Well, this is a first. Both my first one-shot, and my first piece of Newsies Fanfition. It's really a glorified character building excersise for an OC who will be a minor character in a Sprace fic I hope to write. For those of you who aren't fans of Slash, though (however that may be), don't worry. This is about as gen-fic as you can get. It's probably even G-rated.
Duckpond was decided. This was not a good day. Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten so upset with Skip and Slings. Maybe then he wouldn’t be where he was now. Maybe they’d been right. He sat down just off the street where he was, remembering.
~~~~~ (wavy flashback lines) ~~~~~
“Ducks, we’re not going to the Park today,” Skip said.
“Oh, are we selling all over?”
“No, Ducks. You don’t understand. You’re going to the Park, but we’re not. It’s time you sold on your own.”
“But… can’t I come with you?” Ducks asked, refusing to understand what his older brother had just told him.
“Ducks,” Slings said, impatiently, “you need to be more independent and stop being a tag-along. So no, you can’t come with us. Go sell in the park with your precious ducks, and leave us alone.”
~~~~~ (wavy end-flashback lines) ~~~~~
Duckpond didn’t remember what, exactly, had happened after that, but he remembered being angry, and he remembered leaving the park, and practically running in a Northward direction. He’d been so angry, he wasn’t sure where he’d gone, nor exactly how long he’d been running. Looking at the sky told Duckpond that it was well into the afternoon, which meant he’d been gone from the park for several hours. This only left the problem of where Duckpond was. Duckpond shivered partially from the cold, and partially with fear, as the hazy memory came to him of crossing a bridge. If he had, in fact, crossed a bridge, then… Duckpond didn’t want to think about it.
Duckpond reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small, carved wooden duck. Skip had carved this duck for Duckpond, telling him it was carved from ‘Lucky wood’. Duckpond called the duck ‘Lucky Duck.’ Just having Lucky Duck in his hand made Duckpond feel a bit better. The memory of crossing a bridge, however, didn’t leave.
“You know what, Lucky Duck?” he whispered to the carving. “I don’t think we’re in Brooklyn anymore.”
Just saying it caused Duckpond to be afraid again. He realised that if he wasn’t in Brooklyn, he could be anywhere. He’d run north, though, so he was probably in Manhattan somewhere. The thought that he was in the territory of a Newsie who wasn’t Spot Conlon frightened Duckpond. However, being from Brooklyn, Duckpond resolved to be brave, put Lucky Duck back into his pocket, and stood up. He wandered around a while longer before he saw another newsie, who was selling papes just outside the entrance to what Duckpond figured was a school of some sort. This newsie was tall, blonde, and had a tan hat. In one hand, he carried his papes, in the other he carried a thick book. Duckpond decided to follow this newsie. It wasn’t long before the other newsie realised he was being followed.
“Hey, kid. Are you lost?” He said, and sounded as if he was nice. Duckpond nodded as an answer.
“Well, that’s no good. Where’re you from?”
Duckpond paused, wondering whether he should tell this newsie where he was from. The newsie seemed nice, and would probably help him find his way back. However, Duckpond wasn’t sure he wanted to go back right away. The other newsie took Duckpond’s pause as shyness.
“Are you shy? What’s your name? I’m Bookworm, by the way, but you can call me Books.”
“I’m Ducks,” Duckpond answered quietly, but didn’t say any more, as he was still trying to decide whether to ask Books for directions back to Brooklyn. There was another pause, before Books made Duckpond’s decision for him.
“Well, Ducks, if you don’t know where you’re from, I suppose I’m just going to have to bring you to the lodging house with me.” Books motioned Duckpond to follow him. It wasn’t long before they reached a two-story building with a sign on the front, which Books told him read “Newsboys Lodging House”. They went inside, and Books explained something to the old man there, who he called ‘Kloppmann’. Books then gave Kloppmann some money.
“You can stay here for a week, then you have to start paying your own rent. I’m not made of money,” Books said, as he motioned Ducks up the stairs, and into a room filled with bunk beds. There were a few boys in the room, and Books wasted no time in introductions.
“Ducks, this is Mush, Blink, Skittery, and Itey. Guys, this is Ducks, a stray I found.”
Ducks found himself sleeping on a bottom bunk, and the next morning, several of the newsies wanted to know more about him. Ducks was now afraid to say much, mainly because he had to be careful about his accent. Books had paid for a week’s rent for him, and he didn’t really think it was polite at this point to say, “yeah, I’m from Brooklyn, so thanks but no thanks, can ya give me the directions out of here?” Because of this, Ducks figured it was best if no one knew he was a Brooklynite.
In spite of this, Ducks knew his secret wouldn’t keep for long. Books had claimed Ducks as his protégé, and Ducks knew this meant he’d have to talk to Books. The second threat to his secret was the newsie called Racetrack. Racetrack earned his name from selling at the Sheepshead races, and because of this, the newsie went through Brooklyn nearly every day. Ducks had seen him, and knew who he was. He didn’t think Racetrack had recognised him yet, but it was only a matter of time.
