Disclaimer: Charles Dickens owns all the characters from Oliver Twist. Seeing as he wrote it 150 years before I was born, I doubt I could claim that I invented them anyway.

Fic starts here:

At this time of night, it was always cold, but tonight the piercing chill seemed far more intense to Nancy than usual, even with the crowds of people around her. Still it wasn't as though it mattered much - she knew well enough that if she was cold, the best thing to do was to find the nearest man with money to part with, and stay close to him for a while. The money he paid you could be spent on something that would warm up your insides, too. Tonight, however, was different. Nancy knew that she had to get some money from somewhere; otherwise she would be thrown out of her room again. There was only one place to get that money from, but somehow she felt that it was beyond her. It was odd, since tonight was no different to any other night. But yet she felt different inside. Shivering as she walked back to the corner of The Three Cripples, she spied a head of greasy red hair and a body covered with that grey coat she had seen so often. Fagin, Nancy thought with relief. At last somebody to talk to, now that Bet had left with that sailor. She adjusted her shawl and strolled over to him, hoping that her voice wouldn't reveal too much of the delight she had in seeing him in her lonely state.

"Now what would a man of such a high reputation as yours is, be doing in such a lowly place as this?" His dry laugh always reminded her of the time she had sneaked into a play. There was a scene in that where a villain cackled over the capture of the heroine he loved, and that laugh sounded just as raspy and lifeless as that of the man who stood before her now.

"Business, my dear, only business."

"I'll bet. Come inside and warm yourself up."

They walked back, just in time, Nancy thought, since it had begun to rain again. Fagin walked up to the bar and paid for a glass of gin, before taking a seat at the nearest table and motioning for her to join him.

"And how's tonight's business going, my dear? I didn't expect to see you - I had assumed that some lucky gentleman had found you by now." He handed her the glass and motioned for her to drink.

"No such luck tonight, I'm afraid."

"Well, don't despair yet, my dear. I have a feeling you'll be set before long." He grinned and stood up. "The gin is on me."

"You're not going?"

"I told you. I have business. But don't despair. You shouldn't be alone here much longer." With that, he scurried past the crowd into the darkness, leaving Nancy alone with her thoughts once more.

"It's just as well he bought me the gin. After all, he was the one who first introduced me to it." When she was just five, she had met him. She couldn't remember much before Fagin, when she lived with her mother. Aside from some vague images, all she could remember clearly was when the typhus swept through the street. Like everyone else, they had become sick, but Nancy recovered. She remembered staying by her mothers side, not comprehending why she didn't move or speak. Nancy didn't want to leave the house, not even when the smell of her mother's corpse became sickening, but after becoming so hungry that it was painful, she went out into the streets. Nobody had any pity for the half starved girl, just as they had no pity for the many others in the same situation. She scavenged what she could but one day when she spent hours trying to satiate her hunger and failing miserably, she broke down in desperate tears. By some incredibly lucky or unlucky twist of fate, Fagin spied her at that moment and approached her. He told her that he would give as much food as she wanted, as well as a home and company. All she had to do was play some games. How could she refuse? He took her in and was true to his word. It seemed to Nancy that her wildest dreams had come true. She liked playing the games with the other children that she stayed with. They all involved taking things out of people's pockets, and she thought that they were great fun, especially when Fagin held her up as an example to the others.

That had continued until she was thirteen. Then Fagin told her that she wasn't earning enough and would have to leave unless she could find a way to get more money. Fortunately, he told her, there was a way she could. He took her into a tiny room with a bed in one corner and told her to lay on it and stay there, no matter what happened. She was in the room alone for a few minutes when the door opened and a strange man came in. He told her to take off her clothes. She protested, but the man said that he was a friend of Fagin's and that if she didn't, he would tell him. He then took off his trousers and forced himself upon her. It hurt and she felt tears come to her eyes as he entered her and had his pleasure. Finally, he finished, dressed himself and left the room. She had cried then, when she was certain that she was alone. The next day, Fagin explained to her that if she wanted to lodge with him, she had to do that every night. Otherwise, she would be turned out onto the streets. But that was a long time ago. She had met Bet shortly after that, when she turned up to the Three Cripples to find men. Bet was about her age and they got on well, eventually resolving to move their own lodgings. It wasn't cosy, but it kept them dry and warm, and that was enough.

Nancy stood up from the table and tottered unsteady to the edge of the tavern. Enough was enough. She couldn't stand to wallow in self pity any longer. She was going to bed. It seemed that Bet was certainly earning enough to pay rent for both herself and Nancy, and she could always pay her back later. Placing her hand against the wall for support, she began to head home when she suddenly stumbled into a man leaning against the wall.

"I'm sorry... I didn't see you."

"Where are you going?"

"I want to go home."

The man laughed. "Why do you want to go home?"

"I'm lonely." For the first time, she looked up at his face. He was a tall man, with black hair, blue eyes and the stench of beer about him.

"Come on, don't go home. I'll keep you company. I've got money, huh? We can have fun."

Nancy hesitated. "Alright. Come on, then." She led him to a quiet alley and prepared to earn her rent money.