Author's Notes: Thanks to Justacat for beta, and thanks to her and Theodosia for titling assistance.
Story Notes: Written for the DS Flashfiction Recipe Challenge.
Since Turnbull mentions two recipes -
White Pepper Shortbread:
"Yes, sir," he said obediently, rebellion coiling with the sick hurt in his stomach.
He didn't let his reaction to Inspector Thatcher's latest harsh words escape until he'd reached the safety of the kitchen with her teacup. Knowing she'd believe he'd simply dropped it, he threw it violently against the tile backsplash of the sink, muttering, "Bitch!" under his breath as it shattered and his vision blurred with tears.
She'd gone too far this time, gone beyond negative comments about his intelligence, moved on to his appearance, his usefulness. Then she'd unjustly insulted his lineage, dismissed him, and started in on Constable Fraser.
Something must be done.
He, Constable Renfield Turnbull, was the one to do it.
He wiped tears from the corners of his eyes, then squared his shoulders.
It was time to make the Forbidden Shortbread. Both varieties.
His firm resolve didn't stop his fingers from shaking as he took the recipes from the cartridge case on his belt. Long-memorized though they were, he always consulted them. His lips still thin with anger, he set the much-creased and beloved recipes gently on the counter and set about gathering his ingredients from the pantry with all the solemnity and determination of someone preparing for war.
On his last trip, he paused in the pantry's doorway. Constable Fraser, fellow victim of the Inspector's vicious diatribe, stood at the counter, his expression distracted and tired, idly turning the paddle attachment for the mixer over in his hands as he waited for the electric teakettle to finish heating the water for his tea. When he slapped his left palm lightly with it, Turnbull nearly dropped the dried lavender and swallowed his tongue. "No, no, no, no!" he muttered frantically, fumbling the slick glass jar in suddenly sweaty palms, narrowly averting the disaster inches from the floor. He straightened, blushing furiously, and stood at parade rest, the offending jar held securely behind his back. "Something I can help you with, Constable?"
Constable Fraser glanced over at him, still slapping the mixer attachment idly against his palm. "What? Oh, no. Am I in your way here?"
Not for the first time, Turnbull mused that a paramilitary organization may not be the most ideal place for a healthy, young, gay man with rather interesting ideas about sex who was trying to save himself for marriage - not if he couldn't control himself. He shook his head, swallowing hard and trying to fight down his blush and his unseemly, undisciplined arousal. "No, sir. I will, however, need that mixer blade..."
Constable Fraser raised his eyebrow. "Aren't you supposed to be moving files into the conference room?"
Turnbull nodded, not meeting Fraser's eyes. "Yes, I am. And I will. Once I'm finished with this."
The teakettle pinged; Fraser ignored it. He turned his attention to the array of ingredients on the counter instead, eyebrow still raised. "Ah," he said after a moment, extending the paddle to Turnbull. "Your shortbread. I see."
Turnbull set the jar of lavender down carefully, far from the edge of the counter, and gingerly took the paddle.
"You know the inspector threatened to dismember your stuffed wolf the last time you made it," Fraser said. "When she ate the entire batch and put on five kilos."
"I'm sorry to stoop to such underhanded measures, sir, but I..." Turnbull finally met Fraser's gaze. "I have to."
For the first time that morning, a hint of a smile graced Fraser's countenance. "Understood. The aroma of baking should help clear the... poisonous atmosphere... we're experiencing today." The smile vanished as Fraser turned back to the teakettle, his expression blank as his gaze crossed the calendar.
He put his hand on Fraser's arm for a moment, disrupting Fraser's fugue again. "Excuse me, sir... but if it's not impolite to ask... where is... why aren't you liaising with Detective Vecchio today?"
"He's busy, he says."
He watched Fraser make his tea, thinking about all the things he wasn't supposed to know - about Victoria Metcalfe, about the Ray Vecchios, and about Constable Fraser. About November and love and loneliness. And undeserved kindness...
Fraser winked conspiratorially, just a brief flicker of his lashes. "I believe I can keep the Inspector distracted long enough for you to get this in the oven... if you hurry."
Turnbull cleared his throat. "Thank you, sir."
Constable Fraser left the room, teacup in hand, and Turnbull sighed wistfully as he walked to the phone. In one hour, Inspector Thatcher would leave the consulate to avoid the shortbread. If this call went well, Detective Kowalski wouldn't be too busy to take a break when he heard how despondent Constable Fraser was...
He hung up the phone, smiling softly to himself, and turned on the small CD player beside the toaster. Humming along to k.d. lang, he took off his serge and put on his apron. It wouldn't do to get flour all over the uniform... again.
End T & Empathy by Heuradys: firstname.lastname@example.org
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