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I Dream of You, To Wake

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Jack was used to the nightmares. It was rare that he got through a night without revisiting the Refuge. It was part of the reason he slept in his penthouse, so that he wouldn’t wake the others if he were to scream or cry out—and he often did. Crutchie knew, of course. But Crutchie had nightmares of his own, of crowded charity wards and masked doctors with rough hands. They both knew what it was to face the worst alone.

The Refuge was never quite itself in Jack’s dreams. Doorways weren’t where they were supposed to be; windows disappeared and were replaced with gaping black holes. The rats were bigger, the boys smaller, and everything was somehow dirtier, an extra layer of grime and waste caked on every surface. The only thing that wasn’t worse was Snyder. He had always been as cruel and sadistic as he could possibly be.

Jack could take it. He could. The dreams weren’t real, he knew that.

But sometimes, they felt real. And sometimes, it was too much.

Like the one he had the night Pulitzer offered him the deal. Because Jack wasn’t reliving what had already been: he was seeing something that could be.

Snyder was still after him, and now, Snyder might be after Davey too.

It wasn’t that Pulitzer used Davey’s name; it was that he got it from Snyder. Pulitzer had started to threaten Jack, to bring up his partner, but he didn’t know Davey’s name. He’d paused for a fraction of a second, and it was Snyder’s voice that had growled the name into Pulitzer’s ear, and Jack had heard. He knew Snyder’s voice better than he knew almost anyone’s, and to hear Davey’s name wrapped in that snarl—Jack was almost glad that Morris and Oscar were holding him upright.

There hadn’t been many boys like Davey in the Refuge—boys who had families, an education, who’d been picked up for a sour connection or who’d simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time—and that made them special playthings to Snyder. He liked to make an example of them, probably because, outside the walls of the Refuge, those boys would wind up having more power and influence than Snyder ever could. And so he broke them, fast and hard. Because he wanted to, and because he could.

Snyder had a variety of methods.

It depended on the boy, really. The new boys were always given a front row seat to Snyder’s theatrics; he had to let them know who was boss. They weren’t supposed to treat the boys like prisoners—the Refuge was technically a charitable institution, after all, aiming to rehabilitate wayward boys and turn them into productive members of society—but Snyder didn’t particularly care about rules unless he was the one enforcing them. He would treat the new kids to the same kind of booking they might find at Riker’s Island, parading them in front of the others without their clothes, forcing them into cold tubs, dousing them with cakey white delouser. The littles would usually cry their way through it, and then, Snyder mostly left them alone. He knew he didn’t have to try very hard to scare them, and they were usually the ones board of directors wanted to see. If he left too many marks, it might be suspicious. 

But the older boys were tougher to crack. Some, the few that were soft, who hadn’t expected to be treated this way, would cover themselves as Snyder dragged them through the dormitories, their cheeks red with humiliation. Maybe their chins would quiver, but they wouldn’t wail, not like the littles. If a tear slipped out, Snyder would backhand them and send them sprawling across the room, their hands flying away from the parts of themselves they had been trying to hide. And then he would laugh. He would laugh and look around at his captive audience as though they should be laughing too. A few boys would. They’d point at the new boys, at their nakedness, and they would laugh along with Snyder. Those were the ones you had to stay away from. They’d just as soon piss on you as look at you—and they told Snyder everything they saw. That was how Jack got caught the first time he’d tried to escape.

Jack, and the boys like Jack, usually looked away. They did not step in for those other boys, the soft ones. They couldn’t risk it. The boys like Jack had not cried when Snyder marched them through the dormitories. They had held their heads up, arms at their sides, and Snyder did not laugh. Not then.

The boys like Jack, the ones who took Snyder’s first punishment without comment, were put on notice. Snyder didn’t announce it, but he had ways of making it clear. A boy would be absent from roll call or lunch, and he’d come back with blood dripping from his nose or a fresh bruise under his eye. He might be forced to stand next to his bunk all night after his bread had been given to the rats, slapped awake by one of Snyder’s two-faced sentries if he dared nod off. The board members didn’t seem to mind these punishments. Criminal behavior should be “nipped in the bud,” and the older boys could handle “discipline”—that’s what they’d called it. Perhaps it would teach them a lesson. But Snyder was still careful to confine most of his handiwork to the places people wouldn’t see—and if he couldn’t, if he got carried away, then no one would see the boy again for a while. It didn’t matter much, since nobody was looking for them anyway. 

