-= The Title =-

My Time No More
By Aris Merquoni

-= The Intro =-

Rachel is my character, so don't abuse her. Destiny is my 
character, so don't abuse her. Newsies all belong to Disney, so 
don't abuse them. All trademarks of Sega belong to SErvice and 
GAmes, so don't abuse them. Hey, it was either SEGA Nomad or a 
Game Boy, and I don't think you can hook a N64 up to a Game 
Boy... Those belong to Nintendo Co., BTW, so don't abuse them. 
Any books I mention belong to the authors, and you should 
*never* abuse a book. I stole all the place names, so nyeah.

This is an alternate universe, because if this happened, the 
movie couldn't have possibly have happened the way it did... 
and I'll write about that later. This has nothing to do with 
any other stories by me. Enjoy! :)

-= The Beginning =-

It is particularly irritating to find that, after a long 
flight, when you disembark your plane with your two pieces of 
carry-on luggage that the airport around you disappears without 
you being able to grab your checked items.

"My matched luggage!" I squealed, only half sarcastically, as I 
spun around, nearly dropping my backpack and my other bag to 
stare at the plane. Only, the plane wasn't there anymore, you 
see, and neither was the runway or the porters or anything else 
one would expect to find at an airport. The airport was also 
gone, which made me feel more than a little uncomfortable.

In fact, the only thing I could see was trees, which was kind 
of strange because I was supposed to be in an airport, not in 
Central Park, even if they were both in New York City.

We people from California fear New York City. Most of us, 
anyway. Well, according to Scott Adams we do. Anyway, I'd been 
shuttled back and forth across the continent enough times to 
know what to expect from New York, which was why I liked to 
tempt fate by wearing the kind of outfits I do(i.e. dance 
leggings and tight shirts, plus a vest.) I knew better than to 
expect to be unharmed, so I carried mace at all times.

I did not, however, expect to be dropped in the middle of 
Central Park when I was getting off of my plane at Newark 
International Airport. I made a frustrated noise and dropped my 
bags. One rattled, I remembered what was in it a second too 
late and could only crouch to pull out the circuit boards to 
make sure they were undamaged.

My pet project was unharmed, thank goodness. I'd been trying to 
fix my Sega Nomad and my CD player up so that it'd play Sega CD 
and Saturn games, so I had all of my equipment with me. You 
know, soldering iron, magnifying glass, wire cutters, DVM(or 
VOM, if you prefer, but I hate the puns that come with it,) 
breadboard, extra capacitors and resistors... that kind of 
stuff. I still had some stuff to fix, but I was sure that I 
could get it to work eventually...

"Heya, miss. Buy a pape?"

I spun around, twisting myself from a half-crouch to a full 
standing position in one motion. This was enough to make the 
boy in front of me back up a pace, but he didn't retract the 
newspaper that he was offering.

I blinked. He blinked. One of us probably looked really out-of-
place in that frame. He looked straight out of a history 
textbook about the very early 1900's, and I... well, I was 
dressed in spandex and denim, with my hair tied back with a 
volure scrunchee, rings covering my fingers, and all sorts of 
crystal and pewter pendants hanging from multiple leather cords 
around my neck. Both of us probably looked pretty surprised. I 
really hoped that this wasn't some kind of Candid Camera gag.

"Umm... how much?" I blurted.


I took a deep breath, and put on an air of calm. "For the 
paper?" I asked, sounding a lot more rational than a moment 

"Oh..." He was still staring at me as his brain started working 
again. "Umm... just a penny, miss..."

::Whatever happened to inflation?:: I thought. Shrugging, I 
clapped a hand to my side just after I remembered that leggings 
don't have pockets. Grumbling, I fiddled with the breast pocket 
on my vest, before finally skinning out of the blasted thing 
and prodding at the button. I finally got it to open, and poked 
around in there for some change. I found a quarter in amongst 
the bills, so I pulled it out and flipped it to him. "Keep the 

"Uh, gee, thanks," he said. I took the newspaper and scanned 
the title and such.

A few seconds later, I was running to catch up with the kid. 
"Is this right?" I asked, calm and serenity shattered.

He looked back at me, startled. "Huh?" he asked me for the 
second time.

I took another deep breath. "Is the date correct? I mean, 
you're not telling me that it's really... I mean..."

He looked at me quizzically. "Yeah, dat's today."

I looked from him, to the newspaper, to him again. "Oh no," I 
groaned. "This is like... it's like... it's impossible. It's 
like something out of a Heinlien novel. Out of a Piers Anthony 
novel. A Xanth novel. Something out of a Stephen *Ratliff* 
fanfic, by God!" He was staring at me like I was spouting 
gibberish. I probably was. I mean, if the date on the paper was 

Then I hadn't just lost the airport, I'd lost a whole 
*century.* For the banner on the paper was for the New York 
World, January 1898.

