The Unseen Factor

Welcome to London

Set during 'A Study in Pink'.

Marcus "Hatch" Hatcherson, code breaker and hacker extraordinaire, took almost no jobs outside the States, mostly because there was little need for him to leave his house. But when he owed a favor to a very close friend he could hardly say no. However, he instantly missed the shores of warm Southern California when he stepped into the chilly British evening from the airport and hailed a cab.

He gave the address to the driver and prayed for an uneventful drive to the destination, he was feeling a bit jet lag and in no mood to deal with anything unplanned. Well, one could always hope.

Hatch did not keep time, he was busy writing down a new computer code in his small notebook for his next job, but it was not that long before the cab stopped. He was about to get out without thinking when he noticed that he was not where he wanted to go.

"Um – is something wrong?" Hatch asked feeling slightly panic as he settled back into his seat. He suddenly felt like the victim in some classic black and white mystery movie just before the scene cuts away to reveal the body dump. That would really be awkward.

"Just need to double check my numbers before I go any further." The cabbie explained. "Don't I won't charge you any extra."

Hatch wasn't quite sure what numbers the cabbie needed to check, but he had lived in a big city for the majority of his life and took many a cab from point A to point B for him to know that whatever it was it could be done after he was dropped off. Plus the cabbie was not really making any marks on the form on the clipboard, he was more preoccupied with looking around.

Hatch had to give the cabbie low points for subtlety. Curiosity taking over he also looked around trying to figure out what was here that the cabbie wanted to see. People walking, shops, restaurants – nothing that really stood out. Well except the cars driving on the opposite of what he was use to, but that was just him.

He was getting a bit anxious, glancing at his wrist watch several times before he decided to speak. "I don't want to be rude, but I do need to meet someone and I don't want to be late."

"Sure thing," The cabbie said a hint of disappointment in his words. With one last look around the cabbie took off.

Hatch returned to his code and was quite contented until he was jostled forward by the force of the cabbie suddenly stopped to prevent hitting a man that ran into the middle of the street.

"Police! Open her up!" The man yelled.

"Great," Hatch muttered under his breath and quickly put away his notebook just as the policeman opened the cab door.

It was then that Hatch noticed that there were two of them, not in uniform. The first man, the one who ran into the street, was tall and very lean with dark curly hair who was wearing clothes that even Hatch knew was out of the budget of a cop, no matter what country. The second was a bit shorter than the first with lighter hair but dressed within the budget of a cop. They were both out of breath like they had been running.

Something was off, but Hatch could not really say what though.

The first man looked over him and seemed disappointed.

"No . . . teeth, tan – what California?" He asked, but did not wait for an answer before looking at the airport tags. "L.A. Santa Monica, just arrived."

Hatch wanted to say something but the second man beat him to it. "How could you possibly know that?"

Fair question.

"The luggage." Good answer. The first man looked him over once again. "Ah, probably your first trip to London, right? Going to your final destination the route your cabbie was taking you."

"Sorry," Hatch interrupted, but he had to know. "Are you guys the police?"

"Yeah," The first man quickly held up a badge and, just as quickly before Hatch could really read, put it away. Hatch wondered if he was caught, but the cop had not slapped the cuffs on him. But then again, he had not really broken any laws in Britain, yet, for the police to be concerned about him. "Everything alright?"

It was an odd question to ask after running in front of a car and not one Hatch was expecting at all but in a strange was gave him relief causing him to smirk. These guys were definitely not cops. "Yeah."

The first man nodded and gave a small, quick smile. "Welcome to London." He said cheerfully, which was fake, even Hatch who was a computer person could tell, before walking away.

"Any problems, just let us know." The second man quickly added closing the door before following the first man.

Hatch sat there a bit stun for a moment trying to wrap his head around what had just occurred. The only thing he was really sure of was that there was something off about the two men. Despite the badge he briefly saw, the two men were not cops, most likely private investigators. Those were always fun. He was about to tell the cabbie to drive on when there was a knock on the window.

A policeman, this time in uniform and most definitely real. Keeping his cool he opened the door.

"Can I help you officer?" He asked with his most charming California smile.

The uniformed office explained that he had witness the two men talking to him and wondered if he was being harassed. Hatch vaguely explained, playing up the dumb American, what had happened with the two men and pointed towards them in the last direction he saw them go. But as soon as he pointed at them, they took off. Hatch could have sworn that they each had a gleeful smirk on their faces.

Once the uniformed cop was finished questioning him, Hatch got back into the cab. The door was barely closed before the cabbie decided to take off almost like a madman. Hatch could have sworn that the cabbie had suddenly become nervous and wanted to hightail it out of the area.

Arriving at his destination, Hatch got out and payed the cabbie, who suddenly became very distracted. Hatch decided against any form of a tip, the cabbie was rather a lousy driver. When the cab was out of sight Hatch took out his phone and dialed.

"I'm outside and there's no one else in sight." He said when the other side picked up. He hit end call when he heard the sound of a click from the other side of the line. The door across the street opened and the man in the doorway beckoned him inside.

"Hatch, it is always a pleasure." Wilhelm held out his hand to his visitor and smiled warmly.

"You know I can never say no to any of your request, Dr. Lehrer." Hatch shook the man's hand and went inside.

"Please Hatch, call me Wilhelm." The doctor smiled taking one of Hatch's bags. "We've worked together long enough for you to earn the right of familiarity. Your trip uneventful?"

"Pretty much," Hatch smirked thinking about his taxi ride. "Well, the taxi was interesting."

"Was it one of those get in a cab and win money by answering trivial questions?" Wilhelm joked. He lead Hatch to where he had set up a work station for his guest to work.

"No," Hatch pulled out his laptop and his other equipment. "It was much more interesting."

Hatch explained the unusual taxi ride from the airport as he finished setting up his work station and Wilhelm made coffee, it was going to be a long night. They shared a good laugh at the ridiculous taxi ride.

"I don't think in any of my trips to London I have ever been greeted in such a manner." Wilhelm chuckled.

"I thought you didn't like doing jobs in London?" Hatch sipped his coffee. Very strong, Wilhelm always made very strong coffee.

"I don't mind London," Wilhelm clarified. "My daughter is the one who doesn't do jobs here."

"How is the family?"

"The women are fine. Amelia has been really busy with school." Wilhelm poured himself a cup of coffee. "The administration asked her to take on two more classes, and that seems to be eating up a lot of her time. Fortunately it hasn't effected our non-academic activities."

"And Elle?"

"Growing up too fast." Wilhelm smiled fondly as he thought of Enola. "I blame you for teaching her computer hacking. She's figured out how to hack into the CIA database without being detected."

"You wanted her to know how," Hatch defended himself. "And I'm very impressed that she picked up so quickly. It wouldn't surprise me if she surpassed me in hacking. And I'm the best there is."

"Which is why I picked you to teach her. Now," Wilhelm put down his coffee and pulled out a file. "I've decided to put together a crew."

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