Chapter 1: a parallel universe
“Babe, have you-“ Adam stopped, realizing what he just said. Sweat forming on his nape while Amy’s teasing smile slowly register.
“Did you just call me ‘babe’, Adam?” Her head is now tilted, signifying her amusement and anticipation for his answer. Is she blushing or is it the blush on? They both wonder, but Amy does not want to know.
“I’m-I’m sorry, I’m just-I’m just used to, you know, on the show.” He should not be struggling to answer a simple question, but like Ben Wyatt, Adam stuttered like he was in a talk show with a live audience. He should not be guilty for the Freudian slip, they were filming for 7 hours straight, 7 hours with Amy, 10 times he called her “babe” as Ben, 6 takes of kissing scenes, 6 times Amy’s tongue slipped into his mouth. Why the fuck does he share a body with Ben? Someone should invent a new way of acting where the body of the character you play will only be worn during filming and will be left on set the moment “cut” is yelled. Oh, with these past years, maybe feelings too.
He came back to reality when he heard Amy laugh, a soft laugh, not her usual cackle. Sometimes he thinks it might be reserved for him and their inside jokes shared through the years. He brushes the idea of Amy laughing softly over Kroll’s banters away.
“Hey, it’s okay!” Amy stepped closer and rubbed his shoulder. She felt how nervous he is and she knows his brain is about to shut down from millions of thoughts and maybe regrets. A knowledge gained through working and hanging out together even during the break.
“To make you feel better,” she bit her lower lip, failing to stop the following words, “Sometimes, at the end of a long day, I tend to forget that you’re not really my husband. You know, because of the show.” She almost forgot to say the last sentence, if she’s being honest.
It’s Adam’s turn to tilt his head and throw his teasing smile. Amy’s eyes rolled until she saw the other side of the universe, and before Adam even uttered a word, she managed to quickly say “So what were you supposed to ask me when you came?” as if what she said can just be thrown away. This may be what they teach you at improv, and she’s a natural. She’s always a natural.
“Oh no no, we’re not changing the topic, Amy.” Adam shook his head, he may be smiling but his eyes are piercing through her. There wasn’t enough time to calculate if this was the right place and moment to thoroughly talk about this and everything in between. The history they have together has become so overwhelming that they never looked back, or properly discussed it.
Amy cursed under her breath how her mouth is always faster than her brain. This conversation has been long overdue. She knows neither of them is ready, but to still prolong it might already be a sin. They were outside her trailer, the breeze now creeping through their skin. Adam was supposed to ask her if she already had dinner, the cast and crew were looking for her when the food was served.
“Adam, what we had and may still have,” she lowered her voice, aware of her surroundings. “It’s not right. It’s not safe. We both know that. Let’s just enjoy Leslie and Ben while we have them. This is hard for me too, you know?” That came out fast and concise, surprising them both.
She was having an internal debate if this conversation should happen inside her trailer. Oh, the two of them in a trailer alone seems to always end up in a haze, she thought. A public place is a safe place.
“At least you have Kroll now.” Out of all the sentences that he tried to form, this is the only one he was able to complete.
“And you’ve always been married.”
Under the moon, her eyes sparkle a different shade of blue. They share a smile, one that lifted the corner of their lips but not their eyes. Adam walked three steps towards her, etching in his brain again how small she is with just her sneakers on. He pulled her closer, and Amy let him. She settled under his chin, wrapping her arms around his waist. This is very familiar, it is unsettling how right and safe this feels. It is unsettling how right and safe this feels as them, as Amy and Adam, and not just as Leslie and Ben.
“Maybe in a parallel universe, babe.” He whispered in her short blonde hair with now growing roots, tightening his embrace.
“In a parallel universe.” She exhaled, savoring every tick of the clock. Accepting every was, is, and will.
In two different universe, they have their happy ending. And sometimes, it’s enough.
“Now you’ve kissed Bono. Is it a dream come true?”
Adam blinked twice, processing Amy’s words. She kissed Bono while she was sitting on his lap as a bit when she won for Golden Globes, but Adam was several tables away when it happened.
