"Hey Mr. Higgins, you planning on giving homework over break? Because if you are, I would take pleasure in sending you the picture of my copy burning while I enjoy its warmth."

"You do that, Connor. Just know that my new desktop background will be a picture of your grade burning while your dreams of a successful future roast over it." The class laughed at the teacher's sarcastic comment. Race allowed an easy grin to spread when he saw Connor's face turn red. "I wasn't planning on homework..." Race saw his students' face light up. He contained a snort of laughter. Middle schoolers. So easy to torment. "But Connor here has given me an idea." Every face in the room fell. "Every last one of you is required to bring me a photo of you doing something you do every December break." The kids looked confused.

"What does that have to do with social studies, Mr. H?"

"Well, Karen, we're learning about what?"

"People moving into the US from other places."

"Exactly. They all brought a piece of culture with them. So bring in your picture of a tradition, and explain why you do that thing every year in two sentences or more. No less, Nick." The chronic underachiever grinned. The bell rang, signaling the end of the second-to-last period of the day. The kids shuffled around, gathering papers and shoving them into books and folders. Race watched the eighth graders try to organize themselves. He caught Connor's eye and grinned at him. The boy stuck out his tongue. Race raised his eyebrows. He glanced around as if to check if anybody else was looking, then stuck his tongue out right back. Connor looked very surprised. Race smirked as he followed the last of the kids out of the room and headed for the staff room. He breezed in and found the art teacher already there.

"Oh , would you please make five hundred million copies of this book, please?" Race put on a whiny falsetto voice. His friend turned from the window he was looking out of. He shot a smile at Race.

"Ready for Christmas, Racer?"

"Oh yeah. I love the kids, but it's been over three months since I've had more than a weekend without having to talk to them."

"Plus you love the teachers' New Years party." A new voice came from the doorway. A dark-haired man stood in the door. Race slapped him on the back of the head.

"Shut it, Mouth."

"Last time I checked, Race, my name isn't Tony and yours isn't Gibbs."

"Ah, but my middle name is Jethro." Race slapped Davey again.

"Stop it!"

"Don't think I will, thanks." Another slap.

"Break it up, bums." The three old friends shared a laugh. No matter how they may lament the maturity, or lack of it, in their middle school classrooms, few of the teachers were much more mature.

"It stinks that Crutchie has class this period. Imagine how much fun we'd all have together." A young lady with curly dark hair soared in.

"You three cause enough trouble without another buddy helping you out."

"Hiya, Plums."

"That is not my name."

"Hiya, Plums."

" ."

"Hiya, Plums."

"He isn't going to stop until you say hi to him. He does this all the time."

"Hiya, Plums."

"Hello, Mr. Higgins."

"Hiya, Plums."

"What does he want?"

"Say, 'Hi, Race.' Then if he doesn't stop, Davey can slap him."

"It would be a pleasure."

"You and your group are such...boys!"

"Thank you."

"Hiya, Plums."

"Hi, Race."

"Thank you." Race had a smug look on his face. "You coming to the party, Plums?"

"My name isn't 'Plums!' It's Katherine!" She stormed out of the room.

"She didn't answer my question. She just walked away without answering my question. Why didn't she answer my question?" While Race was pondering his issues with unanswered questions, Davey was watching Jack. He had a look on his face that looked like he had been hit in the face with a fish.

"Jack! You like her!"

"Wha-no I don't!"

"Ooh, Jack! I'ma get all my kids to ship you, I'll spread little rumors, this is gonna be great!"

"Race!" Davey groaned. "At least refrain from that until they're officially dating!"

"Since I don't like her, that won't be an issue!"

"Uh-huh. That's what every middle schooler ever says when asked if they like somebody."

"Race! Seriously! Have some tact!" It all went downhill from there. Jack was blushing and Davey was trying to stop Race and Race was making copies of a quickly drawn betting pool and putting them in the mailboxes of their friends. Davey finally gave up trying to stop him.

"One for Romeo, one for Specs. For the Crutch, for Hen, Elmer, Al, Buttons, Knobs. And one for JoJo. I'll find Spot. And Smalls and Sniper too. Ooh, and I bet Les will want in!"

"Race! Seriously! The office ladies, the janitor, and the principle will not want to place bets on whether or not Jack and the new ELA teacher will get together.

"Spot will, Smalls goes for whatever Spot does, Sniper follows Smalls, and your baby brother will be in on anything you are."

"Who said I'm in on this?"

"You are." Neither of them noticed Jack slip out of the room.

"I want nothing to do with this...this idiocy!"

"You're in whether you want to be or not, Dave." Race grinned at his friend. "Oh come on! It'll be fun!"

"Fine." Davey sighed. "Let's go find Spot."

They found Spot in his small office off the main gym.

"Hiya, Spot."

"Hey, Race. Hey Dave. What's up?"

"This." Race slapped his betting pool down on Spot's desk.

"Bets? Ah...so I'm not the only one who thinks Jacky-boy likes that new Katherine girl."


"I bet...the party." Just then the phone on the wall rang. "Janitorial services. Hey, Crutch. Yeah...uh-huh...how? That's actually quite impressive. Who? Ah...how bad? Any electroics? Good...no problem...okay." Spot stood up and stretched. "Sorry, boyos. Duty calls."

"What happened in Crutchie's room?"

"Some idiot decided that dismantling the sink so that it sprayed water everywhere was a good idea. Apparently it sprayed all over the classroom. Almost got the computer and projector, but not quite."

"That is pretty impressive. Who was it?"

"That Ashton King kid?"

"Ah. He does seem to enjoy taking things apart."

"He destroyed one of our Bunsen burners once. I don't even know how."

"He's gotten my chair a few times. Come to think of it, the pencil sharpener alway malfunctions after he uses it, too."

"Well, I gotta clean up the mess he made. See ya around, boys." Spot strolled casually from the room, stopping at a closet to pull out a mop. Race watched as his friend walked down the hall.

"Think he's right? About the party?" He asked Davey.

"Probably. That's where most of the bets will be, I bet."

"Hmm." Race nodded, filling in Spot's bet on his master chart. "Let's go Dave. To the office!"

So this is a story that came out of staying up really, really late (here in EST anyway) one night in the Newsies Pape Selling Competition Chatroom topic. This is not an entry to the contest, but the idea came sort of from Emador in a game of Would You Rather/Kiss, Marry or Kill. She said she would like to imagine the newsies working with her as middle school teachers, and then more brainstorming happened and I ended up writing this.