(arguably took liberties with this prompt)
Malcolm never had pets growing up, not so much as a goldfish, though his mum’s flat did feature a family of mice, not that they were formally invited to move in as Malcolm imagines one might introduce a pet to the household.
And Jamie, as he is growing tired of explaining to people, is a self-professed, life-long abolitionist.
However you want to term it, however you interpret the relationship of responsibility, care, and/or (but absolutely not) ownership, there’s something almost but not entirely like a puppy in Malcolm’s bed.
"What," he growls, voice muffled with the dregs of sleep, "is that thing?"
Jamie’s sitting somewhere at the foot of the bed, from the sound of his voice. “One of the babies,” he says, as if this is the most obvious thing in the world.
"What? Baby what? It wasn’t here last night?"
"She’s a fox cub. My mate Mick rescued them from a fur farm last night."
"Stole," stays Malcolm. "You mean he stole it."
Jamie gives him a horrible little snarly-face, and Malcolm doesn’t want to have the legality conversation again, so instead he changes the subject.
"That thing better not have fleas," he says, thinking of the nightmares he used to have as a boy, falling asleep to the sounds of the mice scurrying in the rafters above his bed.
Jamie picks up the fox cub and moves it, rather defensively, away from Malcolm. “Well you’ve got fucking rabies,” he snaps. “So don’t fucking touch, okay? This wee thing was almost a fucking coat, have some sensitivity.”
Malcolm may not have a reputation for being soft-hearted, but he’s been here enough times over the years to simply sigh and lean back against his pillow.
"How long’s it staying?"
Jamie shrugs as he tries to persuade the fox cub to take some water from a shallow dish. “They’re basically domesticated so they can’t be released. Might have to keep them a while. Mick’s bringing round a dog-run later today.”
In Malcolm’s defence, it’s about six in the morning, but it’s only now that he realises…
"Plural," he says, "you’re talking about plural foxes."
Jamie gives him another of those looks as if he thinks Malcolm’s an utter simpleton, which, in this particular area of his life, he does. He’s pencilled Malcolm down as an idiot so that he doesn’t have to write him off as One Of Them. Just one of many allowances each has made for the other through the years.
"I took three of ‘em," he says. "The other two are in the bathtub."
Malcolm sags with relief. Last time it was twenty-four cats rescued from a mad person’s house, and Jamie had to take two weeks off work to re-home them all. Before that, it was a half-starved donkey in the garden, and before that, when Jamie still lived in a little flat in Tottenham, it was the ex-circus monkeys. Three tiny canines is nothing in the grand scheme of Jamie’s advocacy and their relationship.
A couple of yelps from the bathroom draws Jamie away, the cub who’s refusing water tucked comfortably under his arm. Malcolm closes his eyes, makes a mental note to add chicken mince and extra berries to the Ocado order, and tries to get an extra half-hour’s sleep.