[The Last Leg] The After-party
Sunday 1st January 2017
Summary: During the Paralympics Josh joked that he had a crush on Jonnie Peacock. Except it isn't a joke any more.
Notes: Written for matchsticks
Never before had they had quite so many people at the bar after the show. But then never before had they had an after-party with so many Paralympians. And Johnny Vegas, who was an honorary one at this point. There was plenty of drink, a lot of laughter and a few silly stunts, mainly from Johnny Vegas after a few drinks.
Josh was the only person who didn't look like he was enjoying himself. He was sitting at a table in a dark corner, staring over at where Jonnie Peacock and Adam were talking. Alex brought over a tray with two drinks on it, which he set it down, then sat beside Josh and picked one of the drinks up. Josh stirred himself to take the other.
Alex said, "You look like you need it."
"Thanks." Josh took a sip and it did feel like it had a restorative effect. Or maybe it was just that someone cared enough to buy him a drink. Despite that, his attention drifted back across the room.
"You can't take your eyes off him, can you?"
Josh looked a little guilty and decided to focus on Alex. "Who?" He did his best to look and sound innocent.
"It's hardly Adam, is it?" Alex gave him a look that made it clear Josh wasn't fooling him. "You've really got a crush on him."
Josh closed his eyes for a moment. "Is it that obvious?"
"It's so obvious even Hills is cock blocking you. Look how he's standing, cutting off your view." Alex pointed over to where Adam was, not far away, by the bar.
Josh wasn't sure he was doing it on purpose: Adam had to be somewhere, after all. But he did have his back to them, and was tall enough that Jonnie, who was facing him, wasn't very visible. Given the way Adam motioned to his leg, it was clear they were talking about something Josh couldn't join in with. It was one thing to see how having one leg affected his friends, but he could never really know what living with it was like.
"When did it stop being joke? Was it ever a joke?"
Josh managed to tear his attention away from Jonnie and Adam. "It started off as a joke." He had a swig of his drink, then placed the glass back next to the ring it had left on the table. "Then Jonnie flew home from Rio and I really missed him." He moved the glass along again. "I thought once I got home and back to real life I'd get over him. But I didn't." And then the glass went down below the other rings. "Doing The Crystal Maze so soon after made it all worse. Everything he does just makes me like him more." And now he had an Olympic ring pattern on the table in wet beery rings.
"You really have got it bad." Alex gave Josh's glass a little push, breaking up his pattern. Josh gave him a look, which he ignored. "You were okay joking about it on the show tonight."
"It's easy to pretend it's a joke, to spin it in such a way to get a laugh. That's my job." He glanced over in Jonnie's direction, then turned slightly in his chair so he would have to go to more of an effort to do it again. "I don't just want it to be a joke. And after tonight there's not going to be a reason to see him again." The expression on his face was a pathetic one.
Alex looked sympathetic, which made Josh feel a little better. He'd been sure that Alex was just going to make fun of him. But they weren't on the show now and there was no need to entertain their viewers. "So what are you going to do about it?"
"I don't know." Josh sighed. "If he doesn't want to do anything or if he does and we break up, Tokyo could be really awkward."
"Seriously?" Alex looked at his friend like he was an idiot. "2020 is such a long way in the future. Who knows where we'll be. Channel 4 could have run out of money and cancelled us by then. Or we'll have all been replaced by robots. Or Godzilla could have destroyed Japan. You can't not do something now in case it doesn't happen in four years time." He brought his arm down on the table to reinforce his point.
Josh couldn't deny that, he knew Alex was making sense. Well, except for the Godzilla bit. And probably the robot bit too. But the irrational part of his brain wasn't getting the message. "Well, I'll just be over here, reminding myself about that." He had a big swig of his drink.
Alex shook his head and left him to it.
Josh was feeling a bit better for having got it all off his chest. At least Alex hadn't thought that he was crazy for getting an actual real crush on Jonnie. Given how handsome and talented Jonnie was, and how close the two of them had become, it was hardly a surprise. However, it didn't mean he'd come any closer to a plan of action, beyond drinking more alcohol. At some point maybe he'd have enough Dutch courage not to care about the outcome.
He hadn't yet reached that point when Jonnie cornered him by the entrance to the corridor that led to the toilets. He looked as if he'd been waiting there the whole time Josh was in the Gents'.
