Work Header

I'm learning

Work Text:

Filming had wrapped on their Speakeasy interview, but John Hodgman and Paul F. Tompkins remained seated at the table in the small bar, drinking martini after martini (garnished with ineffective burnt citrus oils) and laughing at story after story. Topics had ranged from pocket squares to mustache grooming to podcasting. Paul had become especially animated when discussing his favorite podcasts to appear on, as well as plans for his upcoming Spontaneanation.

“Hey, do you want to do that one?” Paul slurred. He had explained the premise of improvised sketches around a common theme and while John had initially seemed excited and interested, he suddenly appeared reserved and concerned.

“I’m…not really an improviser,” John answered. “I prefer to deliberate over every carefully chosen word. I think of things then write them down slowly, taking a hit off my inhaler for inspiration now and then.”

Paul laughed, long and hard. John smiled, enjoying his friend’s laughter. Paul always seemed to laugh with his entire face, often clutching his chest. John really enjoyed each time he made Paul laugh. He loved that Paul’s laughter was always so genuine and unpretentious. Maybe that’s what made him such a good improviser; that he was so much in the moment and so real. John was real too, or at least he strove to be, but his personality remained at least a little reserved. Lost in his thoughts, he forgot to talk and smiled absently at Paul while he lifted his glass to drain it. Unfortunately, he was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t realize his glass was already drained, and instead of being greeted by martini, he was hit in the face with a slice of lemon.

Paul doubled over with laughter this time, nearly in tears. John joined him this time, no reserve as he giggled at his own inebriation. When Paul was able to regain what was left of his composure, he motioned to the bartender for another round, which was quickly delivered.

John and Paul toasted, then made eye contact while they each took a long drink. The eye contact lasted a little longer than necessary, but soon turned into grins.

“So, when you said you would see me at home…” John began, prompting another giggle from Paul, “…um, did you actually mean that?”

“Well, sure. I’ve got a couch if you need a place to stay.”

John raised an eyebrow and took another sip.

“The couch, Paul? Is that what you think of me?”

Another fit of laughter ensued, and drinks were drained in meaningful silence. Paul called a cab because, while he had finally gotten his driver’s license a few years earlier, the number of martinis he had consumed definitely precluded driving anywhere. The two men climbed into the back of the cab together, reeling slightly. Paul noticed that they were sitting quite close, but the thought barely had time to register when the cab driver swerved wildly off. The driver slammed on the brakes at the first light, then squealed the cab’s tires as the car rocketed off to a start. 

As the cab careened wildly around another curve, sending Paul crashing into John, he felt warm fingers grasp his own. John was holding on for dear life to Paul’s hand and the door handle. His eyes were wild as the cab took another tight corner. Paul laughed, but also felt a measure of solidarity, worrying a good deal himself about the outcome of this ride.

The cab squealed to a stop, and John relaxed his grip on the door handle, but did not let go of Paul’s hand. Paul surprised himself by being okay with this. He laced his fingers a bit tighter with John’s and leaned into him. He could feel the tension in John’s body, and saw his hand go to his pocket. John pulled out an inhaler, laughing at himself. He wheezed a little, then tried to take a puff just as the driver pulled away from the stoplight, throwing the pair back into the seat. John looked a little panicked as he slid and attempted to use his inhaler simultaneously. Paul generously wrapped his arm around him to steady him. John relaxed a bit as he was finally able to successfully inhale. 

Paul could feel John’s body relax against him and decided not to remove his arm as John replaced his inhaler in an inner pocket. Without a word, John took up his hand again, and, sensing the intention underlying that act, Paul felt jolts of electricity shoot through his arm. He was startled, both by John’s spontaneous display of physical affection, and by his reaction. He found himself completely oblivious to the terrible driving conveying them across town, totally lost in the new-found enjoyment of his good friend’s physical presence.

Paul had no idea how much time had passed when the cab arrived at his house. In fact, he was so lost in the feel of John next to him and his own thoughts that the cab driver had to clear his throat to remind the two to get out of the car. Paul absentmindedly paid the driver and tipped rather too generously, considering the near-death experience that was this cab ride. He was, however, incredibly distracted and breathing surprisingly heavily, so he could hardly be blamed for his undeserved generosity.

John and Paul stumbled out of the cab, giggling a bit. They had both experienced the phenomenon of sitting while drinking, then standing to discover how drunk they really were. The alcohol and the sexual tension added up to a rather giddy whole. Leaning on each other for support (and just because it felt nice), they stumbled up the walk to the front door. Paul fumbled with his keys as John looked blurrily on, then managed to do the tricky bit and get the door open.

They made their way bumblingly into the house, then Paul suddenly found himself against the door with a bundle of drunken Hodgman leaning against him. 

“I think I’m going to kiss you now, Paul,” he said in a calm, but vaguely commanding way. “Is that all right with you?”

Paul smiled and exhaled a bit. He nodded; words were a bit too much. John leaned in. Mustache brushed mustache, then lips found lips. If Paul had felt electric jolts before, now it was all lightning. It streaked through his whole body, sending rushes of blood through his stomach, and ending somewhere in his groin. He found his hands cupping John’s face as tongue brushed tongue and moans came from one mouth or another. Eventually, they had to breathe and stepped back to collect themselves. Paul grinned his gap-toothed grin and looked at John appraisingly.

“I think I figured out how to get you to improv,” he said. John looked at him questioningly.

“We just have to get enough martinis in you,” he finished, leaning in for another kiss.