The Unseen Factor

Museum Job

This is set about a year before 'Job Offer'.

"Uh-oh," Enola said softly with a mixture of surprise, worry and shock as she looked past Amelia's shoulder.

The two ladies decided to enjoy some one on one time as Wilhelm and Hatch were busy, and what could be more relaxing that to enjoy a cup of coffee in a Parisian cafe watching people go by and wonder about them.

Well, they were enjoying themselves until Enola saw someone. Amelia looked behind her and saw a tall lean man with dark curly hair wearing a long dark blue jacket walking in their direction. She turned back to Enola.

"Someone you know?" Amelia asked taking a sip of her coffee. "And do I need to shoot them?"

"What is he doing in Paris of all places?" Enola asked to no one in particular not hearing Amelia's questions.

"Elle!" Amelia lightly hit the table hoping it would get Enola's attention, which it did. "Who is it, and do I need to shoot them?"

"Sherlock." Enola explained with the slightest hint of worry in her voice. Amelia could even pick up the even subtler hints of panic in Enola's voice.

"Sherlock, your brother Sherlock?" Amelia knew it was a silly question to ask, it was not as if she knew that many men named Sherlock, but the question gave her time to think of a plan.

"We should get going." Enola reached down to get her satchel.

"Afraid I'll shoot him?" Amelia asked, feigning innocent which earned her a glare from Enola.

"Sherlock will see me soon enough." Enola countered. With her satchel in hand she made ready to leave. Amelia could not help but see beyond Enola's calm expression how her mind was racing about thinking and planning, all with the underlining of fear.

"It's been years since he last saw you." Amelia pointed out while putting her hand on Enola's as a subtle sign to stay in their seats. "Do you really think he will recognize you?"

"Yes." Enola said without hesitation and then made another attempt to leave.

"Don't move," Amelia gently ordered. "He'll definitely notice if we move. So we must . . ."

"Hide in plain sight." Enola finished after Amelia trailed off, which she did often when prompting Enola to remember a lesson.

"Any ideas?" Amelia asked leaning in.

"Be dull – tourists." Enola said. Amelia smiled and pulled out a map from her pocket book, unfolded it and gave one side to Enola.

"Nothing duller than a pair of tourists in the middle of Paris." Amelia smiled at the simplicity of the plan.

They spent the next few moments planning a route through the city that they would never take as Sherlock walked past them. He barely registered them in his mind. It was not until he disappeared around a corner that the women stopped their charade. Amelia put away the map and Enola put her face in her hands.

"I always feel pathetic around my brothers." Enola spoke through her hands. "He didn't even notice me and I am still shaking."

Amelia contemplated on how to respond to Enola's statement, but was unable to say anything because of the reappearance of Wilhelm and Hatch. They were able to finish casing the museum with little problem and Wilhelm had a brilliant but, as always, crazy con planned.

"That's the basic plan." Wilhelm said at last looking at Amelia.

"You noticed something else." Enola remarked looking intently at Wilhelm.

"You are scarily good at that." Hatch commented. Enola just politely rolled her eyes

"What did you see?" Enola asked.

"We weren't the only ones casing the museum." Wilhelm explained; pausing to casually smile at their waiter who gave them their coffee. After the waiter was gone all four of them leaned in slightly. "It appears that they are after the same collection we're interested in, and there are signs of a robbery but the museum is trying to keep it under wraps. To stay on the side of caution we need to speed up the pace of the con."

"We're going to need an extra set of hands." Amelia pointed out.

"We could call in Lupin." Hatch suggested taking a sip of his coffee. "He loves museum jobs and I hear Tekla is also in town working with him, her specialty is museums."

Wilhelm looked thoughtfully at Hatch. "The question then comes to mind, would they accept the terms of our alternate revenue?"

"This is essential charity work when you really think about it." Amelia said musing over the options. "Our client really can't pay what that painting costs."

"Monsieur Lupin will," Enola said. She was not really drinking her coffee, just holding the cup. The appeal of drinking her coffee had died for her when she had seen Sherlock. "He's one of the few professionals who still refers to themselves as a 'gentleman thief'. Besides, he loves a challenge. Tekla, also not a problem; paying her the percent of this job, if it was less than charitable, would still be within our budget."

