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 If he'd gone after her

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angel_15
Little Miss Addict
Little Miss Addict

angel_15

Messages : 4482
Date d'inscription : 12/01/2010
Age : 29
Localisation : In Star City with Oliver Queen

If he'd gone after her _
MessageSujet: If he'd gone after her   If he'd gone after her EmptySam 3 Avr - 22:23

Title: If he'd gone after her
Author: Trogdor19
Ratings: K+
Category : Romance/Hurt/Comfort
Content: Jim & Pam
Summary: Set at Phyllis's wedding, if Jim would have gone after Pam. Sweet wish fulfillment and happy endings!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Office or the characters.
---------

Pam POV

This should be a dream. One of those sad, symbolic dreams where the meaning is nonetheless as clear as a slap in the face. Well, except for the dog who morphs into a Christmas tree ornament. There's always something random like that, too. At least in my dreams. Maybe real, put-together people don't have dreams that disorganized.

Anyway, the morphing dog hasn't shown up yet, which means I'm probably not going to wake up and escape this. I'm at a wedding- my wedding. With my flowers, my monogram, my beautiful dress. Except I'm not the happy one. I'm the one sitting alone at a table in the corner, wondering how long I have to stay to be polite.

I probably could have escaped already except that I opened my mouth about Phyllis using all my wedding ideas, and if I leave now, she'll think I'm mad about that and I don't want to ruin her wedding any more than Michael already has.

The thing is, it isn't that bad being invisible here in the corner. I have a talent for being invisible, apparently, and isn't that just a sad, sad thing to know about yourself. When I grow up, I want to be polite, invisible, and a disaster on the dance floor. Right. Not exactly every little girl's dream. Yeah, so I wanted to start standing up for myself, going after what I wanted. So I broke up with Roy, called off my wedding, and that somehow landed me at this pseudo-Pam-and-Roy wedding. Only alone and with a much plainer dress. Yay for assertiveness.

What hurts far more than the flowers and the dress is Jim, swaying easily with Karen on the dance floor. Because I'm watching him, and he doesn't see me. And that's ok. I'm glad he found her, because he deserves to be happy. She makes him happy, probably more than I could have. She can speak her mind, and dresses in those flashy, so-feminine business outfits and laughs with him, and I really am glad for that.

All I want for myself is a little of my friend Jim back. I miss glancing over at him whenever Michael said something particularly asinine and knowing that he knew exactly what I was thinking. If I could have my friend sometimes, I think I could be ok, too. Not as happy as he is, not yet, but close.

I don't realize that I'm staring until he looks up and those beautiful green eyes meet mine over the top of Karen's head. I should have known better- we always look up at each other at the same time. But this time, I can't smile because something wrenches inside of me and the pain takes my breath away. I don't know why. It's something about his hands on her back as they dance. Because I remember those hands sliding up my back on Casino Night and how big they felt, spanning my whole waist. I'd never thought of my friend as being so much bigger than me, but he was and I still felt safe because those big hands were immeasurably gentle, touching me like I was someone precious.

Those hands cradled her now, and she was the something precious, and as it turned out, I wasn't.

I look down, away from Jim and his hands and his puzzled eyes. But then I look back again before I can stop myself and he's still watching me.

Suddenly, I understand why Jim had to leave Scranton, why he didn't say goodbye. Because I still want him to dance, want him to be happy and not lonely. But I can't watch it.

I rise and hope no one is watching as I flee as fast as my heels and crumbling dignity would allow.

---

Jim POV

The ductwork on the ceiling of the reception hall has big ventilation tubes. Big enough for a man. Or for a Shrute. Perfect. Now, a subtle way to tip off Dwight that Michael is trying to sneak back in through the ventilation system.

