Author's Note: I'm working on two stories at once, though I'm only posting this one right now. The other one is a little bit of insight into Eugene's punishment for all his thefts. I'm trying to just write that one and not post it just yet, because then one of my stories will get neglected, which makes for sad reviewers. :( Anyway, on to the fic! Insert disclaimer here.
I turned nine today. Usually, you'd expect that to be the highlight of your day, but for me, it wasn't. I can only admit it in here. I did something bad today. Something really bad.
I got to go into town today, all by myself for the very first time. I was looking around. "Window shopping" is what Miss Sarah calls it. I saw a satchel that would be perfect for this book and my Flynn Rider book and any of my other stuff. I didn't have any pocket money, so I just took it. I stole it.
I was hiding in an alleyway with it when someone found me. It wasn't a guard though. It was a girl. "Nice lift. You've got natural talent, Kiddo."
"What? What are you talking about?" I had no idea what a lift was, and I didn't like the idea of her talking to me. "Who are you?"
"I go by Gypsy." She said, sitting on a crate.
"Oh. My name's-"
"Hush! I don't need to know your name. I don't want to know your name." She interrupted/."That's not important. You'll make a good addition to the Rogue, with some training. Now come on. Your lift has been discovered. We gotta go before the guards show up." Gypsy grabbed my hand and pulled me through a maze of alleyways to a dilapidated (that's one of my vocabulary words. The other one is 'nuance'.) building on the edge of the city.
It was a one story thing, run down and abandoned looking, with boarded up windows and a roof that was missing several tiles. "What's a lift?" I asked, finally having gathered the courage to do it.
"When you steal something, it's called a lift." Gypsy explained to me, pushing open the door. It was a lot bigger inside than it had looked, and we were in a long hallway, with doors off to either side.
"Where do those lead?"
"Private lodgings. They're for Rogue kids who live here."
"What's this Rogue you keep talking about?"
"The Rogue is like… a society. But it's for thieves. Kids like you who are making their way in life. We steal what we need to get by." Gypsy replied, leading me into the main room. A group of kids were lounging around the room, on couches and pillows and chairs.
"Hey Gyps, who's your tag along?"
"Where'd you find him?'
"New recruits, huh? I haven't seen anyone worth bringing in…'
They were all talking at once, about me. I wasn't sure I liked the attention.
"Settle down, Children. Settle down. Where's Prince? " Gypsy wasn't as old as some of them, but she was obviously a leader. "Range? You know."
"I think he's out on a run. It's lunchtime." 'Range' looked like he was in his late teens, a man more than a boy. He was in a chair near a door, looking completely comfortable, like he had been here for years.
Gypsy shrugged. "He'll be sorry he missed this one. Lifted that satchel right out from under Thompson's nose, then strolled away with it, cool as can be."
'Range' looked at me. "That your first lift, Kid?"
I didn't trust myself to speak, so I just nodded.
"Well, Range?" Another boy asked, this one only a few years older than me.
"The kid's telling the truth." Range said. He walked over to me. "They call me Ranger, Kiddo. You've got potential, if Gypsy is telling the truth."
"I want him to meet Prince."
"Want who to meet me?" I turned to see the speaker, a really tall teenager, smiling expectantly. He had brown hair that was pulled back into a ponytail and ice blue eyes.
"Prince, I watched this kid steal that satchel right out from under Thompson's nose. Walked right off with it on his very first time."
Prince whistled. "That's quite a lift, Kiddo. I think I'd be mad not to offer you a place in my humble court."
"You want to teach me to be a thief?"
Prince grinned. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to go where you want? Do what you want? Have anything you want?"
I grinned. I could be just like Flynn Rider! "Yes. I want to learn."
Prince slapped me on the back, like a friend. "There are only two rules: Ten percent of everything you lift goes to me, and we don't know each other's real names. So, who do you want to be?"
I didn't hesitate. "Flynn Rider."
My training begins tomorrow, with Gypsy and Ranger. I can't wait.
I am WORN OUT! Gypsy and Ranger taught me today that the first rule of being a thief is getting back to your headquarters without being followed. They taught me all the different ways to get through the city to Base and how to 'spot a tail.' So I would lead Gypsy to Base using different routes, and I had to point Ranger out when I first saw him tailing me, and then I had to lose him.
