AUTHOR NOTE: So this is my FIRST Oliver! Fan Fiction, I know this is done alot, Dodger's beginning, but I couldn't help it, this thing has been slamming about in my brain for months now and I manage to type out the first chapter (which I SWEAR in my Word document was four and a half pages O_o) but this is my take on how Dodger came to be, who brought him to Fagin in the first place, and his background history, which yes I know is a bit predictable, but it's a background that just fit for what I needed and it was all I could do not to use it. He is, of course, Dodge, so his personality is still his own, just the bits that make him Dodger not quite developed, he's still Dodger, just seven years old. This takes place six years before the happenings in both the play and the book, so he's 7 years old. I hope you enjoy it! It's not the best but eh..I try. I look forward to reviews!
A New Beginning
He didn't know how long he'd been running, his breath came out in gasps, the cold winter air puffing it out like smoke from a pipe, huffing he stopped for a moment, leaning against the light post the boy gripped the stitch that had begun in his side, his dark hair falling in sweaty wisps over his forehead despite the temperature, his head jerked up as the muffled yells from the mob that chased after him, he pulled out from his threadbare coat the bread he'd stolen from the bakery, all this for that? He dodged into an alleyway, pressing himself against the wall as the group of people caught up, he closed his wide grey eyes tightly, praying to whatever god would hear him that they didn't see him, finally they turned down another road, and Jack sank to the ground, ripping the small loaf in half and stuffing part of it into his mouth, ignoring his breathing from the run.
It had been two weeks since he'd ran away from home, he'd had enough of it, seven years old and he knew his father was a drunk, yelling at him and his mother for things they hadn't done, when bruises started appearing on his mother, he'd stood up to the man, yelling back, then when the burly elder Dawkins grabbed him by the shirt front he'd spat in his eye to get him to put him down, then ran out the door, and didn't look back, not wanting to know what would happen to him. Part of him felt bad for leaving his mother, but she was strong, she'd survive.
As for himself, he'd taken to street life surprisingly well, he'd watched the urchins as they took wallets and the like from right under the noses of the toffs that roamed the shops, mesmerized he'd tried it himself, his hands small enough to come and go from silk lined pockets as he pleased, coming back with wallets full of cash, using what he could for food. Then when that was scarce he took to pinching things he could, this last time had nearly ended with the traps being called, but he'd gotten away. He started in on the other half when he noticed the young girl in the shadows; he paused mid-bite and stared back at her. He made out the shock of red hair that hung over a dirtied floral print dress; he'd seen her before but didn't know why she was staring at him like he was some sort of prize,
"What choo starin' at!" he demanded, gripping the bread in his hand and attempting to look intimidating, as intimidating as a small boy could with mud smeared across his features and bread spewing from his mouth as he talked. The girl glared back and came out, she was older than him by at least five or six years, she crossed her arms angrily and her face matched her hair for a moment,
"At yer manners!" she retorted, "I ain' seen thuh likes of them 'afore!" her hair became more messy at the force of her words, " I 'as goin' to see if you wanted out of the streets but now I ain' so sure!"
Jack stared, wiping the food from his face, he turned a bit pink at her words, "How….how'd you spect to do that?" he asked, standing and wiping the dirt off his pants. He approached the fiery red-head, looking up at her, she was about a foot taller than him, but then again everyone else was taller than him anyway, being short for his age was both a blessing and a curse. "My names Jack, Jack Dawkins." He extended a grubby hand and the girl surled her nose up at him,
"I know," she said, "I'm Nancy, and afore you spewed bread all o'er you an' this end of London, I noticed your lil' …issue." She nodded in the direction that the men had ran, their loud voices now barely within earshot, still searching for the boy who'd ran that way.
"What pinchin' this?" he asked, holding up the bread, "I do it all the time," he attempted to look superior but failed terribly, "Besides I don' need your help! I've been doin' fine for weeks now!" he lied through his teeth, although stealing and pick pocketing got him on by the day, he knew he couldn't continue without something going wrong, or like just now with the baker and his rather violent friends. Part of him hoped this redhead could help him out with this problem, or at least give him somewhere to stay until he could get on his feet.
"Oh really?" she said, grinning, Jack couldn't help noticing how pretty it was when she grinned, "Well…I see the baker really loved seeing a dirty lil' midget runnin' out of 'is shop with 'is bread." She laughed, "I coul' call 'em back ya know, the ol'Bailey jus' loves tiny thieves like you,"
Jack felt his throat close up and the bread threaten to come back up, he huffed up, holding his breath then letting it out, "Fine whatcha go' in mind?" he asked, giving her his version of a stink eye before crossing his arms like an angry child scolded for staying out too late.
