Love is There

Mush, Blink, Crutchy, Jack, and Race had just entered the Newsboy Lodging House with almost the entire Manhattan group of newsies behind then. Kloppman pointed silently at Mush and beckoned for him to go to his office. Mush looked utterly confused as the others "Ooooohhh"ed at his menacing behavior. He shooed the newsies off with a flick of his aging hands. As Mush stepped gingerly into Kloppman's office, he gazed upon the girl he last saw when he was 7 (he was now 16). He loved her with all of his heart. She had long, curly, ebony hair that she wore up in a ponytail. She had gorgeous green eyes that usually danced with laughter. But, they weren't. Her usually smiling lips were a red color in a bittersweet grin when she saw her beloved cousin.

Mush raced to see his cousin, wrapping his arms around Lane's (his cousin's) slender but curvy frame. When they let go, Mush's tan arms on Lane's fair, ladylike skin, he saw the tears dancing in her oval eyes. His eyebrows knit together in a questioning way.

"Does Lane need a place to stay?" Kloppman inquired in a raspy voice. Lane nodded. Then, Kloppman directed her to a room across from the boy's boarding room. Mush held her arm as they ascended the stairs. They entered Lane's room quietly, when he shut the door, he immediately asked: "What happened?" in his lovable New York accent.

Lane immediately burst into tears, sobbing into Mush's muscular shoulder.

"They're…they're….GONE!" Lane cried. Mush looked incredibly confused.

"Whaddya mean, swee'hart?" Mush crooned. Lane breathed in and gained her composure.

"It was two weeks ago, I left for boarding school. It was one of the elite dance and education schools. I was accepted in! I was so happy, Michael. The only thing was, that they did not offer scholarships. Mum and Da had to use their own savings to let me go. I was only there a week until the dean summoned me. He told me to pack my stuff. He said….he said my parents had perished in a fire. I had no money to pay for school. They sent me to an orphanage in New Jersey, where the school was. I got there and I knew I had to come find you. Michael, I missed you so much. I knew you were in New York but, but we could never find you. We searched everywhere for a boy named Michael Copping, but there was no records. But, I thought it was the only way to find you. You are the only family I have left. So, I was walking in the street, dragging my trunk behind me. I saw you. I could tell by the way your hair was so curly, like Uncle Patrick's. When I got closer, I heard a group of boys call you Mush. So I tracked you guys, no one seemed to notice. So I slept in the alley ways for two nights, to make sure it was you. It was! I was ecstatic! So, when you left for work, I gained the nerve to come in here. But, as soon as I introduced myself, you came back. I didn't want to cause a scene in front of your friends, so I ran in here. And now I found you, dear cousin! I love you Mich- Mush!" She smiled a true smile now, but Mush could tell part of her was still deeply hurt in her.

He knew the pain. When his parents came to New York they had been murdered by their factory boss because they had wanted to go on strike. This is why it was so hard for Mush to go on the newsie strike. But, now he had Lane to be with. He was not going to let anything happen to the girl he loved. But, Mush was also sad over the deaths of his last living adult relatives. To know that they had searched New York for him gave him a chill. A chill from knowing he was wanted. Although Mush tried to be strong for his cousin, he couldn't hold back one tear that was slipping. As he had wiped away Lane's tears only a few minutes before, Lane wiped away his. Once more, they embraced.

"Now, Lane. We's gots to plan what we's gonna do next. Of course, you's gonna stay here. But, what we's we gonna do next?" Mush spoke thoughtfully.

Lane tilted her head. "Well," she began. "While you are selling papers tomorrow, I will go look for a job. I know you have to work tomorrow, but not Sunday. So then on Sunday we can discuss what are plans will be."

Mush smiled, and nodded. They then talked of how they had both changed since Mush was 7, and Lane was 6. They laughed over memories, and looked concerned when they heard of the hardships both had overcome through the past. After about 30 minutes, Mush spoke of the other newsies.

"Lane, I want ya to meet some of me mates. I will go talk to them while ya can freshen up. I'll knock on ya door to tell ya's when to come to me room. A'ight?" he asked. Lane nodded and Mush left the room.

Lane looked into a small mirror by her bedside. She saw a dirty, tear-streaked face with sad turquoise eyes. She then went into the bathroom and washed her face so it was again fair and clean. She did the same thing to her neck and arms. Soon, all of the skin her somewhat ratted blue dress did not cover looked flawless once more. She brushed her hair and re-did her ponytail. As she put the brush down, she looked at a silver band on her index finger on her right hand. It had been her going away present from her parents. There was cursive engraved on the ring that read her family's motto. Love is there, even in the darkest of corners. Lane hoped it was true. She then dug into her trunk and pulled out a bottle of French perfume that she had had for a while. She sprayed some on her neck and wrists, after a moment of thought, she sprayed some where her dressed touch the floor so when she walked away, her scent would stay behind.

At the same time, Mush had been speaking to the Manhattan newsies. He entered the room and was bombarded with questions. He put a finger to his lips to silence them, and it worked.

"Boys," Mush began. "I was called into ol' Kloppman's office, 'cause me cousin that I'se haven't seen in 9 years came! Her 'rents just died in a fire. She's really hear' broken. I want e'reyone of ya's to be gentleman to her. If any o' ya e'en t'ink of touching her, I'se gonna soak ya! We gots an un'erstanding?" he finished powerfully.

The boys nodded, scared because they had never seen Mush act they way he did before. He mumbled a "Good" and went to knock on his cousins door. She opened, looking more stunning than any other person he'd ever seen. He took her hand and walked her to the door. Dropping her hand and entering before her.

"My cousin, Lane," he announced, his arm out. Lane entered and their was a gasp from the newsies. They looked as if they had seen an angel and a star and a goddess all morphed into one, only better looking. Lane smiled nervously. She had never seen so many teenage guys in one place.

"Hello everyone. My name is Lane. I am 14, turning 15 in 2 weeks. I am from New Hampshire originally, but I just escaped from an orphanage in New Jersey. I am very pleased to meet you all. I can bet we will be very close." Lane said uncertainly.

"I'll hope.." Race snickered. The newsies gasped at Race's humor in front of such a lady as the one that was standing in front of them, they looked at Lane for some kind of gesture to show she was offended. To their surprise she let out a laugh! She thought he was funny!

"Ha-ha. I like this one." She said to Mush while pointing at Race. The rest of the newsies chuckled in relief that she fit in so well. She learned all of their names quickly. She met all of them, and seemed content as Jack challenged her to a game of poker. Her turquoise eyes sparkled mischievously, which made the boys adore her even more than they already did. She nodded happily and because she wanted to save her money, she offered that they bet anything besides money. They nodded. And began to pour out there bets.

Jack said he would let whoever won could watch him the next day while he worked, which got a laugh out of everyone. Race said he would bring the winner to a race at Sheepshed Races. Mush said he would wash whoever won's feet . Blink said he would make the person's bed for a week. Crutchy said he would buy them lunch the next day. Les, with whom Lane was completely taken, said he would teach the winner how to swordfight with his wooden sword. And, David said he would let have dinner with his family (his mother is a great cook, as he later explained). Lane tilted her head, thinking, (as it was of habit for her to do so) and asked for a suggestion. Many boys blurted out prude things, like a kiss or a hug, at which Lane laughed and Mush glared.

