Sam hasn’t – she wouldn’t – but maybe. Maybe tonight she will. If he reaches out.
He’s sitting on the floor of his office, beside the shrine. The candle is burning and the air is sweet with the incense. She comes in, sits next to him. They do this sometimes, usually late at night, when she ought to be home but has stayed around to manage things for him.
“Sammy,” he says. “Go home.”
“You’ll be here for hours yet.”
“His Tommyknockerness wants a fucking rewrite on his remarks for tomorrow. It’s ten minutes of blather, but the cameras will be there. Needs a soundbite. Says Colin hurled up the usual dog’s breakfast and will I kindly sort it for him.” Kindly? It was an order. Malcolm would be awake until it was done.
“Why is Colin still in Tom’s employ?”
“Fucked if I know. Probably rolled over for a good bum-raping back at Harrowtonby or wherever the fuck they all went to school.”
Sam rolls her eyes at his crudity, as she always does. “Coffee?”
“Brew a fuckin’ pot.”
Sam doesn’t get up straight away, though. She leans her head on his shoulder. Malcolm shifts to let her get close, slips an arm around her. Sammy, whom he trusts more than he trusts even Jamie. Nothing special about her, to look at, aside from that sweet smile, but she has depths. She’s clever, hard-working, thoughtful, a dab hand at imitating his writing style and with forging his signature when needed. He lets himself snuggle up, kiss the top of her head.
Been denying himself this. This closeness. He hasn’t let himself even think of sex in the years since he quit drinking. Always that sense with him that he was sinning, that he was doing everything wrong, that he had to make amends through fasting and self-denial in any way he could. But now there was no reason for it. Kiss her hair again, let his hand find hers and lace his fingers into hers and she was accepting him, oh fuck him, what was he to do now?
Kiss her, apparently, because she was tugging him closer gently, touching the side of his face with fingertips, coaxing him into leaning down to her and brushing his lips against her.
“Come on,” he says to her. “Let’s go to mine. Yeah?”
“Don’t you need to–”
“Fuck the speech. If Tom doesn’t want to employ anybody with brains to write for him, he gets what he deserves. Let’s go.”
Somehow he can say that to her tonight, he can throw off the shackles and do what he wants instead of what Tom demands. Tonight it’s perfect.
They go to his, and snuggle on his sofa, and she lets him kiss her some more, and then they go upstairs, hand in hand, and–
Or maybe they go to hers, because she has food in her pantry for breakfast afterward, for a bit of creature comfort. Sam will insist he eat, fuss over him until he looks at his plate, abashed, and picks up his fork just to shut her up. Not that he’ll deny her anything, because he worships her right now, after a night of peace in her arms. A long night, a long sweet night wrapped up in blankets with her, nose to nose, heads sharing a pillow, talking softly to each other about nothing at all, maybe about how good it feels, about how long he’s wished he could do this, about how long she’s been waiting for him to give her a sign.
Earlier, before the quiet-- he balks, wonders if he dare let himself think of this, then remembers it doesn’t matter any more. It’s fine. He doesn’t have anything to atone for any more. No more self-denial. It’s not athletic or frantic or wild or exotic. It’s loving, that’s what he wants it to be, loving. Sweet and slow and tender, all wrapped around each other, and he cries a little when he finishes and hopes she doesn’t see.
He remembers a night in a cottage in Argyll, rain on the roof, sun in the morning. He went on his own, trying to sort out his head, and spent a week walking about, thinking. Pretty place. He’ll take her there, maybe, if he dares to ask her, and they can lie awake listening to the rain and kissing. If he dares take her hand. If he dares.