And that, Jack knew, was when Snyder really laughed, when he smiled. When he had you cornered in his office or in the supply closet, cane in hand, belt at the ready. After Jack’s first escape attempt, it had been a month before any of the other boys saw him again. After the second, a few of them thought he might be dead. And God, he had wished he was.

Jack and the boys like him had learned to look away. Things were hard enough as they were without sticking their necks out for a kid who wouldn’t look twice at them on the outside.

But Jack would’ve risked it for Davey. And, somehow, Snyder knew it. He knew it before Jack did. He’d looked right at Jack when he’d fed Pulitzer Davey’s name, and he’d smiled.

Jack felt like he was ten-years-old again.

HIs first instinct had been to double over, to protect himself, but he couldn’t; Oscar and Morris held him fast, ripping his arms in opposite directions. He felt like he’d been socked in the gut just the same.

He shouldn’t have been able to sleep that night. The press stone was hard against his back—firm, one of the Delanceys had jeered—and the canvas drop cloth they’d left him was stiff and scratchy. But Jack was no stranger to taking sleep when it came to him. And he’d been so tired. Closing his eyes had seemed like the only way to escape from everything that would fall down on him the next day.

But of course, it wasn’t. It never had been.

In this particular dream, they were in a funhouse impression of Snyder’s office, he and Davey, standing at attention side by side. But Davey couldn’t see Jack. Davey’s eyes were covered with a dirty blindfold. It was something Snyder liked to use to throw the boys off balance. He’d wait, quiet as a cat, and they wouldn’t know where he was or when the first blow was coming.  But Jack could see, and he knew it was because Snyder wanted him to watch whatever was going to happen.

The dream’s version of Davey was already pale and wan, as though he’d been in the Refuge some time. There were bruises on his face, at his throat, but he stood tall, the firm line of his jaw titled upward. He didn’t tremble.

But Jack did. His fingers twitched at his side. And Snyder saw. He always saw. He smiled like he’d smiled in Pulitzer’s office. Like he’d smiled at Jack a thousand times before.

Only this time, it wasn’t Jack that he went after.

He swung his cane for the backs of Davey’s knees, and Davey, blind and unprepared, pitched forward. He caught himself against Snyder’s desk and gasped for breath, and Jack wanted to tell him no, that it was the wrong thing to do, that Davey had to stay still, but Jack couldn’t find the words; he felt as though he were encased in cement. Davey scrabbled at the desktop, trying to push himself back up, but Snyder grabbed him by the hair, slamming his face against the hardwood.

In his dreams, Jack was never sure if he could really hear the words that were being said, the screams issuing from his own mouth, or if they were lost inside the vacuum of the dreamscape. But he heard the sickening crunch as Davey’s nose broke against Snyder’s desk. He heard Davey’s gurgling moan as he turned his face, angry smears of blood blotting out his nose, his mouth, eyes still hidden behind soiled cloth. And he heard Snyder’s voice:

“What next, Kelly? I think you should choose.”

Snyder kept one hand on Davey’s neck, pinning him to the desk, pressing his thumb hard against the boy’s windpipe. He used his other to press the tip of his cane into Jack’s chest. Jack watched as Davey’s blood pooled on the tabletop.

“Take it,” Snyder said. Jack’s eyes darted to the cane. “It’s your call.”

When Jack didn’t move, Snyder turned back to Davey, raising the cane and bringing it down hard against his back, over and over. Davey’s shirt tore open and his body heaved. His wheezing cries were choked by the blood still flowing from his crushed nose. And Snyder didn’t stop. He hit Davey again and again and again. Eventually, Davey went silent. His body crumpled at Jack’s feet. Snyder smiled.

Jack stood by, helpless. He opened his mouth to scream, but this time, there was no sound. There was no air. And it was so dark.

He’d known as soon as he woke, panting and covered in sweat, that he was going to take Pulitzer’s deal.

That might have been when he understood what it was that he really felt for Davey. But what do you do with that? To realize you love someone in the same breath you understand that you have to drive them away? That your love and your cowardice are gnarled together as parts of the same knot?

It didn’t matter. He had to protect Davey.  

When he saw Davey at the rally, whole and perfect as he’d ever been, he knew he was doing right. And yes, it hurt when Davey’s handsome face had darkened at Jack’s betrayal, but Jack could take it. He was sure he could take anything if it meant keeping Davey safe. Even if it meant that he couldn’t have Davey, that Davey might hate him, it didn’t matter. Jack wouldn’t let Snyder touch him. Not again. Never for real.

