A/N: I actually narrated an entire game of solitaire, and it turned into this beast. Go figure.
Disclaimer: I can only dream of owning Disney's boys.
Six of spades on the seven of hearts. Nine of clubs on the ten of hearts. Three of diamonds on the four of spades.
It was well past midnight, and Racetrack Higgins was playing a game of solitaire.
Flip three. Queen of spades on the king of diamonds. Flip three again.
The lodging house was filled with scattered noises of boys sleeping.
Five of diamonds on the six of spades.
But Racetrack Higgins didn't sleep, not tonight. He was afraid of what he would see behind his eyes when he lay down.
Four of spades on the five of diamonds. King of diamonds to the empty space. Seven of hearts to the eight of spades.
Racetrack wasn't sure when it had all started.
Ace of spades, up.
Maybe it was all the poker nights spent across the bridge. Maybe it was smoking, or gambling, or becoming more of a lax Catholic.
Flip three. Jack of spades on the queen of hearts.
But whatever the reason, he was in love with Spot Conlon, and that knowledge was terrifying.
Ten of hearts on the jack of spades. Flip three. Jack of diamonds on the queen of spades. Ace of clubs up.
Race and Spot had always been friends, since they had both run away at the age of seven and become newsies. Even after Race moved to Manhattan, and Spot began working his way to the top, they remained close. Spot trusted him like no one else, and, after a while, Racetrack saw Spot as genuinely beautiful.
Ten of spades on the jack of diamonds. Nine of diamonds on the ten of spades.
There was a familiar cadence to the turning of the cards that calmed Racetrack. He barely even looked, knowing all of them by touch. He couldn't fall asleep. He didn't want to dream of kissing Spot Conlon.
Eight of spades on the nine of diamonds.
The dreams had started a few year prior, as the boys were growing out of their boyish looks. Their faces and necks were covered in nicks from trying to shave nonexistent facial hair, and their voices plummeted overnight.
Three of spades on the four of diamonds. Two and three of clubs up.
The first night, Race had bolted upright in his bed, panting and sweating and disoriented. Slowly, he remembered the visions of his best friend, and noticed a stiff erection poking his sheets. What scared him was not the dream he had, but his overwhelming desire to fall asleep and have it again.
Flip three. Six or diamonds on the seven of spades. Flip three.
Over time, Race had learned to control himself a bit more, but he still dreamt of Spot; Spot's sarcastic drawl, Spot's piercing blue eyes, Spot's lean frame, Spot's pouted lips... It took him another three years to realize that he not only wanted his best friend, but he was passionately in love with him as well.
Eight of hearts on the nine of clubs. Seven of spades on the eight of hearts. Flip three.
The epiphany had come during, of course, a game of poker. It was only Race and Spot playing, as everyone else had folded minutes before.
"Come on, Higgins. Just fold. You know how this is going to end."
King of clubs on an empty space. Queen of hearts on the king of clubs.
"Oh, you mean like last time, Conlon? When I smoked your ass? Bought myself a real steak the next day, at Tibby's. Maybe tomorrow I'll buy two, treat you to somethin' special."
Spot had smirked at him, raising another nickel, and Race had matched him. Anything to keep him smirking like that.
Six of clubs on the seven of diamonds.
Race couldn't remember who had won the game, but he did remember that night, as he bantered with Spot, it had struck him that he didn't want anything more out of life than to sit at a table with Spot Conlon and argue. And that was very, very odd.
Two of diamonds on the three of spades. Two of spades, up. Flip three. Flip three, again.
It was another month of poker games before Racetrack recognized this oddity as love. And then he was scared.
Five of hearts on the six of clubs.
Not of the idea of loving a boy. Many of the Manhattan newsies were boy-kissers, and nobody really minded. Blink and Mush, Skittery and Snitch, Specs and Dutchy, among a dozen others, were together. Hell, even Jack and Davey, the leaders, were in love.
Flip three. Five of spades on the six of hearts. Four of diamonds on the five of spades.
No, what frightened Racetrack was the idea of loving Spot Conlon, because it just wasn't done. Spot didn't ask for love of any sort. He valued loyalty, and companionship, and even humor, but never love. Love was vulnerability, a luxury Spot refused to afford.
Eight of clubs on the nine of hearts. Seven of diamonds on the eight of clubs.
Or so everyone thought. But a small part of Racetrack thought differently. It knew that if Race only tried, if he only told Spot the truth, Spot would open like a pape. Because he needed love-everyone needed love-but his pride wouldn't tell him how to ask for it.
Flip three. Four of clubs on the five of hearts.
I'll tell him, Race promised himself. If I win this game, I'll tell him tomorrow that I love him.
King of spades on an empty space.
Race imagined professing his love to his best friend, and he smiled into his cards.
Three of hearts on the four of clubs.
Yes, tomorrow, he mused. When he won this game, they could be together. Spot would love him, too, and tell Race that he had been dreaming of his Italian features, his crooked grin and his large hands. They would kiss, and the birds would sing.
Flip three. Flip three. Flip three. Flip three. No more moves. Game over.
Racetrack let a sigh escape into the silence of the bunk room, where it hung in the air for entirely too long. Someone's snores caught, then continued their steady rhythm. There would always be another day. He could always tell Spot later.
Slowly, Race shuffled his cards and spread them out again to start a new game. He couldn't go to sleep, after all, not tonight. He couldn't dream of Spot Conlon.