Is it weird that severe writer's block gives birth to new ideas? This is a warning now that this story will NOT be updated very often, most likely. This is my story to distract myself so I can subconsciously come up with ideas for my other stories so it'll come in quick bursts.

This is set in 1910 with TMI characters, plus a few of my own creations. No TID characters will appear. Set in a city (probably Chicago, I haven't decided) with a poor family with the boys working as newsies. (I know it's lame that I was inspired for this story because of history class. Don't judge me!)

I don't own the Mortal Instruments, this is purely fanfiction. I'll shut up now.

Jace hadn't ever been one to believe in having friends outside his family. They just added to the list of people that you needed to protect and worry about, and by the angels, did he always have enough to worry about.

But that still hadn't stopped that day from happening. When he was fifteen, only a few months after having watched his younger brother, only nine years old, get sick and slowly die because they couldn't afford to pay for a doctor, Jace was on the streets holding newspapers over his head and yelling headlines. His brother Alec was working too. And Alec generally got more tips than Jace did. That day, Alec and Jace had been along the same street, each trying to catch the people the other had missed. If Jace looked, he could catch a glimpse of Alec's dark head with his weathered hat over the people on the sidewalk.

That was the day when a young boy, no older than twelve judging by his smooth face and thin stature, sauntered over to him with dark and curious eyes. The boy's hair was in desperate need of a trimming, uneven locks spilling haphazardly from under his cap and falling into his eyes. His clothes were too big for him and he didn't look like he had enough money to buy a paper.

"Are you here to buy something?" Jace asked roughly.

"No," the boy said in a soft voice, peering at the paper clutched in Jace's hand and disregarding his tone.

Jace had taken a moment to study the boy closer. His eyes were a dark brown, almost as dark as his sister Isabelle's, and his hair was bleached by the sun to a patchy sandy blonde even though his skin was still pale and soft. And the boy was even scrawnier than Jace had originally thought.

"Then what do you want?" Jace demanded, trying his best to not feel sympathy for the boy who in the oddest way reminded him of his own deceased brother.

The boy shuffled his feat awkwardly. "I was wondering if you'd let me help you sell them. The papers, I mean. You can have all the tips. Hell," he added looking desperate, "you can have more'n half of what I make. I don't need much."

No, the boy hadn't looked like he needed much money to survive. He was a rail with the gleam living a hard life gave in his eyes. Even though he hadn't wanted to, Jace was moved to pity. Money was tight in his home, especially with Maryse and Robert away but this boy was worse off than they were.

"Don't you need something for your family?"

The boy shook his head. "No, sir. They died, sir."

Jace shook his head in exasperation. "Don't call me sir. Now take half the stack and go work down there. And if you try to cheat me, I swear I will hunt you down, boy."

The smaller boy picked up the papers. "Charles, not boy."

"Charles?" Jace echoed. "You're not old enough to be a Charles. I'm calling you Charlie."

Charlie shrugged. "Whatever suits you."

Jace kept his eye on the small figure, threading through the crowd, shouting headlines in a high voice that carried over the people.

That day, once Jace had sold all of his papers, he went to find the small boy who was sitting along the curb, waiting, all the papers gone.

Charlie looked up when Jace approached and grinned. "I sold them all!" he boasted, eyes shining with more than just hunger now. "Here!" He thrust a handful of coins into Jace's hand.

Jace quickly counted the money. "How much did you keep?"

"Fifty cents," Charlie said almost apologetically.

The blonde boy hadn't believed that Charlie could manage to live off of that much and discreetly slipped some more coins into his pocket when Charlie was preoccupied, staring at the sun set above the buildings. That was also about when Alec had found them.

"Sell everything?" Alec asked by way of greeting, not noticing the small boy.

Jace nodded. "And I found an assistant. He doesn't charge much," Jace added seeing Alec's unhappy expression.

"He looks shifty," Alec whispered to Jace. Charlie just stared at the two older boys with wide eyes.

"You mean the fact that he looks like he's going to blow away?" Jace asked. "I suppose."

Alec had not been amused. "That's not what I meant."

"This is my brother, Alec," Jace said to Charlie who bobbed his head respectfully.

"Pleased to meet you, sir," Charlie said, directing his comment to Alec's feet.

Alec had smiled fleetingly. Obviously he had a slight attachment to Charlie already, even if he didn't want to admit it.

"This is Charlie," Jace continued.

The small boy had smiled nervously. His ever movement was paranoid and Jace had wondered precisely how long his family had been dead.

"And I'm Jace," he finished.

"And we have to get going, or else Isabelle will get anxious," Alec reminded him, scanning the street. The streets had always been more dangerous after rush hour, when all that were left were the desperate newsies, those who didn't calculate their sales well enough.

The two brothers turned to walk away but Jace had felt eyes boring into the back of his head. When he turned, he had seen Charlie standing where they'd left him, looking sad and lost. The childlike innocence reminded him immediately of his brother. A protective instinct kicked in and Jace made his way back to the boy.

"Meet us here tomorrow," he said. "At three."

Before he could stop himself, he'd rested his hand on the boy's head momentarily, knowing that he was now their responsibility.