james first starts following paul martin on twitter as a joke — yeah, martin’s a great center fielder, kicking ass for the pirates after a trade from the twins, but also he’s hot as fuck.
"i’d tap that," james says, drawling it into geno’s shoulder because the stadium beer has been a lot. “i’d tap that and respect him in the morning and ask him out for brunch.”
"not even second best sport and you perving on player? pathetic, lazy," geno replies. sunshine taught him "perving" yesterday. geno’s been using it basically only with james ever since.
"he’s hot,” james replies, squinting at the replay that shows martin squinting and looking fine with a capital f before pulling out his phone. “he probably, like, dates people. he has that — that look. y’know. a dater.”
"you stalking?" geno asks, and james scowls.
“no,” he lies. or, well, half lies. is it stalking to follow someone on twitter?
about a week later, pr gets wind of the fact that james has maybe gone to like the pirates’ entire homestand, if not the reasons why, and fucking swoops in.
"this is great,” jen says on the phone as james stares at his plate of burned eggs. “if we can work this, you know, tap into you guys as part of pittsburgh, one with the fans, it’ll create a lot of goodwill.”
"oh," james replies, taking a bite of egg. "i — okay."
he doesn’t mention the part where he kind of keeps up with paul martin’s everything on twitter. he posts a lot of shirtless pictures. it’s very good for james.
it’s also through twitter that james learns paul’s moving to the house right across the street from him.
new place! going to have fun meeting the neighbors, the tweet reads, along with a picture that’s of the house literally right there, right. there.
it takes all of james’ self-control not to walk himself over there and do — something. give him a welcome basket? unlikely. james’ inability to cook is pens legend by now.
of course, he gets distracted when the doorbell rings. standing up to open it, he finds —
"paul martin," paul says, smiling and sticking out a hand. "i just moved in across the street."
"i — hi," james says, feeling a flush creep up his neck. "hi, i — i’m james. neal. james neal. nice to meet you too."
it takes him a few seconds to realize paul’s waiting to shake his hand, so he reaches out to take it.
"well, james neal," paul says, smiling at him, "i’m looking forward to getting to know you. you’re on the pens, right?"
"i — yeah," james replies, blinking at paul. "that’s me."
"you know, i played back in high school," paul says, because of course he did. of course the hot minnesotan played hockey, because james’ life is very hard.
"oh! that’s — wow. we should like, go skate sometime," james says, and paul’s smile almost seems to get bigger.
"for sure," he says, voice lilted a little, and oh shit, things just got a whole lot worse for james than a little twitter stalking.
“Pew pew pew” -church interior designer