[The Last Leg] The Aztec Zone Mistake
Sunday 1st January 2017
Summary: "If we get locked in the Aztec Zone together, what a mistake that will be."
It's only later that Josh learns just how much of a mistake it was.
Notes: Written for Biscuit Lion
"I can't run that fast," Josh complained, slowing to a walk. "And I don't think anyone's behind us."
Jonnie stopped, waiting for Josh to catch up.
"You're a sprinter and I didn't go to the gym very often before the Paralympics." Having reached Jonnie, Josh bent over, his hands on his legs and breathing hard.
Jonnie patted him on the back. "Give it a minute, you'll be fine." Jonnie wasn't even out of breath.
Josh didn't look sure, but managed to stand upright. "We didn't need to run - no one else was interested in exploring the Aztec Zone."
Jonnie took Josh's hand and squeezed it. "I don't think we did this one."
Josh hadn't managed to stop panting yet, but allowed himself to be led inside the room. Once the door had swung shut behind them, Jonnie pinned Josh to the wall, kissing him.
Neither of them noticed the red light in the corner of the ceiling.
Alex leaned across the desk and made a grab for Josh's phone mid-text.
"Hey!" Josh's attempt to hold onto his phone meant it slipped out of his hand and slid across the desk before falling to the floor. He was just glad the office was carpeted.
"You're texting Jonnie again, aren't you?" Alex sat back in his chair and didn't appear to care about picking the phone up.
"So?" Josh returned to his chair, pushing it away from Alex.
"You're always texting Jonnie. Why don't you text me?"
Josh rolled his eyes. "Because you're sitting right next to me."
"I mean when we're not about to have a Last Leg meeting. It feels like we hardly see each other any more."
Josh gave up on writing the text in favour of looking at Alex like he was an idiot. "Except most of Fridays at rehearsals and recording."
"That's work, it doesn't count."
"And meetings about the show."
"Still work, still doesn't count."
"How about drinks after the recording? Surely that counts."
Alex shook his head. "Drinks after work still counts as work."
Josh flung his hands up in despair. Having given up on reasoning with Alex, he pulled a notepad and pen towards him, pretending to write some jokes, but in reality, just doodling. By the time he'd half-filled the page with scribbles, the atmosphere in the room got to him. "I'm sorry," he said, looking up to see Alex was playing on his phone.
Josh was sorely tempted to take the phone away from Alex but it would rather ruin his apology.
"Yes! Level 133." Alex finally put the phone down.
Josh shook his head. "I was apologising. And you weren't listening."
"Sorry." Alex sat up straighter. "Look, I know you're all loved up and everything, but don't forget there are other people who'd like some of your time, apart from Jonnie Peacock."
"I'm not 'loved up'," Josh protested. "And I haven't forgotten. We're still best buds." He grinned as he wheeled his chair closer to Alex and tried to hug him.
"Leave it out." Alex elbowed him.
"Josh! How many bromances can you have at once?" Of course that was the moment when Adam finally arrived.
"Feeling jealous?" Josh asked, moving away from Alex. "If you wanted a piece of me too, you only had to ask." He stood up, stretching his arms out.
Adam made a face. "I'd prefer the real Frodo."
Josh sat back down, shaking his head. "Some people have no taste."
"Including Jonnie Peacock," Adam retorted.
Josh put his tongue out at him. Alex nearly fell off his chair, laughing. Josh glared at him.
Adam sat on the other side of the desks from them, and once Alex had calmed down, asked, "There's more than just bromance going on between you and Jonnie, isn't there?"
"Yeah." Josh didn't mind admitting it to his friends, although he still ducked his head. "The Crystal Maze has a lot to answer for."
Adam grinned, which should have been a warning of what was coming, but Josh missed it. "I heard the two of you went off on your own after filming."
"I wanted to play some more of the games we hadn't done." But Josh's blush gave away that it wasn't the whole story.
"I didn't know there was a 'make a sex tape' game."
Alex laughed; Josh gave him a look. "We didn't have sex." He leaned forward, arms on the desk. "I did not have sex with Jonnie Peacock in the Crystal Maze." It was a thought, all of a sudden, but it was an absolutely terrible idea for so many reasons.
Adam gave him a look. "But there was some kissing and fondling involved, wasn't there?"
Josh shrugged. "Maybe. What does it matter?"
"You might as well admit it. There's footage to prove it."
"No, there isn't." Josh frowned. "We weren't recording." And then something dawned on him. "Shit. There are cameras in every room."
Even Alex rolled his eyes.
"You won't be able to keep it private. Not when it's on video," Adam pointed out. "It's going to come out some time. We might as well show it on Friday, so you can put your own spin on it."