"A-hah! I have it! I will teach the winner how to do the cha-cha!" She laughed, because she was joking, of course. But, this made the boys whoop and holler their approval. Lane quickly explained she was joking, but was confronted with a lot of "Why Not's". she shrugged and then everyone decided they would enjoy their dancing lessons if they won. Lane agreed, and it soon became the most competitive game of poker in Manhattan.

After a while, they finally had a winner. Les, had won! But, since of course, Les did not live in the Lodging house, Blink would just have to be Les's personal car for the next day, pulling Les around on his back. Every one had a good laugh about this, but they all knew it was getting late. So, the Jacob's left, and Lane stifled a yawn. Mush noticed this and told her it would be good if she got some sleep. She nodded sleepily, and hugged her cousin good night, waved good night to the other boys, and left the room with a sincere thank you to everyone. When she left, they turned out the lights, but, of course, Lane was their topic that night before they drifted off to sleep.

Lane had the worst night of sleep that she had ever had, even when she was sleeping on the streets she did not have a nightmare as awful as the one she had had.

Lane was running to where her house had been, but it was back. Mush, her parents, and her best friend from school were inside. She was waiting for them to get out. She turned around for one second, to see a stranger dressed in black strike a match and throw it against the house. She saw the faces of the ones she loved in the windows. She tried to stop the blaze, but it was to hard to control. The next thing she knew, she was standing in a graveyard surrounded by those she loved graves. She put down flowers and turned to leave. That's when she saw the stranger dressed in black, and it pulled off it's hood. Lane was staring at herself, she was the one dressed in black! She screamed…..

Lane was awoken by someone shaking her shoulders. Lane touched her eyes, they were wet. She rubbed her face, and it was damp with sweat. She opened her eyes. It was still dark, but a single candle illuminated the faces of Mr. Kloppman, Mush, Race, Blink, Crutchy, and Jack. Lane looked alarmed, but Mush sat down on her bed, and lay his hand gently on the cheek of his cousin. Her told her quietly that she had been screaming and sobbing hysterically. She grabbed Mush's hand and whispered hoarsely, "It was my fault. I should have stayed home. I could have smelled the smoke, or stopped the attic fire." her eyes welled up. "It's like I killed them…" Mush shook his head violently. He assured her that she could have done nothing, and she would have probably been killed. She told them her dream, but they told her that after their parents had died, they had dreams like that, too. Lane still wasn't settled. Mush could tell. He spoke inaudibly to Mr. Kloppman, and the old man nodded. The other boys besides Mush mumbled a goodnight, and left.

Mr. Kloppman cleared his throat, "Tomorrow, Mush will not go to sell papers. He will run some errands, and if you want, you can go with him so you can see the places that help this lodging house keep running. And he can introduce you to some people that can help you if you ever need it." Lane nodded gratefully, and Mr. Kloppman said his good nights and left.

There was silence for a while as Mush sat on the bed, not wanting to lay down because of the awkwardness, but wanting to lay down because of his fatigue.

"You can lie down, Michael. Please, don't leave me though. I… I am scared." Lane whispered. He laid down slowly. He whispered a thanks and rolled over so his back faced her.

"Michael?" Lane asked quietly, after a minute. He rolled over towards her.

"Can I call you Mush?" she said.

He grinned slowly. "Yeah. I'se actually prefer ya do." At this Lane smiled.

"G'night, Lane. I love you." Mush said as he flipped over.

Lane grinned. "I love you too."

The next morning, Lane awoke to bright sunshine shining through the window by her bed. She rubbed her eyes. She had the worst night of sleep she had ever had. But, she felt ready to get up and "seize the day". Lane had noticed that the newsies said that a lot. She looked again at the windows, anxious of what the new promises the day would bring.

A few minutes later, Lane walked down the wooden stairs with a washed face, a gray and black dress on, worn shoes, a messy up-do, and a smile on her face. When she entered the main part of the building, she saw Mr. Kloppman. She immediately apologized for the disturbance she had caused that night. He assured her it had happened to everyone of the boys after they had been through a tragedy. He said hers was one of the worst stories he had heard. She shrugged. As the conversation drew to an end, Mush entered through the glass door.

"Mornin' sunshine! Sleep well?" Mush laughed.

Lane laughed along with her cousin. As they did, Mr. Kloppman heard the similarity between their laughs. Although Mush's was deeper, they both had loud, musical laughs. She nodded.

"Alright. Since it is nine, the business should be opening. Mush, you show Lane the ways around the city. Give her the tour, and the pointers. You two should be done about 11, and then you can catch up with the rest of the boys. Or you can come back here, it doesn't matter." Kloppman directed. When they nodded, he sent them on their way.

"A'ight." Mush began. "I'm 'on give ya the tour. The foist stop is the bakers, dat Kloppman gets all of his 'ngredients for dinner. Da bakers name is Mister Napoli. Now, as we continue up da street, we's gets to da florist. He's nice. He usually'll buy fifty papes 'cause he likes us. Now, over dere to da left, dat's Irving Hall. Dat's where Jack's lady friend, Medda sings. She's a doll. You'll like 'er. Now, to da right, dat's Central Park. Dat's usually where Race sells. He's most likely done, now. Now, dis is da infamous Tibby's. We's, da newsies, eat dere whenever we's gets hungry. Oh, now da place over dere, way 'head. Dat's da place where us newsies buy all of our papes. Weasel, da owner, he can be a real joik, so watch out fo' him. His two nephews, Morris and Oscar are da woist guys you'll ever meet. Dere's no telling what dey will do when dey are angry, so watch out. Oh, hold on, dere's Jack. Stay right here." Mush darted off, leaving Lane in front of the place where the papers are distributed. She looked towards the other side of the street, wondering what she will have to do to earn a living in Manhattan. She was deep in thought, when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She whipped around, expecting to see a newsie. But, instead, she saw two boys, they must have been brothers, for they both had dark hair, an ugly face, and a mustache. One had an ugly bowler hat on that had seemed to be sat on too many times. She looked utterly confused as they looked at her with curiosity.

"Hey perty lady. What's a innocent goil like you doin' in dese parts?" the ugly boy said, touching her shoulder when he said innocent. She flinched and didn't answer.

"Aw, you'se shy." the boy answered while the silent one glowered. "Well, me names Oscar Delancey. Dis here is my brother Morris. What's your name, doll face?'

Lane's face darkened as she remembered her cousins warning, but she couldn't stop herself from talking. "My name is Lane, Delancey. And, I am here because I am waiting for my cousin, who's a newsie here. He told me not to talk to you too. So it was nice meeting you. Not really. But, I am being polite by saying that. Oh wait, do you know what polite means?"

