It was just another average day writing with the team for Larry. They were still in the first stage of roughly hashing out the second series before splitting off into pairs or alone to write the episodes fully, and though the buzz of having been recommissioned was still palpable in the room and the conversation from everyone was passionate and rapid-fire, Larry couldn’t shake his usual distraction. Ben. Larry couldn’t decide if it was harder when Ben sat across the table from him, with his stupid perfect silver hair and stupid handsome face (made unacceptably more attractive with glasses) always peering over a laptop at him, or when Ben chose to sit next to Larry and all Larry could focus on was every time their feet or legs or arms would accidentally touch. It was getting worse and worse every day. Larry couldn’t pinpoint exactly when this infatuation with his best mate had started, truthfully it had been bubbling under the surface for the best part of a decade, but over the past few months it had spilled over and it was now as though the image of Ben was tattooed to his eyelids, he was in his every waking thought.
Larry had managed to keep it together and stay focused as much as possible throughout the day, but relished the chance to run out the door and down the street towards the tube as soon as Jim pointed out what time it was. Larry had deliberately stuck his headphones on before even standing up to put on his jacket so none of them could corner him for a ‘real life’ conversation before he made his exit - he’d sensed Martha looking at him a bit more closely, a touch more concerned than normal this week and knew she would be on the verge of putting a hand on his arm and pulling him to one side to ask if “everything is okay”.
Everything was okay, really , Larry thought to himself as he crossed the street and started to fumble in his laptop bag for his wallet. The obsession with Ben would pass, he knew it would - it’s not like it was ever going to go anywhere if Ben somehow ever found out about it anyway, and he certainly wasn’t going to make his feelings known to Ben - or anyone. He just had to keep his head down and be normal and he would get over it. He had to. Larry put his hand on his wallet fairly quickly, which was strange because it normally got squashed right down at the bottom beneath -
Which wasn’t in the bag.
It was Friday, too, so he couldn’t just leave it in the room or hope that one of the others would pick it up for him and pass it back tomorrow. Larry begrudgingly spun on the spot and started to march back down the road in the direction of number nine. At least they’d all be gone now, and he hummed along to the music playing in his ears as he let himself back in the front door, through the hallway and down to their room with the big wooden table where he hoped his laptop would still be sitting. Larry’s laptop was indeed still sat at the end of the table where he’d left it, but his attention was pulled away by the two men who looked very much like Ben and Mat having sex over the other end of said table, with their backs to him.
Larry froze on the spot, still holding the door handle, utterly stunned by what he was seeing. It was definitely Ben and Mat, still fully clothed apart from jeans and underwear pulled down around their thighs. Mat was bent over the edge of the table, his long arms stretched out in front of him, hands splayed, fingers clawing aimlessly on the varnished wood. Ben stood behind with his left hand gripping Mat’s hip and his right snaked under the table, his elbow drawing back and forth in time with his hips as he slammed into Mat again and again. Desperate to not be caught himself having caught them, Larry swiftly backed out of the room and closed the door shut again as quietly as he could.
He was almost out of the building for the second time that evening when he remembered why he was back there in the first place - the laptop. He really needed to take it away with him for the weekend and found himself laughing out loud at the thought of just walking in and casually scooping it up and giving Mat and Ben a cheery wave as they continued fucking. Jesus Christ . Mat and Ben. Fucking. Barely fifty feet away from where Larry was paused in the corridor. He dared not turn his music off or he’d most likely be able to hear them, even. He quickly ran through the options in his head then decided to sit and wait on the sofa in the corridor by the door for them to, well, finish, and hopefully leave. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and cycled through various apps but they may as well have all been set to Chinese for all the information he was taking in from them. He couldn’t shake the image of his two friends, the table, Mat, Ben. Ben .
Larry looked up from his phone for a moment and was surprised to see two long shadows cast on the wall, the door to their room clearly open now. That seemed… quick, somehow? He paused his music and could hear Ben and Mat murmuring as they walked closer to him. Okay, Laurence, he said to himself. Just act normal. Act cool. Act like you haven’t just accidentally walked in on two of your best mates shagging. Larry unfortunately, however, hadn’t given much thought to how it looked that he was sitting outside politely waiting to go into the room, until just now, when he realised it looked very much like he knew that they’d been inside and didn’t want to interrupt. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Oh god. Just act cool. They probably won’t even pick up on it.
Ben very clearly and immediately picked up on it. He stopped mid-step when he and Mat came into Larry’s view and some kind of negative emotion (Fear? Guilt? Larry wondered) flashed across his face before he very noticeably went into actor mode and plastered on what Larry supposed was meant to be a natural smile. Mat looked completely at ease, hands in his hoodie pocket as he looked to Ben to work out why they’d stopped then caught sight of Larry too. Mat’s eyes widened briefly - almost imperceptibly - before he was full of the same affable (and clearly affected) nature that Ben had recently adopted. The three men smiled frantically, each waiting for the other to speak first and show his hand as to how much they knew or were prepared to give away.
Ben broke first. “Your laptop. I just spotted it. I was going to, um, bring it to you over the weekend”. Ben handed over the offending article.
“Oh. Thanks. Wait, you were going to come all the way to...”
Mat cut Larry off - “Why you sat out here, mate?”
Both Larry and Ben ogled him with a shared expression that better matched him having said “do you want to both come back through and fist me for a laugh?”
Larry knew he had to answer. He’d been asked a direct question, after all. And he knew Mat was just trying to feel him out but he was in an unenviable position. Somehow this now felt like his problem and he was in the wrong. How the fuck had that happened? The less he could say the better. But he was twisted up with negative emotion. A gnawing, angry, miserable feeling that he - with some reflection - would later recognise as jealousy.
“I thought I’d better let you finish. Though I did think I’d be waiting longer than that to be honest”. So much for keeping it short. Fuck it. Larry packed his laptop away with a slightly manic smile on his face, rose from his chair and with a waveringly ebullient “see you on Monday!” dashed out of the office for a second time that day.
Larry struggled not to break into a sprint on his way back to the tube, he wanted to put as much physical distance between himself and whatever the fuck had just happened as possible. He power walked in a sort of daze, almost colliding with various other pedestrians and commuters until finally he was through the barriers, down the escalator and onto the tube towards Victoria to get the train home.
He tried to force himself to think of literally anything else at all in the entire world, but every possible topic of thought was drowned out by Ben and Mat in the room. Memory bled into conjecture as Larry envisioned his two mates leaping up from the table and rushing toward each other to kiss passionately, desperately, the moment he had left the room - alone together at last. He fantasised of Ben, his best and closest friend in the whole world, stricken with guilt at the idea of keeping this love affair with Mat secret from him. What was Ben thinking right now, Larry wondered. What was this all going to mean?
When Larry’s thoughts finally ceased for a moment, he realised he had auto-piloted himself out of the underground and into a window seat on a busy train back south. He rested his head against the glass, hoping the dull rattle would shake the images out of his mind’s eye.