Full Summary: It's been two years since the strike and trouble is brewing again on the streets of Manhattan. Someone's gunning for Jack's position as head of the newsies and he's not afraid to spill blood to get it. When David and Al become the target of a vicious attack, the stakes are higher than they've ever been and Jack's determined to end it before someone gets killed. Jack/Sarah. David/OC.
Author's Note: Sorry this took so long, y'all! I know you've been waiting for forever to read this (at least, it felt like forever to me). For those of you who didn't see the news on my profile, my old computer croaked and my uncle had to retrieve all my files, which basically took forever and a day. But thanks to him, I finally got it today. So without further ado, here's the first chapter of How the World Turns, the sequel to We Run the Papes!
Chapter 1- The Greatest
January's goin' fast
February almost certainly will not last
Wake me next year
What is, what was, what will be
~Evermore: The Fold~
Manhattan ~ September 23, 1901
Les tore into his presents with all the excitement required of a boy on his eleventh birthday. His dark brown eyes sparkled with each new unwrapped discovery. A new white and pinstripe newsboys cap from Sarah, a pair of new shoes from his parents, a baseball from David, a slingshot from Al, and a good bag full of shooters from Jack and Runner. He grinned at each of the givers in turn.
Al sat back and grinned as Runner whispered into Les's ear and pointed discreetly at Jack, who had his back turned while he spoke to Sarah and her mother. A mischievous smile spread across the Jacobs boy's face and Al elbowed David so he wouldn't miss whatever was about to happen. Les didn't disappoint.
Seconds later, one of the shooters had connected with the back of Jack's neck and the two younger boys were screaming with laughter. It only took them a few seconds to realize their need to run as Jack turned around slowly before pursuing the two with a vengeance while Mrs. Jacobs yelled at Les for using the slingshot indoors, even while he was being chased by the Manhattan newsie leader.
David was in stitches on the couch beside Al, hooting and hollering for whoever seemed to have the advantage. He tripped Jack as the older boy doubled back, which only made his laughter worse. When things finally calmed down, everyone was served a lovely piece of chocolate cake that left them longing for more.
"So, Les, how's it feel to be 'leven?" Al asked as she set her plate aside and tried to pretend that there wasn't cake all over the birthday boy's face.
"The greatest!" Les cried, brandishing his fork like the wooden sword he no longer carried with him everywhere. He had decided this summer that it was too 'babyish' for him now that he was 'near eleven', so he kept it in his room instead.
That was part of the reason Al and Jack had decided a slingshot and plenty of good marbles would be perfect for him. Though the angry welt on the back of Jack's neck probably meant her older brother was rethinking the gift idea. However, Les had been complaining for weeks about his lack of a weapon. They had all conceded that he would likely need one. He still hadn't become a very good fighter yet, unlike Runner who was already exceptional at ten, and things in Manhattan were starting to look a bit troubling.
Al wasn't worried. At least, not too worried. Then again, not much had happened yet for her to be worried about. Rumors were going around that someone was out for Cowboy's throne. Someone had it in for the newsie leader and wanted to take Manhattan right out from under him.
Jack had simply taken the role of leader not long after he arrived in Manhattan so many years ago. He hadn't had to fight for it the way most borough leaders did. He simply picked up the mantle and wore it. Al sighed inwardly. She should have seen it coming. When someone found their in-road that easy, there was always bound to be another who would lead the opposition for that very reason.
It was more than just rumors, though, if she were to be honest. A few of their boys had been cornered in alleyways and whatnot. Most of them weren't too serious, just a black eye and a couple of bruises along with a threat to be relayed to Jack Kelly.
However, the last boy had been another story. It seemed the threats were getting more series and the beatings along with it. Comics came stumbling into the Lodge only a week ago with injuries bad enough to keep him bedded for a few days and his mother so worried that Al had been sent over to reassure her.
Finally, Mrs. Jacobs had to shoo away the non-family members. Tomorrow was a school day, after all, meaning that David and Les had to be ready to sit and learn for most of the day. Besides, she reminded them, Manhattan was dangerous at night and she didn't want to keep the three of them any longer and risk their safety.
David pecked Al on the cheek and she grinned, poking him in the stomach and wishing him a lovely day at school in the morning. She would be there when the bell rang to walk with him back to the Lodge. He may only get to sell papers on weekends and school holidays now that his father had recovered and David was back in school, but that didn't mean he was going to abandon all of the friends he had grown so close to in the past year.
