He finds the girl-child a few months after he leaves the Adam Pierson identity behind. She has yet to reach double-digits but she's a clever little thing, picking pockets on London streets like so many children have over the centuries. Her blonde hair is tucked up in a cap, loose shirt and loose slacks covering her, but when the sleeve rides up on her arm, he sees the barest hint of a healing bruise. She has a keeper, then, though one of the nasty sorts.
There's a fierce intelligence in her eyes when she meets his gaze defiantly, and he smirks, letting her know he knows her tricks.
This girl could be extraordinary, if she survives whoever has her now.
Well. He has plans in play for his next life, but nothing he can't walk away from, and he hasn't had a student since Byron, or a child of his own since Esther and Aaron, which was... has it truly been nearly half a millennium?
He catches the girl's eye again, letting his expression shift to show his thoughts. The girl frowns, but then looks past him, and now she looks - almost frightened. He follows her gaze to a rather large, rough man. Must be the one in charge of the child pickpockets in this neighborhood.
He could buy her, but that will give the child the wrong impression. He could kill the man, but that might leave the rest of the children in a tight, dangerous spot, and his conscience has unfortunately grown since meeting MacLeod.
So instead he follows the girl and man back to their lair, calls in a tip, and swoops down with paperwork proving he's John Moriarty, uncle of seven-year-old Jamie Moriarty, and those in authority hand the girl to him with barely a hassle.
"You are not my uncle," the little girl tells him as they drive away.
"No," he agrees. "But you are in my care now and I look forward to watching you grow into an amazing woman."
She glares at him, so fierce. A little lioness baring small fangs and tiny claws. One day, she will truly be a dangerous foe, to those she chooses to go against.
"Jamie," she says. "How did you know my name?"
He smiles. "That'll be our first lesson," he promises. "How to track information that no one else even knows exists."
She assesses him and he lets her. Finally, she says, "I suppose I can stay with you for now."
"I'm glad to have your permission," he replies, grinning. She is such a delightful child. She'll definitely keep him on his toes; he's looking forward to it.
Uncle Johnny takes Jamie all over the world. He teaches her computers, weapons, hand-to-hand, how to charm and dazzle, how to lie so convincingly she herself nearly believes it. He teaches her to read the nuances of expressions, to turn a crowd of people against each other, to convince someone who hates her that they're best friends.
He teaches her that the world is a game and that she can win.
But he also takes her to ballet and opera, to summer blockbuster movies and rock concerts, to art galleries and museums. Once he figures out her favorite genre, he buys (or steals, it isn't clear) her an entire library's worth of books. She doesn't attend school, but he still puts up her attempts at art on the fridge wherever they're staying at the moment.
He assures her she is intelligent, clever, amazing, and beautiful. He teaches her how to use them all.
When Jamie is twelve, she realizes that Uncle John hasn't aged since the day they met. She formulates theories and tests them as subtly as she can, but Uncle John laughs at her.
"I'm immortal, dear," he says, cutting his thumb with the small pocketknife he always carries. She watches in awe as lightning shoots across the wound, clearing it away. "You aren't, though. It's quite a shame."
Uncle John lies when he tells Jamie he's barely two hundred. She doesn't call him on it, just raises an eyebrow so that he knows she knows.
When Jamie is fifteen, Uncle John asks her, "What is your long-term goal?"
She answers, "To become the most powerful person in the world."
He laughs, long and loud, and replies, "I once knew someone like you. If he'd been as clear-sighted, he might have even succeeded."
Jamie bites her lip, knowing that she must begin laying down the foundations for her empire now. She must also find someone to wear the mantle of Moriarty because few would respect a woman, much less a girl. "Will you help me?"
Uncle John stares down at her. His eyes are serious, as they so rarely are. His is the one mask left she cannot read.
"John Moriarty is going to die within the next ten years," he finally says. "But there are people I can give you, allies you'll sorely need. They will meet with you, but it is up to you, my dear, to convince them you're worth the risk."
"Thank you, Uncle John," Jamie says, hugging him.
When Jamie Moriarty is twenty-three years old, her Uncle John dies in a car accident. His body is cremated.
Jamie has a phone number; if she is ever in such a tight spot she cannot work herself out of it, she is to dial the number.
Uncle John once told her that no matter how long they live, how strong they think they are, all of his children will always be young to him, even the ones who are immortal. It is not the only hint of his true age she ever gets, but perhaps the most telling.
When she has her own daughter (and for the girl's safety, gives her up), Jamie understands.
When her minion, the man who plays her voice and face, turns on her and threatens her child, Jamie Moriarty calls her Uncle John.
Few people who know Jamie Moriarty think she is capable of love. She sits in a park watching her Uncle John push a young girl on a swing, sketching a quick portrait of Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson, and she smiles.