Author: Joyful ( AuntMelba1@aol.com )
Summary: Kid Blink was known for his eye patch. Until he joined the swim team.
Rating: R, for naughty language.
Pairings: Blink/Spot, Mush/Dutchy
Disclaimer: I do not own the Newsies at all. They belong to Disney, and I gain no monetary retribution from this. Caveat Lector.
Notes: For Minx and Shala, and for Ms. Moon—the most kickass beta in the universe. I had no desire to write a modern-day Newsies fic. Then I started reading a few, particularly Blink-centric ones. Everyone has a different take on Blink’s left eye. Then I found myself googling artificial eyes. And before I knew it, I found myself writing this fic. I had no intention of writing it, and it will probably suck, but it basically wrote itself, so I am sorry. Also, this is a very unconventional pairing, but after reading Sloan’s “Everything You’ve Done Wring” series for almost 3 days, these characters and this story spoke to me. So again, I’m sorry if it sucks. Also, I went to a small, private Christian school—So 10 people + luggage in a full-sized van? Not hard to do at all. Trust me. We drove 19 people in a van from New York to Virginia. And yes, there is a small but obvious theft from “The Princess Bride.” Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Ryan Callaghan loved to swim, but nobody knew. Everyone knew him as “Kid Blink,” the weird blonde kid who always wore an eye-patch and never took it off. He never let anyone see his left eye. Or the gaping hole where his left eye should be.
“Mom, I want to join the swim team,” Ryan said one day.
“Okay, so do it,” his mom said, happy to support him.
“I can’t. You’ve seen me without my patch, they haven’t. I can’t let them.”
“So, do you think you’re finally ready for a prosthetic?” Mary Callaghan asked her son.
“Yeah. I’m ready.” So Mary made the appointment. After several appointments for fittings and trials, Ryan got his acrylic eye at the end of June. Every day of summer vacation, he put in his eye, and practiced. He practiced blinking, smiling, looking from left to right. He taught himself how to make it look real, always wearing the patch over it in public. He wasn’t ready for anyone to see yet. At the end of summer, he was ready. He went to the pool to try out for the swim team.
“Hey, Mush, isn’t that Kid Blink?” Sean Conlon asked, his thick Brooklyn/Irish accent separating him from the rest of the boys in his Manhattan prep school. He pointed towards the tall blonde boy talking to Coach Carey.
“Yeah. We were in the spring musical together. He’s a pretty good dancer for someone with no depth perception,” Nicholas Meyers replied.
“All right boys, line up on the blocks!” Coach Carey called. Ryan swallows, but pulled off his shoes, his shirt, and finally, his eye-patch. None of the boys had ever seen Ryan without his patch before. A couple of girls in the stands started cheering.
“Yeah! Take it all off, baby!” Ryan smiled. He felt almost naked without his patch, but he wanted to swim. He looked back at Spot. The boy’s back was a patchwork or scars and burns, but nobody seemed to pay any attention to them. Of course, Ryan also knew that everyone had better sense than to make fun of Spot Conlon. He lined up, waited for the starting pistol, and dove into the water.
Spot Conlon was the star of the swim team, everyone knew that. He was the best swimmer in the school. So everyone was shocked that this boy, who they’d known for years and NEVER seen swim, was beating Spot by a whole length. He was good. He was on the team.
“Pretty good for a Cyclops,” Spot said, and Blink growled a bit. He hated being called that.
“Lay off him, Spot,” Mush said. “Spot’s just mad because nobody’s ever beaten him before. Besides, it’s quite obvious that whole pirate thing was just an act.” Ryan smiled nervously, before heading into the locker room. He squirted some drops in his left eye to rinse out the chlorine, knew he’d have to clean in when he got home. If anyone had looked carefully, they’d have noticed that only one eye was bloodshot. Sean Conlon was very observant.
The fall semester started great. Ryan was starting to become good friends with Mush, and Mush’s boyfriend Dutchy. He even started hanging out with Spot Conlon a bit. Spot didn’t say much, and could be a jackass sometimes, but was usually a pretty decent guy. He could be pretty intimidating sometimes, especially when someone would stare at the scars on his back, but most of the time, he just listened and watched. The swim team was winning, so everyone was happy. They’d beaten most of the school in New York City, and were on a roll.