Jack’s plan was to disappear. To use his blood money from Pulitzer to finally buy his ticket out of New York. But, of course, Katherine had been there when he went to get his things, and, of course, she’d reminded him how close they were to winning. And Jack had to admit, Katherine’s plan was pretty good.

But they couldn’t win without Davey. Not a single one of the boys was going to talk to Jack. Even if Davey didn’t need Jack, Jack needed Davey.

Jack needed Davey so much so that, when Katherine had kissed him, Jack gently pushed her away before he’d even realized what he was doing.

“Kath, I can’t. It’s not you, it’s just that I—well, Davey—”

Katherine gamely hid her own sadness behind a practiced society simper. “I thought as much,” she’d said. “You’d better go get him, then.”

And so he did.

Jack climbed Davey’s fire escape, trying to figure out how to bang on the window without waking Les and Sarah—but he hadn’t needed to. Davey was already folded up on the iron stair, his face hidden in his hands. He was in his undershirt and cotton shorts, and his skin was pale under the July moon. Jack had never seen so much of Davey at once before, all lean sinew and downy dark hair. And maybe it was too much. He wasn’t sure that he could move.  

Jack hesitated, just for a second, but then he cleared his throat. He knew better than to sneak up on a guy who was hurting. Especially because he was the person that had done the hurt.

“Davey?” Davey didn’t look up, but Jack had to see his face. He had to remind himself that he’d kept his nightmare from becoming real. “Davey, please.”

Davey shook his head into the cradle of his hands.

“Davey, I hadta. You don’t know.” Look up, look up, please look up. “I swear I hadta. I’m sorry. Please. Please, can you just—”

Without realizing it, Jack set his hands on Davey’s bare arms, fingers curling, not quite gently, around the lean muscle there.

Davey looked up, eyes wet and red. “Can I just what?”

Jack left his hands where they were. “Nothing.” He was ashamed of his own relief as his eyes drank in Davey’s tearstained but otherwise unmarked face. It wouldn’t have changed since the rally. Jack knew that. But Jack was still glad. Davey was still all right. Jack had kept him safe.

“Nothing?” Davey let his eyes move dispassionately over Jack’s clutching fingers, but he didn’t pull away. “Why are you even here?”

“Because I had to talk to you.”

Davey huffed out a sound that wasn’t quite a laugh.

“Davey—”

“No.”

“He was gonna hurt you,” Jack said.

Davey’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand.”

“Pulitzer.”

“Right,” Davey said, rolling his eyes. “Because Pulitzer gives a damn about me.”

Jack’s hands moved up to Davey’s shoulders, gripping them tightly, almost desperately, and it took every ounce of self-control he had not to shake the other boy. “Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me with this? You don’t remember a couple days ago when those assholes came at us with bats?”

This time, Davey did shrug him off.  

“They came after all of us. And I can take that.” Davey sniffed. “I don’t need you to baby me. What we’re doing is more important than my head.”

“It ain’t, though,” Jack insisted, his voice cracking. “Davey. Davey, he—”

Davey kicked out his legs, sending Jack backward onto his ass. “Save it. I don’t care.”

Jack pushed himself up on his palms. “You damn well should!”

“Why?” Davey demanded.

Jack took a deep breath. “He was gonna put you in jail, Dave. Pulitzer. He said if I didn’t do it, if I didn’t throw everythin’ over, he was gonna throw you in the Refuge. You and Les, and everyone, but he—he said your name. Just yours.”

“Oh.” Davey gulped, and his gaze darted toward the bedroom window; Jack knew Les was sleeping soundly on the other side. At least Jack hoped Les was sleeping soundly. He supposed Les might hate him too. All the boys probably did. And he couldn’t blame them.

Jack plowed on. “And it wouldn’t be no two week sentence, Davey. Not for you. They was gonna lock you up and throw away the key. And you don’t know what they’d do to you in there.”

Davey sat up straighter. “It would be—"

“Don’t you dare tell me it’d be worth it. Nothin’ is worth you bein’ trapped in there. Nothin’. I couldn’t—”

And suddenly Jack could see Davey as he had been in the dream, doubled over on Snyder’s desk, bleeding, whimpering, his beautiful eyes masked by a dirty rag. Jack hadn’t been able to stop it. But it hadn’t happened. Davey was there in front of him, his long arms and legs unblemished and bare against the nighttime swelter.

Jack pushed himself up onto his knees and reached for Davey’s hands. “Jesus, Davey, I couldn’t live with myself if somethin’ like that happened to you. Especially because a’ me.”

