All just a dream…?

"La'ers Fagin!" called the boys as they went out of the door in small groups of twos and threes.

"Yes, see you all la'er and mind chu bring back lotsa stuff fur ya old Fagin!" grinned the old man at them. He watched his little gang get smaller and smaller until it was just him, Charley, the Artful Dodger and a sleeping Oliver in the room.

The Jew looked at the boy. He looked very sweet and innocent lying there in a basket in the corner. It reminded him of how all the other boys had looked when they had come into his care. Young, naïve and curious. But a life of crime takes all that away from a person. He knew that he should let the poor boy stay like that for as long as he dared for all too soon would Oliver be forced to change.

Charley Bates was sitting opposite his best friend (plus a bit more) Mr Jack Dawkins, otherwise known as the Artful Dodger. He gazed absentmindedly at Jack who was lounging in his chair, a mug in his hand, still not looking very awake. Jack had been quite tired recently. Charley knew that although Dodger would never admit it himself, he did worry a bit over Oliver. Charley himself wasn't that attached to the boy but he knew Dodger felt some sort of "connection". Well, he had been the one who found Oliver and had taken him under his wing after all.

Charley's gaze shifted to the dirty white bonnet that was lying next to him, on top of the lopsided table. Charley picked it up and held it out to Fagin.

"'ere. Fink ya wan'ed t' take this back round." As he said this he caught Dodger's eye. They both smirked at each other, remembering the night before when Charley had entertained the whole gang (minus Fagin) by prancing round the room with the bonnet on his head, pretending to be the make believe "Prim Poppy Poshington".

"Oh, right chu are, Charley!" Said Fagin, taking the bonnet from him. "Nancy must be wond'rin' where it's gone." He took an old pocket watch out (which would've once belonged to a richer man) and checked the time. "My! An' I'ma 'fraid I must go now 'else I won't be able t' sort that buissness out wiv Bill…" The gang leader grinned a nearly toothless grin at his two favourite pickpockets before putting on his own tattered hat and hobbling out of the door.

After a while, Charley started to feel restless. It wasn't his fault that he had to constantly be doing something! He just got bored too easily. And sitting in silence was not something he considered fun.

"Com'on." He said to his partner in crime. "Let's get goin'. I'm itchin' t' be outta this place!"

"No." replied Dodger, making Charley freeze halfway between sitting and standing. "We've gotta wait 'till Oliver wakes up. He might get scared if 'e finds 'imself all alone." Charley sighed and looked from Dodger's tired yet determined face to Oliver's sleeping one.

"Alrigh' then." He said, plonking himself back down. Oliver had better not sleep too long.

Dodger looked at his friend. Charley could hardly sit still! But that was hardly surprising as he was never very still, not even in his sleep. Still, Dodger could tell that Charley was only staying here so as to go with him on the job.

"Oh, go on get outta 'ere – I know chu don't wanna wait really." Charley felt slightly guilty as he jumped up and made his way to the door. When he got there he turned back to Jack and said;

"Cheers mate. I'll meet ya round Tower Bridge area."

"It's market day." Muttered Dodger as he simultaneously took a swing of his drink.

"Oh, yeah! Market day! I forgot…" Charley always forgot. "Meet chu round there then!"

"See ya." Murmured Dodger. Charley frowned at his friend. He knew he was tiered and all that, but he really wasn't his normal cheeky self right now. Charley felt sorry for him, so instead of heading out the door, he walked over to Dodger and placed a kiss on his cheek.

"Ch-ch-charley!" gasped Dodger, nearly falling off his chair.

"What? We've kissed loadsa times before…"

"No no, it ain't that!" he hissed, "It's…" then he gestured in Oliver's direction.

"But 'e's asleep though!" laughed Charley. Dodger felt a bit uneasy. He knew that he and Charley would have to be careful with their relationship and so did Charley. Only Charley was a generally more open person and wasn't bothered if people saw them together. Dodger envied how carefree he was for he himself wasn't like that. He did worry about what people thought of him and wasn't ready for all this to be out in the open quite yet…

"Don't worry so much, Jack." Smiled Charley, standing over the Dodger, his nose pressed against the other boy's. Then he kissed his lips lightly and ruffled his hair, upsetting the Artful's trademark top hat. He took a few steps back. Jack looked cute with that concerned expression, crooked grin and tilted hat, thought Charley.

Dodger smiled a small smile as he watched his closest friend give him a wink before exiting the room. He felt nervous but also happy about what had just past.

Then he leaned back in his chair, put his feet on the table and took another gulp of drink as he waited for Oliver to wake.

~#~

Dawkins was still dozing in his chair when Fagin re-entered the den.

"Oh, I thought you'd stay, me dear." He croaked. Dodger made a noncommittal noise in his throat as he wasn't 100% sure of what Fagin had just said but felt the need to answer it anyway.

It was not long after that that Oliver began to stir in his "bed". The pale blonde boy gave a huge stretch when he awoke and did a lot of blinking as he let his eyes adjust to the light.

"'ad a nice sleep, eh?" asked Fagin.

"Yes, thank you Sir." Said the boy, politely.

"Good, good." Said Fagin quietly, as he set out the breakfast that he'd somehow managed to acquire while he'd been out. Oliver washed his hands and face in the bucket of water on the side, then came and sat down at the table.

"I had a strange dream last night." He remarked.

"Oh really, what was it about?" said Fagin, although he wasn't that interested in the answer.

"Master Dawkins and Master Bates were in it. I didn't really understand much of it, but I did hear something about 'we've done it loads of times before' and 'e's asleep though'…"

The Artful Dodger nearly chocked as he took another drink.

"What a funny dream that is, young Oliver!" chuckled Fagin, amused as he pounded the Dodger on the back (which only made the boy splutter even more). Dodger finally recovered and immediately started to force a laugh, which sounded convincingly realistic.

"Yeah, funny…" he said in an unusually high voice and with a fake smile. Oliver stared at him for a while with those big innocent eyes. Then he went back to his breakfast.

Dodger put his mug down on the table and announced his departure. Then he hurried out into the streets.

Was it just him or was it very hot all of a sudden?

~#~

Just a little one-shot I came up with when BroadwayBabez98 so rightly pointed out that there are barely ANY Dodger/Charley fics! So I wrote a bit more for them ;) Hope this was alright! Please review as it motivates me to keep writing!