"Ryan's only in it to get laid," Mindy says. She's spinning a pen on her hand between her thumb and first finger. "Obviously." The room's having a discussion of what Ryan and Kelly's relationship entails, exactly, and the consensus is coming down on her side.
"I don't know," BJ says. "They've been together a long time for it to just be sex. I think there's more to it than that."
"What, you think their relationship has secret depths?" Mindy says, laughing.
BJ looks at her across the table. "I just think that secretly he likes her a lot," he says. Mindy blinks at him a couple of times.
Jennifer starts talking about Ryan's relationship with the cameras, and when BJ glances back at Mindy, she's still looking at him steadily, like she doesn't know what to make of him. He wonders if she ever misses him. He misses her sometimes, even though they see each other every day.
"Shut up, Schur, " BJ says.
"What's that?" Gene says as he and Lee stroll into the room.
"BJ's got a plan to win her back," Michael says from where he's deep in an armchair, and throws a peanut in the air, catching it in his mouth. It's the first one he's caught out of the last five he's thrown, and he holds up his hands in a touchdown signal.
"I do not," BJ says.
"Oh yeah?" Michael says.
"I was just helping you with your script."
"By telling me that Ryan and Kelly should make out," Michael says.
"Oh really," Lee says.
"It fits with the story - " BJ starts, but he's drowned out by a chorus of catcalls. "Shut up," he says, raising his voice to talk over them, "fuck you guys."
"BJ and Mindy, sitting in a tree," Michael starts, but then Mindy walks into the room and he turns it into a cough.
"What was that?" Mindy says. "I just heard 'sitting in a tree.'"
BJ rolls his eyes and jumps in. "Michael was just talking about Gene and Lee's homoerotic sexual tension."
"Please," Lee says. "Our sexual tension is totally heterosexual." And he and Gene are off, talking about which one has to be the girl. The results of an informal poll taken eight minutes later will conclusively answer that it's Gene.
Mindy flops down on the black leather couch next to BJ and steals a carrot stick from his plate.
"Get your own," he says, but she just looks at him and takes a bite, deliberately. She smells nice. It's probably some $75 perfume he'll be able to read an essay about on the internet in a couple of days.
"Benjamin," she says. "What are you going to wear to that Paley panel thingy?"
"What am I going to wear?" he says. "I don't know, like, jeans and a shirt or something?"
"Oh, that's super helpful," Mindy says, and takes another carrot stick off his plate. "You're so difficult."
"I'm eating those," BJ says.
"No, you're not. You hate carrots," she says, crunching. He looks at her and raises an eyebrow. "Goddammit, BJ, if you write any more things I say into a script, I'll make Ryan gay, I swear to God."
"No, you won't," BJ says as she leans across him to snag some dip off his plate. "It's not believable." Her whole body brushes his, and when she sits back up, the leaning's shifted her so their hips are touching, side to side.
"Please, Ryan's such a cocksucker," Mindy says, all matter-of-fact. She rests her head against the back of the couch, and he can feel the warmth coming off her body, and after a few seconds he realizes he's holding his breath. He wonders if she's still seeing other people, like she wanted to, because he's not.
There are a lot of Boston people on staff, considering. Steve and John, him and Mindy. It's weird how he and Mindy grew up six miles apart, but had to move all the way across the country to meet each other.
They both missed the east coast a lot when they'd first moved to LA. Sometimes he thinks that's why they got together, how you automatically like anybody who hates the same things as you, some combination of negative cohesion and homesickness. They used to talk a lot about Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and how LA has no seasons, and how the Red Sox were doing.
One night as they were falling asleep, BJ had asked her what her favorite place in Boston was. Mindy thought for a minute and then said, "Well, I don't know if this counts or whatever, but you know, on the red line, when the train comes up at the Charles/MGH stop to go over the river? And you can see the whole skyline and the sun on the water, and in the summer there's sailboats and all that, for the, like, thirty seconds before you go back underground? Yeah, I think that's my favorite place in Boston."
"On the T," BJ said.
"Yeah, when you go over the river," Mindy said, and yawned hugely. "Why, what's yours?"
Even at the time, BJ wondered if it meant something that her favorite place isn't actually somewhere you can stay for more than a minute. That it's just somewhere you pass through.
The day of the Negotiation read-through, Michael winks at BJ at craft services, over a table full of cold cuts.
"What?" BJ says.
"Did you read the script?"
"Oh," BJ says, remembering that Michael wrote that make-out scene in after all. "Yeah."