“Jackie—”

“I ain’t gonna let nothin’ happen to you,” Jack said, squeezing Davey’s hands. “I hadta take the deal.”

Davey stared at their joined hands. “Nothing’s going to happen to me. I’m fine,” he said absently.

Jack didn’t respond. But it could have. The breath that he took shuddered more than he would have liked.

“Jackie? Hey.” Davey carefully loosed one of his hands from Jack’s hold. The hand inched toward Jack’s face, halting and uncertain.

When Jack felt Davey’s fingers brush against his cheekbone, he jumped.

Davey winced away. “Sorry, I’m sorry. I just thought—” 

“No,” Jack breathed. “No, it’s okay.”

Davey nodded and raised his hand again. “I’m fine,” he said, pressing his palm tentatively to Jack’s cheek. “I’ll be fine.”

“I wanna keep you that way,” Jack mumbled, eyes closed.

“Yeah, well, same here,” Davey half-laughed. His hand did not leave Jack’s skin. “I didn’t know just how much ‘til you—well, you know, ‘til you—”

“Betrayed you?”

“But you didn’t, did you?” Davey asked gently. “Not the way I thought.”

Jack opened his eyes. “You sayin’ you forgive me?”

“I’m saying I understand,” Davey said. His thumb circled the fine hair at Jack’s temple. He took a deep breath, and Jack’s gut clenched as Davey seemed to sway forward, bringing their faces closer together.  “Nothing’s gonna happen to me, Jackie. I’m just—it must have been awful in there if you’re this scared for me. I’m sorry that any of that happened to you. Ever.”

Jack tried to keep his breath even. Their foreheads were almost touching. Davey’s eyes blinked back at him. Jack could feel the other boy’s breath against his face, warm and a little wet, like the air that hung around them.

“I won’t let it happen again, huh?” Davey murmured. “You’re safe with me.”

And without thinking, Jack closed the gap between them, pressing his lips softly to Davey’s. Davey was hesitant, maybe a little scared, but he didn’t stop Jack; he tilted his chin the slightest bit, and Jack felt the other boy’s lips soften against his own. It was chaste and simple. Davey didn’t have any of Katherine’s bruising passion, not yet, but Jack didn’t mind. Jack didn’t mind at all.

But too soon, Davey’s hands fell away from Jack’s face, tapered fingers piling on top of each other in his lap. Jack felt suddenly cold in spite of the midsummer heat.

“Davey? Did I—? Shit. Shit, I’m sorry.”

“Why did you do that?”

“I thought you wanted me to,” Jack replied, straining to keep the panic out of his voice.

“I did. But—but—"

“But what?”

Davey shook his head. “I—um—I’ve never done that before. With anyone.”

Jack pushed off of his knees and looked at the space next to Davey on the stair. Davey nodded and let Jack slot in beside him, scooting over so that they weren’t quite touching.

“I didn’t mean to scare ya.”

“You didn’t,” Davey said carefully. “I just—I’m not sure I’m even done being mad at you yet. And then that?”

“Fair enough,” Jack said. “I guess I—but you said you understand, yeah? Why I did it?”

“I do. But we can’t just quit, Jackie. We can’t just forgive each other and forget everything that happened tonight. I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but the other guys—we’re so close. It can’t all be for nothing.”

Jack half-smiled and nudged Davey’s bare knee with his own. “You thought I was tryin’ to distract you with that?”

Davey ducked his head. “Well…”

“Davey. You got every right to be pissed at me, and I ain’t dumb enough to think one kiss’ll undo all’a that.”

“I don’t think you’re dumb,” Davey said automatically. “I just don’t—I meant what I said, Jack. About wanting to keep you safe. Because I—well, I care about you. You know.”

This time, Jack laughed. “Yeah, I know, Dave. I mean, Jesus, why do you think Pulitzer was anglin’ to come after you in the first place?”

“I don’t—I mean, because—no, I don’t know. Why?”

“You’re important. Not just to the strike or the other guys. You’re important. To me. And he knew it,” Jack said. He reached for Davey’s hand. “I didn’t do that to distract you, or ‘cause I want you to forgive me—I mean, I do, but you do that in your own time. I did it ‘cause I wanted to. Because I care about you too. And when a guy figures that out, he’s gotta—I don’t know, he’s gotta do something about it.”

Davey shook his head again.

“You believe me?” Jack asked.

“I—this has been the strangest night of my life.”

“Yeah, well, that makes two of us,” Jack said. He tried not to think of Katherine’s sad eyes and the plan he was supposed to be executing.