In the end, though, it wasn’t Books or Racetrack who figured out about Ducks first. It was Specs, a newsie who, Ducks soon became convinced, knew everything. That evening, Specs took Ducks aside to talk.
“Ducks, I think you’re hiding something. Are you a runaway?”
“Well, yes. And no. It’s… complicated, see?”
Specs nodded. “You have older siblings, don’t you?”
“I gots a brother.”
“You’re from Brooklyn, aren’t you, Ducks?”
“Yeah. Please don’t tell anyone!”
“Don’t worry, if you wish it, your secret’s safe with me. However, you have a choice to make. Do you want to stay here, or are you hoping to go back?”
“I dunno. I don’t want to stay here forever; Brooklyn’s my home. But I don’t wanna go back right away. I kinda want them to come lookin’ for me, see? They told me to be more independent, I guess I’m just followin’ their advice for a bit.”
“Fair enough. Well, just be careful. And don’t be so scared of your secret slipping; we’re not going to hurt you for being from Brooklyn.”
“I know, it’s just… some of ‘em might want me to go back right away. I’m not ready for that yet.”
“Alright. But keep up the shy act then; when the time comes for you to tell, you can attribute not telling to your shyness.”
Knowing that Specs knew he was from Brooklyn helped Duckpond become less nervous around the Manhattan newsies. Ducks still maintained his shy act, and didn’t tell where he was from though. He talked a bit more with Books, but was still careful about his word choice, so as not to let his accent show through too much. While this worked with Books, Racetrack, from spending time in Brooklyn regularly, figured out more about Ducks than Specs had. The next evening and for a day after, Ducks often saw that Racetrack had a strange expression on his face when he looked at Ducks, as though he was trying to convince himself he was wrong about something. The third day, Ducks found himself being pulled aside to talk for the second time, though this time, it was Racetrack who wanted to talk.
“Skip came an’ talked to me at the tracks today. Now, don’t say ya don’t know Skip, I know you do. He told me to keep a look out for a boy, an’ the description he gave fits you exactly. Now, I know Skip an’ I know he won’t be happy if he finds out I’ve been lyin’ to him when he asks me tomorrow if I’ve seen you. So whaddaya want to do about it?”
“Ok, so you know who I am? Well, I know Skip too, and he ain’t too good at detectin’ partial truths. Tell him tomorrow that you’re pretty sure you’ve seen me around Manhattan with another Newsie. Tell him that you’re planning to go ask me who I am as soon as you get back. Day after that, tell him I won’t talk to ya, and you’ll try harder. Be apologetic, Skip’s a sucker for humility. Day after that, tell him it’s me and if he wants me back, he’ll have to come get me on his own. Trust me, it’ll woik.”
“You sure about this? You could just go back tomorrow.”
“No, I’m sure. It gives me a bit more time, and besides, I’m as stubborn as Skip is.”
Racetrack didn’t look entirely convinced, but he gave in. “Alright, kid. Just be careful.”
Duckpond sold with Books for two days more before Books insisted Ducks talk to him more.
“I know you’re shy, Ducks, but you’ve been selling with me for five days. Couldn’t you at least tell me why you won’t say where you’re from?”
Duckpond frowned. “Fine, I’ll tell ya. My brother told me to be more independent. His best friend made it seem like I was annoying, even though all I ever did is what they told me to do. So I ran away, an’ then I got lost. I didn’t think I’d be gone for a long time, until I saw you. Well, you asked me where I was from. I didn’t hardly know ya, so I wasn’t sure whether to trust ya. ‘Fore I could decide whether I could trust ya, you took me to the Lodging House an’ paid a week’s rent. I didn’t want to waste your money, and I’ll pay you back, I will. It’s just that I didn’t want to waste my money, neither. So I stayed.”
“So where exactly are you from, then? Your accent suggests Brooklyn, is that it?”
“Yeah, it is. Skip’s probably gonna come get me tomorrow, so I’ll be leavin’. I want the other guys to know before I leave, but me bein’ shy and all, I can’t really tell ‘em.”
“I’ll tell them.”
“Please don’t make it some huge thing, Books. Just tell ‘em in small groups, quietly. And tell ‘em not to come askin’ me questions.”
“Don’t worry, Ducks. They won’t bother you.”
Duckpond did get a few curious glances and heard some hushed whispers that evening, but no one came to talk to him. Ducks was thankful that Books hadn’t been loud about it.
The next evening, Duckpond was a bit nervous. Though he’d expected it, he tensed to hear Skip talking to Racetrack downstairs.
“So he’s here? You sure? If he’s not, Race, I’ll…”
“Cool it, Skip. He’s here. I don’t think he’ll be happy if you run in there and yell at him, though. Wait here, and I’ll go get him.”
Duckpond heard footsteps on the stairs, and then suddenly became aware that all the boys in the room were watching him. Racetrack walked into the room.