Al, Jack, and Runner walked back to the Newsboys Lodging House together, chatting about the events of Les's birthday party and listening to Runner rave about the 'wonderful-ness' of chocolate. By the time they reached the Lodge, Al was exhausted. The Kelly siblings made sure the ten year-old was in bed before climbing up to the attic.
The attic of the Newsboys Lodging House was not a very pleasant place. Despite Kloppman's general tidiness, it had become the closest thing to a refuse pile besides the trash can itself. Al was determined to go through everything in that small, dusty room one day and clear it out. Surely there must be hidden treasures between the collapsed bookshelves, bunkbeds, moth-eaten mattresses, and various artifacts from newsies who had come before them.
She ducked under a cobweb that was high enough to be above Jack's head, but still low enough to warrant the chills that ran up her spine at the thought of a spider landing on her. She hurried after her brother to the door at the edge of the attic which led to their apartment.
Mr. Roosevelt was an outstanding man and had kept his promise to pay for a place where they could live. Even when the two came to him with the space they wanted, he had first tried to get them to go for something better. When they were adamant about renting out the space above the general store beside the Lodging House because of it's proximity and because of the door in the attic, he obliged and promised to pay the rent on the living space for as long as they had use of it.
Jack opened the door for and shuffled in, locking it behind his sister as she turned on the lights. That very door had been a major part of the reason they had chosen this living space. It was practically like having their own room at the Lodge, gave the boys easy access to their leader whenever they needed it, and it kept them from having to go through the general store to get to their quarters.
Mr. and Mrs. Lavenchi were overbearingly irritating to the general public, but Mrs. Lavenchi positively had it out for Al Kelly. She had harbored a special hatred for the girl ever since Al had called her a "fat, ugly cow". Now, in Al's defense, she had been provoked. The woman had been bad-mouthing the newsboys to her friend while Al was in earshot calling them all manner of insults. Most of them hadn't bothered her much until she started picking them apart individually.
It was when she called Crutchy a "good-for-nothin' gimp" that Al exploded. She and Crutchy had never been close, though they were likely the two the boys looked out for the most, but no one insulted her friends, especially not that sorry excuse for a woman.
Twelve year-old Al had erupted and Mrs. Lavenchi had hated her ever since. In fact, even if they had been able to scrounge up the money, the woman likely would never have rented out the living space to the Kelly siblings if it hadn't been for Mr. Roosevelt's involvement in the process.
The apartment itself wasn't much, but in comparison to living in a bunk room with fifteen plus boys or sleeping on the streets, it was more than enough. When you walked in through the attic door, you were confronted with a good-sized sitting room just big enough for the maroon loveseat couch that Skittery and Kid Blink had hauled in a few months ago claiming to have found it abandoned and a couple of wooden chairs Jack had found in the attic and fixed up. Past the sitting area on the left was a small kitchen with it's own stove and everything. To it's right there were two doors. The first was to the washroom, the other led to the bedroom that had just enough room for a single twin-sized bed and a small chest of drawers as well as a closet on the far left side. Al slept in the bed while Jack slept on the couch and the arrangement suited them.
Except for the mint green walls, which Al hated, the siblings loved their apartment and had done their best to make it their own.
"I told you he'd love the slingshot," Al told Jack as she entered the washroom, leaving the door ajar- not that it actually closed anyway. She splashed her face with cold water.
"An' I told ya we'd regret it. I already do."
"He's already pretty good at it. Maybe we should see if Spot'll give him some pointahs next time he's in 'Hattan." She wiped her face off with the towel beside the sink and picked up her toothbrush.
"That'll be the day."
The conversation stopped long enough for Al to brush her teeth and by the time she was done, Jack was laying on the couch, blanket strewn over himself with his eyes half closed.
"That tired?" she asked, a smile playing at her lips as she tied her hair back.
"S'been a long day, Ali," he responded. "An' we got papes to sell in the mornin'."
"Yeah, yeah. I know. G'night, Jacky."
With a catlike yawn, Al let herself into the bedroom and slipped out of her skirt and shirt before pulling her nightgown over her head. She took enough time to fold the clothes she had been wearing and lay them atop the dresser before dropping onto her bed.
Since her gender had become common knowledge during the strike, Jack had finally been okay with her wearing girls clothes on a regular basis. Therefore, on her sixteenth birthday and at Christmas, she had received girls' clothing and such from everyone. She still kept her boys clothing in a drawer for the times she needed it- when Jack needed her incognito during some bit of newsie business. However, for the most part, she now wore skirts and dresses, though hers weren't nearly as frilly as Sarah's and that was just how she liked it.
Disclaimer: Alison Kelly, Runner, and Comics are my own characters. They belong to me, so no stealing them. :P