*Eighteen* ninety-eight. This was not good. Noot hippy.

"Um, miss?" He was asking me.

"What is your name?" I asked him.


"Your name. What people call you when they want you to come 
here sit down and shut up."

"Uh... dey call me Racetrack..."

"Very good," I said, laying the sarcasm on thick. "Now, what is 
the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"


I groaned. "Oh, no... eighteen ninety-eight. No Monty Python! 
Oh, no, no Douglas Adams! No Faulty Towers! How will I survive 
in this uncultured environment? You have no British humor!"

He was still staring at me as if I was loopy. I tried to 
explain what I was carrying on about. "My day has been awful! 
First, I'm late for my plane, then we had to delay landing, 
then we couldn't get to a jetway, then the plane disappeared, I 
mean, well, I disappeared, and landed *here*, and it's not 
*supposed* to be a hundred years ago, I mean, a hundred years 
behind when I was, you see, and I'm lost, and I *broke* a 

The last was supposed to be blatant sarcasm, making fun of all 
of the valley girls back home, but as I looked at my hand I 
realized that I *had* broken a nail. "Oh, damn! I *did* break a 
nail! And my file is under all my stuff..."

"Hey, Race! How's it... who's dis?" asked someone else. I 
looked up from my now ruined self-manicure to see another boy, 
dressed somewhat similarly, walking up to stop and stare. Well, 
I guess my outfit *was* a little odd, even back home... and I 
don't think that 1898 had a spandex/cotton/polyester blend 
fabric equivalent.

"My name," I said clearly, ignoring their stares, "is Rachel. 
Rachel Mercel, so stop calling me 'Miss.' You," I pointed to 
the second boy, "are going to help me find my nail file."

He blinked at me, exchanged a glance with Racetrack or whoever, 
then shrugged and followed me to my bags. I opened the one that 
didn't have the circuit boards in it and started handing him 
things while I searched for the errant file.

I noticed when he stopped to stare at the covers of my books. 
Grumbling at the uselessness of the male species, I hunted 
around in the bottom of the bag and finally pulled out my nail 
file from beneath my single change of clothes. That done, I 
turned to watch him staring at the cover of Cataract by Tara K 

I sighed. "Yes, Tsia has a fabulous figure, but may I have my 
book back, please?" I asked.

He started. "H... how'd they do that?" he asked, pointing to 
the picture.

I shrugged. "By paying a starving artist a lot of money. No, 
really, what are you asking about?"

"I mean... the color..."

I slapped myself on the forehead. "Oh yeah, that. Uhh... color 
printing came along a while ago... I mean, a while ago for 
me... I mean, it will come along later, but that's... grack!" I 
made a face. "Look at the copyright date. Right..." I pulled 
the book away from him, flipped open the first few pages, and 
let him gape at the little "1995" printed next to "Copyright."

He looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a vehicle, 
i.e. stunned beyond belief. Racetrack was looking at the other 
books in my collection, like "Dragon Prince" and "The Cat Who 
Walks Through Walls"(By Melanie Rawn and Robert Heinlien, 

I sighed, grabbed the books, and shoved them back in my bag. 
Then I leaned back and frowned sadly. "What am I going to 

They exchanged glances and shrugged as one.

The next hour, I was joining the 'newsies' as they were called 
at a quaint little diner called Tibby's. Quaint to me, I 
mean... I mean, you know what I mean. It turns out that these 
teens had to earn a living selling newspapers... and most of 
them didn't have in their life savings what I normally 
considered pocket change.

The second boy I had met was nicknamed Mush, and the rest of 
them had nicknames as well. I got introduced to them, and I was 
introduced mostly as "Loony girl, says she's from the future, 
but hey, *I* don't know how dey did dis..." and one of my books 
was usually passed around so that they could gape at the cover.

As if my volure scrunchee, spandex leggings, rings, vest, and 
necklaces didn't convince them I was really from 1997. Feh, New 

I finally started convincing them when I passed a Susan B 
Anthony dollar around and let them look at the date. That 
convinced 'em pretty quickly.

I quickly learned that the reason I was being introduced around 
was that they expected me to join them. At first I was annoyed, 
then I started thinking about it. What else could I do? I could 
try to do something else, yeah, but what skills could I use in 
1897 New York? There wasn't much call for someone who could 
wire a circuit board...

Before I knew it, I was one of the gang.

The next day, I dressed up in period garb(minus and plus a few 
things- I had on half of my necklaces and all of my rings.) I 
didn't know where they had gotten it from, and I didn't ask. I 
was ushered down to the printer's square, the place where my 
training was to begin.

