Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Client: An Enola Holmes - Sherlock Fanfiction

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DISCLAIMER:  I do not own Enola Holmes, nor any of the characters found within this story.  All credit for Enola goes to Nancy Springer.  I do not own Sherlock, nor the Sherlock Holmes franchise.  Credit for the character goes to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Credit for the BBC television show goes to BBC.

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221b Baker Street

It was to John's pleasant surprise that he found the fridge completely uncontaminated by such gruesome things as severed heads and assorted criminal items. It was to his even greater pleasure that the fridge was actually well-stocked with normal, wholesome food.
Smacking his lips with an eager light in his eyes, John reached into the fridge and pulled out a jug of milk. After helping himself to a glass, and a stack of biscuits from his own secret stash, John settled himself down at the kitchen table and took a delicious bite. Gulping down the cool, refreshing milk, he sighed in satisfaction.
“Mmm! Sherlock, are you sure you aren't hungry?” he called into the living room.
Silence was the only answer he received.
“Oh, come on, even you must need food eventually.” John coaxed.
Still no answer.
Instantly, John's high spirits fell. It had been three days since Sherlock had confided to him the trouble of his missing sister, Enola. It had been three days since John had met that very sister, in this very flat, and let her slip away. It wasn't his fault, of course. At the time, he'd had no idea that Sherlock was looking for the girl, and therefore no reason to detain her.
John had seen Sherlock brood before. That was no uncommon thing. But Sherlock had been in a black mood ever since that day, and he showed no signs of improving. The man hardly slept, but instead stayed up through all hours of the night working obsessively through police records, security footage, bank records... anything that might give him a clue as to where his sister might be. John had not seen him take any food since the night he explained the matter of Enola. The detective had taken several cups of tea each day, but nothing more.
Now John was concerned for Sherlock both as his friend, and a doctor. Sherlock's naturally lean body was now bordering on skeletal. His pale, gaunt cheeks gave him a ghostly look, and there were deep shadows beneath his eyes.
John sighed and got up from the table, walking over to stand in front of his friend, who was curled up on the sofa with his fingertips together, his eyes closed, and his brows furrowed together.
“Sherlock,” John said, leaning over him, “this is madness. I know you're worried about your sister, but starving yourself to death won't bring her home any sooner. Now, I'm a medical man, and I know when a person's health is deteriorating. If you don't eat something, you're going to be so weak you wouldn't be able to stand up even if Enola were in the room, standing in front of you.”
For a moment, Sherlock remained as still as a statue, then he opened his eyes to peer at John from beneath his eyebrows. “How can I think about biscuits, and milk, when my sister- my sister- could be starving on the streets. Or worse. Do you have any idea what could happen to a girl of her age, running around the city alone like that? Good grief, John, she's only sixteen! She doesn't know a thing.”
John nodded, knowing Sherlock's full meaning. “I know,” he said, “I know.”
“Mrs. Hudson said she looked like a picture of misery, standing there on the steps.”
“I know. But I saw her myself a moment later, and She didn't look miserable then.”
“Do you think that means anything?” Sherlock demanded, getting up from his position and stalking across the floor to the windows. “By that time she'd probably second-guessed herself and decided to run before I came back.”
John didn't reply, but ran a hand across his mouth, trying to think of how to help his friend.
“What can I do?” he asked at last.
Sherlock just shook his head, and retreated into his room without giving John a second glance.

John had never felt so powerless to help the detective. He'd felt like an idiot plenty of times; he'd felt incompetent, to be sure; he'd even felt unwanted. But never powerless.
What now? he thought. Just then, his gaze fell on his laptop, sitting open on the table.
Hesitantly, he sat down and opened a tab. Maybe he wasn't an expert detective, but he could research as well as anyone. It was worth a try.

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As soon as I opened my email account, I was assaulted by thousands of new messages. Well, not thousands, but it might as well have been.
“30? What on earth...? What is this?” I exclaimed in disbelief. Scowling, I glanced at the titles and rolled my eyes. All of them were letters from my clients, with the exception of the last two, which were from my secretary Joddy.
Still, despite my displeasure at having so many emails to answer, I couldn't help but laugh at the titles.

