A Healing Rain

Racetrack Higgins sat in the middle of Central Park, smoking a cigar. He inhaled its smoke, breathing in as deeply as possible. It wasn't the highest quality cigar, but it would do. The burning of the cigar mixed with the pollen in the air made for a unique scent, and it was one that he only got to have once a year. Central Park was just starting to get to be beautiful again as the trees began to grow back their leaves, and the sound of the birds chirping overhead as they returned to their homes in New York made him smile. Racetrack knew that in another month he would wish that they would stop their damn chirping already so he could have some quiet, but for now, he relished the sound. It was a distraction, and one that kept him happy. Kept him from thinking about everything.

Racetrack usually didn't sell in Central Park. He sold in Brooklyn.

But now Spot had kicked him out of Brooklyn. And so Racetrack was once again intruding on everyone else's selling spots in a futile attempt to keep from thinking about Brooklyn. And Spot.

It really shouldn't be hurting him this much. It wasn't like they were much of anything. It was just a stupid fight. Spot would let him back into Brooklyn. He always had before.

Racetrack took another long drag on his cigar, desperately willing himself to stop that train of thought. He knew it wasn't going to help though. It had been nearly a week since that catastrophic fight with Spot. A week since he'd returned to the lodging house sporting a black eye and a bad mood to put Skittery to shame.

A sound from behind him caught his attention, and Racetrack got up to see what it was.

Spot.

The sight of the Brooklyn leader made Race catch his breath. He knew every detail of Spot, but this wasn't the way that Spot normally looked. Spot always held himself erect, but now his shoulders were slumped, as if he had been defeated, and didn't have the energy to keep himself up. Racetrack finally met Spot's gaze and was surprised by what he saw. There was something different about his eyes now. They weren't as strong as they usually were. He seemed to be in some sort of pain, and Racetrack wasn't sure exactly what it was that was hurting him.

He wasn't full enough of himself to think that he could be the cause. That would mean that Spot would have to care for him. And Spot didn't care for anyone except himself.

Racetrack glanced up at the sky, refusing to meet Spot's eyes any longer. He didn't want to see Spot like that. It hurt. Instead, he watched as the clouds swept in and slowly blocked out the sun. The temperature was steadily dropping, and Racetrack took another puff of his cigar. It was going to rain, which was just what he needed. It was bad enough that he was going to have to face Spot, but now he was going to be wet while it happened. The two of them just stood there, silently facing each other for what seemed like an eternity. Racetrack didn't care how long it had been, all he knew was that he and Spot were standing in Central Park and that maybe, just maybe, Spot actually cared.

Finally, Spot stepped forward, and took Racetrack's cigar out of his hand. Racetrack didn't protest at all. He'd been expecting this.

Lifting it to his own lips, Spot took a long puff of the cigar.

"Hey, Race," he said finally, after the smoke had faded from view.

"Spot," Race answered. "What are you doing in Manhattan?"

"What do you think?" Spot replied.

Racetrack just stared at him. Could Spot actually care? After all, he'd come all the way to Manhattan to talk. Or at least that was what Racetrack had to assume.

Spot took another puff on Racetrack's cigar, and narrowed his eyes slightly. "Nothing to say, Higgins?"

"To you?" Racetrack retorted. "Nothing."

"Race." He'd never said Racetrack's name like that before.

"What?"

Spot took one final puff of the cigar, and then dropped it, earning a glare from Racetrack. That had been an expensive cigar; he'd used up most of his earnings from the track on it, as a treat to make himself feel better.

"I'm sorry."

The words were spoken so quietly that Racetrack could barely hear them. He hadn't even known that Spot knew those words. He'd been convinced that Spot didn't know how to say them.

But here they were, in Central Park, on a disgustingly cloudy spring day, and Spot Conlon had just apologized.

Something within Racetrack softened. The fight had been his own fault -- he was always the one who started these things, but he hadn't expected Spot to have reacted as violently as he did.

And an apology... that meant something.

He lowered his gaze, and looked directly into Spot's eyes. They were filled with something, something that Racetrack had never seen in them before.

Love.

He stepped forward, and reached for Spot's wrist, tugging him forward. Their mouths met in a kiss as a gentle spring rain began to fall

. Each drop on their skin was a healing touch and as their lips met, both Spot and Race felt that everything was going to be okay.

Back.