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Friends and Benefits

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Seth's been hesitating to let himself believe--there are so many variables, so many ways this could fall through--but finally his doorbell buzzes, Frisbee starts going nuts, and when he opens the door, there's Amy: suitcase in hand, blinding grin on her face. She flings herself into his arms.

"Ohmigod, I'm your new roommate, I totally know we're gonna be best friends!" she squeals. The deliberate combination of pitch and volume makes him wince a little as he laughs, but he squeezes her hard enough to pick her right up off her feet; she barks out her familiar cackle and plants an exaggerated kiss on each of his cheeks. When he puts her down again, she moves back to consider Frisbee, who's doing her best to figure out how to be under two pairs of feet and behind two pairs of knees all at the same time.

"Seth," Amy stage-whispers, "I don't know how to tell you this, but I think you have a rat problem."

It's an old joke by now, and Seth may not know any of the lines from the script currently sitting on his desk, but he knows this one: he gasps theatrically, then hisses, "How dare you. She is a lady."

Amy's already sliding to one knee to dispense head-rubs and murmur nonsense while Frisbee's tail whips back and forth in a blur, fast enough to make The Flash jealous. Frisbee's also covering Amy's face in kisses, and looking at Amy, Seth can't help but echo the sentiment: even windblown and plane-creased, she still glows, like he's invited a tiny, sharp, fire-hearted lighthouse into his apartment for ten days. Giddiness dances its way around his stomach and up into his throat.

"Whew," Amy says, straightening again, leaving a disappointed Frisbee to console herself by way of a mad dash for her chew toy. "That's the most action I've gotten in weeks."

"Awww." Seth hooks an arm around her neck and kisses the top of her head. She and Nick have been on a mutual, friendly hiatus, and Amy has seemed to be weathering it well, but still, he's glad for the opportunity to hug her in person. "Don't worry, in accordance with your usual demands, I've acquired you only the highest-class escorts for your time here."

She sniffs loftily. "Well, I should hope so."

He goes to take her suitcase, but she just nudges him out of the way and heads for the guest-room-slash-office, so he shrugs and follows--it's a rolling suitcase anyway. "Thanks again for agreeing to do this."

"A bonus week in New York, a good cause, and a chance to get my grubby paws all over your fancy new digs--how could I refuse?" She swings her suitcase around to rest neatly against the inside wall, for all the world as if her room isn't going to look like a warzone within about twelve hours. "Sorry to miss your gorgeous wife, though."

"She sends her love." Actually, her exact words had been tell Amy that I hope you guys have fun playing house, but Seth's not going to share that little tidbit on the grounds that Amy will totally run with it. Amy and Alexi gang up on him often enough on their own without him painting a target on his back.

"Aww, send mine back. Tell her I'll do my best to keep you out of trouble."

"Ha," Seth scoffs. "As if you haven't been responsible for most of the trouble we've ever been in."

"You love it," she says airily. "And speaking of trouble, you better be prepared to do some serious covering, since I haven't memorized anything more than a couple of pages in years."

Seth hasn't either, and it's not like they can't improvise, but he wants to do better by the playwright than that. "It's only a one-act. And if we get lost, we'll call for a line, and make a gag reel after. Even more benefit money!"

"Well, smell you, Comedy Machiavelli."

Seth snorts. "Man, I should have had them put that on the flyer." He yanks it out of his back pocket to show her. One Day, One-Acts, One Hundred Thousand Books, it reads. A Star-Studded Festival to Benefit New York City Schools. Several of the names on it are their friends', and that's certainly icing on the cake. There's also the public service angle, which is motivating; when your wife is off in an economically disadvantaged country gathering evidence for a case against human rights violations, it makes it kind of difficult to feel good about spending your entire vacation sitting around in your underwear playing MVP Baseball 2005. It's one of the things he loves about Alexi, the way she reminds him that there's more to the world than ratings and the perfect punchline.

The truth is, though, as soon as Kenan had approached him and said, "Hey, there's this benefit thing, and they want you and Amy to--" Seth had said yes. He's lucky Kenan's sentence hadn't ended with "strip naked and barbecue babies in Times Square." Though that does seem like it would be a tough sell, benefit-wise.

The part where Amy's staying with him instead of at her own place half a mile away--something about they're going to be working 24-7 anyway, and her refrigerator is empty, and she'd miss the kids too much--that part feels kind of like the universe organizing a Seth Meyers Benefit, and he doesn't even know what to do with it, other than shut the fuck up and be grateful.

"Hmm." Amy looks back up from the flyer with narrowed eyes. "This is some serious shit. You sure you're up for this, buddy?"

Seth jolts himself back into focus. "Yeah," he drawls, at least as much as someone from New Hampshire can drawl. "I just don't know how we're going to pull together an hour-long show in just a week. I mean, we've definitely never done that before."

A wicked, gleeful grin spreads across Amy's face. "Okay. Then game on, bitch."

"Game on," Seth shoots back. The echo of their high-five reverberates off the ceiling.

"So," Amy says afterward, hands on her hips, "who do you have to blow to get me a drink around here?" and just like that, she's moved in.

* * * * *

He actually doesn't see too much of her over that first weekend; rehearsals don't start until Monday, he's still wrapping up Late Night stuff, and she's got UCB meetings (though she's skipping the Sunday night shows, which he knows is a sacrifice), so they mostly just hang out in the evenings, drinking beer and doing table reads. He likes coming home and finding her there, like a care package, filling up the place in his heart that's always just a little bit hollow when she's across the continent.

The show they're doing is by an up-and-coming playwright, a modern take on a screwball romantic comedy, and it's good--witty and funny, with an occasional flash of teeth. It's not until their fifth read-through that the back of Seth's brain starts itching occasionally.

"'Jenna'," he's reading, "'I already told you that I didn't even realize the snake was dead!'" He pauses. He had already told her, two pages before, and saying it again sets up another joke, but there must be a better way to--

"Oh, boy," says Amy.

Seth blinks. "What?"

"You're tweaking," Amy says, with conviction. She aims a pencil at him. "I can see your beady little mind working."

"My mind isn't--" he starts, then realizes the stronger argument is, "Don't tell me you weren't doing it, too."

Amy laughs, a-ha-ha, and he knows he's caught her. "As you know, Bob…" she mocks. Clunky exposition is a particular pet peeve of hers.

Seth shakes his head. "God. Are we assholes? Are we total assholes? This woman is really talented. There's stuff in here I never would have thought of."

"There is, but also, you wouldn't be you if you settled for anything less than the best joke," Amy points out. "It's your job, and you're fucking great at it."

Seth flushes. He's got a lot of excellent, supportive friends, and he's learned over time to tune out--or at least tune down--his detractors, but still, sometimes the sheer force of Amy's compliments catches him off-guard. She's as wholehearted in her criticism as she is in her praise, too, which makes it mean even more.

"I, on the other hand," Amy continues, "am a bitter, jaded asshole."

"Who is also incredibly good at what she does," Seth feels compelled to add. She may be an actress first, but he's already told her a dozen times that her debate episode of Parks had made him sob on his couch, and when she'd sent him an early draft of her book for edits, it had almost pissed him off, how good it was. "But yes, 'asshole' is definitely the first word that comes to mind when I think of you."

She grins. "Okay, so we're both awesome, and old. I can live with that." Then she raises both arms above her head, arches her back in a stretch, and stands up, letting her script fall to the coffee table. "And speaking of being old, my ass is hating me right now. I need a break."

"Okay." Seth looks at her, at the way she's shaking her hands at her sides. Energy to burn; he knows of two ways of fixing that, and he doesn't keep weed around anymore, so. "Replay?" It's kind of bush league, but it's the first thing that pops into his head, and there are only so many games that can be played with two people.

Her eyes light anyway. "Yes."

Of course they haven't got an audience handy to prompt them, so Seth has to fill in the blanks, casting around the room for inspiration. "Okay, uh. Raincoat, old lady, teenaged skateboarder."

Amy nods eagerly. "Go!" And before he can say anything, she slumps her shoulders forward, eyes going distant. "Hey, dude. Nice flower skirt."

Of course. Seth takes a moment to narrow his eyes at her, but plays along. "Shouldn't you be in school, sonny?" he asks, screechy-voiced.

And they go on from there. In rapid succession, they do the scene angry, they do it constipated, they do it in the Renaissance, and last--at Amy's suggestion--they do it horny.

"I guess it's just been… raining so much," Seth breathes, batting his eyelashes and fanning an imaginary skirt in front of him as if trying to air things out. Amy grabs him around the waist, bringing his hip hard enough against hers to bruise and to set them both snickering.

"I guess it has been," she growls, and tips her mouth close to his before pulling away with a loud, staccato laugh. Scene officially over, she sinks back into her chair and salutes him with her beer bottle. "Not too shabby, Late Night. You still got it."

Seth collapses onto the couch, nerve endings charged with the joy of sharing a mental playground with her again. He never gets tired of that. "Poehler. Let's be honest. We both know I never had all that much of it."

"Ugh," she groans, like she always does when he's self-deprecating. "Yeah, poor baby, your whole head-writer thing really cut into your sketch time. I know much you you missed it. And clearly it's been terrible for your career. We need more beer for this." And she's up again, disappearing around the corner. Seth can hear the refrigerator door open.

At the hiss of bottle caps, he settles himself more comfortably on the couch, angling one arm underneath his head and letting the other one drop over the edge. The hardwood floor is pleasantly cool against his fingers. Frisbee is snoring on her bed in the corner.

"Popcorn's in the cupboard to the left of the fridge," Seth calls. He'd made sure to stock up the week before.

"Oooooh." Her answering moan is entirely too porn-reminiscent to be really appropriate for popcorn. "My reputation precedes me."

"Want me to make it?" Seth offers, because his mother would want him to.

"Yes, Seth. I want you to come in here and make popcorn for me, even though I'm currently holding the bag in my hand. The service in this place is fucking awful." This, followed by the microwave door opening and closing, and Amy humming what Seth has come to know as her Microwave Popcorn Song. Sometimes there's a dance, too, involving raised eyebrows for the suspenseful early stages and finger guns to mark the popping of the kernels.