Josh shook his head. "I don't want to talk about me and Jonnie on the show." Showing them kissing, so everyone would know the truth, would be even worse.
Adam and Alex both gave him incredulous looks. "Do you know how much time you spent talking about Jonnie in the Paralympics shows?" Alex asked.
"That's different. It was one thing to joke about it, it's another to have our relationship public." Josh shook his head again and stood up. "I need to talk to Jonnie about this." His phone out again, he walked out of the room to find a private corner of the building to have that conversation in.
"Alex, I need a favour," Josh said, once he'd checked the cubicles to make sure no one else was in there.
Alex glanced over his shoulder. "I'm having a piss!"
"I'm not looking." Josh stayed near the door, so Alex had his back to him.
Alex sighed. "What do you want?"
"That footage from The Crystal Maze that Adam was talking about. I want to delete it."
"Why?" Alex zipped up his trousers and went over to the sinks. "What did the two of you get up to in there?"
Josh held up his hands. "Just kissing, I swear." Adam had better not repeat that sex tape joke in public.
Alex shook his head. "What's the favour?"
"I need someone to create a distraction while I delete it."
Alex threw the paper towel in the bin and turned to face Josh at last. "This isn't like in the movies. This is real life."
"I know. But we're already legitimately in the building, we just need to find which computer it's on and delete it. How hard can it be?"
Alex gave him a look.
"What's your plan?" Alex asked, when they were round the corner from IT's office. Josh had changed into an all black ensemble, which Alex complained made him look suspicious. However, since Alex was in a bright shirt, Josh felt sure that no one would notice while they were together.
"You distract IT, I'll delete it off the server." Josh peered round the corner to see nothing had changed and the door to IT was still closed.
"That's a crap plan."
He looked back at Alex. "Well, it's all I've got."
Alex shook his head. "You'd be better off getting Rachel Riley to do the distracting. Fluttering my eyelashes at them isn't going to get me very far."
Josh gave him a look. "Just pretend there's something wrong with your computer."
"Oh, yeah. That might work."
As it turned out, Alex's distraction wasn't needed. When they peered through the glass window in the door there was only one man in there, who was on the phone. While he was was typing, Josh and Alex sneaked in and hid behind a cabinet. Then they got lucky: the IT guy left. Admittedly, he locked the door behind him, but at least it would mean they'd have notice of him returning.
"How are we going to get out?" Alex asked, sounding a little peeved.
"Let's worry about that when we come to it." Josh strode over to a computer that was out of line of sight of the door.
Alex sighed. "Have you got the admin password?"
Josh shook his head. "No, but I've got Hills'. I'm pretty sure he has access to the footage. Otherwise how would he have seen it?"
"Someone showed it to him."
Although he wasn't going to admit it to Alex, Joshs's plan wasn't very well thought out. But now they were here he had to go through with it and hope for the best. He sat down at the desk and found that it wasn't going too badly to begin with: Adam hadn't yet changed his password.
"Why are you doing this?" Alex asked, pulling up a chair so he could watch Josh work.
"I told you, I don't want our relationship to be out in public. Can you keep an eye on the door?" If they were discovered Josh didn't have a good excuse as to how they came to be in a locked room and didn't call anyone to let them out.
"Is it really that bad?" Alex shifted away a little. Josh hoped that meant he could see the door from there. "Neither of you are that famous. You're hardly likely to be splashed across the front page of The Sun."
"I know." Josh pretended distraction by looking through the folders to find the one that could contain the file.
"So what is this really about?" At Josh's silence Alex pressed on. "I got a text from Jonnie earlier. He's worried about you."
Josh frowned, glancing over at Alex. "He is?"
"He said he didn't need protecting and you were worrying over nothing." Alex sounded like he was quoting that. "What did he mean?"
Josh sighed and ran his hands over his face before answering. "Jonnie's already been through enough. I don't want him to have to endure any homophobia coming his way because of me. It's fine for me, I can joke about it and I'm used to people being offended by what I say." A joke would always offend someone. Especially the easily offended. Which was why not reading your Twitter mentions was the only way to survive. "But I don't want Jonnie to be hurt."
Embarrassed by that, Josh focussed on the screen, scrolling through the folder tantalisingly marked 'SU2CTCM'.
Alex was silent for a moment before asking softly, "You really like him, don't you?"
"Aha, there it is." The date-stamp was clearly some time after all the other Aztec Zone rooms. When he opened it it showed that the two of them were definitely not just joking around for the cameras. If only Jonnie hadn't been quite so passionate, they might have been able to get away with it.
"Wow," Alex breathed over Joshs's shoulder, and Josh closed the video. It didn't get any worse than that, but it was still more than he was sure he wanted anyone to see.