Oscar glared, and grabbed her wrist as she turned away. He pulled her back, and growled into her ear menacingly. "I'm gonna forgive you'se for dat, just because your perty. Now, which newsie is your cousin, sweet face?"

Lane gulped. "Mush." she said quietly. She looked at his expression. His face darkened. He elbowed Morris, and Morris grabbed her other arm.

"Mush, huh?" Morris said. "Do you'se t'ink dat he'd miss ya if," he pulled her closer. "you went missin'?"

Lane glared at him, and ripped herself away from the brothers. "Let's not find out." she turned to run, but they grabbed her waist.

"Wrong answer, lady." Oscar growled. She looked at him with such hate, it would have frightened Hitler himself. Then, she screamed. At the sound of her scream, Mush and Jack turned to face the sound, and sprinted toward her. The people in the street looked too, nonchalantly. The two brothers arms relaxed as they looked around. While they looked around, she decked Oscar in the nose, and she kneed Morris in an unmentionable place. She ran right into Mush and Jack when she fled the scene. They immediately pelted her with questions concerning her well being, and the events that had taken place. She answered them, and when they asked her what the whole story was, she said she asked them if she could sit down first, and get some ice for her aching wrist that Oscar had grabbed first. In her rush to get away, her wrist had bent back and twisted the way a wrist wasn't supposed to. As they entered Tibby's, she looked down at her wrist. It was bleeding and bruised. As her expression changed from one of determination to alarm, Mush looked at her wrist also. He let out a gasp of surprise and ordered a waiter to bring them ice, a rag, and a cloth. The waiter named Joseph knew Mush, and saw Lane's wrist, so he ran to get the supplies. As Lane watched him leave the room, she looked around. The café was filled with newsies calling at Jack and Mush and Lane. But, they weren't saying Lane. They were calling her Fox. She turned to Mush and he quickly explained.

"Well, after I stayed in ya room, Cowboy (that's what we call Jack), told me dat dey were talkin' bout you'se and how dey t'ink ya need a newsie nickname. So dey were t'inking bout how ya just snuck into da building and nobody realized it, how you'se were in da alleyways all secretive, and how ya are clever and smart, so dey decided dat a fox was dey same way. A fox is supposed to be a powerful animal, and I t'ink dat you'se sure hold power over dese guys. If you asked dem to get you'se a sandwich, dey come back wit a feast. If dat ain't power, I don't know what it is!" Mush explained. Lane laughed. She thought it was sweet that they cared for her, and it flattered her. She slid into a booth with Mush, next to Race, Jack, Les and David. They all looked at her wrist, which was getting worse by the moment.

"Did Fox 'urt 'er paw?" Les asked, alarmed. Lane smiled at the 10 year old. She nodded and slipped her hand underneath the wooden table top.

"What happened with the Delancey brothers?" Jack inquired. He was concerned with her health as much as the other guys. She quietly told him the story, keeping her voice down so the others wouldn't get angry and do something. When she was done, the waiter came out, he delivered the things to her table. As Mush began doctoring her injured wrist, the other newsies saw, and went absolutely crazy. They began yelling questions and threats to whoever had hurt her. Lane looked at Mush for advice, but before Lane could explain, Jack jumped up on the table and yelled.

"Fox here got hoit real bad. She was talkin' to da Delancey bruddahs, and dey tried to hoit 'er when she tried to leave. But our bwave Fox decked Oscar in da nose and kneed Morris. But, she spwained 'er wrist. I t'ink we need to SOAK 'EM!" The other newsies yelled in support but Lane jumped up on the table.

"Shut up! All of you!" Lane silenced the newsies. Surprisingly, they listened. "It was my mistake! I should have just walked away when they started to talk to me! And I heard the strike story! They will hire those men to hurt all of us! I'd rather my wrist to hurt than anyone of you guys to get killed! So, if any of you even go near the Delancey brothers to 'avenge' my injury, I will personally soak you! And just saying, they were hurt more than I was. I wasn't the one laying down on the pavement, reeling with pain now was I?" Lane finished strong.

The newsies laughed. They all promised not to hurt the Delancey brothers, but they were not happy with their pledge. But, on the other hand they did not want to get soaked by a girl, much less Fox. They continued on with their meal, and Crutchy paid for Les's meal, like he had promised. Just as the newsies were about to leave the restaurant, a boy a couple years older than Les walked in. Jack recognized the boy immediately.

"Heya Duke." Jack said to the boy. Duke hadn't seen Lane because she had ducked behind a booth because of Crutchy's command.

"Heya Cowboy. Spot wanted me to tell you'se dat dere is a mandatory meetin' tonight. At Brooklyn. Bring all of ya newsies. Everyone's comin'." the boy said in a voice that was in the middle of changing.

"Well, Mush's cousin is he'a. Names Fox. Real tough." The boys snickered behind Jack. "Ask Spot if Fox can come, if Fox cant, come back he'a and tell us, if he 'llows it, don't boddah comin' back. A'ight?" Jack asked with a smirk. The boy nodded and walked out. As soon as the door closed, the boys began to laugh and they didn't stop until they had reached the lodging house.

The hours passed quickly as Les and Lane did their cha-cha lesson for the group, Mush washed Les's feet, Blink lay down on the bed because he had a very sore back, and David was Les's personal fighting assistant because Les didn't think it was fair that Les has dinner with their family every night, so he had decided on David being his fighting practice man. They clock rang at five so they had decided to start crossing the bridge. The sun had just started to set, and it bathed the world in a beautiful glow. She was walking with Mush while the others had walked ahead.

"Mush?" Lane asked.

"What's up, Fox?" he answered, grinning at his cousin's new nickname.

"I cant live off of the newsies. I've only been here a day and I've arrived in a dramatic way, awoken in the night screaming, and gotten into a fight. I was looking across the street before I met the Delancey's, and I saw a workhouse. They accept girls. I know it is not the most ideal job, but at least then I can move out of the house. I have a feeling some of the boys are not being themselves because I am there. And many people will be upset if they hear of me living with you guys. I didn't even pay for lunch because you guys wanted to be chivalrous and I don't want to put you in the poorhouse because I am here. So, I can join on Monday." she said.

"NO!" Mush said forcefully. "I'd raddah have ya here, alive, den dere and dead. Dey woik people to da death in dere. I once knew a guy dat joined dere, and lasted a week, den da police found him dead from starvation and no sleep. Over my dead body will you woik dere!" Mush yelled.

She looked him in his eyes, "You have three days to come up with any other brighter ideas, Sherlock. Come Tuesday, I'll be joining if there is nothing else."

He nodded sadly. Noticing, they guys had stopped and were staring, he motioned that he'd tell them later. Mush and Lane walked the rest of the bridge silently. When they were nearing the end of the bridge, Mush told her of Brooklyn's tough nature. He advised her not to be that defiant towards them, but to stick to her morals. She nodded slowly, rather confused of his advice. Lane and Mush jogged to catch up with the group. Jack turned to her and told her that Spot was most likely under the impression that she was a boy. He told her that he wanted to catch Brooklyn, Queens, Da Bronx, and the rest of them off guard. He directed to walk in the middle, surrounded by people taller than her. She did so, and when they were about 10 feet from the Brooklyn lodging house, Race checked a cheap pocket watch.