Seth's new kitchen hasn't witnessed Amy's Microwave Popcorn Variety Hour yet, so the fact that it's being christened now has that corner of his heart glowing warm again. He tries to focus on that, and not the more sobering realization that's sneaking into his post-collaboration high as he runs back over the game in his head.

Because it's one thing to play a scene horny for a laugh: that, they've done a bunch of times, and laughed themselves sick afterwards. But in a week, he's going to be kissing her in front of hundreds of people. Kissing Amy. In a way that's supposed to make people believe.

Barbecuing babies suddenly seems pretty safe compared to that.

*****

The fact that Seth had fallen in love with Amy doesn't make him unique; that's just what happens when one of the funniest girls in the room also turns out to be one of the smartest, and then also turns out to be the one who will provide aspirin when you're hungover and righteous indignation when someone's a dick to you and thoughtful advice when you have no fucking clue what to do. Add on top of that the fact that she takes absolutely no shit from anybody, and Seth, like most people when confronted with Amy, had never stood a chance.

But it's quite a crowd, the crowd of people who love Amy. And if Seth had found himself closer to the center of it than most--there had been times, in those anxiety-ridden first years, where the fact that Amy went out of her way to write with him, and laughed at almost all of his jokes, and always squeezed in next to him in the booth at the after-parties, had been the only thing that had kept him from feeling completely out of his league--there had always been Will, and Amy and Will, a rock-solid inevitability (right up until it wasn't). And anyway, Seth had been mildly-to-moderately famous in a city full of beautiful, interesting women, so it had been easy enough back then to install what he privately called The Amy Filter: all not-strictly-platonic feelings about her were shoved away until they went soft-vaseline-focus, to be considered only in case of alternate universes or critical levels of tequila.

The Amy Filter has served him well all these years, including when things had gotten bad for her and Will, and Seth had been desperate to give her whatever she needed while simultaneously being head-over-heels for Alexi and terrified of fucking it up by answering another woman's phone calls at 2 a.m. Alexi had just raised an eyebrow and told him that him having close female friends wasn't a threat to their relationship, but him refusing to help those friends through a separation was. (Then there had been the part where Alexi had calmly informed him that honesty, rather than monogamy, was her primary stipulation for their relationship. Seth had promptly shoved that behind the filter as well, half-convinced she'd done it just to turn him on with her lawyer-speak.)

So it's been a great system, and something Seth really wishes he'd fully considered before he'd volunteered to make it his job to be in love with Amy for a week. Because in this scenario, the filter is turning out to be a serious problem.

"Seth!" snaps their director, Kelly, on Tuesday morning. "Don't just pretend to stop her, you have to actually stop her. She's leaving you! Don't let her! I know it's early, but we don't have much time, and if they don't buy this scene, the rest of the play is toothless." Kelly is a New School grad student, and she'd been selected from two hundred applicants to be here, and despite the fact that Seth and Amy are almost old enough to be her parents, it's taken her approximately thirty hours to shift from starstruck to dictatorial. Seth basically adores her, even if it's not particularly mutual at the moment.

She waves a hand. "Let's go again. Here, I'll hold your script, just say whatever--just focus on the intention. And Amy, no holding back. I want this like you've got a thousand paying audience members watching."

As embarrassing as it is that she's resorting to baby's-first-acting-class exercises, Seth can't really blame her, considering his performance so far; he knows he's not quite getting there and knows they don't have time for it, but he just can't quite seem to make it click. Amy's got that crinkle above her nose that means she's frustrated with herself, too, but she winks and fist-bumps him before she heads back across the room. As always, it eases some of the tension in Seth's chest, knowing she's in it with him, that she's got his back.

That thought intersects with leaving and loss, and sparks in the part of his brain that's always looking for punchlines and associations. Suddenly it's obvious how he can give Kelly what she's looking for: all he has to do is picture the pile of boxes in Amy's SNL office and he can feel the echo of it, like the scar on the back of his knee that twinges when he goes jogging in the spring. He gives it a mental nudge, experimentally, and huh. Yeah, maybe more of a scab than a scar, even. And his mother says repression isn't productive.

"Okay," says Kelly. "Hit it. Amy, don't stop unless he really makes you."

"Okay." Amy nods, and gets her game face on. Such a pro, and that helps, too, on multiple levels: both because Seth is determined to match her, and because he'd missed Amy's game face as much as he'd missed anything in those long first months.

"Ryan," she says, "I can't do this. I can't be your fucking backup plan," and she crosses toward the door of their small rehearsal space.

In three strides, he's in front of her, blocking her exit so that she runs right into him, nose bumping his chest. It's enough to make her back off, and he can see the tiny hint of a laugh lurking at the corners of her eyes, but otherwise she's all Jenna: indecision, frustration, love, anger, giving him a full house of emotions to play off of, and he figures fuck it. It's suspiciously easy to put himself right back in that near-empty office, devastated that she's leaving and furious that he doesn't have the right to ask her to stay. And as soon as he cracks that mental door open to the light, it bursts through him like a freight train barreling down a tunnel; he's completely unprepared for the elation of having an excuse, for once.

This time, he's fucking asking.

He slides his hands up her arms to her shoulders, and looks her right in the eye. "Don't go," he says, voice suddenly hoarse. "Please."

And because he knows Amy's game face incredibly well, he sees--actually sees--her break, sees Jenna fall away and leave only his friend in her wake, staring up at him with wide eyes. She's holding her breath; her shoulders are motionless under his hands. Seth can't breathe either.

"Good," Kelly says from somewhere to their left, low and impressed and--Seth's sure he'll find this hilarious later, when his brain kicks in again--transparently surprised. "That was great, you guys. Wow. Okay." She takes a deep breath and claps her hands together. "You guys! We may not be completely screwed after all!"

Seth sees Amy's throat move as she swallows hard, and then she backs out of his reach, though her eyes stay locked on his too long to be casual. "Well, that is our motto--Not Completely Screwed Since 2001."

Kelly laughs with the pure joy of someone whose budding career may yet escape being torpedoed by two forty-something comedians who can't get their shit together. Seth can still feel the warmth from Amy's body against his palms, and when he looks at her, his vision is crystal clear for a moment before he manages to drag the filter back into place.

Not Completely Screwed? He's not completely sure about that.

* * * * *

So he's spending ten hours a day pretending to pretend to be in love with her, with only Kelly's determined presence and the script in his hand to keep him anchored in reality, or fantasy; he's starting to lose track of which is which. And then, after that, he and Amy go home. Together. Where they order delivery and watch TV and play with the dog and stay up much later than is responsible talking about politics and mutual friends and their careers and ill-timed farts, and where Seth sees Amy's bedhead when she wanders barefoot and barely awake into the kitchen in the morning, and falls asleep with her laugh still pinging around in his brain, and occasionally catches her looking at him in a way that makes his heart lurch with hope before he can snap himself out of it. Even in all those years they'd practically lived at 30 Rock, they'd never had a week quite like this, just the two of them inside the bubble of adrenaline and desperate creativity, like the last survivors of some very pedestrian artistic apocalypse.

And on top of all that, there's the kissing thing. Or rather, the not-kissing thing.

"Blah blah, kiss kiss," Amy keeps saying every time they get to a kiss--of which there are eight, Seth has counted, Seth has counted many times--and sure, they've got a few days left and it's not like the mechanics of kissing are particularly challenging, and it's not like Seth's hands don't go clammy every time he thinks about it. But the longer they go without doing it, the more Seth can feel himself fixating on it, and on why she keeps avoiding it, and he wants to just get it over with, already.

Therefore: "Do you have mouth herpes?" he asks her when they break for lunch on Wednesday. Which, given that she's set up her chair directly across from his, brings him perilously close to having a mouthful of veggie wrap spewed all over him.

She swallows, then gulps water. "What the fuck?" she manages. "I mean, of course, I am, like, riddled with head-to-toe herpes, but how did you know?"

Seth shrugs. "It's just that you keep skipping over our big romantic makeouts, so I sort of assumed you had something to tell me." It's actually easy to keep it light; Amy's kissed him--on camera and off--a hundred times, Amy kisses everybody, so he's sure he's about to hear the perfectly reasonable reason that she's glossing over it right now. Which will be great, because then he can move past it and get back to his own freaking out about kissing her.

"Oh my god, your wife has been gone less than a week and you're already this hard up? Get it together, pal." And that's about in the ballpark of what he expected, response-wise, but. But. She doesn't meet his eyes when she says it, and he thinks--it's hard to tell in the fluorescent lights, but he thinks--that her cheeks go a little pink.

Seth's stomach jumps, and his brain jumps even further; he's more grateful than ever that bantering with her is as natural as breathing by this point, because that's the only reason he's able to come back with, "Well, I just know what an awesome kisser I am, so I wanted to give you the maximum possible opportunity to enjoy it."

"Oh, wow, that's really generous of you, thanks," she says, rolling her eyes, and he nods serenely.

"No problem."

"Okay, fine." She sets aside her sandwich and swishes more water around in her mouth. "You're so desperate for a piece of this, let's do it. Lay it on me."

Seth's own sandwich goes to cement on his tongue. "Now?"

"Yep. Right now." She shoots him a smile that's a thin layer of innocence over pure smugness, like she thinks she's gonna out-bluff him, and oh. It is on.

Seth swallows, puts his plate on the small wooden box they're using as an end-table, and dusts off his hands on his jeans. "All right. Great. Let's do it."

Amy's eyebrows go up, but her grin doesn't falter. "Okay. Great."

"Great," Seth repeats, because his heart is starting to thunder now.

"You said that," Amy points out.

"You're stalling." His breath clogs in his throat, and he's already wholeheartedly regretting getting himself into this. But he reaches out, curves a hand around her jaw; he thinks he might be able to feel the triphammer of her pulse, but it could be his, too, rushing all the way out to his fingertips. She takes a deep breath, and leans in, and he leans in, and…

She bursts into giggles, and collapses forward, face-first in his lap for an instant before she rocks back into her own space. "Fuck. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry. It's just--shit. I'm sorry." She scrubs both hands back through her hair and gives him a pleading look that's only more endearing through tears of laughter.

Seth is shaking his head, trying to decide whether he's more relieved or disappointed. "So unprofessional, Poehler."