"Okay, this is definitely *out* next trip," I said as I tugged 
at the skirt. "Can I borrow a pair of pants from one of you? If 
I can't I'm going to just wear my jeans."

"Uhh, okay," said Kid Blink from off to my right.

"Sure, you can borrow a pair," added Dutchy.

"Good," I replied.

At the square, we stood in line to collect the morning edition. 
I was using my own money, because I didn't want to borrow from 
the boys, so I covered the date as I handed the quarter over. I 
was resting my elbows on the counter, and I guess I was leaning 
over a little too far, and my shirt *was* unbuttoned a bit... 
well, anyway, Racetrack, who was next in line, started 
signaling to me, and I looked up to catch the distributor's 
helper(I think I heard that he was a nephew or something) 
staring at my chest, and I don't think he was too interested in 
my charka stone pendant.

I leaned forward more until my face was nearly touching the 
iron bars and beckoned the guy closer, a grin on my face. He 
leaned forward, grinning as well, and when our faces were 
nearly touching I grabbed his ear forcefully and yanked, making 
him knock his head on the iron but giving me a good position to 
whisper at him.

"All right, buster, if I *ever* catch you staring at my tits 
again, I will personally trap the biggest, scummiest sewer rat 
that I can find in this whole goddamned city, and set it loose 
gnawing your penis off while I skin your balls with a rusty 
penknife and feed 'em to you."

The look on his face was well worth the delay it took for me to 
get my fifty newspapers. I chuckled as I sat down beside the 
rest of the boys who had already gotten their papers.

Racetrack looked at me sideways as he caught up with us. 
"What'd ya tell Oscar?" he asked me.

"Oh, is that his name?" I replied. "Oh, nothing much, 
really..." I leaned over so that I had a good view of the 
distribution window, met Oscar's eyes, and snapped my teeth 
together threateningly. I saw him wince and duck behind his 
uncle. I laughed.

The boys were more confused than ever, but I didn't let that 
bother me. "So, what next?" I asked.

"Now," said Cowboy with a grand flourish, "we sell."

I learned a lot of things that day... oh, not about selling 
newspapers, I didn't take four years of drama in junior high 
and high school for nothing. No, I learned that period garb 
shoes are the most damned uncomfortable things on the planet, 
and how long it takes to walk from one end of the street to the 
other while trying not to rub your blisters any more than you 
have to, and how hot the sun gets in July. Well, I knew that 
before I got here, but it's *warmer* without the smog to 
reflect away sunlight, somehow. At least, the sun's brighter, 
and it gets in your eyes more.

Finally we got to rest at Tibby's, and after that we got to 
trudge back to our bunks at the lodging house. I reached under 
my bunk for my bags and brought out my change of clothes, then 
headed for the bathrooms.

"Where you goin', Rach?" asked Snipeshooter.

I glared at him. "I am *not* wearing these blasted skirts a 
moment longer- and if you think I'm changing out here, you're 
either stoned or stupid." I forced my way into one of the 
stalls and locked it.

After I had changed into my leotard and leggings, I went to my 
bed and pulled out my electronics. "Is there an electrical 
outlet around here?" I asked.

Dutchy pointed to one at the front of the hall. I nodded thanks 
and set up a station there, scattering circuit boards around. I 
tested the current just to make sure, then plugged in my 
soldering iron and unlooped some solder.

"What's dat?" Asked Kid Blink from somewhere behind me, and as 
I started and turned around I realized that the boys were 
crowded around, watching me.

I shrugged. "It's my soldering kit. Don't touch that," I 
pointed to the warming iron, "it'll burn your skin off. Trust 
me, I've done it before. It's unfun."

I waited a few minutes for the iron to heat up fully, then went 
to testing connections and soldering joints. Finally, I thought 
that it was working.

"Cross your fingers," I said softly, as I stuck a CD into the 
player and pressed 'on.'

*Beep!* "SE-GA!" went the Nomad. The boys yelped and scattered, 
and I giggled.

"C'mon, guys, it's only a game," I called. Fingering the 
controls, I then proceeded to show the astonished newsies how 
to beat the top score on Formula 1 racing.

"H... how do dey do dat?" asked Mush.

I shrugged. "These," I said, pointing to the circuit boards, 
"make lights flash. These," I pointed to the buttons that I had 
wired onto my Nomad, "tell what lights flash when. That's baby 
talk for computer science."

They blinked at me. "That's it?" asked Racetrack.

I glared at him. "What do you want me to say? That the electron 
phase neutron particle transmitters zee-multiply the tachyon 
field emissions so the non-subordinate microfleem capacitors 
can tetraflux? I can spew technobabble as well as anyone on 
Star Trek, but I don't make a habit of it."

