So, yeah. If you haven't already noticed, my writing isn't as good as quality in the summer as it usually is, but at least I update faster! *Fake smile* Yeah, sorry about that. In this chapter, we finally see the strike (since, if you remember way back to the first chapter, this takes place as that is happening). I promise, within the next two chapters (maybe) the strike will be over, and we'll be back to our usual story line! Yay! Also, sorry if Spot seems like a jerk in this one, I kinda wanted to capture how he'd react after all that tiring stuff going on. And I didn't want him to see absolutely perfect after losing so much sleep the night before... and this is kinda what resulted, haha :) Hope you enjoy! Buon divertimento!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize. (Only my OCs, Birdy, Barny, Glider, Sailor, Swamp, etc.)

I tried, I swear! I tried really hard to get them on character. I don't know if I succeeded, though.

Also, sorry for any mistakes, it's three in the morning, and I'm not at the top of my game (plus, I don't have an editor), so if you kindly point them out, I'll happily fix them!

Good night, sweet dreams :)

~Bandit


Musketeer

Chapter 4

Saving the Day

It was a well-known fact that New York was like Siberia during autumn and winter, but no matter how long Birdy had lived there, she could never get used to the cold. Shaking hard, she felt herself wake up, but there was something off. There was something by her side—and that something was very warm. Without even thinking, her eyes still shut closed, she snuggled into whatever it was, embracing the heat. It took a minute for her brain to process everything, and when she did, she snapped her eyes open, and looked around.

She had fallen asleep… she had fallen asleep in a room that was not Barny's. No, she wasn't even in the right bed. She turned her head slightly, and bit back a small gasp. She'd fallen asleep in bed with Spot Conlon. She forced herself to remember back to last night. Oh yeah, Birdy thought, I didn't actually fall asleep with him.

Smirking to herself only slightly, she slipped out from under the moth-eaten covers and padded across the cool wooden floor, opening the creaky door slowly and silently. Though she couldn't really tell if Spot was asleep or not, she didn't want to disturb him. Standing idly in the hall, she stretched her hands way above her head, before yawning and looking around. Smacking her lips shut, Birdy squinted her eyes, putting all her weight on the wall behind her. She crossed her hands for a moment, blinking harshly, before sprinting off towards the staircase, her throat feeling as though she'd just poured cement down it.

Not missing a beat, she raced down the creaky steps, avoiding all the holes and lose boards. Dragging her hands along the railing, she felt the smooth wood under her small hands. It was worn, from all the use. Sorta like the newsies, she mused to herself, before jumping the last two steps, and landing on the main floor with a muffled 'thump'. Sharply turning the corner, she spun, before heading towards the dining room, or what was meant to be a dining room.

It wasn't much, that was sure, Birdy thought as the room came into view. There was an oversized chair resting on the dusty wooden floor, and a small table, mostly used for poker, but was centered on the hardwood. A couple of creaky chairs were lined around the circular furniture, but that was all. Barny sat head of the table, like she always did when Spot wasn't around, or in this case, sleeping in late. Havoc was to the left, and Glider to the right, being the third and second in command, respectively. Next was just a jumble of newsies, some sitting, but most of them were standing around, waiting for Barny to make an announcement.

"Luckily, it was taken care of, for the first time," Birdy caught onto the sentence just as she walked towards her brunette friend.

Swamp and Sailor both flashed her identical smiles, before tuning into Barny's speech. Birdy caught the girl's hazel eyes, before leaning against the wall.

"All thanks to Birdy, over there, guys," a smile graced her lips, as it became apparent as to what Barny was talking about. It must've been new to them to have someone brave enough to face Spot.

A light dusting of flush passed over her cheeks as she took a sudden interest in her shoes, "I swear, it's impossible to get sleep here."

This earned a few scattered chuckles before Barny cleared her throat, a grin plastered on her lips. "Now, none of us are to wake Spot, as he needs his rest. We all know what today is, right, boys?"

We do? Birdy creased her eyebrows, a frown on her face. She had no clue what was going on today, other than the usual selling, and the daily poker game. Hops, the youngest newsie there, voiced her thoughts, his eleven-year-old voice ringing through the room.

