Disclaimer: I do not own newsies or any of its characters, they belong to Disney.
(A/N: Hi everyone, thank you all so much for all the awesome reviews! :) As promised, here is the final chapter. I know this story took me a long time to finish but thank you all for hanging in there! I couldn't have finished it without you guys! Also, the stretcher Gunslinger makes in this chapter is based off the ones my great-grandmother's tribe made for their hunters and warriors. My great grandmom was a Mohawk Medicine Woman. :-))
"You tried so hard to save me
How do you save someone from themselves?
All those years, wasted wishes
Drowning in the wishing well..."
-25 Years by Blackmore's Night-
The night was almost eerily silent, as if every creature knew something was wrong, even the rats that usually plagued the trash cans were absent. The homeless man settled down in an alleyway beside the Harlem Boot Factory and pulled a few discarded newspapers around him and imagined them to be sheets. Sheets in some fancy hotel; he chuckled and coughed at that thought. The last time he had been in a hotel was to find someplace warm last winter and the manager had kicked him out. A noise suddenly interrupted the quiet night and the man's thoughts, looking up his eyes widened and he wasn't sure if he was hallucinating. The sight seemed odd, dangerous, and downright spooky.
A group of boys with news bags slung over their shoulders walked silently through the night led by a short boy with a cane hanging from his belt loop. The man looked across the street and could see other large groups of teenagers walking past. Standing up and scratching his head, the man watched as the group of boys silently passed him. Where were they heading to? Why did they look so serious and grave?
The man opened his mouth to ask the boys where they were heading, but the look a boy wearing a red bandanna and cowboy hat gave him sent shivers up and down the man's spine. Whatever was about to happen was not good and he wanted to get the hell out of dodge. If people were going to die tonight, he didn't want the bulls questioning him. Backing down the alleyway he walked onto John Adams Street and froze. More teenagers were walking past! These led by a girl, unlike the last time the girl stopped and looked at him, "Friend, if I were you, I'd get outta here."
The man didn't need to be told twice; he walked the opposite direction and hoped he'd never see the kids again.
Racetrack kicked and struggled as two burly Harlem newsboys dragged him out of the basement. He would have been shouting and screaming at them if it weren't for the fact they had stuffed an old sock in his mouth to shut him up. Bridges grabbed on tighter to one of his arms and Badger's grip reminded him of those machines that smashed bottle caps onto the tops of glass bottles. He wondered where the two boys were taking him and looked up to see several wooden poles in the ground, all were taller than most of the newsboys here. He looked over at Vampire in horror and wondered what the Spot's crazy brother had planned for him. His gaze froze on Emily Delancey, who was standing beside Vampire; her gaze met his for a second and Race couldn't tell if she was excited to see what was about to happen or if she was trying to tell him something.
Bridges and Bandit slammed Racetrack's back onto the pole so hard that he was temporarily blinded by pain. A minute later his wrists were tied behind the pole and the new Harlem newsies continued to bind his shoulders and midriff onto it. Race's eyes widened when he looked down. Twigs, newspapers, moss, branches, and small plants had been piled around him and Vampire was holding a match.
NO! PLEASE GOD NO! Racetrack shouted through his gag and tried to free himself from the pole. He didn't read much but he had heard of stories of people being burned at stakes and from his understanding it was a terrifying and painful…and no one survived it. He watched as more Harlem newsies, many who looked uncertain about this but terrified to go against their leader's orders, dragged Sport, Red, and the four other captured newsies and tied each to a separate pole.
"No," Vampire shouted, "Tie Sport up wid Higgins. Let dem burn together!" He smirked, "Deys such pallies in da basement deys should die togedda."
Race snarled at Vampire and glanced at Emily, wishing she would do something. Anything. But what was he expecting? She was a Delancey and a Delancey would never help a newsie…it was just the way their world worked. He looked away from them and twisted his wrists and struggled against the ropes. If he worked hard…he could escape. C'mon Higgins, youse gotten yerself outta bad situations befoah! But never one like this. He looked up to see Vampire walking towards him with a lit match and the world seemed to shrink around the crazy Conlon. Vampire was almost to him when several of the newsies shouted fire.
