A/N: Inspired by the couple of other angry Jim/Pam fics out there right now. Thought I'd try my hand at one as well. Hope you enjoy.
In April, I collapsed like a lung. No, not even something as vital as that. I was a balloon left floating somewhere for too long, the air slowly spilling out of me until I was deflated and wrinkled. And now I was just barely hovering above the ground, using all of my willpower to keep myself upright for a little bit longer. The moment I touched the ground, that was it. I was done.
I touched the ground somewhere in May. I was angry. I was desperate. I was so completely over everything (not everything). I was hopeless. I was out of air.
So I complained. I whined. I told Toby all of it, everything. I was half drunk on my own sorrow that I'd been swallowing since January, so it all came flowing freely off my tongue. "And anyway, does she have to plan her wedding at the office? Shouldn't she do that at home?" I said, "Toby, it's killing me." He had nodded, writing it down and I didn't even think about it at the time. Then I took it back. I told him to forget that I'd said a thing about it. Take my name off of it. I didn't want her to know. I only ever wanted her to smile because of me.
But there aren't any secrets here. I should have known that already. And soon it was out in the open, just without my name attached to it. She didn't really know that it was me. I let her think it wasn't me. Until it came out of me suddenly, because I'm so goddamn selfless that I couldn't let someone else take the blame even once. "I'm the one who complained about you." I hated the taste of the words in my mouth. The way "complained" stuck to the roof of my mouth and "I'm" and "you" got caught between molars.
It was one day. I- And then nothing. I tried not to unfurl then. I set my jaw firmly and looked straight ahead. I didn't look at the back of her head or her shoulders. I tried to keep my heart beating.
She said the next morning as I was refilling my coffee, "I can't believe you, of all people- My best friend."
I put my mug down too hard, a piece of the bottom chipping off and flying across the counter. "You honestly don't get it?"
And I felt like we'd done this before. Argued in this kitchen. Like this was the only place for me to pose loaded questions with my lips pressing together.
"No, Jim. I don't. Why didn't you just tell me?"
"Tell you what? That you planning your wedding ten feet away from me is like watching someone plan my funeral?" It was a stupid analogy and it made me sound pathetic in an entirely new way. Was that how I felt? Was I dying really? Sure, I couldn't breathe and sure my heart slowed to a ridiculous rate sometimes, but I had chalked it up to love not death.
"I can't-" All I knew was that she was trembling, but trying to hide it by holding onto the refrigerator door handle. "Why does it always hurt to be around you anymore?"
It surprised me to hear this come from her. To see her eyes flooding and overflowing.
She said it like I was something contagious.
I said, "Because, Pam,-" But stopped there.
Because I was kissing her hard already. I was frantically trying to prove something to her. So it didn't matter that we could be seen or that there was a camera pointed at us through the blinds of the door. This was what they wanted to see anyway. I was showing her why it hurt, why she ached somewhere she didn't even know existed until that ache was there.
She resisted, her arms trying to push my hands off of her face. But for once I was strong. Then her arms were around my waist and she was sort of leaning backwards, her chest and her stomach arching against my body, as though she'd just gone limp for a second. And my hands were still holding her head. I let my tongue run along her bottom lip even though I knew that was pushing it, that that wasn't part of the plan to prove something to her.
She tore herself away from me. Her eyes were red and angry. She brought the sleeve of her sweater up to her mouth. The words that came from her then were, "I can't love you."
What I heard was silence, because I was already out the door.
Later the words would find their way to me somehow, hitting my ears like winter wind.
Can't. Not won't.