"Were late, Cowboy. 15 minutes late." Race said a little nervously. Jack cringed, but walked on. They knocked on the door, and the boy named Duke opened the door and led them up a staircase. Jack and Duke talked, but they talked quietly, and about pointless things that nobody cared. She turned to Blink which was to her late and whispered that she was nervous. He just squeezed her arm in a comforting way. This helped with her nerves a bit, but it did not totally get rid of the butterflies that were at war in her stomach. They entered into a huge bunkroom that was filled with hundreds of newsies. But at the sight of the group, they were silenced. A boy with dark brown hair, beautiful eyes, and a golden cane stood up and walked to Jack.

"So, Cowboy. You'se late. Ya lucky I'm not in a bad mood, 'cause den I'd soak ya, Kelley. But I'm not. I am not. I'm curious of dis cousin of Mush's. I been hearing from da groups dat dey haven't seen dis tough Fox. Where is dis tough guy? I'm gonna see if dis guy is fo' real. Show me dis Fox." the boy commanded. Blink whispered Spot Conlon into her ear, and nudged her forward. She gulped, and walked forward until she was behind Jack, where none of the newsies could see her. She slipped in front of Jack so she was nose to nose with the Brooklyn leader. He was about an inch taller than she was. He looked flabbergasted, as did the rest of the newsie groups. There was snickers from the Manhattan newsies. She turned her head to face them and she saw encouraging faces. This boosted her confidence. She lifted her head high, put her left hand on her hip, and stuck out her hand. When Spot's meet hers she announced herself.

"The names Lane, but they call me Fox. You must be Spot Conlon." she said with a smirk on her lovely face.

He looked at her with a mix of a hard expression and pure adoration on his sculpted face. "Yeah, I'm Spot. You don't seem very tough." his face turned a little pink after he said this, like he hadn't meant it to get out. She pulled back her hand and stuck out her chin a centimeter or so.

"Try me, Brooklyn boy. Looks can be deceiving." she spat out before she knew what she was saying. She heard gasps behind her, and she knew she had said the wrong thing. To everyone's surprise, he smiled.

"I guess they can be. But, you also don't look like a newsie. Which surprises me because this meeting is for newsies. And just because you are a lady and Mush's cousin doesn't get you a spot in here." he replied.

She didn't even flinch. She glanced at Jack, who was standing beside her. His face showed panic, but she carried on.

"Well, Conlon. I changed for the occasion. I just got here today. So obviously, I haven't gotten used to the schedule. I observed today, thinking about the right places. If you want to challenge me…"she left off for dramatic intensity, leave them thinking about what she could do. He raised up his hands in a surrendering position. The Manhattan newsies clapped, and the groups that Lane wasn't sure who they were whistled. Spot spit in his hand and put it out. She had only seen this done once, but she had the general idea. She spit in her and shook his. Wow, this is easier than I thought , Lane thought. She turned behind her to see Mush's expression, and he was clapping and smiling as if he was proud of her ability to ad-lib. It was before the meeting had even started, and the Manhattan newsies already felt victorious.

The meeting dragged on while Lane dazed off, thinking of how beautiful Spot's eyes were, and how this really cute guy sitting across the room kept flipping his hair. Finally, the meeting came to a close and a few poker games started. She was becoming a little overwhelmed with the amount of newsies in such an enclosed space. So, she turned to Mush and told him she was going to take a walk on the docks. He nodded and told her to be careful, so she stood up, and walked towards the door. When she slipped out, the door sounded as it closed, and she heard the boys silence inside. Mush filled them in and then it was once again loud. She trudged down the stairs, and found herself on the docks. She sat on a crate, gazing into the black abyss of water. She then dived into a memory of her family on a lakeside picnic. Lane was splashing in the water, her mom was watching her and laughing, her father was dancing after his daughter and picked her up and twirled her around. A tear escaped, and she crossed her arms trying to get warm. It was nearing the end of October and at night it was chilly. She stared at the water once more and thought of her future. To her, it seemed as murky as the water that rushed underneath the Brooklyn bridge. She seemed to give up, but then she remembered her ring as it glinted in the moonlight. Love is there, even in the darkest of corners. Lane then thought of the boys. She loved them and their kindness. She thought of entering Brooklyn. Then in came to her! Why not become a newsie? It would give her pay, she could stay with her cousin, and her friends! She jumped up and did a victory dance. She found her future! She heard a snicker behind her. She gasped with embarrassment. She whipped around and stepped back. Unfortunately, there was nothing to put her foot down on! She was falling into the river!

At the last moment, a callused and worn hand grabbed her dainty one. She was pulled forward and ran into the boy that saved her. She couldn't see who he was just then because of the fact she was laughing hysterically and couldn't focus on one thing. Finally, she stopped sounding like she was deranged, and looked at the boy, who she recognized as the adorable boy that was the leader of Da Bronx. As she saw his brown eyes glinting, her face turned red, and if you were they you could see it change colors, even in the moonlight! He laughed. He introduced himself as Blane. She introduced herself as Fox. For 45 minutes they talked about everything that crossed their wandering mind. When they both felt it was time to go in, he asked her to be his "goil". She smiled the biggest smile and nodded. They walked in together, holding hands. All of the other newsies growled while Mush laughed. The meeting ended after that because the newsies felt if Fox stayed around, someone would kill Blane, especially Spot.

So Fox and the Manhattan newsies left, Blane with a hug, Spot with slimy handshake. Fox was on air as she walked home. She twirled and acted like a giddy young girl who had just consumed to much sugar. The other boys laughed and mocked Lane's behavior. She just smiled and laughed, grateful for Blane who had come into her life. On the way she told Mush of her plan for becoming a newsie. The other boys cheered and Mush was incredibly pleased. When they arrived at the lodging house, the boys gave her clothes to wear.

For the next 5 days, Lane was blissful. She sold as many papes as anyone, had a great boyfriend, and become absolute best friends with Medda, the woman the boys had so lovingly talked about. But, as the saying goes, what comes up most come down. This was definitely true for Lane. It was eight more days until she turned fifteen. She was on her way home from Medda's, and she got to the lodging house, and went up the stairs. She passed by the boys room , but heard her name in a conversation. She was human, so she was curious of the mention of her, so she stood silent and listened to the cracked door.

"Man, at first I didn't think that Blane was gonna agree to datin' our Fox. He didn't seem to like 'er at all. I guess he changed his mind because of da offer we's was givin' 'im." Race said.

Jack laughed. "Fifty cents per day to go out with Fox. I'd go out with 'er for free! But, he told me he didn't like 'er personality. And, he's perty angry because she wont kiss 'im or whatever."

"Well," Mush said. "At least it makes us mo' powerful! Soon well be unstoppable! Go Manhattan!" The other boys laughed. Lane started to shake with anger. She couldn't control herself. She threw open the door. The boys stared with fear. She didn't know how to express so she did the first thing she could, she took a beer bottle from the nearest bedside and smashed it against the wall. Silence fell over the room like a heavy cloak.