“All right,” Coach Carey said after practice one day. “We have a meet in Albany next week. The school is paying for the hotel, but don’t forget spending money and your permission slips. Higgins, you’re with Kelly, Meyers, you’re with VanWalderveen, Peterson, you’re with Smith, and Conlon, you’ll be bunking with Callaghan.” Blink looked at Spot who made no visible reaction. Inside, however, Spot was soaring. Out of all the guys on the team, Blink was Spot’s first choice. Mush and Dutchy would have whined all night if they were separated, Racetrack snored, and Jack moaned about missing his girlfriend. It was a pretty good match.
The van ride to Albany was long, and Coach Carey and his wife Eileen mainly ignored the kids. Mush and Dutchy made out in the backseat for most of the trip. Racetrack kept trying to force the others to listen to opera in Italian, while Jack kept attempting to maim him. Spot and Blink just sat next to each other quietly, reading.
Blink was on Spot’s left, so he kept accidentally bumping Sean’s arm as he moved his book to the right so he could read it. Ryan was slightly aware that Spot kept glancing at him. When he was fairly certain Spot wasn’t looking, Ryan turned his head a bit and ran his finger across the false eye, wiping away any of the goop that sometimes accumulated. He didn’t have a mirror, so he was ultra-sensitive about somebody seeing anything unusual. He made sure to rub away from his nose, so that his eye wouldn’t accidentally roll backwards. When he was done, he looked over at Spot who was intently reading his book. He took a moment to observe Spot. Spot had a small scar behind his left ear. Blink briefly wondered where it was from.
“So, what’re you reading?” Blink asked Spot.
“Siddhartha,” Spot replied. “You?”
“Good book,” Spot said casually.
“Yeah, not my favorite,” Blink replied. “It’s okay, though. Siddhartha is a really good book, though. Do you like it so far?”
“Yeah, it’s really good.” The two launched into a discussion of philosophy books, and fucked-up English literature that lasted the duration of their trip.
“Go, why don’t they just fuck and get it over with?” Dutchy whispered to Mush, who cracked up. Everyone could see there was something between the two boys, more than just a love of reading.
They dragged their luggage into their hotel room, it was pretty late, and they needed to get some sleep soon.
“Uh. . .” Blink said as he looked at the Queen-sized bed. Bed. Singular. Spot came in behind Blink and looked around.
“Eh, slept in worse places than this. You don’t mind, do ya Blink?” Spot asked.
“I guess not. Besides, you don’t take up much space,” Blink joked. “Mind if I take the right side?”
“Nah, that’s fine,” Spot said. They settled in and flicked on the TV. Blink looked, and saw that Spot was staring at the television. He fumbled in his suitcase for a black bag with his toiletries. Walking around the bed, he tripped over Spot’s suitcase, landing on his ass, and the contents of his bag spilling everywhere. Spot hopped up to help Blink gather his things together. Spot noticed a few unusual things in Blink’s bag.
“Blink, why do you have a suction cup?” Spot asked, holding up the small rubber apparatus.
“Um, well,” Blink stammered. “It’s for my eye.” Spot thought about that for a moment.
“So, it’s true then? You really do have a glass eye?”
“Well, it’s acrylic, technically,” Ryan said, trying to make a little joke. Spot studied the larger boy’s face.
“Those doctors do good work,” Spot said. “It’s a perfect match. It even sparkles like the real one.”
“Um, thanks. . . wait, you think my eyes sparkle?” Now it was Spot’s turn to blush.
“Yeah. Do you mind if I ask how. . . ?” Spot asked, trying to not be obvious in his crush.
“Cancer, when I was seven. There were tumors, and they had to cut it out,” Blink said, looking down. “We moved to New York to be closer to the doctors. When I was in remission, I started school again.”
“That really sucks. It must have been so terrifying,” Spot replied. Ryan looked into the smaller boy’s eyes, and saw that he truly meant it. He was not reacting the way Ryan had expected him to.