"Of course dere's a fire youse dimbulbs!" Vampire shouted, "I'se startin' it!"
"In da lodgin' house!" Bandit shouted, "Our lodgin' house in on fiah!"
Emily turned and saw the lodging house was on fire; smoke billowed out the open windows and beneath the doors. Vampire dropped the match and his hand clasped around her wrist like a vice.
"Emily," he looked down at her, "Youse stay heah and don't move." He dragged her away from the lodging house, "Bandit, Bridges, Shorty, Piggy youse all get watah!" He tucked a strand of Emily's hair behind her ear and stared down at her, "Stay heah, awright? I'se don' want ya hurt!"
Emily nodded and watched as the Harlem leader ran into the lodging house; she cringed knowing the boy was crazy for running into a fire without water or some kind of protection. She watched as Vampire's main newsies ran behind the lodging house towards the three docks that extended in the ship yard.
"Everyone, please listen to me!" Emily watched as the Harlem newsies talked loudly amongst themselves, not seeming to notice her. "Everyone will you….Oh for Pete's sake!" Taking a deep breath she tucked two fingers into her mouth and gave an ear piercing whistle. The Harlem newsies now seemed to notice her existence. She took a deep breath, "Hey! Listen up! There are more of you than there are of Vampire and his goons! I know you're afraid of dem! But ya gotta fight back and ya can begin by helpin' me untie dese newsies! Dey don't deserve to be in dis situation, no one does! Whose with me?"
The newsies stared at her and everything became so silent that Emily swore she heard a cricket chirp. "Please! I can't untie them all before Vampire gets back and I'm sure as hell not goin' to let them die! Whose willin' ta help me?" Once again, silence greeted her.
"We're talkin' about human lives here!" Emily was exasperated, "If you won't help me then I'll do it myself!" Two hands suddenly landed on her shoulders and fear traveled through her. Her throat seemed to close, her mouth went as dry as sand, she felt like a rattlesnake was uncoiling within her stomach and striking her heart with fear.
"We'se will help," exclaimed a familiar voice.
Emily's eyes widened, it can't be! She thought to herself and spun around. Oscar and Morris smiled down at her.
"Heya sis long time no see!" Oscar beamed.
"Oscar, Morris!" Emily shouted and wrapped her arms around Oscar in a long hug. Morris joined in on the hug. When the two let her go she was amazed to see what appeared to be a tidal wave of newsies traveling towards the trapped newsies. Within a few short minutes Racetrack and his friends were free. Race was limping past her and he stopped and stared at her.
"T'ank youse," he exclaimed, "I'se thought ya didn't care what happened ta me."
"I do! I…I had to act and it was the hardest thing ever, please forgive me."
Race shook his head, "Dere ain't nothin' to forgive," he gave her a small smile, "Whatcha did was real brave. Come ta da tracks wid me sometime, eh? Maybe youse can help me find da winnin' horse?"
Emily laughed, "Will do…" she started until Vampire and his close band of friends piled out of the lodging house. She watched another newsboy who looked just like Vampire, only with lighter hair and eyes, walked towards Vampire with a snarl on his face. She looked at Oscar and Morris.
"Dat's Spot Conlon, leadah of Brooklyn." Morris exclaimed, "We'se need ta get youse outta heah!"
"Well, well, youse had da courage to come to me lodgin' house but ya toined yellow at da very last moment! Fake fires, real clevah!" Vampire laughed.
Spot felt his temper rise, like magma traveling to the top of a volcano and he would blow his top soon. He grabbed the top of his cane and squeezed it and thought of Floaty and Katrina; if he let his temper soar he'd only be proving what Vampire believed him to be – an idiot who couldn't control his emotions – and he'd never return home to his wife and child. The latter thought terrified him more…the thought of never seeing his wife and baby again forced him to control his emotions.
"No Vampiah," Spot sneered, "Unlike youse, I don't go off hurtin' innocent people especially da children in dat lodgin' house! I'se heah to put an end to youse leadahship of Harlem!"
