“When you said there were some things you needed to explain about shadowing the Education Department, I thought you meant that they didn’t answer our questions,” Stephen says. “Or that the kettle was broken.”
“Yes,” Andy says. “Well.”
Stephen takes a step into the room, then stops again. “I’m not quite sure where to begin.”
Ed, hovering behind them, snorts a laugh. “Into the room, Twigg.”
“This is a dream, isn’t it?” Stephen asks the air. “Definitely a dream.”
As Ed shuts the door behind them, a voice comes from the direction of the man bent over the desk. “Is it your general practice to dream about having Ministers of the Crown at your mercy?”
Stephen jumps. “I thought he was…” he says to Andy.
Andy grins, teeth showing. “Oh, we’ve tried gagging him once or twice, but it’s not as much fun.”
“Right,” Ed says, rubbing his hands together. “So the point of today is to introduce you to the Gove situation.”
“What exactly is…the Gove situation?” Stephen asks, slowly.
Ed walks over and casually brings his hand down on Gove’s naked arse. Gove jerks, with a bitten-off sound. Stephen swallows.
“Gove needs to be kept in line,” Ed says, matter-of-factly. “I found this out, and Andy’s kept it up. Now he’s your responsibility.”
Stephen feels a bit like a fish out of water, his mouth gaping shapelessly.
Andy takes pity on him. “Most of the time, he’s the Minister, and you can treat him like you would any other. But once a week he comes here and…” He nods to Gove, bent naked over the desk, arse lifted high in the air.
“He needs to be taken care of,” Ed says, with multiple shades of meaning in his voice. “He’s your responsibility now.”
“He gives amazing blowjobs,” Andy adds, and blushes.
Stephen stares for a few more moments, aware of Ed and Andy’s eyes on him. Then he sets his briefcase down, and walks over to Gove.
“Michael,” he says.
Gove lifts his head and looks up, eyes sharp. “Yes?”
“Are you all right with this?”
Gove snorts. “Obviously.”
“His safeword is Tony Blair,” Andy offers, from over by the door.
Stephen ignores him. “I need to know exactly what’s happening here.”
Gove exhales noisily, causing a paper to skitter across the edge of the desk. “I’m in your hands, Twigg. Hit me, fuck me, just stop asking stupid questions.”
Stephen eyes him for a moment or two longer.
Then he turns to Andy and Ed, who are standing together and looking a bit nervous. “Thank you. I’ll see you around?”
Ed nods at him. Andy bites his lip, but allows Ed to pull him out the door.
Once they’re alone, Stephen turns back to Gove, who’s still watching him. “Are you sure?”
Gove rolls his eyes. “Yes.”
Stephen reminds himself to breathe. This is fast becoming the most absurd day of his life. Even more than the day he defeated Michael Portillo. Even more than the day that Ed Miliband called him to ask him to be Shadow Education Secretary.
“All right then,” he says, and unbuckles his belt.
Gove catches sight of the movement, and ducks his head, but not before Stephen sees the grin, the flash of teeth, the brightening of eyes.
Perhaps departmental responsibilities won’t be so bad after all.