"Also that drug company we took down last week," Hatch pulled out his smart phone. "Doing what I do, I was able to play the stock market and make quite the sum. We could basically retire with this score, if we wanted."

He showed everyone else the numbers.

"Can't argue with that lovely series of zeros." Amelia remarked, glancing at her husband. "Good thing I still have the number for their phones and not just their burners. Well?

"Call them." Wilhelm consented. "Invite them to dinner."

"You always have the best cons." Arsène Lupin declared with gusto after reviewing the plan. They had settled into the lounge of the Lehrer's hotel suite after dinner for coffee and to plan. "Rightful ownership has always been dubious for this work of art since 1951, but I have uncovered a few things that is in your client's favor."

Arsène handed Hatch an UBS drive which Hatch opened and read the files. "These documents basically prove that our client is the rightful owner of the painting, legally. I couldn't even find these!"

"Do I even want to know how you got these?" Wilhelm asked with a hint of boredom, but with a glint of amusement in his eyes.

"Mon ami, I have my ways." Arsène winked at Enola, who was confused by the gesture. Amelia was not surprised by it. Enola could understand the basic act of flirting, when she saw other people attempt it. But when it came to men genuinely flirting with her, Enola could not make heads or tails of it, or any genuine emotions for that matter.

Arsène Lupin was a genuine gentleman thief. Born to a very wealthy family in France, he had little cause to seek employment and had all the charms and social graces that caused girls to swoon in his presence. It also helped that he was very handsome and he knew how to use that to his advantage. He allowed his good looks to allow people think that they was not much going on in his head, but Arsène did not become a very accomplish thief based on his looks alone.

Growing bored of parties and mindless entertainment Arsène turned to thievery and was instantly hooked on the thrill and adventure such a turn against the law offered. He usually avoids violence while restricting his targets to those who can afford the loss, which was one of the main reasons he was able to get along with the Lehrers so well.

"Which includes flirting with every female file clerk from here to Milan." Tekla interjected with a playful seductive smile on her face.

Tekla Guensert, the best actress the world would never applaud for, sat next to Arsène. Tekla, if that was really her name, had the great ability to become anyone with little variation to her own physical looks. A simple cock of the head, timing of blinks, the shifting of stance, or swing of hips Tekla could take and make a whole new person. She once convinced an American Federal profiler in a White Crimes unit that she was a innocent bystander in a crime she, herself, committed. Tekla was so good at becoming someone else that one had to wonder if they were talking with the real con artist or an act of the con artist. She, like Arsène, only targeted people who could afford the loss.

"Ah, what can I say? J'suis Français." Arsène said with a flourish. "I must advise caution with this job."

"Why?" Wilhelm asked.

"As a result of the earlier failed robbery the museum brought in a consultant for Britain for extra security," Telka explained as she poured a fresh cup of coffee. "Apparently, according to Arsène, this consultant is brilliant if not eccentric."

"What's the name?" Amelia asked despite the nagging feeling that she knew the answer.

"A Monsieur Sherlock Holmes." Arsène said. Enola tensed ever so slightly and Wilhelm quickly glanced at her before looking back at Arsène. Amelia sighed, not really enjoying the fact that she was correct. The Frenchmen did not miss the movements. "Have you met him?"

"No," Wilhelm sipped his coffee. "Just heard about him. You?"

"Once," Arsène smirked. "It was an experience that I would never exchange for anything. We crossed paths when I was doing a job in London. He certainly pushed me to be in top form."

"So with the British consultant and the second crew involved it's going to be a tight game." Wilhelm said as he looked thoughtfully at Tekla. "How well versed are you in 19th century poetry?"

"Well," Tekla gave him a most feline smile. "Give me a few hours and I will be a world expert."

"I must say Mr. Holmes that was very impressive work." Sherlock did his best not to snap at the woman next to him as he watched the arrested thieves being taken away by the police. The woman next to him was Alice Wynn, a Canadian professor taking a sabbatical in Paris to do research. "I never knew one could learn so much about a person from so small a detail. But as they say 'the devil's in the details'."