"And how do youse plan ta do dat?" Vampire crossed his arms and chuckled as he raised an eyebrow. "Youse gonna wave ya cane around shoutin' 'Nevah fear, Brooklyn is heah?' or 'I'se Brooklyn!' Dat shit don't scah me, youse just an idiot!" He walked in a circle around Spot and Spot could clenched his teeth together. He wanted to soak his damned brother and glanced at Jack and the other newsies around him. He knew the tension in the air would soon snap like a person breaking a piece of wood in half. Just as easy as it was to open a pocket watch Vampire shouted the word, the one single word, that broke the tension in the air, "Attack dese lunatics! Conlon's MINE!"
Spot was able to see Oscar and Morris rushing their sister away from the lodging house, apparently his brother saw this too since he took a step follow them.
"Whose da idiot now? Wantin' ta chicken out of a stand down youse been waitin' for since she went missin'!" Spot and shouted and threw the first punch. His fist cut across Vampire's jaw; he watched as his brother stumbled back shocked and angered.
"I'se was gonna be willin' ta let youse live a bit longah," Vampire snarled, "But not aftah dat!" He lunged forward and his hands landed on Spot's shoulders. Spot shouted as he tumbled backwards onto the ground, pain roared through him when he landed and for a moment he saw colorful stars dancing in front of him, almost blurring out Vampire. He blinked and raised his fist in time to catch his brother's fist.
"Youse know what I'se gonna do?" Vampire growled, "Aftah I'se kill youse, I'se gonna go aftah dat pretty bubble headed wife of yers and I'se gonna kill heh. I'se was gonna kill da kid too but I'se t'ink Emily would make a good mudda don' youse?"
Anger coursed through Spot and gave him the strength he needed to flip over, now Vampire was lying on the ground and Spot was squatting down on top of him. Spot raised his fist and sent it sailing into his brother's face. "Youse will nevah touch me wife and child! Nevah! Youse hear dat! I'se will kill youse if youse evah mention dat again!"
Vampire laughed and suddenly jerked his elbow into Spot's chest. Spot gasped and fell backwards, the breath momentarily knocked out of him. He coughed and gagged as Vampire stood up and reached into his belt, Spot watched as he brought out a long bladed pocket knife.
"Bye-Bye Spotty, I'se dethronin' youse now." Vampire smirked and struck the blade downwards. Spot rolled out of the way at the last moment and watched as the sharp tip of the blade became embedded into the soil. His heart raced but he stood and caught his breath and lunged at his brother before Vampire could retrieve his knife. He sent his fist flying into Vampire's face. Never would he allow his brother to harm anyone, especially not his family, ever again! Suddenly hands were grabbing Spot back and pulling him away from Vampire.
"Get off me!" Spot wriggled and struggled.
"Spot!" Jack shouted, "Youse gonna kill him!"
"Youse ain't like him!" Jack shouted, "If ya kill him he'd only be happy wid dat! Youse be provin' youse no bettah dan him! Is dat what youse want?"
Spot froze, suddenly realizing his best friend was right. He looked down at Vampire's swelling face. It had turned red and a good shiner was forming around his left eye, his bottom lip was split open and bleeding. Yet the newsboy was looking up at him with an insane smile. Spot felt anger grasp hold of his heart again but he fought it and looked at Jack.
"What about da uddah newsies, deys givin' youse more trouble?"
"No, da ones who terrified da oddas are tied up to dem posts. The Harlem newsies are sick of him." He nodded his head down at Vampire, "Deys want youse to choose deys new leadah."
Spot nodded and turned back towards Vampire and his eyes widened. His brother had somehow and quickly escaped. But where? He looked at Jack and a thought hit them both.
"Emily," he exclaimed in unison. Spot knew his brother, if he couldn't have Harlem than he would have the woman he was obsessed with, Emily Delancey.
"We'se will help youse find Vampire and keep him away from Emily!" Racetrack exclaimed.
"No," Spot shook his head, "Youse all are goin' back to Brooklyn and goin' ta get off youse feet for a while! Don' argue wid me!"
Oscar, Morris, and Emily had made it onto the Brooklyn Bridge when someone barreled into them like a cannonball.
