Here's the next part. Sorry to keep everybody waiting. I wrote this at college and I forgot to email it to myself before we broke up, lol. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I am neither Charles Dickens nor Lionel Bart.

Perfect Crime?

Chapter 2:

As Fagin raced back into the ancient warehouse, he was bombarded with questions by the boys. He found that they were so anxious to know what had happened; they wouldn't let him get a word in edgeways.

"Alright! SHUT UP!" he yelled and the room at last fell silent. "Do ya wanna know or don't ya?"

"We wanna know!" the boys cried. Fagin gathered them all together in a huddle.

"Dodger's been kidnapped," he told them solemnly. Gasps followed his sentence and Fagin quickly raised his hand for silence. "Someone took 'im and left a note on 'is bed. First thing tomorrow, I want you to all go out and start lookin' for 'im. Split up and search everywhere you can. We'll get Bill and Nancy to 'elp as much as they can, too. Now, get to bed, all of you!" he shouted this last part, some of the boys recoiling at his loud voice. "You got lots to do tomorrow!"

Anxious chatter arose as the boys did as Fagin told them and quickly jumped into their respective beds. Wondering who would kidnap Dodger and what motive they would have, they drifted into uneasy sleeps, one by one.

Fagin, however, did not go to sleep right away. He couldn't sleep even if he tried, anyway; he was far too worried about Dodger. Was he okay? Would he be able to escape his kidnapper? Fagin rubbed his goatee and he pondered the biggest question of all: why Dodger? Why was he kidnapped? Fagin couldn't think of any reason at all why somebody would kidnap Dodger. He looked over at Dodger's empty bed. One of the boys had lit some candles and the fire was roaring in the fireplace. Dodger's beloved top hat was lying forlornly on the ground beside his bed. Fagin slowly walked over and picked it up. As he bent down, he saw marks on the floor. Leaning in closer, Fagin found out that they were scuff marks. Following them, he realised they lead right to the front door, then after that, they stopped. Sighing, the elderly man walked to his creaky bed in his den, clutching Dodger's hat in his gnarly hand. Still thinking about it, he eventually fell into a dreamless sleep.

~ x ~

Early the next morning, Fagin roused the boys earlier than he usually would have. Ignoring the ones who complained, he gathered them around the table and spread out a large piece of paper.

"Right, now, I saw the man run down this way, you see?" he pointed to the appropriate place on the hand drawn map. So, I want a couple of ya to go down that way today; I don't care which of ya does it, so long as it gets done, alright? Now, Charley, you go tell Bill and Nancy and start searchin' with them. If they can't look for 'im, go to The Three Cripples and start askin' around. The rest of ya; just split up and look wherever you can. If ya 'ave to ask someone, be subtle and don't give anything away. Understand?" His command was answered only by nods of the head. "Good! Get goin'!"

The boys were silent as they sprinted out of the front door. Only the thundering of their footsteps told Fagin that they were even going out. Fagin was going to look for Dodger, also. But he had planned to go later when some of the boys were back; if one of them had found him and was bringing him back home, how would they get inside if the house was empty?

Instead of sitting around and doing nothing, Fagin retrieved another piece of paper and a pen and started writing from memory what he had seen last night. If he could remember what the man looked like, it would be easier to find him. But still, Fagin was confident that one of the boys would find him soon.

~ x ~

Scurrying down the road, Charley kept his eyes on the house that belonged to Bill and Nancy. Wild thoughts were racing around in his head. Dodger, kidnapped? It couldn't be? But he himself had heard the scream. It had sounded like Dodger, but Charley hadn't given it much thought; he had been far too tired and he thought that Dodger was most likely playing a trick, something he often did.

As he knocked on their door, Charley wondered if they were still asleep. It was still quite early and he knew that Bill liked to sleep in. Pressing his ear up against the wood, he heard nothing, so he rapped on the door again and again.

"Alright! I'm comin', I'm comin'," a woman's voice called out irritably. The door swung open and there stood a very displeased Nancy. She was wearing her usual wine-red dress, her honey-coloured hair was pinned up at the back of her head and her deep brown eyes looked at Charley in annoyance. "What the 'ell you doin', bangin' on our door at this hour? Bill will 'ave your 'ead if you're not careful."

"I know it's early," Charley apologised. "But Fagin told me to come and get you and Bill right away."

"Why? What's 'appened?"

"It's Dodger; someone's taken 'im." Nancy's jaw dropped in disbelief.

"What?"

"We 'eard a scream last night, then when we checked the 'ouse, Dodge was gone. The door was open, and Fagin says 'e saw someone draggin' 'im away."

"'Old on one second," Nancy told him as she retreated back into her house. She quickly ran up the stairs and gently shook the still-sleeping Bill. "Bill, Bill wake up," she whispered. As Bill rolled over onto his back, his eyes flickered open and then closed again.

"Oh, what is it, Nance?" he asked, not bothering to move.

"Fagin want us to 'elp look for Dodger."

"The little runt run away, 'as 'e?" Bill couldn't believe Nancy had disturbed his morning sleep all because Fagin couldn't find Dodger.

"No! 'E's been kidnapped!" Nancy hoped Bill would understand this wasn't minor; Dodger could be in danger this very minute, and she wanted to help find him, to make sure he was safe. She remembered when Dodger first came to Fagin's gang; he was only six years old. In fact, she had been the one who had first saw him, sitting in the gutter...

Nancy hurried down the streets, on an errand for Fagin. It was almost dark, and she wanted to be back before night fell, when something caught her eye. It was a young boy, sitting on the side of the street, looking utterly forlorn. In fact, he looked so pitiful that she felt compelled to stop and talk to him.

