Rating: G
Pairing: Thatcher/Turnbull pre-het

A Duty of Care

by china_shop

"Excuse me, Constable." Turnbull knocked diffidently on Fraser's office door. "May I trouble you for an interpretation of clause 6(b)(ii) of the new regulations regarding letterhead—oh, I beg your pardon, sir."

Inspector Thatcher scrambled to her feet, hastily shoving a desk drawer shut in the process. Spots of color bloomed on her cheeks. There was no sign of Constable Fraser.

"Constable Turnbull," the Inspector said sharply. "I was—I was just looking for—for a—postage stamp, but—What do you want?"

"We have a bountiful supply of postage stamps from a variety of the world's nations at the reception desk. Please allow me to procure you one forthwith." Turnbull paused, one hand on the doorknob. "What denomination do you need?"

The Inspector's blush deepened. "Never mind. I just—I—" She took a deep breath. "Turnbull!"

"Yes, sir." He snapped to attention. She looked glorious: her eyes were bright with emotion, and her vivid cheeks clashed violently with her red serge tunic.

"Are you aware that Fraser—whether Constable Fraser is—ah, is—how should I phrase this, Turnbull?"

"Phrase what, sir?"

"That's what I'm asking." Beneath her peevishness, he could tell she was distraught.

Turnbull moved closer, hoping to alleviate her distress if at all possible. "Perhaps if you could give me a hint—" he suggested.

She snorted. "This isn't charades, Constable!" But then she collapsed into Fraser's chair and, with her gaze fixed firmly on the far wall, jerked the drawer open again.

Turnbull rounded the desk, and looked down at the contents of the drawer: a neat assortment of sharpened pencils and erasers, a torn-off strip of foil packets that lay askew on a stack of blank notepads, and a small tube of KY jelly, approximately two thirds full, beside the conversion ruler.

Turnbull noted the Inspector's raised chin, the rigid set of her shoulders, and then glanced back into the drawer once more.

Chivalry spurred him to action: he slammed the drawer home with a bang.

Inspector Thatcher started, glaring up at him.

"I'm sorry, sir. I simply feel that it's not appropriate for you to be exposed to—Not that I mean to imply that Constable Fraser would ever expose himself to you, of course, sir. No, that would be entirely beyond the pale. But you shouldn't have to view even the suggestion of evidence that he—" Turnbull let himself run on at the mouth, hoping that his babbling would distract the Inspector from her embarrassment.

"That's enough, Turnbull," she interrupted, falling for his ruse. "I'm hardly so faint of heart nor so naive that I can't see a packet of—prophylactics without falling apart." She frowned, perhaps noticing the contradiction between her words and attitude. She rose, and strode toward the window, her hands clasped tight behind her back. "Regardless of that, what I want to know is whether you have any knowledge of Constable Fraser's reasons for keeping such objects in his official place of employment."

"No, sir," lied Turnbull, promptly.

"Oh." The Inspector seemed at a loss. She straightened her lanyard, and tugged her tunic straight. "What should I do?"

He permitted himself a small smile. "May I suggest a cup of tea?"

"Thank you." She glanced at him for a moment, and he fancied he saw a softening of her regard. A rare glimmer of appreciation. "That would be—appropriate."

"Right away, sir." He paused in the doorway, and turned abruptly. She was staring at his rear, but he pretended not to notice. "We have a new shipment of Christie Pirate Peanut Butter Cookies, if you'd care to sample them."

"We must be sure to maintain high quality standards for the Consulate's guests," she agreed. "Canada's reputation is at stake. Do we have any chocolate chip?"

"I believe we do, sir," said Turnbull, and he shepherded her through to the kitchen for afternoon tea.

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