"What da hell?" Oscar shouted as he stumbled forward. He looked at Morris, who was grabbing his hat off the ground. He turned; he couldn't find Emily for a moment and saw her a second later.
Emily shrieked and tried to pull herself away from Vampire, "Let go of me!" She tried to pull her arm around the insane newsboy's clutches, but his grip only tightened.
"No way in hell," Vampire growled, "Youse belong ta me! Youse mine, we love one anudda and I'se takin' youse wid me!"
"I don't love you!" Emily felt the warm sting of tears raise in her eyes; she didn't want to be trapped with this lunatic again! Her brothers were already running towards her and before she knew what was happening, Vampire climbed onto the railing of the bridge and pulled her up with him.
"If I fall, she falls!" Vampire shouted and pulled Emily into his arms. He whispered into her ear, "Youse love me and youse know it. Youse don' want youse bruddas to know!"
"I hate you!" Emily shouted and shrieked when he pushed her closer to the edge. She clasped her hands around his shoulder and screamed when she almost fell off the bridge.
"If youse hated me youse wouldn't have grabbed hold of me!" Vampire smirked as he shared his twisted knowledge.
"Let heh go, Vampiah!" Morris shouted.
"Let heh go to us!" Oscar exclaimed and walked towards the two, his heart pounding. They had just gotten their sister back! For a while she had been safe! Now she was in that damn bastard's clutches again!
"She stays wid me!" Vampire shouted as Spot and several other newsies skidded to a stop in front of the two.
"Vampiah!" Spot shouted, "Just let heh come ta us, we'se will let ya go, I'se promise!"
"Back off, brudda! Dis has nothin' ta do wid youse no moah! Youse all back off!"
Emily stared at the small crowd of newsies around her and whimpered. The nightmare she had nights ago flashed back to her with the dream of the older woman's face in the ocean. Suddenly, she saw the older woman's blurry form in the sea below her and recognized it as her grandmother. The image was smiling at her and whispering, "Just let go." The same words from her dream.
One of Emily's worst fears was heights and this was high. If she fell she'd die. But she didn't want to be stuck with Vampire for one minute longer. She looked at Oscar and Morris and mouthed 'I love you.' They began pushing their way through the crowd of newsies. Emily let go of Vampire's hand.
"What da hell are youse doin'?" He asked her.
"This!" She shouted and used all her weight to force Vampire backwards. The newsboy screamed and shouted, his arms waving in the air trying to grab hold of something. Emily was almost falling towards the newsies when Vampire's hand grabbed her hair, she shrieked and heard her brothers and the newsies shrieking her name as she fell backwards. She felt her fingertips meet someone else's momentarily before all she could see was the bridge's huge suspense beams. Suddenly, the bridge vanished and her body fell through air with nothing solid to grab hold to; she shrieked and cried out in terror. Pain traveled through her body as the water greeted her and everything went black.
He had to find her, he had too! Kid Blink tripped over another rock under the bridge around the area he had seen Emily splash. Oscar and Morris had dived into the ocean to find their sister, only coming up for air and to ask a newsie if anyone had seen their sister.
"Woah, comin' up!" Shouted Jack as he pulled Blink out of the way. Vampire' pale body bobbed up to the surface after almost four hours. His lips were blue, his mouth open wide in a silent scream, his eyes were glazed and gave a blank eerie stare. The memory would engrain itself into Blink's mind forever.
Spot, at hearing Jack's shouts swam over to the bank and climbed onto land. Ignoring the stares and pushing his way through the several newsies attempting to hold him back he walked towards the body. Blink, Jack, and every newsie around them fell silent as Spot's eyes met his brother's cold glazed eyes. Spot didn't say a single word for a long few minutes, Blink had no idea how long it had been since time seemed to stand still. Then, Spot blinked a few times and a single tear escaped the corner of his eye.
"Youse damned bum. Youse messed up yer chance! Dis ain't want muddah wanted or what I'se wanted for youse." He shook his head, "Damned waste…." He glared at the newsies, "Whatcha lookin' at?"
