Disclaimer: Any characters you recognize in this story are the property of Disney and their likenesses are only used for fan related purposes. Any original characters featured are the intellectual property of their creators.
Author's Note: I've noticed there's been a bit of a divide between Newsies the film and Newsies the Broadway Musical fans. As for me, I love them both and while my first love will always be the film, the Broadway musical is just more to enjoy. That's where these shorts come from. This is my attempt to combine them because, the way I see it, just because there's Katherine in the show, does that really mean Sarah wasn't there? Or Denton? Or even Kloppman? Here's my attempt to say yeah. Yeah they were :) Or maybe I'm thinking too much about it. Either way... here you go!
Union We Stand
Because it was summer, it was still light out when Jack Kelly and the two Jacobs brother went their separate ways just outside the rear entrance to Irving Hall.
Then again, just because it was light out, that didn't mean it wasn't late. It was. Probably not as late as it could have been but, darn it, late enough.
David Jacobs didn't need his education for him to know how late it was and what sort of trouble he might be in for staying out so long. So he spent the entire trip from the vaudeville theater home trying to come up with some sort of believable excuse for his tardiness because, well, lying was ultimately better than having to tell his mother and father that on his first day of work as a newsboy he had reluctantly befriended an escaped convict from the House of Refuge, had been chased by the warden of said Refuge, had thankfully escaped the man and then hid out in a such a questionable establishment for most of the evening.
Add in the fact that he had allowed his nine-year-old—sorry, "near ten"—little brother to tag along on his adventures and he could already hear his mother's shrill "Da-vid" in his head. With their father hurt and out of work, Mrs. Jacobs had finally relented and allowed her two sons do something that would earn the family some money. David doubted that her permission would extend to the kind of hi-jinks the two Jacobs boys had gotten into within one day of knowing Jack Kelly.
The way he saw it, what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her but what she learned might hurt them. The smartest thing he could do would be to keep his mouth shut. But then there was Les...
Oblivious to his older brother's anxiety, Les was humming an upbeat tune under his breath. David sighed. Unless he was mistaken, that sounded an awful lot like the vaudeville song Ms. Medda Larken was belting out during her performance at her theater—
"That's rich," Les sang out loud as he skipped a little ways ahead of David.
—no, no... he wasn't mistaken at all.
David grabbed Les by the back of his shirt, keeping him within reach so that the boy didn't accidentally get run over by a carriage or a cart or something. If taking his brother to the garish and, er, illuminating Irving Hall didn't somehow anger his mother, then coming home with an injured and squashed Les definitely would.
"Hey!" Les grunted and tried to escape David's grip. "What's that for?"
David shook his head, glad his cap kept Les from seeing the flash of annoyance that made him frown. Huh. That was gratitude for you.
"Les, please, you have to stop singing that song. Do you want Mama to know where we've been?"
"But, Davey," marveled Les, his mind obviously still back at the theater with all the vaudeville performers, "the legs..."
"Yes, but imagine Mama finding out you saw those performer's legs."
Les's eyes went wide. He stopped struggling, too. "Alright. I'll stop singin'."
That was more like it. David nodded and, without letting go of Les's shirt, guided his brother the rest of the way back to their family's apartment.
Their mother was setting the small dinner table when they arrived, apologies for their lateness already on their lips. David tried to do most of the talking in order to keep Les from spilling anything he shouldn't, and apart from a stern look and a sigh, Esther Jacobs didn't say anything about their nearly missing supper.
Not yet, anyway.
David looked around the small apartment when he had finished with his apologies. His audience seemed rather scare. In fact, there was his mother, but no one else. "Where's Papa?"
"He went to sleep." A strand of Esther's thick blonde hair fell forward into her tired face. With a sad expression, she absently brushed it back behind her ear. "His leg was bothering him again, poor dear. I fed him his supper and tucked him in an hour ago."
"So we missed supper?" David asked, careful not to sound too disappointed. Maybe Mama wasn't setting the table—maybe she was clearing it. But he hoped not. It was all he could do to hide the fact that his empty stomach was growling.
"I waited for you. First day at work, you two deserve a good meal." She raised her eyebrows. "No matter how late it took you to sell your newspapers." Reaching out, she straightened one of the napkins she had placed at her husband's usual seat. "Oh, and David? There was something your father and I needed your help with tonight. You, too, Les. If you don't mind, would you help us before you go off to work tomorrow?"