I glance back down at Karen to make sure she didn't see me staring at the ceiling, but all I can see is her shiny hair because her face is tipped down, nearly resting against my chest. That's good. You don't want to look bored when slow dancing with a woman, even if the dancing only takes about two brain cells to keep up. Don't get me wrong, I like slow dancing. I even (and I will take this with me to the grave) like weddings. The couple is always happy and the wedding is like a validation that everything has worked out. Plus, the bride always has a certain look to her. Not a glow, but a hopeful, vulnerable sort of pride. She knows she's loved. Its cute- so shoot me! But receptions are definitely not as fun.

Thankfully, Michael and Dwight are here to act as pawns in my usual game of keep-Jim-entertained. Maybe I can get Pam to tell him- no, bad plan. Ask Karen instead. Its too late though, I already looked up to catch Pam's eye. Despite the crowded room, I didn't have to look around for her because – pitiful much?- I always know where she is. It's like an automatic GPS implanted in the base of my skull and the signal never turns off.

Pam's already watching me, and in a way that instantly captures my full attention, even the two brain cells I need to keep slow dancing. Karen pulls back a bit as I stop moving and I rip those two brain cells away from Pam and start swaying again. Karen relaxes.

The corners of Pam's mouth show those tiny, downward creases. It's not a frown, because she wouldn't want anyone to know she's sad. Still, it's as clear as a street sign to me, even from across the dimly lit room. She glances down, then back up at me, and then she's out of her chair so fast it almost looks involuntary. I know that walk, too. That's the as-fast-as-I-can-without-seeming-upset walk. The one she uses to escape because Pam hates anyone to see her get emotional.

Not my problem. Not mine.

But I'm her friend, and no friend would ignore her when she looked that sad. I'm two steps gone, heading away from Karen even as I'm thinking this. I turn back.

"I just saw Michael messing with the latch on one of the windows. I'm going to rat him out to Dwight," I tell her, trying for a light tone. She looks a little irritated, but then presses her lips together in a rueful smile and shrugs, heading off the dance floor toward the tables. I follow Pam.

When I get out to the hall, she's nowhere in sight, but I know she wouldn't go out the main entrance. Too much chance of running into a crowd of smokers, or people leaving the reception. I investigate the other direction and find a side entrance. The door is glass and I stay back around the corner and out of sight. Yeah, I could be her friend again, but will that really do any good?

Don't be stupid, Halpert. If you go out there, you might as well ask Jan for the number of her shrink, Dr. Specializing-in-Self-Destruction. You don't want to be her friend. It hurts too much and you knew coming back here that you'd have to stay away. That it wouldn't be easy. That sooner or later, you'd be standing here. Well, maybe not exactly here, around the corner like a stalker having the angel-vs-devil conscience cage match. But something similar.

She's probably sad because it's a wedding and she misses Roy. Do you want to sign up to play sympathetic ear to that again? Be selfish, be smart. Don't ease her pain at the expense of your own. Not anymore.

The problem is, I can read Pam. I mean really read her. I can tell 15 minutes in advance when she'll go on break, because she starts tilting her head back a little, like she's pulling against the gravity of her work station, fighting a yawn or a serious eye roll. Now that my back is to her, and I don't let myself look over there anymore, I can still tell. When she does it, her chair gives this tiny, certain kind of squeak.

So I know the look in her eye wasn't just sadness, and it wasn't about Roy. I think I know exactly what it was, but I also took Psych 101 in college. So I know that I'm not objective. I see what I want to see. In her smile, I see flirtation, in the way she tilts her shoulders toward mine, then turns away again, I see attraction. I give myself hope. I can't help it. That's why I left Scranton; so I couldn't see that hope anymore. So chasing it again is exactly what I shouldn't be doing.

I'm not stupid, so I know exactly how stupid I'm being when I turn the corner and push through the glass doors.

