Their noses brushed and Malcolm pulled back – both of them grinning, soft and innocent. Sam reached up and took him by that ridiculous tie she'd told him not to wear in public and dragged him down toward her. They met. A kiss. A folding of time where physics and politics blurred into nothing. There was only him, her monster in the darkness.

Malcolm's eyes slid closed. His hand lifted, brushing against her shoulder to steady himself and the fucking world. It was tender to the point of painful – the way they tilted slightly, lips trembling. This is how stars collapse, he thought.

Not a good idea.

No, Malcolm revised his insidious commentary, it's a fucking terrible idea.

Except he played his cards like a junior minister and ignored his better judgement. Leaning in, Malcolm slid his free hand into Sam's thick hair as caution gave way to something deeper.

"Jesus Christ!"

Malcolm and Sam snapped apart, forced to opposing sides of the couch like a pair of South poles on a magnet.

"Cunt!" Hissed Malcolm, surreptitiously wiping his lips before throwing imagined daggers from his snarling gaze toward a bewildered Jamie – whose eyeballs were on the verge of popping free like a set of cheap marbles.

"Now I'll have to gouge that horrific vista with industrial bleach popularised by American serial killers. Yeah. Laugh if you will. Then I'll apply for those new bionic terminator things that make a wee buzzing sound when they witness something repulsive – like yer havin' a bit o' a fiddle with yer secretary."

"What the fuck are yer doin' in my house?!" Malcolm lashed out, cutting Jamie mid-stream.

Jamie stumbled off balance. He was used to being the loudest object in orbit – the lion of the savannah but Malcolm was king of the pride and had no trouble swatting him down with a paw full of how fucking dare you claws the size of third world debt. "Oh – oh I'm sorry," Jamie raised his hands. "I'm yer fucking Christmas elf. Yeah. Got me pointy elf hat an' all." He gestured at his head covered in swiftly melting snow. "Popped into Marc's and Spencer for some red-striped leggings and a fucking candy cane pole to smack you across the face with." The pole was implied to be the early print of the newspaper rolled up in his hand, sodden and smeared. He tossed it into Malcolm's lap, knocking more than his temper flat. "The only upside is that you've won me fifty quid off the Prime Minister. Cunt's got no imagination an' now I don't need one."

The paper unfurled over Malcolm's lap of its own volition, revealing a double page spread of him and Sam, locked in a brief embrace at his front door with perfectly reasonable heading, 'Love and Monsters'.

"The words yer are looking for, Malcolm, are thank yer very fucking much for doing the impossible – an' making yer looking like the same fucking species as Sam. It wasn' easy and the distance helped. Got a pretty shit zoom on my camera an' all."

Malcolm mulled the image over, lips dragged back from his fangs. "You're a cunt, Jamie. A useful fucking unruly-bush. Less of a hedge and more of an out of control thicket that's been poisoned twice and lived to tell the tale." He tapped the photo, his fury tamed. That was exactly what he was after.

Sam fought a blush. She wasn't sure if it was from the interrupted kiss, the enormous photo of her in a national paper or the awkward fact that she knew what both men in the room tasted like. Probably all three with a bonus everyone will think we're shagging on the side. "E-excuse me," she stammered, standing. "I need more wine."

"Drink up, luv..." Jamie advised. "An' bring the bottle back with yer. Think I might shove it down my own neck and have a go at choking ter death. Brought my fishnets and all."

"Envious?" Tucker tossed the paper on the table.

"Bit of PTSD settlin' in, actually. Post-Tucker-Sexual-Dysfunction."

"Ha ha ha..." Tucker falsified a laugh. "Not Pretty-Tragic-Sodding-Dilemma because that's what we're all trapped in. Yer natural talent for long-lensing aside we've still got a dead minister ter bury an' someone's nicked all the shovels."

Jamie shook his head and directed the next comment to Sam, who was working her way through a bottle all on her own in the kitchen. "You wanna watch out for Malcolm. He's like a fucking antidote to lust. I mean, there's the entire spectrum of human desire from Kristin Scott Topless to that boiled silicon hybrid they 3D printed for Embarrassing Bodies. Then there's this..." Jamie pointed to the demon lurking on the sofa. "That sharp-angled bastard. Submerged in the primordial swamp for so long he developed a taste fer the dark arts. Can turn perfectly normal human beings into masses of pulverised scalp and bits of eyeball simply by saying their name over his radio. I've seen him there, hunched over the wireless like a crystal fucking ball."

Sam lost it. There was nothing she could do. Hand over mouth, she started shaking with laughter.

