Chapter Four: Mine No More
Day two of the strike....
Deuce scowled. He despised going to Manhattan. He despised everything about Manhattan. He rarely even ventured out of Brooklyn anymore unless he was forced to, such as on this particular occasion. Apparently, Spot had had a change of heart about the whole strike business.
"Aright fellas, grab ya slingshots and get da hell outta heah!" he roared as the newsies were just on their way toward the Distribution Center. "Wese goin' ta Manhattan."
Several of the boys grumbled, apparently not all of them pleased about losing a day's wage just to help out the Manhattan boys. But none were as riled up as Deuce. Only he had a particular reason to avoid Manhattan, and only he dared to question Spot about his decision.
"Spot, you sure about dis? I mean, whadda we care about Manhattan? Dey can figuah dis thing out demselves…"
Spot was up in Deuce's face in a second. "You questionin' me ordahs?" he said coldly. Deuce shook his head no. "Den getcha dumb ass outta heah now!" And that was that.
They arrived at the World Distribution Center, it appeared, just in time. From their hidden rooftop approach, they could see fierce looking thugs with chains surrounding the hapless newsies, who had been lured easily into Pulitzer's trap. From his station atop a nearby building, Deuce could see an ugly goon with a sadistic smile circling Jack, swatting at him with a chain as though it were a fly swatter and Jack a fly, and a sudden feeling of rage overcame him. That man was going to hurt Jack. He was going to ruin that perfect face that Deuce had kissed so many times and memorized with his lips. He was barely even aware of his hands grabbing for his slingshot, of Spot's voice, which sounded very far away, calling out "Nevah feah, Brooklyn is heah!" The marble shot through the air like a speeding bullet and hit the thug dead on. Jack was out of danger, for now. The battle lasted only a few minutes after Brooklyn showed up, and pretty soon the thugs had hightailed it out of there, everyone was cheering and tearing up newspapers, and Jack and his silly friends were posing for a picture. A beautiful victory for the newsies!
A cold feeling suddenly washed over Deuce as he watched Jack, smiling and laughing with his friends, pounding his curly-haired, blue-eyed friend on the back. It was the boy who had shown up in Brooklyn with Jack and Boots only the day before. He saw the way Jack looked at his new friend, the kind of look that most people wouldn't give a second thought, that kind of look that only the person for whom it was intended would understand. The kind of look that Jack used to give to Deuce. Suddenly Deuce wanted nothing more than for Jack to be out of his sight, he didn't even care if someone came and beat the Cowboy into a bloody pulp. What do I care about him? Deuce thought bitterly, turning his back from the happy scene and heading back toward the Brooklyn Bridge. He ain't mine anymore.
Unknown to Deuce, he wasn't the only person who noticed the look shared between Jack and Dave. Another newsie was standing on the sidelines, watching bitterly as the boys rejoiced, unable to share in their felicity. He watched Jack, studied his every movement, saw him gaze wistfully into Dave's eyes, and felt his fists clench in rage. He knew Dave probably hadn't even understood the gesture, but that it was only a matter of time. Jack obviously wanted Dave, and Jack always got what he wanted. Only it wasn't he. Not anymore. In fact, it never really had been he.
Skittery bowed his head in defeat and shuffled away in the direction of the Lodging House, where he wouldn't have to see the object of his desires for so many months sneaking furtive glances at someone else.
Nearly a month had passed since Deuce had seen Jack last. Four weeks since that fight that had left him hungry to taste even more of Jack Kelly, to have him writhing under his touch once again. As always, Deuce avoided Manhattan, not wanting to see Jack despite, and even more because of, his overwhelming lust for the other boy. But he also noticed that Jack seemed to be avoiding Brooklyn. The few times when Jack normally would have come to Brooklyn himself to talk to Spot, he sent over messengers in his stead. Deuce had seen one boy, a cute fifteen-year-old with curly brown hair whose name he didn't know, leaving once after delivering a message, and the poor kid had looked positively terrified after his meeting with Spot. But Jack Kelly himself had not been seen anywhere near Brooklyn since that night nearly four weeks ago, and only Deuce knew why.
And he hated himself for what had happened. Berated himself nonstop for his weakness, for his inability to control his emotions. Controlling emotions was something at which Deuce Harvey had been highly proficient since childhood, now only to be proven too weak by that upstart Manhattan boy. But most of all he hated himself for having those feelings in the first place. For wanting a boy, and of all boys Jack Kelly. Lying in his bed at night, jerking off with the image of Jack Kelly's face in his mind, his right cheek bruised from where Deuce had punched him, Deuce's blood on his lips from when they had kissed. It made him sick.