She giggled at her own joke with girlish annoyance. Sherlock could only look at her. Alice Wynn had the unfortunate ability to remind him of Molly Hooper with her girlish giggles and uncomely manner of dress. He could not understand how someone who acted so silly could become a teacher and that parents would let her so near developing minds. Despite this she was able to contribute to the capture of the art thieves. At least her stupid bumbling teacher's assistant was no where in sight. The assistant was more annoying than the teacher with her inability to properly hold on to anything or to form coherent words; she could not even answer a simple question put to her without the teacher prompting her to answer.

"M. Holmes," A Sous-brigadier quickly approached the pair. "The Inspector General has a few more questions for you, si-vous-plait."

Glad to get away from the silly teacher, Sherlock went willingly with the Sous-brigadier.

"It was a pleasure meeting you Mr. Holmes." Alice waved to Sherlock as he left. He did not care if she saw him roll his eyes or not. She sighed contently and made her way to the car that was waiting for her around the corner. When she got in she smiled broadly at the driver.

"Was that completely necessary?" Wilhelm asked the grifter as he pulled away into the traffic.

"Absolutely." Tekla's grin turned mischievous. She scratched at the blond wig she decided to wear. As much fun as it was to play a blond Tekla could not wait to return to her dark locks. "I just proved that the Master of Deduction could not deduce the truth about me. My grifting skills have been unknowingly validated by Sherlock Holmes."

"Very happy for you." Wilhelm remarked with an uninterested tone. Tekla only laughed at Wilhelm's sarcasm despite the underlining reason for his less-than-happy mood.

"Elle did a good job as my assistant. She was able to cover her mistake very well." Tekla offered. "I doubt if anyone noticed."

"One person did." Wilhelm pointed out. The last thing he needed was for one of Enola's brothers to uncover the con and blow their entire operation. He watched the way Sherlock thought and it was similar to the way Enola thought and even himself. It would have been very easy for Sherlock to find out about their con if he had not been distracted by the more blatant mistake the other thieves made.

"I doubt if that detective made any connection." Tekla countered. "And Elle was able to play him, pointing him away from her error. More experienced grifters I know wouldn't be able to cover as well as she did. She is very quick on her feet."

"And I applaud her for it." Wilhelm said risking a glance at Tekla before the light changed. "But there should not have been a need for it. She was just to be another face in the crowd as she picked the guard's pocket, not draw attention to herself."

Tekla saw his point and they spoke no more on the subject as they rode.

They returned to the hotel and Wilhelm escorted Tekla to her suite before going to his own. Amelia had fallen asleep in the lounge on the couch with a book forgotten in her lap. He smiled at his sleeping wife before kissing her softly on her temple.

Wilhelm found Enola where he suspected. Standing in her room of the suite by the window staring out into the city that began to light as the sky was darkening. She stood with her arms crossed in silent meditation observing the people in the streets going about their lives unawares that they were being watched. Her mind was filled with memories of her brothers; she wanted to remember the happier times of her early youth, but the reminders of what started her fear kept interfering.

Enola lifted her head slightly when she heard the bedroom door open. She knew what Wilhelm wanted to talk about, it needed to be talked about.

"You made a mistake." Wilhelm stated as he closed the door behind him.

"I know." Enola agreed quietly. She uncrossed one of her arms and unconsciously began to fiddle with the small delicate silver cross necklace that Amelia's parents had given her for her birthday a few years ago.

"One that could have easily been avoided." He added taking a few steps into the room.

"I know." She continued to watch the people in the street. They seemed so content with their lives as some laughed and others shouted. If anyone wished to study mankind the best stop was to it from a window where the people under observation could not see the observer.

"Do you know how much you messed up?" He asked. Wilhelm did not raise his voice, he was not angry, but Enola could hear the disappointment in his voice.

"Enough to almost blow the operation." Enola heard Wilhelm move to her bed and sat down. "I know that saying 'I'm sorry' is insufficient."

"If facing your brother is so difficult, why didn't you step away from the con? We had enough hands on deck to assist." Wilhelm watched her carefully. There was something bothering her; she was acting too much like she had when he had first met her; too quiet, too withdrawn. Pushing her into talking with him would make her even more withdrawn, so Wilhelm waited for her to speak first.

