Phillip was soaked to the bone. He carried a holdall and his flute case. "I ran away," he said to a startled John.
"Come in," he said. While he wasn't supposed to talk to Sherlock, he couldn't just leave the boy out in the rain.
"I was under a bridge earlier, but when it got dark lots of nasty looking people came there so I left." He put down the holdall and flute case. "I put everything in a bin liner before I packed the bag, so that's dry."
"How long were you under the bridge?" John gestured to the sofa to let him know it was okay to sit on it.
"Most of today. Mum left on Friday for something with work and I left after school, once I'd packed my bag." He sat down on the sofa.
"You were left all alone? When is she coming back?"
"Monday." He shrugged. "She's done it before."
Just then Sherlock emerged from the bedroom. Phillip turned towards, him, eyes lit up. "They said I couldn't see you." He bounded off the couch and towards him.
"The bathroom is in there. Go take a hot shower and I'll find you some of John's clothes to wear," Sherlock instructed him.
"If you've really been out in the rain all day, that's a good idea," John added. Phillip nodded and headed back to where Sherlock pointed. "I'm going upstairs. Something of mine has to fit him," John said as he headed for the stairs. "See if he wants cocoa or tea."
He went up to his room, rummaged around in his closet, and took out jeans, a jumper, a shirt, pants, and socks. All were old but otherwise in good shape. He then went downstairs and folded up the clothes beside the bathroom door. "There are clothes for you outside the door," he told Phillip, and then went to the kitchen. Sherlock was already in there heating up some water.
"I'm going to ring his father," he said to John. "See if they can arrange an emergency hearing for Monday."
"He hasn't seen his father in ten years. Will the court give him to his dad that easily?"
"He's already had his social services visit, and he passed that. His mother left him alone all weekend, she has done so before, and let him spend time with an accused child abuser. What's more, he wants to live with his father."
"But he doesn't know him," John responded with confusion. "What if he's mad at him for not seeing him in all that time?"
"Once he finds out that his father didn't run off, wants to see him, and loves him, he will want to live with him. He's hungry for love." Sherlock looked away at the last sentence.
Just then Phillip stepped back into the room. John's clothes were too big for him, since he was so thin, and he looked like he was being swallowed by the jumper and jeans. He made a beeline to Sherlock. "I knew if I came here you'd let me in."
"Do you want cocoa or tea?" John asked.
"Go sit on the sofa and I'll get you a cup." Phillip went to sit on the sofa and Sherlock sat down next to him. John mixed the cocoa and brought the mug to Phillip. "Do you want to talk by yourselves? I can go upstairs," he said.
"Not now," Phillip said quietly.
"Why did you run away?" Sherlock asked.
Phillip looked uncomfortable. After a moment or two he said: "Because nothing changed."
"What do you mean?" Sherlock looked at him, but didn't touch him.
"I still don't have friends at school and Mum doesn't want me around and all I had was Her and you but they said we couldn't talk and I felt so alone I could burst."
"What were you planning to do on the street?" John forced himself to ask, although he already expected the answer.
"People want... company," Phillip muttered. "It's not like I don't know that there are lots of people like Her."
"None of those people would love you, either," Sherlock gently responded.
"But I could pretend!" Phillip cried out in pain.
"There are people who care about you, though. For yourself. Not what you provide them."
"They said we couldn't talk until the trial was over and I tried to just wait but I couldn't." He moved a little closer to Sherlock.
"They thought that if we met the defense might argue the witness was contaminated."
"I missed you," Phillip said.
"I missed you too. You're very dear to me."
"And you don't want anything." Phillip paused. "Well, you do, but there's no..."
"Strings attached," Sherlock put it.
"When did you last eat?" John asked.
"Yesterday. Friday, I mean."
"Let me see if I can find something to heat up." Before John headed into the kitchen, Sherlock briefly motioned to his mobile. Once he was out of sight he pulled out his own and checked the messages. Not surprisingly, there was a text from Sherlock with a number attached; John presumed this was Phillip's father's phone. "Ring when alone," the message advised. Phillip would probably want to be alone with Sherlock at some point, so he could do that then. Looking in the fridge, he found a few different pieces of leftovers that could probably become a meal. He put them all on a plate, heated them up in the microwave, and returned to the living room. "Here you go." Phillip took the plate from him and started to gulp down the food eagerly. When he was done, he looked briefly at Sherlock and then John. "Do you want me to go upstairs?" John asked. Phillip nodded and he headed up the steps.
Once he got up there, he gave himself a minute before pulling out his mobile and ringing the number Sherlock had texted him. "Mr. Rodgers? This is John Watson," he said as soon as someone picked up.
"Who?" Mr. Rodgers said in confusion. At least he didn't sound like he had just woken up.
"John Watson, Sherlock Holmes' friend. We spoke at the trial a few days ago?"
"Oh, yes. Hello. Are you going to be at the hearing on Monday?"
"Probably not." John took a deep breath. "I think you need to come here. Your son ran away yesterday and came here tonight. He was under a bridge but he didn't like how some of the people looked and headed here."
"What?" said a shocked Mr. Rodgers. "Is he all right?"
"I think so. His mother left him alone this weekend and apparently she's done it before."