“I’ve never- I didn’t even have the chance to talk to him.”
“Oh my God, you’re so dumb.” Amy said while grabbing his coat, his hands automatically cupping her face. There was no prelude needed, they just shot three takes for a kissing scene. So when she opened her mouth the moment their lips touched, he happily welcomed her tongue. These are all a force of habit — rubbing his thumb on her cheek, her hand pulling him closer by the collar of his coat until sliding to its residence, his chest. All while his other hand settles on her waist, and hers remained still. It lasted a second longer than she intended it to be. Or maybe three, who knows?
“I’m basically fulfilling your U2 fanboy dreams, buddy. Do you get it now?” Amy said after breaking the kiss, face inches away from the now turning red Adam.
This has become normal for them. Habitual, maybe even a routine — a quick smack on the lips before going home after a whole day of filming, a quick but full hug as a good morning, endless teasing the whole day. This is normal, they would like to think, they are work proximity associates for four years now. Just friends who always hang out together but also fictionally married to each other.
This is totally normal and harmless that the cast and crew of their show didn’t mind and always lets them be whenever they are caught in action. There were teasings at first which now mellowed into sly smiles. Oh god, why do those smiles look like they know when the world is gonna end? But now, while they’re in the middle of the set surrounded by numerous staff, both Adam and Amy are oblivious of smirking faces. Maybe they always were. Maybe it’s true that this has been an open secret. Maybe it’s true that they subconsciously think that as long they’re on a set, everything is legal, all feelings are valid.
“I do, and thank you.” This time it was him who leaned in for one more lingering kiss, still wearing that certain smile and blush. That’s for his U2 fanboy self, and for his Poehler-the-Golden-Globe-winner fanboy heart.
“Now whenever we make out, I’m gonna be picturing you as Bono and it’s not my fault.” Adam said, waiting for Amy to cackle. She did not disappoint.
“I think this is the perfect time to tell you that whenever we make out for the past years, it is Megan Fox’s face that I see.” Amy tried to deadpan but failed. Her laughter echoed around the set and it was amplified by his own.
“Eeew, get a room!” Aubrey impassively said while passing by.
yes, adam basically kissed bono through amy.
“I love you and I like you.
P.S. not going to miss you.
♡, tv wife”
Adam’s heart sunk and never returned to his body the moment he read Amy’s handwritten message on his copy of Yes Please. She personally gave the whole cast and crew copies of her book with heartfelt dedications today. The nine original cast, though, was invited to her house for dinner as one of the last get-togethers they can squeeze in before parting ways. Rashida and Rob made sure to not let the special occasion slip.
“I was supposed to draw a kiss monster on it but thought it might be too much.” He was startled when Amy suddenly appeared beside him, the white wine from the glass he’s holding almost spilled. When did she become so sneaky? He was about to reply but she already left to finalize the table setting.
Like Leslie, she ran around the set earlier today making sure that everyone got their rightful copies, scrutinizing each and everyone’s reactions while reading her handwritten dedications. Smiling whenever she’s satisfied with the response, her glassy eyes betraying her “I’m not going to cry today, I’m reserving it for our final week.”
Like Ben, after watching everyone be in awe of her, he just wants to tell her how amazing she is and that nothing that comes from her will ever be too much for him to handle. If only he could stock it all up so he could have remnants of her even when the show ends. Where is this coming from, Adam?
They could feel it ending — goodbye kisses last a little longer, hugs become tighter, teasings turn into reminiscing. If before they had apprehensions, lately they’ve been more showy and vocal. Just a few more months won’t hurt anyone, they thought. While the whole cast was being mushy and extra clingy with each other, they figured theirs would be understandable too. Their last few months to savor and grasp. After Parks, Adam will still come home to Naomi and Amy will still have Kroll, but them, they may never have these moments again. On set, they are Leslie and Ben. On set, whatever is between them is not a crime.
Rashida helped Amy served their dinner. It was solemn despite the waves of laughter and sincere despite the puns. Jim may or may not spilled some wine amidst laughter. After dinner, Amy gathered everyone in her living room to read the passages she wrote for each of them.