Switching off the machine, I stopped only to fuse some 
heatshrink tubing on the more delicate components before 
scooping the whole bundle up and cleaning up the lab. Then I 
made my way back to my bunk and shooed the boys away. "Shoo, 
shoo. I need some room. I need to stretch, damnit."

"Huh?" was the universal reply.

I sighed and slid into splits from a standing position. I could 
hear all of them wince while I stretched out, trying to limber 
up my muscles. "Jeez, people, this doesn't hurt!"

"How can you *say* that?" asked Kid Blink, his voice strained. 
"That... that..."

I stood up and shrugged, then kicked my foot above my head and 
held it there for a few counts. "I practice, that's all," I 

They just looked at me. I grinned and lay down on my bunk, 
pulling out a book.

The next day, I learned two things. One, period garb men's 
style pants are impossible to wear without suspenders. Two, 
suspenders are impossible to wear if you happen to be female.

Finally, I vandalized Racetrack's suspenders(he had drawn the 
short straw, I guess,) to make a belt, and buckled it on. 
Worked perfectly, and my shirt was loose enough to cover it. I 
took my Reeboks and painted them brown to be less noticeable, 
then followed the boys off to the square. On the way out, I 
stuck my triangle file in a back pocket. No good reason, but a 
triangle file always made me feel more secure. Like a security 
blanket, I guess...

While I was waiting for Oscar's brother(Morris... I could not 
be-lieve that it was *the* Morris Delancey, and I had him 
practically at my beck and call...) to get more papers from the 
press, I took the file out of my pocket and set about noisily 
filing down the welding on the bars of the stand. 'Weasel' and 
Oscar watched me, the latter backing up slightly.

"You know," I said conversationally as I worked at the iron, 
"These things," *scrape* "can cause," *scrape* "a lot of 
damage," *scrape* "to human flesh." *scrape*

"Oh, really?" asked Oscar hesitantly.

I looked up and nodded gravely. "Oh, yeah. These things work 
better than a can of mace to ward off a mugger... or a rapist." 
I twirled the file in my fingers and grinned. Oscar gulped and 
backed away.

Racetrack looked between me and the window as we left the line 
to stand with the group. "You know, if I didn't know bettah, 
I'd say you was flirtin' wit' him."

I snorted. "That wimp?" I raised the file up to the sunlight, 
then deliberately began applying the least coarse edge to my 

Race looked back at the window. "Uh... Rachel? Oscar just 

The rest of the day passed much as yesterday had, and I 
collected more change that people would believe the date on. We 
joked, we fooled around, we got back to the lodging house and I 
taught Cowboy how to play Sonic the Hedgehog. The next morning, 
we ran out, I frightened Oscar some more, and we played around 
while selling... enh, life was good.

Until I had my period, and ran out of tampons in two days. 
Then, life *sucked.* And I do believe that everyone knew it.

The third day, when I was trying out some of the period type of 
belted pad type things, I was near growling at people. "I 
swear," I said to my companion of the day(who happened to be 
Mush,) "this century... ergh! I just wish I could find a 
Payless somewhere and buy a box of Playtex..." I attacked my 
nails with my file again.

Just then, Oscar Delancey rounded the corner, so I rounded on 
him. "Not to mention *you,*" I snarled, holding up the file 
threateningly. He yelped and turned tail, ducking and running 
back the other way.

His brother, Mush, and I blinked after him. Morris turned to me 
with a funny expression on his face. "What're you threatening 
him with?" He asked, eyeing the triangular piece of metal in my 

In response, I grabbed his arm and scraped the coarsest edge 
across his skin. He drew his arm back with a yelp. "Bitch!"

I grinned and sang, a little off-key, "I'm a bitch, I'm a 
bitch, oh, the bitch is back, stone cold sober as a matter of 
fact." He stared at me as I finished, "I c'n bitch, I c'n 
bitch, 'cuz I'm better than you, it's the way that I move, the 
things that I do, woah oh oh!" I managed some lame air-guitar 
on my file before turning and threatening him again. He yelped 
and followed his brother's example.

Mush was shaking his head. "I don't believe it. A goil's got 
both of de Delancey's on de run. What'll happen next?"

I shrugged, and we continued trying to scrape together some 
money in an overly poetic fashion on the streets of New York.

There was a party at Tibby's later, it being someone's 
birthday(I never did get around to figuring out whose,) and 
when we finally got home there was a surprise waiting for us. 
It was a woman, somewhere in her late twenties if I'm any judge 
of age, with striking red hair and wearing something that 
looked like a cross between a wetsuit and a uniform. It had 
enough wiring strung through it looked like a survival suit, 
one with a heater- and it may very well have been.