"SO THIS IS WHAT YOU THINK OF ME?" Lane shrieked, still holding the top of the bottle in her white hand. "JUST SOME GIRL THAT YOU CAN USE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!" The boys started to say something but she stopped them. "SHUT UP! ALL OF YOU! I AM JUST WALKING UP THE STAIRS, WHEN I HEARD MY NAME BEING SAID! OF COURSE IM HUMAN JUST LIKE YOU AND LISTENED! WAIT A MOMENT, YOU ARE NOT HUMAN! YOU HAVE NO FEELINGS! WHO'S IDEA WAS THIS?" Lane glared around the room, and Jack stood up. Lane glared at him, and then turned around and curtly slapped Mush. He looked bewildered.

"YOU ARE MY FAMILY MUSH! YOU SHOULD HAVE STOPPED ALL OF THESE MONSTERS!" Lane took a deep breath, and turned towards Jack. "I don't blame you, Jack." she said sweetly. Him and all of the rest of the newsies looked surprised.

"WAIT, WHO AM I KIDDING? YES I DO!" Lane back handed Jack across his face. She stood there looking at the newsies as an angry tear slipped down her pale face.

"I… I am through with this. I am through with all of you. When I leave, don't try and come after me, because I do not know any of you now." she hissed quietly. At that moment Blane walked in, not noticing their expressions, stuck out his hand and said, "Where's my money?" while the rest of the newsies gasped.

Lane had fire in her eyes, "YOU WANT YOUR MONEY!? WELL I GUESS YOU DESERVE THIS!" Lane screamed with frightening power. She then punched him square in the jaw while he just stood there, speechless.

"If", Lane started. "You haven't noticed, we are over." she then looked at the rest of the group. "I am leaving. And if I were you, I wouldn't wait up for me." she said as she curtly turned her back and walked out as tears raced down her once calm face. As she hit the main floor, she started sobbing, and she walked out of the door. It was raining rather profusely and she couldn't really see where she was going, whether blinded by the rain or her angry rage, she did not know. She started running and to her luck, she ran into a very, very cute boy she knew as Spot. She ran into him, putting her face into his chest while he recognized her immediately and put his arms around her in a comforting gesture. He whispered soothing phrases into her ear as he led her to Irving Hall, which Medda owned and lived there. He knew she had an extra room for Lane. He pulled her into a comforting embrace while they walked, not bothering to ask what had happened, because something inside told him she needed comfort before she could open up to him. Of course he had a huge crush on her, but he also knew she needed a friend instead of an admirer at that time. Through the pounding rain, they trudged, and a few minutes later they arrived at Irving Hall, soaked to the bone and cold as an ice burg in the Atlantic sea. Spot pounded on the door with one hand, while his other arm was around Lane. Medda opened the door, and peered through the darkness, on seeing her best friend and a boy that was both sweet and sweet on Lane, she threw the door open wide and pulled the bedraggled newsies inside of her warm home, and workplace. She sat them both on a comfy couch with towels and blankets by the fire and let Lane stop crying. When she did, Medda brought them both hot herbal tea, and asked what had happened. Lane angrily told the story, at which both Spot and Medda flared up. Medda threatened to send her clown employees after them while Spot threatened to personally soak all of them. Both offers were indeed turned down. Lane's puffy eyes were beginning to droop around 11, so Spot hugged Lane and Medda goodbye, and headed off to the Manhattan newsboys lodging house, planning on staying u in Manhattan for the next three days, he would send for his boys in Brooklyn the next day.

Spot flung open the door, and walked upstairs in the unforgiving darkness. He stumbled over a few stairs and went straight into the boys lodging room, and walked to his usual bunk. All of the boys were awake, appalled at both their own behavior and the way Lane had just walked out. Spot strutted in, while the boys watched him sit on his bed. The lets went out, as they always do at 11:15. Spot turned over.

"You'se guys can sto' lookin' at me. She be safe. I ma' sure o' dat, but you'se acted like joiks to 'er. When she tol' me bout wha' you'se did, I was ashamed to know ya. You'se need to make it up to her. I hoid Medda talkin' to 'er and she says 'er birt'day is in 8 days. If you wanna be on good terms wit her, I suggest you'se make t'ings right wit 'er before she turns 15. But dats just me opinion." Spot said as he turned over again as he said that. The boys didn't respond, but Spot knew that they were thinking of a way to get on good terms with her. He just hoped that they would, or there could be havoc throughout the newsies in all of New York.

The next day, Lane awoke at 12 o' clock, and strolled out of Medda's guest room (which had a queen sized bed and a full bathroom. Even though Medda didn't seem wealthy, she was.), and into the common room where her Spot and Medda had talked the night before. She smiled gratefully at the memory. Medda was incredible to take her in, and Spot, well he was Spot. He was tough, yet gentle to her. He was powerful, but he was also a gentlemen to her. Not to mention he was top of the line gorgeous! Lane thought about him for a moment, wondering if she could be falling for him. She shook the thought as Medda came in, she was scared of the answers.

"Hello my poor baby. How did you sleep?" Medda asked. She was Swedish, so if there was a situation that some one needed comfort, she gave love, warmth, and anything else that crossed her mind. Lane smiled with joy at the thought of her sweet, motherly friend.

"Absolutely wonderful. This was the first night I had a dreamless sleep. I guess it was because I was so exhausted, but it was nice. No burning buildings or broken hearts." Lane smiled again. But, Medda's face clouded with concern.

"You are still hurting inside. Medda can tell. But I will make it go away. But, first, I have good news." Medda said as she seated them both on the couch. "When you first came here, you mentioned you were a dancer. And I have heard you sing before, and you are very good. So I got to thinking last night because I can tell you don't want to go back to being a newsies, I was wondering if you would like to start performing here. I would have to get you a song and we could practice in the mornings but we would have to stop at 6 because that is when the shows start. One at 6, one at 8. It usually lasts about an hour. What do you say?" Medda asked hopefully.

Lane was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to leave behind the thing that had caused her pain and remorse for something that was her passion in life. And it was with her best friend. What more could a girl want? Besides diamonds and a hot servant but whatever.

"Of course I will Medda! This is what I was born to do, and I couldn't think of anyone who I'd rather be taught by! Oh thank you Medda!" Lane cried with tears in her turquoise eyes. Medda smiled with joy. She then looked at Lane's newsie clothes and decided she wouldn't need them. She gave Lane a simple white dress with no designs to go return the clothes. She also put Lane's hair into a black braid and let her wash and use some of Medda's Italian perfume. She looked naturally gorgeous as she set off carrying clothes under her arm. She didn't see any newsies and was curious, but then she remembered it was past one, and they were either at Tibby's or at the Lodging house. Lane prayed that they weren't at the Lodging house.

