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Pennies and Dimes for a Kiss

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The morning after, Mindy wakes up at noon, the sheets twisted up around her, and hot sunshine spilling in through the billowing hotel curtains. Her head is pounding and her mouth is dry, tasting like some animal died in it during the night. Oh my god, how much did she drink last night? She turns over, closing her eyes against the bright light, and searches the nightstand for a glass of water.

Clink. Her ring taps against the side of the glass and she sits up, almost too fast, draining the room temperature water in two gulps. It's not enough. She stumbles to her feet and almost trips over the sheets, making a half-falling run to the bathroom.

The water from the tap is cold and sweet in her mouth and it isn't until she's been in the bathroom for three minutes that she realizes:

(1) She's naked. Like, really naked. Like, not-wearing-underwear-had-sex-with-some-random-dude-naked.

(2) She has no idea where she is, because she's pretty sure this isn't her hotel room.

(3) There's a ring on her finger. Not one of her fun rings that she loves, but an unfamiliar, unimpressive one. It seems fake and the plain gold band isn't something she'd pick out and why is it on...?

"Oh god, I want to die," comes a startling and familiar groan from the bed and Mindy nearly dives into the generously-sized bathtub from surprise. Guess that must be Mystery Dude. God, what possessed her?! She never does this! She doesn't sleep with strangers!

She grabs a fluffy white towel from the stack next to the tub and wraps it around her torso, pulling it snugly against her breasts, wondering how it's possible to feel embarrassed about being too naked and yet too prudish at the same time.

"Mindy?" says the voice again and she freezes. No. That shouldn't -- that would be --

She walks hesitantly into the room, creeping closer to the bed.

BJ sits up, holding his head and wincing and yup, he's pretty naked too and yup, now she sees where her underwear is -- tossed somewhere off to the side of the room and, well, there's the sex part solved.

He opens his eyes a crack and glances at her. "Hey." His voice is scratchy with sleep.

"Hey," she says back, gripping the front of the towel nervously. "Um."

He scoots over on the bed, inviting her to sit. Which, okay, first of all, it's a freaking king-sized bed. There's room for an entire immigrant family on there. And two, he's naked, and she's in a towel, and apparently they got it on last night for the first time in years, but. She sits, feeling awkward.

"How...are you?" BJ asks, in this weird affected voice, like he's trying to work something out.

Mindy shrugs, trying to look nonchalant. "You know, whatever."

"Um. So. Last night -- "

"We don't have to talk about it," she cuts him off. "It's Vegas, right? So whatever happens in Vegas -- "

"What? No, of course we have to talk about it," he interjects.

"About what? The sex? Come on, BJ, we're in our thirties. Sex is no big deal."

He gets this look all of a sudden and she wonders what she just said because it's the look that he gets when he's hurt, but he covers it up by being annoyed instead. "I'm not talking about the sex, Mindy. I'm talking about this." And he holds up his hand and she can see a gold band on his ring finger, just like the one that's on hers and ohmigod ohmigod, they didn't -- they did not -- oh god oh god oh god.

So that's the story of how they got married in Vegas. Just like she's dreamed of since she was a little girl.




The first thought Mindy has when she's finished (for the most part) hyperventilating is that her friends are going to kill her. They were supposed to be in the bridal party and everything, she had it worked out!

The second thought is that she can't believe she did the tackiest thing possible and got married in Vegas.

The third thought is that her parents are going to be so disappointed in her.

The fourth is -- they need to get an annulment, now.




"I can't believe we're married," she says numbly, for what seems like the thirtieth time, as she scrunches up in the front seat of his car.

BJ's hair is still a mess and he's paler than usual, dark sunglasses hiding his eyes. He eases them onto the highway back to Los Angeles. "You're the one who suggested it."

"You are such a fucking liar," she says, her hangover making it hard for her to summon up the energy to be angry.

"I'm not lying. We were at the hotel bar and you were on your fourth martini and you said, 'Wouldn't it be funny if we got married'."

"Oh my god, I was wasted, BJ. And it was a JOKE. Why would you ever listen to me when I'm wasted?" God, seriously, what is wrong with him? He should know her better by now.

"I was wasted too!"

Mindy leans her forehead against the cool window. "Whatever. We can get an annulment when we get back home." And they won't have to tell anyone. No one. Ever.

He doesn't say anything for a long time, until she shifts to look at him. She can't read his expression, what with his eyes hidden.

