“One week, Kaling, you hear me? One week.”
“What, you afraid I’m going to cramp your style or something? Do you have lady friends just waiting in the wings for the moment I’m gone?”
“You say that like it’s not possible.”
“You’d let me stay for a year if I need to, B,” she says, lugging her suitcase past him. “And you know it.”
B.J. studies Mindy as she heads towards the back guest room and rolls his eyes. He likes to think he’s fairly familiar with women in general—tall ones, short ones, old ones, young ones. He’s got variety in his life. But he’s never seen any woman pack the way Mindy does. No one needs a suitcase big enough to fit a human for one week’s worth of clothes.
“Can you grab my other bags?” she calls back, and when he spots the four other totes sitting by his front door, he feels like maybe inviting her to stay was a bad idea.
When he carts everything into the guest room and drops them unceremoniously onto the bed next to her, she beams up at him. “You’re regretting this already, aren’t you?”
“Is my apprehension coming off that strongly?”
“Nah. I just know you that well.” She stands, winding her arms around his waist and pulling him in close to her. “Thank you, though. Seriously. Cockroaches are the worst.”
He’s never been able to frown for long around her. Not when she smiles at him the way she does. “Yeah, well,” he acquiesces, reaching up to push her hair out of her eyes. “I couldn’t let the fumigation get you. Who else could I text to bring me mint chip ice cream at one in the morning?”
“Ain’t nobody else like me,” she says with a grin, dropping a quick kiss on his nose.
As he leans against the doorframe and watches her unpack, her mountain of dresses and blouses and jeans piling up precariously, he has to agree. Nobody else like her, indeed.
“I told you I have to be out of here by eight!”
“You would’ve been if you hadn’t hit the damn snooze button seven times! The walls in this condo are thin, I heard you!”
“How was I supposed to know you were going to take an hour in the bathroom?”
“Oh my god, it’s like you completely forgot what it was like to have me sleep here!”
B.J. hops around on one foot, chasing down the other shoe that has somehow wound up over by his couch. “I was a lot more forgiving the last time you slept here,” he argues. “I got sex.”
“Ugh, you are so gross!” Mindy says, pulling back her hair and checking herself in the hall mirror. “I cannot believe I ever slept with you.”
“We are not having that discussion again.” It really is amazing how easily she can drive him up the wall.
She turns away from the mirror, hunting something down inside her purse. “I should’ve asked to stay with Brenda this week.”
“Hey, I’m not stopping you!”
Mindy rolls her eyes. “You’re infuriating.”
“And you’re making me late.” B.J. shrugs on his jacket, grabbing his bag. “You going to the WB lot today?”
“Come on,” he says, pulling open the front door. “I’ll drive.”
She gives him a little smile as she passes him and steps out into the hallway. “We have time to stop for bagels, though, right?”
Staying mad at Mindy, B.J. has learned, is the world’s most impossible feat. “Of course.”
I’m going to be running late, he texts, phone hidden discreetly under the desk at his table read. You okay for dinner?
No, comes the reply not a minute later. I’m a child. I’ll starve and cry because you aren’t home to feed me. Then I’ll try and use the stove and accidentally burn the condo down..
I hate your sarcasm.
I’ll be fine, Dad, she texts back. Good luck with the read!
B.J. thinks his producer catches him smiling at his lap when he puts his phone away.
When the table read finishes up almost two hours later, B.J.’s pretty sure that his stomach is on the verge of eating itself. He’d been so busy that day that he’d barely had time to scarf down a wrap for lunch, and now he’s feeling more than a little cranky and ready to rip someone’s head off if anyone gets too close.
He considers stopping someplace on his way home to grab something to eat—even someplace like In-N-Out would be good enough to tide him over until he could dig some leftovers out of his fridge for dinner—but it’s almost seven and the rush hour traffic is still going strong. A stop anywhere would likely add close to an hour to his commute, and he can’t say for sure what disasters hunger plus road rage might bring. So he grits his teeth, sucks it up, and heads directly home.
A tiny part of him hopes Mindy won’t be there when he gets in. It’s a part that makes him feel bad, but still. With the way he’s feeling, an argument could erupt at any second. And the last thing he needs that night is to worry about accidentally committing murder.
But she’s there, sure enough, curled up on the couch with a plate of pasta balanced on her knees. He braces himself instantly, almost as a reflex, trying to talk himself down from an argument that hasn’t even started yet.
“Hi,” she says, shooting him a smile and gesturing back towards the kitchen. “I made enough for two. There’s plenty on the stove still for you.”
He pauses, shoes halfway off, staring at her in surprise. “There is?”
