For the first time that he could remember sleep came to Spot easily, but he fought against it just so that he could lie awake and watch Tay. The furrow of her brow told him that she was struggling with her nightmares as she tossed and turned next to him. In his heart he knew there was plenty of reason to believe that it was his actions that disturbed her sleep. The horror story she'd told of life in the reformatory may have been another part of it but he wasn't going to pretend he was innocent. After all, he'd prided himself on breaking her into pieces. Each and every time Tay would somehow put herself back together again. But laying there next to her, his hand still intertwined with hers made him question everything in ways he had never thought about before. One thought kept running through his mind until he thought he'd go mad. She owned him. She owned him. And there was nothing he could do about it.
Spot felt the need to take a minute to process everything that had happened that night so he left a note by the bed and climbed to the roof. Spot stared out over the street below and lit a cigarette while waiting for the first streaks of sunlight to appear in the sky. Why did she stay? He had pushed her away, shattered her into pieces, and she still stayed. Spot couldn't understand what was going on and part of him was furious. He'd never had a problem with remaining five steps ahead of everyone else but with Tay he found himself adrift.
While Tay had been confined, Spot had expected life to go on as usual and if anything he expected to be at the top of his game since he would no longer have to deal with Tay. Little had he known then that she was the only one capable of saving him. Self-destructive was the kindest way to put what he had become in Tay's absence. He'd fallen into a deep abyss that left him feeling helpless and he had blamed her for that.
"Spot?" Her voice startled him and he heard the concern in it loud and clear. What right did she have to be concerned about him? She was the one who had escaped and left him with nothing. He clearly hadn't meant anything to her then, so what had changed?
"You should be sleeping, doll," he muttered over his shoulder as he kept his gaze on the horizon. What was she still doing there with him? She'd made it abundantly clear that she wanted to leave and yet she was the one who had pulled him into the bedroom. Did she not realize he was giving her an out by escaping to the roof? If she didn't want to be there, then she should have just recognized his absence for what it was, a chance for her to leave him no questions asked.
"What's wrong?" There it was again, that concerned tone of voice. The way she, and only she, could tell something was wrong with him without Spot having to say a word. They'd been apart for nearly three years and yet she could still read him like a book. Tay had been privy to things he would have never revealed to another living soul and there she was acting like they were right back at the beginning of their relationship.
Before he could move away, Tay was standing next to him and he couldn't bear to look her in the face. He could still taste the whiskey that had lingered on her tongue and he felt ashamed for having given in to her when she was in that state. All she had done was ask for an apology and instead of giving her one, he'd taken advantage of her, again. He couldn't bring himself to think of how hollow his apologies sounded. They were empty and meaningless. Just words meant to draw her in. Because what he'd said earlier was true, he hadn't begun to get what he wanted.
How could he apologize anyway? He couldn't redeem himself after the things he had done to her. There were times he had done things to hurt her without an ounce of regret. He had wanted to control her, to make her face the truth, that he had all the power and she was nothing. But that was so far from what was really going on with him and had been going on for quite some time. He craved her like a drug and the only thing he really hated was the fact that she had him in the palm of her hand.
"I liked the river view better," Tay kidded as she stood alongside Spot, the edge of her hand barely brushed his as she leaned on the ledge. Neither one of them moved away and Spot felt that same urge to take her hand and run as fast and as far as possible.
Spot was inclined to agree with her and recalled the number of times he'd found Tay at the end of one of the docks, just watching. It was always strange to him that she was attracted to the water but it also terrified her. He was swept up in the memory of the night she'd threatened to drown herself. He had never seen her quite so determined and it caused his heart to ache to think just how far she was willing to go to get away from him. Yet, there she was standing next to him like nothing had changed.
"So I told you my story, are you ever going to tell me yours?" Tay asked.
"You know how it is, doll. Brooklyn ain't the easiest place to live." It was all he could give her in the moment because he was so far gone he didn't even really hear her question. All he could think of was how easily he fell back into old habits. He had wanted her so badly and so he took her, like he had so many times before. Was that really why he had brought her there?
"Don't do that," Tay said, curling her fingers in his. "I thought we were being honest with one another."