"I'll get it!" she protests, still giggling. "I promise. In the moment, I'll get it. Tomorrow. Or Friday. Or Sunday, whatever. Oh, man." She stands up. "Now I gotta take a walk."

"Normally women wait till after we make out to ditch me," Seth says automatically, which makes her bark another laugh and yell,

"Not helping, motherfucker!" over her shoulder as she makes a beeline out the door.

When she's gone, Seth heaves a breath and sits back in his chair, doing his best to will his heartbeat back to normal. He guesses he could be insulted that the prospect of kissing him sends Amy into paroxysms of mirth. But another byproduct of having known Amy for as long as he has is that he knows all her giggles and snorts and cackles and honks, and that?

That had been nervous laughter. Like, Timberlake-level nervous laughter.

He chugs more water, trying not to wonder what the hell it means.

* * * * *

After that, Seth holds it together as best he can, and there are large swathes of the day where he manages to act, and even feel, like a normal human. But in the background, his once-mighty filter is folding like a cheap suit in the face of this diabolical intimacy torture, so he's already down to mostly duct tape and denial by the time they hit Thursday night and they're supposed to be off book the next day and they've been running lines till they can barely talk and they are so very, deeply screwed.

"Oh my god." Amy tips forward to rest her forehead among the graveyard of take-out containers on the coffee table. "This is a nightmare. Seth. I have actually had this nightmare. Why did we agree to this?"

Seth rubs his eyes with his hands. Typewritten letters march across his mind's eye without resolving into anything coherent or remotely useful. "I don't fucking know. For the children?"

"Fuuuuuuck," Amy moans. "Next time I'm just writing a fucking check."

"Or you could go back in time and smoke less weed," Seth suggests.

"Fuck you, Amsterdam."

"Amsterdam can totally fuck you," Seth answers, then adds belatedly, "Up. Or something funnier than that. Shit. This is not good." High-pitched giggles slip out of his mouth, and the table shakes with the force of Amy's laughter. If Seth closed his eyes, they could be back in his old office on the seventeenth floor, making boner jokes at three o'clock in the morning and watching the clock tick away seconds until the guest shows up for the table read. Nostalgia swells in his chest, a sweet ache, and without thinking, he reaches out to rest his hand against the small of Amy's back.

Almost as soon as he touches her, she sits up and curls against him with a long, near-hysterical sigh. He smoothes her hair where it catches in the stubble on his chin; he should probably shave tomorrow.

"It's a good play, though," she murmurs.

"Yeah."

"Optimistic. I like that. Funny and optimistic is hard to do."

"You guys make it look pretty easy," Seth points out. He loves that. Wry observation is his usual schtick, and he wouldn't trade it, but Amy's always been this relentless combination of bright sides and sharp edges, and he's thrilled to see it magnified and beamed across the country every week.

Amy nods against his shoulder. "Yeah, but… the woman who wrote this, she's what? Twenty-five?"

"Yeah. Fresh out of grad school, I think."

"See, you can tell, right?" Amy asks. "The show has that… innocence. That confidence, like if they just want it hard enough, people can make it work, no matter what."

She says it casually, but it jostles Seth out of his haze like she's flicked water in his face. For Amy, cynicism is like an L.A. thunderstorm, usually brief and almost vanishingly rare; during her divorce, he'd seen her fight every day to stay open, to keep moving forward. It occurs to him that maybe he's been so busy trying not to misread her reactions this week that he may actually have missed reading some of them entirely.

"Poehlercoaster," he says finally, and as he'd hoped, she hums a laugh at the old nickname. He rubs her shoulder. "Everything okay?"

She tucks an arm around his waist and snuggles closer, her eyes drifting shut. "Mmm. Yeah. Sorry. Just tired. I don't even know what I'm saying."

He drops a kiss on top of her head. "Say whatever you want."

"I have five nipples," she confesses promptly, and they both dissolve into giggles again.

"Five, wow," Seth manages. "I'm glad you felt comfortable telling me that. So… where are the other three? I mean, you've got the two on your big toes, obviously, like everyone."

She nods again. "Right, right, exactly, just like normal. And the one on my asshole."

And it's not that her response is so unexpected--it's the obvious choice, even--but something about her delivery just gets him, as always; he straight-up guffaws at the ceiling, making Frisbee leap up from her bed to give him an offended look. "Okay," he wheezes, while Amy snorts helplessly into his t-shirt. "You know what? I think we're good. I think we've shared enough for the night."

"Oh, so we're setting limits on our friendship now? I see how it is. Real fucking supportive environment, Meyers."

"I know, I know. I'm the worst." He squeezes her again, one-armed. She hooks a finger through one of his belt loops and angles her head back to look at him.

"Hey. Thanks for letting me stay here."

Seth's protective instincts kick in again, but he wants to give her the chance to tell him about whatever's going on in her own time--Amy doesn't trust a lot of people with her moments of weakness, and he wants to honor that trust. So. "Anytime," he answers instead, forcing his mouth to curve, though he can't help tightening his arm around her, just a bit.

He gets a quick flare of smile before she goes back to using him as a pillow. "Anyway," she continues, "you and Alexi give me hope. If you can get a beautiful human rights lawyer to agree to spend her life with a dirty television comedy schlub, then maybe the rest of us schlubs can figure it out, too."

"That's beautiful."

"Yeah, it was part of my speech for your wedding, but I didn't want to pull focus."

"Very considerate."

She's quiet after that, and Seth lets his head fall back against the cushion. He has no idea what time it is, and he doesn't want to know; by his sophomore year of college, he'd discovered that knowing exactly how little sleep he'd gotten only made him more tired the next day. After a while, he notices Amy's breathing deepening. When he shifts to check on her, she stirs sluggishly.

"Not gonna fall asleep," she mumbles. "Jus' one more minute."

"Mmm," he answers, the sound he judges least likely to disturb her.

Within a few minutes, she's heavy and boneless against him. He can feel the beginning of numbness in his arm, but he's going to spin this moment out as long as he can, in the fuzzy space of near-dawn and sleep deprivation where even his neuroses are too exhausted to move. It's weird how he always thinks he knows how much he misses Amy until he doesn't have to miss her anymore, like a trompe l'oeil tilted to just the right angle.

He looks down at the spill of bright hair over his shoulder, at the slack shape of Amy's mouth, distorted just a bit by contact with his chest. Tomorrow--later today--he's supposed to leave his script behind, supposed to look at her and tell her in someone else's words that he loves her, fucking crazy loves her.

Someone else's words, for fuck's sake.

He looks at her, completely at peace in his arms, and whispers one word into the pre-dawn dimness: "Crap."

* * * * *

Amy sleeps through his revelation, of course--once she's out, it takes something along the lines of an air raid siren to get her moving again (unless the kids are around, in which case she starts awake at the first hint of a sniffle). After entertaining a brief fantasy of carrying her to her bed, romance-novel style, he concedes to the reality that that's at least fifty percent likely to end in disaster, shame, and possibly injuries. So with a rueful sigh, he tucks Amy in on the couch with a blanket and pillow, then stumbles to his own bed and calls Alexi.

It takes her five rings to pick up. "Seth?" Maybe it's just the connection, but she sounds as foggy as he feels. "Everything okay?"

Just hearing her voice tips him back closer to equilibrium. "Hello, wife." He wonders if he's ever going to get tired of calling her that. He kind of doubts it. It had taken him all of a month to realize he wanted to marry her; it had taken him years to convince her that a piece of paper could in any way capture how they felt about each other.

It's worked out pretty well, though. "Hello, husband." He hears her stifling a yawn.

"I didn't wake you up, did I? Isn't it afternoon there?"

"Yeah, I just had a break and thought I'd take a quick nap. Jet-lag is a bitch." A pause, then, "Wait, isn't it--" She stops short of telling him the time, because she's an exemplary human being. "It's late there. Don't you have rehearsal tomorrow?"

Seth digs the back of his head into his pillow. "Yeah, but we don't know our lines and we haven't nailed down the blocking yet, so, you know. We're feeling pretty good about it."

"Oh, babe." Her laugh is warm and sympathetic. "You'll pull it off--you're like a crazy closer, you live for the ninth inning."

"Ha." That certainly makes his adrenaline-junkie-in-the-body-of-a-fortysomething-nerd thing seem a lot more heroic. "I like you."

"Right back at you. How's the baby?"

He lifts the comforter to check on Frisbee, who's tucked herself into the space between his ribs and his hip. Before they'd first brought her home, he and Alexi had agreed that the puppy would never be allowed on the bed; that rule had lasted all of three hours. "Perfect."

"Of course. How's Amy holding up? Have you two found time for your torrid affair yet?"

Coming right on the heels of their usual domestic chatter, it sideswipes him. "Ha," he says again, in what he's immediately sure is the weirdest possible way to say two letters. "Haaaaa." If he's supposed to be the closer, then he just walked the bases loaded.

Silence on the other end of the line, then, "Oh, really?"

Her tone definitely sounds a lot closer to "you're cute when you're freaking out" than "please hold while I draw up divorce papers," but still, Seth finds his throat dry and his tongue thick. When he and Josh were little, they used to play the lava game: the floor was lava, the couch was safe, all that stuff. This feels like the verbal equivalent, only everything is lava. Seth's not confident there's a single sound he can make that won't potentially end in his fiery destruction, so he doesn't say anything, just waits to be put out of his misery.

Fortunately, he's married to a merciful woman. Though she does laugh at him, a long laugh that seems to roll across the ocean between them and curl up right in his ear. "Seth. Breathe. You know all the times I've told you that you and Amy should figure out what's up between you? I actually meant that."

And the funny thing is, in his heart, he's always believed she meant it; it's his brain that's having trouble contorting itself around the idea. "Nothing happened, or anything," he feels it's important to note.

"But you've been letting yourself think about it," she persists. "Finally."

"Yes."

"And then you called me."

"...Yes." Does he get points for that, in this scenario?

"And you're not planning to leave me and run off with Amy, right?'

"No!" he answers immediately, horrified. "No, no, never." He can't imagine his life without her, any more than he can imagine it without Amy, or without his left eye, for that matter.

"So, there you go."

It sounds so simple when she says it, but.... Seth takes a deep breath, and starts with solid ground. "First of all, counselor, I'd like to state for the record that I love you."

