Gilfoyle’s ‘Drink Coffee Hail Satan’ mug was staring at Monica, mocking her from his workspace. A week had passed since the same mug and a very surprised Monica witnessed Gilfoyle's awkward (one might say cute) attempts at courtship. Seriously, Monica thought, who says I like you anymore? What are we, five? Of course, she didn’t tell him that, due to her mind suddenly melting. The command couldn’t be processed, and fried her memory. She couldn’t even think about what this confession meant.
But now, a week later, it’s all she’s thinking about.
Because she has her own, less childish version of ‘I like you, too' but the damn man hasn't given her any chance to utter two consecutive words in his presence. He's rushing through doors when he sees her, remains glued to his work station to such a degree that he should be worried for his bladder, and, unlike that time they drank the last drops of his treasured Pappy van Winkle, he doesn't seek her out.
It's not easy avoiding someone in open offices, Monica thinks, but the Prince of Darkness is trying his damn best.
While she is staring at the mug, hoping it holds the answer to the universe, or at least to the conundrum messing up her personal life, its grumpy-faced owner comes to view. His step visibly falters when he sees her, but he continues his way over with a stroll that seems almost feline. She would appreciate his moves much more if she saw him heading anywhere else but away from her recently.
The mug gives her an idea, a plan of attack. She’s not come this far in venture capitalism without meticulously planning her every move. If she were to wait until Gilfoyle approached her, the new internet would be ancient by then. So, mug in hand, she passes the sleep-deprived faces of the programmers and heads to the kitchen wordlessly, forcing Gilfoyle to follow her there.
Inside, she marvels at the counter, which is spotless, and the pantry, neatly organised, alphabetised, the food separated by dietetic preferences (Jared is not to be messed with) when Gilfoyle enters the room. Judging by the expression on his face, there were errors in his code or something equally enraging.
“First you drink my bourbon, then you take my mug. I didn't realise we were engaging in a ‘communist Russia’ role playing scenario. I accept payment in the form of more coffee.” He motions with his head to the coffeemaker. “Or bitcoin.”
Monica levels him with her practised “you know exactly what you did” stare and taps her fingers lightly on the back of the chair next to her.
“You are physically capable of talking to me again. Thank god!” She doesn’t even bother to mask the irony in her voice; he deserves the mocking, after all.
“That sounds overdramatic,” he responds flatly, a tiny smile threatening to break out from behind his beard.
“So is changing direction every time you see me coming.” She smiles triumphantly at his bewildered face. “What, you didn’t think I’d notice? We work together, asshole.” She feels her agitation rising. “Or at least I’m trying to work with you, but you’re making it so hard.”
“What is your point, Monica?” he asks.
“What do you think?” Her hands make gestures, seemingly having a mind of their own. ”You. Acting all weird and shit around me. At work. When we’re supposed to work together on this Atwood account. I tried to do it with Dinesh, but guess what, he doesn’t know shit about the faulty subroutine. And he kept talking to me about his Tesla, like we don’t live in Silicon Valley and it’s a rarity to be a posh manchild around here.”
Gilfoyle smirks and tries to speak, probably to insult Dinesh in an equally dark and creative way, but she doesn’t let him.
“Your weirdness is getting on my nerves. Big time. First you say ‘I like you’ as if I haven’t spent the last three years watching you being a mean sarcastic asshole and not caring about anyone’s feelings. Then you add ‘not like that’, disappear, and proceed to never mention it again. And go to extreme lengths to avoid me. So, for fuck’s sake, Gilfoyle, what is your deal?”
The initial shock has left his face and he laughs humorlessly. His eyes cast down. He sighs. “It’s time to open the box then,” he murmurs. “There is but a simple reason I didn’t wait for your answer. Or asked you afterwards.” He pauses, gathering courage and hoping that Hooli launches another attack against them, so he can leave this conversation before he says something so profoundly embarrassing that it would make Dinesh shit his pants with laughter and give him lifelong pissing material. Alas, nothing interrupts this tense silence. At her expectant stare he caves.
“-and to think I used it against Jared. How ironic that it’s come to bite me in the ass.”
‘Gilfoyle! What does it have to do with anything? And I swear to god, if you try to explain it to me as if I don’t know high school physics I’m gonna kill you.” She pauses. If she expects honesty from him, she should give him a token. ”Okay, I know about it from The Big Bang Theory. Early seasons, before it went to shit. Same thing. What does it have to do with your weird… weirdness around me?”
