It’s pretty much the only time she goes with him to an after after after party, and only because it’s Christmas. To be honest she doesn’t even know where they are, she only knew where they were at UCB because, well, it was UCB and there’s no way she couldn’t recognise it even after... how many eggnogs was it? She was keeping up with Seth, anyway, who’s much bigger than her, and now they’re in some basement or a loft or possibly even a roof with a marquee on it, she doesn’t know but there’s a cold draft and she didn’t bring a coat. She sticks close to Seth, not sure if even he knows anyone here, and listens to a piece of advice from her mother: don’t take a drink you haven’t poured yourself. Though to be fair, if she has anymore she’ll probably pass out or barf, so, more drinking is off the cards anyway (Eileen would be so proud).
She feels Seth pitch closer, weight settling from one foot to the other, and lets herself warm into the line between his torso and his arm. The shape of his hand in his pocket presses firmly into her hip, but it’s fucking cold up here or down here or wherever the hell they are so she ignores it, trying to understand why the hell he’s so much warmer than her.
“You good?” he asks, the ends of his words slurring together. His hand shifts from his pocket and around her, coming to rest on the goosebumps prickling down her arm.
She can’t even reply before the hand is gone and he’s shrugging out of his suit jacket, draping it around her shoulders.
“Jesus you’re freezing, Poehler.”
The warmth settling over her makes her realise just how cold she was, and her stiff fingers wrap themselves around the fabric, pulling it closer, breathing in the faint brush of his cologne near the collar. “Thanks, Seth.”
His arm returns, mouth close to her ear. “I can’t count how drunk I am, how drunk are you?”
“As many as you,” she replies, for some reason understanding exactly what he’s talking about. “My feet are sore.”
“It’s like, nearly six in the morning,” he says, completely irrelevantly. His hand slips down to her hip, finds a way past his jacket and under the hem of her shirt, his thumb tracing the line of the bone there. The pattern he draws feels like it’s breathing fire, heating her skin like a burn and threading down into her marrow. She shivers, tries to blame it on the cold, the booze, something other than what it is – something she feels all the time, knows in the same marrow that blazes from the mere swipe of his stupid thumb. She likes him, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, she knows he likes her.
They do their update dance, they spend hours having sanctimonious arguments and don’t even register they’re on the same side because they enjoy it so much – for all intents and purposes he comes across, essentially, as her fucking husband.
But of course, she’s already got one of those, so she never speaks any of it aloud. There are the whispers, of course, and Maya shaking her head with a crooked smile after the goodnights when they ignore everyone in lieu of each other, his arms full of her shuddering laugh. But they go disregarded, by Seth as well she’s sure, because really, who needs that? Some things are just too hard to navigate.
His thumb still scalds though it won’t leave a mark, and she tries not to wriggle obviously away, regretting all the moves that got her here. Regretting, simply, because it feels too much like she belongs right here, swathed in his jacket and quietly, drunkenly wondering how long it will last.
When she shifts her weight his hand slips and disappears, but she can feel his breath against her ear, in and out. “My place isn’t too far, can you handle the walk?”
If it weren’t Sunday, if it weren’t nearly morning after she’s been awake for nearly twenty-four hours, if she weren’t three eggnogs past slipping quietly into her apartment, she might have said no. If she weren’t still feeling the ghost of his thumb on her skin, the heat from it pooling deep in her abdomen, she might have brushed him off with a tired smile, kissed his cheek and hailed a cab.
Instead, she nods, head spinning with rum and milk, and finds his hand after shaking hers out from underneath his coat sleeve. “Lead the way.”
He says his goodbyes, hand never leaving hers, and she gives them a vague salute. It turns out they are upstairs, because he treads carefully down, the metal slippery under their feet, and his grip around her fingers is tight. The further they descend the more something creeps over her, a something that fizzles in her gut and makes her nervous, like anticipation but concerning. Like the feeling you get when you have to do something you’ve never done before.
And that’s exactly it – she’s fallen asleep on the couch in his office, been to his apartment with Forte and Dratch and whoever for beer after work, but she’s never stayed there, alone, with him, and especially not without all her usual facilities. The thought sends another shiver down her spine to join the rest, but a feeling not unlike excitement starts to settle in her stomach.
His apartment is dark but warm, and after the walk from... wherever it was they were, she welcomes it.
“Do you want a t-shirt or something?” he asks quietly, flicking on a light and yawning as he wanders to his bedroom.
