I looked up.
Spot was arguing with his second-in-command, Wolf.
"I'se ain't carin' who stahted dah fight, Wolf. I'se is carin' dat I'se got a newsies outta action an' 'e's s'pposed to-." He trailed off, or rather, he kept talking and I stopped paying attention.
I smiled. Wolf was a guy who was never afraid to contradict Spot. He wasn't afraid of Spot either, one of the many, many, many reasons he'd been selected for the post of beta to Spot's alpha.
I was making my bed in the room I shared with my fellow girl newsies. Spot had come in to tell me that we had visitors.
My girls were already downstairs when Spot left and Wolf stopped him to tell him that Kid Blink had fought with a Brooklyn newsie called Poker.
I pushed past an arguing Spot and his beta and to the stairs, where I sat on the rail and slid down.
My girls were sitting, waiting for me like any other normal day.
Kitty, the youngest, was a small thing with longish brown hair and big, I mean big, green eyes.
Sling, was a lithe girl, and my best long range slingshooter. Slingshotter? Slingershooter? Slingshot shooter? Anyhow, Sling had a custom made slingshot to rival only Spot's, and his was good enough to unbutton a newsie's shirt at forty paces.
Dicey was Poker's sister, and she got her name for the loaded dice she tossed in her small hand to beat newsies out of their food money.
Jewels, a year before coming to Brooklyn, stole a handful of fake diamonds and pearls. She didn't get caught for it, but she sure threw around a lot of things when she found out that the woman she had accidentally-on-purpose bumped into had a necklace of fake jewels. She's my best thief.
And then there was Witchy, our resident conspiracy theorist, superstitious prophet, wise woman/girl, and alchemist. She even looked like a witch, except she was pretty enough, with jet black hair and dark eyes.
They made up my girl newsies. There were a few others, but when Spot put me in charge of the Brooklyn girl newsies, these were my friends, and I made Sling my beta.
But today, there was something very not normal.
Jewels and Dicey held Kid Blink, who was looking thoroughly pissed at being held prisoner by a bunch of girls.
I smirked and came forward. My girls looked at me and waited.
"Hello girls." I called. "Lovely morning isn't it?"
I came forward to stand before Kid Blink. I leaned on one hip and had my hands in my pockets. I smirked a smirk I had modeled after that of our 'beloved' leader.
"Hello, Blinky." I said. "My, my, my, someone's in trouble, Kiddo."
Kid looked like he'd just had a fight with Poker. Which is how most of our boys look when they've been thoroughly beat up. The only people Poker actually gets along with besides his sister are Spot, because he wants to live a while longer, and Racetrack, because I secretly think they're related, or that the racetrack/poker betting atmosphere impacts the brain.
He swore at me. My girls only smiled.
"Oh, that ain't a nice was to talk to your hostess, Kiddo. Didn't you ever learn manners?"
I pulled out my slingshot as I talked. I put my favorite type of marble, the light, large kind that I reserve for mere threats, into it.
I pulled back and aimed at Blink's nose.
He crossed his eye to look at it.
"Blinky, dear, wontcha tell me why you came all this way to pay me a visit?" I asked sweetly, mockingly fluttering my lashes.
"We'se got business wit' Spot, not his goily chief."
I sniffed and told Sling, "He's so mean."
Sling crossed her arms. "I noticed. You should be very offended and shoot 'im."
I heard laughs coming from the doorway. I picked them out. Cowboy, Racetrack, Spot smirking and chuckling and the Walkin' Mouth saying,
"Shouldn't we help him?"
I let my slingshot fly and Witchy caught it as it whizzed past Blink's ear.
"You coulda killed me!" Blink cried indignantly.
"Oh, Blinky," I smirked a Spot-worthy smirk. "You underestimate my ability to captain a slingshot."
Kitty collapsed into laughter, rolling around on the floor.
Basically, the next few minutes passed in getting settled down, Spot shoving Blink at Cowboy, and going to sit on his throne of crates, and my girls taking their places at Spot's rear and sides. Kitty and Sling got to stand next to me.
"So why're ya heah, Jackie boy?" Spot asked. "Manhattan too borin' fo' ye?"
Cowboy smiled. "Can't a fella visit an ole pal?"
"Ya can," Spot admitted. "But if you'se is bringin' dah Walkin' Mouth, dat ain't dah case."
Racetrack guffawed and Cowboy grinned. My girls laughed at the Mouth's indignant face.
"So why're ya heah?" Spot repeated his question.
Jack pushed Davey forward. Davey looked at Cowboy with determined resentment. Then he looked at Spot, who smirked his probably copyrighted smirk.
"What've yah got foah me, Mouth?"
Davey glared at Spot. "We have news. Somebody died. Was killed, more like."
Everyone in the room tensed.
"Who?" Wolf ventured, ignoring the glare Spot shot at him that made Sling wince.
"Leadah o' Harlem," Race said carelessly. "Nevah liked 'im. Always yellin' at me to stop smokin' in 'is face." Blink elbowed him in the ribs.
Davey glared at the two of them. He looked back at us Brooklynites.
"And the leaders of Queens and Staten Island got stabbed." He looked at us. "The murderer is targeting the newsies' leaders in every district and their chiefs. The Bowery's second-in-command disappeared and East Side's girl newsies' chief's second-in-command dodged an off-target throwing knife."
"Jewels, Witchy, go sell. Dicey, take Kitty. Sling, stay here." I ordered. They recognized that look in my eyes and did as they were told, even Kitty.
"What do we do?" Wolf asked, still ignoring Spot's glares.
"We wait," Race said. "And we pray we don't get killed."
Okay, whataya think?