Well, as I told at least one of my reviewers, I WAS going to wait for Broken Amethyst to review. It seems, though, that she is on a vacation (just my guess) and, therefore, is making me wait longer than I can stand to post! So now, I am posting it. In the end, what I decided to do was (1) write and post the "second ending" on and my homepage, (2) write a little "author's note" in which I will explain what all the characters went on to do (this will be posted on my homepage which you can reach from my profile) – it may take a few days before this is up, and (3) umm… there was something else I was intending to do… I don't remember though! Ah, well, point is that's what I have decided to do. Thanks everyone!
Note to the reader: The following chapters are meant to be read after "Chapter 23: She Loves Me… She Loves Me Not… She Loves Me…" It ends the story in a different way and makes the story shorter. This ending was the one I originally intended to write until my readers urged me to go in a new direction (which it turned out, I like better). Both chapters start the same way as the first versions, but end differently. I hope you enjoy this little add on of mine (personally though, I think the other ending is more dramatic, but that's probably just because I am used to it)! Thanks - Charlene Bates
Chapter 24: A Merry Christmas Eve (#2)
As it neared Christmas, the Dodger and Charley became more and more distracted. Then, of course, there was the ever-present fact that there were absolutely no decorations up anywhere inside their apartment save the boys' bedroom which had a candy-cane or two lying around. Fagin had given a resounding "no" when asked if he was going to get them a Christmas tree, but somehow the boys managed to make it feel "Christmassy enough". They were constantly saving money to buy each other presents; each vowing that they were going to get the other the "best present ever".
When Christmas Eve finally came, the boys were extremely fidgety. They decided to distract themselves by decorating the house with whatever they found. Charley made a beautiful decoration that was composed of a string that hung across the room with handkerchiefs draped over it. The Dodger was kind enough to go out and find a slightly tragic, but nonetheless green, tree. They hung pickpocket finds such as watches and jewelry on it, and put a hat they had stolen on top.
Once they had finished, they both stood back and looked at their handy-work.
"It's rather pretty the way the jewelry and gold watches reflect the candlelight!" Charley giggled.
"I'd say it's a shame that no one 'sides us 'll see it…" the Dodger gave a smile, "What if we invited Nance and Guinevere over for dinner?"
"I'd say that Bill wouldn't allow it unless he could come, and Fagin wouldn't allow it 'cause he'd have to cook all the food!"
"Shame…," the Dodger shook his head sadly, "What if they just 'showed up' an' it happened ta' be dinnertime?"
"Might be able to work that out…," Charley said thoughtfully. He grinned slowly. "You want to invite them, or should I?"
"I'll do it." The Dodger strutted across the room and out the door.
Just as he was leaving, Fagin walked in and ducked under the hanging handkerchief-covered string.
"Where's the Dodger going, my dear?"
"What?! You didn't even compliment all our work!" Charley put on a hurt look. "I know that Jews don't exactly celebrate Christmas, but you've got to admit that we did wonders with the place!"
"Ah, yes of course, my dear. It does look lovely." He walked about the room, commenting on various decorations. After what he hoped was a suitable amount of praise, he repeated his question again, "Where'd the Dodger go off to, my dear?"
"He went to wish Bill, Nancy, and Guinevere a 'Merry Christmas'! Dodger and I got you a present even though you don't celebrate the holiday." Charley pointed at a package under the tree. "But, you are NOT supposed to open it until Christmas!" Charley put on a no-nonsense look and acted as though he was addressing a mischievous child.
"I have no intentions of doing any such thing, my dear." However, his eyes strayed to the package and a greedy look passed over his face, but he quickly replaced it with a good-natured smile. "I'll start on lunch then."
At around five-thirty that evening, Bill, Nancy, and Guinevere arrived. Nancy and Guinevere were both dressed in fancier dresses than usual. Guinevere had done her mousy-brown hair up so that a few curls hung daintily down around her neck and face. Bill hadn't seemed to make any effort to look better than usual and he even smelled like he my have had a drink or two before coming over.
Fagin surprised everyone by serving a leg of lamb even though he "didn't have a clue" that they all were coming over.
After dinner, the Dodger and Bill sat at the table playing various card games, Nancy and Fagin discussed a number of criminal issues, and Charley took Guinevere upstairs because he wanted to "show her something". When Charley announced this to her, the Dodger glanced up suspiciously, but continued to play cards with Bill.