"Nah, Smallfry," Birdy smiled at the old nickname. Barny blushed slightly, "What's today?"

"Well, remember? We heard from Snippet that today the Hatties were planning to raid the Distribution Center, and Muddy told us that the bulls had heard about it, and were gonna stop 'em. We're gonna help their sorry asses, excuse me, sorry, butts, today," Barny put her hands on her hips as she explained, the corners of her mouth pulling slightly upward into a smirk.

"Oh, yeah," Hops scratched his head, before crossing his stubby arms and sitting down with a huff, "Only the best shooters are allowed to go."

"Now, don't pout, Hops," Barny soothed as she stood and made her way through the crowd towards the younger, "it's not that bad. We need someone here to hold the city, you'll be fine."

"Ah, you're only saying that 'cause you're the best in Brooklyn, other than Spot!" Swamp called out from the crowd. Sailor sent him an apologetic look. The two were nearly inseparable, equal except when it came to shooting. Sailor was a pro, training by Spot himself, but Swamp hadn't been so lucky. "Newsies like me and Hops have to stay here."

"Don't worry, you'll be in the amazing company of Birdy, here," Barny smiled brightly. But Birdy just looked at her in shock.

"Wait—I'm not going?" she demanded of her friend. She saw Barny curse under her breath.

"Yeah? Hadn't Spot told you?" Barny furrowed her eyebrows, and looked at the elder in concern.

"No," Birdy fumed.

"Sorry," Barny bit her lower lip, before turning away, "Alright guys! Time for breakfast. You all know what to do."

The newsies filed out of the lodging house, one by one, until it was only Birdy and Barny left.

"Look, I'm real sorry, Birds. I didn't know he hadn't told you," Barny placed a hand on her shoulder, but Birdy just waved her away.

"It's alright, I don't like the action much. But I'm still afraid about Spot getting even more severely injured. You'll take care of him won't you?"

Barny placed a hand over her heart, a brave smile passing over her face, "Always and forever, kid. Now, let's go and get us some breakfast."

iIiIi

"You got your slingshot, right Barns?" Birdy watched as Spot tucked his black cane into his belt loop, and fastened his red suspenders, making towards his grey newsie hat. The lodging house was buzzing as the best shooters headed around old place, getting prepared for heading towards Manhattan. They were early, Birdy knew Manhattan wasn't going to try until later, but Spot was an early planner, and he wanted to get there in time to save all the Hatties, and his best friend from further trouble.

"Yeah, Spot, I got it," Barny looked preoccupied as she searched the group, secretly making sure everyone was ready, "Hey! Freckles, you got my dagger?"

"What would you need that for?" the tall newsie brushed gently past Birdy and towards his younger sibling. Birdy watched them all frivolously, a deep sigh falling from her lips.

"Hey, you all right?" she spun on her heel, and faced the familiar bright blue eyes, that were shining with Brooklyn pride. Spot was standing with purpose, an arrogant air around him as he studied her casually.

"I'm fine," she replied, almost too quick, "Why?"

"I just wanna make sure my girl is alright. You seem… down," he muttered quietly, so as none of the dozens of newsies would hear the concern etched into his tone.

"I just—I wanna make sure Jack'll be okay. You'll get him safe for me, right?" she fidgeted with her hands, the lie passing easily from her mouth.

"I would've without you telling me to, Barns," he played with his slingshot as he spoke, "But I'll try extra hard, alright?"

She smiled warmly, "Thanks, Spot."

He nodded, before licking his lips, concealing his slingshot next to his cane, so it hung down at his hip, before turning, and facing the newsies. "Let's go boys," he caught the glare Barny sent him, "and girls."

A cheer roused from the newsies, and they all fought towards the door, Spot leading them like a general. A small smirk played on Birdy's lips, before she caught the looks of Swamp, and Hops, who were only two of the tons of newsies that were forced to stay behind. A sort of mischievous glimmer glinted in her eyes, before she caught sight of Barny.

"Hey, Barns, wanna do me a favor?" she headed towards her friend, who stopped at once, and turned to look at her, her face beaming.

