My first real Newsie fanfic. Bear with me.
Jack has spent the last eleven years protecting his boys from the horrors of the foster home that they like to call "The Refuge" but even the best efforts don't come through in the end. Mostly following Jack and Race, but there are a few others in the prologue
Here are the ages
January 17, 2000: Race - 5, Jack - 6
February 17, 2004: Crutchie - 6, Race - 9, Jack - 10
July 30, 2005: Spot - 12, Jack - 11, Race - 10
17 January, 2000
Anthony was scared, as a little five year old should be. His mother, father, and older brother died in a fire only a week ago, and so Little Anthony was thrust into the foster system with a tall, scary man named Mr. Snyder.
He was the first.
Anthony was assured that Snyder would be the ideal parent. He would watch over the boy, take care of him, act just like the father he recently lost. Either someone was misinformed or someone was out to get him, because that description of The Spider couldn't be further from the truth.
In all reality, Snyder was abusive, cold hearted, and tough as nails. He used a small five year old as his personal slave. And there was no one else in the house to save the little boy, so he was left to suffer through it all alone.
One day, Anthony took a particularly rough beating. Snyder had been out drinking again, so when he passed out on the couch, Tony snuck out and ran. He ran as far and as fast as his short, stubby legs could manage. He eventually sat down in an ally on an overturned crate and cried.
"Woah, woah, woah, kid! Whatcha doing out here, bawling your eyes out? You's planning on flooding Brooklyn or somethin'?" Anthony looked up and saw a boy, maybe a year older than himself, staring down at him.
"I can't do it anymore!" The five year old sobbed. The other boy put a hand his shoulder. Anthony flinched, which made Jack sigh and remove his hand.
"What can't you do?"
"I can't go home. Not back to my foster dad."
"You can come home with me! I'll protect you, Racetrack. I promise." Jack - the boy - swore.
"Racetrack?" Anthony asked with a smile.
"Yeah, well, you's hasn't told me yet real name yet, so I called ya Racetrack. Me and my friend nicknamed this ally Racetrack Ally because of the nearby horse race track."
"I'm Anthony Higgins," said Anthony.
"Nice to meet ya, Tony. I'm Jack Kelly."
The two boys shook hands. Anthony leaned against the wall and fell fast asleep.
"Anthony!" Jack yelled, trying to wake the little boy up. Anthony jumped, terrified that Snyder was after him. He hated being yelled at.
"M sorry!" He yelped, pulling away from Jack.
"You're fine, Anthony. I just think we should get goin'."
" Oh," he replied weakly. " I just don't like having my name yelled at me. It makes me think I'm in trouble." Anthony said, feeling the need to justify himself.
Jack nodded in understanding. "Then I won't call ya Anthony. From now on, you ain't Anthony Higgins to no one. You's Racetrack Higgins, now."
17 February, 2004
Christopher was scared, as a little six year old should be. His father died in a car accident only a week ago, and so Little Chris was thrust into the foster system with a tall, scary man named Mr. Snyder.
He was the second.
Mr. Snyder took care of one other boy, Anthony "Racetrack" Higgins, who was eight. He disappeared every night. He thought Chris didn't notice but he did. He also never called Chris by his real name. It was always Gimpy or Crutch or something along those lines, because Christopher was run over by a truck when he was younger, damaging the nerves in his leg. They didn't take the leg, but he couldn't put weight on it.
It was one particular night that Chris had had enough of Race's nightly activities. He pretended to fall asleep, but when Race started to leave, Chris stopped him.
"I know you sneak out every night. Tell me where you go." He demanded.
Race gave him the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look, practically begging Chris to drop the subject, but he was determined.
Racetrack sighed. "Promise you won't tell the Spider, first," he nodded in confirmation. "I have a friend who I go to see every night. He's in a tough foster home, too. I think our foster parents are friends or somethin'. We help clean each other's wounds." He said the last part jokingly. " How's about you come with me, huh, gimpy? He can help me find you a proper nickname."
