I know. It's been a while. But Angel, our beta, and I had some legit stuff that kept us from updating.
You know what? No excuses. We're just cruddy updaters. This chapter isn't even that long.
We got this back from our beta about...over a month ago. And we fixed part of it because it sucked. Then Angel wanted me to send it back to our beta. And I totally meant to do that when I logged on tonight.
And then I thought...we had already fixed the chapter and Lucy (our beta) hadn't sent the other chapters I gave her back either. And it's my birthday on Wednesday.
So, in honor of my birthday, I am posting chapter 8. Don't expect chapter 9 for a little bit. Angel and I have a lot of vacations this summer and I'm still waiting on chpts. 9-11 from Lucy. Thanks for sticking with the story though. Sorry about the update problems. Enjoy Chapter 8!
The Unseen Borough-Chapter 8
"Spot could have won the 'Understatement of the Year Award' when he called this a 'little party'," Crescent commented as they walked in the door. "It's huge."
"I guess all dose newsies and their girls add up," Books seemed a little surprised.
Medda's vaudeville theater had been completely transformed. The many wooden chairs and tables had been shoved to the outskirts of the room, up near the stage and cluttered against walls. Newsies of all shapes, sizes, and ages wore buttoned jackets and had gel in their hair. The girl's multi-colored skirts swung out and around as they twirled around the makeshift dance floor.
On the right side of the room, the bar was being crowded by boys, calling for drinks. The bartender looked extremely flustered, holding several pitchers at once and trying to fill everyone's drinks at the same time.
The stage sat empty for now, but hopefully Medda had arranged some form of entertainment. A burly chested man stood in front, arms crossed, to keep anybody from climbing on it and destroying the polished sheen without permission.
"I'm glad wese didn't bring Cheshire," Verb combed his hair back with his fingers. "Wese would have lost her." He had borrowed a navy blue jacket from Clockwork.
"It's too bad that Base hads ta stay home, though," Belle sighed. She wore her normal newsie clothes, hair tucked up and all. Books, Dragon, and Shadow had done the same.
"Well, we're here, so let's have fun!" Dragon grinned. She grabbed Shadow's hand and pulled her into the crowd. Verb wandered over to the bar with Books and Crescent slipped into the shadows to observe.
A man smiled as he spotted the blond kid entering the building.
"We found her, boss."
"Good, good." The voice sounded pleased. "After all this searching, finally." It sighed contentedly. "Now all we have to do is catch her."
Belle walked around, marveling at the size of the theater. There were newsies everywhere: on the stage, in the audience, hanging off balconies. Giggling, she realized the security guard must have been overpowered. She loved theaters; she had grown up in one.
She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned around. A boy with black hair and twinkling blue eyes stood behind her.
"You're that singer that was on Avenue B yesterday, aren't you?" he asked.
"Yes," Belle smiled.
"I think you're amazing," the boy blushed. "You should sing for everyone."
"Yes. I can hook up a microphone. Whaddaya say?" he grinned.
Belle's smile grew bigger. "Why not?"
Books walked around for a minute, nursing her glass of cola. Even though Medda hadn't been able to attend this Newsie Night-something about a "vaudeville entertainers of the next century" convention she was attending, Spot said- she'd sure gone all out, even providing a few pitchers of beer. Heavily diluted, of course, but still enough to give you a buzz. Books had no love for the numbness that accompanied the alcohol. But this ice cold, sweet, delicious soda was a luxury and treat for her, and she hadn't had one since she had become a newsie.
She heard a familiar voice begin a dainty folk song and smiled, realizing that someone must have talked Belle into singing. She quickly frowned and turned toward the stage, only to find Belle wearing a ruffled purple dress she must have filched from Medda's supply. A long, curly red wig covered her naturally short tresses.
Books smiled, realizing Belle was smarter than they gave her credit for. She looked around for a minute, trying to find an empty seat. She wanted to be able to enjoy this impromptu concert.
Most of the newsies and their girls were either at the refreshment bar or dancing, but the ones who weren't were scattered about the room, sulking at every table and around every corner.
She could sit with any of them, but most of them had beers or girls with them and some were creeping her out. They had no clue she was a girl of course, but drunk, teenage boys tended to make her nervous anyway.
