Happy Memorial Day to all you Americans!

I just rethunked (nope. That's not a word. I'm sorry.) My plotline in order for this to work.

Here are the new ages (oh goody!)

Spot - 19

Jack - 18

Race - 17

Lucy - 16

Crutchie - 14

So sorry. I already corrected the ages in the prologue.

Also: everyone seems to be making Race an Italian. Maybe it's because in the 1992 Christian Bale movie, his name is Anthony. IDK. I've also never seen it, I just know the plotline. I'll follow in suite.

Fun Fact #1: Racetrack Higgins was a real Newsie who actually helped START the newsboys strike, but then moved before it was resolved!

Warning: the outside references are endless!


Theme Song: Hell is for Children

by Pat Benetar

"They cry in the dark

So you can't see their tears

And hide in the light

So you can't see their fears

Forgive and Forget

All the while

Love and pain become one and the same

In the eyes of a wounded child"


Racetrack Higgins stared at the doors in front of him in disgust. He'd been remembering that day back in July of 2005. When he met Spot Conlon, the one person he trusted above most of Jack's other boys, even though he met Spot last. Jack hadn't gained anymore boys since that day and no one thought of Spot as part their crowd. He had a gang of his own, the Brooklyn branch, and they were tough. They were the ones Manhattan looked to when they needed help.

The relationship between the Manhattan branch and the Brooklyn branch was similar to that of the Curtis gang and the Shepard gang from The Outsiders. They were two distinct groups and they would fight amongst themselves, but when it came down to it, they would take each other's side. Not that Race had ever read the book, even though it was required reading in his eighth grade year homeschool curriculum.

Race hated school. It made him feel confined, liked he had no rights, no freedom. It didn't help much that everyone else thought he was so stupid.

Up until last year, Snyder claimed he was homeschooling the boys, when in reality, he went to work and left them at home. Jack would take every chance he got and come by and teach them. It became increasingly clear that Race could not read. Jack didn't know how to help him, so he never learned.

Some genius finally realized that there was no way Snyder could go to work and teach the boys at the same time, so all of the boys were taken away from Snyder and split up to various homes in the same neighborhood. The majority - Race, Elmer, Albert, Finch, and Romeo - were sent to live with Wiesel and Jack, which wasn't much better than with Snyder.

Crutchie was adopted by Medda Larkin, Jack's friend that he painted backdrops in her theater for. Crutchie went to the school she taught at instead of the school the rest of the boys went to.

It became obvious that Race was illiterate. In order to help him, his English teacher recommended Wiesel sent him to Medda's school. It had a very good reading program. Wiesel agreed, but only because he would be payed to send all his kids to that school.

So it was a new school, starting Junior year of high school. Spot was a senior. Jack was held back a year, so he was a junior, too. He made Race swear up, down, and three ways to Christmas (isn't that a great saying?) that he would do well in school, so he was never held back. Crutchie would be in ninth grade along with Elmer and Finch. Albert was tenth grade and Romeo was eighth grade, so he was at the middle school.

Once Race forced himself into the school, it was like he was suffocating. The smell of new books reminded him of her. The loud, cheerful cafeteria conversation reminded him of her. The library reminded him of her. (so did the librarian, who she used to call by her first name, like they were best friends, which they were) Even the quiet, nerdy fifteen year old girls reminded him of her, with their gladiator sandals and t shirt dresses. He missed her.


Once Race managed to force himself into a desk, Wiesel began roll call. This was always Race's favorite time of day, because it was to one time he could insult his foster father without getting beaten to a pulp. He started with Jack, the oldest.

"Jack Kelly-"

"Ay, Weasel! You missed me?" Jack taunted. Wiesel growled in frustration, obviously irritated that he couldn't punch Jack.

"The name's Wiesel!"

"Ain't that what I said?"

"Just turn in the summer assignments and get a move on."

Jack handed him his packet. Wiesel spent a few minutes glancing over it, then said "hundred points for the wise guy! Next is Anthony Higgins!"

"How's it going, Weasel?" Race asked with a smirk

"At least call me mister!" Wiesel was getting exasperated.