“Of course,” she says. “I know how you get when you haven’t eaten all day. And you’re letting me stay, so it’s seriously the least I could do.”
B.J. feels a warmth spread over his chest. “I—thanks. Thank you.”
“Grab a plate, babe. Project Runway is on.”
When he settles onto the couch beside her, a heaping plate of food in his hands, he barely watches the TV. His gaze keeps sliding to her, watching her expression as she encourages her favorites and moans over the weak designs as if the contestants on the show can actually hear her.
He’d forgotten what it was like, having her here. That comfort, the caring—someone else looking out for his needs and making him smile. It was like he’d been missing her, even though she’d been there the whole time.
“Come out with me tonight.”
“Why do you whine half your words?”
“B.J.! You’re such a jerk. Today was long and stupid, and I want to go out. I’ll buy you a martini and you can swirl it and look like a douche. You love that!”
“You’re the worst,” he tells her, but the smile on his face gives himself away. She bounces and presses a kiss to his cheek, and he feels himself flush.
“Come on,” she says. “You’ll love this place.”
The billiards hall is fairly dark, with pot lights above each table. It isn’t too crowded, given that it’s still a weekday, and none of the players even look their way when Mindy picks out a table and heads towards it.
“Rack ‘em up,” she says, reaching for a pool cue. “I’m going to kick your ass.”
It’s like she’s forgotten how many times he’s beaten her at this game.
Half an hour later, all of B.J.’s striped balls have been sunk, and he’s bent over the table with his eye on the black ball. It’s blocked from the white ball with about five of Mindy’s solid ones, and he groans in frustration.
“It’s like you play your own weird little way,” he says, stepping back to try and assess another angle for his shot. “It’s like you play ‘block B.J.’s winning shot’ instead of trying to actually get your own balls in the pocket.”
She shrugs, sipping on her vodka cranberry through a cocktail straw and blinks up at him innocently. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He lines up to take the shot, and her green ball flies across the table and lands in a pocket, leaving the black ball completely untouched. Mindy cackles, beaming at him and doing a little dance as she moves in to take her own next shot. She’s so adorably over the top whenever she stands a chance at losing a game that he can’t help but grin as he watches her. Somehow, her cheating doesn’t bother him at all. She’s having fun. He likes that.
“What?” she asks, and he blinks at her, a little thrown. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I’m not looking at you like anything,” he says quickly, averting his eyes back towards the table. “I’m plotting ways to take you down.”
She shakes her head, smiling a little his way as she leans down over the table. “Weirdo.”
“You’re the weirdo.” Not his best effort by a long shot, but he’s a little flustered. She’s good at doing that to him.
Her next shot sends the white ball clear across the table, absolutely nowhere near her own balls or the black one that he’s still trying to sink. “Ha!” she says proudly. “Try and win now, big shot.”
“Oh, you just wait,” he says, “and I will.”
He won’t. He likes watching her gloat and celebrate too much to take that away from her. And suddenly, seeing her happy is way more important to him than settling any imaginary score they have going.
He watches her pretend to line up another shot and shakes his head, unable to keep an affectionate smile off his face. It’s official—he’s in real trouble.
“No, but you don’t get it! He’s her lobster! Does that mean nothing to you?!”
“No, actually, lobsters don’t mean anything to me.”
“Oh my god! You’re the least romantic person on the planet. You wouldn’t recognize romance if it sat in your lap and farted on you.”
“God,” B.J. laughed, topping up her wine glass once again. “And I’m the unromantic one.”
“You cannot look at those two and tell me that they aren’t the most perfect couple in the world,” Mindy says, gesturing vaguely at the rerun episode of Friends on his TV.
“They’re not! They’re so annoying!”
“You’re so annoying,” she pouts, and he takes another swig from his wine glass.
They’ve been drinking for a couple hours now, fighting over the remote and the shows on TV. It’s just how it’s always been with them—bickering and bantering, lots of booze fueling their debates. But there’s an undercurrent, a charge between the two of them that’s new. B.J. noticed it the second they sat down together, and the more he drinks, the sharper it gets. Every time his hand lands on her arm, her knee, her shoulder, he feels it. It shoots a little jolt through him, from his chest to his groin, and it makes him want to touch her more. Makes him want to pull her in close.
Way too close.
“The only TV couple that’s worse than Ross and Rachel? Kelly and Ryan,” he tells her, and she laughs so hard she snorts a little. He leans into her a bit.
“They really were the worst,” she agrees, wiping a tear from her eye. “He treated her so fucking badly!”
“And she was insane. Like certifiably insane.”
“I can’t believe they even let us put half that stuff on TV,” she says, shaking her head. “Especially when we started telling people they were based on us. I’m surprised they didn’t send us to counselling.”
