A request for Rosebud5. I hope you like it!

"Time fer work, boys!"

Fagin yelled to his 'workers' from the fireplace, where he was cooking the last batch of sausages. The majority of breakfast was already on the table; sausages, rolls, and apples, mostly. The same as it was every morning. As if on cue, about twenty hungry boys came running to the table, dressed and ready to start the day. They eyed the table hungrily, mischievous grins on every last face.

"'Old on, 'old on!" Fagin slid the last batch of sausages onto a plate,, and rested the skewers by the mantle. The children glanced around, as if they had no idea what Fagin was waiting for.

"Head count comes before breakfast, always!" Fagin reminded the less-than-forgetful orphans. The boys let out groans of annoyance, but quickly formed a disheveled line.

"That's me good lads." Their caretaker ambled down the line of pickpockets, naming each boy that he counted.

"Alright. Edward, Charley, Oscar…" He continued to mumble names to himself before he settled on the last boy. "And Joseph." He paused, looking around. Someone was missing, and it didn't take him half a second to figure out who it was. "Wait…where's Dodger?"

The boys glanced at each, shrugging and shaking their heads. Dodger was always on time. He was always the first at the table. In fact, being Fagin's right hand man, he was usually already at the table, halfway done with breakfast, before the boys were called to eat. He would be sitting in his chair, at Fagin's side, smirking at them. Now, the boys looked at the chair. It was pushed in. Empty. Dodger-less.

Fagin tapped his foot, growing more and more irritated. "Does anyone know where the Dodge is?" Fagin yelled. The boys cringed, but still shook their heads. Where was he? It seemed that nobody knew.

"'M right 'ere, Fagin." The weak, deeper-than-average voice came from the steps. Everyone turned to see who it was. It was the Artful Dodger. He slowly descended the steps, pale and shaking slightly. He halted halfway down the dilapidated staircase, leaning against the wall for support. His eyes, usually bright, blue, and boisterous, were now dull and lackluster, drifting lazily around the room.

"Wow." Charley looked up at his best friend, a countenance of mock concern painted on his face. "You look terrible."

Dodger frowned, glaring at Charley. "Thanks, ya clodhopper," the young man spat. The boys giggled, but were quickly silenced by a glare from the Artful. Fagin, however, wasn't amused at all.

"Wotsa matter wit' you?" Fagin snapped, glaring at Dodger with one eybrow raised. "You do plan on workin' today, yes?"

Dodger stopped at the foot of the steps and nodded. "Of course, Fagin. Just a little cold, dats all. It'll shake off by noon."

Fagin nodded, smiling. He turned to face the rest of the boys. "See that?" He gestured to Dodger. "Half of you little scoundrels try and pull a sickness each week. The Artful ain't that rude." Dodger offered up a weak smile. Fagin continued. "Dodge goes out to work , no matter 'ow 'e feels. No work, no food, right Dodger?"

Dodger nodded. "Dats right, Fagin." He leisurely walked down the row of orphans, grinning. "So, grab yer breakfast and git ta work!"


Later that day, the boys were off 'working'. They had split off into pairs and disappeared into the massive city of London. The Dodger, as usual, had gone off with Charley to pick pocket the day away. It was a chilly day, and all of the pedestrians were wearing large coats, with easy-to-pick pockets. By noon, both boys had acquired quite the sum of loot. However, Dodger seemed to be slightly off his game. Charley assumed that Dodger still wasn't feeling quite up to snuff, and shrugged off his partner's lack of energy.

A little after noon, both boys decided to take a rest. They stopped by a small bookstore and sat on the wall outside, watching the people go by. At this point, both boys were shaking, although Dodger had been shaking all morning. He was looking a little paler, but was fine otherwise.

" S'a nice day, ain't it?" Dodger pointed out, glancing up at the sky, which was filled with wispy clouds.

Charley nodded. "Very nice. No rain, unlike what Fagin said." Fagin had insisted the night before that it would rain all day.

Dodger chuckled, and then cleared his throat, pulling at the collar of his grimy shirt,, beads of sweat forming on his brow. "A little 'ot, though, wouldn't ya say? Strange for January…"

Charley's eyes widened. "You think it's hot?" he exclaimed. After thinking a moment, he shrugged. "Well, you are wearing a thick coat. I guess it's hot to you."

The two thieves fell silent once more, both thinking independent thoughts of little real importance. After a long silence, Charley started up again. "So, I 'eard on the streets that they've 'ad sixteen more people dead from that…uh…" Charley thought a moment. "Influenza thing. Good thing we's is tough, right Dodge?"

Dodger nodded, looking at the cobblestones of the street. "Dats right, Charl-" He was interrupted mid-sentence by a violent cough. The cough escalated into a fit of coughing.

"You okay, Dodge?" Charley's eyes widened, afraid.

Dodger nodded his head. "Just…swallowed…wrong way…" he worked out between fits.

Charley's eyes went back to their regular size. "Alright, if ya says so," he said. "Anyways, I remember someone tellin' me that eatin' fruit is good to keep the sick away, so maybe if we got our 'ands on some oranges or sumthing, we'd be-"

He was interrupted by a thud. Startled, Charley turned his head. "Dodge, what was tha-"

He stopped talking. Dodger had fallen over on the ground, shaking, still coughing. Charley gulped. "This ain't no winter chill."

Something was seriously wrong.

Review? Please? Ch. 2 coming soon(hopefully)!