“I don’t mean to pry,” Ryan said, “But your scars, do you mind if I ask?” Spot looked at his feet.
“Nobody’s had the guts to ask before,” Sean replied. “My father was IRA when we lived in Belfast. They were making bombs in the garage, one day, when I was near ten. He was teaching me how, when Uncle Mike dropped his cigarette. Da’ and my uncles were killed; I woke up in hospital three days later. After that, Mum moved us to live with her sister in Brooklyn. I got the scholarship to St. Mark’s freshman year, as you know.”
“That’s horrible,” Ryan responded. Everyone knew that Spot was from Ireland, but nobody knew the details.
“Listen to us,” Spot said, laughing a bit. “Two fucked-up teenagers with tragic pasts.”
“It’s not a tragedy unless it was doomed from the start,” Blink replied, being a smartass. “I have to take care of this,” he said gesturing to his eye. He felt so embarrassed.
“I won’t make fun of you,” Spot promised, gently.
“It’s just that, well, it’s disgusting,” Ryan said. Spot pulled his shirt off.
“No, this is disgusting. It’s disgusting because it could have been prevented. I got caught up in a stupid war, because my father was in the fucking IRA. That’s disgusting. I’ve seem war, Ryan.” Spot said, using Blink’s real name for once. “I’ve seen kids with missing limbs, and missing eyes. Kids burned worse than me. I’ve seen the Ulster Volunteer Force carve their initials in my little sister’s arm. That’s disgusting. You are not disgusting. You’re just a kid who was sick, and survived.” Tears came to Ryan’s eyes, both of them. The tear duct in his left eye was still intact.
“Fuck, sorry, but now I have to take it out.” Ryan’s hands trembled a little bit as he reached for the suction cup. Standing in front of the mirror, he pressed the small cup to the false iris. Applying a small amount of pressure, he listened for the tiny pop signifying that a seal was made. Swallowing nervously, he pulled out his false eye, knowing that Sean was watching him. He placed it in its plastic container filled with cleaning solution. Then he cleaned out his eye socket, acutely aware that Sean could see. Nobody except his family and doctors had seen Blink’s naked face. Quickly, he moved to put his eye-patch back on when he felt a hand on his arm.
“You don’t need to hide yourself from me,” Spot said. Kid Blink turned and looked at Spot face to face.
“Why would you want to look at me?” Ryan asked. “I’m so ugly.”
“There isn’t an ugly thing about you,” Sean replied. He bridged the distance between them to run a hand through Ryan’s soft, blonde hair. “You’re beautiful,” he breathed. With a silent plea for strength, Sean leaned up on his tiptoes to capture Ryan’s mouth in a kiss. While he was surprised at first, Ryan responded on instinct, leaning forward into the kiss. After a moment that resembled an eternity, they broke apart.
As kisses go, this was one of the most perfect first kisses in the history of kissing. Ryan, however, had no basis for comparison. He had never before let anyone close enough to kiss him. But he was certainly not going to complain now.
“I’m sorry if I misread you,” Sean said. “But it seemed like the perfect thing to do in the moment.”
“It was,” Ryan said softly. Without words, they moved to the bed. They sat on the edge, just staring at each other. This time, it was Ryan who initiated the kiss. He let instinct take over again. When Sean’s tongue probed at Ryan’s lips, Ryan parted them, allowing the smaller boy access. They spent forever just getting to know each other’s mouth. Ryan ran his hands along Sean’s back, feeling the scar tissue against his fingertips. Spot flinched at first, but then relaxed into the touch.
They broke for breath, laying back on the bed, just looking at each other. Tentatively, Sean reached a hand towards Ryan’s face. He ran two fingers across Ryan’s forehead, trailing them down his left temple, and across his left cheek, circling Ryan’s missing eye. Leaning forward, Sean placed a gentle kiss to Ryan’s left eyebrow. They shifted on the bed, placing their heads on the pillows. But they continued to gaze into each others eyes.
For the first time, Kid Blink felt whole.