Winter slowly faded away into spring, the snow melted and newspaper sales shot up. Selling was so much easier when people were able to walk leisurely along the streets, not wrapped up in coats and struggling to avoid anything that might keep them outside any longer than absolutely necessary. Deuce finished his selling much earlier than he had in previous months, and spent his free afternoons wandering streets of Brooklyn, brooding and glaring at passersby as though they themselves were the source of his problem.
This particular day found him wandering in the direction of the Brooklyn Bridge, though he didn't even realize it until his feet had touched the harsh metal surface. He stopped abruptly. He could go no further, not towards Manhattan, not towards Jack Kelly. But he found that he was quite unable to turn back either. Instead he stood, frozen in place, staring out across the water at the Manhattan horizon, wondering what Jack was doing at that moment...
Jack watched the waves beat against the Brooklyn harbor from across the river on the opposite side of the bridge. He had successfully avoided going to Brooklyn for nearly a month. Four weeks, and the memory of Deuce Harvey's hard body pressed against his, his hot lips demanding entry from his own, still burned in his memory. He had fled Brooklyn that night in panic, trying to rid his mouth of Deuce's taste. He hadn't told anyone what happened, but he knew it was only a matter of time until someone found out. He couldn't continue sending messengers in his stead forever.
No, this time it would have to be Jack. He had successfully avoided Brooklyn since mid-February and he had gotten word that Spot wasn't too happy about it. So now, Jack took a deep breath, placed his cowboy hat jauntily on his head, and began the long walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Jack had always known he was different from the other guys. He liked girls, always had, but he had always, out of the corner of his eye, watched the other boys when no one was looking, watched them in a way that he knew was not normal. Not accepted. So he went out with girls and he enjoyed them, and he was definitely known for his sexual exploits. But he didn't stop admiring boys from afar, and he had thought that his attraction to Deuce wouldn't be a problem, that Deuce would never reciprocate and therefore he would never be tempted to act upon his feelings. He was wrong. He had hoped to get Deuce out of his system, that a good fuck with some random girl would wash away all thoughts of the sullen Brooklynite. Again, he was wrong. Now he wanted nothing more than to taste Deuce's lips with his tongue one more time, and feel that body burning for his touch, Jack's touch.
It was with more than a little surprise that Jack suddenly realized that the lone figure standing on the opposite end of the bridge, which he was rapidly approaching, was none other than Deuce himself. At first Deuce was looking away, down towards the water, and it wasn't until Jack was nearly upon him that the other boy finally looked up and saw who was coming. But if he was at all surprised, it did not register on his face. He merely glared sullenly at Jack, almost as if their passionate embrace had never happened. But another look at Deuce's eyes convinced Jack that Harvey had not forgotten, but there in his cold gray eyes was a bitter passion Jack had never before seen, had never believed possible.
Minutes passed while the two stood quite still, barely three feet apart studying each other intently. Deuce's harsh expression did not change, nor did he move a muscle. Jack marveled in the other boy's lack of emotion, or at least show of such, and was sure that his own face must be showing the conflicting, painful feelings that were stirring up his insides.
"Deuce," he said finally in a small voice. Deuce's eyebrow's twitched slightly, but he said nothing. "Deuce," Jack repeated, this time with more urgency.
"Whaddaya want, Kelly?"
"I'se just comin' ta see Spot."
"Den why da hell a' youse still heah?" Deuce shot back angrily, his eyes flashing.
"Ya can't just fahget it happened, Deuce," Jack said, trying to disguise the pleading in his voice.
"Why not?" The steely eyes remained unmoved.
"Cuz o' dis," Jack growled, grabbing Deuce roughly by the shoulders and capturing his mouth in a dizzying kiss. Deuce responded immediately, unable to keep his resolve any longer. He moaned into Jack's mouth as the latter pulled their bodies close together, grinding his erection into Deuce's. Pulling away from the kiss, Jack lowered his lips to Deuce's neck, biting the soft flesh and caressing it with his tongue. Meanwhile Deuce's hand found it's way underneath Jack's shirt, teasing the hard nipples he found there with his fingertips and scratching up and down Jack's back. They had almost forgotten they were standing in plain sight when a nearby boat blew its horn, causing them to jump back from each other in shock. For a second, Jack was afraid Deuce would turn and run like he himself had done the last time they met. Instead, Deuce nodded toward Jack as though beckoning him to follow, and started walking towards the docks. Jack didn't need to be asked twice. They walked in silence until they reached the docks, where Spot was waiting. Jack caught Deuce's eye as the latter started towards what appeared to be an empty boat room, and Jack nodded almost imperceptibly. This time, after he was finished with Spot, he would not run away.