"Of course, Mama," David said quickly. He gave Les a quick nudge. The younger boy nodded on cue.
"Good. Now tell me: how was it? Was it rough? Do you even want to go back tomorrow? You don't have to if you don't want to."
This time, David wasn't quite quick enough. Without even taking a breath, Les went on to mention Jack, the great Jack Kelly, the best newsie in the history of newsies who had taken them on as selling partners—"after I made sure he wouldn't cheat a little kid, Mama" "oh, how smart of you, my boy"—and how he was born to the breed, though Esther cut in to remind her youngest son that she wanted more from him than to simply sell newspapers on the corner. But that didn't stop Les.
With boundless energy—shouldn't he be sleeping by now, wondered David—he kept talking about Jack; seeing as how Irving Hall was an untouchable subject, he seemed to focus all of his attention on Jack Kelly. Which didn't seem too much of a bad thing until he heard Les mention Snyder the Spider and David cut him off with a gentle touch on his shoulder. Discussing the Refuge, its warden and Jack's escape were not Mama-appropriate topics of conversation.
His sense of preservation kicking in at last, Les stopped his gushing when he felt David's warning tap. Which, of course, left room for their mother to finally respond.
She didn't disappoint.
"You should have brought your new friend home, David. It would've been nice to put a face to this Jack Kelly." Esther clucked her tongue. "Haven't I taught you boys manners?"
"We tried, Mama," Les began, "but—"
David cut in before Les said anything that might arouse his mother's suspicions. "But Jack gets a good meal at the lodging house where he stays. Maybe next time, though. When we get to know him better—no one should have to miss your cooking," he added, giving his mother a doting kiss on her cheek.
That seemed to mollify his mother. "Yes, well, if you're this late again, you two just might be the ones missing out." Wiping her hands against the towel she had in her apron, Esther raised her voice. "Sarah, dear, you can bring out the supper. Your brothers are finally home."
Sarah Jacobs, sixteen years old and lovely, was David and Les's older sister. Like the two boys, she had offered to find some sort of work when Meyer Jacobs was injured, something respectable and suited for a good Jewish girl, but Esther wouldn't have it. Just the idea of Sarah going out to sell lace to the neighborhood women frightened her and, for that reason, Esther was very careful to keep Sarah home until she could find her a good Jewish boy to marry.
Even, thought David, if that wasn't what Sarah wanted.
With a welcoming smile on her pretty face and her long brown hair tied back, Sarah came out carrying a tureen of soup. It was still smoking and David felt his mouth watering. No one made soup as good a his mother. And he was famished.
Les hurried over to his sister, taking care not to get in her way in case the hot soup spilled. Matching her step for step, he waited until she had set the soup on the table in front of Esther before he started with a quick, "Hiya, Sarah! You'll never believe what we did today—"
David was too late to stop his brother again. Giving in at last and taking his seat at the table, he closed his eyes and prayed that his mother was too busy dishing out the soup to listen to anymore of his chatter.
But Les surprised him. It seemed, like before, he only had one topic of conversation he couldn't steer clear of. Then again, considering who he was talking to, it was probably a safe bet that even Les better knew to mention Ms. Medda's review and the costumes of her Bowery girls in front of Sarah.
"—and we got to meet this great newsie who showed us how to sell the papes. He's the best. His name is Jack and he's an artist. You should meet him, Sarah, he's really funny. Smart, too. Not smart like Davey, but he knows what he's talking about. He even knows the governor."
Sarah listened to Les's exuberance with a good-natured smile as she joined him at the table. She reached out and patted the top of his already ink-covered hand. "I'm sure I'll get the chance to meet your friend some day. But, for now, why don't you go wash up before supper?"
And, as Les hurried off to the kitchen to wash up before his mother noticed the color of his hands, David quirked one eye open and glanced at his sister and tried to imagine introducing her to Jack. His mother barely let him and Les out of the house to sell newspapers. He didn't think Esther's heart could take it if her only daughter even spoke to a boy like Jack Kelly.
Digging into his soup at last, David wondered if perhaps he'd dodged a metaphorical bullet when Jack had declined his invitation. Manners or not, he might just have to forget to mention his family at all the next time he met Jack.
- stress, 04.16.12