"So, you're welcome," Michael says.
"Mike," BJ says. "I swear, I don't --"
"I know!" Michael interrupts. "Say no more." And he winks at BJ again, infuriatingly.
"Fuck off," BJ says pleasantly, and Michael gets that look of shocked disbelief he gets whenever anyone swears. He shakes his head sadly. BJ rolls his eyes at him and finishes making his sandwich.
The way the scene's blocked, the camera's in the break room with Paul, with BJ and Mindy in the other room, just visible through the window behind him. Most of the crew is in the room with the camera, so it's strange, just him and Mindy by themselves, barely able to hear Jeff yelling direction.
"This is weird, right?" Mindy says while they're waiting for the lighting to get set. She's leaning against the file cabinets, her hands behind her.
"Oh," BJ says. He doesn't -- well, it is weird, with them being exes and everything, and, yeah. "I -- uh, yeah, a little. With everything that, uh, happened."
Mindy looks at him and makes a face like he's just said something kind of retarded. "What? No, I don't mean weird like that. I just mean -- it's weird getting paid to make out, right? I don't think my brother has this at his job."
"Oh," BJ says. "No, I guess not."
"God," Mindy says. "Did you think I meant it was weird having to make out with you?" She's laughing at him, but in this good natured way. "Get over yourself, Novak." Which should sound mean, but the way she says it, it isn't mean at all.
Even so, the first take, they're both holding back a little bit, and the second take it's even worse. BJ's trying to keep his hands at her waist, not too high, not too low, trying not to think about how familiar kissing her feels, how it feels natural, like breathing.
Jeff finally has to come back to give them a pep talk about committing to the role, and so the next take they finally really go at it, BJ grabbing her ass, her gasping for breath. She's a good kisser; she's always been a good kisser.
When they've finally got the take, Mindy grins and kisses BJ on the cheek, a quick, soft kiss. "That was good, Benjamin," she says. "I think we'll keep you."
Even though he'd just spent about an hour getting to second base with her, it's the kiss on the cheek he thinks about later.
"How's the loooooooooove project coming, Novak?" Lee asks when he passes him in the hallway, and BJ gives him the finger as he hits the door of his office. Because he doesn't think it's going too well -- Mindy appears unaffected, and he's the one getting in deeper.
When he's writing the next episode, Safety Training, he keeps trying to write the Ryan and Kelly bet but can't get it to quite gel. He ends up having to leave it until last, and finally just writes Kelly a monologue he swears is the actual way Mindy explained Netflix to him two years ago, almost verbatim.
"Fuck you," Mindy says when she reads it, but she's laughing. She doesn't say anything about the forehead kiss he wrote in for the end of the scene.
They have to do 23 takes, because Mindy keeps dissolving into giggles. He kisses her forehead in five of those, her hair brushing his cheek. She still smells nice -- no wonder Ryan's in love with her. Every take after the kiss, she smiles at him like she's really into him, this secret happy smile, and he thinks that she's gotten a lot better at acting sometime in the past two years.
They film the warehouse scene at the end of the week, almost last of all, Ryan and Kelly standing next to each other in the crowd. He's watching Craig yell at Steve when he feels Mindy's fingers lace through his. He guesses she's being Kelly, but he doubts if the camera can even see it through the people standing in front of them.
She holds onto his hand through the whole scene and doesn't even let go when Harold calls cut, but hangs on for a few extra seconds. Not long enough for anyone to notice but him, but still.
When they break for lunch, the whole crowd of them heads for the door en masse, bottlenecking as they file out. BJ and Mindy go through the door at the same time, and as they come out of the bunker and into the sunshine, Mindy gives BJ a friendly bump with her shoulder. When he looks over at her, she's smiling, blinking in the sudden bright light like they've just come out of a long tunnel.
"Hey BJ, what do I want for lunch?" she says.
"I don't know, Mindy," he says in an overly rehearsed voice like he's a bad straight man setting her up for a punch line. "What do you want for lunch?"
"Asshole," Mindy says. "Do you think they have wraps today? Remember how for like three months last winter, I had a spinach wrap for lunch every day? I think maybe the hiatus is over and I want a wrap again."
He bumps her with his shoulder. "Sounds good," he says. "Everything old is new again."
"Exactly," she says. "I'm bringing spinach back."
"About time," he says. She grabs his hand and swings it high, like they're in elementary school walking back from recess.
"It is about time," she agrees. Maybe for a lot of things, he thinks, and holds her hand.