See the Stars They're Shining Bright

Skittery isn't like the other newsies, with their oversized personalities and their constant need to draw attention to themselves. He's quiet, almost withdrawn into himself. Still, sometimes something else shines through, hints of a different sort of boy altogether. There are moments when he smiles or when his eyes flash with fire that is almost dazzling. And Mush finds him all the more intriguing for it.

They aren't courting in the proper sense of the word. No one has sat in the front parlor or brought flowers or even so much as held hands, but they are circling each other with hesitant yet interested looks. Mush gives Skittery an apple it takes him a week to save up for. Skittery, for his part, brings Mush a tattered book of Christmas carols he finds in the snow.

There have been three long walks, two snowball fights and a shared cup of hot chocolate. And, on at least two occasions, Mush has ignored the strong hints Blink was sending his way and sold with Skittery instead. To the naked eye this collection of facts is not much, but to Mush and Skittery it means everything.

And so when Skittery invites Mush up to the roof on Christmas Eve it is more important than any of the other newsies can imagine.

Up there they are free to sit so close to each other that their legs are touching. They can talk in soft, low voices with their heads bent close. They can watch as a light snow starts to fall and huddle together under a blanket that Skittery brought along for just such an instance.

"I think your the nicest fella around," Mush says, his mind full of Skittery playing with the little boys -- how they squealed and laughed as he clowned around, his perpetually serious expression nowhere in sight.

Skittery ducks his head, a flush staining his cheeks red. "You ain't so bad yourself," he mumbles, his eyes darting to Mush's then back to the ground again.

Emboldened by this comment and lulled into a sense of security by the dark, empty night, Mush slips his hand into Skittery's and squeezes tight. Skittery's head jerks up, his eyes wide with surprised. For a moment Mush is certain he's gone too far, read all the signs wrong, and set his half-formed hopes up to be crushed.

Then Skittery scoots just a smidge closer and dips his head a fraction lower. Their lips brush against each other hesitantly at first, then hard and eager. Their pulses start to rush and when they pull back both are panting.

"A kiss like that's more than worth the trouble it will cause," Skittery teases, a tad bit breathlessly.

Mush nods his head in agreement and sneaks an arm around Skittery's waist under the cover of the blanket. He pulls the other boy tight against him and asks, "Do you want to maybe try it again?" Skittery doesn't say a thing, just angles his head and moves in once more.

Skittery isn't like the other newsies, he's shy, quiet and tends to keep to himself. But what he lacks in personality and flair, he make up for in swift, definitive action. His hands wrap themselves in Mush's curls, his teeth nip at Mush's neck before moving up his jaw. His lips ghost against the other boy's and Mush thrills inside at having found a way past that gruff exterior to the charming, ironic boy inside.