“Cause it’s better now that I don’t know if you’re into me, Monica! If I ask, you’ll answer-”
“That’s how questions work!”
“-And possibly shoot me down. Hard, if the way you’re looking at me right now is anything to go by. Whatever impression I’ve given you, I actually care about what you think of me.”
“The fuck do I know? I just do. A scary amount.” He continues, uncharacteristically serious. “So I let our thing be in both theoretical states of existence and non-existence cause I’m not damn ready to kill the cat yet.”
“Aren’t cats sacred for you? Satan’s pet and all that?”
“Yes. Plus they mind their own business and that’s something I respect. But that’s not…” he pauses. “Okay. Let’s open the box. Make it quick.”
“Ask me, then,” she says defiantly.
“That would be awkward. Are you confusing me with Dick?”
“You said it, Gilfoyle. You have to open the box. Ask me. In this century. We both have work to do.”
“Technically, I don’t. I completed the code check early so my only task now is to rub it in Dinesh’s face.”
She stares at him dead in the eyes, reminding him of the time he had a very interesting question about her annulled marriage. He’s not going to back down this time.
“If we could somehow ignore the fact that we work together 15 hours a day and that anything more than a friendship would jeopardize our jobs, would you like to have a beer with me? Or food. Anything that doesn’t involve work or the guys or anyone else except me and you.”
The intensity of his words should scare her, it would be too much coming from anyone else, but Gilfoyle’s decisiveness is welcome.
“Even if I wanted one of your weird russian beers?” she asks, trying unsuccessfully to hide her smile.
He takes a moment to fake-think about it. “That could be arranged.” A small smile breaks from behind his beard and his eyes radiate this calm sense of happiness he has when completing a particularly challenging subroutine. And they are focused solely on hers.
“Good” is all the affirmation he needs to slowly move closer to her, searching her face. He seems to find whatever he’s looking for and takes a final step to bring their torsos to almost touching. She angles her face up to his, relishing the novelty which somehow feels familiar.
“There’s only one problem.” She bites her lip and worry flows through his body like an electric shock. (Attraction flows too, because, come on, it’s Monica. But mainly worry.)
“I fucking knew it. It was too good. What’s wrong?” she finds stressed looks cute on Gilfoyle. “Did Dinesh tell you anything? Is this why he’s been so smug lately?” The layers of stress give way to concern, as he brings his hand to the side of her face and cradles her head.
“I am not a cat person.” Her smile is blinding, like it wasn’t mere seconds ago that she almost gave him a heart attack.
“Well, you kept this cat alive.” He closes the last centimeters until their noses touch and his lips find hers, the contact making him instantly aware of how much he’s craved this moment.
As her lips slide to his her hands find his chest, he marvels at how he hadn’t imagined a kiss between them for a long time but these last months the thought of it hunts his dreams. It’s everything he didn’t know he needed and he gets lost in the sensation. His hands move to her neck, angling her head to deepen the kiss. Every breath he takes brings a taste of her in his mouth and he feels warmer than the seven depths of hell. Monica fights him for control (unlike business, now she fights dirty) nipping at his lips and testing his resolve in this very public, glass covered kitchen.
The brief thoughts of privacy and coworkers leaves his mind as her hands explore his chest and anchor to his beat up flannel. Her touch is firm but exploratory, both realising that it’s one of these moments where time gets suspended, a little bling in the space-time continuum allowing them to relish this careless affection.
He chases her lips, his scruff tingling her lightly and they forget momentarily about Pied Piper, the New Internet, coin prices and remaining funding. There is no Jared making rules for office behaviour or Richard in the verge of his monthly crisis or Dinesh trying to be as annoying as a human can be. There is just them, the hum of promise surrounding them and the air clear of their worries.
Her nails join at the back of his neck and he can’t remember the last time a simple touch carried so much promise. He rests his forehead on hers and they close their eyes in silent agreement that they will figure this thing out.
Minutes after, as he makes two bowls of cereal with Monica hugging him from behind and alternating between trash talking his cooking skills, kissing and biting the juncture of shoulder to get him to make a mess, one thing is clear. He’s never been more grateful that she bullied him to open that damn box and peer inside. Hopefully into his future.