"'Ello, there. What's your name, then?" she smiled, taking a seat next to him. The boy looked up at her with big, expressive hazel eyes. He was very small and was wearing only trousers that were too short, shoes, a shirt and a waistcoat and the boy kept shivering.

"Jack Dawkins, at your service, milady," he grinned, taking a mock bow. Nancy grinned back him.

"So, what you doin' out 'ere all on your own?" The smile dropped from Jack's face.

"I – I ran away," he confessed. "From me old man. Right nasty piece of work, 'e is; always out drinkin' and when 'e's 'ome, 'e ain't no nicer than 'e was before. 'E always got madder after drinkin' and it always 'urt worse."

"Well, what about your mother?" Nancy asked him, feeling sorry for Jack.

"Don't 'ave one. I think I did once, but I don't remember."

"So, you've been livin' on the streets?" The boy nodded. "For 'ow long?" he shrugged.

"Don't know. Couple of days."

"What do you do for food?"

"I pinches it, of course." The smile started to return to Jack's face.

"Are you good at stealin'?" Nancy asked, feeling that this boy might be a good new recruit for Fagin's gang. Jack looked at her indignantly.

"Course I am! Can't you tell, since I ain't been caught, and I ain't never gonna get caught!"

Nancy smiled at him again. "Come with me. I know a nice old gentleman who will let you stay with 'im for nothin'. E'll give ya food, lodgin's and somewhere to sleep," she offers, standing and holding out her hand. Jack took it and together they walked back to Fagin's house.

Dodger fitted in right away with the boys at Fagin's. He was the most talented pickpocket there, no doubt about that, which ranked him up to Fagin's favourite.

Nancy smiled to herself at the memory, shook herself out of it, and continued trying to rouse Bill.

"Please, Bill. Someone's taken 'im!"

"Don't care," muttered Bill, rolling back over onto his stomach.

"If you won't 'elp look for 'im, we'll do it on our own!" Nancy snapped before grabbing her shawl and heading outside to join Charley. Together, they headed off towards The Three Cripples and started asking the locals if they had seen a young boy wearing a big blue coat. Nobody had. Defeated, they left the pub and started searching in the bushes at the back of it. They looked in barrels, under piles of rotten floorboards. Charley even submerged himself into the icy water of the river next to it and, holding on to the side as he couldn't swim, felt about for Dodger.

"Nothin'," he said miserably, clambering out and shivering, as Nancy wrapped her shawl around his shoulders. "That was pointless. Why would Dodge be in the river, anyway?" A horrible picture of Dodger being thrown into the river entered both of their minds at the same time. Their eyes met and they both acted in unison. Charley ran to the edge of the river and lowered himself down onto his stomach, while Nancy grabbed a nearby rope and fastened it securely around Charley's waist. She tied the other end to a wooden support keeping the bridge up as Charley dived under, fully submersing himself. This proved to be a waste of time, however, as Charley came back up empty handed. "Like I said – pointless," he repeated, climbing back out once again. "There was nothin' down there."

Nancy once again wrapped him in her shawl. It was almost midday, so they decided to and see Fagin to tell him what they had so far covered.

~ X ~

The man walked quickly towards his hideaway – an old, abandoned house that had been empty for years. It was nearly sunrise; he wanted to get there before it was daylight so that he could carry out the next part of his plan.

Dodger was still blindfolded and struggling in his grip. The man's arms began to ache from holding the boy for so long. If he stopped wriggling about, trying to get away, then it would be easier. He didn't dare adjust his grip, though; one of his hands was still covering Dodger's mouth, and his other arm was keeping Dodger's hands pinned to his sides. The man was wearing gloves, so it didn't matter to him if Dodger tried to lick or bite his hand. It wouldn't affect him.

Dodger was almost powerless; he could only kick his legs, and even though he kicked with all his might, it didn't do any good; the man was too strong. Never-the-less, Dodger continued to struggle with all his might, hoping somehow that the man would drop him and he would be able to get away.

As the man rushed up the walkway towards the front door, he tried to adjust his hold on the boy without him getting away or alerting anyone. Even though the streets were deserted, he didn't trust himself to remove his hand from the boy's mouth. Removing his arm from Dodger's waist, he hurriedly felt in his pocket for the key; a difficult job as Dodger was now fighting to get the man's arm away from his mouth. He quickly put the key in the lock, opened the door and stepped inside.

Dodger felt himself being thrown onto a hard surface. Reaching up, he managed to get the rag off his eyes and looked around. He was in a very small room, lit only by one dingy gas lamp. A man was standing over by the single, very grubby and grimy window, turned to the side so Dodger could only see his profile. He was tall; taller than Fagin and he was wearing a long, black trenchcoat that reached to the floor, the collar turned up so his mouth was hidden. He was also wearing a large black hat, the brim pulled down low over his eyes, so that his face was almost completely obscured.

"Oi! Who the blood 'ell are ya, and where the 'ell am I?" Dodger snapped, livid with rage.

In one quick movement, the man moved across the room, stopping about two feet away from Dodger.

"Children today; no manners at all. It's appalling," he said in a low, gravelly, dangerous voice. Dodger rolled his eyes in annoyance.

"If you please, sir, would you be so kind as to tell me what your name is and where I might be? Thank you ever so much," he replied mockingly.

Within seconds, the man was leaning close to Dodger's face, practically touching noses.

"Even worse than a child with no manners, is one with an attitude problem," he whispered sinisterly, his stale breath making Dodger involuntary gag. He soon got his bad temper back when his kidnapper moved away.

"Bloody 'ell! First, you accuse me of 'avin' no manners, then, when I try and use 'em, you accuse me of 'avin' a bloody attitude! Can't win with ya, can I?" Dodger was soon silenced when the man raised his hand...


There you go. Hope you enjoyed it! You know what to do if you want more; review, review, review.