"Noted," she says solemnly, but he can hear the barely-repressed laughter behind it.

Now he edges one toe into the lava. "And secondly, just so we're very, very clear… let's just be very, very clear on what you're saying, here."

"I'm saying," Alexi tells him, "that you're going to feel the way you feel about Amy whether you sleep together or not, and that, feeling how you feel about Amy, you still married me, so I don't see any reason why I should be any more threatened by your relationship now than I was a week ago, or five years ago. In fact, I'd rather you act on what you're feeling, and engage with the reality of it, rather than building it up into some fantasy that would be impossible for any real person to compare to."

Early on in their relationship, it had become dazzlingly clear that Seth was not going to be winning many arguments going forward. Even so, though, he'd never quite anticipated his wife lawyering him into sleeping with one of his friends.

"Or you could look at it this way," she suggests. "Most people get a celebrity to-do list. You shouldn't be denied one just because you are a celebrity."

It startles him into laughter. "Okay, I feel like you're violating the spirit of the to-do list," he says. "Those lists are built on the foundation that it's never actually going to happen."

"Yeah, well." She yawns again. "Jet-lag. Cut me some slack."

His hand is halfway out to brush back her hair before he remembers that he can't actually do that through the phone. "Lex--"

"Seth. I promise you it's okay. Did I ever tell you," she goes on, and he can hear mischief creeping into her voice, "that I totally wanted you two to hook up, back before I met you?"

"Oh my god, et tu, Alexi?" The fact that typing his and Amy's names into Google almost immediately yielded seth meyers amy poehler dating had been quite a challenge to the Amy Filter, back in the day.

"Oh, please. Like you guys didn't trade on that."

Well, she's got him there. "Lorne traded on that. We were just…" He remembers the singular buzz he used to get in his veins, flirting with Amy on camera, safe in front of millions of eyes. "Yeah, okay, whatever."

"Uh-huh," Alexi says smugly.

"So," Seth presses, turning it over in his mind, "if this is gonna work, it can't just be on the table for me. I mean… is there anyone you want to…?" He forces himself to picture it: Alexi spending the night with another man (or woman, his brain supplies helpfully, because he's only human). He waits for the surge of possessiveness, but it just seems… extraneous somehow, like a vestigial organ from a lifetime of previous relationships and assumptions he'd been too scared to question. When he sees Alexi in that scenario, mostly what he sees is her coming home to him afterwards, playing tug with Frisbee and eating half of Seth's fries and refusing to even feign interest in his fantasy football draft.

And that, more than anything else, is what convinces him that this might actually be possible.

"No," Alexi's saying, "there's no one right now, and it doesn't have to be the same for both of us, by the way, but the fact that you thought of it is number seventeen thousand and nine on the list of reasons I love you. So that's good."

"That is good. I'm in favor of that," Seth answers, holding the phone a little tighter. "Though I have to say, I'm up in the eighteen-thousands at this point, so now I'm a little hurt."

"Well, maybe if you organized your books reasonably--"

"They go by subject first, then alphabetically by author! That is completely reasonable! Organizing them only alphabetically is just…" He trails off. He's pretty sure he's delirious at this point, and he's absolutely sure she's baiting him. "I love you," he tells her. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too. And we'll talk this out more when I get home, figure out the details, but in the meantime, just… try not to worry, okay? And try not to stay up too much longer planning what you're going to say to Amy; it sounds like you've got a big day tomorrow."

He snorts. "Mind-reader."

"Wife," she fires back.

"I miss you," he sighs, and means it with his whole heart. "Be careful, all right? Jesus, I didn't even ask how you were. How are you?"

"I'm good," she says, "and you were having an existential crisis, so you get a pass this time. Call me tomorrow, when you get a break."

"It is tomorrow," he points out.

She laughs. "Go to sleep, husband. And give the baby lots of extra snuggles for me."

"I will," Seth promises, and they hang up.

Alexi is right, he needs to rest; but she's also right that there's no way in hell he's going into a potentially life-changing event without at least considering what he's going to say. He stares up at the ceiling for a while, trying out angles, approaches, turns of phrase; he's sure he's on the edge of something brilliant, just before he falls off that edge into sleep.

* * * * *

Seth wakes to Frisbee's cold nose on his inner elbow, the scent of coffee hanging in the air, and his clock informing him that he should have been out of bed half an hour ago. He should probably jolt up immediately, but he gives his head another few seconds on the pillow--because why not, he's already screwed--and then drags himself more or less upright.

Frisbee leaps up like a tiny, skinny jack-in-the-box, displaying her usual completely uncool level of energy for anytime before noon. Seth opens his bedroom door enough for her to shoot outside, feet scrabbling on the slick floor; he can hear Amy's indistinct cooing as he shuts the door again. He stumbles into the shower for a couple of minutes, with the spray just this side of cool, then towels off in record time, manages to run his electric razor across his face without seriously damaging anything, and starts attempting jeans. Seeing as he's still three-quarters asleep, though, balance is an issue.

"Fuck," he whispers under his breath, like he's in a Hugh Grant movie, hopping on one leg, "fuck fuck fuck fuck--"

Eventually he conquers the two-legged beast, then yanks on a shirt that he's seventy percent sure isn't the one from the previous day. Late or not, he's not leaving the house without caffeine, and he prays with everything in his soul that the lingering aroma means that Amy has been generous enough to make that happen; as soon as he's vaguely presentable, he heads straight for the kitchen.

He'd guessed right: Amy is there already, just finishing off an orange. On the counter next to her, two travel mugs are wafting steam into a shaft of late morning light.

She gives him a cheerful, cheeky grin. "I took your dog out while you were doing your Hugh Grant thing in there. Rough night, slugger?"

Her voice is husky with sleep and affection, her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and she smells faintly like the body wash in his guest bathroom. In an instant, all of Seth's careful scripting goes to vapor inside his brain; without a word, he crosses the tiny kitchen, takes her face between his hands, and kisses her.

She snickers at first, obviously thinking he's just fucking around, but Seth stays with it, pressing her back against the counter, stroking her cheekbones with his thumbs. Her laughter disappears into his mouth, and she goes very, very still for a breath or two--just long enough for Seth to really start freaking out--and then her lips open under his and she kisses him back, hands sliding up into his hair.

For a few seconds, it's sheer glory, and then she shifts her grip to his shoulders and pushes him gently back. When his own vision clears, all he can see are her eyes, huge and serious.

"Seth." She sounds as close to helpless as he's ever heard her, the one word brimming with enough love and sadness to slice straight to his heart.

"I talked to Alexi last night," he rushes out as quickly as he can. Anything to take that look off her face. He glances at the clock on the stove behind her--fifteen minutes late and counting--and makes a frustrated noise. This is why he plans this shit out, dammit. "God, this is the worst timing, I'm so sorry, but I couldn't go in there today and--the thing is that I thought I could be here with you and not feel this way, be your friend and not think about anything else, but apparently I'm not very good at doing that anymore. So last night I talked to Alexi, and she's been saying for a long time that she's fine with it if I--that we should maybe--if you want to--" He waves a hand between them.

Amy's eyes get even wider. "Holy shit. Seriously? I thought she was just drunk."

"Wait." Seth's so shocked that he actually falls back a step, though he immediately regrets the loss of contact. "She talked to you about this?"

"Well, yeah." Amy shakes her head. "A few times, actually, but at your wedding brunch, most recently."

"Our wedding brunch?!" Seth guesses he should probably be scandalized; what he is, however, is impressed as hell. "Wow."

"Yeah. She came up to me, three Bloody Marys to the wind, and told me she hoped that now that you guys were married, you and I would feel more comfortable exploring our feelings for each other without worrying that it was going to mess up your relationship."

The mental picture is kind of amazing, even more so because Seth can actually see it perfectly. "What did you say?"

Amy throws her hands out at her sides. "What the fuck was I supposed to say? 'Yes, thanks, I'd love to have sex with your husband--should I do that before or after you cut the cake?'"

Seth laughs, though heat coils low in his belly even just hearing her say the word "sex" in relation to him. Holy shit. Having sex with Amy is suddenly a possibility that exists in his world. Unable to resist, he lets his eyes linger just a little bit on the curve of her hips, the swell of her breasts, the way her ponytail slips along the side of her neck.

Her mouth curls up on one side. "Perv."

He'd feel bad about getting caught out if she wasn't giving him a long, slow once-over, herself. Goosebumps prickle along his skin, and he takes half a step toward her.

The distinctive sound of a phone buzzing breaks the silence, and Amy yanks hers out of her back pocket. "Shit fuck sonofabitch. We're so late."

"Yeah." Seth backs off and nods, too quickly. "Okay. Right. We should go." Fuck. It's killing him, not being able to stay here and slip his hands underneath her t-shirt, taste the spot where her top lip bows, set his teeth to the mole he knows is on her right hip, watch her face when she comes--do every single one of the things he's been wanting to do for the past fourteen years.

Amy nods, too, then takes a deep breath and turns to retrieve her purse from the kitchen table. Seth tries to distract himself by eyeing the coffee mugs, which are the only non-Amy thing capable of tempting him at the moment. Before he can make a move toward them, though, Amy whirls back and plasters herself against him, clutching his t-shirt in both fists, her tongue teasing, hot, eager in his mouth. Seth has to brace himself on the counter to keep both of them from ending up on the floor.

When she pulls back, her lips are slick and her eyes dark with promise. "Okay," she says decisively, "just had to do that. Now let's go."

She grabs both coffees and heads for the door. Seth shakes his head, licks the taste of her gloss off his lips, and follows.

* * * * *

Line-wise, the rehearsal is more or less a disaster, but everything else goes so well--"You guys are really finding the connection," Kelly says after Amy slips him a bit of tongue during a (fucking finally) kiss, and Seth has to keep his eyes trained on the far wall or he's going to burst into hysterical laughter--that Kelly cuts them loose early so they can focus on memorization.

Seth is absolutely prepared to do that, just as soon as he can focus on anything but how badly he wants to get his hands on Amy.

The cab ride home is both agonizing and delicious, with Amy sending him covertly pornographic looks from across the seat as the two of them attempt small talk with the driver. He's pretty sure she's doing it just to torture them both, which makes it even better.

