In the Beginning

DISCLAIMER: Believe it or not, I am not Charles Dickens. Gasp! Sorry to disappoint all of you. I assure you that most of these characters and some of the plot belongs to him, wherever he may be buried.

Summary: This is the Dodger's story. It is the story of how he came to live with Fagin and what happened once he was there.

A/N: This is chapter three. I would like everyone to know that I started this chapter before I even posted chapter two. Sorry, but I had to announce that because I was proud of myself.

Chapter 3: Conducting Business

The next morning, Jack woke up slightly confused. He did not remember where he was, but when John greeted him, the events of the previous day came back to him.

Fagin instructed Jack to go with John for the day.

Upon leaving for the day, John informed Jack that they would spend most of their time near the market. Jack agreed that this way fine.

The older boy showed him how to tell which pockets were worth picking and which were not. He also showed him how to know which pockets to look in. He would have to watch the people for a bit before he really got the hang of it.

Jack watched the older boy at work for a while, but soon becoming bored, he asked if he could possibly try to pick a pocket himself.

"No," John said, shaking his head. "I don't think that's a good idea. If you get caught, you will be in a lot of trouble. You should watch first, and maybe in a few weeks you will be ready to try."

"What kind of trouble?" Jack asked curiously.

John smiled.

"If you get caught stealing," he said. "The consequences would be terrible. You would be arrested and locked up. If you're old enough, you could even be hanged."

Jack did not know what to think of this new information.

"If you are ever caught," John continued. "Don't peach. That's the worst thing you could possibly do."

"Peach?"

"Yeah, peach," John tried to explain. "You know, like tattle. Don't tell anyone where Fagin lives or who you work for. That would just get everybody into trouble."

"I won't peach," Jack said.

"No," John corrected. "You won't get caught."

He winked. Jack smiled.

-

Later that night, the other boys were explaining to Jack how much fun he would have while he was there. Jack felt like it was all just one big game. These boys were so carefree.

"Stick with Fagin," John instructed. "He'll teach you how to be a great prig. A prig's a thief," he explained upon seeing the confused expression on the younger boy's face. "You already have talent, but you have to know how to use that talent. You'll be great, I can tell already, one of the best!"

Jack could not help but smile. That would be great, to be one of the best thieves ever. It would be a real accomplishment.

"Picture it," John said dramatically. "You'll be able to pick anybody's pocket without them realizing it. Robbing houses will be as easy as lacing up your boots. You'll never go hungry and you'll never have to work very hard for anything. If you want something, you can just pick a few pockets and it will be as good as paid for. The police will be after you all the time, of course, but they'll never catch you because you're quick."

"But what if they do catch me?" Jack asked.

"They won't," Nancy assured him. "Just run if they see you."

Jack nodded. He understood.

He would have to steal as much as possible and not get caught. That was the object of the game.

Fagin entered the room and greeted the boys and Nancy.

"How was work today?" he asked John.

"It was alright," the boy said lazily. "Just an ordinary day."

"And the boy?" Fagin asked irritably.

"He did just fine. I honestly don't know why you sent him with me today, Fagin. The kid's got more talent in his one little finger than the rest of us put together. I'd say he should be able to do the job himself by tomorrow or the next day at the latest."

"Good," Fagin muttered. "Good. He understands the rules?"

"Aye," John nodded.

"He didn't cause any trouble today?"

"Not a bit."

The old man stroked his beard, seemingly in deep thought.

"I suppose he can do his own stealing," he said, eyeing the small boy.

Jack looked up at Fagin from under the rim of his hat.

"Starting tomorrow," Fagin informed him. "You will follow John, but you are allowed to pick pockets on your own accord. You will be allowed to keep a portion of what you earn, but the rest goes to me. If you are caught, no peaching. If seen, run for your life and try to get out of it. Do not, by any means, lead anyone back to this place. Do you understand?"

Jack nodded.

"Good," the Jew said pleasantly. "Then I would suggest you get to sleep for you have a big day ahead of you."

All of the children took this as their cue and crawled into their respective makeshift beds.

-

The next morning could not come fast enough for one very excited Jack Dawkins. It was to be his first real day on the job and he had never anticipated anything more.

He was soon up and ready to leave, but John insisted they eat breakfast at a leisurely pace. He said they had nowhere to go immediately.

However, when they did eventually leave, Jack took off with such speed and exuberance that the older boy had to stop and remind him that he was gambling with his life.

So, the child calmed himself and stealthily wove his way through the morning crowd with John was close behind him. The two walked in silence until the elder took the risk of relieving a gentleman of his handkerchief.

Jack noticed this out of the corner of his eye and decided that it would be safe to try it himself. Spotting a well-dressed young man standing on a corner, Jack made his way over to him. The man appeared to be waiting for someone. He kept checking his watch and glancing around.