The newsies turned away and continued their search, though every so often they'd glance behind their shoulders to see the Stonewall Jackson of the newsie world talking and sometimes shouting at his brother's body. Spot's anger and mourning didn't last long though, Blink heard the Brooklyn leader mutter a "Goodbye Vampire," to his brother before standing up.
"Spot," Jack exclaimed as Spot approached them, "We'se can't leave his body dere."
"I'se know dat," he snapped. "We'se gotta search for Emily first dough. What happened wasn't fair ta heh. When she's found I'se will need help takin' me brudda back to Brooklyn."
"Brooklyn? Spot ah youse shoah youse want him…dat close to ya?" Blink shifted, he gathered from the end of the newsie war Spot and Vampire hadn't been close. Yet, in another way he understood. If he and Torch weren't close and Torch died, he'd want his brother close to him too.
"He's me brudda, Blink," Spot replied, "No mattah what he's done he's me brudda. He's needs a proper burial an' not in some strange place." Spot's shoulders weren't held as high as usual, they were slumped downwards and his eyes were glazed with unshed tears that he kept fighting back. "I'se ain't choosin' to remembah him from today or dese past few yeahs. I'se choosin' ta remembah da brudda I'se grew up wid….Youse woulda liked him back den…" he glanced at Blink, "He was a lot like youse back den…."
"Who was it who came up?" Morris shouted as he bobbed his head to the surface, he looked terrified and completely unaware of what Spot had just been through. Blink wasn't certain Morris would care about Vampire's body being found, if anything the eldest Delancey would probably celebrate the newsboy's death. But at the moment, Morris looked afraid; he didn't look scared for his own well being as he had during the strike. Seeing the Delancey brothers this terrified for someone else…seemed unnatural. Proving they were humans. Something Blink had never seen them as before; he had always viewed them as heartless bullies but in the past few days he had been seeing another side of them he had never known about. He was beginning to understand why Emily loved her brothers so much.
Over the next few hours they traveled away from the bridge and Blink overheard Jack muttering that current may have taken Emily out into the sea. If she was still alive, a fishing boat or a steam ship may have found her but the outlook was bleak. Blink felt tears rushing to his eye, he didn't know why he felt so strongly about a girl he barely knew; but Spot explained earlier that this was how he felt about Floaty. After only one meeting she owned his heart. Talking about his wife seemed to calm him and take temporarily distract him from his brother's death. Emily owned Blink's and he had no doubt about that. He panted and went to sit down on an overturned buggy's wheel that had washed up on shore ages ago. As he sat down he heard a soft moan, jumping he turned around and found a crumpled figure sprawled out a few feet away from him.
"Oh my God…." Blink whispered, "I found her! I found Emily!"
Emily gasped as she tried to draw air into her lungs and was met with a blinding pain instead; she turned over onto her side and coughed. Her throat became tense and her chest painfully constricted. A minute later her body was wracked by hard coughs and she began to cough and spit up ocean water; a hand was suddenly pounding on her back.
"Dat's it….Keep coughin' it up," a softer male voice encouraged as the hand continued to hit her back. The slaps against her back hurt but helped her to keep coughing up the last of the salty water that had been trapped within her lungs. After a few minutes the coughs slowly died away and water no longer escaped her lungs. The hand stopped hitting her back and two arms wrapped under her shoulders. Emily screamed when a blinding pain shot up for her left leg and right arm.
"My arm…my leg…I can't move them…hurts…." Her eyes had already been blurred with tears and they finally escaped the confines of her eyelids and streamed down her cheeks. For a long minute she couldn't recall what had happened then the memories came rushing back to her like someone pouring water into a bucket. She had been on the Brooklyn bridge against her will, balancing trying to reach the newsboy she had been wanting to see for so long, Kid Blink and wanting to return with her brothers. Vampire had grabbed her hair and pulled her down with him and the ocean had quickly greeted her.
"I'se need help turnin' heh ovah," the familiar voice exclaimed and two other pairs of hands helped the boy who had helped her. She was suddenly leaning against a warm body and Emily found herself staring up at Kid Blink, Morris, and a boy dressed as a cowboy. Jack Kelly, she recalled meeting him days earlier at the distribution center.
