"Well, that was a complete disaster," called out Jen as she walked briskly into the common room. "Michael's promised to become a real magician! I just don't know what to do. How was your afternoon, anyway?"
"Oh, fine, fine," replied Roy, his voice taking on the peculiar timbre he used when something was wrong.
"Why does your voice sound like that, then, hmm?" Jen asked shrewdly.
"It was nothing important," Roy lied.
"Oh, come on, spill! You owe me after outing my boyfriend as Harry Houdini," Jen pleaded.
"Who said anything about out?" Roy asked, alarmed, "No one here is coming out of anything, no siree!"
"Something did happen!" Jen exclaimed excitedly. "I'm not giving up until I've got the whole story, now start talking!"
"It was really nothing, Jen," Roy said, trying his best to sound casual, "All that happened was that I may have accidentally helped some blokes rob a corner shop and in all the confusion, Moss and I may have...snogged a bit. Really, it was a perfectly ordinary afternoon."
"Ordinary for whom?" Jen asked incredulously. "That's it, I want every single detail."
As Roy unwound the whole, strange affair, Jen listened attentively, interjecting occasionally with a clarifying question or burst of hysterical laughter. ``
"Wait, so even after you had pointed out the bins, he still kissed you again?" Jen asked. "Didn't you find that a bit strange?"
"I was in a state of shock!" Roy insisted, "I wasn't capable of thinking much of anything."
"But still, I mean this can hardly be the first time you two have..." Jen trailed off.
"Of course it was!" Roy exclaimed, shocked. "Why on earth wouldn't it be the first time?"
"Well, you know..." Jen replied, pausing for a moment to arrange her words, then continued, "I mean, I've always assumed that you two were...you know...an item!"
"No!" Roy shouted, "Of course we're not "an item"! What on earth could make you think something so absurd?"
"Do you not remember that time you both almost got eaten by a cannibal because you thought your "married life" was getting stale?" Jen pointed out.
"Oh, you can't that sort of thing seriously, Jen!" Roy insisted.
"Or how about that night that we all put on bathrobes and watched Terms of Endearment together?" she continued.
"Moss and I simply wanted to make you feel better," Roy replied.
"So you didn't enjoy it, then? The kissing?" Jen challenged.
"Of course not!" Roy said with a laugh, glad this had all been sorted out, "It was...umm...yeah, no, it was definitely not...not...good at all."
"Roy, you're blushing!" Jen declared, "You did like it!"
"It was the adrenaline!" Roy shouted defensively, although he avoided Jen's eyes and felt a familiar heat creeping into his cheeks. "I'd just spent an hour thinking, 'Oh God, oh God, I'm going to be brutally murdered by a bunch of bank-robbing football fans,' so by the time the...incident occurred, I was quite upset, and in the spur of the moment, it simply felt nice not to be upset any longer. Now would you please stop going on about it?" He folded his arms defensively and slumped back in his chair.
"Uh-huh," replied Jen, her expression making it clear she was not convinced. "So tell me, Roy, during this hour of complete and utter panic, what were you thinking of?"
"For starters, I was wishing that I hadn't spent all of P.E. class trying to look up Cindy McRory's gym shorts," Roy replied.
"Yes, putting aside Cindy McRory's gym shorts for a second," Jen said impatiently, "What else were you thinking of?"
"Well," said Roy, considering it for a moment, "If you must know, I suppose I was thinking about all the things I'd left unfinished."
"Like what?" Jen prompted, a bit as if speaking to a child.
"Oh, I don't know Jen," Roy returned, exasperated, "Like Moss and I always said that one day we'd go to America and go to that big comics convention they have there."
"That's a good start, what else?" Jen encouraged.
"I was thinking...oh, all right, I was thinking about how I'd promised Moss we'd watch "Reservoir Dogs" because I love Quentin Tarantino and he was wondering how exactly dogs might go about building an artificial lake."
"Okay..." Jen said, waving her hand to indicate for him to continue.
"And I suppose I was thinking a bit about this brilliant electric blue wire I picked up for him at a junk shop in Chelsea and how I wouldn't get to give it to him," Roy continued, his mind suddenly filled with things that were indeed unfinished.
"So, what you're telling me is that in hypothetically your last few, precious hours on earth, you were thinking entirely about Moss?" Jen concluded.