Jack approached the man from behind. He paused only for a moment to consider his course of action before deciding. He watched the man check his watch one more time. As the man placed said watch back into his pocket, Jack was there to catch it. The watch fell into the boy's outstretched hand instead of the pocket, but the gentleman did not notice. Quickly detaching the chain, Jack stuffed the stolen item into his pocket and fled.

"There you are!" John exclaimed upon seeing the boy. "How are you doing?"

Jack pulled his newly obtained watch from his pocket.

John was momentarily speechless, but he gracefully recovered in only a few seconds.

"Where did you get that?" he asked.

Jack began to think that maybe he had done something wrong.

"I stole it from a man down the street," he explained. "Was I not supposed to?"

"Oh! It's perfectly fine," the boy assured him. "It's just that those are incredibly hard to get. You're either very lucky or very talented. I'd put my money on the latter."

He winked and they continued with their work.

-

When Fagin told John to show him what he had from the day's work, he was presented with two wallets and a handkerchief.

"Well done," he praised. "And you?" he asked Jack. "Did you manage to find anything?"

Jack stepped forward after receiving a nod of encouragement from a smirking John.

He first pulled out a handkerchief. Fagin congratulated him on his success.

"He's not done yet, Fagin," John announced.

Fagin raised an eyebrow and motioned for the boy to continue.

Next, Jack took a wallet from his pocket and handed it to the Jew. The old man once again congratulated him on a good day's work, but once again he was interrupted by the older boy.

"Wait, Fagin," John said exasperatedly. "Let him finish."

Jack then produced the watch, the last of his pocket's contents.

Fagin raised an eyebrow at John as if asking if the younger boy had indeed stolen the watch himself. John nodded smirking all the while.

There was a knock on the door downstairs. John left to answer it.

"Well, my boy," Fagin said softly. "I believe you may be of some use after all. Well done."

It was then that John reentered, this time accompanied by Nancy.

"What's that, Fagin?" she asked, nodding in the direction of the watch.

"What's it look like?" John said sarcastically.

The girl shot him a dangerous look and he quickly shut up.

"Our young Master Dawkins managed to secure this item for us," Fagin said, ignoring the exchange between his two oldest followers.

Nancy raised an eyebrow at the child who had been silent since his return to Fagin's den. He merely stood there watching what was going on around him.

"Not bad," Nancy commented. "For your first day of work."

"Not bad at all," Fagin said softly. "If you continue on like this, you could be the world's greatest pickpocket in no time."

"Do you say that to everyone?" John asked.

"Yes," Fagin replied. "Because everyone has an equal opportunity to be great, but I think Jack has even more of one."

"Yes, he iscertainly very artful," John said, laughing.

"The Artful," Nancy mused. "I like that. Do you like it?"

Jack nodded uncertainly.

"Well, Mister Artful," John laughed. "I think it's time for bed. We have to work again tomorrow."

Jack nodded.

After the day's excitement, he was asleep in no time.


A/N: Oops. This chapter took a while and I am not very happy with it… at all. Oh well. Hopefully chapter 4 will be better. I'll make it up to you eventually. I promise. It's summer so one would assume I'd have more time to write but I really don't. I'm leaving for Texas tomorrow morning and thought I'd put this chapter up before I left. I'll try to write as much as possible this summer. I'm hoping to finish my other story before I go back to school. Yeah right… wishful thinking. Oh well.

MyStIc BlAcK PhOeNix: Thanks! I'm glad you like it. Here's chapter 3.

Hannah the Fly: Yay! Thanks! I will definitely not forget the other story. Thanks for reading!

Auburn Red: Thank you. I will definitely read your story. We need more Oliver Twist stories.

jimmy the christmas smurf: You curse like a sailor! But thanks anyway. Yeah, Dodger is nothing like Oliver. He's definitely more Dodgerish. You understand, right? Yes, Amanda and I do amuse ourselves with your problems. And yes, the hat and Charley will come into play in both stories eventually. Be patient. Thanks for being generous.

SetszukiLerouxYou should write your Oliver Twist story! I'd read it. Thanks for reading mine! I hope you enjoy this chapter.

SetszukiLeroux: Heh, I'm glad you like this story. I realized that Dodger's meeting with Fagin was a lot like Oliver's, but I really couldn't think of any other way for them to welcome new people. So, let's just pretend that this is their routine for all new kids. If that still doesn't work for you I'm sorry, but I can't come up with a better reason. Thanks for reading!

Maidenhair: Thank you so much! I will never compare to Dickens, but it's fun to try. That's all I'm doing. I'm just having fun.

Fhire: I'm glad you like my story so much. Your reviews make me laugh. Thanks. I like your idea about the diaries. That will be interesting… and very long. Heh…thanks for reading! Enjoy this chapter.

CYT Catwoman: Thanks! I hope you like this chapter, too.

Thanks once again to all of my readers and reviewers.

Now, do your jobs and read and review.

Thanks!