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"Not For Public Circulation"

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Suit jackets are being discarded and taken off at the earliest opportunity and coat stands are doing double duty all along the department floor. Air conditioning does exist but apparently only in certain parts of the building. Scotland Yard is as ill-equipped as the rest of London when it comes to summer heatwaves.

The weather appears to be having some negative effect on the city: they’re having to deal with another spike in crime, the second in less than a month after Brexit, with violent scenes unfolding in Hyde Park. Tom’s tentative suggestion that members of the public should perhaps defend themselves with water pistols to cool off possible assailants had not gone down well, drawing a withering glare from Finn. Charles decides to make a brief statement to the press, calling for calm and vigilance, and everyone agrees that he’s a natural at this, his unflappable demeanour very much a balm in these tense times.

‘Should we get Charles to ask people to refrain from jumping into large bodies of water to escape the heat?’ asks Liz as they watch him from the back of the press room. Finn nearly makes a comment about it being inappropriate, what with their former Commissioner meeting a watery end, and looks at her wonderingly.

‘That’s being paternalistic,’ he ventures at last.

‘I call it being proactive,’ Liz disagrees.

‘What’s next? Commissioner Inglis’ Fireside Chats? With an actual fireside, i.e. a burning police van?’

She doesn’t reply. Mildly put out at not eliciting a response, Finn folds his arms, adopting his usual, unapproachable pose but soon gives up. It’s boiling in here and it’s disgusting: his shirt is sticking to his skin and he’s also certain there’s a bead of perspiration trickling down his forehead. He shoots a glance at Liz and fuck it, how the fuck does she still look – and for want of a better word and meant very, very loosely…perfect?

They’ve gone over this before, citing geographical, meteorological differences when growing up, but it doesn’t make Finn feel any more adequate or any less envious. Liz is prone to the cold, wrapping up in multiple layers even in bed and turning up the heating to the point that her flat was a furnace in the winter. She had turned it down after Finn complained and only after he had agreed to be her heating substitute: generally comprising of curling himself around her. He had made a decent attempt at showing his apparent disdain at the idea, which would have gone well had it not been for the fact that she had felt his heart pounding ecstatically against her back.

‘Are you visualising that police van right now?’ comments Liz, watching him drain his bottle of water, his second of the day.

‘Fuck you,’ he says but very softly, not wanting to be picked up by any of the mics in the room.

The conference ends and the reporters sidle out and disperse. Finn goes over to the water cooler on the department floor to replenish his supply. He’s out of luck: everyone else has done the same and the machine stands empty. Grumbling, he walks back to his office, wondering whether he should bother popping down to get something from a corner shop. But that would mean braving the heat and the sun outside, not to mention the crowds milling about (that’s the problem when your office is right next door to the Tower of London)…

So he’s rather confused when he sees a large bottle of water on his desk. It’s cool to the touch, evidently just out of the fridge, and there’s a sticky note on the cap: Stay hydrated. Below is a smiley face. Finn doesn’t know how to react, apart from taking a swig and gasping at how refreshing it is. After some thought, he carefully sticks the Post-it onto the top-right corner of his computer screen.

Liz’s smiley face gazes cutely at him. Finn smiles back.