They were quiet for a moment, and Davey watched Jack’s thumb move carefully across his knuckles, still bruised and cracked from the fight in the distribution yard. Jack’s touch whispered across each scrape in silent prayer: Davey would stay safe, Davey would forgive him, Davey might be his. Supply carts rumbled over the cobbles on a faraway block, a sign that the folks who kept the city running were already at work, were always at work. Jack ached to lean into Davey, to kiss him again, to touch his face and bare shoulders, to push up the thin cotton of Davey’s undershirt and trace his fingers over the soft, blessedly unbroken skin of the other boy’s back—but he knew he had to go. He had to meet Katherine, and he had to send Davey to the others. Davey was right. This couldn’t all be for nothing. But Jack didn’t want to sacrifice this moment to their cause. For once in his life, Jack Kelly didn’t want to run.

But it couldn’t last forever. “What’s next?” Davey asked, breaking the silence; Jack knew he couldn’t reassemble the pieces, that their moment was shifting. Davey shifted too, his sweaty hand slipping against Jack’s as he pulled away and wrapped his arms around his knees. “What do we do now?”

Jack knew that Davey was not asking about them, and he tried to smile, to be the charismatic leader everyone insisted he was. “Well, it turns out I got a plan. We got a plan.”

Davey’s breath caught. “Oh. You already know. I guess I thought—”

“Davey…”

“No, it’s alright. I mean, I guess you didn’t know if I’d…” Davey trailed off. He held his knees tighter, pulling even his toes further away from Jack. “I didn’t know you’d have time to make a plan while—well, you know, with everything that happened tonight.”

“Hey,” Jack said. He wrapped his fingers around Davey’s ankle and yanked it toward him. “You said you got it.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Davey mumbled, twitching his ankle out of Jack’s grasp. “I guess I just thought that you came back because—never mind, I don’t know. I don’t know. Ignore me. Tell me about the plan.”

“Look, I was gonna quit, alright? After you all left, I was just gonna take my shit and go. But Katherine—”

“But Katherine changed your mind,” Davey said, making too much of an effort to sound casual.   

“It ain’t like that,” Jack insisted. “She was in the penthouse when I went to get my stuff. And she made me realize that we still got work to do. And that you were right, Dave,” –Davey scoffed—” Pulitzer’s scared. You said so yourself. He wouldn’ta tried to get me outta town, tried to come after you if he wasn’t. And he don’t know yet—he don’t know that I didn’t blow town. So, if we’s gonna do somethin’, we gotta do it now. Tonight. And we can’t do it without you. I can’t do it without you.”

Davey pushed himself upright and turned to face Jack, arms crossed over his chest. Jack couldn’t help but notice that Davey’s undershirt and shorts were damp with sweat, clinging to the spots where he’d leaned against the stair. He looked so different than Katherine had. If she were standing at the gates of hell, Katherine would still look cool and put together; she’d been about to sock him and still managed to keep every hair in its place. But Davey?

This Davey was rumpled and imperfect and vulnerable, but the guard Jack had seen on Davey’s first day had not quite disappeared. Davey wasn’t scared outright, but he was not as brash and confident as Katherine had been either. Jack could see it, the way Davey forced his own shoulders back and set his jaw—but none of the bravado made it to his eyes, which held Jack’s uncertainly. Jack thought of Davey in his dream, standing tall, his chin in the air. He wondered if dream Davey had been pretending his courage too. The blindfold would have hidden the truth.  

“You need me, huh?” Davey was saying.

Jack shook himself. Yes, Jack wanted to say. You don’t know how much. I didn’t know how much. But he didn’t. Their moment had ended. For now, just for now, Jack hoped. He cleared his throat. “We need you, Dave. Kath’s got it worked out. She wrote this thing, and we’s gonna print it and get it out to as many of the workin’ kids in the city as we can. But—”

“But you need someone to distribute it.”

“You always was smart, huh?” Jack tried to joke. Davey did not laugh. “Look, Dave. The boys probably ain’t exactly my biggest fans right now—”

“—yeah, you might say that—”

“But they’d follow you anywhere. You was amazin’ tonight,” Jack said softly. Davey looked away from him, and Jack made himself continue. “If you talk to ‘em, get ‘em to come grab the papes and spread ‘em all over town, we got a prayer.”

When Davey didn’t say anything, Jack stood so that they were standing face to face; in his bare feet, Davey wasn’t quite so tall. Davey kept his gaze on the girders.

