Nigel and corporate teambuilding activities do not mix. Luckily, there
is no ‘team’ in ‘winning’.
“Ni-Ni,” Adam knocked on the changing room door. Softly at
first, then a bit harder when he wasn’t sure the silence within was entirely a
good sign. “Are you going to let me see?”
“Mm… maybe not,” came the muffled response.
Adam squinted back toward the retail area. “Do you need me
to bring you another size?”
“No, no… this is… the right size.”
Adam toyed with his sleeves, leaning against the wall
opposite. “Are you sure, Ni? Because it kind of sounds like you’re struggling
to breathe in there, and there’s no harm in trying a few different options.”
Nigel snorted. “Darling, one is bad enough, I’m not-”
“I’ll get the shop assistant. They’re really helpful when it
comes to fittings.”
“Adam, wait, no-” there
was a hasty shuffling sound from the other side of the door, followed by Nigel
wrenching it open, face wrought with alarm.
Adam beamed, having not moved an inch. He surveyed Nigel’s
outfit, skin-tight running leggings, reflective Adidas shirt and all.
“You look really good.”
Nigel blinked, slowly twitching to a fond glare. “You’ve
been hanging out with me too long…”
“If by ‘hanging out’,
you are referring to the sort of things we usually
get up to in a changing room…” Adam waved his hands, trying to get Nigel to
leave enough room to let him slip past, “then, not nearly long enough.”
With an affectionate smirk, Nigel found himself relenting,
slouching against the mirror whilst Adam locked the door behind.
“I’d rather just wear my fucking jeans. It’s just a fun run.
A halfway-charitable run. Whatever your colleagues call it…”
“A charity half-marathon?”
Adam shook his head, then moved closer for a cuddle. “You’ll
think differently when you’re jogging, believe me. I did it last year. It gets
really hot. Also sweaty.”
“Like you’re going to be, if you keep looking at me like
that?” Nigel grinned, caging a rough hand through Adam’s curls. Adam giggled,
fingertips running along the lycra seams at Nigel’s torso.
“I’m not used to seeing your whole body through your clothes
Nigel couldn’t help a chuckle. Adam’s palms continued their
exploration steadily downward.
“I mean it, Ni. I mean, even if we weren’t doing the event,
I still think you need to wear this more often.”
Nigel shook his head, unable to keep back a smile “Fucking
Christ, Adam. Are you sure you’re not getting a commission from this place? I’m
just about ready to buy two, the way you’re-”
His voice caught in his throat as Adam’s touch very nearly
finished the sentence for him, biting the inside of his cheek before things got
truly out of hand.
“I solemnly swear I am not getting a commission from this
place,” Adam dipped his head, sincere. “I also solemnly swear that I may be
trying to get you home as quickly as possible however, preferably still wearing
Staring from Adam to the skin-tight pants and back again,
Nigel raised an eyebrow. “Darling, considering I wasn’t keen to come out in
these before, there’s no fucking way
I’m walking around in them now.”
By the time the morning of the half-marathon rolled around,
sportswear was the last thing on Nigel’s mind. Gritting his teeth, he directed
a mutter somewhere between Adam and the ground.
“I feel like I’ve seen some of these people before…”
“You have,” Adam chirped, waving to the very people Nigel
had in mind. “That’s Tom, remember? You tied him to a tree in the laser-tag
arena at our last staff social event. And Emily! We unravelled her scandalous
scheme and won that trip to London instead of her.”
Feeling an encouraging elbow in his ribcage, Nigel tried a nod
toward the familiar faces, only to see them both halt and swiftly redirect in
the opposite direction.
“Water under the bridge, I’m sure.”
“Don’t worry,” Adam took a sip from his water bottle. “Work
makes a charity donation for every person who completes the event, so it’s not
about how fast you go.”
“Mm-hmm. Roger that, darling.” For someone who agreed, Nigel
did seem to be engaging in some rather vigorous warm-up stretches.