It was on when she wore her eyeglasses, and Retta started distributing Kleenex. Aubrey declined and firmly believed that a single tear won’t be shed from her tonight. No one reminded her of what she said when she was silently sobbing minutes later, only received comforting back rubs from Chris and Nick. Rashida embraced Amy for a solid two minutes (which was still not enough according to Amy) when her part was read, and everyone followed suit — standing up and hugging her whenever their part was over. But the pattern was abrupt when it was Adam’s turn.
My favorite moments on set: Any time Leslie and Ben kiss.
Rob Lowe whistled a la Chris Traeger, still cheering for his favorite couple. They were all laughing but Adam can feel the heat on his cheeks creeping in.
“Ugh Adam, we can see you blushing!!” Aubrey, with her signature mocking face and tone said, which caused another fit of laughter.
Adam had a witty comeback about how she was sobbing earlier but forgot about it when he saw that trademark Poehler smile. He waited for her to finish reading his part, letting their disgust of him driving barefoot slip away, before standing up and walking towards her. Should he kiss her? He didn’t even think about it, and Amy seems to be ready when he leaned for she was already preparing to tiptoe to catch his lips. She grabbed onto his arm for support and broke the kiss when somebody forced a cough.
“Hmm, definitely my favorite part.” She giggled like it was nothing. Adam was still blushing when he went back to his seat. Their audience was smiling through their interaction, aware of whatever it may be. They will miss this, too.
Aziz made a toast, thanking Amy for hosting the dinner and for the beautiful chapter she wrote about Parks. His voice was cracking when he talked about how they changed his life. Afterward, they’ve decided that the next dinner will be at Nick’s home.
A couple more hours of simultaneously reminiscing the past and planning the future — Nick, Retta, and Jim already went home because they carpooled together. Aubrey, Chris, Rob, and Aziz followed a few minutes later. Rashida begged Amy to let her help with the leftovers and dishes, both Amy and Leslie would never allow that. Rashida did wrap-up the leftovers though, while Adam sneakily put the dishes in the washer when Amy went to the whiz palace.
“What a bummer, I really wanted to see the kids tonight!! I need to see them soon!!” Rashida said in the middle of their five minutes hug at her front door.
“I know! They miss you too, especially around the set. They’re home by Sunday, call me if you’re still free then.”
“I would love that, and I love you, Amy.” She squeezed her tighter when the latter replied with so much more intensity. “Sure you’re not coming, Adam? I can drop you off.” Rashida looked at Adam who had three glasses of wine.
“Oh no thank you, I brought my car and just need to sober up a little. You take care.”
Before leaving, Amy made sure Rashida knows how much she loves her for the 10th time that night. When Rashida told her to “be careful” with a wink while walking towards her car, Amy thought that it was the wine speaking and she shouldn’t let her drive. She assured her best friend that she is safe to do so.
Amy was reorganizing the stack of plates inside the dishwasher when she felt arms around her middle and a chin on her shoulder. Wow, she almost forgot that he’s still here.
“You’re really not going to miss me?” He smells like lemons...and possibility, she thought.
“What, your stupid face and dry sense of humor? Never!” A soft laugh, the sound he won’t be hearing every day anymore, filled her kitchen.
"Really? Not even this?" He turned her around before she can even answer and when she gasped, it was his lips that caught the sound. Her back hitting the sink, his hand automatically rubbing the discomfort away. It was chaste and lasting, and definitely not platonic. When she broke the kiss, slightly panting, he moved his hands from her waist to cover his face.
"I'm- I'm so sorry," white wines and repressing feelings are a bad combination, he noted. The hesitation made him taste like loyalty and the vanilla ice cream from their dessert earlier.
"Are you getting that kiss monster that I didn't put in my message?" This is her talent, trying to alleviate any situation. Even under the kitchen light, she glows brighter than the sun.
He smiled, the dorky smile he would give Leslie whenever she's behind the podium doing what she does best. She didn't want to but thinking about Adam giving that smile to his future new tv wife stings.