She looked up, studied our faces, and swore. "I'm off, it looks 
like... really off." She swore again, in a language I didn't 

I strode forward from the throng of my gaping friends. "Hold on 
a second- you're a time-traveler, right?"

She looked up, startled. "Yeah, I am."

I grinned. "Thought so. That suit looks straight out of... 
well, it doesn't look straight out of anything, but you could 
do a good job of making the producers at Babylon Five faint."

She laughed, and I mean *really* laughed, out of pure pleasure. 
"Or anyone at Star Trek, Space: Above and Beyond, or any of a 
hundred shows, and I could give the Men In Black some tips on 
handling aliens with some of these gizmos..."

I felt my grin widening. "Do you have one of those flashy 
memory messer-upper things?"

She shook her head. "No, but I can control my car through my 

I was laughing, now. "Just like James Bond! Does your car come 
equipped with rockets, self-inflating and puncture-proof tires, 
and ... ooh, what *are* those spiky things? I have it in a 
Heinlien novel somewhere..."

She shook her head, a disgusted expression on her face. "It's 
not even a BMW. I mean," her voice shifted, "unlimited 
technology from the whole universe, and I drive around in a..."

I joined her, "A Ford POS!" I laughed. "Never, ever push the 
little red button."

We both laughed together, until I finally realized that we were 
being stared at. "Uh, what's your name, anyway?"

She smirked. "Call me Destiny."

I grinned. "Okay, boys, meet Destiny. Hope she be merciful." 
That scored me a few weak grins. "Destiny, meet da boyz. I'm 
Rachel, and these are the newsies-"

"I know," Destiny cut me off. "But I'm in the wrong place. 
And," she scowled at her watch, "the wrong time. It's annoying, 
Malcom can't even get *that* part right!" She was smiling 
again. "Sorry that I can't give you an explanation, but I need 
to go- save the universe, and all that. So-"

"Wait," I said as she was adjusting something on her watch. I 
hesitated, then asked, "Can you *please* get me some more 
tampons? I ran out yesterday."

She grinned. "Certainly. In fact, I'll get you something 
better- if you don't mind advanced medicinal tampering..."

I shook my head. Destiny smiled(Oh, lordy, that's an awful 
pun...) "I can get you some pills- they're an advanced version 
of The Pill, in that they also render you sterile when you're 
using... but they're completely non-habit-forming." She grinned 
at me. "The answer to all a girl's prayers, eh?"

I grinned back. "Thanks."

Destiny shrugged. "No problem... thanks for giving me something 
to laugh about." She fiddled with her watch for another second, 
then faded out.

I stared for a second, then started laughing. I laughed as hard 
as I could, rolling on the floor in hysterics. "Oh, oh my," I 
gasped through my giggles, "a time traveler. A real time 
traveler, and we laugh about prime time TV and movies! And I 
ask her for tampons! Oh," I started laughing again, harder than 
ever. The boys were staring at me, but they let me wear myself 
out before demanding an explanation.

"Oh, it's just," I tried to talk, "I never thought about what 
I'd ever *ask* a time-traveler, or what we'd talk about, if I 
ever got to meet someone, but I never expected... I never 
expected we'd trade movie references!"

Destiny came back then, muttering something about a delay in 
customs, and handed me a small, unmarked box. "Be careful with 
'em," she said, grinning. "Take one a week when you need to, 
and never more than that- it'll make the supply last longer." 
She flashed me another grin before fading out. I took one look 
at the box in my hand and started laughing again.

It was the next day before I could trust myself to speak 
without laughing again, and even then I had a bounce in my 
step. Those pills *worked*, for crying out loud, and even the 
guys at the distribution stand looked at me as if I had grown 
an extra head. I hadn't brought along my nail file, so I 
couldn't wave anything threatening at them, so I made plans to 
adapt my soldering iron to battery power.

No, not my soldering iron, my soldering *gun.*

It was a few minutes after we started selling that I remembered 
that I had left my soldering gun at home in California, and it 
wasn't exactly going to be easy to just call up and have dad 
FedEx it to me. (My parents weren't divorced, if that's what 
you're wondering- but my mom's a dancer on Broadway and a 
Science Fiction writer besides, and my dad's a software 
engineer and a composer of synth music besides. I sometimes 
lived with my aunt, who's a certified psychic. No wonder I 
turned out screwy, huh?)

I set myself to the task right away- I managed to pry the 
casing for holding the batteries out of my CD player, seeing as 
it was now powered by my Nomad construct, and attached it to 
the soldering iron with duct tape. I managed to make the iron 
part separate from the base by raiding it and making a duct-
tape blob with a switch, and used my pencil box as a nice case 
to carry it all in.