___________________________________
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angel_15
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angel_15

Messages : 4482
Date d'inscription : 12/01/2010
Age : 29
Localisation : In Star City with Oliver Queen

If he'd gone after her _
MessageSujet: Re: If he'd gone after her   If he'd gone after her EmptySam 3 Avr - 22:23

Jim POV

Pam is out in the shadows of the landscaping, half-hidden by a shrub. Her back is to me and I can see her thin shoulders hunched forward as she crosses her arms tightly across her chest. I can't tell if she's crying, but I know she is.

I reel myself in, already setting ground rules that I'm dying to break. Keep it light. Don't touch her. Remember you're with Karen and Pam doesn't want your touch. Said it plain as day.

"Hey, Beesly, I didn't see you near the appetizers, so I know you can't be running out here to retch."

She jumped and surreptitiously wiped her cheeks before turning to face me. "Yeah, who would have ever thought that cocktail weinies and cherry pie filling constituted appetizers, right?"

"It's like they hired Leftovers R Us Catering. Way to save a buck, huh?"

She laughs, a little too high-pitched to be convincing. "For the record, I wasn't going to hire that caterer."

"Right. You're just at fault for the flowers, the dress, the band, and the invitations, right?" Jesus, Halpert, why don't you just shout, 'Hey, wanna talk about Roy?' Be as much of a masochist as possible. By all means.

"Rough night, eh?" I asked her, keeping my voice gentle. It wasn't hard. Even when I was mad at her, I didn't speak harshly to her. Never could. "Are you doing ok?"

"Yeah, fine. It's not a big deal, really. I wasn't going to use those things, so why shouldn't Phyllis? I mean, I'm glad I'm not using those things, but still…" she trailed off, halfway between being candid and trying to fake being ok. I couldn't blame her for being conflicted. I hadn't exactly been inviting intimacy since I returned to the Scranton office. No wonder Pam wasn't sure how much to tell me anymore.

Just then, I heard a rustling in the bushes, like branches on wool. Oh, Lord, not Karen. I'll be hearing about this all week. I glanced at Pam and the look on her face was pained, resigned. She didn't want to face anyone else right now. I quickly surveyed the area. Nobody could have seen us yet.

I grabbed Pam's arm and pulled her more deeply into the bushes, holding back branches so she could get through and following closely after her. For a second, the curve of her hip brushed against my thigh and I jerked away. With the conservative clothes she always wore, you couldn't tell, but Pam's body was curved in the most beautifully female way…I don't think the clothes fooled anyone. In any case, touching any part of that body was not an option open to me, even if I wanted to further flagellate myself with false hope and fantasies.

Another rustle made us both turn and through the concealing bushes, we saw Dwight, creeping low in a hunter's stance. He had a penlight, and, oddly, a piece of rope. Like a lasso. He was a beet farmer, not a cattle rancher. There was another rustle and Dwight pitched the lasso, then leaped into the bushes after it. A yelping struggle ensued, and then we saw a rabbit high-tailing it out of the bushes. Dwight picked himself up and brushed himself off.

"Animal control- lazy, incompetent stooges. And of course I am left to protect this wedding single-handedly from both wild animals and unscrupulous wedding crashers. The work of a public servant is never done." He strode away with only the slightest hint of a limp, leaves clinging to the seat of his pants.

My dropped jaw changed to a grin of surprised glee. Leave it to Dwight. Pam had a hand clapped over her mouth and the sound of smothered giggles erupted. I loved that sound. It had chased away the boredom of many Dunder Mifflin days. She was shaking with laughter now, and she stumbled a little, falling back against me. I caught her shoulders automatically, but was laughing too hard myself to remember to step away. She was so small, her head barely reaching my collarbone, and she felt warm and nice against my chest.

She leaned her head against me, her giggles starting to subside, and I had just enough presence of mind to drop my hands from her shoulders, but I still didn't step away. Her hair smelled like peaches. I looked up, wondering if the camera crew was out there, too. I'd caught them taping us through the blinds in the break room before and I wouldn't put it past them to follow me out here. Normally I didn't mind, but Pam didn't need a camera in her face right now.