"I didn't think – "

"You certainly didn't do that." Wilhelm admonished.

"I didn't think that seeing Sherlock or working in such proximity with him would throw me off balance so much." Enola continued, accepting Wilhelm's quiet scolding and turned to face him. She should have looked upset, but did not. That set Wilhelm's mind racing with the analytical data he was collecting from his observation of her.

"You're terrified of them." He finally said.

Enola said nothing, but looked away confirming what Wilhelm stated. Tears threaten to form in her eyes but she kept control having many years of practice of not crying.

"You're not just afraid of going back to an unhappy household with an emotional stifled family but genuinely scared to death of your family." Wilhelm felt stupid for not seeing the signs before hand, granted there were not that many opportunity for Wilhelm or Amelia to observe Enola interaction with her family. One could only learn so much from the after affects. "Talk with me." He requested softly, this was something that could not be discussed at a later time, it was something that needed to be talked about now.

"My father was a very manipulative man," Enola began softly, not trusting her voice. "Despite my youth I remember that quite clearly. Manipulation was a trait that all three of us inherited from him. Mycroft uses it in his governmental power plays, Sherlock uses it to get information and I . . ."

"Yes," Wilhelm gently prompted.

"I use it to survive." She said at last. "I used it against my family just so they would stop. Stop saying I could do better, I should be doing better, that I was failing to live up to their standards. In the streets of New York I used it – convincing men with hungry eyes I wasn't worth their time, convincing people with guns that a bullet would be wasted on me.

"I hated how easily manipulation came to me. I wanted to cut it out of me, but it was too useful for me to even try." Enola spoke evenly but the threat of her emotions coming through was ever there. "I was about twelve when the fights between Mycroft and Sherlock became unbearable. Mostly because Sherlock had taken up a drug, speed of some sort, I never learned to particulars of it, when he was at school. Despite the fact that Sherlock was the only one taking the substance, it brought out the worse in both my brothers."

"And there I was in the middle of it all," Enola turned away from the window and walked to the bed. "Mute by choice, afraid my words would just make things worse for everyone. Things were said and actions were done that will forever effect us in how we relate to each other. Then came that fateful night shortly before my fourteenth birthday."

"The night you ran away." Wilhelm said. Enola nodded. Now the tears fell without Enola's consent, not that she noticed, she was too focus on the memory.

"My mother was away visiting a friend and it was the servants' night off with a half holiday the following day." Enola's eye glazed over as she thought back and Wilhelm watched her carefully. "Sherlock was home from school after my mother left and he had very bored at school apparently because the man who walked into the house looked like Sherlock but didn't act very much like him.

"I won't go into particulars of how he acted, but he had very high and was coming down from it. I got rid of the drugs he hid in his room from our mother and Mycroft and he wasn't very pleased with that sort of act. You must understand that Sherlock, by his nature, is not a very violent person but he took quite a bit and the withdrawal was not pleasant. When he was not violent I took care of him and cleaned the mess we had created in our fight, it was a strange pattern I must admit. But the Holmes family is anything but normal.

"What is that saying that Amelia always mumbles?" Enola mused as she sat on the bed. "Ah, yes, 'the straw that broke the camel's back'. Well that night was my straw and as soon as Sherlock had fallen asleep, I put him abed, and I left."

Wilhelm and Enola sat in silence thinking over what she had said. The silence was only broken when the bed creaked slighted as Wilhelm moved to bring Enola into his arms. She allowed herself to be held, she still had not grown comfortable with physical touch, such as a hug, despite Amelia hugging her every morning. But for Wilhelm, her surrogate father, Enola willingly let him hold her.

For the first time that Enola could remember, she cried letting all the years of holding back out.

A/N: Arsène Lupin is a fictional character that was written around the same time as Sherlock Holmes in France written by Maurice Leblanc. In his stories there was a Sherlock Holmes proxy character that Lupin faced off a few times named Herlock Sholmes. He's often described at the French counterpart to Sherlock Holmes. I couldn't resist not adding him to my little story.

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