"Yeah," he says finally, his voice steady, and turns on the radio.




But there just doesn't seem to be time. Which is stupid, of course, because hello, prioritizing your life! Annulling your quickie Vegas wedding should probably be number one on the list! But she has to finish writing a script for work and then there are these meetings her agent wants her to take and she has to do this one interview and, well, BJ doesn't seem to be as alarmed as she is anyway.

Not that being married to him changes anything. They have a certificate that she stows away in her study, stuffed in a drawer in her beautiful desk that she never uses. Mindy reads it once before putting it away. It's surreal, with his full name all spelled out and her legal name, the one she barely remembers is hers, printed up and official. It feels crazy.

She saves the ring too, for no apparent reason she can fathom. She means to toss it into the trash, but instead she leaves it on her nightstand.

She kind of forgets about the whole thing though. They go to work, do their scenes, write their scripts. She goes to the gym and talks to Brenda and her mom on the phone and eats cupcakes and reads true crime novels. Before she knows it, a month has gone by and they still haven't annulled the damn thing.

"We're still married," she says, barging into his trailer on Wednesday afternoon.

He looks up from the script he's been working on. "What?"

"We're still fucking married," she repeats.

BJ twirls his pen slowly. "So?"

"I mean, we need to get that annulment!" She doesn't understand how he's so smart and so stupid, all at once.

He puts the pen down. "How do we even do that?"

"We have to get a lawyer to file papers for us in Nevada. I think." She is guessing, a little, but that must be the case, right?

BJ nods, looking back at his script again. "Okay. Why don't I come over to your place tonight and we make some calls together?"

Her immediate gut reaction is that this is a bad plan, but she can't quite articulate why. So she nods and leaves instead, feeling like something's sitting on her chest.




Even though she's been kind of mad at him with the whole secret-marriage thing, she's still glad to see him when he arrives on her doorstep, holding a bag of take-out tacos. Seriously, it smells amazing, and she immediately abandons all plans to heat up a Lean Cuisine meal for dinner.

"Do you remember what happened?" Mindy asks him, her mouth full of taco. They're eating on floor of her living room, napkins and the take-out bag sprawled around them, and Curb Your Enthusiasm muted on the television.

He reaches for his third taco. "What? The wedding?"


"Kind of." BJ takes a bite of the taco and then sets it down. "It's mostly a blur."

"Oh." She feels strangely disappointed, like she actually wanted to hear details about their Elvis-officiated ceremony. Which is ridiculous, why would she?

"I remember, uh, afterwards though," he says, really carefully, not looking at her face.

Afterwards? What -- oh. She blushes, feeling itchy and suddenly hot. "Right." She grabs a napkin and starts wiping her hands with it, trying to look busy, and her head feels dizzy.

"This isn't the worst, right? There are worse people to be married to than you," he says.

Worst. Compliment. Ever. She flares up, indignant. He's lucky to be married to her! No, no, in fact -- he's incredibly lucky to be married to her! She's loving and fun and cute and she's put up with his stupid face for six years even though he's such an insufferable douchebag and, UGH. "Benjamin Joseph -- " she starts.

But he's looking at her, intensely, serious eyes and his serious mouth and she forgets what she's going to say. "Maybe we should stay married for a bit," he says and she swears his voice shakes.

Mindy swallows. "Why?" she croaks out, feeling all the tension between them racketing up to fever pitch.

And then he moves a little closer and she's kissing him, fingers twisted in his hair, and half-sitting in his lap. Her head is swimming even though she's completely, 100% sober and the feeling of him against her, his mouth on hers, is so good, it's so good that she fleetingly wishes she could remember their wedding night. But this, well, this won't be lost in a haze of inebriation and all of a sudden she needs him naked now.

"Come on," she says, getting to her feet, and yanking him after her.

There's nothing grosser than cleaning up squashed taco off your floor the next morning. But, Mindy thinks, it was kind of worth it.




Two nights later he brings over Chinese food and the same thing happens again. Which is cool, Mindy supposes, since now they've had sex three times in the last month so it can't count as a one-night-stand, but he's also technically her husband, so... What do you call a husband slash fuck buddy slash best friend?

Actually, this is confusing and she wishes she could tell someone. She actually picks up the phone to tell Brenda five different times, but she can't even figure out how to explain it, so she just listens to the dial tone until she hangs up again.