She stepped through the glass door, and watched Kloppman's old face light up. She handed him the clothes and explained the situation with a smile. She was also there to collect her rolling trunk. She smiled at him gratefully and headed up the stairs. She had figured the boys were at Tibby's, because there were no newsies downstairs, nor were there any noises that sounded like breaking lamps coming from the upstairs. She walked by the open bunkroom door, and saw she was mistaken. She had just glanced in, but saw all of the Manhattan newsies and Spot inside. Unfortunately, they saw her too. They all jumped up and headed towards the door, while she just went to her room. She felt someone grabbed her elbow, and she whipped it from them and swiftly turned around. It was Spot. She smiled at him and gave him a long hug. When they broke apart he whispered in her ear that he was going to Medda's later to see her. Then all of the newsies began apologizing at once, but Lane's eyes seemed to pass right through them. Les stepped through the crowd, and Lane could help but give him, the only innocent newsie in her mind, a hug and a light kiss on the cheek. He turned crimson, and looked up at her.

"Whaddya doin' Fox?" he stuttered. She smiled at him and reached out her arm to him and walked him to her room.

"Well, Les. I am getting my stuff. I am moving out of this house, and probably never coming back." she said. Les's eyes filled with tears (he had a crush on her).

"Wh-wh-why?" he asked with a shaky voice. Her eyes filled with pity at the boys anguish. She rubbed his shoulder and kept with gathering her stuff and putting it neatly into her trunk.

"My heart was broken, and it isn't going to heal immediately, much less here. I am still going to be in the city. You know Medda? That is where I work now. I am doing what I love now! You can come see me everyday if you want. But, please, don't bring any of the others with you. They are not my friends any more. But, you and Spot and Medda are. And, if you want, I can get Toby to get you any kind of candy you want! You remember Toby the clown." Lane said, trying to cheer up the boy whose brown eyes were breaking her heart. The idea of candy and seeing Medda and Lane at the same place changed his attitude immensely. He nodded and Lane finished packing. They walked out of the room and saw the entire group of newsies that had been listening to her whole conversation. Lane's eyes flashed with anger. She rolled her trunk through the crowd, and waved goodbye only to Les because Spot had gone. She clunked down the stairs and out the door with a wave to Mr. Kloppman.

When she had gotten to Medda's and set her trunk down in her room, she found a note from Medda laying on a table in the common room:


Sorry I wasn't here when you got home! I just went to go get some things for us in some shops outside of the city, I will be back around four. Feel free to go with Spot if you want.



Lane read the letter with a smile. Coincidentally, she heard a knock at the door. She looked through the peep hole. Spot was there. Her heart beat fast but then she told herself to stop and told herself it was just heartburn. She opened the door with a smile. He smiled his crooked smile when he saw her too.

"Heya Fox. Ya look reals nice." Spot said. She laughed her musical laugh.

"Thanks there Sherlock, but I look the same as I did thirty minutes ago." Lane said as she hit him playfully on the arm. He laughed with her and gave her a bear hug. He offered his arm, and they walked together to Central park, all the while having a conversation about her future, his future, the newsies, and nothing. They laughed while they talked, ignoring onlookers expressions when they saw a beautiful young teenager with a handsome scruffy older teenager. After an hour or so the clock read 3 so they headed in the direction of a vendor selling mince pies. Spot bought both of their pies, but not without a fight and a reproachful look from Lane. The tenseness between them soon faded when they saw a little boy chasing a goose from the lake within Central park. They then walked around and talked until 4:30 and then they headed back to Irving Hall. When they entered through the door they saw Medda sitting on the couch, surrounded by at least 13 brown shopping bags. She smiled when she saw them, and asked them how their time went, when they both said great at the same time they burst into giggles. Medda, being the woman she is, still saw the pain in Lane's eyes, but had a feeling that Lane and Spot had some chemistry. She formed a plan in her head, and asked Spot to leave because they had to discuss some things about Lane's job. He nodded, and gave Lane a long hug, and went out the door. Medda asked her about her day and she told her everything.

"Enough about my day. What did you do, Med?" Lane asked, giving her employer and best friend a nickname with a smile.

"Well first I went and visited my friend from Sweden that lives outside of the city, and asked her about ways to heal your heart. She gave me a list of things to do, so I went and got the stuff to help you. Then I got to thinking about your attire for your songs. So I went and looked at some fabrics for 3 dresses for you and I made an appointment for a dress fitting. Then I decided to get a new pair of shoes for me. I also bought some more makeup for us and some groceries. Now, don't give me that look, Lane! Its important that you have the correct apparel and are happy when you work for me! If you want, I will take it out of your paycheck, alright?" Medda said, while Lane victoriously nodded. Medda smiled at Lane's cocky behavior.

"First thing we do to fix your heart, take a steaming hot bath. Follow me," Medda commanded as they walked into Lane's bathroom. She put on the water on full blast while digging into a brown sack and pulled out a fancy bottle that read Le Petrole De Luxurious De Paris and Medda poured some into the bath. She told Lane to undress when the tub was full with bubbles that smelled of a field of Lilacs on a breezy summer day, and looked away. Lane did so, and when she stepped in, she felt like she could float away with happiness. Medda turned around and started rubbing a different Lilac concoction on Lane's arms and legs. There was peaceful Celtic music coming from Lane's room. Lane was so at peace, and it was a relief to her to wash the dirt and negativity that had stuck on her for the last week.

"Lilac," Medda began. "Symbolize either first love, or youthful innocence. It helps relax both the body and the mind." Lane nodded. After about three quarters of an hour, Lane got out of the tub, and slipped on a light purple, silk robe that Medda had gotten for her while Medda walked into the common room to get it ready for the next event. When Lane walked out into the common room, there was white Lilac scented candles were burning and a rectangle table had now a fluffy white duvet on it. Lane lied down on it, and then received a Swedish massage. The Celtic music coming from here room was calming her, also. Medda also washed Lane's hair with special Lilac formulas, gave her a silk lace nightgown, gave her a Lilac facial, presented her with a French box of chocolate truffles, sparkling juice was consumed, they talked about how awful Blane looked when he walked with his shoulders hunched, they talked about what jerks guys are and how they would all die if they were turned into women (which caused a laughing fit from them, picturing them in dresses), and they talked about how Medda had never seen Lane with her hair down before that night (she looked like an angel with it down) and Lane told her that she felt free with it down, but hadn't worn it down since her parents had died and she wasn't going to wear it down until her fifteenth birthday (which was in a week), and then just giggled and talked until the clock stroked twelve in which they both fell asleep on the couch.

