Title - Fagin's Favorites
Author - OblivionsGarden
Genre - Romance/Friendship
Disclaimer - I do not own Oliver Twist or Oliver! in anyway shape or form. I only own the plot for this oneshot.
A/n - Just a little Dodger/Charley oneshot that popped into my head this morning.
"Come on, Charley!"
Dodger called out to his best friend as they tore through the streets of London, an angry mob hot on their heels. He kept one hand on his top hat to prevent it from flying off and the other was balled into a fist, somehow powering him on, away from the certainty of being taken to the traps. Soon, he found a narrow alley and made his way to crouch behind a dustbin. He waited until the sound of footsteps passed before standing again. However, when he returned to the street, he couldn't find his accomplice for love nor money. He called his name, albeit quietly, but received no answer. He retraced his steps right back to where the pocket picking had taken place but Charley was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, fearing the worst, he took his running back up and sped back to the den.
He found Fagin in the far corner of the room, observing a wipe that one of the other boys had stolen. He tried to explain what had happened but Dodger found that his breath was only coming in short bursts. Fagin guided the lad to a seat, a concerned expression coming across his aged features.
"Take a drink, lad. Calm down." Fagin handed him a glass of watered down gin. "Now what's happened?"
"Charley." At this one word Fagin face fell grave. "I think 'e got caught."
"You think? Be sure, Dodger."
"Well, I can't be. We were runnin' and I 'id thinkin' 'e was with me. But then when I got up I couldn't find 'im. I looked everywhere before I came back." Dodger ran a hand over his exhausted face and pushed his top hat away from his head.
"Give him a day. If he doesn't come back by tomorrow I'll ask a friend of mine to find out if he did get caught."
"Now get somethin' to eat and then to bed."
Dodger nodded and moved to the other table where he plucked a luke warm sausage from the tray before heading to sit on his bed. He held the sausage between thumb and forefinger for thee hours. In those three hours he sat in the same position and let guilt overwhelm him. Guilt for picking that particular pocket, guilt for getting caught, guilt for getting Charley caught, guilt for not waiting for Charley and guilt for not being out there looking for him right now. When he finally through the sausage to one side, the rest of the boys and Fagin were sound asleep. Silently Dodger placed his hat back on his head and crept out of the front door.
He returned to everywhere he and Charley had been that day but still couldn't find him. He wondered past the police station and back and up the steps of the courtroom and away again. After his feet begin to grow pained he found himself sat on London Bridge, staring down into the waters below. Tears stained his cheeks and the cold air was bitter but Dodger didn't budge. It wasn't until the sun just started to creep up into the sky that anything happened. Dodger heard shuffling footsteps but didn't look to see who it was. He heard a cough but didn't turn. Finally, a hand clasped his shoulder and he jumped.
"Blimey Dodge, I didn't mean to scare you."
"Charley!" Dodger jumped up and pulled his best friend close to him. "Where the bloody 'ell did you disappear to?"
"One of the mob got me." Charley was grinning his oh so familiar grin and Dodger felt his insides do a somersault. "Anyway, somehow I managed to persuade 'em to listen and I told 'em...I said, search me you won't find nothin' stolen."
"So they searched me and didn't find nothin'." Charley's grin doubled in size as he leant against the stone railing of London Bridge.
"Eh? But what about the purse?"
"I didn't think you'd noticed."
"Charley what are you goin' on about?"
"Check your pocket Dodger." With a frown The Artful Dodger delved a hand into his jacket pockets only to find the stolen purse that had nearly gotten his friend thrown to the traps. "Slipped it in as we were runnin' off. I knew you were guaranteed to get off, you always do."
"And they let you go?"
"They 'ad to, they 'ad nothin' to arrest me for." Dodger shook his head with a smile, just thankful he had his Charley back. "Dodge, what you cryin' for?"
Dodger's cheeks went scarlet as he realized he hadn't wiped the tears from his cheeks. Wiping his face with the back of his sleeve he shrugged. "Just thought you'd gone, is all."
"Worried about me?" Charley teased. Dodger nodded. "Well, that's nice to know that someone does." The two boys stood in a comfortable silence, just watching the sun rise until Charley spoke again. "Jack, can I ask you somethin'?" Noticing the use of his real name and the change in the tone of Charley's voice, Dodger turned to face his friend and nodded. "Do you really care about me? Like, really care?"
"What do you mean, Charley?"
"Like obviously you care about me the same as you care about Fagin and Nancy and the same way you cared about Oliver...But, is that it?"
"I care about you more than anyone Charley, I thought you knew that."
"Cause I'm your best friend?" Charley's voice sounded unsatisfied, as though he were hoping for something more.
Dodger frowned. He had been contemplating his and Charley's relationship for sometime now, He knew he loved Charley but he didn't know in which way. Was it the way he loved Fagin and Nancy as though they were his parents? Or was it the way he loved the other boys like brothers? Or...Was it the way Nancy loved Bill? Through everything, thick and think, times happy and sad?
"No." Dodger finally answered. "You ain't my best mate Charley."
Charley's eyes widened. "W-What?"
Dodger took a deep breath before continuing. "You're my male Nancy."
"My Nancy. I'm your Bill."
"You mean you want to knock me about?"
"No, I mean I want to..." Dodger cut himself off. "I meant, before Bill changed. When he used to be nice to Nance. When he used to..."
"Love 'er?" Charley eyes were hopeful as he came to realize what Dodger was trying to say.
"Well in that case, I'm more than 'appy to be your Nancy." Charley, always the over confident one in all matters, leant forward and placed a firm kiss on Jack Dawkins' smiling lips. "As long as I don't 'ave to wear a dress of course." He erupted into a fit of giggled at the thought of himself in a dress and Dodger, who had been holding his breath after his confession, laughed along with him.
Once their laughter subsided, Charley wiped a tear from his eye.
"Spose we better be gettin' back, before Fagin sees his top two boys are missing and has a heart attack."
"Yeah, spose we better." Agreed Dodger and the two boys walked back home, Dodger's arm around Charley's shoulders, Charley's arm around Dodger's middle. Both knew they'd be in for a scolding when they got back but, as long as they had each other, they'd be fine. And they'd always be Fagin's favorites.