“So, Ducks. Skip is here, he wants to see you. You wanna go down alone, or do you want someone to come with you?”
“I’ll go alone.”
“And if he gets mad at you? You’re just a child,” Specs said.
“Skip might get mad at me, but he’ll never intentionally hoit me. I know that as a fact.”
Since Ducks seemed so set upon going down to Skip alone, they figured they’d let him. Books and Specs, however, waited outside the room. Ducks stopped at the top of the stairs, and cautiously looked down. He then ran halfway down, stopping once he knew Skip had seen him.
“Hiya, Skip!” He exclaimed cheerfully.
“Ducks! Have you been here all week? We were lookin’ all over Brooklyn for you! For a week! A week, you hear? All of Brooklyn! Why’d you leave?!”
“Well, Skip, to answer your first two questions, yes. An’ I left ‘cos ya told me to be more independent.”
“I didn’t mean ya had to run off on your own!”
“Well, next time, say watcha mean. An’ don’t let Slings say it for ya in a way that makes me feel like I’m annoyin’ you just by doin’ whatcha tell me to.”
Skip sighed, then when he next spoke, was calmer. “Alright. I’ll talk ta Slings, an’ tell him he owes you an apology. Now, will ya come back wid’ me, or are ya detoimened to stay?”
“I’ll come back. The guys here is nice, but it’s not the same as Brooklyn.”
“Good choice. Just to warn ya, though, Spot wants to talk to ya soon as we get back. An’ he don’t care how late it is.”
“Hey, no fair! Ya shoulda told me that before I decided!”
“Tough luck. So, ya ready to go now, or do ya wanna say goodbye to your new friends foist?”
“Uh, gimme a minute.”
Specs and Books snuck back into the room before Ducks saw them. Ducks came back in soon enough.
“Well, in case ya didn’t hear, I’m goin’ back to Brooklyn. I guess this is goodbye. Well, so long, an’ wish me luck.”
There was an awkward silence before Racetrack spoke up.
“Ya sure you wanna leave, kid?”
“Yeah. Nothin’ against you guys, but Brooklyn’s really my home.”
“Then good luck. I hope to see you around.”
The other boys murmured a reinforcement of Racetrack’s words, and, feeling as though his minute was up, Duckpond gathered the few things he needed to, gave a little wave, and left the room.
“You ready now?” Skip asked.
“Good, let’s go. I don’t want ya havin’ to stay up too late.”
Sure enough, it was late by the time Skip and Ducks got back to Brooklyn. And just as Skip had warned Ducks, Spot was waiting. Ducks swallowed. He’d seen and heard Spot, but Brooklyn’s leader and Duckpond had never really come into direct contact before. With one look at Spot’s face, Duckpond could tell he was in trouble. Maybe he should have just asked Books for directions back after all.
Ducks tried to look as though he wasn’t scared as Spot motioned Skip inside the Brooklyn lodging house, which was basically an old abandoned warehouse, fixed up a bit to house the Brooklyn newsies. He didn’t dare move or speak, waiting for Spot to start the conversation. It seemed like forever before Spot finally spoke.
“So ya thought you’d run away, didja? Why? Somethin’ scare ya? Upset ya?”
Ducks wasn’t sure exactly what to say to that, so he just nodded.
“Ya ran away from your problems. Is that loyal? Is that brave? The newsies I lead are. Runnin’ away, that’s not. Runnin’ away an’ stayin’ away, that’s not. How do I know ya got what it takes to stay in Brooklyn? How do I know ya won’t run away again?”
Duckpond was a bit surprised. He’d expected Spot to be more violent, and less rational and coldly calm. However, the nature of Spot’s questions meant that now Ducks had to say something. Ducks hoped he could mask the fear in his voice.
“If I promise you I won’t…” Duckpond trailed off; even now he knew that wouldn’t be good enough for Spot.
“Just tellin’ me ain’t good enough, Ducks. Ya gotta show me you’ve learned. Ya gotta show me you’re good enough. Understand?”
Ducks nodded. Spot’s expression seemed to soften a bit, as though he’d just realised how young Ducks really was.
“New York is a dangerous place, Ducks. You’re very lucky. You can go inside now.”
“Thank you,” Ducks said, feeling it was needed, and went toward the door. Spot stopped him as he grabbed the handle.
“One last thing, Duckpond. Don’t leave Brooklyn unless I or Skip tells you.”
A dangerous light was in Spot’s eyes, and the cold tone in his voice had completely returned. Duckpond stuttered slightly in his response. “I-I won’t.” Spot stared at Ducks for a few moments, then nodded. Duckpond was now convinced that Spot liked to scare people, which wasn’t an entirely encouraging thought to be left with his first night back in Brooklyn.
So, yeah. Tell me what you think, tell me I can't write accents worth beans, tell me that modifying lines from the movie in order to attempt to write Spot well isn't actually writing Spot well. Tell me it's brilliant, whatever. Be brutally honest, be nicely honest, lie your head off, I don't care. You don't even have to say anything to me about this. ;)