The next morning Lane awoke feeling happier then she ever had before. Medda was already awake and dressed, but she was heading towards the door to the theatre. Lane looked at her questioningly at she explained she was going to make sure everything was set up for the show tonight. She also asked Lane to get dressed because she had a dress fitting. Lane happily obliged. She got dressed in a light yellow dress with a blue ribbon below her bust, a blue ribbon in her hair to match with her hair in a curly side ponytail, she washed her face and her teeth and splashed on some of her running low French perfume, and slipped on her blue shoes. She walked into the common room and Medda was holding a white parasol for herself, and gestured for them to go. They walked out and the city was bustling, and it wasn't even nine! They walked by many newsies, all of which Lane recognized, but didn't acknowledge. They gawked at her beauty that they had all missed. They fortunately did not pass Mush, and her and Medda walked on. It took about 20 minutes to get where the shop was, when Lane recognized she was in Da Bronx. She kept her head up as she passed newsies who recognized her, and ran to go get their leader. They walked into the dress shop when she saw Blane. The countless colors of silks, satins, and velvets took Lane's mind off of Blane. Medda told her to pick out her two favorite silks, two favorite satins, and two favorite velvets. Lane took half of an hour to pick out her fabrics. She decided on a dark green silk, a shimmering light gold silk, a turquoise satin that matched her eyes, a pure white satin, and a captivating black velvet that she matched with light purple that reminded her of the nights calm effect on her. The dress shop owner, Mr. Walker, was a jovial man that marveled over Lane's eye for fabrics and her beauty. He showed them both patterns for dresses, all which included two colors of fabrics. Lane was going to have a silk dress, a satin dress, and a velvet dress. Lane was measured and the dresses were going to be delivered to Medda's, coincidently on her birthday. Lane stepped outside while Medda paid, and Blane approached her. Lane did not even look at him, she stared in the other direction with blank eyes.

"Ya look great. Um, you'se see, I wanna apologize? I'se guess I was kinda mean. But, can you'se blame me fo' wanting money?" Blane asked her with cockiness. The site of him made Lane want to throw up with disgust. How could she have liked him?

"Blane, don't talk to me. I have a new life now. I do not want to ever see your acne invaded face ever again. You should have known better, but I blame myself for even thinking of liking a repulsive slug like you. Now, carry on with your pointless life, you spineless little crustacean." Lane said with force and a smirk on her face. Blane's face turned red, both from anger or from confusion because she had used rather large words. He ran off, oddly toward Manhattan. He was probably going to go tell the newsies what she had said. She smirked to herself while Medda walked out. Lane told her what had happened, at which Medda laughed.

They walked home and got home at around 12. Medda spent time at the theatre, while Lane went to lunch with Spot. Medda told her to get home at 5, so after her talk and lunch with Spot, she headed from Central Park to the theatre at about 4:50. She was walking across alleyways to get to Medda's, while the streets were deserted because of the falling temperatures. She had only five more alleys to cross (she counted because she didn't like them) when her arm was grabbed. She was forcefully pulled into the alley, while screaming. She was hit in the stomach, and she couldn't breathe! She looked up and saw Blane, Oscar, and Morris. She hit them as hard as she could, but three against one wasn't fair, and she was hurt. Finally when the battle had gone into its fifteenth minute, she let out a scream that could be heard around NYC. She saw Mush, Blink, Race, Crutchy, Jack, Spot, and Medda race into the alley, she gasped and smiled, but then her head was pushed against the brick wall and all she saw was black…

Lane awoke to a white room. Her first thought she was in Heaven. But then she looked outside of the window, and saw New York City. She rolled over, and saw Mush. He had tear stains on his face. He was holding a newspaper like a teddy bear. He was asleep, but awoke suddenly and saw her staring at him.

"Lane, Lane, Lane," Mush cried, while tears wet his face. He grabbed her hand and stroked her face. "I t'ought I'd lost ya. I t'ought you'se were gonna leave me, like da rest did. Don't ya ever do dat again, ya hear? I was so scared. Da doctors said dat dere was a chance you wouldn't pull t'rough. But ya did, Lane! I love ya Lane! Forgive me. I was such a scabbah. You'se were almost killed 'cause I tried to make da newsies mo' powerful. Forgive me. Please." he cried more, Lane stroked his curly head.

"Shhh, baby. I am okay. I am fine. I am here, I forgive you, honey. It was just a mistake, everything is fine. Shh…" Lane said soothingly. Lane remembered getting beat up, and she glanced at the headline on the newspaper. It read 3 boys put in jail for hospitalizing 14 yr-old. He then told her she had been unconscious for 4 days. The newsies had gotten the police and they had arrested the Delancey brothers, and Blane. 20 to 30 years. That was after the others had beat them, of course. There was flowers around the room, from her friends, Mush explained. She kissed him on the cheek, and hugged him as he went to get the newsies.

When the newsies came in, the room was filled. But, Mush, Blink, Spot, Race, Jack, and Crutchy were there by her bedside, holding her hands and hugging her, all of them were crying, but they all said it was something in the air making them tear up. She smiled at them, and then Medda came running in. She was crying also, Lane laughed and hugged her, comforting them all. They were loud yelling this and that around the small white room. At the loud noise, the doctors came running in. They shooed everyone out, and then Lane was alone in the room with 3 doctors. They sat in the chairs around the hospital bed.

"Jillane Edith Copping. You gave your cousin quite a fright, now you did ma'am." a dark haired doctor with a name tag on that said Ryan McField.

"Doctor. McField," Lane began. "What exactly was wrong with me?" The doctor frowned in thought.

"Well, you were brought in as one of our most injured patients. Your leg, from your thigh to your ankle was bleeding profusely, which needed a lot of medical attention, your head had been severely damaged, and that is what caused you to be out for so long, if you would have remained unconscious for another day, you would have fallen into a coma, and most likely never wake up. Because of this injury, you can expect to be very sore and weak for the next day or so, also, you might get dizzy easily. If any of these things happen, don't be alarmed, but if they worsen, come see us," Lane nodded and he went on. "Oh, and the lady who calls herself Medda paid for your bill, so you don't have to worry."

That day was a blur for Lane, she had left the hospital, gone to Medda's, received many flowers and gifts from some people she did not even know! She had thanked so many people during the day, so when the clock stroke 8, she promptly fell asleep on Medda's couch with her head on Spots lap and her legs laying softly in Mush's lap. While the newsies stayed until 10, Spot absently stroked Lane's soft, curly ponytail. As he stared down at her porcelain like complexion, he came to a realization. He loved her. He loved her with all of his heart and more. He would give all for this girl who had run into his life. He used to be a cocky leader who only cared for power, but she had taught him humbleness. She taught him kindness, and faith, she had taught him and the other newsies about Christianity, and forgiveness, and gentleness, but most importantly, she taught his tough heart how to love and cry and be happy. He almost awoke her to tell her this, but decided to wait until her birthday, which was only in two days! From Medda's, the Manhattan newsies went to the Lodging house, while Spot went to Brooklyn, where he hadn't been for 5 days.

Lane awoke to sunlight dancing into the common room. She saw the sunlight, and smiled. Everything in her life was perfect to her. The pain she had felt towards her parents deaths had lightened because throughout the discovery she had found love. Her parents would have wanted this for her. She looked at her hand, at the ring her parents had given her. It seemed like years ago, but Lane knew that no matter however old the ring aged, its message rang true for Lane.