Once they got upstairs and Charley had closed the door, he spoke, "I wanted to talk to you… privately."
Guinevere nodded and gazed at him waiting for him to continue.
Charley stared at a speck of dust on the floor for a moment, then, haltingly began his long prepared discourse. "I've been thinking a lot lately… a lot about you." He took a deep breath and let the air out slowly before continuing. "We clicked practically the moment we met! Since then we've laughed and joked and had a lot of good times…" He paused in his speech as a particularly funny time they had spent together filled his mind. He burst into laughter and, hugging his middle, proceeded to relieve himself of his excess humor.
Guinevere smiled and allowed her shoulders to sag with amazement at her companion's current state of being. "What?" she asked, knowing well that there was no way Charley would be able to respond in his current state.
Charley shook his head, tears streaming down his face. He plopped down besides her, attempting to wipe the tears from his face even though they were being produced faster that he could dry them. Guinevere shook her head, laughing, and wrapped her arm around Charley's shoulders. At the contact Charley stiffened as he was reminded of the task at hand. Taking a couple of deep breaths, he attempted to get his emotions under control. Once he was able to talk without laughing, he continued on with what he had begun to say.
"You really have come to mean a lot to me-"
"Charley…" Guinevere cut in. She paused and bit her lip. "I think that you're a great friend and I-"
"Friend?" Charley interrupted quietly. "I was thinking," he spoke softly as he stared at his hands. "maybe you and I could be more than friends. Like… girlfriend and boyfriend…," his voice faded off until he was silent.
Guinevere stared at him, pity in her eyes. "Charley… I just don't think 'at 'ould work… you an' me. I'm afraid 'at I see you as… well, nothin' more 'an a friend. If you must know, I really like Dodge."
"I'm sorry," she whispered close to Charley's ear.
"Even this won't change your mind?" he asked, immediately pressing his lips to hers.
Guinevere was abruptly reminded of the Dodger's hot lips against hers; her cheeks flushed. She felt Charley's hand against her face and was brought back to the present. Charley pulled away and looked at her. Guinevere stared for a moment at Charley who was trying to control his urge to ask "So?"
"'At was really nice Charley, but… I just don't feel 'at way 'bout you. I'm only telling you this so 'at you won't get 'urt later!" She stared imploringly at Charley.
"So it's Dodger you like, huh?" he asked slowly.
"Yes," Guinevere said, sure of herself.
"Well, he's really lucky," Charley smiled at her, promising himself that he would get over it. Even if he didn't get over it, he could always kill Dodger and marry Guinevere since she would then be a widow. No, he wouldn't do that!
"Thanks Charley." Guinevere smiled. "Shall we go back down to the party?" An apologetic smile crossed her face.
Charley grinned. "Might as well."Chapter 25: Christmas Day (#2)
Someone was whispering into the Dodger's ear. He saw a lit match and then a lit candle.
"Dodge, pleeeaaase!" someone was tugging at his sheets.
The Artful Dodger turned over and mumbled something.
"DODGER!" Charley repeated loudly into his ear.
Jack jumped up immediately and decided that the best way to start the morning would be to strangle Charley.
Charley pushed the sleepy Dodger off of him and started looking for something to defend himself with. Eyeing the present that he had bought for the Dodger, he held it in front of him like a peace offering.
The Dodger just stood there and stared at him confusedly through one eye. He finally spoke, "Charley… what are you doin'?" He searched through his overcoat, which was lying on the floor. Finding his pocket-watch, he moaned. "Charley! It's three thirty-six in the morning!"
"Yes… but it's Christmas!"
The Dodger stared at Charley in disbelief. "I'm sorry," he shook his head, "but 'Christmas' in my mind don't start 'till nine-thirty!"
"Nine-thirty!" Charley moaned. "But you usually wake up at seven-thirty!"
"Well, today's a hol'day so wake-up time changes to nine-thirty!"
"But," Charley put on a hurt look, "don't you want to open the present I got you?"
The Dodger's strong-willedness momentarily crumbled, but then his resolve hardened as he thought. "Charley… you only want me ta' open my gift… so's you can open your gift!"
Charley looked guiltily down at his feet. The Dodger glanced at Charley, walked over to his bed, and once again settled underneath its warm covers. Back in his comfy bed, he quickly fell back into dreamland.
Charley sighed, shook his head, and climbed back into his own bed.
