A Different Kind of Dance
Race rested his back against a tree and looked up at the sky. There weren't really any stars to see- not with all the city's lights- but he figured it couldn't hurt to check. The night was a bit chilly but, luckily, clear. He hated the thought of waiting out here in the snow. He would have, though, if it'd come to that. Nothing short of a blizzard would have kept him away tonight and he reckoned Spot felt the same. Sure, Spot probably would have complained about being outside in the snow, but he was probably going to complain about the cold anyway. Race didn't mind. It was just another part of their careful dance, one more way to convince themselves that they didn't really need to spend time together. At least Race could admit the lie, even if only to himself. He wasn't sure Spot had even come that far yet.
He waited in what they both vaguely thought of as "their" park, though neither of them would say so. It wasn't much of a park really- a couple of trees huddled together outside some government building or other. Still, it made a convenient meeting spot for them, as it was part of the way between the lodging house and the Brooklyn Bridge. And so it was here that they were meeting, on Christmas Eve, to spend some time together for the holiday. Neither of them would be able to get away on Christmas itself; both lodging houses had spectacular holiday feasts planned after all. But tonight, when the younger newsies were already falling asleep despite themselves, they had the chance.
Race heard a familiar tread walking up the street towards him and smiled to himself quickly before patting his pocket for insurance. His gift- though he couldn't call it that- was still there. Race let his smile morph into their more customary smirk as Spot strolled casually into their park.
"Spot," he said, nodding in greeting.
"Race," said Spot in return. Spot was much better at acting aloof, Race thought to himself. You'd think he'd been out for a stroll and happened to run into Race. It was all part of the game though.
Spot settled himself up against the tree next to Race. They sat body to body- for warmth, of course, it was winter after all- and stared up at the starless sky together. Race, as usual, was the one to break the stillness of the moment. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the chocolate bar he'd spent the last few weeks saving up for. He could feel Spot's gaze on his hand as he crinkled and tore the wrapper. He broke off a small piece for himself and, seemingly oblivious to the now covetous gaze he was attracting, popped it into his mouth. He made a show of enjoying the piece before pausing, as if only just now noticing the attention.
"Want some?" he asked, as if Spot eating the chocolate were not the entire point of having it at all. Spot stared at the chocolate bar a moment longer before blinking and schooling his features. He simply shrugged in response but Race had to suppress the smile that was threatening to ruin the moment. Instead, he simply placed the chocolate bar on the ground between them. Spot immediately broke off a large chunk and stuffed it in his mouth, obviously trying not to moan at the taste. Race turned back to the sky and broke off another small piece of his own. They continued like that for a few minutes, Race eating as little as he could without arousing suspicion. Finally, Spot spoke, his voice carefully casual with only a touch of innocent curiosity.
"Where'd you get this?" he asked. There was a warning in the question too, but Race didn't need it.
"Some lady who bought one of my papes this afternoon," he said with a shrug. "She said I looked so 'sad and wretched,'" Race raised his voice and clasped his hands in impersonation of the fictional lady, getting a chuckle out of Spot. "Must've reminded her of one o' her kids or something." Spot nodded, satisfied with the story, and they went back to eating their treat.
Slowly but surely the two boys began to talk: exchanging gossip, complaining about the weather, trading stories of their days selling papers. Race got a kick out of one of Spot's probably-embellished tales of heroism, wherein he saved one of his boys from some irate drunk. Spot, in turn, laughed so hard at Race's impression of Skittery's latest attempt to woo that girl from the laundry down the street that he had tears in his eyes. Their voices rose the longer they talked, stories getting interrupted by laughter with increasing frequency. Eventually, Spot turned and pulled something out of his own pocket. A flask. Race could feel his eyes light up but hid his excitement the best he could.
"I was gonna save this for the walk back," Spot said, "to keep me warm but..." he shrugged. Race simply nodded. Spot took a swig from the flask before wordlessly handing it to Race. Race took a sip and almost choked- this was some strong stuff. And good too, not the cheap stuff they usually ended up with. He turned to Spot, eyebrows raised in question. Spot just shrugged again before staring intently up into the sky. "Me an' the boys lifted a whole barrel of that stuff a few days back," he said by way of explanation. "Like I said, I figured I might get cold." Race nodded and took another swig before handing back the flask. He was tempted to needle Spot a bit more, to tease- a whole barrel? really?- but he decided against it. After all, it was Christmas. And as fun as it was to tease Spot, it was even better sometimes just to let the lie be and enjoy the night. Besides, Spot took this stuff very seriously. If Race wasn't careful, Spot might just decide not to show next time. So he sat, enjoying the warmth from the flask and the warmth from Spot's body. Some things, he mused, were worth a few white lies.