A glass of brown, frothy liquid, identical to her own, caught her eye, and she noticed a boy had taken a seat at a table close to the stage. Books grinned. He looked young, smart, and best of all, he wasn't drinking.
She shuffled her way to him, carefully avoiding being shoved into the surrounding tables. She came up behind him, taking a sip of her drink and tapping him on the shoulder simultaneously.
"This seat taken?" she gestured to the empty chair across from him. He shook his head.
"No, not yet." he replied distractedly. His voice registered in her mind and she froze for half a second as she remembered where she had last seen him. He had been with that other boy on Bannerman Island, the night of the fire. Would he recognize her and reveal her as a scab?
No, she realized, sitting down. It had been dark that night. He wouldn't recognize her.
"So what's with the cola?' she asked, gesturing to his glass.
"What do you mean?"
"Why are you drinking cola instead of beer or something?"
He shook his head, "Don't like the taste of beer. You neither?"
Books also shook her head, "Yeah. What's your name?"
"You can call me Books, I guess." she shrugged. They sat in comfortable silence for a long time, just listening to the music and surrounding conversations.
Spot grinned. This was fun. No problems or upstart, brand new, girl newsies to worry about now. A familiar face passed and Spot tapped them on the shoulder.
"Mind getting us some more drinks, sweetheart?"
"Sorry, I'm not your servant, shorty," Crescent, who had somehow managed to find a skirt to wear, smirked back.
Spot raised an eyebrow. "I highly doubt you have a right to call me that, especially since you're shorter than me."
"Whatever, shorty," Crescent rolled her eyes. "See ya around."
"Shorty?" Jack asked after she had gone.
"And you didn't get angry?"
Spot shrugged again. "I'm drunk."
"She's got you wrapped around her finger," Jack smirked.
"No," Spot rolled his eyes.
"You know I do, shorty," Crescent walked by again, simpering and carrying a drink.
Spot hit the heel of his hand against his forehead while Jack laughed silently.
Shadow needed some fresh air. This party was way too loud and stuffy for her. She was about to go out the door when someone tapped her on the shoulder.
"Where are ya going?" Verb frowned.
"Outside. I need some air."
"Want me to come too?"
"I'm okay," Shadow smiled. "Go back to your table. Clockwork will be lonely if you leave."
She looked back at the table where Verb had been sitting. Clockwork smiled back and waved, shaking the table. Drinks sloshed around and the saltshaker fell over. Clockwork got a weird look on his face. When he thought no one was looking, he threw a pinch of salt over his shoulder. Looking up, he noticed Shadow staring at him and grinned sheepishly. She grinned back.
"Well, if you're sure, love," Verb winked. "Don't get lost."
Shadow smirked. "I'll be right back, don't worry about me." She opened the door and stepped out into the night.
The man smiled. It was all too easy. She had left the building on her own. He silently walked up behind her, hiding his shadow so she wouldn't see him coming. He came closer...and closer...and closer...
Shadow felt a hand on her shoulder and whipped around. She stared into dark, cold eyes and the hand squeezed harder, the thumb pressing on her collarbone. The figure's mouth twitched, and a harsh voice rang out.
"Well, well. If it isn't little Nicky. Not so little now, are you? Miss me, love?"
It was the use of the pet name that made Shadow angry. When used by Verb, it brought memories of happiness and overcoming troubles with her borough, but hearing the word in this man's mouth only brought memories of pain, loss, and the faces of two boys that she would never see again. With these thoughts in mind, she focused on putting every ounce of hatred she could into her next words.
"Daddy. Fancy meeting you here."
"You know I never lost track of you, darling," the man smirked. "And now that I've got you..." He turned to one of his men and waved a hand dismissively. "Burn down the building."
"What?" Shadow gasped. "But you can't, my friends-"
The man accepted a torch, fire reflecting in his coal black eyes.
"Oh," he said softly, "I can do anything I want."
He clubbed Shadow over the head with his free hand and the world collapsed into darkness.
Part of the reason why it took us so long was because for a while, we were writing some Maximum ride stuff. If you like that series, check out Hey, I Just Met You in that book section. It's only one oneshot for now, but I'm almost done with the next.
Sorry about the shortness!