"Morris," she beamed at her eldest brother and looked up, "Oscar," she smiled and he returned it, she looked forward, "Blink!" She reached her good arm out to him and he took her hand and kissed the top of it.
"Hey Emily," he greeted with a small smile, "We'se gonna get youse home safely and a doc will come help wid dem bones. Deys might be broken."
Emily nodded, "Are Racetrack and the others alright?"
She felt Oscar nod, "Deys fine, awready at da Brooklyn lodgin' house deys waitin' ta see how youse ah doin'." He kissed the top of her head and Emily heard Oscar sniffle before he continued, "We'se thought….We'se thought we'se had lost youse for shoah."
"Nah, I'm too stubborn to get lost," Emily chuckled and winced, laughing even hurt.
Her brothers and Blink laughed. Several other newsies began joining them and as they introduced themselves Emily wasn't sure she could remember all their names. The newsies were from different boroughs, and to her surprise, even a few from Harlem were there. After a few minutes her brothers and Blink worked together to help Emily onto her good leg. Oscar held Emily under her good arm; Morris kept an arm around her waist; and Blink and Jack had worked together to convert the rope Jack always wore around his waist into a temporary sling for her arm. Standing up hurt like hell but Emily knew she could do it, leaning against her brothers she hopped on her good leg and whimpered when the jolt caused pain to shoot through her broken leg and arm.
"Youse doin' great, Em," Morris encouraged her, "Can ya travel awright like dis."
"I think I…." She started before another jolt of pain shot through her. Emily cried out in pain and slumped forward.
"Dis ain't gonna work," Oscar frowned, "We'se gotta do somethin' different!"
"If you want somethin' done right," drawled a new voice belonging a newsgirl who looked more like she should be in the Wild West than in New York, "Leave it up to a woman." The newsgirl smiled at Emily, "The names Gunslinger and yer a mighty brave woman for kickin' Vampire like that. Couldn't have done any better than that myself." She pointed to Jack and a boy named Specs and sent them searching for sturdy pieces of driftwood and any kind of rope they could find.
"You, young Delancey," Gunslinger held out her hand, "Take off the shirt and give it t me."
"What? I'se ain't takin' off me shirt youse crazy newsie!" Oscar's face turned red and he smirked a second later, "If youse wanted me like dat ya shoulda said somethin'."
Gunslinger rolled her eyes, "Oscar, I'm toleratin' you because you happen to be her brother. I need your shirt for your sister to lay on, you imbecile!"
"Enough!" Spot shouted as he walked over, "Da newsie war may have ended but da truce between da Newsies and da Delancey bruddas is gonna remain until Emily's healed. Everyone undahstand dat?"
Oscar, Morris, and several newsies nodded after a moment Gunslinger agreed with a nod. As the newsies began searching for rope, driftwood, and any kind of fabric to wrap Vampire's body up in, Blink sat down beside Emily.
"I'se…uh…been wantin' to talk to youse," he exclaimed after he was certain Oscar and Morris were too busy arguing amongst themselves about which was better: Sundaes or apple pies. He shifted, "I'se…really like youse."
Emily for a minute thought she was hearing things; Blink had seemed so shy and sweet. She had been convinced before that he didn't want anything to do with her after seeing her at the distribution center. It seemed being a Delancey served a wonderful barrier to end a social life with the newsies. Seeing her brothers and the newsies working together under a truce brought happiness to her and deep inside she knew this was what her grandmother wanted and she felt happy and warm. She also felt sad; part of her wanted to return home but she didn't want to leave Oscar, Morris, and Blink. She had no idea how to get home anyway, maybe by going back on the river ferry but she swore that off almost immediately. She realized by avoiding ferries of any kind her heart had made the decision for her, she wanted to remain in this time not in the future. It was a strange and sad kind of feeling but at the same time it was warm and happy, almost like a sigh of relief.
Blink licked his lips and shifted, looking more nervous than a three legged cat trying to get into a litter box; Emily blushed and couldn't believed she had just used one of her cousin's southernisms.