"You weren't very interested in my honesty before."
"If you don't want to talk about it-" Tay's voice trailed off and she tried to let go of Spot's hand but he held her fast. He hadn't wanted to start another argument, it was just a force of habit to continue acting like he could hide himself from her.
"How much did Race tell you?"
"He said you were working as a hired hand," Tay answered. "He told me you hadn't really settled with one group or another after you left the newsies."
"Don't like being tied down," Spot smirked.
"Always the lone wolf?" Tay asked with a raised eyebrow and a small smile.
"Never got an offer for anything as good as what I had," Spot grinned. It vanished quickly as he recalled her first question. It meant bringing up things that were better left untouched but like she'd pointed out, they were being honest with one another. He hesitated briefly before telling her, "After Brighton I got a few offers but I turned them down. Had other things I had to get to first."
"Were they still looking for me?" He picked up on the slightest tremble in her voice and decided to put her fears at ease.
"Most of 'em got themselves killed or ended up in Sing Sing," Spot explained and noticed the relief in Tay's eyes. "Turns out they had their hands full with some of the Irish dockworkers."
"But I thought the Irish worked with-"
"-with me? Yeah, we had a deal," Spot explained although he saw the question in Tay's eyes and decided to just address it. "After you left, I called in some favors. It's taken care of, doll. You ain't gotta worry about it no more."
"What did you do?" Tay asked hesitantly.
"It's taken care of." It was the tone of voice that Tay knew better than to argue with, even if three years had passed.
"So now you work-"
"Wherever I want," Spot finished. He noticed Tay looking at his shoulder and answered the question before she could ask it. "It could have been worse. Lucky for me the guy had bad aim. He owed a lot of money and when it came time to pay, there was a bit of a misunderstanding."
He didn't want to lie to her but he also didn't want her to see him as weak. No longer being the leader of Brooklyn left him without a scheme, a strategy, or much of a plan beyond finding Tay. But after finding her, he was still unsure of his next step.
"Have you killed anyone?" Tay asked in a quiet voice.
"You want me to answer that? After all, you don't really want to know who I am anymore, do you, doll? You made that pretty clear."
"I never said that," Tay argued.
"We don't even know each other anymore, ain't that what you said?" He actively decided to ignore the part where he had told her she knew him, that she was the only one who knew him. It had been three years and Spot told himself Tay had no right to know who he was any longer. After all, she'd been the one who left without a word. Left him with some stupid letter that was meant to explain, to fill the void in his life, as if that was possible.
"You came and found me, Spot. If you didn't want me here, I wouldn't be here. We both know how good you are at hiding-"
"You're one to talk about hiding."
"Well, clearly I couldn't hide from you," Tay snapped as she released his hand and started heading toward the fire escape.
"Where you plan on going now, Tay? Going to pretty yourself up for your gentleman friend? Might want to take care of that bruise on your neck."
Tay put her hand to her neck and scowled at him as Spot wondered what the hell was wrong with him. Why couldn't he just let her go? She deserved someone who wasn't heedless, reckless, with no concern for anyone but himself. But there had to be something left of the connection they once had or else Tay would have been long gone. After all, she'd never had trouble running from him before.
"I'm sorry," Spot tried to sound genuine but Tay still stood back away from him, her face flush with anger. "I didn't mean for this to happen-"
It was a lie and they both knew it but neither one objected. Spot knew what would happen the moment he saw her again. He'd seen her happy and smiling on the arm of a man he could have easily bested in a fight but he let it go. It hadn't been the right time and he had to wait until she was alone. There was no way to explain why he had chosen that moment to show up in her life. He knew he'd grown bored with the bevy of women he'd chosen to spend his nights with. Cast-offs who were easily discarded because they weren't Tay. For the first time since she'd left, Spot felt fear.
"Just stay with me. Please, Anna."
It was an involuntary plea and he turned away before she could even answer. He hadn't wanted her to see the distress in his eyes. That after everything they'd been through that night he was terrified she would walk right out of his life. Again. He gazed out over the sunrise and felt a rush of relief when she fit her small hand into his. He looked down to where their fingers lay intertwined and felt truly happy, if only for that small moment.