Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of Disney and their likenesses are only used for fan related purposes.

Author's Note: Well, I got to go see the Newsies! the Musical again last night. I have to admit, after seeing it more than once (I also got the wonderful opportunity to go on Fan Day and meet some of the original film cast! *squeal*) I am really falling in love with the show as a whole. I appreciate the new story a whole lot more, I absolutely adore the songs, and the romance between Jack and Katherine is a whole lot more substantial than Jack/Sarah. Which, of course, it inspired this piece. This scene is the finale of the musical when it comes down to a choice between New York and Santa Fe for Jack. We all know what he chooses - this is just my take on why.



And I feel... what's the word?

The governor's carriage was waiting outside the gates. If he wanted to, he could be on his way to Santa Fe within the hour.

Jack Kelly felt electric, every nerve tingling like he'd been struck by lightning or something. He'd made up a headline like that once, sold nearly a hundred papes on the strength of that story alone, and when the summer storms lit up the sky, Jack wondered what it would be like to really get hit. With Joe Pulitzer's half-hearted offer of a job and Governor Teddy Roosevelt's well-meaning gift of a carriage ride still buzzing in his ear, he would've bet real money against even Race's odds that it felt something like this.

Except, you know, without the pain.

If he wanted to... hell, yeah, he wanted do. Except... except why was he still standing there?

Oh, yeah. Goodbyes.

Crutchie was first. Jack's oldest friend, Crutchie was trying to hide his hurt behind his crooked smile, joking that one day he would follow Jack out west if only to take a turn on that palomino Jack promised him. Santa Fe could be Crutchie's dream now and, with a heavy heart, Jack passed it on to him with a companionable pat of Crutchie's shoulder.

And then Davey. Jack heard the scoff, the surprise in his own voice, the tone of disbelief when Davey said he would miss him. Sure, Dave was a good guy, a new pal, but he had folks, he had brains... he would do all right without Jack. But, still, Davey would miss him? Hell, Jack didn't think he'd be missed by anyone except maybe a couple of the fellas. And the fellas knew as well as Jack that nobody ever lasts in New York. They would miss him, yeah, but they'd forget about him before long.

Because, well, it was like how New York beat everyone down, kind of like that broken down carthorse he pointed out to Crutchie... what? Only a couple of days ago? A couple of days... it couldn't really have been a couple of days, could it? Just a handful of days separating him from Snyder the Spider always on his tail to new friends like Davey and Les and... and her.

Ah, jeez.

Jack felt the buzz dim, his happiness smothered as she walked over to him, her long, brown hair managing to swirl lightly despite the humid July air. He could smell her on the heavy breeze over the New York stink and, for some reason, that made it even harder for him to say what he had to.

Except it was Katherine who was saying something and it took one moment for Jack to notice this and then another for him to stop marveling over how absolutely beautiful she was. Her eyes were glossy and glazed—with tears, he realized with a sudden jolt, as if one of the damn Delancey's brothers had sucker-punched him in the chest. She didn't want him to go and—wait. What was she saying to him?

She would follow him on the next train?

She wanted to be with him, even if it meant leaving New York herself?

And then—

Katherine took his hand, her eyes staring down at the way their fingers were interlocked together. "What's Santa Fe got that New York ain't?" she asked quietly.

Ain't... After spending the last few days with Jack and his pals, it seemed their slang and their language was rubbing off on the up-and-coming reporter. If the question wasn't so heartfelt and so raw, Jack might've spared a little bit of a cocky smile to hear Katherine speak in such a way; her editor would've had a fit. Instead, frowning to himself, his brows knit together as he watched the way their fingers intertwined, Jack actually thought about what she had asked him.

Crutchie, the lovable gimp who had never let life beat him down, that's what. Davey and his kid brother Les, working to help their folks but finding a new family with Jack and the newsies at the same time. The newsies... Elmer, Albert, Finch, Specs, Romeo, Race... all the boys who shared their mornings at the Newsboys' Lodging House with Jack and spent their evenings pounding the pavement together, hawking headlines and spreading the news. The glasses of water at Jacobi's Deli, too, and two-cent seltzer.

They wouldn't be in Santa Fe.

The Brooklyn Bridge. The way even the toughest newsie would go a little weak-kneed at the mere mention of Spot Conlon and his gang. Newsies Square, too, that was as part of Jack as it was a place in New York. Baiting Weasel, keeping the malodorous Delancey Brothers in their place—without Jack around, who would stand up to Oscar and Morris and make sure their head-busting arms stayed at their sides?

What about Medda? A show down at her burlesque theater whenever he wanted and someone who actually appreciated his art. Though he would never take her money, Medda thought his backdrops were worth something. Pulitzer thought he could do political cartoons. Hell, Governor Roosevelt hisself used Jack's drawings to shut down the Refuge. Snyder may not be in Santa Fe, but he wasn't a threat in New York, either.

And, Jack thought, there was another thing Santa Fe would be missing and that was a Jack Kelly dreaming of living in Santa Fe... but if he stayed...

Well, he could go on dreaming just a bit longer.

Tilting her chin up with his free hand, forcing her to meet his gaze, Jack found himself saying, "I... I think it's the other way around. What's New York got that Santa Fe ain't?"

Standing right next to her, closer than was proper but not close enough, his heart beating like a drum, it dawned on Jack that he had the most important answer right in front of him: Santa Fe didn't have Katherine.

He had the sudden urge to pull her close so he did. She smelled so delicious, clean and fresh with a touch of floral perfume that mingled perfectly with the scent of ink from last night's secret work with Pulitzer's press in the basement. Jack bit back his smile—she'd never complained before what a hot New York summer did to him after a day on the job, but she would learn that that was one stink that would take time to wash off. Jack kind of wished it wouldn't.

It would be difficult, he knew that: a gutter rat and the daughter of one of the most powerful men in New York. It shouldn't work, by all rights a girl like Katherine should never have even looked his way in the first place (and, he remembered, she hdan't), but from the moment he first looked in her eyes, he knew that this was the girl for him. Someone like her was perfect for someone like him, even if they both had to work for it—Jack, at first, just to get her attention and then Katherine, now, to convince him to stay.

And well, like Davey taught them with this strike, some things were just worth fighting for.

As he pulled her close, resting his ink- and paint-stained hand against the small of her back so that not even a slim evening edition of the pape could be slipped between them, he couldn't help but think it would all be worth it just to get a glimpose of the look on Pulitzer's face when he found out. And then they kissed and before he lost himself in her, Jack was proud of the things he had in New York that they would've have in Santa Fe—including a radiant Katherine, er, Plumber, a slap-happy Jack Kelly and a family of newsboys who had taken on the "World" and won.

Look at me, I'm the king of New York!

End Note: I just thought I'd point out that Jeremy Jordan (Jack from the musical production - an absolute star and sweetheart!) knows about fan fiction :) While he knew that there was some from the movie, he was surprised to see there could be any about their show, especially since the last one-shot I wrote I did while it was still in previews. Now that it's the official run, the show is even better and I wasn't kidding when I said I would have more shorts based on the musical. I love having a new take on my favorite film!

- stress, 10.06.11