"Want my sweatshirt?" he offers innocently, by way of retaliation. It's plenty warm in the cab, and she's got a coat sitting in her lap, but she nods, and when she pulls the sweatshirt over her head, he watches her eyes close briefly as she inhales. The cloth wrapped around her, tucked against her, gives him a strange vicarious thrill, and her fingers restlessly tracing--fondling, really--the drawstring on the hood are enough that Seth has to try to remember the equation for calculating xFIP in order to prevent having to boner-walk past the doorman.

In the script in Seth's head, he'd rip her clothes off and take her against the nearest wall as soon as they finally, mercifully get behind the closed door of his apartment. In reality, Frisbee needs to be taken out, and fed, and taken out again, and Amy has to call Will to check on the kids, and then Seth gets a text from Schur about the Sox and he and Amy both end up weighing in on the state of the bullpen. All of that kind of kills the momentum, so by the time they're done, they end up just sort of standing in the kitchen, on either side of a wall of sexual tension so solid that Seth can practically see the color of the bricks.

"Sooooo," Amy says, after they've stared at each other for a little while.

"Yeah," is Seth's witty riposte. Over time, he's developed his share of game--which has been as much of a surprise to him as anybody--but he's at his best when the stakes are low, like with someone he just met, or someone he's not that serious about, or Martha Stewart. Amy falls into none of those categories, obviously, and besides, she's seen most of his moves from the sidelines, at one time or another, so he's pretty sure she'd be immune to them anyway.

Fortunately for him, Amy's never been the type to wait on someone else's move: she leans one hip against the counter and raises an eyebrow at him, her lips quirking. "So," she repeats, in her film-noir-dame voice, "what's a girl gotta do to get a little action around here?"

Which is a pretty good move, because it makes Seth laugh, which seems to unstick his feet from the floor. After all, laughing with Amy is one of the constants of his life. "Well." He takes a couple of steps in her direction. "When you put it like that, I feel so cheap."

Amy laughs, too, low in her throat, then sinks her teeth into her bottom lip and grins up at him as he braces a hand on either side of her. "Yeah, see?" she says. "I know how you like it."

Seth can feel his own pulse hammering in his neck. She's ditched his sweatshirt and there's nothing between them now but a few inches of air and a couple of millimeters of faded cloth. He leans in. "Ooh, yeah," he says, porno voce, so they're both snickering when their mouths finally meet.

Given how rushed they'd been in the morning, Seth deliberately lingers now, tilting his head to see how she tastes from different angles, letting Amy's tongue toy with his, absorbing the soft moan she makes when he moves one hand to her waist and slides it up under her t-shirt to rest on the bare skin of her hip. She's enough shorter than him that there's an unacceptable amount of her body that's not touching his, though, so he hooks his hands underneath her arms and boosts her up onto the counter.

"Oooh," she says, teasing but a little breathless, too. He laughs and leans forward again, but she stops him, framing his face in her hands and just looking at him. "Man. This is so nuts."

"I know." It's a weird sort of multiverse feeling to be the one kissing her and at the same time hear the familiar tone in her voice, like one of them is telling the other this crazy story over the phone, or in the back hallway of some bar somewhere: soooo, I just hooked up with….

She shakes her head and smiles. "I thought I'd missed my shot with you."

The past decade-plus reshuffles itself in his head like a deck of cards; his jaw drops. "Wait, wait. You wanted a shot with me? Since when?"

She rolls her eyes. "Since ever, I guess, in some ways. But definitely since…" Her gaze skips to the side. "Well. For a while now."

"Ah." In light of that, those two a.m. phone calls take on a slightly different cast. "I'm sorry," is the first thing that comes to mind.

She shakes her head fondly. "Sorry for what? For getting married? For being happy? Seth." She strokes his cheek. "Don't be stupid."

Never let it be said that he can't save a line that didn't land. "I've been in love with you for fourteen years," he tells her, which is what he'd really meant anyway. He's always been terrified to admit it to himself, much less to her, but when the words actually come out of his mouth, it feels like walking outside and finding spring in the air.

Amy's eyes go suspiciously shiny; her smile blooms so bright that Seth goes right past spring and into high summer. "Pretty good fucking line, Meyers," she says, voice rough, right before she wraps both arms around his neck, both legs around his waist, and kisses him as thoroughly as he's ever been kissed. Seth holds on and kisses her back, deeper now, feeling the heat of her pressed against his stomach, the smooth expanse of muscle and skin as he runs his hands up her back, her shirt tangling around his fingers. After so many years of denial, the freedom of it seems obscene in the best possible way, the thrill of having hours and days ahead of him where he can touch her and be touched, where he doesn't have to hold anything back.

"Okay," he manages when he can get his mouth free to talk, though, fuck, every second he's not kissing her seems wasted. "We're not doing this in the kitchen."

"Yep. Good call." She leans in to bite at his jawline.

"Poehler," he groans.

"Mmm, I like when you say it like that." She kisses him again, ending with a hard nip to his bottom lip, and then shoves him back so she can hop down off the counter. "Okay, fine. Bed, like civilized people."

"Just the first time," Seth says. "Later, I promise we'll do it on the kitchen floor like animals."

Amy's eyes flash and then go darker; Seth knows she's picturing it. "Asshole."

"Man, some people just can't be pleased," he says, smirking as he follows her to the guest bedroom.

When she swings the door open, he has to take a second just to observe the sheer chaos--"Fuck off," she says, "I've seen your office"--before she sweeps a pile of clothes off the bed and pulls him down on top of her.

Still bouncing from the impact, braced on his hands, he smiles. "Last chance to bail. Are you sure about this?" He knows the answer--Amy is nothing if not a woman who knows exactly what she wants, so if she weren't sure, they wouldn't have gotten this far--but he's enjoying the anticipation.

Amy narrows her eyes and taps a finger against the corner of her mouth. "Well, I did promise myself that if I was still single at 43, I'd fuck the host of Late Night."

Seth snickers. "Lucky for me Fallon didn't hold out another year."

"Lucky for me it wasn't Letterman," Amy shoots back.

"Agh." He loves Letterman and all, but. "Boner-killer."

"Is it, though?" Amy reaches out to palm him through his jeans.

Seth makes a strangled noise and thrusts involuntarily against her hand, dropping his head down to her shoulder. "Okay. Yeah," he says. "Good point." He forces his head up again. "Why are we not naked?"

"Also an excellent point." She starts yanking at his shirt, and he sits up obligingly so that she can drag it off over his head. Meaning to return the favor, he shoves the hem of her t-shirt up over her stomach, but as soon as all that skin is exposed, he can't resist leaning in to taste it. She squirms.

"Tickles."

"Sorry." Her giggles trail off into a sigh as he kisses his way upward, then closes his mouth over her breast through the cotton of her bra.

Her back arches. "Oh fuck me."

"Um, hello, foreplay?" Seth says in his snottiest sorority girl voice; she laughs, a sweet, familiar burst of sound. He slips her bra out of the way so he can feel her laughter against his tongue, and it's approximately a million times better than any of the alcohol-soaked imaginings he'd allowed himself to have. He catches her nipple between his teeth; her fingers curl tightly into his hair.

"One good thing," she says, breath hitching, "one good thing about waiting so long to do this is that my boobs are way better now."

Seth barely glances up. "Your boobs are amazing, and also, I plead the fifth."

"Chickenshit."

"Chickenshit who gets to touch your boobs, so…" Unassailable point made, Seth devotes all his attention to full appreciation of the task at hand--at hand, fingers, lips, tongue, teeth, until Amy is writhing underneath him.

"Fuck, Seth. Fuck." She drags him by the hair until their mouths meet again. Their teeth clack together, and she grinds her hips up, sending a white-hot shock up his spine. The hell with taking his time; as soon as he's got his motor skills back, he reaches between them to unbutton her jeans, yanks the zipper down and slides his fingers inside until he finds slick, ready heat.

"Oh my god," he groans into her mouth. "Jesus Christ, Amy."

He's distantly aware of her wriggling her jeans down past her hips, spreading her thighs that extra inch so he can go deeper; he crooks his fingers, finds her clit with the heel of his hand.

"Fuck yes." Her short nails dig into his triceps. "Fuck, yes, don't you fucking dare stop."

He's so occupied with the sheen of sweat on her neck, with the feel of her around his fingers, with the desperate noises she's making, that it takes the meaning a minute to sink in. Once it does, he's incredulous. He knows it's just a thing people say in the throes, but he can't help assuring her, "Yeah, I don't think that's gonna be a problem."

She huffs out a laugh and twists her hips, looking for the perfect angle. "Seth," she pants, "oh, fuck, Seth," neck bowed back, pupils blown wide, and seriously, Seth's furtive fantasies had been completely inadequate to this, to Amy slowly coming apart in his arms.

"Yeah," he murmurs, voice gravelly, "fuck, yeah, come on, Poehler," and damn, she wasn't kidding about liking the way he says her name, because as soon as he does, she convulses and grips him tighter. He tries it again. "Poehler, are you gonna come for me? Please come for me, Poehler, I want to see it, please, please, Poehler, fuck, I've wanted this for so long--" He dips down to take her nipple between his teeth again, and all it takes is the slightest pressure before she stiffens and yells and comes with a long, shuddering sigh.

He gently withdraws his fingers, kisses the golden curve of her shoulder while she lies limp and gasping. "Shit," she breathes, "you're good at that. Remind me to thank the many, many women of New York and Amsterdam who contributed to your education."

"I certainly thank them," Seth agrees, earning himself a slap on the chest. "Hey! You said it first!"

She raises herself up on an elbow. "You're lucky I really want to fuck you."

Anticipation curls through his stomach. "Feeling pretty lucky about that, yeah." Figuring he'll get the ball rolling, he peels her jeans down her legs, dropping a few more haphazard kisses as he goes, and takes care of his own jeans and boxers while he's at it.

"Condom?" she asks when he's settled on the bed next to her again. Eyes up here, he thinks with some degree of satisfaction, because that is definitely not where she's looking.

He spreads his hands out at his sides. He's clean, and Amy's not going to get pregnant, but. "Your call."

