Author's Note: Why the next chapter in my Newsies multi-chapter story is taking over a week and a half to write while this took me a day is beyond me. Sorry to anyone waiting for the next chapter in that!
To those who are just here to read my Tuck fic, thanks for clicking! This is mostly based on the musical, but it could really work for the book, too. That's really all I have to say! I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, reviews are always appreciated! Thanks for reading!
Jesse Tuck sucked in a deep breath and braced himself for what he was about to see. It had been years, too many years, since he'd been to Treegap, New Hampshire. The last time he'd been there, his heart had been crushed, and he knew the memories would just come flooding back the moment he set his eyes on the wood.
And, sure enough, they did.
The wood had been left just as it was before. It was almost like nothing had changed. At least, in this area of the wood. But, in some parts, trees had been knocked down and replaced by towering buildings, much to Jesse's dismay. They'd knocked down some of his favorite trees.
But, at the heart of the wood, it was like it had always been. The rushing, sparkling spring, the great ash tree with a perfect T carved in it..."Just like before," Jesse whispered.
He didn't want to be here, though. The familiarity stung too much. But, this was where he always met Ma- half-way. So, he sat down by the tree and waiting, hoping she'd arrive soon.
As he waited, Jesse began to feel thirsty. He glanced around the wood and determined that he was alone. Then, he cupped his hands and dunked them into the spring water-
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
Jesse jumped and let out a startled yell, dropping the spring water. He looked up to see a boy who couldn't be more than eleven sitting on top of a tree branch.
"Well, I mean, I would," The boy continued. "But, my mom says I can't."
"Wow, you-you came out of nowhere," Jesse stammered. "What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?" The boy retorted. "You know, technically, I could get you in trouble for being here."
"Oh, really?" Jesse chuckled. "How so?"
"I own these woods," The boy replied. "Well, actually, my mom owns these woods, who says her mom owns these woods, who says her mom- well, you get the picture. But, I won't get you in trouble. That'd be rude. Besides, my mom says things are better when you get to share it."
"Well, thanks for not kicking me out," Jesse responded, smirking. "I'm just passing through-wait." That's when realization struck him. He knew who owned these woods. If he knew anything about Treegap anymore, it was who owned these woods. That couldn't have changed. Could it? "Wait, wait, wait."
"I'm waiting," The boy cut in, swinging his legs absent-mindedly.
"What did you say about these woods?" Jesse questioned.
"I own them," The boy replied, confused. "I thought I made that clear by now."
Jesse furrowed his brows. Doesn't Winnie's family still own the wood? He wondered. I mean, I know they sold it to The Man In The Yellow Suit, but he's long gone.
That's when he took a good look at the boy and saw it. Although the boy had dark brown hair that looked nothing like Winnie's, Jesse would recognize those sky blue eyes anywhere. Does Winnie have a son now? Has it been that long?
"Yoo-hoo!" The boy called out. "You're real quiet, aren't you?"
Jesse blinked and shook his head. A small grin appeared on his face as he answered, "No, no, I'm not. In fact, my brother is usually having to tell me to shut up!"
"Hmm," The boy shrugged. "That's not the vibe I'm getting, but whatever." With that, he began to make his way up to a taller branch, but his foot slipped as he looked down at it.
The grin on Jesse's face grew wider. "Nah, you can't look down. You'll never get anywhere if you do that."
The boy frowned. "That's what my mom's always telling me. She says she was taught how to climb trees by an 'expert.'" He rolled his eyes. "Dad hates it when we climb trees. Says it makes him nervous, but he's always nervous."
Jesse chuckled. "An expert, huh?"
The boy nodded, swinging himself up onto the next branch. "Haha, made it! Mom'd say I'm at the top of the world right now!"
Jesse's chuckle turned into a full-on laugh. "Mind if I join you up there?" He asked through laughs.
"Go ahead," The boy said. "Bet you can't climb as high as me, though! I've had lots of practice."
Pulling himself up on the trunk of the tree, Jesse smirked, "I don't know about that. Some might call me an expert at this." Before the boy could question him on his expertise, he added, "So, what were you saying earlier about the spring?"
"Oh, yeah, my mom doesn't let me drink from it," The boy responded as Jesse sat himself down on the branch next to him. "Wow, that was fast. I guess you are an expert."
"Thanks," Jesse grinned. "Why doesn't she let you drink from it?"
"You'll never believe me," The boy said, giving Jesse a pointed look. "In fact, I'm not sure I believe it. My mom's nuts."