Christopher nodded and Race helped him climb out the window.
It was about three miles to their destination, and then they had to climb in another window. Race turned on the light when they got in the room.
"Racer? Is that you?" A voice called.
"Yeah, it's me, Jackie. I brought a friend."
A boy about ten with two swollen eyes and blood covering his face and neck stepped out of the shadows. Blood was also splattered across the rest of his body and, as Chris only now realized, on the walls and floor, too. When Race saw the other boy, he rushed forward to support him.
"I gotcha, Jack. You're gonna be okay." Race helped his friend sit on the floor, leaning on the wall, then went back and helped Chris sit next to Jack.
"Jack, this is Christopher Morris."
"Nice ta meet ya, kid. The name's Jack Kelly." Jack was going to shake Chris' hand, but then realized he had blood on it.
"I need a nickname for him. He don't like having his name hollered at him. It's like with me. You're generally good at finding nicknames. Up until now, I've bean using Gimpy and Crutch."
Jack thought for a minute. " Crutch or Gimpy, huh? What if we combine the two? How about Crutchie?"
Chris nodded. "I like that. It's not as cruel as Gimpy."
Crutchie gave a pointed look at Race who smirked.
" We should make it a tradition. When there's a new kid, we get them a nickname."
" What about for Jack?" Crutchie asked.
" What if we say Cowboy? Because you're always dreamin' of Santa Fe and ridin' paleminos."
" You can call me that, but please know that I won't accept it." Jack said sarcastically.
30 July, 2005
A/N not to sound nationality-ist (that's totally a word) but warning you that Spot's real name makes him sound like the stereotypical Irish dude, but it's necessary for the plot line. At this point, Jack's "boys" also include Specs, Finch, Romeo and Elmer.
Samuel Patrick Timothy Conlon Jr. and his little sister Lucy Aberdeen Elizabeth Conlon were eleven and nine years old when their parents decided to stop breathing (A/N That's a bad life choice, kids) before that, the Conlon family was very well off, living in a large house in the rich side of Brooklyn. They lived with their father, Samuel P. T. Conlon Sr., who owned a fancy hotel chain, the Conlon Inn, which was inherited from his father. Their mother, Elizabeth Embry Conlon, had stage four pancreas cancer and wouldn't last much longer.
Samuel Conlon Sr. was exposed to mercury. He increasingly got sicker and sicker and even went a little insane. Sometimes he would just zone out. In one of his rare moments of sanity, it hit him that once he died or went completely crazy (whichever came first) his already sick wife wouldn't be able to take care of two kids by herself.
He went to a foster home in Brooklyn and talked to the owner, he made sure Samuel had a spot there, in the home, for when he was unavailable.
Two days before Samuel turned twelve, Elizabeth died. Their father sent him to the home. Samuel didn't know what happened to Lucy. All he knew was she was gone.
One day, a month after his birthday, Samuel met a boy named Race. He bumped into him on the street. Race was ten. He was on his way to meet his brother.
"Come with me. I have a feeling we'll be real tight one day." Race said. Samuel agreed, even though he knew that there was no way he would be friends with a boy like this. Race's snarky and sarcastic and hated to be told what to do. He wasn't very tough, he just didn't want to be pushed around, either. He was tall and gangly, even for a ten-year-old. Samuel was very tough, but kind of sensitive, too. Like Race, he didn't like to be pushed around, but he actually did something about it. Race just fired back a few words, but didn't try to stop it. Samuel was short and slightly muscular, even for a twelve-year-old.
When Race finally saw Jack, he collapsed into his arms, sobbing and convulsing. He didn't seem to care that Samuel was right behind him. Jack held him for a few minutes before holding him at arm's length.
"What's going on, kid?" Jack asked, confused. Race started to stutter through an answer but couldn't get out a word. Jack raised an eyebrow at Samuel, who was looking on in awe. Race seemed like the type of boy who would never cry, but he was more than willing to with his older brother.