"I'se really like youse and I didn't realize how much 'til…'til youse were gone. When I'se hoid youse had been taken I'se was furious…ev'ryone I'se care for was bein' kidnapped by Vampiah." His brown eye met hers, "I guess what I'se tryin' ta tell ya is dat I'se want youse to be me goil….But we'se don' gotta if youse just wanna be friends. Or we'se can go slow…"
Emily smiled as her heart pounded, she didn't give the newsboy a minute longer. Shifting her weight onto her good arm, she leaned toward Blink and kissed him. The moment her lips met his she felt like she had been struck by lightning; her body tingled and her heart felt as if it had been jump started by a pair of jumper cables. Blink's arms were suddenly around hers and just as their kiss was about to deepen, Emily jumped in pain and winced.
"I'se so sorry, are youse okay?" Blink was now in front of her looking at her arm and leg.
"I'm alright," Emily forced herself to give a tight smile although her bones were shouting otherwise.
"Awright we'se got everythin' we'se need." Jack and Specs had returned with two large pieces of driftwood, rope, and a large tarp that had once been a ship's sail. Gunslinger cut the sail in half with her knife and told two of her newsies to take it to Spot to wrap Vampire up in.
"Oscar, your shirt is saved," Gunslinger exclaimed.
"Good, cause I'se ain't strippin in front of me sistah!" Oscar replied.
Gunslinger looked ready to say something but a sharp look from Spot caused the two to fall silent. Though every so often as Gunslinger created a stretcher, Emily noticed the newsgirl and Oscar would glance at one another and quickly look away. She smirked and realized the two were attracted to each other. Maybe she wouldn't be the only Delancey falling for a newsie after all. Emily watched Gunslinger tie a section of the rope tightly around one of the pieces of wood, gave the rope some slack, and tied another section around the second piece of wood. She continued to weave the rope and knot it around the wood until the ropes formed zig zags between to the two pieces of rotting drift wood. With Oscar and Morris's help, Gunslinger draped the tarp over the rope and wood.
"Okay, carefully get Emily," Gunslinger instructed, "and put her down in middle of the tarp."
"How did you know to do this?" Blink asked as Oscar carefully tucked his arms under his sister's shoulders and Morris grabbed her knees.
Gunslinger looked over at him, "Mah father was friends with a Lakota Medicine Woman and she showed him. Her people made these all the time for their wounded huntahs and warriors."
Emily winced and tried not to whimper or make too much noise. She knew her brothers were trying to be as gentle as possible and she didn't want them to feel guilty for the pangs of pain she felt throughout her body. It wasn't their faults that Vampire had been a scum bag. When Blink had told her of his death she had to admit she was glad the world was free of at least one psycho; though she felt bad for Spot. Who was watching them sadly as his newsies (some of whom were reluctant to touch a dead body) picked up Vampire's wrapped up body and traveled ahead of them. Oscar and Morris gently set her down onto the tarp and Gunslinger told them to each take one handle; Jack and Blink got the handles on the other side.
Emily grabbed hold of the sides of the stretcher and for a moment felt a little sick as the ropes swung from side to side a little.
"You alright?" Gunslinger asked.
"Yeah this is a lot better, thank you all so much. I promise to make it up to you."
"Youse don' gotta make nothin' up to us," Morris smiled.
"I'se gonna agree wid Morris on dis one," Jack said, "Youse were brave to send Torch ta us and pose as Vampiah's girlfriend. Youse done plenty enough awready."
They had stopped at Brooklyn for the night and Emily attended Vampire's burial. It had been quiet as Spot and four other boys dug a hole in the small backyard of the Brooklyn lodging house. A Bronx newsboy named Jake read from the bible as Spot and each newsie threw a scoop of dirt over Vampire's tarp covered body. After the ceremony ended, Jack, Blink, Specs, Gunslinger, and a few other newsies finished piling the dirt over Vampire while Spot walked back inside the lodging house with his wife Floaty. Emily watched as a newsgirl stumbled out of the lodging house as Morris and Oscar helped her in.
"Don'cha dare even look at heh," Oscar had snarled at the girl.