Two nights later (again) and BJ shows up with his toothbrush as well as cupcakes. She doesn't question the toothbrush thing -- it must be gross waking up and not being able to brush your teeth -- but then he just leaves it in her bathroom in the morning, nestled in the cup next to her toothbrush. Mindy stares at it while she's flossing before bed, the toothbrush somehow making her feel lonely without him there.

You aren't coming over? she texts him when she gets into bed, before she talk herself out of it.

His reply is instantaneous. I didn't know I was invited.

She stares at the ring still sitting on her nightstand, gleaming faintly in the lamplight and writes, We are married, so I guess technically this is your house too...

It takes him thirty minutes to get to her place. She hears him knocking at her front door. He's smiling at her when she opens it, in a way that she can feel in the pit of her stomach. He kisses her hello before he's even fully inside the house.

"I missed you," Mindy says later into his neck, curled into his arms under the sheets.

He brushes his mouth against her ear. "I missed you too." But he sounds like he's grinning and she rolls her eyes. She'll never hear the end of this.




It's around the three month mark when Mindy realizes that BJ has moved in. Unofficially, of course, since he still has a place of his own, but really all his things are in her house. His clothes hang in the closet in the guest bedroom (like she's going to give him room her closet, please). The cereal he likes is in the cupboard, next to her millions of vitamins. They haven't carpooled to work, because that would be suspicious, but Mindy's been thinking about how nice it would be to be able to nap on the freeway while he drives.

And the thing is, she loves it and it makes her really happy, like incredibly happy. The fact that she is a romantic sap is a fact so poorly-disguised that she'd be surprised if people didn't know it, but in her sappiest moments, she's not sure she could have predicted being this happy. She's still not sure why they haven't told anyone, but there it is. It's probably her longest-kept secret too, which is impressive in itself.

"Can I tell Bren now?" she asks him while they're watching an Animal Planet documentary about lions. He has his arm around her, idly playing with the ends of her hair.

BJ turns his head a little and gives her a weird look. "She doesn't know?"

"Of course not. We said we weren't telling anyone."

"I didn't think Brenda or Jocelyn were included." He goes back to watching lions for a minute. "Yeah, sure, go ahead and tell her."

Mindy kisses his cheek and rests her head on his shoulder. "She's going to kill me."

"Really? That seems a little extreme."

"You say that now, but just wait until you have to identify my body, Law & Order style."

BJ gives a snort of laughter. "Yeah, that's right, I'm Mindy Kaling's secret husband you didn't know about. I'm here to identify her body."

"Sounds totally plausible, right?"

He turns towards her again, this time facing her completely, and she looks at him and god, she can feel her heart slamming against her chest right before he drops his head a little to kiss her.

Totally, stupidly happy. Who knew.




After the screaming and the threatening and the "I KNEW IT!!!!!"s, Brenda wants Mindy to throw a wedding reception. Mindy, of course, declines. Until she talks to her mom.

"You've been married for four months?!"

Mindy winces and says quickly, "I know, it's just, it happened by accident but I don't know, I'm happy..." She lists another million and a half reasons why she's actually glad that the marriage happened, rolling over anything her mom has to say.

"We need to have a wedding reception then. Properly done, back in Boston, and BJ's family should be there." Her mother is all brisk attitude and business.

"Mom -- "

"I'm happy you're happy, Mindy," her mom says, tone softening. "And he's a nice boy."

"He is," Mindy says, shifting her glance to the open door of her study. She can hear music playing from the kitchen and she knows he's washing the dinner dishes. "Thanks, Mom."

"Don't ever do this again," her mother adds before they say goodbye.

BJ's putting plates in the dishwasher when she comes into the kitchen, giving him a nervous smile. He breaks off humming a bar of something. "How did it go?"

"My mom wants us to have a wedding reception in Boston, with your family in attendance." Mindy sits down at the kitchen island, watching him fill the dishwasher with detergent.

He pauses and looks thoughtful. "It's going to be Jewish. Is that okay?"

"Please, I think my parents have forgotten that I'm not Jewish."

"Okay." BJ shuts the dishwasher and turns it on. "I'll call my parents."

"Have you told them yet?"

"I will now." He dries his hands on a dishtowel and comes over to her, setting his arms around her shoulders. "They love you anyway, so this'll be great."

Ugh, god, he's perfect, she thinks, which is stupid. He is literally the most imperfect person she's ever met, but all of a sudden she feels the overwhelming need to tell him she loves him. Instead she pushes him away slightly and hops off the stool, skirting around him to get to the living room.