"I'll be over as fast as I can. Baker Street, right?"
"Then I'm headed out the door now. I should be there in thirty minutes." The mobile disconnected.
John decided that he'd come downstairs again after twenty minutes or so; plenty of time for both Phillip and Sherlock to talk and still be there when Mr. Rodgers arrived. So he sat upstairs and waited. Once the time had passed, he went downstairs again. Phillip and Sherlock were still on the sofa, but Phillip had moved closer to Sherlock, almost leaning on him. His eyes were red. "You can stay down here now," he said when he saw John.
"What's in your bag?" Sherlock asked.
"Some clothes and my art supplies." He picked the bag up and opened it. A bin liner stuck out of the open space. Phillip reached in and grabbed a few things. "Here are my colored pencils and my watercolors. I want pastels but I've never been able to get them."
"Did you bring any money?" John asked.
He shook his head. "No. Mum never gave me pocket money. Sometimes She'd give me some bills, but -" He stopped himself.
"Do you want some more cocoa?" John said in an effort to clean the air.
"Yes, please," Phillip said, and John retreated to the kitchen with relief. He made up another mug and put it in Phillip's hands.
Phillip had just finished the cocoa when John heard someone coming up the stairs. He took a deep breath. Sherlock turned his head towards the door for a second. Phillip didn't seem to have heard it. Less than a minute later someone knocked on the door. John jumped up to get it. He opened the door to find a tired-looking Mr. Rodgers. Before he could say anything, Sherlock jumped up from the sofa, blocking the view of the door. "Good to see you here," Sherlock told him, carefully not addressing him by name.
"Is he all right?" Mr. Rodgers asked anxiously.
"Come in and see."
Mr. Rodgers stepped into the flat. John noticed he was holding a stuffed frog. Phillip turned to look at him, but there was no look of recollection. He didn't seem to notice the resemblance, either. "Who are you?" he asked.
Sherlock answered before Mr. Rodgers could. "Phillip, this is your father. Bruce Rodgers."
John had no idea what Phillip would do with this revelation. He might run off again. He might scream or cry. He might be delighted. So he wasn't surprised when Phillip just stared at him in disbelief.
"It's true," said Mr. Rodgers after a moment. "I've wanted to see you but your mother said you didn't want to see me."
Phillip still stared, like he was expecting the whole thing to be revealed as a joke. "You're... my dad?" he finally managed to say.
Mr. Rodgers took a step closer and held out the frog. "The last time you saw me, you left this at my flat. I never got to give him back to you, and I knew you loved him so much..." He trailed off, choking back a sob.
Something dawned on Phillip; he stepped forward and took the frog. He held it to his chest, then looked up at his father. "Allegro?" he said hesitantly.
"You asked what was on some sheet music."
"Yes. I play for an orchestra. The oboe and the bassoon." Mr. Rodgers looked down at the toy in his son's arms. "You loved to come to work with me and on Sunday I would take you backstage."
John himself could think of a few memories from when he was three; Phillip probably had a few himself. In fact, you could see the beginning of recognition in his eyes. "The music stand. It was as big as me," Phillip came up with.
Mr. Rodgers looked pleased he had remembered that much. "We'd eat together there and go to the zoo. You loved the frogs the most."
"The zoo." Phillip brought the animal to his chest, looking lost in memory. "I used to go there..."
Mr. Rodgers closed the distance between them and embraced him. Within a minute both son and father were crying. Phillip kept saying under his breath, "Why didn't you come get me, Daddy?"
"I tried, I tried," was all Mr. Rodgers could say.
The whole time this was going on, Sherlock stood back. He didn't say anything until they separated, still looking each other in the eye. "I know that Mr. Rodgers doesn't live in London, but he has a hotel room for the hearing on Monday. Take Phillip with you. I'll ring some people that will help."
"What hearing?" Phillip's face went white.
"A custody hearing," Sherlock told him. "Nothing you've done will come up. They will just ask you where you want to live."
"Will they really let me live with my dad?" It was a sad reminder of all he had been through that his first was disbelief.
"Yes," Sherlock firmly replied. John guessed that the people he intended to ring began and ended with "Mycroft."
"When should I bring the clothes back?"
"Not needed," John said.
"Thank you," Phillip said. He put his things back in the holdall and handed it to his father. He turned to Sherlock and briefly grabbed him in a hug.
"When does your mother come home?" Sherlock said as soon as Phillip released him.
"You can spend tomorrow with your father. He can take you to the hearing on Monday."
"You seem so sure I'll win," Mr. Rodgers said.
"His mother just left him by himself all weekend. She let him spend a great deal of time with someone on trial for child abuse. You have a good case."
John couldn't help but notice Sherlock had said something so indirect as "on trial for child abuse" rather than the more horrible truth "on trial for repeatedly raping children." A way of distancing himself from the truth, he supposed. "Do you need money for a cab?" John asked, thinking they might need the offer.
"We'll be all right," Mr. Rodgers said. "Thank you for all you've done. I don't know how to repay you."
"Look after Phillip," Sherlock said.
"That's the easiest thing in the world."
"I will ring you again once I have testified," Sherlock told Phillip. "Stay well." Phillip smiled at him and he and his father exited the flat, together once again.