Originally written for 2009 Yuletide Madness for Malana.
The door opened for Jamie, no one made any smart-arsed comment about him coming in late. Good. Fucking low-cost airlines and their inability to read timetables even when they had it shoved and chiselled into their retinas, by the way.
But on the other hand, the scene greeting him wasn't at all normal. Was it? He looked at his watch. He was late, but not by much. And usually Monday mornings were relatively quiet, with Malcolm still relatively calm after whatever shady business he's up to every weekend. Things didn't usually go to shit until later in the day, when ministers were bound to speak about things way beyond the capacity of their lobotomised brains; neither was it late enough for Leaky Lord Balderoy to come and spew some pale blue skies sodding policy because he couldn't find any more of his sodding expensive biscuits. Unless...
Jamie waylaid a scurrying aide, already doing a pretty good impression of a fucked headless chicken. "What the fuck's happening?"
"Wha... oh it's you."
"Don't you 'oh it's you' me! Answer the fucking question! What in the bloody hell's happening? Are we on a war with some arse-wipe nation all of a sudden?"
"Er..." Shifty-eyed aide was shifty. "Nothing as serious as that, thank goodness."
Jamie hated being out of the loop. Fucking low-cost airlines. He was only out of coverage area for what? Three hours? He couldn't be that out of it, could he? What the fuck's going on here? He shook the aide by the shirt collar, even as other aides were scurrying about like the world's going to end in a bloody jiffy. "Speak man! Speak!"
"It's just Malcolm, okay?" aide said, trying to claw his way out of Jamie's grasp, but really incredibly shit at even that. "He woke up the wrong side of the bed. His morning brief and papers were, according to him, an unorganised pile of dog's diarrhoea, his morning coffee was all shades of wrong, and fuck knows what else. Sam's gone and it's Murphy's Law with a vengeance. An international conflict will make it a royal flush full of a fucking house," aide's mouth sped a mile a minute but Jamie caught the most important point of it all.
"Wait a fucking minute. Sam's gone? What do you mean Sam's gone?"
"Sam's not in," aide said as if it explained everything. It was said with an undertone of a triumphant hurrah as he managed to prise himself off Jamie's grasp. He scurried away before Jamie could ask anymore questions.
"Where the fuck's S..." Jamie asked as he rushed through the open door, "...Malc?" His question died a premature death as he clapped eyes on Malcolm the Terrible now really looking fucking terrible. "What the fuck's happened? You look like..."
"An animal hospital quarantined due to some arsy outbreak or two, I know," Malcolm answered tiredly, clicking his mouse furiously, snarling at the computer screen. An avant garde art museum-worthy coffee stain on the wall and some bits of procelain actually stuck into it. Papers and CDs strewn everywhere, the speakers spewing out some radio interview with some backbencher who couldn't for the life of her get it into her thick, but somewhat pretty head that there's a bloody good reason why she's beckbenching.
"Pregnancy leave," Malcolm answered, still riveted to the screen, though now he's typing, and swearing, and scribbling on a pad with much efficiency. Whoever it was that said men could not multitask should see Malcolm Tucker in action. Wait... what?
"Turbulence left you for deaf, Jamie?" Malcolm asked, finally raising his gloriously bloodshot, I'm-still-waiting-for-my-coffee-why-do-I-have-to-do-everything-myself eyes. "Yes, Sam's on pregnancy leave. How's Manchester by the way?"
"Manchester's sorted. Clamouring for a new MP, but sorted. Fucking low cost airlines, by the way. But that's not important," Jamie said, trying to find a safe place to sit amidst all the disaster. "Sam's pregnant? How did that happen?"
"Don't you dare sit down, Jamie. Get over there and sort out those papers," Malcolm said, pointing at a mound of paper sitting in the corner of the room, waiting quietly for its appointment with either the tray, the filing cabinet, or the jaws of death. "Happens the same way as every other pregnancy, I would have thought. Tab A into Slot B. Some funky gravitational jiggy and some happy powder. I'm not sure what happens inside. Hey, but don't listen to me, I'm not the Governor of California."
"She wasn't pregnant Friday."
"Au contraire." Malcolm threw a neon green post-it block at the direction of Jamie's balls, and a red marker at his head.
"She didn't look like she's got a bun in the oven."
"It's early days yet," Malcolm remarked, as he replaced the backbencher recording with a DoSaC recording. "Let's hear what comedic gem our lovely Nicola has to offer, eh?"
"Too early to get a pregnancy leave, isn't it then?" Jamie asked as he placed post-its and shuffling papers with efficiency. He hadn't done too much filing these past few years, but not many knew he rose up the ranks from a mere Filing Room staff at Holyrood. Unlike most of the Filing zombies, he got out of there quick enough before he lost any will to live.