She stiffened and stepped away, clearing her throat. Maybe she'd remembered the possibility of cameras as well. I missed the feel of her, but I didn't imagine what it would be like to hold her, to have permission to do it whenever I wanted. No hope, no stupidity, less pain. That was the plan.

Pam looked up at me and her smile faded. That look was back. The look that I absolutely refused to let myself interpret.

Pam POV

I met his eyes again and the joke I was going to make about Dwight's rabbit rodeo faded from my lips as the pain wrenched again. I should not feel this way. It was ok to miss him, even from ten feet away every day in the office. It was lame, but it was understandable. This breath-stealing pain was not ok, not honorable, and irritatingly hard to control. He had a nice girlfriend and I didn't have any right to want to reach for him. Not now. I could have visited him, could have done something other than send cowardly text messages after he left. And I didn't. So if I threw away my chance to be able to reach for him, I couldn't blame him, couldn't even confide it to him. It wasn't my place and I wouldn't make him unhappy again.

I don't know how people in books and movies control their emotions. Mine certainly weren't taking any advice from me on what to do. It was the most I could do to keep my mouth shut and to cross my arms across my chest again, keeping my traitorous, boyfriend-coveting hands to myself. But my eyes roamed over his kind, familiar face, my eyes reaching for him because my hands wouldn't. And I couldn't force the pain out of my eyes. I didn't know how.

"Pam?" he said. I loved his voice. It was so gentle and husky, even when he was teasing me. I don't know what men on phone sex channels sound like. Actually, I don't even know if they have men on phone sex channels. But if they sound anything like Jim, I would call them all the time. Because they would always sound like they cared about you. Even talking dirty sex talk might be comforting in Jim's voice. Or funny and sexy all at the same time, a combination that I'd only seen Jim be able to pull off. When Roy tried to tease me about sex, he just sounded sleazy.

I was supposed to be more assertive now, so why wasn't I saying anything I was thinking? Because it would screw things up? Like things could get any more screwed up. I was alone, living in an ugly, cheap apartment without even a cat. Jim was barely more than polite to me anymore, and his girlfriend was skinnier and prettier than me. And my dream of being an artist? Well, as Oscar's boyfriend had so graciously put it, my art was "Motel Art" without passion, or honesty.

I looked around for somewhere to sit, suddenly exhausted by my life. I didn't see a bench. Obviously- we were in the middle of a bunch of bushes behind a reception hall, not a park. I sank to the ground. Honesty, huh? Hadn't done me any good so far, but what had?

"Pam?" he sounded even more concerned now.

"I love your voice," I told him, hugging my knees, looking at the ground. Even when I was being honest, I was still a coward.

"You know how little girls dream about Prince Charming, about the perfect kiss?" He didn't answer, but I didn't care. "I always thought that if someone would touch me the same way your voice sounded, that would be the perfect show of love. No, I'm not saying it right- what I mean is, what your voice makes me feel like, that's what the perfect kiss would be like."

"What would it be like?" he asked, his voice becoming even softer, but a little wary. He dropped down on one knee next to me, not quite close enough to reach out and touch, even if I wasn't a coward.

"It would be gentle, respectful." I looked up at him, brazen now because really, like I could get more embarrassed than I was already going to be. "It would be exactly like how you kissed me on Casino Night. Except that even a kiss that perfect didn't lead to a happily ever after, did it?"

"No," he agreed. "It didn't." He sat down cross legged, right in front of me. Our knees almost touched but neither of us reached out. I gripped my elbows tighter, almost too tired to wonder about what would come of what I'd said.

"Hey," he said, ducking his head a little, trying to catch my eye. "Why did you really come out here?"

"Isn't it blindingly obvious?" I said, with a little, self-deprecating laugh.

"I'm not sure," he said carefully.

I squirmed a little, wanting to keep being honest, but still embarrassed. Apparently honesty didn't make you feel less pitiful. "I'm ok. You can go back inside, if you want. Karen's probably waiting."

