The Unseen Factor

A Mark

This is set a little after 'Difficult Job'.

The lounge seemed to belong to another time where smoking had no stigma, men in suits were commonplace, and women had perfectly coiffed hair. The music fit the atmosphere, soft and easy filling the air and just enough light so it was not to overly intimate. He went there to unwind, celebrate, have a good time. He smiled as he spotted a pretty young lady sitting alone at the bar and decided to take a chance.

"You are far too lovely to be sitting here by yourself." The man said smoothly as he sat next to her. "Your boyfriend should be more careful than that."

"I have no boyfriend." She put on her best smile, tilted her head slightly downward and slowly blinked.

"How fortunate for both of us." The man plastered on his most charming smile. "Buy you a drink?"

Across the room the couple at the bar had an impromptu audience.

"What is he doing?" Sherlock demanded as he glared at the man next to Enola.

"It's called flirting." Tekla said nonchalantly as she took a sip from her drink as she sat next to Sherlock.

"Maybe if you shut up once in a while I could teach you the basic art of flirting." Carleton remarked over the radio comm to Sherlock. Carleton and Hatch were sitting at the end of the bar keeping an eye on the mark as he talked with Enola.

"Elle, just smile let him do all the talking." Tekla suggested as she watched the action unfold at the bar.

To everyone's surprise the mark did not go for Tekla who was playing the femme fatale woman that the mark liked, instead he went directly to Enola who was working in the background picking the pockets of the bodyguards. With that unexpected twist of events Tekla went from grifter to teacher feeding Enola tips via the comm.

"Give a little laugh, sweetie; relax your shoulders, you look too tense." Tekla continued. "Just relax."

"The same goes for you Will." Wilhelm ordered. "Tekla make sure he doesn't interfere."

He and Amelia were on the other side of the lounge sitting in a darken section with drinks in hand observing the others making sure nothing went to awry in the con. Neither of them could help but notice the change in Sherlock's demeanor since the man had settled next to Elle.

"Will's not gonna do anything stupid." Tekla said giving a pointed look to the man next to her. "Right?"

Sherlock did not respond; he continued to stare at the mark as if he wanted to bore holes into the man's back with his eyes. He could recognize the very subtle hints of uneasiness in Enola; he doubted if anyone else in this crew could, to them she was calm and collected.

"Pull her out." Sherlock demanded suddenly, surprising everyone. Wilhelm sighed and looked to his wife who only shrugged her shoulders, they were expected that from Sherlock as soon as the mark sat next to Enola. Neither of them liked the idea of the mark being attached to Elle either; but they both knew that she could handle it and that the con depended upon it.

"She can handle herself." Carleton jumped in before Wilhelm could say anything.

"She's doing fine." Tekla added. Tekla instructed Elle to curl her hair and lean into the man, only adding to Sherlock's disgust.

"Tekla dance with Will." Amelia ordered. "Elle keep going."

Tekla did not need to be told twice. She grabbed Sherlock's hand and half dragged half pulled her reluctant dance partner to the floor.

"I don't know how to dance." Sherlock said looking back at Enola. He would not be distracted; he needed to be ready to step in and get his sister since it seemed the rest of the crew were too focused on the con to worry about her safety.

Deep inside, he knew this not to be true; he had seen Enola grift often enough to know that her skills were not lacking, but he could not help but feel yet another surge of protectiveness towards her. A part of his mind wondered if this is what Mycroft felt towards him, if this is why he always felt the need to butt into Sherlock's life.

He quickly pushed that away. This was different; he was not Mycroft. And this was his sister.

"I do," Tekla smiled as she grabbed his left hand and placed his right at her waist. She pulled him into a dance. "Follow my lead."

"Ten bucks says he trips over his feet." Carleton said to Hatch who smirked.

"You're on."

"I can hear you two." Sherlock remarked exasperated.

"At least they're not betting on how fast you insult someone like last time." Amelia pointed out.

"Or on how soon someone would punch you in the face before that." Tekla said as she made Sherlock spin her.

"Don't forget the one to see how long he could carry on a conversation with a skull." Hatch added.

"Or whether or not he would resort to fisticuffs when he and Hatch ran into the mobster." Amelia laughed at the memory.

"I tried so hard to teach him." Carleton shook his head and sighed.

"You are all impossible." Sherlock muttered as he almost tripped when he brought Tekla back up from a dip.

"Now when you say trip . . . " Hatch began.

"Flat on his face." Carleton grinned.

"Nice." Hatch and Carleton proceeded to fist pump sealing the bet.

Sherlock thought it best to ignore the antics of the two men at the bar and focused his attention on Enola. She was still at the bar with the mark; who was now leaning towards her whispering something in her ear. The mark was too close to her for Sherlock's liking. Then he noticed something.

"Why is my comm off?" He asked Tekla who gave him an innocent look that did not fool him.

"You really don't want to hear what the mark is telling Elle." She explained. Sherlock glared at her. "Look if Elle can handle herself with Moriarty, she can certainly handle herself dealing with one of his minions."

As the turned on the dance floor, Sherlock caught sight of the mark slinking his arm around Enola's waist. His shock at the sight caused him to misstep and fall to his knees. He did not need his earpiece on to know that both Hatch and Carleton were snickering at his expense.

"You know Will, if I didn't know any better," Tekla remarked lightly as she helped him back on his feet. "I would say you're acting like a jealous boyfriend or an overly protective big brother. Either way it's adorable. Even with you scowling at me like that."

Sherlock said nothing as he regarded Tekla with a nonplussed expression. As if on cue they both walked off the dance floor and back to their table. It was then that Wilhelm made his move.

"Mr. Wilson Kemp," Wilhelm smiled as he walked up to the bar. "Luke Melas, I understand we can help each other with a little problem."

During Wilhelm's talk with the mark Enola slipped away and left the lounge. She was soon followed by Sherlock.

"You looked like you wanted to kill him." Enola remarked when Sherlock found her outside in an alleyway near the lounge's entrance. She was leaning against a wall under a light holding her jacket tightly around her. Despite her calm expression and confident stance, he could tell she was still uncomfortable with what had gone down by the way she gripped her jacket to her chest.

"It was the least he deserved for the way he was treating you." Sherlock remarked as he stood beside her.

"I was ill prepared." Enola said. "I'm not use to men taking interest in me. Both Tekla and Arsène have taught me about flirting; I can see it with other people, but when in happens to me . . . I don't understand why a man would bother. There are much better prospects than me."

"Elle -"

"A key aspect of a grift is the ability to change from one character to another at a moment's notice." Enola continued on. "A skill I'm still working on. Maybe one day I'll be just as good as Tekla, but not today."

She looked at him thoughtfully before taking out her radio comm. With a half smirk, she stood up, shaking off her jacket and releasing the tension.

"There's a Chinese place about two blocks over that's open to about one in the morning." She said motioning in the general direction. "I know for a fact you haven't eaten in the past two days. I think Amelia is planning on jumping you with food and force feeding you."

"Mustn't have that." Sherlock smirked.

"No, we mustn't." Enola laughed. "They won't need us for the rest of the evening, so – you, me, food?"

"If you insist."

"Of course I do." She linked her arms in his and they took off down the street. "I found out that you can tell a good Chinese place by the lower third of the door handle."

Sherlock could not help but smile at her remark.

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