"I was waiting for you to ask," Barny lead them to the edge of the mob, "I even told Hops and Sailor, and everybody staying."

"Thanks a whole bunch, Barns," Birdy shifted from foot to foot, before grinning nervously, "But uh-."

"Here, take my slingshot," Barny seemed to read her mind, "I swear, it's lucky."

"You sure you wanna do this? I mean, it's no problem if you wanna go," Birdy started, but her friend shushed her.

"Come on, who wants to be around stinky boys, shooting little rocks at grown adults?" Barny gave a small smirk, "Besides, Spot needs you there a lot more than he needs me. Just make sure you don't somehow get yourself thrown from the bridge."

Birdy stepped forward for a swift hug, before pulling back, and accepting the small weapon. "You have a dagger right?" Barny confirmed, her motherly instinct coming into play.

"Of course," Birdy smiled, before winking, and putting to fingers up to her forehead, and lowering them in a sort of salute motion, something she and Barny used as a single for "I'll be fine, don't worry."

Barny nodded, and let her friend go. Birdy tucked Barny's slingshot away, and sprinted towards the door, exhilaration getting the best of her as she raced towards the group. She finally made it to the back of the pack as they neared the bridge. "Hey," Birdy gasped as Glider took hold of her arm, "What're you doing here? And where's Barny?"

Birdy managed a smile, her heart still fluttering in silent fear. "Oh no," Sailor neared them, holding a hand to the bridge of his nose, "You didn't, did you?"

She simply beamed up at them, her nose scrunched up as she suppressed a laugh, "Funny thing is, it was actually her idea."

"Birds, Spot is going to kill you," Glider gasped, his eyes flashing with fear. "You know he hates you doing anything that a newsie does."

She simply shrugged, "Well, he's going to have to deal with it. This way I can keep an eye on him, andmake sure that Jack is safe."

"You're insane," Sailor shook his head, "You have a death wish or something."

Birdy let herself relax enough to laugh, "I'll be fine, you guys. Just look out for yourselves."

The trio stepped onto the bridge, and Birdy could feel the wind hit her full on the face. She was doing a great job of hiding, and it was easy to stick at the back, where Spot wouldn't be looking. For once, she could make sure both her best friends were safe. She'd made it halfway across, when once again, someone grabbed her arm. The force of someone pulling at her nearly made her fall onto her feet, and the person spun her around so she was facing them. A gasp fell from her lips, and she could see Glider and Sailor falter slightly out of the corner of her eye, but they kept going.

"What are you doing here?" the king's voice was soft, yet menacing, his words slow as rage filled his eyes. Birdy winced. It was worse when he tried to contain himself.

Biting her lip, Birdy grimaced, "Going to help save Manhattan?" she offered weakly. Spot glared at her.

"Where is Barny?" he finally let his anger get the better of him as his voice rose to an ear-splitting shout. Many of the last newsies turned at the sound, but merely ignored whatever was happening.

"She told me I could take her place!" Birdy claimed desperately, as Spot went from boyfriend to best friend in less than a second, "She didn't want to be here anyways."

"You aren't coming," Spot decided for her, done with the conversation.

She stopped him as she turned back towards the group, "It's too late to come back now. You need someone to substitute her," she reasoned, just barely managed to keep her voice from shaking.

"Trust me, we'll be better without you," he spat bitterly.

She raised an eyebrow in shock, "Excuse me, Spot Conlon, what did you just say?" She tried to take hold of the argument.

"I said we'll be better without you," he repeated calmly, "because you're a horrible shooter."

"I'm not turning back now, Spot Conlon," she snarled back, "They won't know what hit them. And you aren't going to stop me, no matter how high and mighty you think you are."

She pushed past him, and made her way back towards Sailor and Glider, ripping her arm away as he tried to grab her again, and ignoring his shouts of protest.

"He's just a bit tired," she huffed as they shot her looks of incredulity, "I'll been fine."

Sailor shook his head, as if he couldn't believe she was being so brave. Glider solemnly agreed with him.

When they arrived in Manhattan, it was evident that they were early. No shouts filled the air, there were no signs of bustle, or any reason for distress. They deflected the looks of surprise the civilians shot them.