"If you make me miss the Real Housewives, I will kill you," she calls to him, and plops herself down on the couch, trying to get herself under control.

Just because she loves her husband, doesn't mean she has to tell him.




She finishes the first draft of her book and foists it on him (like he hasn't read the snippets she was writing before). After ten minutes he says that he can't read when she's pacing around him and she goes shopping instead. He still isn't done when she gets home so she goes to the gym to run off her nervous energy instead, cranking up her iPod and trying to push her way through some Beyonce.

"It's great," BJ tells her when she comes back, dripping with sweat and looking particularly unattractive. "But where's that essay you said you were writing about me?"

"What was I supposed to say? Hey guys, here's an essay about my secret husband, BJ Novak! Bet you didn't know I was married!" Mindy strips off her clothes and starts for the shower.

He follows her into the bathroom. "You could have said something."

"No, I can't say anything or I'll just start word-vomiting." She gets under the spray and closes her eyes, soaking up the warmth.

BJ pokes his head around the shower curtain, persistent. "Are you ashamed of me?"

"No! I just." Mindy gives an exasperated huff and looks at him, annoyed with his pestering. "If I start talking about you, I'll be disgusting for like fifty pages. No one wants to read that. Except you, maybe, but your ego doesn't need to be any bigger."

He's silent for a second, just looking at her, and then he grins. She can't help it. She grins back.

"So...showering, huh?" he says, drumming his fingers against the tile wall next to the shower curtain. Yeah, she really fell for a smooth operator.

"Get in here," she says and turns around for the shampoo.




"Maybe it's time for Ryan and Kelly to get married," Mindy announces breezily to the other writers while they're thinking of ideas for a cold open. Out of the corner of her eye she sees BJ nearly fall out of his chair. She gloats silently to herself as she gazes wide-eyed and innocently around the room.

"You just want to write another wedding episode so you can get nominated for an Emmy again," Gene says.

"No, I was thinking for a cold open idea," she says and then sticks her tongue out at Gene, so very maturely. "Like, they've been secretly married for a while and now they're getting a divorce."

Jen looks thoughtful. "That could totally work."

"What? Ryan and Kelly just announce that they're getting a divorce?" BJ says. Mindy can't read his eyes from across the room.

"Yeah," she says back, challenging him, like you wanna go? "It'd be a great joke."

The others shrug and nod and make noises of general agreement. She holds BJ's gaze for a minute longer before she turns away.

At lunch she's behind him in line for food.

"Ryan and Kelly got secretly married, huh?" he asks once they're out of the line, standing close together.

She eats a piece of lettuce and doesn't look at him. "Yeah."

"How'd you come up with that idea?"

"Um, you know, my comedic genius."

"Really?" He lowers his voice. "Seems a bit autobiographical."

"I wouldn't know anything about that," she says and brushes past him to go eat with Jenna and Angela.

Mindy thinks it's the end of that, but he brings it up again when they're getting ready to go to bed.

"Do you think they got married by accident?" He gets into the bed and lies down, staring at her.

"You mean, were they really wasted and got hitched at whatever the Scranton version of a Vegas chapel is?"


"Most assuredly, yes."

BJ seems almost disappointed, but then he shifts and turns off the light. She presses herself against him, listening to him breathe in the dark.

"I think he genuinely likes her," he says softly.

"Of course he does," she murmurs drowsily. "But he's also a dickbag. So."

He gives a gentle little laugh and wraps his arm around her and she falls asleep, feeling warm and happy.




The Ryan and Kelly cold open goes over well and no one suspects a thing.

Obviously. People are unobservant. Even so, they have yet to carpool together. It's one thing to suggest and another thing to tell.




Their wedding reception is relatively small, just family and close friends, and a buffet spread of some Indian-Jewish mix, with a little Japanese thrown in for good measure. Mindy gets to decide what the colors should be and what the centerpieces are and she's in a new dress, so, it's almost like a real wedding? It's nice to be outside at any rate, the weather not too hot, and Mindy takes a sip of her champagne, the bubbles tickling her nose. BJ looks good, but he's always cleaned up well.

His relatives tell her "mazel tov" and "welcome to the family!" and they do the glass-breaking thing anyway, for his parents. Although it's kind of fun.