“This ain’t for nothin’. Can’t be, ’cause we got you on our side,” Jack said, chancing to lift his hand to push Davey’s hair away from his forehead. He let his fingers slip down, and he cupped Davey’s slick cheek in his clammy palm, forcing Davey to look at him, and the other boy flinched but did not pull away. “I need you, Davey. I do. And so do the boys. This don’t work without you.” I don’t work without you. Not anymore.

“Okay,” Davey said. His cheek burned under Jack’s hand. He ducked his chin, but Jack wouldn’t let him squirm away. “I can get to the lodging house pretty quick, and I’ll help Race round up the guys. I’ll tell them that you—that you were trying to protect us.”

“Especially you,” Jack murmured, trying to hold Davey’s eyes. “I—”

Davey looked back at his feet. “You don’t have to, Jack. I told you I’ll do it.”

“Look, Davey—”

“No, it’s okay,” Davey said. He started to drift toward the window sash. “I better go get changed. Can’t round up the guys like this. And Les’ll want to come, and—”

Jack couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed Davey’s wrist and pulled him so that their bodies were flush against each other. Davey’s eyes went wide. “What are you—”

“Listen to me, Dave. Yeah, I need your help with this plan, but that ain’t the only reason I’m here. It ain’t even the biggest reason.”

“Jack—” Davey started to pull away, but Jack snapped up his other wrist, holding him in place.

“I meant it. I want to keep you safe. I—it scared me, Davey. It scared me bad to think of losin’ you to that place. This ain’t all about the plan. You matter. You matter to me. Alright?”

Davey nodded, slowly, and Jack let go of his wrists. And then, it was Davey who filled what little space remained between them, wrapping his arms around Jack’s waist and leaning down so that he could cover Jack’s lips with his own. This time, the kiss was harder, almost pleading, but still inelegant. Davey didn’t know what he was doing, but Jack didn’t care. His hands flailed blindly for a moment before fisting into the soft cotton at the shoulders of Davey’s undershirt, knuckles brushing against his smooth skin.  

They were still tethered by a line of saliva when Davey finally pulled away. “You matter to me too.”

“Well, I hope so. Otherwise this’d be real confusin’,” Jack said lightly.

“This is really confusing,” David replied. His tongue darted out from between his lips, nervously sliding over where Jack’s mouth had just been.

“And we ain’t got time to figure it out now,” Jack said.

“I should get Les and change,” Davey said, but he didn’t move. He stood, hands on Jack’s hips, and he did not go in to change.

Jack nodded. “Round up the guys and meet us at the cellar entrance of The World.”

Davey laughed. “Really? The World?”

“Ol’ Joe put me up down there last night. Turns out he’s the kinda guy that don’t throw nothin’ out. S’an old printin’ press down there that Katherine is pretty sure we can use.”

“How does Katherine know about a press at The World?” Davey asked.

Oh. That.

Jack gulped. “Um. Well, that meetin’ I had with Pulitzer? Kath was there.”

 Davey’s nose wrinkled. “What? Why?”

“’Cause they know each other.”

“I don’t—”

“She’s his daughter, Davey. She writes under another name so’s she can make it on her own, she’s not like him, but—”

“Holy shit,” Davey breathed.

Jack snorted. “Yeah, that’s one way of puttin’ it. I thought she was in on it for a second, but she’s just as pissed at her old man as we are, so—”

“So, she’s setting us up with a press,” Davey finished. Jack nodded. “And we’re trying not to get arrested?”

Jack shrugged. “What Joe don’t know won’t hurt him.” He softened and bravely pressed a soft kiss to the underside of Davey’s jaw. “And yeah. We’re absolutely tryin’ not to get arrested. Promise? That you’ll be careful?”

“As long as you’re careful too,” Davey said softly. Jack nodded again. “I’ll see you in a while, yeah?”

“You ain’t gettin’ rid of me now, Dave,” Jack said with a smile. “You think you’re done being mad at me yet?”

Davey rolled his eyes. “Don’t push your luck.” Jack only laughed.

Davey padded to the window, but before he opened the sash, he turned back to Jack. “Jackie?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s good to have you back again.” And to see Davey’s smile, warm and sure, was all that Jack needed. Jack had made the right call; he had kept the worst from happening, and even if they failed, at least he and Davey would have each other. They wouldn’t face whatever was to come alone. It was terrifying and wonderful and reassuring all at once.

Jack crossed the iron platform and kissed Davey one more time. He smiled against Davey’s lips. “Shaddup.”