It was Lane's last day as a 14 year old. But, she spent the day working and focused. Her and Medda choreographed, practiced, and sung. Now, Medda had 4 songs to sing, Lane had 2, and they had 3 duets. They worked hard from 10 till 5, then they got ready for the show. All of the newsies were coming that night, all but Spot. Spot had gone home to Brooklyn. Lane was somewhat sad at that, because she did indeed have a great liking towards him. She shook it off before she went on, she was wearing one of Medda's old purple dresses, with her hair in an up-do. She went out on stage with Medda for an opening number. Then Medda had 2 songs, a duet, Lane's song, and the list went on. They also had another show, which was the one that the newsies went to. They cheered and screamed for Lane, and Lane and Medda did perfectly. It was nine when they ended, and the newsies came to their housing area to talk for about an hour. They were all tired, so they left them with a hug. Lane then took a relaxing bath and brushed her hair so she could wear it down the next day. Lane was wide awake, but Medda was tired, so they both headed to bed. Before Lane slipped into the mystical land of dreams, she thought of how happier she was in her new life. She fell asleep with her last 14 yr old smile playing on her face.

Lane awoke to something jumping on her repeatedly.

"What the? Get off me. Are you deranged?" Lane mumbled sleepily. Medda kept jumping yelling "Get up" loudly. Finally Lane sat up.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LANE!" Medda screamed. Lane smiled and laughed. She jumped up with Medda and began dancing around the room. The did a few turns and leaps, but mostly they just jumped around. They ran into the common room, and Lane saw 7 wrapped presents wrapped up. The sizes varied, the biggest being as big as a trunk, another the size of a cigarette box. Lane started to protest, but decided against it when she saw Medda's proud face. Instead, she just hugged her. Medda said that Lane could open them later, but it was time for breakfast, first. Lane had chocolate drizzled over pancakes, with apple juice, Lane's favorite. They were both incredibly happy, acting like total girls! Lane and Medda finished, so they both left the table to get dressed. Lane dressed in a plain light pink dress with a black ribbon around her ribs and a matching ribbon in her hair worn down with black slippers. Lane left to go talk to her friends, while Medda gave her the day off. Lane sprinted out the door. She walked around until she found a newsie that she recognized, Race. She ran over to Race who gave her a huge hug, and a birthday kiss on the cheek. They talked for a bit, then she headed off to go talk to the florist, who gave her a white rose for her birthday. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and ran outside, straight into Blink. She hugged him, and he gave her a birthday kiss on the cheek. She walked into Mr. Napoli's bakery, where she got a free chocolate tart. She talked to him, and then met up with Jack, Crutchy, and Les and David, who gave her a birthday kiss on the cheek. Lane was suspicious of this, but laughed it off. She saw Mush, and he swept her off of her feet. All of the newsies and Lane met up at Tibby's, where everyone got a free meal because of the occasion. Then, Lane decided to walk to Brooklyn to talk to Spot. She said goodbye to her friends and skipped off to the Brooklyn bridge. She was halfway across the bridge when she saw some Brooklyn newsies. They came up to her and wished her happy birthday. She laughed, the whole city seemed to be aware of her turning 15. She raced towards the end of the bridge, seeing Spot on the docks, playing with a slingshot. She crept up behind him and covered his eyes. He spun around, and she let go of his eyes. When he saw her, his panicked face morphed into one of delighted surprise.

"Hey, birthday girl," Spot began softly. "How's it goin' fo' ya?" Lane smiled a white, breathtaking smile.

"Pretty nice, Brooklyn boy." Lane replied with a playful wink. "I am 15, now." Spot smiled, and listened. "You know what that means, don't you Conlon?" she said as she took a step toward him. He shook his head, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

"I am no longer a child, and I can do what I please. Including this." she leaned her face into his, her lips only an inch away. She took of his hat and put it on, and stepped back. She jumped up on a crate, motioned for him to follow, in a come-get-it matter. He smiled back, and jumped up, he chased her through the crates, until he caught up with her. He wrapped his arm around her waist. He gently took of his hat off of her head, and leaned into her. He stared into her captivating eyes, put his hand underneath her chin, and kissed her. After a few heavenly moments, he broke away. They were both grinning like idiots.

"Happy birthday." Spot whispered. She smiled at him, and kissed him.

"That's gonna be a pretty hard present to beat, huh Brooklyn boy?" Lane asked.

He shrugged. "I'se have 2 mo' presents to give." She looked at him. He presented her with a rose from behind a crate. "Will ya be my goil?"

She gasped, and them smiled. "Of course, Conlon." He grinned back and they both walked back to Manhattan together, hands clasped together, and taking their time. The sun was setting when they reached Medda's. She opened the door, and saw every one of her close friends. There was Mush, Crutchy, Race, Blink, Jack, Les, David, Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs, Sarah, Mr. Kloppman, the florist, Mr. Napoli, Mr. Walker (the dressmaker), Spot, some Brooklyn newsies, and one boy from Da Bronx who had come to make peace with her, and of course Medda. She laughed and greeted all of her guests. After about an hour of dancing and talking and thanking, it was time to blow out candles on Lane's 4 layer chocolate cake, made by Mr. Napoli himself. She made a wish before she blew out the candles. I wish that everything could stay the same, I love everything as it is. It was a good wish, one that can be fulfilled easily. They cut the cake, and everyone enjoyed it, complimenting Mr. Napoli's skills. After the cake, almost everyone left except for Mush, Spot, Crutchy, Race, and Blink. And of course Medda. Then, they all decided it was time for Lane to open her presents. The first present she opened was from Mush. It had a note attached:

To the best goil in my life, I love ya! Happy 15th birthday, cousin!

Love, Michael (mush)

Lane's eyes welled up, she opened the package slowly. It was a small box. She opened the box, and gazed upon a silver necklace. It was a silver chain with a real pearl cross on it. Lane jumped up and kissed Mush on the cheek. He blushed, she thanked him profusely and he just said happy birthday. The next gift she opened was from Spot. It was a silver ring with a small pearl in the middle. She kissed him, thanked him, and slipped it on the same finger as her hope-giving band. She then opened Race's (a ticket to Sheepshed races, and a sweet note), Crutchy's (silver bracelet and a framed poem), Jacks (a bottle of incredibly good perfume), Blink's (a framed picture of the newsies from a newspaper from the strike, and 3 pretty hair ribbons), and she thanked them all and said they were the best friends she ever had. Then it was time for Medda's gifts. The first gift she received from Medda was the black and Lilac dress, which was incredibly gorgeous! Medda made her try it on, and when she came back with it on, they all gasped (Crutchy's and Blink's favorite). Then she opened and tried on her green and gold silk dress (Race's and Spot's favorite).And then she tried on her turquoise and white dress that Mush and Jack and Medda absolutely adored. All of the boys decided she looked the best in that one. The 4th present she opened from Medda was a pair of pearl stud earrings. From Medda, she also got bath and skincare products, a beautiful black journal with a pen, and a ruby red cloak. She hugged and thanked all of them. She hugged them all and expressed her gratitude. They left soon, and Medda retired, as Lane sat in the common room and watched the dying embers of the fire. I have had the time of my life, today. Coming to find Mush was the best thing I have ever done. I had a great birthday, and now I have a great new life. Now, I know the truth. Love is really there, even in the darkest of corners.