Malcolm wasn't sure what he hated more. Jamie's enjoyment of the situation or Sam's amusement. "Would yer stop talkin' rubbish you twat an' sit down. Yer metaphors have marbled into a wash of grey. It's a fucking disappointment you know. I gave yer a thesaurus fer your birthday an' you never fucking use it."

As Jamie sat, he put his hand on Malcolm's thigh. "It's all right, Malc-y old boy. Yer can tell me." Then, in a whisper. "Are you shagging Sam?"

"Jealousy doesn't suit your over-eager eyebrows."

Jamie snapped his hand away as if it had caught in the flames of hell. "It is not jealousy. It's concern." He had to pause as Sam snorted in laugher. She was really starting to lose it, bent over a bottle of wine. "For the integrity of the human gene pool. I have a vested interest in its survival. If yer breed there'll be things in there with three eyes and horns."

"Don't stand there and lecture me on the forces of darkness."

"You raised me."

"Aye. I did. On a choker leash. Don't make me go an' give it a tug now or your diamond studs might fall off all over the Daily Mail." Malcolm craned his head slightly so that he cough watch Sam almost choke on her wine. He could tell that she was trying her best not to laugh but when something set her off good and proper there was nothing to do but weather the storm. "This-" he flashed the paper at Jamie, "-is some fine fucking work. Don't go an' unpick it all by being a prick."

Jamie glanced over to the kitchen as another fit of muffled laughs erupted. "She going to be all right?"

"Probably. Usually I just give 'em a bit of a shake. Seems to fix most things."

Sam managed to wander, placing a half empty bottle of wine on the table which Malcolm picked up to examine with a worried lofted eyebrow. "Honestly," she said, "if you were trying to keep the bromance low-key you failed at the outset. I can catch a ride home with the press pack outside if you wish to be alone."

"No – you sit as well." Malcolm insisted.

"I'm not one of your pets..." She assured him. "This is all smoke and mirrors," she gestured vaguely at the newspaper. "If Weir comes after you with something more solid than a ball point pen, it won't be enough." Sam sat anyway. "Poor Miller."

"Poor-fucking-Miller?" Jamie rolled the words off, barely able to fathom the sentiment. "You hated that cardboard ken doll. In your own words, 'the most inflexible piece of stationery in the cupboard'."

"That's true." Malcolm nodded. "I remember when you suggested we use him as a piñata to amuse the freshly blooded ministers. Fill him with free political launch ideas and watch them fight to the death over his strung up corpse."

She flinched. That sounded considerably worse given the circumstances. "Is that someone at the door, Malcolm?" Sam stood to answer it but there was a hand on her arm at once, holding her back.

"Probably better if I do that." Said Malcolm, slipping past her.

That was true. It was his house after all. Sam waited with Jamie – who was sniffing around the wine. "Is – is it really so terrible?" She asked, quietly. "What – what you saw?"

Jamie turned the bottle around in his hand so that he could peruse the label. Not that he could read it particularly well without the glasses he never told anyone that he had to wear. "It's a cliché," Jamie replied, pouring himself a glass. "The mad bastard thought he was too eccentric to end up as one. It'll do him some good. A reminder."

"A reminder of what, exactly?"

"That's he's a fucking living creature," Jamie replied, with more warmth than even he expected. He set the glass down suddenly and pricked his ear to the commotion going on at the front door. "What the fuck is that then..." he said, scampering down the hall tailed by Sam.

He'd expected reporters or that fucking possessed scarf Malcolm kept draped over DoSAC – not blue and white fairy lights flashing in the snow. Shit. Jamie thought, one hand on the hallway wall as he approached the door. Fucking shit. Malcolm was turned around as Jamie reached the door, his hands pulled firmly behind his back and a set of extremely non-humorous cuffs attached to his wrists. It was Malcolm's eyes that caught Jamie. They were slightly dead. Afraid. That wasn't the Tucker he knew. That wasn't the Tucker that left a massive trail of blood behind him at Number 10 on his way out.

"Not a fucking word," was all Malcolm said, as the police pulled him from the front door into the snow.

Sam arrived, full flight. Jamie caught her by the arms and dragged her back from the door. "Malcolm?" She panicked, writhing in Jamie's arms, fighting to free herself. "What – what's happening? Where are you – Malcolm?"

Lights flashed. This time from beside the door as Malcolm was led to one of the cars. There were press lining the footpaths. Enticed by the promise of elicit romance they'd stayed for the show and were now treated to the sound of Sam's desperate cries, turning their lenses toward her.