“We didn’t need counselling,” he says. “We were so much better than them.”
“Oh, way better,” she agrees. “Like, you drove me crazy, but you were the best.”
“And the sex was amazing.”
She pauses, one of her eyebrows raising and a sneaky little grin creeps across her face. “Yeah?”
“Oh yeah. Best I’ve ever had.”
“I thought so too,” she says, and he can hear it in her tone—she’s flirting. She’s thinking about him. About them.
He’s thinking about them, too.
“Too bad it was so long ago,” she adds, shaking her head. “Makes me miss it.”
He gulps down the last of his wine, setting down his glass, and then his lips are on hers. He’s pulling her closer, pressing his body right up against hers, and she’s moaning against his mouth. His hands are in her hair and she’s climbing into his lap, hiking up her skirt and grinding down onto him. He gasps when he feels her teeth scrape against his neck, and when he hears her murmur, “Finally,” against his skin, his fingers dig into her hips.
“Oh, my god, my head hurts.”
“You drank like a bottle and a half, just to yourself.”
“Fuck. And I’m naked, too. You’re seriously the worst influence.”
B.J. presses a kiss to her shoulder. “We’re terrible for each other.”
She rolls over, eyes blinking up at him as she tries to wake herself up. Her hair is mussed and she has mascara smudged under her eyes. There’s even a little bit of crust next to her mouth that’s quite probably dried drool.
She’s super gross, and super beautiful.
“We’re the worst for each other,” Mindy agrees. Then she cracks a smile. “I like that about us.”
B.J. can’t help but laugh. “Me too.”
His fingers trace circles on the small of her back. He can tell that she wants to say something—her lips press together and her eyes focus elsewhere, like they always do while she tries to piece her thoughts together into coherent sentences. He knows to wait and let her put things together on her own.
“What the hell did we do?” she asks finally.
“Did the wine wipe out your memory that badly?” he asks. “Because, I mean, there are context clues—”
“Shut up, you’re the worst.” She pokes his side. “I mean, what the hell are we doing?”
B.J. sighs, shaking his head. “I don’t know.”
“Is this…” Mindy pauses, lips pressed together again, and he waits for her again. “Was this just drunk sex? For you?”
He can feel his heart thud heavily in his chest. It’s a big deal, admitting that there are feelings involved here—that this whole thing won’t go away once they get up and get dressed. That he doesn’t want them to.
But if there’s anyone he can tell this to, it’s her.
“No,” he admits, slowly shaking his head. “This wasn’t just drunk sex for me.”
The smile that lights up her face makes his heart tapdance. “Really?”
“Would I lie to you?”
She rolls her eyes good-naturedly. “Only all the time.” Then she wriggles up towards him, eagerly pressing her lips against his own. She tastes like wine and her kiss is insistent, and his hand slides up into her hair almost automatically. It’s familiar and warm, something they’ve done thousands of times before, but this one’s special. He can feel it in his bones.
When they break apart, Mindy pokes his side again. “You’re cute.”
After a moment, she groans. “Ugh. Everyone’s going to say ‘I told you so’, you know that?”
He sighs. “Yeah. We kind of have that coming.”
She giggles, nuzzling up against him and pressing a kiss to his neck. “What, you don’t want to kill yourself now at the thought of it?”
B.J. shrugs, his arm tightening around her. “I’ll hold off for now. No promises once it actually starts happening, though.”
He hums, his face pressed into her hair. She smells like wine and sweat and sleep, and if he’s being honest, it isn’t the least bit sexy. But it’s her, and it feels like the culmination of something he’s been waiting for. Something he’s never properly been able to vocalize. And, if he’s being extra honest, it feels so damn good.
“You want to get breakfast?” he murmurs.
She lifts her head just enough to raise an eyebrow up at him. “It’s like nine in the morning and I have a wine hangover. What’s wrong with you?”
“Brunch? You can sleep for a couple more hours first.”
“Deal.” She settles back against his chest, and his heart skips a beat.
“Stay for another week.”
“My apartment’s fine by now.”
B.J. shakes his head, pressing his lips against her hair and drawing her closer under the covers. Her skin is warm against his own. “I don’t care.”
She murmurs, a contented little noise, and nuzzles against his neck. “You’re so bad for me,” she mumbles. “Keep talking like that and I’m going to want to stay forever, babe.”
His fingers trace I love you on her hip. “Who says that’s a bad thing? You’re my soup snake.”
Mindy tips her face up to kiss his jawline, and he grins. “You can keep me as long as you want me, soup snake,” she says.
“Good,” he says, wrapping his arms around her more tightly. “Forever it is, then.”