"Oh, well I'll call you sweetheart if you spot me fifty points, huh?" Jack chuckled in the background " drop the papers and move it along!"

"Oh well, whatever happened to romance?" Race asked as he dropped his summer packet. He was awarded his points. Next was Crutchie.

"Christopher Morris!"

"Good morning Mr. Wiesel."

"Fifty points for Crutchie." I was a very rare thing to get one hundred points, like Jack just did.

Next up was a new kid.

"David Jacobs… someone I don't know. Huh."

David dropped his paper and sat on Jack's left. Race was always to his right, as his second in command.

"Look, kid, after school, how's about I show ya around a bit? You seem pretty lost." Jack said to David.

"I thought this class was all new kids…?" David asked.

"All but me and Crutch- Chris. All but me a that crip sitting in the front. This is our second year. Most of us is Wiesel's foster kids."


"So, uh, Davey, where's ya from?"

"LA. You?"

"California? What're you doin' all the way over here?"

"My sister was accepted into this prestigious arts school. So where are you from?"

" New York. 'Hattan, hence the giant "Manhattan brach" written on my backpack in permanent ink." Jack answered sarcastically. Race snickered.

"We all is from Manhattan branch,"

"What's that even mean?" Davey asked.

"The first thing you need to know about basically any school in New York is we have branches to our social groups. Here at Yancy Academy, there's the Newsies and the Pops, short for populars. Inside the Pops, there's two branches - the reluctant pops and the embracive pops. Embracive Pops include those jerks who will do literally anything a teacher asks them. People like the Delancey brothers and Carolyn Pulitzer, Pulitzer's niece.

"The Reluctant Pops are people like Katherine Pulitzer. They're people who don't care too much, they just want a chance at a normal life. People like Darcy and Bill. The Pops who are popular cuz of their parents who never even had a shot at gaining their own rep. Now the Newsies-"

"Why are they called Newsies?" Davey interrupted.

"Originally, the Pops were called the Z's, short for Zach, who was the head of the Z's. Then a new kid started another group and called it the New-Z's. Over time, the spelling changed to Newsies." Race said from his desk.


"Yeah. What else would the reason be?" Jack asked, playing along with Race. "Anyway, the Newsies split into branches based off where you're from. We's the 'Hatten boys. Occasionally, a fight will break out amount us and we take sides. It's usually Queens, Woodside, Flushing, Richmond, and The Bronx against Brooklyn, Midtown, and Manhattan. We win because Brooklyn is the toughest and Manhattan is the ones stupidly brave enough to take the risks. The biggest challenge, though, is when we fight the Pops."


"Because they have the Principal's daughter and we don't."

Period 1

Standing outside the school building earlier that morning was nothing compared to standing outside the English classroom. English had always been Race's worst subject. Maybe it was because he was Italian and English was his mother's second language (he learned both English and Italian before he was four) Maybe it was because he was diagnosed with dyslexia a few years back. But recently, the most likely reason seemed to be because reading reminded him of her. That girl loved to read. Race never saw her without a book within five feet of her. She always had that new book smell. Like when you walk into a bookstore and can smell the pages. Race never liked that scent until met her. She was the only one, besides Jack, who actually believed he could learn how to read well. She was wrong, but the encouragement was nice.

Race felt someone push him in the classroom and guide him into a desk. Of course it was Jack.

"You thinkin' about her again, Racer?" He asked softly. Racetrack grunted in response. "I think about her a lot, too. I know I didn't know her as much as you did, but I miss her. We never even had time to give her a proper nickname."

"Nah. She didn't need it. Her real name fit her just fine." Race replied. Jack simply sighed and sat down behind him. The English teacher, Mrs. Jones, walked in. This was Mrs. Jones' third year teaching. Jack had reported that she was cool and nice and never called on you to read unless you wanted to.

After she briefly introduced herself, she passed out the books.

"This year, your reading list includes Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible and To Kill a Mockingbird. I also have four other books that you need to read at your own pace throughout the year. You must read a thousand pages worth of independent reading, not including the eight required books-" Mrs. Jones stopped talking. "Anthony, are you all right?"

