Sparkles shook her head, guessing what he was going to tell her. Her eyes stared ahead again, this time focusing on the stairway. "I have to talk to him."
She was halfway up the stairs before he could think of anything to say that would stop her, and by that time it was too late.
Jack lay flat on his bunk, his hands tucked behind his head as he stared at the ceiling. He could still feel the eyes of his fellow newsies burning into him that morning; still see the look of betrayal on Sparkles' face. Whatever reasons he may have head for turning back from the train station seemed to mean nothing as he watched her run from him.
Jack opened his eyes again and flicked them towards the window at his left. They sky was dark, and as far as he knew Sparkles hadn't returned yet.
He should probably go look for her, he thought, because anything could happen to a lone girl at night, and no matter the circumstances, he couldn't leave her on her own.
With a sigh, Jack swung his legs over the side of the bunk, and no sooner had his feet touched the floor than the bunkroom door swung open. In its wake stood a very determined looking Sparkles. They each stepped out into the aisle between the rows of bunks, and Jack couldn't help but feel like a cornered animal.
"Sparks, I was startin' to get worried…I - " She held up a hand to stop him.
"Save it, Cowboy." Her tone was bitter. "I want an explanation. Who's Sarah, and why didn't you tell me?"
"Sparkles, you've gotta unda'stand - "
The blonde's eyes narrowed. "Who. Is. She?"
Jack stood quiet for a moment.
"She's…well she's my…my girlfriend."
There was silence.
Sparkles closed her eyes, wishing he hadn't just said that. Wishing that sick feeling in her stomach was gone…
"She's David's sister, an'..an'…I don't know why I didn't tell youse. I guess I jus' t'ought - "
"T'ought what, that I was jus' going to forget?"
Jack narrowed his eyes ever so slightly at the smaller girl. He'd had enough of this.
"Don't do dat, Sparks. Listen ta me. Manhattan's the only home I've eva' known; dese guys are my family. When you were hea' - " he leaned against the bunk frame – "when you were hea' all I'se wanted ta do was get away." He gestured in the air. "Go someplace where I wasn't dirt unda'neath someone's feet. And when you were forced to move to New Mexico¹…"
Sparkles let her hands drop to her sides with a sigh. "When I left, you realized just how much freedom you really had, right? The freedom to make your own choices."
Jack smiled slightly despite the situation. Funny how she always seemed to be able to read him like a book. He was surprised that he was able to keep Sarah a secret for so long.
Another awkward silence fell upon them even as Jack realized what he had just thought.
Had it really been worth it? Manhattan for Santa Fe? Freedom over love? His happiness versus hers?
Jack continued. "I was going to leave," his voice was nearly inaudible. "I was on my way to da station, an' I should'a been happy 'bout it. But instead all I could t'ink about was everythin' I was leavin' behind. Everyone I was leavin' behind."
"And that's when you turned back." She finished for him.
He swallowed and studied the girl before him. Her gaze was now settled on the dusty floor to her right.
He thought about Sarah. She had needed him, too. And he had needed her. So had everyone else, or so it seemed.
"Sparkles. I know I hurt you, and I'm sorry. But I still believe dat I made the right decision."
Suddenly she was alive again.
"How can you say you're sorry!?" The bitter tone was back in her voice, and her blue eyes flashed. "Do you t'ink that's going to set ev'rything right? Maybe in your world, Jack, but not in mine. You may have been happy here, but I still had ta suffa' without you, without my friends, and without the only kind of freedom that I'd ever known!"
"Sparkles..." He took a step closer. She took a step back.
"You had a choice, Jack. I didn't."
He clenched his jaw. "What do you t'ink was gonna happen when I came, Lily?" The use of her real name caused her anger subside. "Do you t'ink you're family was jus' gonna accept me all of a sudden?"
Jack noticed a movement to her left, near the doorway. It was Bumlets. Sparkles didn't seem to notice.
"Right, no." He crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Dey would've acted the same as dey always did towards me. Maybe even worse. I would've jus' ended up sellin' papes again, same as always. Only dis time I'd be wit'out my friends in a place where I didn't even have a chance of a future."
"I guess I never t'ought of it dat way." Sparkles slid her hat off her head, eyes sweeping the floor in front of her. She looked up.
"Why'd you promise to come, den?"
"Because den I couldn't t'ink of being wit'out you. It's different now Sparks. But you still have friends hea', and I intend to stay one of them."
"No…" her angry tone was now despondent, and Bumlets nearly started behind her. "No, you're wrong. I don't have anyt'ing anymore."
Bumlets caught Jack's eye, a hint of pain in their depths. Suddenly Jack understood, and gave a small nod in the direction of his comrade.
Sparkles straightened, looking Jack squarely in the eye. "I'm sorry it had to be this way, Jack. And I'm sorry I couldn't be what you needed me to be."
Turning swiftly on her heels, Sparkles brushed past Bumlets without comprehending his presence, and disappeared out the door.
Closing Comments: I really don't know what to say about this chapter, except that I hope it was worth the wait. I took me forever to crank this out, because I couldn't decide if I wanted the two to be yelling at each other of crying. I decided on both, but what do you think? I accept all kinds of reviews, so let me know!