"Yes," he tilted his head and added, "and I think with how few our kissing scenes are this season, it's in our own hands to get all the kiss monsters before this ends."
Her smirk turned into worry, biting her bottom lip, "And I think we should be mature enough to talk about this."
As if on cue, flashbacks of their years together flooded them. Laughing between takes, secret handshakes, working together even during the break to be with each other, late-night New York City walks, watching films in cinemas, joining her in improvs, friendly dinner dates, sneaky trailer visits, strolling around Paris and San Francisco. How do we stop from here? How do we end something that never had a proper beginning?
He closed his eyes, his hand brushing his hair, the other was grabbing hers and lacing their fingers. Thinking hard and long, making sure to form the right sentences, praying for forgiveness for the wrong decisions, banishing the image of his wife and kids from his brain.
"I think we should make this last," he opened his eyes and stared at her glassy blue eyes. "What we have is special, it will always be. Let's not take it for granted now that our clock is ticking. You may not do, but I'm really going to miss you. Is that okay?"
She has always been rational, so when her brain was giving her sensible thoughts and slideshow pictures of the people who will be affected by whatever comes next, she should know what to do. But this is their last remaining months, and they won’t hurt anybody because it has an expiration date, right? Oh god, she hates his dreamboat face so much. Why does he smell like future and peppermint now?
“It’s okay, and contrary to popular belief, I’m going to miss you too. Maybe even your butt. You’re right, we should not take this for granted.”
When he leaned and their mouths meet, her hand flying to his nape while he was lifting her to the kitchen counter before settling between her legs — it’s the point of no return. This time there were no barriers, no other people, no internal debates, only them.
When she unbuttoned his polo and he felt her nipple through her shirt. When she moaned as he nips her neck while desperately removing her jeans. His guttural groan when she held him in her soft powerful hands as he cups her now free breasts. The blue in her eyes thinning as the black dominates. When she rolled her eyes along with her hips when he slid a finger inside her.
This is for what should have been and what should have not. For all the restraint feelings over the years. For every sex Leslie and Ben must have had. For every kiss Leslie and Ben won’t have. For the times they texted each other when the smallest of thing reminded them of the other. For the future times she will be on his tv, and he on hers, but there’s only hesitation and longing. For all the maybe’s and but’s, and in between. For them.
Helping both of them recover from high, foreheads touching, tucking a blonde hair behind her ear. He, in his faintest voice, whispered,
“I love you and I like you, too.”
2. Adam Scott smells like... lemons and possibility. Future and peppermint. Loyalty and vanilla ice cream.
“You two still kind of act like you’re married, in a nice way. Is it nice to be married on tv but not in real life?” Amy asked Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner during their interview for Entertainment Weekly’s Hart to Hart reunion. Adam looked at her, smiled, and suddenly realized how hard that question is.
It’s an honor for them doing this interview. Hart to Hart’s opening credits was what they reenacted in Amy’s episode on The Greatest Event in Television History which Adam produced, and so they’re very familiar with the work and rapport Stefanie and Robert shared.
“We-While we were making our thing, we were watchi-we watched the credit sequence over and over again and I remember we decided that you guys were great friends in real life and we could just tell by the way you just behaved with each other on the show that you were- loved each other very much in real life. We could see that sort of respect and affection there is. It’s very apparent.” Amy watched him form his thoughts into actual verbal sentences, noticing the faintest smile he has. She cannot help but have flashbacks of who they are and how they behaved on the show. All the laughter and teasing between takes, the way they always hang out when the day gets wrapped, squeezing in projects where they can work together. She wonders if people who watch them can see what they saw with Stefanie and Robert, respect and affection, and a relationship that has a very thin line bordering into an affair.
“And we recognized it because Adam and I hate each other in real life, and so we saw the opposite.” She quickly said, making sure it sounded like a real statement, earning a chuckle from the two.
When Adam replied “Yes, we do not speak and I think it’s apparent when you watch us on our show.” also making sure it came in a matter-of-factly manifesto, Amy gave him her signature cackle.