Race stood up and walked out of the classroom, leaving everything except for the blue hoodie that he had laid on the back of his chair.

"Racer?" Jack ran to the door after him. Race turned around in the hallway after hearing his brother's voice, but kept walking. Jack walked back inside the classroom.

"Ay, Jones, can I talk to you in private?" He asks Mrs. Jones who was sitting on a desk in the front of the classroom, holding Romeo and Juliet in one hand and a white board marker in the other. She nodded and dropped the supplies.

"Just give me one second," she said to the class. "Don't set the room on fire or anything."

When Jack and his teacher were outside the classroom, she looked at him with concern.

"Is he okay, Jack?"

"He'll be fine. There's a few things you should know about Tony. For one, don't call him Anthony to his face. All of my friends have a rough past and their names bring up bad memories. Anthony is Racetrack or just Race. Elmer and Albert are their real names because they aren't as skittish as the rest of my boys. Liam is Romeo and Chris is Crutchie. Oh, and Petro is Finch. So you may want to watch that." Mrs. Jones nodded, signalling Jack to continue. "Race has ADHD and dyslexia as well as minor dyscalculia. He can't read, but refuses to tell his teachers that. That's why he was sent here, we were told it had a good English program."

"Could he listen to audiobooks instead of reading the books? These are all classics, so there's got to be an audiobook for them." Mrs. Jones asked. Jack nodded.

"He could, but that's where the ADHD comes into play. He can't sit still long enough to listen to it."

"I had a student last year, a sixth grader, who had the same problem. ADHD and dyslexia. I think he used LEGOS a lot. He would build while listening. It seemed to help."

"I'll tell him about that, then. Third point: about six months ago, he lost someone who was really important to him. Literally everything reminds him of her. Especially books. This girl really loved books, so he's a little sensitive about even reading a book. And what's even worse is she really loved Shakespeare, and the one you put on the reading list was one of her favorites."

"Okay, then instead of Romeo and Juliet, would he prefer to read Julius Caesar? That one's on the eighth grade reading list, so I could easily get the material for him." Mrs. Jones said, gesturing to the classroom.

"Yeah… that was another one of her favorites. She actually gave him a copy for his birthday a few years back and currently, it's sitting in a box under his bed. He refuses to look at it."

"Then I can either give him A Midsummer Night's Dream or Macbeth. The first one is on the seventh grade list and the latter is on the twelfth grade list."

"Let's do Midsummer. The girl already read him Macbeth when he was sick." Jack resolved. "I'm going to go after Racer?" He phrased it as a question, asking permission.

"Go for it." Mrs. Jones went back inside her classroom as Jack ran in the direction of the bathroom, where he figured Race would be hiding.

Race was sitting in the bathroom, leaning against the wall underneath a paper towel dispenser when the door opened. He glanced up and saw Spot Conlon. He was expecting Jack.

"What's up, Race?" Spot asked. It wasn't every day you found your friend curled up against the wall in the bathroom, holding a blue hoodie in his hands.

"I hate English." He muttered.

"Yeah, right. You're just sulking about a certain brown-eyed chick who you can't see anymore and, hey, I don't blame ya. I miss her just as much." Spot snorted.

"How do you stand it? Knowing that you could've done something about it. Knowing that I could've done something about it. Jack even could've prevented it."

Spot sat down next to Race and Race leaned his head against his friend's shoulder.

"News flash: no one could've done anything about it. Her death was unavoidable. And no, I can't stand it. Every morning I stand in front of the mirror and say her name three times. And you know, I think I'm getting better. It's been six months. We can't go on sulking forever. Just try it. Say her name just once."

Race opened his mouth but then shook his head and stormed out of the bathroom. He left his hoodie. Spot picked it up and heard the crinkling sound of paper. He found a folded paper in the pocket and unfolded it.

The drawing was obviously Jack's work. No one else could draw like that. It definitely explained why Race was close to tears. The paper was the copyright page of Julius Caesar. Probably the one that was gifted to him. And it was a drawing of her. Under it, in her handwriting, it said

To Cigar Boy: my Tony, my Racer. I'll miss you. See you on the other side.Love,Lake