Spot stood in the lodging house's lobby with his arms crossed, "Get outta heah Vixen. Don'cha evah show youse face in New Yawk again, youse undahstand meh?"
The newsgirl looked at each newsie with contempt and hate. Four newsboys surrounded her; when Emily asked where they were taking her, Jack simply replied the train station. The next morning, a doctor visited and set Emily's arm and leg bones and wrapped them tightly in a plaster that hardened into casts over the next few hours. He ordered her to have strict bed rest and not to strain herself; Oscar and Morris had returned the milk bottles to Joshua. He reluctantly agreed to take Emily back to Manhattan as long as Oscar went with them; he didn't want her falling off his buggy and getting herself killed or hurt anymore than she was.
The next few weeks in the distribution center were lonely during the day. Her uncle and brothers worked but every morning, afternoon, and evening without fail Blink came into her room to visit her. At first, Oscar and Morris practically hit the ceiling with anger but slowly agreed to allow the newsie into Emily's room as long as one of her brothers stood outside of the open doorway. Her brothers were saints to her and would help her into the washroom when she needed to use the bathroom and would quickly leave until she was done and decent. Gunslinger visited with Floaty twice a week to give Emily a sponge bath and Floaty gave Emily a long wire to scratch under her casts with. Something Emily was thankful for, she couldn't count the number of times her brothers and uncle Weas had snapped at her to stop scratching her casts.
After eight long weeks the doctor came to the distribution center to cut the casts off Emily's arm and leg and gave her brothers and Blink instructions on how to help her move her arm and leg again. Therapy for broken bones was too expensive and the newsies had been angels to Emily by paying for both the doctor's visits and the casts. They had donated three cents after each day of selling papes for the eight long weeks and Emily thanked them countless times. Racetrack had visited quite a few times too, always explaining how the horses never seemed to get the tip that they were supposed to win. She and Race had become friends and when Emily could walk again the newsboy dropped by the distribution center and took her for an afternoon at the Sheepshead races.
Oscar and Morris were glad when Emily's casts had finally healed, she began cooking meals for them and cleaning the house. She helped give the newsies their newspapers and was certain that nothing else could go wrong. Vampire was gone, she was staying with Oscar and Morris, she was in love with her boyfriend, and she the newsies were the closest and most loyal friends a person could ever ask for.
Bandit watched Emily Delancey as she laughed at her brothers and joined in with their jokes as they traveled through the Manhattan Market together. He made sure to remain within the shadows and snarled.
"Enjoy youselves now," he muttered under his breath, "Because I'se gonna come back one day wid me own newsies and I'se will make youse all pay for what youse did ta Vampiah…starting wid youse," muttered as his gaze followed Emily down the street. He vanished into the shadows just as Emily turned towards an alley way, she felt as if someone had been watching her.
"What's da mattah?" Oscar asked as he placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Nothing," Emily replied, "I just thought…I almost felt like I was being watched."
Morris shrugged, "Youse a pretty goil, every man's gonna be payin' attention to youse!"
"I've got a boyfriend and I'm quite happy with him."
Oscar and Morris gave a playful groan; the truce between the newsies and Delanceys had long since ended but the relationship between the Delanceys and newsies had been permanently changed. Although Jack still pushed their buttons which led to the famous morning chase everyone in newsie square enjoyed, the Delanceys and Jack never hurt each other too badly. Most of their 'fights' were playful squabbles. Though at times things would revert back to before the Newsie War but before a full blown fight could take place Oscar's girlfriend, Gunslinger, would arrive for a visit; Emily would tell her brothers to cut it out; or Spot, upon visiting, would let the three boys fight until it was out of their systems.
It wasn't until eight months later that rumors began to fly of a new Brownsville newsboy leader; people described him as tough and sadistic. His goal was to finish what Harlem had started and end Brooklyn's reign once and for all. The rumors flew and Spot had been certain the leader was Bandit but later learned it was a 12 year old newsboy who had idolized Vampire. Spot was always alert though, especially after hearing that Emily Delancey swore she felt someone watching her, and knew deep inside Bandit or some other of Vampire's goons would one day return for revenge. When that day came, Spot would be ready.