The list went on and on. Having a career as a scientific perditorian- that is, seeker of the lost- led to some interesting situations and people. For instance, the email referring to a missing femur bone was from a former soldier who'd had his leg amputated, and the bone had been signed by the doctor who amputated it. Stranger still is the fact that someone had stolen the blasted thing. After some investigation, I managed to locate the relic, which was still leaning against my sofa. I'd yet to return it to its veteran owner. I kid you not; the story is as true as my name is Enola Holmes.
As for the letter addressed to “Dr. Ragostin”, it was meant for me. Leslie T. Ragostin is the alias I'd used ever since running away from home. Hiding behind an older male identity gave me a bit of security from my brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, both of whom had been searching for me relentlessly for months.
At least, I knew that Sherlock had been searching for me. I'd barely escaped some of the traps he'd set for me- which was no easy feat, considering that my brother is a genius. But as for Mycroft... well, I could not say for certain whether he was searching for me. I'd seen nothing, and heard nothing of him since I'd given him the slip when he tried to send me to boarding school.
Recently, I'd had a rather nerve-racking close call with my brother Sherlock. Granted, I hadn't actually seen him, but I'd been in his house. Yes, into the very depths of the spider's web. It had been a necessary risk; I had been determined to retrieve Mum's riddle book, which she'd left to me just before she disappeared from the face of the earth.
It was there, in that flat, that I had met Sherlock's best friend, and my favorite blogger, John Watson. At first I'd panicked, thinking that he'd know me and prevent my escape, but my mission was a success after all. Thank heavens the good doctor was oblivious to my... strained relationship with my brother.
Almost subconsciously, I moved my hand across my desk and placed over the little handmade riddle book, drawing comfort from it as best I could.

Now, to deal with these emails.
“JODDY?” I called, tilting my head back towards the door, “Would you bring me some coffee?”
A moment later, Joddy, my young secretary and errand-boy, poked his head through the door of my office. His wild blond curls were particularly disorderly today, and there were dark circles under his eyes.
“There is no coffee, Ivy.” he said.
“Ivy” was another alias of mine. Technically, my “Dr. Ragostin” character was never seen by anyone in person. Instead, his rather homely young assistant “Ivy Meshle” took care of most public relations, while the renowned doctor hid away in his study.
“What do you mean, there is no coffee?” I asked.
“We ran out about two days ago. I emailed you about it.” Joddy replied.
Raising my eyebrows, I looked down at the emails I'd received from him. “Ah. I see.” I said simply. Then I blinked. “Why didn't you say something to me?”
Joddy shrugged, searching for an answer. “Ah... you... seemed so... preoccupied. I didn't want to bother you with it. Besides, I checked the funds, and our coffee budget is tight.”
I slumped in my chair. “Oh.” Unfortunately, being a perditorian didn't seem to pay well. Not yet anyway.
“But, on the bright side, I finished designing the website for Ragostin!” Joddy added.
I sat up. “So soon? Let me see!” I hoped that with a website, I might manage to draw some clients in with more... serious cases than say, finding Fluffy the Cat.
Joddy smiled and disappeared back into the lobby for a moment, then reappeared with his laptop under his arm.
Opening it to the page, he proudly showed me his handiwork.
“It's accessible, easy to read, professional, but also engaging. I've documented some of his best cases and published them on blog section, so that any potential clients can see samples of Ragostin's work.”
“Good... very good!” I complimented him, admiring the website. It was very well done. Joddy had a talent for graphic design, and he had obviously put a lot of effort into it. I imagined he had probably been working on it all night, hence the circles beneath his eyes. Poor man.
“Mm. It gets better than that.” Joddy said, smiling. “We've had over one hundred hits in the time the site has been running.”
“What?” I exclaimed. This I had not expected.
“Mm-hm! And- keep listening- we have a client! I scheduled his appointment for today, and he should be here any minute.”
“What?” I said again, even more surprised. I was nowhere near prepared. “Who is it? What's his name?”
“His name is Doctor John Watson. He's that fellow who runs the blog about Sherlock Holmes.”

I'm afraid that I blanched quite as white as the frost on the windowsill. John Watson? Coming to see me? I mean, Dr. Ragostin? This was terrible! Surely he would recognize me!
Lest Joddy should note my panic, I tried to calm myself. There was a chance I would not be recognized. I wen to great lengths to disguise myself when I was being Ivy Meshle. I wore a straight blond wig, and a good one at that. I used wax molds inside my cheeks to change the shape of my jaw, colored contacts, glasses, and a great deal of makeup. A rather large beauty mark was glued to my right cheek. While in reality, I had a rather flat chest, I used subtle enhancements to give Ivy a full and beautiful figure.  When I spoke as Ivy, I used a Northern accent instead of my usual Estuary English.
Yes... there was a chance that John would not recognize me... oh, but if he did, my life was ended!
“Ivy... are you alright?” Joddy asked.
Giving a nervous laugh that I regretted immediately, I smiled and assured him that I was. “Of course! I just... didn't expect to have any clients so soon. Um, what time did you say he was coming?”
“Eleven AM. Like I said, he should be here any minute.”
Heaven help me. What was I to do?

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Tune in next for Part II !

-Rayne Speryll