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Cobblestones and Vaudeville

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It took awhile, but eventually things went back to normal. As normal as they ever got for them, anyway; it wasn’t like Jack and David had a whole lot of time to be normal before the strike happened and everything went crazy. But when he thought about normal, David pictured Jack at their dining room table, talking to his father about business or teasing Les about whatever. He thought about selling papers together, about the partnership he hadn’t wanted in the beginning but couldn’t imagine living without now.

But his favorite part of being normal with Jack was the nights they snuck into the theater to watch Medda perform, to hear the music and listen to the crowd cheer her on. And he liked the show, but mostly what he liked about those nights was watching Jack. He liked the way Jack grinned when Medda took the stage, the way he cheered and the way he always turned to David and smiled like they were sharing something special.

He liked walking home after the show just as much, liked the feel of cobblestones under his feet and the way they made him sway just a little as he tried to keep his balance on the uneven road. It gave him an excuse to press his shoulder into Jack’s every so often, and if he was really lucky Jack would sling an arm around his shoulders to steady them both.

“Good show,” Jack said, cigarette gripped in his free hand and David could smell the smoke on him.

“Yeah, Medda’s really something.”

Jack nodded and glanced over at David, just for a second before he looked back at the road. “She’s been real good to me. Kinda like family, you know?”

It was the closest Jack had ever gotten to talking about his family and how he survived without them. He never talked about his parents, didn’t talk much about what his life was like before the newsies. And he hadn’t really said anything this time, either, but David knew it was more than he ever said to anyone else.

“You’ve got a family.” He hadn’t meant to say it, but the words came out of his mouth before David could stop them. “I mean, you’re practically part of our family, right?”

“Look, Dave, I like your sister, but…”

“No,” David said, talking over Jack because he didn’t want to hear what Jack was going to say. “We’re family, Jack. No matter what, you and me. Partners.”

He wasn’t sure it was the right thing to say, but when Jack grinned at him David’s heart skipped a beat. Then Jack leaned in, breath warm against his cheek and when his lips brushed David’s skin David felt his knees buckle. “You and me. I like the sound of that.”

They’d reached his building while David wasn’t looking, and he knew Jack was about to walk away. He wanted to invite Jack in, but he was pretty sure he couldn’t sit there with his entire family around after Jack kissed him. And okay, it wasn’t a real kiss, but it was closer than David ever thought he’d get, and there was no way he could make small talk with his folks when he could still feel Jack’s lips pressed against him.

Besides, Jack was already backing up, hands in his pockets and looking nervous for the first time since David met him.

“So…uh…I’ll see you tomorrow?” David called after him, and he knew he sounded like an idiot but he couldn’t make himself care.

Then Jack grinned again, and it didn’t matter how dumb David sounded if Jack was going to look at him like that. “You better.”