"No, of course not, Jen, that's ludicrous!" Roy shouted automatically, but as he thought more about it, was struck with a sinking feeling that she was right.
"And so what if I was?" he added, sounding defensive again, "He's the only person I ever spend any quality time with, so it's perfectly normal that I'd be thinking of him."
"For God's sake, Roy!" Jen shouted, clearly tired of letting him come to his own conclusions, "It's obvious! It's so, so, so obvious! You're in love in with Moss!"
"Oh, how can you even...Why that's just...I mean, really, Jen, of all your insane ideas, and you've had quite a few, this is the most loony! And you invited Richmond to a dinner party!" Roy by this point was shouting at a high volume, gesturing frenetically with his arms, and had turned a rather vibrant shade of red.
"Oh, come off it, Roy," Jen scoffed, "I've known there was something between you two from the second I came down that elevator and found your little hobbit hole built for two."
"We're friends, just good friends!" Roy insisted, "What kind of world is it where two men can't spend every waking moment together and share the occasional passionate kiss for the sake of avoiding arrest without being called gay?"
"This kind of world, Roy," Jen replied, irritated, "It's this kind of world. You have a proper think back on all your time with Moss and then tell me that I'm wrong."
Roy was about to reply with another wounding comment, but decided in the end that doing it Jen's way would be faster. With a roll of the eyes, he mentally edited together a little video montage of himself and Moss, certain that it would be perfectly innocuous. To his complete and utter horror, not only did he find himself fixating on hundreds of little, intimate moments the two of them had shared over years of being co-workers and best friends, but his bloody subconscious had scored it to "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun.
"Bloody hell, Jen!" Roy exclaimed, panic evident on his face. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"
"I assumed you knew!" Jen shouted back, acting nearly as hysterical as Roy. "I mean, really, Roy, what kind of person wanders about being in love with someone and doesn't even know it?"
"I don't know!" Roy yelled, bouncing up and down frantically, "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know!"
"What don't you know, Roy?" Moss asked from the doorway, smiling cheerfully.
"Aaaaahhh...nothing, Moss," Roy screamed, trying desperately to act casual. "Nothing at all."
"Well, if you don't know nothing, Roy, that means you must know something," Moss insisted.
"What Roy meant, I think, Moss," Jen cut in with a meaningful glance at Roy, "Is that he wasn't referring to anything of importance. Oh, Roy, didn't you have something you wanted to ask Moss?"
"Did I, Jen, did I?" Roy asked, the frozen smile on his lips undermined by the panic in his eyes.
"Yes, you were just telling me that you...wanted to ask Moss over to watch a film tonight," Jen continued smoothly. "Star Wars, wasn't it?"
"Original trilogy or prequels?" Moss asked suspiciously.
"Oh, you know the prequels are shite, Moss!" Roy said before he realized it was committing him to movie night.
"Thank goodness for that," Moss said, "For a second there, I thought you'd gone completely off your chump. Now, if you two will excuse me, I've got an official Countdown practice session to attend. You'll see, I'll be on that programme yet! Roy, I shall see you tonight at your place." He gave Roy a cheery little wave and backed slowly out of the doorway.
"Oooh-kay," Roy responded, his voice once again taking on an absurdly high pitch.
As soon as he was sure Moss was out of earshot, Roy whirled on Jen and demanded, "What did you do that for? You've gone and gotten me a date with Moss tonight!"
"Oh relax," Jen scoffed, waving him off, "I've done you a favor. Now that you know how you feel, you can just tell Moss and be done with it!"
"Be done with it? What do you mean be done with it?" Roy asked, unexpectedly feeling scared instead of panicky. "What if he doesn't feel the same way?"
"At least you'll know," Jen pointed out, strolling back toward her office.
"Oh God, what if he does feel the same way?" Roy asked suddenly, whole new, frightening possibilities unfolding before him.
"Don't worry," Jen replied mischevously as she moved to close the door, "If you two aren't here tomorrow, I'll count it as sick leave. After all, you may well be spending the day in bed." Five seconds and one loud crash later, she was forced to open it again to help Roy up from where he lay on the floor, entangled with the chair he had apparently tried and failed to sit in, a look of unparalleled terror on his face.