Sherlock Holmes had had a rather tedious morning and had ended up a bloody, filthy mess. He went into the bathroom and took a well-deserved shower, washing away the mess, and a bit of the stress, if only for a moment. He came out, wrapped in a towel, to see a child sitting on his couch where John typically would sit. She was so American it was almost painful to look at. She wore a black shirt that said "Team Edward" on it and Miley Cyrus brand jeans. She had Sketchers brand shoes, the kind that had rhinestones on the toes. Her brown hair was tied back into a high ponytail and she was chewing on some bubblegum. She looked up.
"Mr. Holmes, it's a pleasure to meet ya," she said, holding out her hand to shake his, not seeming to care that he was in nothing but a towel. Sherlock just sort of stared at her hand and didn't shake it. He looked her over several times. Sherlock estimated that she was about nine or ten, but she didn't behave in the atypical style of her age bracket.
"And you are?" Sherlock had to ask.
"I'm Robin Gale," the girl said.
"Right… Robin Gale, I'm just going to pop over to my bedroom and get some pants," Sherlock said with a smile, "Why don't you just wait right there."
"Like duh. That's what I've been doing for the past half hour while you were in the bathroom," Robin said. She pulled her gum out of her mouth, twisting it around her well-manicured finger before re-depositing it past lip gloss coated lips.
Sherlock was quick. His main objective was pants, which he obtained quickly. Though it seemed odd, he could tell the little girl was there on business. She was a client, or a prospective one, so he pulled on a dress shirt and walked back out into the sitting room and saw John sitting next to the girl.
"Are you lost then?" John asked.
"Uh… no," Robin said, "I am like totally exactly where I want to be."
"Are you sure?" John asked, "Sherlock doesn't really work well with children.. Umm… if you're lost I can get you a map, or really just, take you wherever you're headed."
"She's where she wants to be John," Sherlock said. He walked over and looked at the girl with a critical eye, reading her. Even John could tell that she was American. Everything from her clothes, to her speech to her demeanor screamed it. She was pretty well to do, everything she was wearing was name brand, and not cheap.
"So… Miss Gale, why are you here?" Sherlock asked.
"Like, you're Sherlock Holmes right? Why don't you, like, tell me?" the girl asked, blowing a short lived bubble. The pop cut through the sudden silence of the room. Sherlock was looking at her intensely.
"You've come to England specifically to speak with me," Sherlock said, "My address is scrawled on the back of your plane ticket. It's a one way plane ticket so you are intending to stay in England for a somewhat long period of time. However, what I need from you, is why exactly have you come here to speak to me?"
"Like, I need you to find my dad," Robin said, "The orphanage place he put me in is driving me crazy. I can't stand it. He sends me money. I never want for anything, except that this place is like, so completely boring. His checks are never signed with a real name. All I know is that his last name starts with an M. There's always a seal on his letters."
Sherlock closed his eyes and thought. Was this case worth his time? Finding a father? He wasn't sure. But, despite what John thought, Sherlock always did have a slight weak spot for children. Seeing them absolutely helpless, he couldn't help but aid them a bit. He'd never admit he cared though.
"Do you have one of the checks with you?" Sherlock asked.
"Uh, no. I cash them, duh," Robin said, "I have a photo copy. And here's the envelope."
Sherlock looked at the paper. She had photocopied a couple of different checks with varying names on them, never written, always stamped like a government check. He looked at the names. It was usually a set of initials and not even a full name. He looked at the envelope she had handed him and dropped it like it had burned him.
"What's wrong? Did you like, notice something?" Robin asked, leaning forward.
"Sherlock… what is it?" John asked.
"Nothing… I need to think," Sherlock said, "John, why don't you take Miss Gale downstairs to meet Mrs. Hudson and have a nice cup of tea."
"Uh… ok," John said.
"No way!" Robin said, "I want to know what you're thinking! I'm not dumb, I know you noticed something!"
"Miss Gale, if you want me to find your father, you'll kindly SHUT UP!" Sherlock said. The child harrumphed and walked downstairs with the doctor. Sherlock sent a text.
