Title: The Lover After Me
Pairing: Mentions of both Jack/Spot and Jack/David
Summary: We love, we lose, we reflect.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Newsies", nor any of the characters from
that film. All ownership rights belong to Disney. No copyright
infringement was intended.
Author's Note: Part one of the "Untold Truths" series
Jack has found someone new. I can see it in his eyes, the way they dance and glow whenever he sees them. Or in his smile, that cocky grin that's never far from sight when they're around. Or in his laugh, the way he throws back his head and lets it out and it fills the room. Or in his touch, fluttering over their shoulder blades in a manner that everyone can see the innuendo in. All these point to a most obvious conclusion… Jack Kelly is in love.
He used to do all those things for me, you know. Not so long ago, I used to be the one that set him aflame and made his eyes soften and crinkle around the edges. Those fleeting, longing gazes used to be directed at me. His long, slender hands used to float across my body, touching my face, chest, back. He was mine; mine to kiss and mine to love, and mine to eventually push away.
Because that's what inevitably happened. Like the idiot that I am, I pushed him away. Instead of holding him and never letting go, I kept him at arm's length. I was aloof, not letting my emotions spill out and break the image I had carefully constructed of myself. He would hold me, and I would tense in his arms. He would kiss me, and I would turn away. Time and time again, he would reach out to me, only to have me jerk back, as if in disgust.
But it wasn't disgust that made me drive Jack Kelly out of my life; it was fear. A fear of loving a person so much that the love overwhelmed me, and subverted my strongest defense mechanisms. I was tough and strong, and to yield to that sort of love would be to admit that I wasn't as bad as I seemed. And if there was one thing I had always sworn I would never do, it was let my guard down.
Now, he's found someone who won't turn away. Someone who isn't a coward like I was, and still am. Someone brave enough to let love in, and let it take over. Someone stronger and tougher than I could ever hope to be, just because they didn't back away. Someone whom I will envy every day of my life.
Now, they're together constantly. Jack can barely go ten feet without his love by his side. They smile at one another, sharing jokes the rest of us can never even hope to get. Their verbal conversations are merely the fragments of sentences, unintelligible to me as I skulk in the shadows, eavesdropping. Perhaps it is because their bodies fill in the holes their words have left. Or because they know one another so intimately that words are often superfluous and unnecessary. Or both. I don't know which makes me feel worse.
All I know is it kills me to see the love that I squandered being lavished upon someone else. Jack Kelly wasn't supposed to have eyes for anyone but me. I guarded him ferociously; everyone knew he was off-limits. Ask any of the older kids; they knew he was mine, and mine alone. Like every newsie has his selling spot in which only he can be, Jack was my territory. Yet in walks this newcomer, who hooks my Jack around one little finger.
They all see it too, of course. Race, Blink, Skittery… even oblivious Mush has somehow managed to notice it. Now, they give me sympathetic glances whenever the two of them are together. They try to cheer me up, saying things like, "There are other fish in the sea." But each one of them knows that for me, there never were any other fish. Hell, I didn't even know there was water nearby.
I couldn't stand to watch them tonight. So I'm here, lying on my stomach on pier 17, throwing rocks and glass shards of broken beer bottles at the reflection of the moon in the harbor. I doubt anyone will miss me. He won't, anyway, and that's really all that matters.
I look down and take a long, hard look at myself. I'm the same as I always am. Same sandy brown hair, hanging over my forehead. Same pale skin, same full lips. Same blue-green eyes, although tonight they're missing their usual Spot Conlon twinkle. All the same.
My key knocks heavily against my chest. I sit up, and slowly lift it over my head. I examine it in the moonlight. A fortuneteller gave it to me at a carnival when I was little. I've kept it ever since, worn it around my neck as a good-luck charm. Hasn't done me much good.
Gripping it in one fist, I hurl it into the river with all my might. "Go to hell, David Jacobs," I mutter.