He tosses one to her through the open door and she catches it. The material is worn and soft and while he’s out of sight she quickly hurls her own shirt to the ground and slips on his, breathing a sigh of relief at how comfortable she suddenly feels. She pops the button on her jeans just as he comes back in, and shoves them roughly down her legs, struggling.
“Poehler, you need to take your shoes off.”
“Oh right.” Kicking off her heels, she manages to get her jeans off and stands triumphantly around the mess of her clothes on the floor. “You have no idea how good this feels,” she says, trying not to think about how strange it is for them both to be standing in his apartment in their pajamas at six in the morning, light almost dawning across a white city. It’s stupid – they’ve undressed in front of each other for a thousand quick changes, she’s almost certain he’s seen a boob before – she shouldn’t be worrying. But this feels different somehow, and that feeling creeps back into her belly.
Seth clears his throat. “You can take the bed if you want, the couch will be fine for a few hours.”
She’s honestly so far past anything – drunk, sober, awake – that she actually doesn’t give a shit where she sleeps, even Seth’s saggy old couch seems like five-star treatment. “I don’t mind sleeping out here.”
He must be too tired to argue because he shrugs. “You’ll be fucking cold.”
“Oh, so that’s what you were neglecting to leave out, did you think I was going to kick you out of your bed and let you be a gentleman, Seth?” She grins, can’t help baiting him. Can’t help thinking that there’s something else he’s neglecting to say. “You know there’s a third option.”
Pausing for effect, she pads to the door of his room and peers in. “Yep, still a queen. We can both fit.”
It’s a bit dangerous, really, bossing him around in his own home, but she’s fucking exhausted and drunk and her feet are cold and she just wants to feel him. Next to her, around her, shit, half a bed away from her, it doesn’t matter. It’s suddenly imperative that he be nearer, his stupid beautiful face and his hands and those eyes that always laugh.
He shrugs again. “Whatever you say, Poehls.”
She thought she’d drop off immediately, fatigue and his weight beside her a comfort, but she finds herself almost hyper-aware of every twitch and shift that might mean they touch.
“You awake?” he asks, his voice low with the timbre of oncoming sleep.
“Yes,” she replies after a moment, rolling to face the dark shape of him across from her.
“Thanks for coming with me after Forte left.”
“No sweat pal, I just hope you referred to me as your trophy wife if anyone asked.”
“You know it,” he rumbles. His tone is edged with a chuckle, and he rolls toward her slightly. “I’d high-five you now because I feel like it’s appropriate, but I can’t see your hand so I feel like we’d miss.”
“Likely.” She tries finding his hand in the dim light through his curtains, but everything is murky and blurred around the edges, and she ends up poking him in the mouth.
“Ow, jesus. What are you doing?” he grabs her wandering hand to still it, his fingers warm. She remembers his thumb, and bites her lip.
“Sorry, I was going to find your hand to high-five it but I misjudged. It’s kind of way too late to be carrying on a bit this difficult.”
He laughs, squeezes her hand. Quietly she squirms closer, her knees hitting his thighs and her elbow pressing into his chest. She can feel him watching her, his breathing shallow, but he doesn’t question it. His hand slips out of hers and up to her face, that damn thumb stroking across her bottom lip.
Then, he replaces the thumb with his mouth, and that feeling burns bright and low as he rolls onto her, resting his weight on an elbow. She moans, long and sweet, and opens her mouth to brush her tongue over his top lip and teeth. It’s not even that she wants to bang him (being honest – would either of them last?), it’s just the heavy feel of him, that he’s super great at kissing, that he’s her best friend. He hasn’t remotely tried anything either, his hand still cups her jaw and he’s still resting on his elbow, teeth biting at her tongue. It should feel weird or wrong or just bad, but the only adjective she can come up with for it is nice.
Lifting a hand to his chest she applies a tiny amount of pressure and lets her mouth drop from his. Instead of protesting he gives her one more peck then shifts, lays his head on the pillow between her neck and shoulder, where he drops a another kiss to the knot of bone there. He rolls his body mostly back to the bed next to her, but one of his legs moulds in between hers and a hand spreads right across her navel. She can feel the beat of his heart through the thin fabric of her shirt.
They’ll have to talk about this, of course - over breakfast or brunch or whatever meal is closest to when they wake up - but for a while, for now, they can sleep and forget.