"So, we're early," Spot stood at the front of them, taking on his role of leader once again, "I want half of you to sneak around the entrance, I'll open the doors when it's time, and then I want you all to burst in. The rest of you, climb onto the rooftops, and wait until my signal. We'll take 'em by surprise with our slingshots. Got it? Birds, we'll go with them."

The girl hesitated as they all split up, and went off towards their designated places of attack. "Don't worry, we'll get them together, okay?" he softened his gaze, offering her his hand. She smiled to herself. She loved this side of him.

He squeezed her hand; his palms were much warmer then hers. She could tell he was nervous for his boys. He wanted everything to go as planned. He led her off towards the rooftop of the distribution center. As they neared the alleyways of leading off to the center, they noticed the Hatties getting ready to pounce into the gates. Spot signaled to Glider, the leader of the group that was to wait to burst in, to hide in the alleys. "Get yourselves prepared," he mouthed, before they snuck around towards the back, where the other half of the Brooklyn newsies were waiting.

"There's a ladder there, Spot," Birdy removed her hand from his and pointed.

He nodded his thanks before addressing the group, "Use that, be quiet, and duck down. We'll go from there."

Birdy watched as they all tiptoed towards the ridge. She ran a hand through her hair, "You ready?"

He chuckled lightly, "That's what I should be asking you. You got your slingshot ready?"

She took it in her hand, looking at its smooth features. It wasn't much—more than her hand-me-down one, but she couldn't help but feel like it would somehow help her. She nodded, before meeting his gaze. A cheeky grin crept onto his face. "We'll get em', don't you worry, Birds."

He leaned forward, and kissed her forehead, before leading her towards the ladder. Crouching just out of sight, Birdy waited with bated breath. She could hear the commotion going on below; the newsies crying out in surprise; the bulls and Delanceys shouting in rage; the large gate closing, just as Spot had predicted it would. She peeked her head over the edge, and could see Jack getting backed into a corner by a group of the villains. She whipped her head around towards Spot, indicating he should give the signal. He took a deep breath, before meeting the gaze of every single one of the newsies that waited patiently, before nodding slightly. And then, simultaneously, they all popped up from their spots like gophers, aiming their slingshots with pride.

Spot, Sailor, and a couple of other newsies jumped down towards the top of the center, while Birdy waited anxiously behind them.

"Never fear, Brooklyn is here!" Birdy suppressed a laugh as Spot swung his slingshot around in his hand. How incredibly cheesy, Birdy smirked.

"Brooklyn!" the roar erupted from the group, and she couldn't keep herself from beaming in pride. They all took aim, and one by one, knocked down the bulls trapping Jack and many other of the Hatties. Birdy let her slingshot fall idly to her side, waiting for the perfect moment. Spot swung down towards Jack, where the two exchanged laughs and spit shook. She crouched, perfectly, and noticed the crowd of Brooklynites gathered at the entrance. Spot was making his way towards them. Keeping a watchful eye on everything, she noticed the group of bulls making their way towards the leader.

Aiming, she closed one eye as to get a better shot. She pulled the band of the slingshot back, placing a small rock in. She waited a split-second, forcing herself to take a ragged breath, breathing rapidly out her nose, before she released the band. She watched, biting her lip, her nerves getting the best of her as she watched the tiny stone hurtle through the muggy air. It weaved past newsies and bulls alike, never once altering its course. She stopped breathing for a moment as she traced its path. Giving a huge shout of joy, and did a small fist pump as it placed itself in the back of the leader's head. Spot whirled around as the man cried out in pain, and landed a punch in his face. He quickly took out the group, before turning towards Birdy, who was grinning in happiness. He smirked for a second, before turning back towards the gate.

Birdy returned to watching the entire scene fold out before her. She saw a Delancey—she couldn't tell which one, trying to sneak up on Racetrack. She let of a huff of air, before leaping down to the exact place Spot had. She fingered her dagger, before going down onto one knee, and with a flick of her wrist, threw it through the air and towards the horrible brother. Race gasped, jumping away from the flying knife, before turning just in time to see it snag the Delancey in the shirt, pinning the shoulder of the cloth to the wall.