"C'mon…I wantcha to meet someone a'importance." She said, waving him further into the dark alleyway she had emerged from. He hesitated, then with a glance up and down each end of the alleyway he went after her, jogging slightly to keep up with her.
This alleyway winded further than he thought it did, as he followed his new found companion, Jack noticed the deeper they got into the poor side of London, the dirtier and smaller the alleyways got, he had to watch his step for in fear of stepping onto some poor soul who had passed out in the gutter, and dodge homemade tables with old men playing cards or chess on roughly hewn game pieces and boards. Master Dawkins kept an eye on the red haired Nancy in front of him, impressed at her ability to maneuver these tightly cramped spaces with ease as if she did it blind folded on a regular basis. She paused at the foot of a set of rickety old stairs, Jack looked around, they had come out into a small courtyard where the sewers ran though, he didn't see or hear anyone about except the soft trickle of water off of the shingles into the awaiting water barrels, the sun had since retired and the moon shone brightly, making the place eerie in its light "C'mon you," she said simply, smiling at him and taking his hand assuredly. He ascended the stairs with her, watching his step for fear of missing and falling through the gaping holes between each step or else the very stair giving way under his feet. They reached an equally weather-beaten landing leading to a door, it looked like with one push one could enter if they pleased but regardless the girl knocked,
"Whossat?" a tired voice came from behind the door.
"It's Nancy! Plummy and Slam!" the girl responded, kicking the old thing roughly.
The door opened and a tired looking boy a couple of years older than Jack stared back, "Gawd 'ho's 'e?" he asked pointing at Jack who frowned at him,
"'Ew what's t'know mate!" Jack said back, getting a soft kick from Nancy, who gave him a look. She pulled him on through the door and up another set of stairs onto a landing, the boy stared about in awe, from the look of the handkerchiefs hanging from homemade clothesline instantly told him this was a pickpocket den, he'd only heard tales of them, and felt slightly important and being brought to one.
Nancy left him standing there and settled herself at a table with one other rather grubby looking girl and three other boys, two of which were working away at the wipes with a needle, Nancy looked towards an opening in the wall, the smell of sausages and toast whisked through the smoke that came from a fire within,
"'Ey Fagin, come meet the new 'un" she said matter of factly, Jack stared into the smoke as a figure emerged, he gaped open mouthed at the odd man who appeared, he was an older gentleman, bald atop his head while shocks of red and grey hair sprouted above his ears and seemed keen on avoiding the top of his head, a pointed, frizzled beard covered his chin, and two bright beady eyes shined from under bushy red eyebrows, his mouth spread into a grin as he looked the young Dawkins up and down, "Well Nancy, so this is the boy you've been so keen about is it my dear?" he asked, setting the spit he'd been turning the sausages with down and wiping his gloved hands on the dark green trench he wore, he approached Jack who simply continued to stare, "So, my dear, Nancy tells me you've taken to the game without our knowing have you?" he asked, smiling at him.
Jack looked to Nancy for help, not sure what the game was, she mimicked picking a pocket on the boy next to her and pointed at him, "Maybe…" Jack asked, standing up straight to look important, "But bein' a gen'leman, one must do for themselves when on 'ard times," he answered eloquently, sending the old Jew into laughter, "Ain' he a smart one my dears! A smart one indeed!" he bowed to master Dawkins candidly, the green coat hiking up to show the violet leggings he wore under his breeches, "Now….Master Dawkins, what say you to joinin' our lil' family here?" Fagin gestured to the room at the numerous boys, who stood around.
One of the other boys cut in, he was about Jack's age and had red hair about as bright as the old Jew before Jack, "Oh yes! Room an' board for nuffink it is! A right lil' family this is!" then broke out into wild laughter, Jack features spread out into a grin, then he returned his gaze to Fagin, who was giving the red haired boy a slight annoyed glare.
The older gentleman looked back at Jack, "Well my dear? Do we have a deal?" he asked. Jack bit his lip, it was a roof over his head, and food, all for something he was already doing, but without the cold winter streets of London waiting for him to find some door stoop or hovel to curl up in and sleep, the boy finally nodded, making Fagin break out into a wider grin, "Very good my dear, in the morning, we'll show you the game shall we? For now…" his demeanor became that of authority, "EVERYONE TO BED! WE GO' AN EARLY START IN THE MORNING! OFF T'BED!" he roared, making them all scurry in the directions to wherever their makeshift beds were, one of the boys handed Fagin a rolled up blanket and pillow, who motioned to Jack to follow. The old man led him to a corner by one of the windows, and handed the boy the bedding, "You can sleep here my dear," he sighed, sitting back on a stool, "I get the feeling you'll be a great asset to our little….organization 'ere." Jack threw the blankets down and collapsed on the pillow, his eyes got heavy as long awaited sleep took over his mind, Fagin's words repeating in his mind,
"A good asset indeed…"