The next day, armed with my new weapon, I started drawing 
random designs in the wood of the distribution stand, watching 
the smoke drift. I started to drift too close to Weasel's 
record book, so he put his foot down, fitiguravley.

"Look, miss, you're going to have to get rid of that wood-
burner *right now*."

I glanced up, then pulled out my file again. Morris rubbed his 
arm and bared his teeth as I raised it. I dropped a quarter out 
of the same hand that I held the file in and said clearly, 
"Fifty, puh-leaze."

They glared at me. I grinned and shoved the quarter forward 
with my middle finger, then flipped them off as I went back to 
making wood patterns.

Weasel went from shocked to angry to resigned in an instant. 
"Fifty," he ordered with a growl.

I smiled sweetly as I left. Racetrack caught up with me and 
murmured, "You shouldn't do dat. Dey might snap, and den where 
would you be?"

I was touched by his concern. "Thanks for the warning, but I 
think I'm fine." After that, I left the soldering iron at home, 
but I still brought my file.

Files are fun. Files are nasty. I eventually got two nicknames 
because of that - Filez and Nasty- I used the first more often 
because, all things considered, I am *not* a great fan of Janet 
Jackson(I dance, so I'll listen to anything my choreographer 
wants me to dance to- but I don't have to like it.) So I 
changed my name to Rachel Filez(I like the 'z',) and used it 
often. As a statement and as a name.

It was a few weeks later, and I was re-doing my self-manicure, 
when I heard the voices downstairs.

"Oscar Delancey. What brings de scabba down heyah?" It was 
Cowboy, his voice unmistakable. I capped my nail polish(dark 
purple, if you must know,) and moved closer to the stairwell.

"Look, Jack, you've gotta do somethin' about that girl." I 
raised an eyebrow as I heard Oscar use Cowboy's real name.

"What goil, Oscar?"

"You know who I mean, Cowboy! The one with that..."

"You mean Rachel?"

"Yeah, her! Can you... keep her... *away* from me?" I swear 
that his voice rose an octave on that last, and I'm qualified 
to know.

"And why should I do that, Oscar?" Cowboy was nonplused.

"She's vicious! And evil! Did you see what she did to Morris? 
He's got a scar two inches long! Can't you just keep her 

I sat on the edge of the banister, shifted my weight, and rode 
gracefully down the railing. I landed a scant few inches from 
Oscar. He yelped and vaulted over the desk, cowering behind it. 
I shook my head in bewilderment. "Jeez, I've heard of playing 
hard-to-get, but a restraining order?"

Oscar peered cautiously over the edge of the desk. I strolled 
over and grabbed his hair, yanking him to his feet. "Aieep!" he 
managed to say.

I shook him. "Now, listen up..." I trailed off at the look on 
his face, then released my hold on his hair and backed up a few 
paces. "You're really freaked, aren't you?" I asked in a more 
conversational manner.

He nodded mutely, trying to straighten out his hair.

I couldn't help it. I broke up, laughing so hard that I cried. 
I could see Cowboy grinning as well, and I didn't blame him. 
"Oh," I finally said when I could talk, "oh, I haven't laughed 
like that since the first time I saw Monty Python and the Holy 
Grail! Oh, no, you wouldn't get it," I drew another breath, 
trying to steady myself, "it's British humor. I mean," I burst 
out laughing again and couldn't finish my sentence.

Oscar blinked at me a few times. "What's she talking about?" he 
asked Cowboy.

Jack shrugged. "Beats me, but she looks like she's coming 

I held onto the edge of the desk for balance and got a few 
splinters for my trouble. "Yipe!" I exclaimed. "oww.. and now 
look what I've done!" I blew on the now wrecked nail in anger. 
"Arrgh... oh well, I should expect it, with my run of luck." I 
made a face at the scratched not-dry nail polish, then turned 
back to Oscar. "Seriously, I wasn't trying to *frighten* you... 
really! You didn't think I really *meant*..." I trailed off as 
he nodded, stricken. I started laughing again.

Finally, I got my breath back to try and explain. "I do that to 
guys back... back where I come from, all the time, and I never 
thought..." I started laughing again, tried to stifle it, 
"never thought that you'd take it *seriously*..."

Oscar winced. "You.. really mean... all of that..."

I nodded. "Really, just a joke... except when I scratched 
Morris, that was real. Let that be a lesson: never approach a 
lay-dee when she's got PMS." It wasn't PMS, but I decided to 
overlook that minor fact.

He looked at me askance. "I'll keep that in mind."

I started laughing again, resting my head on my hand and my 
elbow on the desk to keep from sliding onto the floor. "Oh, my 
God... can anyone..." I shook my head. "I have to keep 
reminding myself where I am."

Oscar blinked at me. "And... where are you?"