"Fuck it," she says decisively, and before he can even fully register what's happening, she shoves him over onto his back and straddles him, steadying his cock with one hand.

As soon as she starts to lower herself, he can feel--fuck--how slick she is from her orgasm, but she goes teasingly slow anyway, and it's sex in 3D and surround-sound, watching her face and feeling her take him in centimeter by centimeter. He has to fight to keep his eyelids from fluttering shut; it's worth it, though, to see her mouth drop open and her head fall back as she sinks down the last half-inch or so.

"Mmmm, fuck yeah." It's the low moan he associates with her first drag off a joint, which makes him gasp a laugh as half a dozen terrible innuendoes skip through his brain, but he'll take it. He runs his hands up her thighs, and she looks down at him with heavy-lidded eyes and her hair brushing the tops of her breasts, and as always, he can't quite reconcile how tiny she is with how she seems to fill every inch of the room

Of course, being able to make that observation from this particular vantage is pretty fucking spectacular, and with every second that passes it's getting more and more difficult not to just grab her hips and thrust. He grits his teeth as surreptitiously as possible and forces himself to hold still, to wait until she's ready.

One side of her mouth curves. "Seth. Are you being a gentleman right now?" She's got a look in her eye that he recognizes from every Scrabble game, round of charades, and hand of gin rummy they've ever played, and all he can think is, oh thank fuck.

"You're the one just sitting there," he points out.

"Ohhh." It comes out as half-laugh. "So you want me to do all the work." With just the warning of her thigh muscles tensing under his hands, she raises herself up and then drops back down, and any thought Seth might have had of gaining the upper hand disappears with the surge of pleasure that arrows out to every extreme of his body and renders him temporarily speechless. Never get in a sex fight with someone who's already had an orgasm should be right behind never get involved in a land war in Asia, as far as battle tactics go.

Still, he's not going to just roll over. So to speak. He reaches out to find her clit with his thumb, and the catch in her breath is almost as satisfying as the way she clenches around him. "Let's call it a team effort," he tells her.

"Works for me," she says, then, "So, just so we're on the same page: later, we can do this slow and sweet and whatever. But right now, I just really want to fuck you." She gives him a grin that's more like baring her teeth. "Because I'm not a gentleman."

"Works for me," he answers, the words tumbling over themselves in their eagerness to get out of his mouth, and she laughs as she starts to move.

The pace she sets is ruthless, reckless, and with more than a decade of pent-up lust lighting up his nerve endings, Seth knows this isn't going to be a marathon. So he throws himself into the sprint instead, keying in to her profane rhythm--"Seth, Seth, fuck, feels so good, love your cock, love fucking you, fuck--" and they've always worked well like that, cues volleyed back and forth like ping-pong balls, like the similes he's mixing. But for once he doesn't even care about that, because Amy's coming again, mouth open and eyes closed and so fucking beautiful, and that's all he needs to bury himself inside her and let go.

* * * * *

At some point they do actually have to open their scripts, but for now, Seth's having a hard time looking at anything besides Amy, curled on her side, naked and in a bed in which he is also naked.

She gives him a soft smile and reaches out to trace the lines at the corner of one of his eyes. "I missed your face," she murmurs. "Doesn't matter how exhausted I am, sometimes I can't sleep until I turn on my TV and see your face."

The mental picture--the kids asleep, her on the couch with a beer, reaching silently across the country--adds a wide and warm corona to his post-orgasm glow. He takes her hand, kisses her palm. "We watch Parks when it's on. With commercials. Like cave-people." It's a ritual, one of his rewards for a work week well done, along with brunch with Alexi on Saturdays and taking Frisbee to the park.

"The ultimate sacrifice." There's something a little off about her grin, though, like smoke passing through sunlight, and Seth nips lightly at her index finger.

"So are you gonna tell me what's up, or do I have to go Barbara Walters on your ass?"

"Agh, it's so cliche, it's just..." She lifts a shoulder. "We're heading into our last weeks of shooting, and I've got all these new projects, and I'm excited, and it's awesome, but…"

Ah. He works up a smile despite his internal wince. "Well, I sure don't know anything about that feeling."

"And then Nick and I are…" She sighs, eyes focused on the tangled sheets between them. "Whatever we are for now, and we're still friends and that's great, but I couldn't help thinking, if it's been tough with him and it didn't work with Will, and I love them and they love me, then maybe it's not meant to be for me, you know? And it's just… a lot, those two things at once."

That gets him right in the gut. "Amy--" he starts, but she shakes her head and runs over the top of it.

"I know, I know." She wrinkles her nose and smiles again. "And I'm gonna be fine, really, once my heart catches up with my brain. But in the meantime, I wanted to… you always make me feel like..." She meets his eyes again, and tucks his hand against her chest. "I just needed to be home for a little while."

Seth has been a word guy his whole life. And still, right at this moment, all he can do is kiss her, and hold her as close as he possibly can.

* * * * *

Without a word of discussion about it, eleven-thirty on Saturday finds them camped out on the couch with the TV on, a bowl of popcorn untouched on the coffee table and Amy's legs stretched across Seth's lap.

"Sons of bitches," he mutters as the camera skips past a cue card on its way to commercial break. Though actually, their final tech rehearsal had flown by with only the average number of catastrophes; Seth's still trying to figure that one, given that trading sexual tension for sexual overload should've been kind of a wash, as far as their concentration was concerned. He credits some of it to professionalism, some to how every deadline after SNL seems sane by comparison, and some to how the better they'd known their lines, the more they'd gotten to touch each other in the name of art.

"Oh, come on. We made it work. And as Tim Gunn also told me once, jealousy is such an unflattering look." Amy lifts her knee high enough that she can nudge his inner thigh with her foot, and Seth's dick stirs with interest that he is in no way going to be able to act on at the moment, due to having acted on it awesomely recently. As promised, they had tried out the kitchen floor when they'd gotten home; they'd stuck it out for about six minutes before conceding that the floor was hard and fucking freezing and they weren't nineteen anymore, and besides, Frisbee had been way too interested in the proceedings, so they'd raced each other back to the bedroom.

Recent awesome sex or not, Seth's calling bullshit when bullshit must be called. "Tim Gunn did not tell you that."

"He did, too," Amy retorts, "and he also told me to tell you to shut the fuck up."

"Okay, now I know that's not true. Tim Gunn loves me," Seth says smugly. Tim Gunn is always suspiciously interested in brushing nonexistent lint off Seth's clothes. It's awesome.

"Ugh," Amy sniffs. "Just 'cause you have a nice ass and a cute face and look great in a suit."

Seth can feel the flush creep over the back of his neck, even though she's told him dozens of variations on that theme practically since they met. Knowing that she means it, means it enough to want to do something about it, is new, and ties his tongue in knots if he stops to think about it.

Out of the corner of his eye, he can see his smirk transferred to Amy's face.

He slips his hand underneath her flannel pajama pants to stroke her ankle. "Watch the show."

Watching SNL with Amy is like ripping the scab off a wound and applying the best possible balm to it at the same time. On one hand, aside from the first show that had gone on without him, he's never been quite so acutely aware of the space yawning between them and this thing they both loved so much. But on the other hand, she's still right here, right next to him, and he still knows her well enough to know what will make her laugh, what will make her roll her eyes, what will make her sigh and grope for his hand beneath the blanket.

And from that vantage, it's easier to pick out the traces of familiar landmarks even in the new world: there's the joke he'd workshopped with Cecily in the hallway a few weeks back, the sketch--killing, for the record--about the angry drunk fairies that Kate had pitched him twice and Colin must have finally greenlit; there's Aidy glowing with confidence and Mike pushing the boundaries even further and Kenan holding the line, as always, like the campfire they can all gather around.

As the credits roll over the goodbyes, he's smiling.

Amy pokes him gently in the arm. "Look at you, such a proud papa." When he glances over, she's beaming at him in that incandescent way she has that seems to curl around him like a physical presence. The back of his neck heats again.

"They're doing so great," he says.

"Yeah, and you helped make them great. They were lucky to have you, and now everyone on Late Night is lucky to have you." She reaches over and weaves their fingers together. "You're a true host, Seth. I'm ridiculously, obnoxiously proud of you."

Seth blinks against the sudden sting in his eyes. "I… dammit. Offsides." It's exactly this kind of unrepentant sincerity ambush that had come perilously close to making him burst into tears on national TV, months ago. Amy grins, just as she had then, and sits up to press a kiss against his cheek. It washes over him again, the enormity of that whole week: most of the details will always be a blur, but the tangle of emotion--pride, loss, terror, love, anticipation, grief--is still as vivid as a sunset in his mind.

"Thanks again," he says. "For coming, when I left." His life at SNL had ended up a thousand-piece puzzle of all the people who had come and gone over the years, and Amy, Andy, Bill, Fred--they were corner pieces, ones that everything else hinged on, and he hasn't yet stopped being absurdly touched and grateful that they'd all immediately dropped what they'd been doing at the first hint that he'd wanted them there.

He can see the quirk of her eyebrow that means she's thinking the double-entendre, and he knows she knows that he knows, which saves her the trouble of saying it. "Are you kidding? I'd have liked to see you try to keep me away."

Throat tight, he kisses the back of her hand. "Well, still."

"And you're good now, right?" she presses. "I mean, actually good, not just faking it till you make it." She's watching him intently in the flickering light--on the TV, Audrina Patridge is really excited about something--and Seth takes his time, wanting to give her total honesty. Wanting it for himself, for that matter.

"It took a while," he says finally, "but yeah. Yeah," and he's nodding, now; for the first time in a long time, it feels like the truth in his mouth. "I'm really good."

She kisses him, quick and hard. "Good." Apparently satisfied, she folds herself up against his side, dragging his arm over her shoulders.

"I don't know what I would have done without you that first night, either," he adds. "I honestly think I might have puked on camera." He's thanked her for it a thousand times already, for flying across the country to be his co-pilot one more time, but it never quite seems like enough; he's busy racking his brain for a new way when she says, like she's commenting on the weather,

"Man, I can't tell you how many times I thought about doing you on the Update desk."

His brain somersaults like a car running over a bomb in an action movie. "Jesus fuck, Amy."