But Alex grabbed the mouse before Josh could delete the file. "I agree with Jonnie, you're worrying over nothing. And Hills is right." He put a hand up. "Don't tell him I said that. But if you release this when you want to, you control it. Otherwise, someone else will put it up somewhere, you'll have no end of speculation and it's bound to be just at the worst time."
"I'm going to delete it," Josh pointed out. "No one else can release it."
"Are you sure this is the only copy?"
Josh hesitated. If Adam had access to this file then who knew who else might? All it would take was a bit of water cooler talk and someone might realise what they had. He put his head down on the desk with a groan.
"Get your own copy." Alex poked Josh in the arm with a Channel 4 branded pen drive from the basket on the shelves behind them. "See it for yourself first. Then we can put it on this week's show. Put our own spin on it. Make some jokes. Explain why homophobia is bad."
"I think the people watching us know that." But he took the pen drive anyway.
"You know I'm right."
"Too many people are right today." Josh sighed, starting to feel like doing it might be inevitable. "Even Jonnie agrees with you."
Alex shrugged. "So what are you waiting for?"
Josh held his gaze for a moment before he gave in, putting the pen drive in the USB slot and copying the file. Afterwards he still deleted it, just in case.
He'd just finished when Alex whispered, "Hide!" A second later, Josh heard a key in the door.
Some look-out Alex turned out to be. With no time to log out, Josh hit the power off button, pulled the pen drive and slid under the desk. He was only just in time to avoid being discovered by someone from IT returning. The blue jeans told him nothing about which one it was, but the desk he sat at was opposite the one Josh was crouched under. He had no idea where Alex had gone.
After a while of no movement from anywhere, and getting increasingly uncomfortable in the small space, Josh had to do something. He went for creeping back out from under the desk and staying low in the hopes of not being spotted. He didn't look over at the IT guy, in case their eyes met and made it all more awkward.
The door was more tricky. He had to reach up to open it, as quietly as he could. So of course the door squeaked. He shot out and then stuck his head round it, as if he'd just opened the door from the outside.
The IT guy turned out to be a woman - he could have sworn those were man's legs. She was looking right at him, pulling her headphones from her ears. Josh hoped that meant she hadn't heard or seen him before now.
He went for the best excuse he could think of in the moment. "Have you seen Alex Brooker? He said something about coming down here."
Fortunately she didn't call his bluff or ask why he couldn't just ring Alex. She just shook her head. "If I see him I'll tell him you're looking for him."
"Thanks." He slunk off and once he was around the corner he leaned against a wall, breathing a sigh of relief. After a moment he began brushing the dust off his trousers while he waited for Alex to extricate himself. It turned out to be a long wait. Josh was beginning to get worried when Alex finally joined him, face like thunder.
"Thanks for getting me out of there." Alex stalked on past, forcing Josh to follow him down the corridor, glaring at his back.
"You were supposed to be keeping an eye on the door." If Alex got stuck in there it was his own fault.
Alex had a glare of his own, over his shoulder. "I warned you, didn't I?"
Josh rolled his eyes. "Where were you hiding? You're covered in dust." He started patting down Alex's shirt, but Alex twisted away, trying to look at his own back.
"I pretended I'd fallen asleep behind a filing cabinet and forgot why I went in there. Now I look like a right knob."
There was such an obvious retort to that Josh couldn't stop himself from saying it. "You are a right knob." He grinned and it there was at least the beginnings of a smile from Alex. "I'm sorry," he continued. If he hadn't asked Alex to do this then neither of them would have needed to hide in IT's office. "I owe you a favour for this."
"You owe me a hundred favours." But Alex slowed down, letting Josh walk alongside him. "I don't know what, but they'll be when you least expect them."
"I wouldn't expect anything less." He grinned again. Alex smiled properly and let Josh brush the dust off him.
"As always, we'll do our best to answer your big questions this week. You can tweet them to us using the hastag #isitok. For example, is it ok that Josh and his not-so-secret crush, Jonnie Peacock, have been playing five a side football together." A photo showed up on screen of a match in progress, Josh standing in goal, his hands to his mouth, shouting. Most of the other men were at the other end of the pitch, with Jonnie one of them.
Josh and Alex both nodded.
"Is it ok that Josh was the only player who had two legs and they put him in goal because he was the worst runner?"
Josh shook his head as the audience and Alex laughed. But at least the running jokes were normal. He tried to ignore the butterflies in his stomach at what was coming up next.
"We heard it's not just football you've been playing with Jonnie," Adam said. "Take a look at this."
The door shuts and Jonnie puts his free hand on Josh's shoulder to push him against the wall and kiss him.