They do not talk about it, but how their banters always fall perfectly together somehow feels like coming home. They’ve unlocked the level of comfort that no other costar of them in the past ever did, love interest wise. They love talking trash about the other during interviews, knowing that no matter how dignified they imply the hatred they have for each other; no one would buy it. Sometimes they try to convince their selves that they really do hate each other, because now it’s harder to pretend they’re not in love than to act in love.
"Did we just convince The Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner to take us to dinner soon?” Adam asked while they were walking to their separate trailers.
“We absolutely did!” Amy raised her hand for a high five, to which Adam gladly responded a little more enthusiastic than he intended it to be.
“Oww!” They both grunted after an incredibly loud and painful slapping of hands.
“Come here.” She was about to ask why but Adam was already grabbing her hand and lifting her palm to his lips.
She watched him kiss the pain away, confused and dumbfounded. It’s always the littlest of things that can catch her off guard. Adam texting her pictures that reminded him of her and their inside jokes. Adam bringing her favorite snacks. Adam watching them shoot scenes when he is not even in the call sheet, all so that he can freely laugh and give her a thumbs up when she happens to look at his direction. Adam prioritizing her comfort and safety in whatever situation they are in. Adam. Just Adam and his stupid face parts, in general, makes her feel feelings. Feelings she need to enclose in a tight container and throw in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Heyy, Amy?” He carefully settled her hand down.
“Is it nice to be married on tv but not in real life?” He continued; their walking resumed. Suddenly her questions are being back fired at her? Unfair.
Amy halted, only five steps away from her trailer, “I'm starving. Should we get dinner?” She’s not getting into this conversation with an empty stomach, it is ill advised.
"You have the best ideas. Have it delivered here.” Adam opened her trailer’s door for her, letting himself in after.
He sat on her couch, opening the Evian water Amy offered him. “So?” He followed up.
“Food will arrive in 40 minutes. The traffic here in LA is crazy, I’ll never get used to it.”
“And the traffic in Manhattan is acceptable?” He said, tightening the cap of his water bottle.
“Hey, I never said that. There’s a reason New Yorkers are very fit. We have no choice but to walk most days.” Amy sat at the end of the couch, comfortably crossing her legs.
“Remember when we walked forever to catch a film in Brooklyn? Most cardio I ever did in my whole life.”
“You said it was worth it though, all for Batman.”
“And you said that Christian Bale should be threatened by me, the real Batman.” His chuckle after and Amy’s laughter that followed are something that he will never take for granted. Making her laugh and laughing with her? Free therapy.
“So?” Adam tried again.
“I told you, food will be here in a few minutes,” Amy started to stand up and stride towards the kitchen “I’ll go check if we have anything in the pantry if you’re so hungr-”
“No, I mean,” Adam grabbed both her hands, pulling her into his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck while his rested on her stomach. Every move is a force of habit.
“I mean, going back to my earlier question, is it nice to be married on tv but not in real life?” He stared at her while rubbing the exposed skin on her waist.
“If anyone sees us like this, they would never guess we’re not married.”
“Which reminds me that last week when I was at Trader Joe’s, someone asked me where my wife Amy Poehler is. Not the first time, but always gets me.”
“Not bad. I only get asked if you really have a cute butt.” She cackled while pulling strands of hair on his nape. He kissed the closest part of her that his lips can reach, her clavicle. His crinkled eyes and nose matched hers when he looked back at her.
“Our marriage is valid in every studio lot. It’s in the contract.”
“Wow, in every studio lot? No wonder you keep offering me jobs. You minx!” Amy said with her mouth open and a hand on her chest, feigning betrayal and surprise.
Adam did his best to hide his grin by rolling his eyes but it only made the woman on his lap cackle harder.
“It is nice to be married on tv but not in real life. Stefanie and Robert were right. We never had domesticated fights. My loud snoring will never keep you up at night and I don’t have to deal with your strong principle of driving barefoot everyday. We’ll never be on the brink of divorce which is amazing.” The mention of divorce made his grip on her waist tighter, he was her safe space during her rawest moment last year and he never wants to see her in that state again.
She laced their fingers as she tried to continue, “But sometimes there are disadvantages.”
“Care to elaborate?”