"Some complication according to her Gyno. Bleeding or whatever it was. Bed rest until the baby pops out. Don't ask me all the technicalities, okay? She explained it all to me last Saturday. I stopped her when she offered a powerpoint presentation," Malcolm explained, as he reached for the intercom.
"She'd do that, too, wouldn't she?" Jamie said, even as Malcolm was screaming down the phone for some Customs figures. "Those Customs people, they really do operate on their own time zone, don't they?" Jamie commiserated. No matter how much fear of God you put into them, they were always persistently an island unto themselves. One of these days, he'd really act on his threat to put them all into a forty-feet and ship them off as white labor to Mugabeland.
"I can tell her to forward the sodding powerpoint presentation to you, if you like."
"No, thank you very much," There were certain things about women, especially about women like Sam, that Jamie really didn't want to know. Like there's a possibility of her actually being half android, she was so frighteningly efficient. Jamie stared at the ten-page report in his hands and wondered where the fuck should he file it. He shoved it behind the potted plant for now.
"So do they know if it's going to be a boy or a girl?"
"Twins, most probably. She's half of one, and apparently the father of the baby – or babies – comes from a family that keeps on giving as well."
"Do I even know this sperm donor of hers?"
"Or at least I think you do," Malcolm said as he fed paper into the shredder. The machine groaned and screamed to a halt, because Malcolm or not, you just couldn't feed that thick a document into such a lowly medium-duty shredder (or at least that's what the lowly shredder seemed to want to say). Malcolm gave it a kick to let it know he expected more of it. "You were here when she was on that background checking spree of hers, weren't you?"
Jamie looked up from his task long enough to look back into the past. He vaguely remembered that day when Sam gleefully roped her boss into helping her background-check The Boy she apparently liked. They did everything, pulling strings that even Malcolm didn't know existed (well, he knew, he just didn't know she knew as well). Malcolm remembered drawing the line at asking the Russian for information.
"That was years ago," Jamie remarked. Years. He was arguably still snot-nosed then, compared to where he's now, he was sure.
Sam had a long term relationship. Jamie was still trying to wrap his mind around it. Of course there would be people with longer term of relationship than Sam, his grandparents for instance. Sam had a very long relationship with A Boy. Longer than any other relationships he'd known. Really. Look at Ollie Pollie, for example, shittiest James Bloody Bond in all existence.
"She was very thorough, wasn't she?" Malcolm said, with something akin to paternal pride in his voice.
"So, how long is she going to be out of commission?" Jamie asked, rising to his feet and reaching over Malcolm's desk for the intercom, already buried under an avalanche of documents. Behind them, in the best surround sound glory government money could buy, Nicola Murray was still spouting harmless nonsense, backed by some harmless applause monkey.
"As long as she needs," Malcolm said, and that's all Jamie heard as he called down for one of his staff. He's not going to suffer filing alone if he could help it.
"Poor duck, she's going on bed rest the whole time? She must be bored out of her fucking mind." Jamie eyed the stack of documents, wondering which one would be safe enough to ship to Chez Sam. Although he was fairly sure that the house of Saint Sam Without Whom The Office of Tucker Would Grind to a Fucking Halt would be much more secure than Richmond Terrace, with spies crawling out of every possible ventilation duct.
"If you're thinking of smuggling work to Sam? Don't."
"Oh come on, Malc. She'll get so bored, she'll organise a new republic right out of her boudoir."
"She said the same bloody thing," Malcolm sighed. He was about to say something else, but one of his two BlackBerrys was now beeping furiously underneath all the documentation rubble trying to gain his attention. Malcolm swept papers and books and who-knows-whatelse out of the way to get to it. Jamie tried valiantly not to wince as he saw some of his hard-filing-work got swept aside into an incoherent pile once again.
Jamie stood up to let his staff in, pointed at the direction of Document Mountain.
"What do you mean you fucking lost the Prime Minister!" Malcolm shrieked. "Sam! I need Ar... fuck!"
And it's still hours away 'til lunch. No edible coffee, not even a single pissy biscuit in sight. Jamie sighed and hoped whoever it was that Sam had chosen as her replacement would be good enough.
"Good job on Nicola and that ITN Interview by the way."
"I'm still the man."
"You're still the man."
"Oh. Did you hear?"
"Did I hear what?"
"Sam's on extended leave."
"Sam, as in Malcolm Tucker's PA. That Sam?"
"Exactly what I thought, too, when I heard it from Corrie. Corrie? From Health? Not a sausage?"
"And here I thought they're pulling my leg when they told me about Malcolm's setting up an Interdepartemental Daily Bollocking Session, in addition to the bollocking we've got pretty much every day already."
"Yes, please. Where's Ollie, by the way?"
"Either throwing up the length of his intestines, or throwing himself off the building, as we speak."
"Were it ever true, eh? Right. I'm off."