I looked up and grinned. "Somewhere where people don't 
regularly do this..." And I grabbed the back of his head and 
drew him in for a kiss that, if I do say so myself, could melt 
a cube of solid titanium two feet on a side.

I finally released him and stood back when I ran out of oxygen. 
He blinked at me for a few seconds, looking like a rabbit in a 
spotlight, before fainting.

I started laughing again. That's how the other newsies found us 
a few seconds later- Oscar on the floor behind the desk, me 
laughing my ass off, and Cowboy looking between us like a 
spectator at a ping-pong match.

Skittery was the one to look behind the desk. "Hey, Rachel? 
What'd ya do to 'im?" He asked. Skit, well, he has a nice 
voice, but for some reason he sounds like he's always chewing 
gum. It's *frustrating* to me, for some reason.

That probably influenced my next action. "Oh, just this," I 
said innocently, and proceeded to double the dosage of oral 
pleasure I had just fed Oscar. Skit followed the Delancey's 
example in fainting.

I frowned down at him as the others kinda stared. "Dang. Am I 
losing my touch?" I asked.

Racetrack blinked a few times, swallowed, then turned to me. 
"Whaddya mean, Rach?" He asked.

I shrugged. "Oh, nothing... it's just, well, I put in all of 
that effort, and neither of them are *smiling.*"

That set the boys to laughing, and I joined in as we dragged 
Skittery and Oscar upstairs before Kloppman got back. We laid 
them out on some empty bunks(no, that is not supposed to be 
sick,) and let them wake up.

While we were waiting, I managed to touch up my manicure and 
get the topcoat on before running into anything. Oscar woke up 
as I swabbed the last drop of clear acetate off my finger.

"What's that?" he asked.

I looked down and grinned. "Oh, good, you're awake."

Oscar nodded and rubbed his head. "What happened?"

I frowned. "Don't tell me I'm passing out amnesia, now."

He blinked at me some more, and I blew on my nails to dry them.

Finally, he spoke again, "What did you kiss me for?"

I blinked at him, now. "To convince you that dealing with me is 
not like dealing with anyone from around here."

"What do you mean by around here?"

"Eighteen ninety eight New York City."

"... And where are you from?"

"Nineteen ninety seven San Francisco, California. More or 

His jaw dropped and I kissed him again and he lost 
consciousness some more. I went back to treating my nails.

After a while, he woke up again. I had my Nomad out and was 
beating Specs' ass in Fighting Vipers. "And thou art bested 
again, heretic! Another game?"

Specs shook his head and dropped the controller. "Naah... 
you've had too much practice."

"True," I replied with a grin. I turned to Oscar. "Oh, you're 
awake again. Want to challenge me?"

He blinked at me. "Huh?" He asked succinctly.

I shrugged and put the Nomad away. "So, how are you feeling?"

Oscar seemed to consider that for a moment. "Would, 'floating 
two inches above the ground' make you happy?"

I started laughing, and this time most everyone else, including 
Oscar, joined in. "Yeah," I said shakily after an undetermined 
amount of time.

He grinned. "Good."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "Dear boy, I do believe you are 
loosening up."

That earned me a shrug and a slight smile. "It seemed like a 
good idea at the time."

I grinned. "Now, about that restraining order..."

"Restraining order?" asked Racetrack, who happened to be 
closest. Oscar blushed a little.

I nodded. "Care to rethink?"

He nodded as well, still blushing.

Racetrack raised an eyebrow at me. "I knew you was flirtin' 
with him."

I looked at him, surprised. "I was flirting with all of you, 
but you're all wearing blinders because you couldn't believe 
it. I was only *threatening* him."

Conversations came to a halt as people started staring at me. I 
sighed. "The thing that confuses me is why you all thought that 
I was sending glances at someone else. Not *one* person picked 
up on my nonverbal proposals." A lot of people blinked at me. 
The rest of them just stared. I shook my head. "Stuck in a room 
with a bunch of cute guys and not one of them hits on me. 

That earned me a few chuckles, but not enough, so I pressed on. 
"And the two guys that *I* make a move on faint as soon as I 
touch 'em. Are you *that* easily broken?" That got a few more 
grins going. "Both of my parents are hippie holdovers, so I'm 
*into* peace and free love, peoples. And I'm not made of glass, 
I won't shatter!"

That got everyone grinning as they started actually using their 
brains. Conversations started up again, and I taught Oscar how 
to play Fighting Vipers. I set my character on maximum 
handicap, so he actually won a few games before I started 
playing instead of teaching. He left with a promise to not pick 
on any of the newsies, after they promised not to attack him 
anymore. He assured us all that his brother was still fair 

The next few months I 'dated' most of the newsies(and Oscar, 
once or twice,) switching off periodically, and usually going 
with whomever asked me first. 'Twas fun, and it helped to make 
the lodging house a little cheerier at night. I started lending 
out my books out to those interested, and actually managed to 
get them interested in science fiction, even though most of the 
science hadn't been invented yet.

