AN: Inspired by a tumblr post by whatsabriard and the film Thomas Crown Affair (1999). This story still takes place in Ballarat in the early 60s, I've changed several things to make it work within the realm of Doctor Blake, but this is decidedly AU. I normally don't write AU stories preferring to stick with canon, but I couldn't get this out of my head, so I hope this experiment goes well.
The Doctor Blake Affair
Lucien looked at his watch, it was midday and he felt like a walk. Traffic was never horrible in Ballarat, but today it seemed like the fruit cart overturned and the cows escaped onto the highway. He gave a pat to the front seat and informed his driver that he was hopping out. Grabbing his briefcase he set out across the street and towards the art museum. It was one of the few places in town he could feel truly at home. Some days he'd stroll up the stairs and into the small wing reserved for local artists and stare at one of his mother's paintings that hung on the wall. He owned several of her other works and loaned them out to other Australia museum's wanting to share what she created with the rest of the world.
Today his sights were set on another work, one that beguiled and haunted him. It would seem that this painting was a siren calling him into the rocks. He need to have it, to have her. He waved hello to the docents and made small talk as he head to the second floor, post Great War French art. He found his bench and sat staring at the painting of this beautifully naked woman stretched out on the couch. One arm was cocked behind her head, her eyes bore into ones soul. Her auburn hair and stormy grey green eyes glowed against her pale skin. It was considered a lesser work by a lesser artist, but it didn't stop Lucien from obsessing over Pierre Sarcelle's mystery woman. Most people were more interested in Rene DuBois' work, partly due to the scandal of his life thought Lucien. His brush strokes were wild and frenzied, lacking the graceful control of Pierre Sarcelle's work.
He took a scone out from his briefcase before setting it onto the floor next to him. It wasn't allowed, but he was rich and frankly knew the docents well enough that no one was ever going to object to Doctor Blake. The man wasn't a real doctor, but people called him that anyway. Lucien used to mind, his father was the real doctor in the family, he was just a researcher. When he left university he took the money he earned from his inheritance and started his own research lab, he wasn't involved in day-to-day operations any more, things ran smoothly enough without him. At this point in his life he didn't care to kill himself over work, it had killed his family — in part at least. Now he flew across Australia and the rest of the Eastern Pacific giving lectures, looking at art, and admiring the women who enjoyed his company.
He continued to stare at the woman in the painting wondering who she was when Bobby came up behind him.
"Admiring her again," he asked.
"Never let her go on tour Bobby," he replied.
"Oh, I'll lay down the law," he stated shaking his head at this man who spent many hours staring at this one painting, "You're an odd duck. Everyone else goes right for the DuBois."
"Well it is very nice," he said honestly.
"Nice?" Bobby rose his eyebrows in shock, "Do you know what it's worth?"
"I just like her Bobby," Lucien smiled at the painting losing himself in every stroke.
School children began to run and shout through the museum, marking the end of Lucien's quiet reprieve with his lady friend. The heat was rising in the building as the A/C kicked off, it was the middle of January and the weather was already stifling. He tugged at his collar, despite expecting this he still found the rising temperatures uncomfortable. He picked up his briefcase and left the gallery, allowing the men to get to work. He watched as the paid actors dressed as docents ushered children and other visitors from the impressionist gallery. Bobby predictably returned to the gallery curious about all the activity and noticed the the man pull out something from his pocket. Before Bobby or anyone else had a chance to react the pretender through a smoke grenade. People began running away from the exhibit, docents shouting and the would be thieves while Lucien folded his paper and walked back into the gallery through the smoke undetected.
He wedged his specially fabricated briefcase beneath the steel bars lurching down to block the exits. Lucien rolled onto his back beneath the bars and hurried over to the DuBois and yanked it off the wall. He removed the painting from its frame and quickly rolled the canvas and dropped it into a tube he pulled from his slacks. He rolled back under the door and slid the plastic tube containing the canvas back into his trousers and calmly strode out of the museum and back onto the street.
Once he arrived home he retired to his study and pulled the tube out from its hiding place setting it on the desk. He poured himself a glass of whiskey then clicked a button beneath his desk causing a painting that hung over his mantle to move up revealing an exposed shelf. He took a sip of whiskey before taking the canvas out of the tube and rolling it out. He carried it over to the hidden compartment and carefully tacked it to the wall. He admired it for a second before returning to his desk and drinking his whiskey as he lounged in his leather chair, smiling.
The phone rang, it was late or rather very early in the morning in Auckland. Jean grumbled a hello into the phone and listened. Her jet lag would have to wait. She pulled herself out of bed and got dressed. When she arrived at the museum, or rather crime scene it was nearly dark. She hung back in the shadows following the detectives around as the inspected and theorized the robbery. It was clear they thought it was amateur hour, but she knew better even before she saw the briefcase.
When the tech popped open the case for the detective and they saw that it was lined with some form of strong, but lightweight steel she seized the opportunity.
Her black heels echoed on the marble floors, her foot stopping just short of the briefcase causing the detective to look up her black stocking covered legs, attached at a garter that was purposefully visible from a long slit in her skirt.
"Seems like there might be a couple holes in your theory," she let the words hang in the room as all the men turned and stared at her.
"They shut off the air to drive everyone out, but then they escort them out anyway?" She smiled as the handsome young detective rose to his feet, "Then they close the gates to keep everybody out, but block one of them open while they prepare to abscond with dozens of pieces of art. You figure you'll wrap this one up by Monday do you, Sergeant?" She finished, finally taking her black sunglasses off, meeting his eyes.
"Detective," he replied annoyed at the assumption of his rank, "And you know I'm a little fuzzy about who you are?"
She put her hand out, "Oh, I'm Jean Beasley."
"Of?" He asked still confused.
"Zurich underwriters, requested," she paused and smiled again, "well actually—"
He cut her off, "Insurance."
"Let's say there are a couple of Swiss gentleman who would rather not write a couple hundred thousand dollar check," she said not wanting to give away too much about her business or rather clients.
"So I'm stuck with you on my back," the detective said annoyed at the knowledge that he'd have to drag her along in this investigation.
"Oh, come on Sergeant," she cooed using the wrong rank this time on purpose, "who knows you might enjoy it."
AN: Miss Fisher's fans might have caught a few easter eggs in this chapter, I didn't want to use famous painters and artwork nor did I want to make anything up, so I borrowed from another favorite Aussie show.