"I'm just as lost as you," he finally said.
"It's Snyda', ain't it?" Jack guessed. Race nodded. " He's been beating you?" Another nod. "Take off your shirt."
Race began frantically shaking his head. He didn't want Jack to see his horrible scars.
"No Jackie-" Jack sighed and began taking off Race's shirt. He gasped at what he saw. Samuel moved next to Jack so he could see, too.
Across Race's chest was a red burn, parts of it was blistering. There were angry scratches on various parts of his torso, like he ran shirtless through a cactus patch.
"It ain't as bad as it looks," Race cut Jack off. "Honest."
"Lay down, Racer. You're looking pale." Jack told him, once he stopped talking.
"Please don't leave me. Please." Race whimpered.
"I ain't goin' nowhere. Now you need sleep, kid." Jack sat down on the bed next to Race and began to run his fingers through the boy's sweaty blond hair. He was burning up.
"Hey Samuel, could you go get me a cold washcloth? Kid's running a fever." He gave Samuel directions to the linen closet. Jack stared down at Racetrack's face. He wasn't sweating anymore, but was shivering instead. Jack pulled a heavy quilt from the closet in his room and laid in on him. After a while, Race stopped shivering. Jack continued to brush his fingers through the sick boy's hair.
Samuel came back a few minutes later with the cloth in his hand. Jack took it eagerly and began holding it to Race's forehead. Race cried out and tried to roll away, but Jack held him firm.
"Hey Racer. It's just me. It's Jack." He whispered.
" Jack?" Race moaned back, only half conscious.
"Yeah kid. You'll be fine. Just sleep."
Race didn't put up much of a fight. He was exhausted.
Jack turned to Samuel.
"We need to find you a nickname."
"That's what Sam is."
Jack rolled his eyes. " I mean a weird nickname. Race has been Race since he was five years old. He's the first boy I took under my wing. Most of these kids don't like it when their name is shouted at them. It reminds them of their abusive foster parents. Or their abusive parents or-"
"You mean these kids are abused? Race is abused?" Samuel asked
" Yeah, Samantha. He is. I am, too. So are the rest of the boys. Like-" Jack trailed off, trying to find a way to explain it. Samuel scowled at "Samantha" "Watch this." He took a deep breath."Anthony!" He said. Race squirmed around a little and Jack called his name again. Race began moaning something along the lines of "I didn't do nothin'!" He even fought against Jack's grip on him, telling him to let him go. Jack's grip tightened, holding onto the struggling boy.
"I'm sorry, Racer. I shouldn't've done that. I'm so sorry." Jack whispered. (A/N I've said this before on my other Newsies fanfic, but I don't think shouldn't've is a word, but I think the Newsies would say it either way.)
Eventually, Race stopped struggling.
"So anyways, you need a new name. Not Sam or Samatha, and I can't think of anything else, so what's your full name? I'll think of something similar."
Samuel took a deep breath. He hated telling people his full name. "Samuel Patrick Timothy Conlon Jr."
"Junior? I could always go with that. I'd do Specs, because it sounds similar to SPTC, but I already got a boy named Specs. Let's do Junior-"
"Not Junior," Spot interjected.
"Okay, then how about-"
"Spot," Race whispered weakly from the bed.
"Hey, hey. You should be sleepin'. Don't worry about Sammy. I got him."
"Not Sammy. Spot Conlon."
"Why?" Samuel asked, liking Spot better than any of the names Jack had come up for him.
"Samuel Patrick Timothy. SPT."
"Spot." Jack repeated. "That's cool. You's good with Spot?"
Spot Conlon nodded. "I need your help with something, if you's willing." Jack raised an eyebrow, gesturing for Spot to continue. "Can you help me find my sister?"
How was that? Remember, it was just the prologue, setting up how that characters met Jack. The next chapter comes in when the characters are older. High school.