Every time I got to base, Ranger showed up. Then, I would lead Ranger away from Base, and have to dodge Gypsy.
I didn't manage to lose either of them even once. Gypsy and Ranger said that I did well, though, so I will have to be happy with that. At least I never got lost. They said that everyone gets lost, but I never did.
I don't get to learn how to pick pockets until I can spot a tail, and then lose it, so tomorrow is the same deal.
I met Ranger in the town square today. "Where's Gypsy?"
"She's got her own stuff to take care of." Ranger said. "You're just working with me today. Lead the way."
I didn't have to ask where we were going, so I started off Ranger walking beside me.
We moved through the alleyways, and when we were in silence, I faltered, just for a second, and heard footsteps that weren't mine. I glanced into a window and spotted my tail. "I thought you said that she wan't gonna be here today?" I asked, before I took off, dodging down a side street and slipping under a gate that had enough room for me under it. Ranger vaulted over the gate behind me, and then he was beside me, running where I was sprinting.
I ducked down another street and spoke. "Go left and circle. Meet me here." I tore off down the right, guessing that Gypsy would follow me because I was littler and slower than Ranger. I ran through a maze of passages, trying to lose my tail.
Finally, I saw a collection of boxes and ducked behind them. There was enough room between them for a little guy like me, so I hid deeper in my spot, ready for my tail to lose me for the first time.
She ducked into the alleyway a moment later, then gave the area a cursory glance, checking quickly behind the boxes without seeing me wedged in the shadows. When she left my alley, I waited for a few minutes to make sure she was really gone before going back to my meeting place.
Ranger was eating an apple when I got there, sitting on the ground with his back against the wall. "Did you lose her?"
"I think so."
Ranger stood up. "Good. Now that you've lost a tail, we need to teach you how to keep them lost. If we get back to Base without Gyps catching us, you start the next part of your training."
So I led him back to the Rogue, watching for a tail every step of the way.
Gypsy was sitting on the stoop of the Rogue when we got there, smiling. "You know, Flynn, no one has ever done that in less than a month. You lost me in six days."
I don't know whether to be proud of myself or them for teaching me. "Thanks, Gypsy."
Ranger put a hand on my shoulder. "The hard part starts tomorrow. Every day now, we're going to run before training."
"Because you need to stay fit. If you can't run for a long time, you'll get caught." Gypsy explained. "And what's the first rule of the Rogue?"
"Don't get caught."
I feel worse than I ever have in my life. Running is hard work, and I do it a lot. My legs feel like jelly right now, and I wobble whenever I stand up. Ranger and Gypsy don't slow down for me, and we only stop running when they decide.
I'm more fit than I've ever been before, though I dread running tomorrow.
I met a lot of couples today. I even spoke to a few of them. I didn't get adopted.
Tomorrow, Ranger is going to teach me how to pick a target and what to look for. I can't wait.
Gyps told me today that I've finished my training. She said that I've learned everything I can, and I'll only get better now through practice.
Prince pulled me aside to talk today. "Rider! Come have a chat!" Prince is the only one who doesn't call me Flynn. He calls me Rider unless he's really serious.
"What'd you need, Prince?" I asked, letting his put his arm across my shoulders. He led me into the meeting room and sat down on the couch.
"You have a place in the Rogue now, Flynn." With that word, I knew that Prince was serious. "And that means that you're one of us. We look out for ourselves, and more importantly, we look out for each other. So when you see one of us in trouble, you have to do anything you can to help."
"I can do that."
"But you have to understand that the Rogue is like anything else. There's a certain level of deference that you need to have, for those who are better than you, and especially for me. Three years ago, someone else was called Prince. The Rogue is like the court, and everyone calls me Prince because that's what I am. We'll look after you, Flynn, but you have to be loyal to the Rogue, loyal to me."
I could do that. "I am loyal to the Rogue, Prince. And to you." I assured him. He ruffled my hair.
"I know you are, Rider. I just want to make sure you stay that way."
I will be loyal, to Prince and to the Rogue. I'll also prove myself to be the best thief that the Rogue has ever seen.