"What?" she answers innocently, though when she tilts back to look at him, her eyes are unfiltered evil. "We spent a lot of time there. My mind wandered. I was married, not dead."

Seth shakes his head. "All that energy I put into not thinking about stuff like that, and you're telling me you were thinking it the whole time?"

"Not the whole time. Sometimes I thought about doing it in your office." She cocks her head, reminiscing. "Or mine. Or Samberg's, but that would've been mostly for the look on his face when he found out."

Caught between indignation, lust, and laughter, Seth thumps his head against the back of the couch. "Oh my god. Seriously, you have no idea how much time I spent not thinking about that. I could've written the great American screenplay!"

"Oh, come on." She waves a hand. "We both know that it just opened up more brain space for movie quotes and sports trivia."

"I'm so angry at you right now." Though the fact that he's leaning down to nuzzle her neck as he says it kind of undermines his point. It's in his brain now, exactly as she'd intended: the way her hair would look spread out on the cheap veneer, the way her no-holds-barred laughs and cries would echo off the light grid, all the things that could be done with ties and suit jackets and the danger of being found. The highlight reel spools out in his mind, complete with blocking and dialogue, and he's biting gently at her collarbone when he suddenly snickers.

"What?" Amy's hands are wandering too, sliding up under his t-shirt, down over his hip.

"I was just thinking, it would be like--Weekend Update Joke Off, Weekend Update Jerk Off," Seth tells her, barely able to get the words out before the giggles take over, and Amy does cackle at that, the big, delighted sound that makes him feel like the funniest person who's ever walked the earth. On a mission now, Seth slides off the couch, settling on the floor between her knees. "Y'know," he says as he hooks his fingers into her waistband, "I've still got a key to 8H."

Her chuckle comes out throaty. "I was thinking you might." She tips her hips up to help him pull her pants off, which is when he discovers that she hasn't bothered with underwear. While he's reevaluating the last couple of hours in light of that fact, she scoots forward on the couch and spreads her legs wider in a clear implied demand; all things considered, though, Seth figures the least he owes her is to take his time responding to it, so he goes on a deliberate detour, kissing his way along her inner thigh. She makes a frustrated noise, and he grins, but her voice is casual when she goes on,

"I was also thinking that you've got your own desk now."

"Oh, fuck." It's like flipping from an SD porn channel to an HD one, because sneaking around for old time's sake is one thing, but Seth sits at his Late Night desk, sits there in front of midnight America and has to hold coherent conversation with other comedians and politicians and Kim Kardashian, which is going to be that much more difficult if he's got the memory of Amy riding him in his chair. Or her mouth on his cock, maybe--after all, she'd promised that down the road, he'd find her under his desk. Or her thighs around his head, those black spike heels she'd worn to his first show dangling off her feet while he eats her out...

It's a terrible idea. He has every intention of making it happen as soon as possible.

Amy slips her fingers into his hair. "Are you having fantasies right now?"

"So many fantasies," Seth says fervently, against her skin. "So very many fantasies."

She tugs his head between her legs. "Good. Me too."

* * * * *

Standing backstage with the hum of a full house beyond the curtain, Seth shoves his shaking hands in his pockets. Amy is next to him in the near-dark, bouncing from foot to foot like a boxer getting ready to enter the ring. If sparks started flying off the ends of her hair, he wouldn't be all that surprised. As he watches her, the claustrophobic hammer of his heart slows slightly, and in spite of everything, he can feel his own mouth curving; he just loves her so fucking much.

She slants a daredevil grin at him. "Ready?"

He takes her hand. Her fingers close tight around his. "Ready."

* * * * *

"Well." Amy spins around in the middle of the living room, arms extended, sky-high heels dangling from one hand. Behind her on the mantle, the giant bouquet of flowers Alexi had sent them both frames her head like a colorful halo. "We didn't die."

"We did not." Seth catches himself looking around for Frisbee, despite the fact that he'd dropped her off at the overnight doggie spa himself in the morning. He'd blame it on the champagne if he weren't thoroughly aware that he's That Guy. And anyway, the post-"holy shit, we survived another one" high trumps champagne any day--he's a lightweight now, after months of small and steady victories, so it's still bubbling in his blood, even though the curtain closed hours ago.

He won't be sleeping much tonight. He kind of hopes that Amy won't, either.

Currently, she's busy creating a scattered wake of random personal items: shoes vaguely underneath the coffee table, Seth's suit coat--which she'd appropriated about two drinks in--on one of the chairs, purse tossed toward the fireplace. Making herself at home in the way that only she can, and Seth grins.

"And we raised a bunch of money," she goes on as she starts pulling pins out of her hair.

"Yes, we did."

"And," she bites her lip on the edge of a wicked smile, "we made out in front of a lot of people. For money."

Seth tucks his tongue in his cheek. "Yeah, cross that off the bucket list." Of course that had just made the balancing act at the post-festival reception all the more interesting, watching Amy work the room like the love child of a will o' the wisp and a sailor on shore leave, while he tried to keep his hands to himself without seeming suspiciously stand-offish. (They'd fooled everyone but Tina--who had clearly known already--and Maya, who had taken one look at them and promptly dragged Amy to a corner for a conversation that had ended in an emphatic high-five. Seth is expecting some texts about that in the coming days.) As foreplay goes, though, Seth absolutely cannot fault it.

A tiny avalanche spills out of Amy's purse as she stumbles over it on her way to bury her face in Alexi's flowers. "Shit, I forgot to give Cecily back her pen," she says, muffled in roses.

"I'm not sure if you remember, but we do have a fairly generous pen budget at 30 Rock." He's also pretty sure that Cecily would rather have the product of her pen loan: a bar napkin on which Amy had scrawled, CECILY, YOU ARE SO FUCKING STRONG. LOVE, AP in enthusiastic capital letters. If that's not framed in her office within a week, Seth will eat an entire case of pens.

"Well, still. It's a nice pen, you should give it back to her." She straightens, but keeps her back to him. "Man, it was so good to see everybody." It's about the seventh time she's said it since they got in the cab after the final extended round of tipsy goodbye hugs, and Seth agrees, of course--a startlingly large number of their friends had come out for the show, including half the Parks cast, and the reception had been like old times multiplied by new times to the power of an open bar. But at this point, Amy's repetition can't just be about alcohol, and once it finally clicks, Seth--after a brief moment to kick himself for not seeing it sooner--shifts mental gears immediately.

He's tried giving her space, but Amy is almost as bad at accepting support as she is good at giving it, and she's leaving in a matter of hours. He can't stand the thought that she might happen to be alone when this finally catches up with her. So it's time to try a little tough love.

"Nice to see Offerman and Schur and Aubrey," he says deliberately. "Nice to know they'd come all this way to see you." Heavy-handed, sure, but he's not giving her the chance to pretend she doesn't know what he's getting at.

She tilts her head backwards to give him a Look over her shoulder, and even in the soft light of the lamp on the end-table, he can catch the glint of tears in her eyes. "Asshole."

He crosses to her, wraps his arms around her shoulders from behind. "Poehler. You're the most cheerful badass I've ever met, but denial is only going to get you so far on this one."

"I hate being sad. It pisses me off," she grits out, but her hands come up to curl tightly around his forearm. "I know that every chapter has to end," she goes on, and he can feel the rise and fall of her chest under his arm, the pressure behind the words building until she's hurling them like knives at the wall, "I know that leaving is part of our jobs. I know that change is healthy, I know there are new things ahead, I know it's not always going to hurt like this, I fucking know all that. But I fucking hate being on this side of it."

"I know." Flooded with sympathy, he presses a kiss just behind her ear. "And dreading it is the worst. Knowing it's coming, and having to wait, and count: last this, last that. It's fucking torture. I can't tell you how many times I almost lost it last year. Two in the fucking morning and I'd be talking to Bobby about, I don't know, fucking hot dog blowjobs or something, and I'd start tearing up. It was super pathetic."

She gives a shuddering laugh and turns in his arms, clutching him close, and for a long minute, her shoulders shake with sobs; he strokes her hair, rocking her gently back and forth. Eventually she heaves a sigh, and looks up at him, makeup smeared and still one of the most beautiful things he's ever seen. "I don't know how I'm gonna do this again. It was hard enough on SNL, and I had pregnancy to think about then. And I'm supposed to be…" She shakes her head. "They always say it, you know? 'I've never seen Amy in a bad mood.' 'Whoever's name is at the top of the call sheet sets the tone.' They're counting on me."

He thumbs a tear off her cheek. "You're supposed to be sad, Poehlcats. It would be weird if you weren't."

"I know, but we have to get through this. I can't lead a two-month-long funeral, you know I can't."

He'd argue, except that he'd felt exactly the same way. "So, here's the thing," he says instead. "You call me. I'm not on your show--and don't think I'm not hurt by that, by the way, like, you never even asked," he adds, and gets the watery laugh he'd hoped for. "But anyway, I'm not on it, so you can be as sad as you want with me, and then go in and carry the team on your back the next day. "

Her eyes well up again, and she cups a hand around his cheek. "You're so sweet."

"I am," he agrees, "but I think this particular offer just makes me not a complete asshole. I mean, you dropped everything to be there for me when I needed you--did you really think that wouldn't work both ways?"

"Well, I guess on some level, I must have, otherwise I wouldn't be here," she points out.

"Well, good." He leans in to kiss her on the forehead. "Let's stay on that level, then."

"Okay." She hooks three fingers into his loosened tie and yanks, pulling his mouth to hers for a completely different kind of kiss, one that goes from zero to sixty before he can even begin to process it, her body straining against his.

"Uh," he says when she lets him up for air. "Wow. That's on this level, too?"

She shrugs and gives him a glittering smile. "What can I say? Your supportiveness gets me hot."

"Hmm, I feel like I'm losing karma points," he muses as she starts tugging him toward the guest room, "but on the other hand, karma might be bullshit, so--"

"There you go," Amy says approvingly, and, having finished using his tie as a handle, drags it off over his head.

She's going for the buttons on his shirt when he catches her wrists. "Wait, hold on. Truth."

"Of course," she answers, unflinching.

"You're not seducing me to change the subject, are you?"