She didn't take the time to see what Race did to the bully, and instead jumped down from her position, landing in a cat-like fashion as the rest of the Brookies swarmed the already crowded place. She spun, ducking and kicking out, hitting whatever person wasn't on their side. She felt herself run out of breath as she dodged many hits, and ended up right next to Jack, who, despite being in a raging fight with one of the men trying to attack them, cried out to her.

"Birds, what are you doing here?" she ducked under his arm, and turned, just in time to land a well-aimed kick to the man's face, before jumping around him, and punching another square in the face.

She gave him an impish grin, "What does it look like?" she dove forward in a somersault, before knocking out two more, "I'm havin' fun!"

"How could Spot let you come?" his voice was laced with concern, and Birdy rolled her eyes at his protective natured.

"Well, he didn't have much of a choice, you see."

A loud cheering stopped her instantly, and she turned just in time to see the rest of the bulls run away. She laughed, and shoved Jack towards the entrance.

iIiIi

Resting her head against Spot's shoulder, she held his hand the entire way back to Brooklyn. She was tuckered out from the entire fight, and the great show they'd all put on at Tibby's. She was glad to be returning back to her half-home. Tracing his thumb around the back of her hand, Spot avoided her gaze, smiling gently towards the sunset.

"I-I uh… I wanted to thank you, Birds," he started nervously, and she turned her head upwards to look at him.

"Hmm? Spot thinking about someone other than himself? Impossible," she teased lightly.

He gave her a placid shove, "Don't ruin it. I just wanted to thank you for helping me out earlier."

"Oh come on, you could've taken them out without my shooting," she rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, I probably could've," he chuckled as she gasped in feign surprise.

"That hurt Spot, really it did," she couldn't help but cracking a smile, "But it's always my pleasure to help you, even a little bit."

"I didn't know you could shoot so good," he admitted, looking into her eyes. She shivered, though his regard wasn't unfriendly.

"The slingshot really is magical, I swear," she swung it around in her other hand, just as Spot had been doing earlier. He laughed again, pressing his lips in her hair, admiration filling his face. "I love you, Spot Conlon, no matter how grumpy you act when you're tired."

A knowing smile graced his lips. "Thanks, Birds, I love you too, no matter how rebellious you actually are."

iIiIi

"You're back!" Barny cried, hopping up from her seat at the poker table, where she and Sailor had been engrossed in an intense card game, "And all in one piece too! How 'bout that?"

She looked them over. "Thanks for giving my girl bad ideas," Spot met her gaze and Birdy tossed her back her slingshot. Barny blushed slightly, ashamed.

"You know, I'm gonna head to bed now," she trailed off, inching her way towards the staircase.

Spot suddenly leapt forward, and grabbed her in a hug. She squealed as he began to tickled her. "Spot!" she cried out, "Stop that, I'm not a little girl anymore!"

She pushed her way from him, sticking out her tongue in disgust. "Will you let me hug you if I give you this?"

He tossed her a book, one he'd bought while they were heading through Manhattan. Birdy smiled as the younger, grabbed it as though it was the best thing in the world. She cheered, before grinning up at him.

"Nope," she darted off, the book in hand. Birdy watched her go.

"Well, we won't be seeing her for a couple of weeks," Birdy smiled, as the others laughed. Spot simply rolled his eyes, but couldn't suppress his smile.

It was good to have a victory once in a while.


A/N: So, yeah, sorry about that ending. It was kinda rushed, but I really wanted to have it end on a light note, and I also wanted to show that Barny was more than just an emotionally sixteen-year-old. She likes books. Alot. (Which explains her nickname "Barny" which is short for Barn Owl, because she's so smart). Just had to put that out there xD Anyways, please review! It makes me incredibly happy (and keeps me writing). They also feed my muse, Andrew, who does not enjoy being hungry! Thanks so much!


Ealasaid Una: Thanks so much for reviewing! This story is practically being written for you, haha :) Thanks for the compliments, and yes, Jack (though, I realize it isn't shown much) has a very close relationship. Though this story more focuses around Birdy and Spot :)

Thanks to anyone who read and reviewed! You guys are great!