Author's note: So this is my first foray into writing for this fandom as I've just discovered the show and this pairing. I wanted to read fic, but sadly couldn't find very much—so I decided to try my hand at writing some myself. I did the best I could, and while I'm reasonably happy with my Nicola, I'm not sure Malcolm is up to scratch. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that if you're going to flame, try to not to be too scathingly Malcolm-esque, cause I'm new to this.

Acknowledgements/Disclaimer: Thanks as always goes to prosfan, for all her help and encouragement. Also, even though there is some foul language in this and some slight sexual references, I didn't think it was enough to merit an "M" rating. But considering that it's Malcolm and Nicola, they do drop the "f" bomb a significant number of times. Finally, I don't own "The Thick of It."

Chapter One

Claustrophobia—noun—the extreme or irrational fear of confined places

Nicola Murray folded her arms firmly across her chest and scowled at her companion. "Are you out of your bloody mind?"

"Come on, Nic'la."

" No, I'm claustrophobic. I've only told you a million times."

"Just think of it as another test. Ye're a bloody cabinet minister now, and believe me, sweetheart, this is absolutely nothing compared to the other tests that are waiting for ye."

" No, it's worse, and I'm not going to do it."

Malcolm Tucker pressed the button on the wall to summon the lift. "Ye don't have a choice. We're already twenty-minutes late, and our meeting is on the thirty-first floor. Besides, if ye hadn't taken a fucking hour-and-a-half to get ready, we would've been early, and ye could've taken your precious stairs."

" You're saying this is my fault? I wasn't the one who held us up." Nicola gave Malcolm a particularly vitriolic stare as she began cruelly mimicking his accent. "'Nic'la, what the fuck are you wearing? Change your dress, and this time, pick something in a more tasteful colour.' 'Nic'la, if you were any paler, you'd be the spittin' image of Count Dracula in drag. Get Terri to put some blush on you.' ' Good God, Nic'la, what have you done to your face? When I told you politics was a circus, I promise I was joking—though either way, you're still the bloody clown.' Maybe if you'd told me exactly what you wanted in the first place, I wouldn't have taken so long. Did you ever consider that?"

" I shouldn't have to tell you. If ye had any brain at all, ye'd fucking know without being told."

" Yes, well I don't. I guess I'm just as much of an idiot as you're always telling me." She sighed. "I guess you'll just have to come my place after this is over, we'll go into my closet, and you can pick out exactly what you want me to wear for every single social function planned for the next month. Then, you can stop complaining all the bloody time."

" Let me get this straight. Ye're inviting me back to your house…specifically into yere bedroom?" Malcolm waggled his eyebrows suggestively. " I suppose it all depends. Will yere husband be home?"

The DoSAC secretary of state's cheeks turned the exact colour as the crimson lipstick Malcolm had coerced her into wearing. " I didn't mean it like that. How could you possibly think that I…that we…no, just never in a million years…"

"Calm down, I was only teasing."

Nicola eyed her companion suspiciously for a moment, in an attempt to discern whether or not he was being serious. " You'd be better be."

"Well, you and I are both lucky that I am. Sex with me is fucking Hell's Angels. Even if you somehow manage to survive the ride, ye'll still end up paralyzed and in a fucking coma." A moment later the lift finally arrived. Malcolm gestured grandly to the opening doors. "Shall we?"

" No…to both offers. As you said, I probably wouldn't survive that ride, and I sure as hell aren't going to survive this one. I'm not getting in there with you."

"There ye're wrong, sweetheart." Before Nicola could say another word, he had grabbed her from behind and had pushed her into the lift so hard that she landed on her knees. She gingerly got to her feet and tried to escape, but Malcolm was standing directly in front of the now-closing doors.

" Please, please Malcolm." Nicola could feel the tears already prickling in her eyes. It was only a matter of time before the dizziness started.

"We need to get to the meeting on time, and besides, it's for yere own good. How can ye fucking live yere life like this? It's a bloody room— how could it possibly hurt ye? And it's not even a top-secret MI5 torture chamber where they administer 100 watts of electric shock into your arse every second. It's a small, safe room that takes ye places. It's the closest thing we have to real honest- to- God beam-me-up Scotty teleportation. It's a fucking lift for Chrissakes."

" I think I'd take the MI5 torture chamber in all honesty," Nicola replied in-between massive, gaping breaths. " At least there'd be decent air inside"

" Then, ye're as stupid as ye are ugly. There's no air in them—no clean air at any rate. They sic poisonous gas on ye if ye keep refusing to talk. Ye're dead before ye even have time to compose an epitaph. And unless ye learn to keep your wits about ye, that's exactly the way ye'll end up one of these days."

"Couldn't you use your political savvy to get me out?"

"Course I fucking could, but ye seem to be forgetting, sweetheart, that I'd be the one who threw ye in there in the first place."

Malcolm waited for Nicola's retaliation, but surprisingly it didn't come. He glanced at his companion and noticed that she was sobbing and visibly trembling. He moved over to her. "Look, Nicky. I'm…I'm sorry about all this. Next time, we'll take the stairs, I promise. But for now, just try to relax. Ye're going to be fine-really."

Nicola glanced over at him, tears continuing to stream down her cheeks." No, I won't. I'm going to die; I just know it."

Funnily enough, the current redness surrounding Nicola's eyes only magnified the lovely blue-green colour of her irises. Malcolm Tucker could say what he wanted about the rest of the DoSAC secretary of state, but he couldn't deny that Nicola Murray had beautiful eyes." Ye're not going to die, Nic'la."

"Yes, I am going to die and once you finally get out of here, you'll grind up my bones and make toothpaste out of them—so you can continue to hold me between your teeth even when I'm dead." She placed both her hands on her throbbing forehead and began fiercely massaging her temple.

"Nah, your bones wouldn't be nearly minty enough for my taste. Now Glenn, on the other hand, his bones could give Crest a real run for their fucking money," Malcolm said, chuckling a bit.

Nicola, however, didn't even crack a smile. Her face, now completely covered in a combination of sweat, tears, and running mascara, bore the same petrified expression Malcolm had seen once on the face of a mouse—right before the poor animal had been gobbled up by a fox.

' She is a bloody mouse—a frumpy and scared wee little field mouse. And I'm fox that's cornered her—that caused her to have a bloody panic attack simply so we could save time.' For some reason, the thought made him squirm uncomfortably.

Without stopping to fully consider the implications of what he was doing, Malcolm placed a comforting arm around his companion's shoulder. " Ye'll be fine, Nic'la. I promise. Ye're not going to die or become bloody toothpaste; I won't allow it. And look, we've only got five more floors to go, and then, ye can get out. What could possibly go wrong?"

In his fifty years of life, Malcolm Tucker had gotten so used to escaping fate that he felt fairly comfortable tempting it. He should have known better. No sooner had he said this than the lift stopped moving completely, and he and Nicola were plunged into darkness.