"So am I," Jesse chuckled. "Trust me, with the things I've seen, I'll believe most anything."
The boy raised his eyebrow, but obliged. "Well, Mom says that the spring is magical. She thinks if you drink from it, you'll live forever?"
"Really?" Jesse smirked.
"Nah, I don't believe it," The boy shrugged it off. "But, she tells me stories of this magical family she met when she was my age."
"Magical family?" Jesse echoed, the smile falling off his face in a moment of shock. She still talks about us?
"Yeah, the Tucks," The boy nodded. "They sound pretty neat. There's Angus, the dad, the Mae, the mom, and the brothers, Miles and Jesse. She tells me all about fishing with Angus, and Jesse's adventures. Apparently, they accidentally drank from the spring and they're still out there, living somewhere."
Jesse felt a warmth growing in his chest. Winnie didn't forget at all. "That-that sounds neat." He whispered.
"Yeah, it does," The boy agreed. "I wanna drink from the spring, but she says I have to wait 'til I'm 'mature enough to make the decision.'"
"How old is that?" Jesse questioned, the smile returning to his face.
"She says she was 17 when she made the decision," The boy answered lightly. "Supposedly, Jesse invited her to drink from the spring when she was his age, but I don't see why she couldn't have just drank it right away. I mean, what's the difference?"
"Oh, trust me," Jesse chuckled warmly. "There's a difference."
The boy glanced at Jesse. "That's what she said, too...Anyway, she waited until she was 17 and...uh, I don't really know the whole story. It's something about a wheel, I dunno. But, in the end, she decided not to, which I suppose was for the best, 'cause then, I probably wouldn't exist. She always says it was for the best, even though she misses Jesse a lot. She says that's the only bad part. But, when I'm 17, I'm gonna drink the spring water."
Jesse was silent for a while, his face filled with deep thought, before he finally responded, in a hoarse voice, "You know what? Perhaps it was for the best. She gets to experience a...a full life. She deserves that. She's right about the wheel. She gets to change and grow...she's happy?" He phrased the last part as a question, sneaking a glance at the boy.
The boy nodded, taken aback by Jesse's sudden emotion. "She's very happy."
Jesse smiled sadly. "Good. Do me a favor; make sure she stays happy, will you?"
"Yeah," The boy smiled back, still confused. "I promise. Are-are you crying?"
Jesse wiped his eyes and laughed. "No, no, I just- I'm allergic to ash trees."
"Then, why'd you climb one?" The boy questioned.
"I, uh, forgot," Jesse replied with another chuckle.
"Oh no," Came a voice from the ground. Jesse looked down to see Miles looking up at him with his arms crossed. "Not again. You seriously did this again?"
"Oh, relax," Jesse grinned, swinging down from the tree. He jumped down and landed on both feet, causing the young boy's mouth to drop open. He looked up and said, "Don't try that at home, kid." He turned back to Miles and continued in low voice, "Don't worry, we don't have to kidnap him."
Miles glared at his brother. "How much does he know?"
"Quite a bit," Jesse smirked.
Miles only got angrier. "Jesse!" He scolded. "You can't just go around and-"
"Um, I gotta go," The boy cut in loudly, climbing down from the tree. "But, I never got your name."
"Yours first," Jesse replied. "First and last."
The boy raised his eyebrow again as he eased himself to the ground. "You're very odd."
"So, I've been told," Jesse beamed as Miles fumed behind him.
"I'm Thomas Foster Jackson," The boy answered, walking over to Jesse with his hand out-stretched. "How do."
Miles softened as Jesse smiled wider than he had all day. "Foster? I knew it." Jesse commented.
"You knew it?" Thomas echoed, shaking his head. "You are nuts, just like my mom."
"Wait, what's your name?" Miles asked quietly. "Thomas?"
Thomas nodded slowly. "My mom said I was named after a memory, but not her memory. I'll never understand her."
Miles looked down, a smile slowly making its way onto his face for the first time in a long time. He blinked and wiped at his eyes, prompting Jesse to chime in, "That's my brother. He's allergic to ash trees, too."
"Well, Ma's waiting for us back there," Miles sniffed. "We should get going."
"Alright," Jesse smiled as he and Miles began on their way. "It was nice to meet you, Thomas!"
"Wait, I never got your names!" Thomas called, running after them.
Jesse turned around, smirking. "I'm Jesse, and this is my brother, Miles."
Thomas paused, his mouth falling open. "Wait..."
Miles grinned as he and Jesse walked off. "Tell Winnie that the Tucks say hi!"