Author's note: I started this story well before we had an air date for season 5. Obviously a lot has happened between Blake and Jean, but the past is still the past. This story takes place somewhere in late season 1 or early season 2.
Jean rolled her eyes and walked out of the laundry room into the kitchen.
"I'm here, what is it?"
Lucien's eyes were wide with alarm.
"Lucien? What's wrong."
"Well, nothing really. It's just, this."
Lucien thrust his arm out straight in front of him. Jean took a letter from his hand.
"I've been invited to attend the International Conference of Physicians in Melbourne next month. It's very prestigious, by invitation only."
Jean beamed at him.
"Well that's wonderful! You must go."
"Yes, well," Lucien hesitated.
"The invitation is for Doctor and Mrs. Blake. They think I'm still married."
Jean smoothed her hands down the front of her apron.
"Well tell them you're not."
"The thing is, it's a very conservative crowd. They expect the wives to be there, to socialize at events. The single men all end up holed up at the bar alone. It doesn't look good. It's much harder to fraternize with the other doctors."
Jean placed a hand on her hip and squared her shoulders.
"That's ridiculous. Not everyone is married. And what are you supposed to do, borrow a wife?"
Lucien stared at the ground.
"Well, ah, I was hoping you might come with me."
Jean glared at him.
"Pretend to be your wife. You can't be serious."
"It would just be for a few days."
"Why? We've pretended to be married when I was investigating cases."
"It's different when anyone who witnessed it ended up in jail."
Lucien's mouth hung open, struggling for a response.
"Look, I only need you for a few social events. The rest of your time in Melbourne is your own. Have a little holiday. I'll pay for everything. You'll have your own room."
"Well I'm sure that won't cause any scandal."
"We won't know anyone there. Most of the doctors are from other states or even other countries. No one will know us. And I could use more colleagues in the medical world."
Jean fixed him with an appraising look.
"Yes you could. But it's still a ridiculous idea. We'll never pull it off. And if we get caught..."
"We won't. We won't be seen together that much, I promise. Please, Jean."
Jean looked into Lucien's pleading eyes and sighed.
"I'll think about it."
Lucien caught his breath and lightly touched her shoulder.
"Thank you, Jean. I'll go make the arrangements."
Lucien disappeared into his office. Jean stood there, stunned. A moment later she called after him.
"I only said I'd think about it!"
A few weeks later, Jean stepped out of the old Standard onto the street in Melbourne. She looked up at the hotel nervously as Lucien opened the boot for the bellman to retrieve their bags.
"It will be fine, Jean. I promise."
She jumped a little at his voice as he stood beside her. He motioned for her to head into the building. The lobby was a grand affair of marble tile, crystal chandeliers, and a mahogany staircase that appeared to be waiting decorously for its guests to promenade on.
"Not bad for a bunch of doctors."
Lucien laughed, "We fake it well. Now look, you stand at the front desk with me while I register but you don't need to say anything. Just smile."
"This is never going to work Lucien."
Lucien walked confidently up to the registration desk, pausing to make sure Jean was following.
"Hello. I have a registration in the name of Doctor Blake."
The attendant smiled politely.
"Lets see...oh yes, Dr. Blake. It looks like there was an error in the register. They had you down for two rooms! But don't worry, the manager fixed it. Here it is. Fourth floor."
Jean made a strangling noise in the back of her throat. Lucien glanced behind him nervously.
"Right, well thanks for that. But I did get a room with two beds as I requested?"
The attendant looked down at the register with concern.
"No. I'm sorry Dr. Blake. Just the one."
"I'd like a room with two beds please."
"I'm sorry, but all the other rooms are reserved because of the conference. It's a large room though, very comfortable."
Lucien cut off Jean's exclamation.
"That will be just fine, won't it dear?"
Lucien turned to see Jean staring at him, wide-eyed with outrage.
Lucien shifted a little so as to block the attendant's view of Jean and finished the registration process.
The room was elegant with thick green carpet, a large comfortable looking bed, a dressing table, and two reading chairs in the corner. Large windows opened up onto the city below. Jean smiled politely as Lucien tipped the bellhop and waited for him to shut the door before rounding on him.
"What were you thinking Lucien? I knew this wouldn't work. What am I supposed to do now?"
Lucien rubbed the back of his head.
"Well, ah, it's a very nice room."
"Yes it is. One room. One bed. I did not agree to this. You need to find me someplace else to stay. In another hotel if need be."
"Jean, the opening reception is in an hour. We'll be comfortable here for now until I get it sorted out. Let me ring up for some tea and we can think things over."
Jean's voice was shrill.
"We are not going to be comfortable here! I am not staying here! This is your problem, sort it out!"
Lucien put both hands out in front of him as if warding off a possible attack.
"Now calm down Jean, please. I don't want whoever is in the room next door to think that we're arguing."
"Oh we couldn't have that. I'd hate for them to think that we didn't have a happy marriage!"
Jean reached for the handle of her suitcase. Lucien put a hand on her arm to stop her and quickly withdrew it as she glared at him.
"Look, please stay. It's not right that you should leave. After the opening reception I'll head out and find someplace to stay. I'll meet you here in the morning for breakfast, no one will be the wiser."
Jean lowered her eyes, considering his proposal.
"Fine. As soon as the reception is over."
Lucien looked grateful.
"Thank you Jean."
Before Jean could reply Lucien turned away, picking up the phone to order some tea. By the time the tea arrived Jean had calmed down somewhat, her anger simmering down to the occasional glare. She had time to fix her hair and make up and change into a smart suit before Lucien brought her a cup. She sat next to him on the edge of the bed, lost in thought.
"So, how do we make this work?"
Lucien turned to look at her.
"Make what work?"
"Pretending to be married?"
"Well, ah...I really have no idea. I suppose we should practice before we go downstairs."
Jean shot him a cold look.
"Oh? And what do you propose we practice?"
"Well, you need to remember you're Mrs. Blake now."
"Right, I can remember that."
"And I may need to put my arm around your waist from time to time to make it look convincing."
Lucien slowly moved his hand across her back but Jean jerked away, staring down at his hand as if she'd caught him trying to steal her purse. Lucien looked down, his face turning bright red.
"Right. Well, I suppose we don't really need to practice. It's just a reception, no different than any social event we've been to in Ballarat. I doubt there will be many personal questions and you certainly know the office business. Just try not to call me doctor."
Jean laughed a little at that.
Lucien continued, "I probably should have thought to fill you in on some of the particulars on the way in, who you're likely to meet, details about the event, that sort of thing."
Jean set her saucer down on the side board and glanced over her shoulder.
"Don't worry. That will be the easy part."