"Hey." Josh smiled and was prepared to walk on past when Jonnie grabbed at his arm.
"I haven't heard 'my friend fancies you' since I was in school." Jonnie looked amused about it.
Josh rolled his eyes. Just as he'd been feeling warm towards Alex for lending a friendly ear. "I'm going to get him back for that."
"Don't." Jonnie shook his head. "He was just trying to help."
"I'm not sure I need that sort of help." He'd have done something about it without Alex's intervention. Eventually.
"And sorry about the mufti on the show." But Josh wasn't concerned about that and and it was hardly as if Jonnie looked terrible in what he was wearing. "Do you prefer me in the GB kit or the tutu?" Jonnie leaned against the wall and grinned.
"Oh, don't. You look good in anything and you know it." Immediately Josh said it, he regretted it. There were no cameras on them, no one to play up this crush for. But having done it for so long, he couldn't help himself.
Jonnie laughed, which made the joking all feel a bit more normal. "Perhaps a suit, a ball gown, cowboy boots, the crown jewels."
"Not all at once." Josh laughed himself, picturing it. "Wait, the crown jewels?" Although he couldn't imagine Jonnie in a crown - it didn't fit him somehow. "Were you thinking of breaking into the Tower of London and stealing them?"
Jonnie shrugged. "Maybe. You want to get locked in the dungeons with me?"
"Will we be handcuffed together?"
"I'm sure that could be arranged."
Josh shook his head, hardly believing they were doing this.
"Seriously, what would you prefer me to wear?"
"That's not a serious question." Partly because Jonnie wasn't wearing a serious expression but even so, he couldn't seriously expect Josh to give a serious answer.
"Okay, then, serious question." Jonnie folded his arms. "Why did you do The Crystal Maze?"
"Because it's The Crystal Maze." At least he didn't feel on quite such shaky ground with this topic. "I love The Crystal Maze. I've wanted to do it since it was on TV."
"You're such a geek." Jonnie unfolded his arms to nudge Josh's shoulder with a fist.
"Everyone wanted to do The Crystal Maze when it was on." Despite knowing he was just teasing, Josh sounded a little aggrieved and Jonnie rubbed his shoulder in apology. "Why did you do it?" Josh asked.
"Because you did." Softer, he added, "It was a good excuse to see you again."
Josh shook his head. This whole crush thing was just getting them both into too much trouble.
"And I wasn't up to much else. I know you're busy, though, with The Last Leg and your tour."
Josh nodded. "Going all round the place. Not quite as big venues as Adam, but gradually getting bigger with each tour."
"Don't sell yourself short. And you'd better be good, I have tickets for next month."
"You really are following me around."
Jonnie shrugged, but grinned. "So when's your next free night?"
Josh had to think for a moment to remember his schedule. "I'm going to Hull tomorrow, Eastbourne on Tuesday and Tunbridge Wells on Thursday." He counted off on his fingers.
"How about going out to dinner on Sunday? You can choose the place."
"Yeah, I guess I can do that," he said nonchalantly. He'd be tired by then, but wasn't going to turn down dinner with Jonnie.
"You can also choose what I wear if you like."
"Wait." His brain belatedly catching up with what was going on, aided by Jonnie's grin. "Are you asking me on a date?"
Jonnie shook his head. "I thought that was obvious."
"Well, there was all the joking. I don't know." Josh waved his hands around, unconsciously reflecting how much he was flailing.
Jonnie caught hold of one of Josh's hands. "I told you on The Crystal Maze it was mutual."
"I thought you were joking." They'd spent so much time at the Paralympics joking about it that it was impossible to tell when they were being serious.
Although Jonnie seemed to have decided to make it clear. He stepped away from the wall and tugged on Josh's hand. Suddenly he was right up in front of Josh. When Jonnie leaned down to kiss him, Josh was so surprised it took him a moment to realise what was happening and kiss Jonnie back.
There were catcalls and cheers from the rest of the room. Up to that point Josh had forgotten anyone else was there.
"Finally!" the voice of Johnny Vegas could be heard above the noise.
After that, they couldn't keep kissing for laughing. When they parted Jonnie was looking pleased with himself. Josh ducked his head, embarrassed, although it didn't stop him from smiling.
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