She arches an eyebrow. "Seducing you, Mr. Bond?" she repeats in maybe the worst Russian accent he's ever heard, then laughs and pulls him in for a hard smack on the lips, the kind she's been giving him for years. "Thank you for asking--thank you for everything, in fact--but no." Her fingers start working at his buttons again. "I'm seducing you because your supportiveness really does get me hot, and because we were pretty fucking great out there tonight and it's been too long, and because I'm leaving tomorrow and I don't want to be not touching you for any longer than I absolutely have to, and because I love you, and I love that I'm allowed to do this." She shoves his shirt down over his shoulders. "That good enough?"

It's a hell of a lot more than that, but the forms have to be maintained. "You had me at how fucking great we were." His rolled-up sleeves make it easy to shrug the shirt to the floor; he sends his undershirt after it, leaving him free to peel her out of the sparkly, low-cut top that's been driving him crazy all night. He's always been susceptible to Amy's cleavage, and it basically owns him now that he knows what all that skin tastes like. He strongly suspects she knows exactly what it does to him, too, if the occasional clandestine shoulder-shimmies she'd thrown him throughout the reception were any indication.

Now she steps even closer, standing on tiptoes, pressing her torso against his. The black lace on her bra is pleasantly scratchy against his chest; her nipples are hard.

"You know what else gets me hot?" she murmurs in his ear. "Your hands. Your eyes. Those fucking dimples, fuck." Each sentence is punctuated with touch: her tongue on the line of his neck, her teeth at his shoulder, a slow undulation against his rapidly hardening cock. "The way you laugh at your own jokes. The way you always know everyone's favorite snack and favorite three a.m. jam, and remember everybody's birthdays and their favorite jokes that got cut." She runs her hands down from his shoulders to his wrists. "Also your arms."

"My arms got cut?" Seth asks breathlessly, reeling, going for the joke like a drowning man flails at passing driftwood.

She flashes him the same reckless grin she'd worn earlier, in the backstage dark. "Heads up, Meyers--I've spent fourteen years not telling you these things, I've got a lot of catching up to do."

"Huh." The fact that she's stripping his pants off as she says it is phenomenally distracting, but when the spark goes off in Seth's brain, he chases it with his last shred of rational thought. "So would you say you had a filter going, then?"

Halfway through unzipping her skirt, she gives him an incredulous look. "Are we seriously going to have the word choice argument right now?"

He laughs, though, honestly, word choice is incredibly important, and Amy knows it, even if she refuses to--Right. Okay. Focus. "No, it's just… I had this filter, you know? All the things I couldn't say to you. All the things I couldn't do with you. To you." He smoothes a hand over her hip, then drags her zipper the rest of the way down. "It's just really, really great not to have to worry about that anymore."

She smiles at him for that, the same smile she used to send him over the writers' table sometimes, the one that seems to enclose them in their own little clubhouse. Her skirt pools at her feet. "I know. It was fucking weird, having this huge secret from you."

"Yes! It was so fucking weird." He lets himself take a moment to just appreciate her, barefoot and beaming and so close that he can feel the heat radiating off of her, whispering against his skin. "So it turns out I've got some catching up to do, too."

She raises an eyebrow. "No time like the present."

"I--and I mean this literally--thought you'd never ask." He hoists her up against him and deposits her on the bed, pausing just long enough to ditch his boxers. Amy, wriggling out of her bra and panties, watches him with hot eyes.

"I'm gonna send Alexi the biggest fucking fruit basket the world has ever seen," she says ardently.

"She's kind of the best," Seth agrees as he sets one knee on the bed. And that should feel weird, talking about his wife while he's naked with another woman, but it feels good, the same kind of good that he feels watching Amy and Alexi laughing together when he's across the room, or when Alexi snatches the phone out of his hand so she can dig forBroad City spoilers. It occurs to him that his Amy Filter had walled off a part of him from Alexi just as much as it had kept a barrier between him and Amy, and he chalks that realization up on the long, long list of things that Alexi has been right about.

Even if she does let their dog run into the ocean sometimes.

"I love that you're taking a sex break to think about your wife," Amy says; he ducks his head out of instinct, apology on the tip of his tongue, but there's nothing but affection in her smile. "I'm not kidding. I love it."

"You're a freak," he informs her.

"I'm okay with that."

"It's working out nicely for me, too." He crawls up her body slowly, using his mouth to map the curves of her calves, her knees, her thighs, her hips; she's lush and sweet and strong under his lips. This isn't going to be their last time--at least he hopes it isn't--but it will be their last time for a while, and he wants to savor it. He wants to kiss every freckle, memorize every tiny intake of breath. Her hands are restless, stroking whatever parts of him are within reach.

"God, Seth." It comes out half-groan. "I've been wanting to do this all night. I thought I was going to have to sneak us into a bathroom or something."

"Really? Huh, I barely thought about it." She chuckles and smacks him lightly on the side of the head; he winces, winks, then gives her the dirtiest kiss he can manage before reaching above her for a pillow. He tucks it underneath her hips, spreads her thighs apart with his hands. She settles in with a little hum of satisfaction and approval, and he dips his head and settles in, himself.

One of the great things about sex with Amy, he's discovering, is that she's an excellent director, so mostly what he needs for a great performance is listening skills and enthusiasm--both of which happen to be specialties of his. He lets his world narrow to the taste of her, the feel of her, the sound of her moans and sharp demands that fragment into urgent, incoherent cries when she gets close; he could do this forever. She's already come twice on his fingers and tongue and he's fully prepared to go for three when she shoves his head aside, shaking.

"Okay, that was awesome, now stick it in me before I make you," she orders, breath unsteady, and Seth laughs around his own shiver. Her movement on the bed makes him brilliantly aware of how hard he is, pressed against the mattress.

"Stick it in you?" He gives her one last, long lick, then wipes his chin off on the sheet. "Come on."

"Oh, I'm sorry," she says, bracketing his hips with her legs as he braces himself above her. "Oh, please, good sir, drive your throbbing member into my aching lady-garden--" which means they're both laughing when he, well, more or less does that.

The sudden flood of sensation almost closes his throat, but he still feels like it's important to clarify, "Okay, never say that again." She gives another one of those throaty chuckles and clenches around him; his eyes snap shut, as if five senses are abruptly too much.

"Poor Seth. Such delicate writerly sensibilities."

He drags his eyes open again, slides slowly out of her and then back in. "If you're waiting for me to say I'll give you delicate, I'm not giving you the satisfaction."

"Oh-ho," she says, all challenge accepted. "Well, if you're waiting for me to say I won't give you satisfaction, I think we both know I'd be lying."

"That's…" He loses his train of thought for a second; fuck, she feels so good, he can practically feel a new quadrant of his brain shutting down each time either one of them moves. "I can't decide if that's a terrible comeback or an awesome one. It's awesome for me, definitely."

That makes her chuckle, and Seth laughs, too, laughs and sinks inside her again and he still can't believe this is happening, that he gets to have all of this, all of her.

They're quiet for a few breaths after that, finding their rhythm together, until she twines her legs around his ankles, wraps her arms around his back. "Seth," she says, and he's got his face buried in her neck now, so the word seems to slip like velvet right down his spine. "Seth, I really love you. This is a really good thing."

His heart does a long, slow roll behind his ribs; he kisses her shoulder, her cheek, her temple, her mouth. "It's a great thing. An amazing thing. I've always loved you, Poehler, always have, always will, remember that when you're on the other side of the world, I love you--" and then he has to stop talking to kiss her, feel her breath against his mouth and her body curled around him. Generous, she's the most generous person he knows, and he can be as generous as he's always wanted to, now, can kiss her and murmur love against her skin and thrust deeper and give her everything he has.

* * * * *

There's no way he's letting her talk him out of of helping her take her luggage downstairs, but they say their real goodbye in the privacy of the apartment, where he presses her up against the wall in the foyer and can't seem to stop kissing her.

"Okay," she says eventually, hand on his chest, hair tousled and eyes bright despite their lack of sleep. "I'm gonna miss my flight." Her fingers curl into his collar, and she's starting to tug him in again when he steps back.

"Okay." He can't help leaving his hands on her shoulders, stroking up and down her arms. "So, just to reiterate: call me. Anytime." He gives it a beat, then follows up with, "Unless it's about lady-feelings; then you should call Tina."

"Ugh." Amy breaks into a smile, as he'd hoped, and pokes him in the hip. "Just for that, I'm calling you every time I start my period."

"Yeah, okay, great." When their chuckling subsides, he continues, "And I don't want to intrude or anything, but... if you want me there when you wrap, just say the word. I'll find a way."

He can see tears threatening again; she frames his face in her hands, the way he's always loved. "Thank you, Seth. I mean it. I can't tell you how much this week meant to me."

"Me too," he answers, searching for any hint of storm in her eyes, but they're clear, and his heart is full, so he figures that's about right. Still, he can't help adding one more thing. "And for the record, Poehler--you might be leaving your show, but the people on it? They're always gonna be yours." He tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "I should know."

She laughs, the wild kind of laugh she gives when she's feeling too much to express it any other way; a tear spills down her cheek, and she wrinkles her nose. "Thank you, I love you, and fuck you, don't make me cry in the cab." Before he can respond, she grabs one of his hands and presses her lips to it. "It's gonna be good, though. It'll suck for a while, and that's how it should be, and then year from now, I'll be good."

It's a statement, not a question, but he offers anyway, "Are you kidding? A year from now, I expect you to be, like, Empress of Luxembourg."

She snorts. "Pretty sure Luxembourg doesn't have an Empress, genius."

"Yeah," Seth answers, the duh implied, "so the position is technically open."

And that's how he gets one last big patented Amy cackle, filling the tiny foyer before she leaves. It's still echoing in his heart long after her cab has pulled away.

* * * * *

A month or so later, Seth is flipping channels between innings of the Pirates game when he catches a glimpse of familiar bright hair on E! and stops immediately, drinking in the unexpected sight of Amy's smile. She sends him selfies occasionally, but nothing compares to Amy in action.

"Well, I know I'm going to cry my way through the whole thing," the reporter is saying to her, "but you've been keeping busy, right? You've got a new book out, you're producing, you're writing… what's next for you?"

Amy cocks her head. "Well," she says, "I'm thinking about running for Empress of Luxembourg," and Seth leans back against the couch and grins like a fool.