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the buck stops here

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‘It’s this way, sir.’

‘Right. Thanks.’

What strikes Finn first, as he steps into the garage, is that the photos on the internet weren’t lying. Jesus, the thing’s like a muscle car on steroids. But it seems even bigger in the halflight and Finn is getting jittery. He reaches into his pocket for his nicotine gum.

‘It’s just a bloody car,’ he mutters when the White House valet leaves alone with “The Beast”. He’s unnerved by it all the same, even if Liz had offered to give him a personal tour. (How personal he had no idea, but he tries not to think about that. Maybe this was her idea of a power move.)

Instead he dwells on other things. Like how she’d been coming on to him pretty quick and – although he’d be the last person to admit it – that he was doing the same thing. Four days into his first official trip overseas and here they were, exchanging vaguely flirtatious putdowns and meeting in cavernous, halflit garages. Charles, his ever-dependable Secretary of State and perhaps sensing something’s amiss, keeps texting him from London to keep his eye on the ball. 

Don’t forget you’re there to hammer out a trade deal. For all her talk of transparency, the Garvey Administration won’t be as accommodating as you think. 

Finn takes a heavy chomp of his gum, scarcely missing his tongue. Questions swirl through his mind. Like why did he agree to this, was this meeting cover for a hit, and more pressingly: did she really keep vials of her own blood in there?

Footsteps clatter to a halt behind him. ‘Prime Minister.’ 

Oh God, of course, she has to say it in that tone. In four days, she’d gone from using it as a mere formality to wielding it like a finely edged semi-insult.

He wheels round, summoning as much dignity as he can while he discreetly gets rid of his gum. ‘Liz. Erm, President.’

She’s actually beaming at him and he knows he’s in trouble. ‘I see you decided to take up my invitation.’ 

‘Well, it was either this or watching the Superbowl on TV. The way I see it, I’d say this was a no-brainer.’

‘Hmm. Careful, Finn, you don’t say that in earshot of my Secret Service guys.’

‘Big Superbowl fans, are they?’

‘Oh yeah, huge,’ she says, gesturing exactly how much, and then back to the car. ‘Shall we?’

Finn nods his assent, following her around the back. Liz launches into a spirited exposition which he barely hears, not for lack of interest, but because he’s distracted by how often she glances at his mouth.

They valiantly trudge through for a couple more minutes before she throws open the door closest to them with a sigh. He lets out an undignified yelp when she grabs a handful of his shirt.

Her breath is hot upon his skin as she murmurs against his ear: ‘Get in.’ 

He doesn’t need telling twice. Just as they fall onto the plush seats and into each other’s arms, Finn blurts:

‘Do you really keep vials of your blood in here?’

And he immediately wants to smack himself in the mouth. Her fingers freeze against his shirt buttons. Fuck.

‘What?’

‘Sorry, that’s what I was thinking about before… this.’ Even in the darkness of the car, Liz can tell he’s blushing furiously.

‘You’re such a romantic.’ She lets the silence hang between them, just to make him suffer a moment longer. ‘Also, are you sure you aren’t a vampire?’

The tension in his face dissipates at that and she feels his body relax beneath her touch. ‘Fuck you.’

‘Just checking,’ she says sweetly, before claiming his softly firm mouth.