"What if we get divorced now?" she asks him later in their hotel room at the Copley. She lies down on the huge bed, hair fanned out beneath her, happy-drunk, her head buzzing with alcohol.

BJ crawls up next to her and lies down too, kicking off his shoes. "It'd be such a waste of a party."

She turns on her side and kisses him, her palm against his cheek.

"I love you," he says when she pulls away for a quick breath. "I thought I'd say it. Since we're married and all."

She can't help herself and gives him this smug, satisfied smile and says airily, "I know. Since we're married and all." But really her heart is going crazy and she hopes her smug smile is smug enough and not just lunatic happy.

"Mmm," BJ hums and leans in for another kiss.

"I love you too," she says against his mouth.

"I know," he parrots back at her. "Since we're married and all."

Asshole. She's totally taking it back. But she doesn't get a chance to at that minute, and then it's forgotten. The next morning they take a walk across Boston Common to Frog Pond, shoulders bumping, but not willing to hold hands (cameras everywhere!). Mindy's kind of into this whole secret-marriage thing. It's hot.

They sit on a bench and he lets his legs splay a little so their knees are touching.

"I think I'm going to sell my place when we get back to LA." He toys with the coffee container in his hand, turning it around and around. "What do you think?"

"Yeah, there's absolutely no way I'm giving up my house."

"Our house?"

She makes a face at him. "Our house."

He gives her a look like he wants to kiss her and she shivers a little. Seriously though, why doesn't everyone have secret husbands? It's like the biggest turn-on ever.

BJ reaches over and gives her knee a light squeeze, even though there are tons of people around, and goes back to drinking his coffee. She takes out her Blackberry and texts Bren a picture of Frog Pond and they sit there like that for a while longer, quietly, and Mindy thinks that she could get used to this.




It's 9 PM when they get back to LA, feeling sluggish and tired from the flight. Mindy bounces on her feet as they wait for their bags at the luggage claim, BJ side-eyeing her with an expression torn between fondness and exasperation. She ignores him. She has to work off her excess energy.

"Let's go to In-N-Out," she says when they get into his car. "I'm starving."

She expects him to argue that he's tired or something, but instead he shrugs, "Okay", and pulls out of the parking space.

Twenty minutes later they're devouring burgers and fries and ugh, nothing tastes better than this. Mindy offers BJ the rest of her fries when he finishes his and he takes them, eating them slowly, one at a time.

"I have something for you," he says.

"It's not your penis, is it?"

He rolls his eyes. "No -- hey -- I'm trying to have a moment with you."

"With greasy burger napkins in my lap?" she exclaims. Seriously, he could've picked better timing. But she's intrigued despite herself. "Okay. Fine. What is it, Benjamin?"

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a ring box and -- it's silly because they're already married, but. He opens it and it's a beautiful, slightly-over-the-top (which is just how she likes it) wedding band with diamonds. Mindy takes a small, slow breath and the air in the car smells like mustard and fried foods and wow, really, there was definitely a better moment he could've picked. Like, any other moment ever.

"To replace the shitty one," he says, like the romantic he is. Charmer.

"I like the shitty one," she says, but she's reaching for this one all the same. Its weight is heavy on her ring finger and when she moves her hand, the diamonds catch the glow of the lights from the parking lot and shimmer faintly.

"So I should return this one?" BJ leans towards her, as if he's going to take the ring back.

Mindy snatches her hand away. "No! I mean, um, this one is fine. Whatever."

He grins and eats another fry. "I guess we're really married then, huh?"

"Yeah," she says, still admiring the ring. "I guess we are." In it for life and everything, she supposes. Kids down the line (not too far down the line) and growing old together and, wow, she thinks. Wow.

BJ nods. "So...wanna go home and make microwave popcorn and watch what's on our DVR?"

She winds her hand around his and nods, kind of feeling like she might cry and he'll be alarmed and wonder what he's said and it's not even -- it's perfect. He hums a strain of something and smiles at her and marriage is awesome. Seriously.




Eventually the public does find out, of course. But by then it doesn't change anything. He's still the last thing she sees before she closes her eyes and the first thing she sees when she opens them. They still go to In-N-Out at 10 at night and argue about jokes over dinner and watch reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm on Sunday afternoons when they're hungover and lazy.

It kind of seems like how things were always supposed to be.

Mindy probably won't ever stop threatening to annul their marriage whenever she gets pissed though. But that's okay. It keeps him on his toes.

It's what wives do, right?