"I'd rather hear what made you so sad. Besides, she'd probably just make me dance some more, and that wouldn't be good for anyone."

I sighed. "Could we pretend that I'm just smashingly drunk and won't remember anything I just said or anything I might say later?"

"How about we pretend that we're hidden by the bushes and the dark," Jim said, reaching over and giving a playful tug on one of my loose curls. "And I'm your best friend and you can tell me anything?"

The tears sprang back in my eyes at that, and I laughed a little at the irony because it hurt so much when he was nice to me, and wasn't that stupid? "Is that what we're going to pretend?"

___________________________________
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angel_15
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angel_15

Messages : 4482
Date d'inscription : 12/01/2010
Age : 29
Localisation : In Star City with Oliver Queen

If he'd gone after her _
MessageSujet: Re: If he'd gone after her   If he'd gone after her EmptySam 3 Avr - 22:23

Jim POV

"We don't have to pretend anything we don't want to," I told her, and the hope that I told myself I wouldn't feel was all but choking me. Of course Pam's distress would melt any resistance I thought I had. And I was three new kinds of an idiot for imagining that it wouldn't.

Her tears were unbearable. "Don't cry. Please? Or, cry, but just tell me how I can make you feel better. You're killing me here, Beesly."

"I came out here because I want you to be happy, but I wasn't, and that's ok, really it is. I just, the decorations and the band you helped me pick out, and Karen, and I don't have a date, and I couldn't be ok right now. Just not right now. I'm not making any sense."

"Weirdly, I think you might be." I made myself lean back a little, away from her and her appealing scent of fresh peaches. "But I'm afraid this time you're going to have to spell it out for me."

"I want you to be happy, Jim." She met my eyes and despite the tears, it was clear she believed what she was saying. "And you and Karen are good together. She makes you laugh and she's obviously crazy about you and that's wonderful, it's good. She's a nice girl."

I smiled quizzically, though my cheeks felt stiff. "You came out here crying because Karen is so awesome?"

"No, because I'm a bad friend."

"You aren't a bad friend, so I'm glad we could clear that up. Back inside for cocktail weenies and cherry pie filling?" I said, afraid to second-guess her. God, how many times could I let the hope pistol-whip me like this and keep being able to smile and joke and act like some kind of sane human?

"Because I think I want you to be happy, but it hurts to watch you being happy!" she cried. "Do you see how awful I can be? I mean, obviously you already know how awful I am because I sat there and told you how much your friendship meant to me when it was obvious that it hurt you, just because I had no idea how to tell you what you meant to me! You were so close to me, I couldn't even see what it meant until you were gone. And you kissed me like no one ever had, and I still told you I was marrying Roy because I was such a moron that I thought I still could, or should, or something."

She got up and began pacing agitatedly in the little space behind the bushes in which we were both crammed. My heart was soaring, because I think she had just spelled it out for me. Pam wasn't so articulate when it came to naming her feelings, but I'm pretty sure that rant meant at least that she didn't want me to be with Karen, and maybe even that she had returned my feelings back when I told her I was in love with her, and she just didn't know how to tell me.

Now, watching her stomp back and forth between the bushes, mad as hell at herself, her eyes red from crying and leaves in her hair, I couldn't help but grin.

I stood up, deliberately putting myself in her path. She nearly crashed into me before jerking to a stop. "I like Karen," I told her honestly. Pam's eyes flickered down, away from mine. "But she's never sent fake CIA documents to Dwight. Or made paper doves for closing ceremonies. Or invoked the name of the Lord in Chilis." Pam looked up at me again, uncertainly.

I brushed a kiss over her forehead and felt the thrill all the way to my toes. "Karen would never have thought to combine the Christmas parties again so that Angela wouldn't feel bad." I took her hands, and was exultant again when she didn't pull them away. I kissed the knuckles of her right hand, then her left.