Frowning, Adam watched as Nigel couched into a starting
sprint position, signalling for him to do the same. Everyone else was just
milling around, chatting, watching the referee countdown…
Slowly, Adam tried to copy the stance, feeling rather
unsteady with his bum pointing into the air. “Nigel… why are we posed like
this? Have you been watching re-runs of the Olympics again?”
“Yes. But that’s not the point.” Nigel whispered, eyes fixed
steadily ahead. “If we don’t get a lead at the very beginning, we’ll be pushing
through the pack the entire race.”
“Except that it’s not a race-”
Adam clarified again, “-management actually calls this a teambuilding activity,
because we all stick to-”
The starting beep echoed over the rest of his words, and
Nigel leapt forward like he’d been resting on an ant’s nest.
“Run, baby!” he bellowed, spinning around to see Adam hadn’t
moved an inch, mouth hung open in surprise. “Run run run run!”
Scrambling as Adam saw Tom and Emily breeze past, Adam
wasn’t sure what the sudden rush was, only that Nigel seemed to be using more
energy making wild arm movements than he’d need for the miles ahead.
“I’m running, Nigel!” Adam caught up, which thankfully
seemed to solve the problem of Nigel shouting at the top of his lungs. “I’m-”
Nigel took his arm, charging through the colleagues that had
overtaken them so far. With his free hand, Adam tried to give a friendly wave
and a smile. Given the glowers he received in return, he concluded everyone
must still be grumpy from the early morning start.
It didn’t take long to put a considerable distance between
them and the larger part of the group. And, despite the shaky outset, Adam
actually found he wasn’t too bad at keeping Nigel’s pace once he got into the rhythm
of it. He gave a breathless laugh.
“See! This is fun, right?”
Nigel grinned across at him, hair dripping over his eyes.
Looking forward, Adam’s smile wavered as he squinted at two silhouettes
in the distance. They seemed to be having some difficulty climbing over one of
the park fences.
The figures had disappeared from view before Nigel caught a
glimpse. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“It’s Tom and Emily,” Adam furrowed his brow in concern. “I
think they’re getting lost. They just took the woodland trail, when the map
clearly specifies we’re supposed to stay on the main circuit.”
Nigel skidded to a halt. “What woodland trail?”
Wiping sweat from his upper lip, Adam pointed where his
colleagues had vanished between the trees. “The cross-country one. The one that
cuts across the park.”
Despite the fact they were standing still, Nigel seemed to
be breathing with more and more intensity. “They’re not getting lost, baby, they’ll
finish in half the time! They’re fucking cheating!”
Adam wriggled his water bottle free of his belt pouch, gently
nudging it toward Nigel’s hand. Rather than drinking, Nigel squeezed a great
deal of water over his head instead. Drenched and blinking, he grimaced at the
fence as if trying to retrieve the couple in question with willpower alone.
Adam cleared his throat.
“As I said, Nigel, since it isn’t actually a race-”
Nigel’s face fell, stare slipping to the ground.
“-we technically can’t cheat.
So, for health and safety reasons, I think it would be irresponsible of us to
let Tom and Emily take the woodland trail alone. Who knows what could happen.”
Nigel glanced up in surprise. Slowly, his eyes creased at
the corners. “They might… run into a rogue pack of squirrels.”
“Or a wild gardener, collecting leaves for the compost
facility,” Adam nodded, solemn. Tucking the water bottle back in his belt, he
reached for Nigel’s hand. “But I know one thing that won’t be happening.”
Mouth pulling up at one side, Nigel almost forgot to move
when Adam tugged him toward the fence. “Mm?”
“Them finishing first.” Adam confirmed, placing a hand on
Nigel’s shoulder as his the taller man knelt to give him a leg-up. Landing on
his feet at the other side, Adam jogged a few backwards steps, beaming whilst
Nigel swung himself over with ease. “So, you’d better hurry up already. Because
from here on in, we really have to