Where is her food? Her hatred for LA traffic intensifies with every word that comes out of her mouth.
“Not having the right to feel feelings outside of studio lots. Knowing and understanding that we both have separate personal lives and families that we prioritize. Realizing that whatever we have right now ends the moment the show ends. What are we doing, Adam?”
“Then I’ll keep offering you jobs,” Amy gave him a small smile and shook her head, her blue eyes are now glassy. “Amy, you’re in my personal life and you’re part of my family. I’m sorry for this, for confusing you, for offering you something you cannot possibly and publicly take, for not fighting for it. But you’ll never lose me, you have to know that. All the lines may be blurry but that one’s crystal clear.”
“This is very dangerous and is on the edge of hurting other people. People we love.” She was about to get off his lap, inquire where their food is, and blame them for this whole conversation.
Adam firmly held her, no plan of ending the discussion. “Can we just please- can we- can we just enjoy what we have while we have it? They’re not going anywhere, Amy, the people we love. It’s them at the end of the day. It’s nice to be married on tv but not in real life, yes. Leslie and Ben will never have a divorce, great. But there are weekends, filming breaks, and 4 ams where I look for you – and somewhere in between those almost 4 years, I realized, you make me want to sin.”
“I know.” She smiled, resting her forehead on his. Debating if she should tease him about how he almost lived in UCB just to make sure he doesn’t miss any of her performances during their filming breaks. For a man with several projects and a family, he has so much time for her. It was questionable, but sweet.
One wrong move and every closed dam can spill, occasionally they let it. He angled his head to catch her lips and she automatically opened her mouth for him. Amy grabbed the couch behind him for support while his thumb rubs her cheek. The thing is: this isn’t new, or the first, or the last. But it feels like those three combined every time.
When you’re at the top of a roller coaster and it’s about to go down, you start questioning your horrible decisions and hating yourself for putting you in such a terrifying position, your whole life and everyone you love flashes before your eyes. There is no backing out, no use regretting. The only way to get through it is to actually go through it – so you hold tight, close your eyes, and enjoy the ride. This is what it feels like for the both of them, of whatever is between them. The certainty of uncertainty. The lingering guilt. The constant battle of doubts and regrets and what ifs. Waves of longing and denying. Always longing but denying. But not now. Maybe today they can feel. After all, everything is legal inside a studio lot. It’s in the contract.
Adam was helping her maneuver on his lap for him to properly hold her and for her to kiss him deeply. His hand was traveling under her blouse when a phone rang and it was like five buckets of cold water were poured on them. These moments they surreptitiously share always have wakeup calls – sometimes they’re thankful, most of the time defeated.
Amy kissed him on the cheek and went back to her comfortable position before, still on his lap and in his arms. “You think Parks can have eight films after it ends like Hart to Hart?”
He tucked a loose blonde hair behind her ear, “Maybe even ten. I’ll help produce.”
“Will we resent each other decades from now for some reason and won't have that Stefanie-and-Robert-esque camaraderie?”
"Amy Poehler: actress, director, writer, host, future Emmy and Golden Globes winner, doubts and hates Adam Scott. That's you."
"That's me. That is all me, although I don't think I'll ever win anything. You know I'm the queen of the losers." A soft cackle while she resumed her work pulling strands of hair on his nape.
"Oh, you're always a winner to me. Give it time, you'll see." It’s rarely visible, and Amy thinks it’s unfair, but if you look very closely under the right amount of light, the black of his eyes dominates his usual chocolate brown ones – almost always reserved for her.
Three knocks and food finally arrived. One quick smack on the lips, a little squeeze on the arm before letting her go to open the door.
“Yeah?” He was already slicing chicken into tiny pieces and putting it and vegetables on her plate.
“Do you think Stefanie and Robert had what we have?”
“Let’s ask them on our dinner.”
Amy grabbed her plate from him, “You have the best ideas.” A silent thank you in between.
She realized, while chewing her salad and watching Adam open her bottle of water – she's willing to be his mistake.
3. The fact that: a.) these two were always seen together around New York City. b.) they had multiple projects together.