The audience whooped and cheered. Josh was relieved the make-up and lighting meant no one could see him turn red. "I'm glad most of that view is of Jonnie's arse," he said, getting a laugh. Thank goodness he wasn't too nervous to remember his jokes.
"So, Josh, like to explain what's going on there?" Adam fiddled with a corner of his notes.
"I think it's pretty self-explanatory, Adam. You're a bit old to have kissing explained to you."
They all laughed at that, then Adam continued. "What with Josh's crush on Jonnie well-documented on this show, it's not hard to guess what happened next."
In the middle of the room is a plinth. Arrayed around it on the floor are large dominoes. On the plinth, the double six has already been placed in one corner. "We fill the square," Josh concludes, after looking around, then picks up the nearest domino. Since it has a six on one end, he places it down beside the double six. Jonnie offers him another and Josh finds a place for it.
When the clip ended Josh explained, "I wanted to go back and try the games we hadn't played. Jonnie came along to help."
"You and your crush, alone in a room, and you do the puzzle. Only you, Puzzle Boy." Alex shook his head.
Josh couldn't manage to react to that name - it was nothing as to what was coming next. Although Stephen Merchant had a lot to answer for.
"But there's a serious side to us showing all this, isn't there Josh?" Adam asked, giving Josh his cue for the part he really wasn't looking forward to.
Josh nodded. "I don't want me and Jonnie to be the celebrity couple who divorce a few months after getting married."
"Are you trying to tell us you're a celebrity?" Alex asked, laughing at the idea.
"It's not just that." They'd rehearsed this, but it was different, doing it for real, knowing that two million people would be watching, especially with a photo of Josh and Jonnie playing The Crystal Maze dominoes game teased on Twitter yesterday.
Josh's palms were sweaty and he shifted in his seat. "There aren't many openly gay or bisexual people in sport. And those that are aren't always well treated. I don't want this to affect how people think of Jonnie."
"Just how much of a problem it is in football has been in the news this year," Adam said.
"Yeah." Josh nodded. "Sport is changing how people see disability. The world is changing how it views homosexuality, but sport is a long way behind."
"We have covered this to an extent when the Winter Olympics were on in Sochi, since homosexuality is illegal in Russia. But not so much how it affects people in this country. Fortunately, we have a friend who knows more about this than us."
While Clare Balding walked down the red carpeted ramp, Alex patted Josh between the shoulder blades. "That wasn't so hard, was it?" Alex whispered, but even though Josh knew what Clare was going to say, since they'd rehearsed it earlier, he still needed Alex's offered hug. And then Clare's, once she reached them.
"So, Clare," Adam began. "Josh has made a few changes to his life. Notably with Jonnie Peacock."
"I've heard," she said, sounding pleased and turned to look over at Josh. "How's it going for you?"
"Could be better." He was struggling to look pleased himself about it just yet. "I wasn't thinking of making it quite so public quite so soon."
"It would probably have been a good idea to keep the kissing private," Alex said.
"Yes, I got that, thank you." Josh gave him a look.
"You might be surprised at how supportive people can be," Clare said, making Alex look all the more unsupportive for his comment.
Josh put a hand to his cheek. "It's not me I'm worried about, it's Jonnie."
"There aren't many openly gay sports people," Clare agreed, nodding. "Unlike comedians. The thing that will work in Jonnie's favour is that people will forget about the Paralympics soon and won't remember who he is until they're reminded in four years time. The problem with that is a discussion for another time," she added, holding up a hand, and the other three all nodded. "And people embraced your crush on Jonnie during the Paralympics, I think most people will be all for it."
The audience cheered, but of course they were exactly the people who had embraced it and Josh wasn't worried about in the first place.
After that, much to Joshs's relief, they changed the subject to the big stories of the week and brought out their main guest, and Josh could relax for the rest of the show. The topic didn't come up again until after the break, when Adam picked up a piece of paper he'd been handed and said, "We've had a tweet from a certain Jonnie Peacock."
Josh was on the edge of his seat. Metaphorically - shifting forwards was harder to do when you were sitting on one leg.
"He says: 'Josh is proof that not having a disability shouldn't hold you back.'" He paused as the audience laughed.
Josh looked unamused. "We'll be having words about this, Peacock."
Adam stopped laughing to continue, "He goes on to say: 'PS my sexuality doesn't affect how fast I can run #itisok'."
Josh applauded along with the audience. It wasn't all over - it was just the start - but he was beginning to think that whatever happened, they'd be okay. And Jonnie still had a future in comedy beckoning.
Of the avatars on @TheLastLeg's tweet, the first is Biscuit Lion's AO3 icon, the last is @TheCrystalMaze's. The rest are random images. Any resemblance to anyone's actual Twitter avatar are purely coincidental.
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