Thirty five copper nobles, seventeen silver nobles, and three gold nobles. Prince will be pleased.
Gyps tailed me this morning on my way to the Rogue. I noticed her in the square, when I stopped to filch some bread for breakfast. So I filched her a piece too and gave it to her so she would walk with me instead of tailing me.
"Hey Flynn. Nice lift there."
I snorted. "Bread isn't exactly hard to get. Bates doesn't have time to notice between all his customers, and you know it." I was starting to learn the names of all the merchants in the square, and who was the easiest to score from. Bates is one of the best bakers in the market, and one of the easiest targets. "Did you hear that Dice led the guards on a run again?"
Gyps laughed. Dice was one of the Rogue's fastest. He likes to pull off really obvious lifts and lead the palace guard all over the city. "Yeah. That's why Prince called the meeting, I think. They almost caught him."
"Dice?" Dice doesn't get caught. Not even almost caught.
"Yeah. Prince will explain at Base."
That's one of the best things about Gyps. She knows everything, but she lets Prince tell us the important stuff. She put an arm around my shoulders and threw Jewel out of her chair so I could have it.
Even though I'm not the youngest kid in the Rogue, I'm the littlest, and all the older ones treat me like a kid brother. For the most part, I'm okay with that, 'cause it's kinda like having a family.
Gyps and I were the last ones to get there, and Prince was on his throne, waiting for everyone to settle. (Really, it's not a throne. It's just a squashy armchair, but it's Prince's seat, so we call it a throne.)
When we were all quiet, he started. "Dice has informed me that there has been a change in the Captain of the Guard. Nelson is gone, replaced by a man called… what was it, Dice?"
"Broderick, Prince." Dice said, from where he sat on a cushion on the floor. "Marcus Broderick."
"Broderick is a man to look out for. He's good. Really good. So nobody takes unnecessary risks. Dice tells me that Broderick called him a Rogue brat which means that each of us has to be extra careful. The Rogue has never been a priority of any of the guards before, but if they decide to make it one, it will… complicate things. So as much as we all love toying with the royal guard, we'll have to tread carefully for a while. No big jobs and no cons. Stick to pick pocketing for now."
This was serious. For the palace guard to really take notice of the Rogue was unheard of. Sure, almost all of us had run from them at one point or another, but we had never really been important to catch. The Rogue was like a fly – annoying, but not worth getting worked up over. "Are they gonna come after us, Prince?" I asked.
"I don't know, Rider, but we need to watch our steps. If w convince this Borderick guy that we're not worth the trouble, we might escape notice."
So the Rogue is on lockdown.
I can't go to the Rogue today. Sammy came back to the orphanage covered in red spots, and now a bunch of kids are covered too. I have a spot on my cheek, so Miss Sarah says I have it too, and that it's gonna get worse.
Peter told me that it's called 'Chicken Pox' and it's really itchy. He says he had it last year. I'm not excited.
-Entire page is covered in angry scribble. Down at the bottom:-
I HATE THE CHICKEN POX!
The worst of the chicken pox is over. Miss Sarah says I'm a trooper. Peter says that I dealt with it better than he did. I'm still covered in red spots, but they're going away.
Measuring day! I grew two inches since last year. Miss Minnie says I need new leggings, and she needs to let out my tunic.
Note: I'm still the littlest in the Rogue. Miss Sarah says that my growing spurt will come soon enough. (Everyone says that. I wonder when 'soon enough' will come.)
The Rogue is still laying low. I got tailed by a guard today and used my best hiding spot. Not even Gyps or Ranger have figured it out. It's in between those boxes where I first lost Gyps.
Prince isn't happy. He keeps telling us to lay low and wait. He says there's a turning point coming, but he doesn't know what it is. I think he's scared, and that makes me scared, too.
A/N: So that's chapter two. Now that I've established all my important characters, the plot thickens. Also, yes, his satchel was his first theft, because that's just adorable. And you all know it.
I might be able to squeeze in an update by this weekend, but I'm heading out of town for a week after that. On the bright side, I have a notebook and pen and a fourteen hour car ride ahead of me, so I should be able to have another few chapters written upon my return. Review and tell me what you think, or I'll torture kid Eugene.