"Want to come out and play? –SH"
"Don't you care anymore? –SH"
"I'm busy. –JM"
"No time for me? Or are you just worried about your missing child? – SH"
"Missing child? – JM"
"Yes, the one that I found sitting on my sofa; a Miss Robin Gale from America. –SH"
"What do you want? –JM"
"Meet me at Mario's Diner on 8th Street in 15 minutes. Bring only your phone and your wallet. Nothing else. –SH"
"Done. Don't hurt her. –JM"
Sherlock closed his phone after reading the last text. Like I'd really hurt a little girl. He thought, shaking his head.
"John, I have to go out," Sherlock said on his way out the door.
"But… Sherlock… the girl…" John mumbled.
"Yes, do see that she's taken care of," Sherlock said, "Thanks."
Sherlock jumped into a cab and had it take him to the diner. It was about a 12 minute drive from his flat, but as the cab pulled up, he saw Moriarty already there waiting for him. He was in street clothes so not to draw attention to himself, and though no one else might have noticed, Sherlock could see the anxiety. The consulting detective stepped out of his cab and saw Moriarty's dark eyes snap over to him.
"Good morning," Sherlock said politely, but Jim was in no mood for trivialities.
"Where is she?" he asked, grabbing onto Sherlock's coat. The grab was meant to be intimidating, but Jim's voice and eyes betrayed him. He was terrified.
"She's safe," Sherlock said. He couldn't help but enjoy this feeling of holding the trump card. "We'll talk over coffee."
Jim looked like he was going to protest but Sherlock was already going inside.
"Coffee, black with two sugars please," he told the waiter as he watched Jim sit down, looking very uncomfortable and very nervous. To the untrained eye he probably looked fine, but Sherlock knew better.
"Tea for me please," Jim said, "Bring the cream and sugar out with it."
They both never broke eye contact as they made their orders and when the waiter left Jim was the first to speak.
"If you hurt her, I'll skin you alive," Jim said, trying to be threatening, but it didn't work.
"If you threaten me again, I'll hurt her," Sherlock said calmly. It was a lie. He wouldn't hurt a nine-year-old girl, no matter who her father was.
"You're bluffing," Jim said.
"Are you willing to take that risk?" Sherlock asked, raising his eyebrows. The waiter came back with their coffee and tea and Sherlock saw Jim's shoulders slump as all the fight just deflated out of him. The man left. Sherlock lifted his cup to his lips and sipped his coffee, his eyes never leaving Moriarty.
"What do you want?" Jim asked. Sherlock closed his eyes as he sipped his coffee. What did he want? He was enjoying the sway he held over this powerful man, and he didn't want it to end.
"You'll do whatever I say?" Sherlock asked. Jim sighed, their eye contact breaking as he lowered his gaze.
"Yes…" the criminal said softly, "Just don't hurt her."
"She came here looking for you, you know," Sherlock shifted the topic slightly, "She came to me, to hire me to find you."
Jim looked up again for a moment, then lowered his eyes and put his cream and sugar into his tea, mixing it silently.
"So, provided I don't hurt your daughter, what am I going to do with her?" Sherlock pressed. Jim sipped the warm beverage, his eyes still lowered and on the table.
"Send her back to America," the criminal said, "I'll cover the expenses. Send her home. Tell her she doesn't have a father. She has a benefactor. Make it out to be a school or organization. Just make sure she goes home."
Sherlock scowled. He reached across the table and forced Jim's face up so they made eye contact again.
"You're serious? Your little girl ran away from home and boarded a plane, wandered through London to find me and caught me getting out of the shower. She asks me to find her father whom she has never known and now I'm supposed to tell her that you don't exist and she should just go back to the orphanage that is driving her mad with boredom?"
"She can't stay here," Jim said, "If anyone knew she was mine…"
"They could do what I'm doing hmm? Use her against you, is that the problem?" Sherlock sounded angry and annoyed.
A few moments of silence reigned over them. Jim sipped his tea.
"You're meeting her," Sherlock said, "Not today, but you are meeting her at the very least. I'm not sending her back to America without letting her see you."
"Sherlock… please…" Jim bit his lower lip, "It's not just about her being used against me… I just don't want to see her get hurt."
"No buts, I'm not sending her back without seeing you," Sherlock said. He dropped some money on the table for his coffee and left the diner.