1898 ended before anything else really weird happened, and 1899 
was well underway when the next surprise hit. I was selling 
with Cowboy, and things were going fine, when suddenly he 
muttered "Shit!" under his breath and tugged on my sleeve, 
pulling me into the alley behind us.

"What?" I asked. He motioned for me to be silent and watched 
the mouth of the alley. I gave up and watched with him. After a 
time, a rollypollyish man in a black suit passed by, and I felt 
Jack tense his muscles in a fight-or-fight reflex behind me. I 
couldn't figure out why, until the guy looked over and I could 
see his eyes.

If you've never seen eyes like his, you're lucky. I'm not 
saying they were bloodshot or bleeding or gory or anything, 
they were just... to be overly poetic, they were the eyes of 
someone who had lost all joy with the world, who only got 
pleasure through someone else's pain. Those eyes made me want 
to shrivel up to a spot on the wall, made me want to sink 
through a crack in the sidewalk, made me want to run, run, run!

I could see why Cowboy, the tough guy male chauvinist pig-type 
macho man, was cowering. "Who is he?" I whispered. I wanted to 
talk normally, trusting the street noise to cover my voice, but 
I couldn't

"Snyder. The warden for the Refuge."

I'd heard about the Refuge before, usually from across the room 
as the older newsies took care of the chore of making sure the 
younger newsies were in bed and asleep before the parties 
started, in the form of a threat, the way parents used the 
bogeyman. I'd never considered it before. "What's-" I started 
to ask, and then Snyder saw us.

His eyes lit up. Cowboy swore, and we started running.

For all that Cowboy knew the territory, I'm just a good a 
runner as he is, and I managed to keep up with him as we ran 
through alleys, over rooftops, up and down fire escapes, and 
through bust streets, always seeming to be just one step ahead 
of the warden. For all he was an old fogey, Snyder ran pretty 
well, and I got the feeling that he had a lot of practice

Finally, after what seemed like an hour, we took a turn in a 
open square, ran up a flight of stairs, and hid, to watch him 
stumble around furiously. He couldn't find us, and I relaxed.

We made our way down to street level, and I pulled Jack into an 
alley and gave him the kiss of his life before he could argue. 
"Wh... what was that for?" He asked when he got his breath 

I grinned, "Information. I can't get it free, now can I?"

He chuckled, but stopped when he heard my first question. "Why 
was he chasing you?"

Cowboy swallowed and grimaced. "I... well, I was in the Refuge 
a while ago," he admitted.

"Refuge is like Juvenile hall? Never mind, you wouldn't get it. 
Go on."

He blinked. "You aren't going to ask why I-"

"No. Why should it matter? I just want to know why he was 
chasing you."

Sighing, he went on, "I escaped a while ago. Snyder's been 
after me ever since."

I nodded. "I expected something like that." I gave him another 
kiss for the information, then pulled him off the wall. "Come 
on, we need to sell."

That was interesting information, but I didn't get anything 
more out of that day except for a few lousy cents. "Man, I wish 
that I could change the serial numbers on these things," I 
groused as I leafed through my wallet that night.

There was one hell of a poker game going on, and I had chosen 
not to participate, as my stash of 1800's coins was running low 
and the only other money I had was printed mostly in 1995. 
Annoying. Anyway, I attracted the attention of a few of the 
newsies playing, but most of them went back to the game. 
"Whaddya mean, Rach?" asked Racetrack.

"Just what I said," I replied. "I've got.. lessee... I pulled 
out my stash and started leafing through it, "around four 
thousand in cash here..."

"WHAT?!" All of a sudden, newsies were swarming over me like 
vultures on a corpse.

"Woah, woah!" I called, pushing them back. "For one thing, the 
printing date's a hundred years in the future. For another, 
half of my 100's have the new style to prevent counterfeiting, 
and *that* doesn't get thought of for a hundred years. And 
finally, who'd believe you if you waved a hundred dollar bill 
around? You'd get arrested for thievery!"

That calmed them down, enough so they all went back to their 
respective other entertainment. I pulled one of the new 100's 
out and stared at it for a while, then folded it into a paper 
airplane and sent it at Racetrack.

It lodged in his ear. He yelped and batted at it, knocking off 
Specs' hat in the process. Specs retaliated with a backhanded 
slap that sent Race into Mush, and they both tumbled to the 
ground, which upset the table... you get the idea. Total chaos 
ruled for a few minutes, and when everything finally managed to 
get back to some kind of order I was engrossed in a random 

Life was great.

-= The End =-