"Maybe I wasn't clear enough the first time. I thought you understood, but if you did, you would never think I'd be happier with Karen than with you. I'm not just attracted to you. I don't just like your beauty, or your gorgeous smile, the one that makes your eyes sparkle and my mouth go dry. I don't just like the way you get all my jokes, or the way you can make me laugh like no one else I've ever known, or the way you can't help but try to make everyone happy, even when they aren't always nice to you, or the way you unabashedly love your parents."

Pam was starting to smile, but I wasn't done yet. Finally, the truth didn't hurt me to think about, to say out loud, and I wasn't going to stop until I said every bit of it. Or until she kissed me.

I spoke slowly, so she'd hear every word of the truth. "I don't just love you. I admire and respect everything about who you are, and I couldn't possibly be happy anywhere that wasn't as close to you as you'll let me be."

I cupped her face in my hands, amazed as I always was that any person could be as precious to me as she had become. I kissed her with all those feelings, letting her feel the truth of every word I'd given her. Her lips were soft and warm, and I was careful with her, because she had been sad, and I wanted her to feel cherished, and not alone. I didn't really want her to know how badly I wanted to take her to bed. Not yet anyway. Not until I was sure she wanted that too.

But then I felt her small hands on my chest, and she was pushing me away. I released her stunned. Though why the hell should I be surprised at rejection anymore?

"But wait," she said, not stepping away from me. "When I asked you out, why didn't you want to go, then?"

My head must have been even more befuddled by her kiss than I thought, because I had no idea what she was talking about. "When you asked me out? Um, you didn't."

"I did so!" she said heatedly. "The first day you got back to Scranton, I asked you out to coffee. I was going to tell you everything- about Roy, about how I felt, how much I missed you. But you lied and said you couldn't go. And for all your legendary dead-pan, you can't lie for anything, Halpert."

"Because you just wanted to catch up! Talk about old times, be all buddy-buddy again!" I said, genuinely caught off guard. "I couldn't let myself get that close to you again. I knew that when I agreed to come back. I actually figured you knew that, too."

She shoved me, and I stumbled back a little. She pointed her little index finger fiercely at me. "You, Jim Halpert, are an idiot, if you didn't know I was asking you out."

I shrugged and admitted it. "Idiot. Signed, sealed and delivered. Ask me out again, and I promise I'll do better."

"Coffee tomorrow?" she asked, that mischievous little smile of hers tugging at every heartstring I possessed. Assuming, of course that the heart was a string instrument. The way mine was acting, it might have been closer to the percussion section of the orchestra.

"Coffee anytime," I promised Pam, reaching for her. She came easily into my arms. So easily that I had to wonder how we didn't do this the first week we knew each other. "I've got to go back in and talk to Karen soon," I warned her, reluctant to bring it up but knowing I didn't want to delay that talk. I owed Karen that much.

"I know." She regarded me seriously, then stood on her tiptoes and planted a little kiss on my collarbone.

"I love you, Jim."

Then she smiled and admitted. "I sketched you when you were gone, just so I could see your face."

I bent to nip her earlobe, enjoying her gasp. "Was I naked?" I teased.

When she didn't respond, I pulled away to see her blushing furiously. I laughed. "No way! Why Beesly, you little minx!" I hugged her and let her hide her face in my chest, and laughed some more, no longer worried about the cameras finding us. Or Michael, or Dwight, or the goddamn Canadian mounted police. Like anyone could blame me for loving this woman. Or for making a fool of myself over her, or for kissing her another hundred times or so, which I fully intended to do before going back inside.

She beat me to it, winding her arms around my neck and pulling me down until she could reach my lips. She started out hesitant, but soon she had my head spinning and I had to pull away or sit down in a very undignified manner.

I smiled crookedly at her. "Guess we might have written off that happily ever after a little too soon, eh?"

___________________________________
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