At eight o' clock, the Dodger was awakened by the sound of laughter downstairs. He groaned and sat up in bed. He heard Guinevere's voice, then Nancy's, then Charley's, Nancy's again, then Fagin's. There was another burst of laughter from the company below.
The Dodger stood up and walked over to his clothing. Slowly he lifted one leg and inserted it into a pants leg. He paused to yawn, then put his other leg into unoccupied pants leg. However, upon pulling them up, he found that the back of the pants was at his front and the front of the pants was at his back. He grunted angrily and, after pulling the pants off, again attempted to put them on.
After about five minutes, he was completely attired. The Dodger walked downstairs and entered the kitchen. There was a chorus of "Merry Christmas" from Guinevere, Charley, and Nancy. He responded with a nod and then entered the privy, locking the door behind him.
"He's such a morning person!" Charley said brightly, causing everyone to laugh.
Once the Dodger re-entered the kitchen, he smiled at Fagin, Charley, Guinevere, and Nancy as if seeing them for the first time that day. Fagin passed him a cup of hot tea. The Dodger accepted it gratefully and took a large sip. After a moment with the hot liquid, he lifted his face away from the cup, smiled up at the group of people and spoke.
"Merry Christmas everyone!"
Guinevere met Charley's eyes before rolling hers, smiled, and responded. "Merry Christmas to you, too, Dodger!"
Nancy sighed. "Well, I better get back home – Bill's going to be wanting his breakfast hot and ready when he wakes up. 'Bye Fagin, Charley, Dodger!"
"Goodbye!" they chorused.
"Well, my dears, I, too, have some business I must attend to. Here's your breakfast Dodger." He placed a plate of pancakes in front of his accomplice. "I should be back by nine! So long, my dears!" Placing his hat on his head, he made his way out the door and down the stairs.
Charley grinned. "That means that it's officially time for PRESENTS!" He ran over to the Christmas tree and plopped down next to the one he knew was labeled with his name.
"Come on, Dodge!" Guinevere encouraged, grabbing his arm and pulling him out of his seat.
"All right!" he laughed. After grabbing his plate of pancakes, he joined them on the floor.
Charley rubbed his hands together excitedly, reminiscent of Fagin's mannerisms. Noting this odd behavior, he laughed; Guinevere joined in and Dodger stared in bewilderment.
"He's still half asleep!" Charley commented, a smile still spread across his face.
"Let's get started, then. Let's see… ladies first," he said on a sudden inspiration. He withdrew a small box with a ribbon tied around it from the recesses of his coat and handed it to Guinevere. She grinned at him. After untying the ribbon, she lifted the lid, revealing a note that was resting on top of something wrapped in tissue paper. She lifted up the note and read it to herself.When I saw this, it made me think of you. Hope you find a good use for it! (Wink, wink) Love, Charley
She smiled excitedly up at Charley. Pulling back the tissue paper revealed some mistletoe. She smiled and stared at it for a moment. Words out of Charlie's note reverberated in her head, Hope you find a good use for it! (Wink, wink)
She regained her composure and smiled conspiratorially at Charley, who nodded and smiled knowingly back at her. Lifting up the mistletoe to where she was holding it above her head, she turned from Charley and looked invitingly at the Dodger. He looked back at her in disbelief as she leaned towards him and pushed her lips against his. His eyes widened and then shut tightly. Comprehension dawned on him – Guinevere liked him! He wrapped his arms around her and relished the kiss. After about half a minute, they parted and Dodger looked at Charley to see what his reaction was. To his surprise, Charley was smiling with pleasure. Dodger glanced nervously at Guinevere, who was staring intently at him. Dodger looked from Charley to Guinevere and then back to Charley.
"Go ahead!" Charley said grinning. Grabbing a present, he proceeded to open it with excited ferocity.
Guinevere, taking Charley's remark very literally, thrust herself into Dodger's arms and pressed her lips against his again, the Artful Dodger returning the attention zealously.
See what I mean? It's a little difficult to look at it as a DodgerXGuinevere now that we are all used to CharleyXGuinevere! I'm glad that you readers commented that you thought Charley should get Guinevere! I like the CharleyXGuinevere/DodgerXAdelaide ending best! Hope you liked this one anyway! Yeah, I know, it could have gone on longer, but you know what happened last time I decided it should continue? It turned into a 42 chapter diddy with a second ending! Lol. Thanks for all you guys' support!