Pam gave the taxi driver a twenty and told him to keep the change even though the fare only came to seven dollars. She was too preoccupied with her own thoughts to hear him heartily wish her a Happy New Year. She stood in Andy's driveway for several minutes, trying to find the courage to walk in. She shook her head slightly at the whole idea of being at Andy Bernard's house for New Year's Eve. It seemed like it was courting all the wrong spirits to ring in a new year around someone so certifiably insane. But Jim had promised Andy he'd be there, so in turn Jim had made Pam promise to show up as well.

"There is no way I'm suffering alone, Beesly," he told her.

Not that she needed much arm-twisting to agree to ring in the new year with Jim. She'd have celebrated the holiday at the Schrute beet farm if Jim was going to be there. The new dress she was wearing was purchased specifically with Jim in mind. It was short, it was black, and it was cut to draw attention to her assets. To paraphrase Michael Scott, 'it gave those ticking time bombs some breathing room'. Pam had finally purchased her very own little black dress, and she had every intention of making the most of it. If anything had changed between them since Jim returned from Stamford, it was Pam's growing awareness of how much she wanted him.

Their friendship had slowly re-blossomed, and during that process she confirmed to herself what she'd guessed while they were apart: that she did love him, had probably loved him for a long time. But it wasn't until she saw him again, noticed the little changes he had made in the way he looked and carried himself, that she felt a burgeoning desire for him. The more comfortable he seemed to get around her again, the more aware she became of him.

Had his hands always been so large, his fingers so long? She wondered how it would feel to have him run his fingers through her hair. He'd cross his legs and all she could think about was his thighs. They were nowhere near as thick as Roy's, but that didn't stop her from wanting to reach out and touch them. How nicely his more expensive, well-cut suit trousers showed off his ass? Don't even get her started. She spent hours trying to guess how much chest and body hair he had, based on the uncovered skin she'd already seen. She spent quite a few afternoons nursing the warm feeling that always sprung up when she imagined running her hands over the hair on his chest. And somebody that tall? Well, she couldn't resist imagining if the rest of him was proportionate. Living alone now, masturbation had become a more substantial part of her rather non-existent sex life. But over the last few months, she felt the need to do it more and more often. She was even guilty of sneaking off to the restroom in the middle of the day if something he wore or something he'd said to her sparked a fantasy. Then there was the fantasy she had where he found out she did that.

So with the end of the year approaching, she recognized this party as the opportunity it was. A group of people gathered together to eat too much, drink too much, and generally get out of control. Anything could happen in a situation like that, she told herself. Her plan was simple: get a little drunk to lose the nervousness, make sure Jim got at least as drunk as she did, and then find a quiet room and throw herself at him.

Her confidence had grown in regards to her appearance since she left Roy; she'd been the recipient of enough pick up lines at Poor Richards when dragged out by Kelly to know she was generally appealing. She had been dressing a little better at work - tighter fitting sweaters, slightly shorter skirts - and saw Jim notice. She wouldn't bet money on whether or not he still was in love with her anymore, but she had confidence he wouldn't turn down sex because she was unattractive to him.
She'd taken a taxi to Andy's as a back-up plan; if for some reason her original idea ran into trouble, she'd ask him to take her home, and take it from there. She hadn't felt this determined about anything in a long, long time.

She decided to ring the door bell when she looked down Andy's street and saw that Jim's car was already there. Andy opened the door, the music already too loud in the background.

"Holy hell, woman!" Andy shouted, a glass of jagermeister in his hand. "You look sexy crazy incredible!" Ever subtle, he grabbed Pam by the arm and pulled her in. "Kevin! Jim!" He called down the hallway, "Come see how hot our little receptionist turned out!"

Pam shook her head and laughed. She knew she was asking for those kinds of comments coming dressed as she was, so she might as well just go with it. She was handing her coat to And when She heard footsteps approaching from the back of the house, and she was dying to see Jim's reaction.

Kevin walked into the foyer first, Heineken in hand. He was wearing a loud yellow Hawaiian shirt. Looking at Andy, she saw that he was dressed in a bright blue Hawaiian shirt.

"Wow, Pam," Kevin droned, "H.O.T. You are looking really, really hot."

"Thanks, Kev," she said, trying not to roll her eyes.

She saw Jim walk in behind Kevin. He raised his eyebrows when he saw her, and she felt a sense of satisfaction as she watched him take her all in. He eventually nodded a greeting but didn't say a word. He was dressed casually in heavy denim jeans and a hunter green Hawaiian shirt, tiki masks and girls in grass skirts printed all over it.

"Did I miss the memo on the dress requirements?" She asked, pointing to their shirts.

"Oh these?" Andy asked, stretching out the hem of his shirt. "Just a last minute guy thing. Michael's got one too. I think he's in orange. Come on in, the beer's tasting fine!" Andy wandered down the hallway, Kevin turning to follow him. He glanced back at Pam again, giving her the thumbs up. "Niiice," he cooed. She would have felt offended by his obvious leer if he didn't look so damn funny when he did it.

As it was she reached out and grabbed the front of Jim's green shirt, making sure she got his attention again. He looked down at her hand on his chest, a small smile remaining, but said nothing.

"Nice threads, Halpert," she said, releasing the fabric from between her fingers but keeping her hand where it was.

"Thanks. It's actually Andy's. I think he has at least a dozen of them."

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" she smiled up at him.

"Yeah, but the weird part is that they're in all different sizes! I mean, he even had one for Kevin!" Jim's good mood made Pam giddy.

"You seem happy. Have you started drinking already?" She teased.

"Pam, it's a party. It's expected." Jim grinned "It would be rude not to."

"It's only eight o'clock! When did you guys start drinking?"

Jim scrunched up his face and thought a moment. "Andy had Kev and I come over around five to set some tables and things up. So they've been drinking since at least then."

"And you?"

"I waited until the first guest arrived - which was Michael at about six."

"Oh hell," Pam complained. "I don't know how I forgot he'd be here, too."

"Yeah, I think he's upstairs in the bathroom. If you want I can grab an extra paper tablecloth and you can wear it like a poncho if you don't want him commenting on your outfit all night."

"Why? Don't you like what I'm wearing?" She tried to sound teasing, but didn't mind that it sounded more like flirting.

His eyes didn't leave hers, and she saw something change in them. She would have described it as a spark, but she didn't want to be too hopeful. "No, no - you look really nice," he stuttered, his voice sounding momentarily lower. "I just thought you wouldn't want Michael to start in with what we can only expect will be inappropriate, and I mean really inappropriate, comments. Or compliments, which is how he would see them."

She removed her hand from his chest, only to move it to pat his upper arm. "Well, you promised you would keep me company if I came tonight, so I'm hold you to that. You can protect me from Michael."

He reached for her hand with his free arm, tucked it into the crook of his elbow. "Fair enough," he nodded. "Shall I escort you in?"

"Absolutely," she smiled. "As long as you take me straight to the bar."

Pam was thrilled that Jim was already a few drinks a head of her, and he clearly seemed happy in his role as Pam's companion for the evening. She felt a bit overdressed compared to what other people were wearing, but every now and then she'd catch Jim looking at her, and she thought being overdressed was exactly what the night required.

By nine o'clock she was feeling buzzed and actually laughing at Andy and Michael's stories. She felt comfortable enough to sit close to Jim on the couch, and the fact that he would return to sit close next to her every time he filled his drink told her he wasn't minding it, either.

At nine-thirty Andy decided it was time to start a drinking game, and so encouraged all interested competitors to meet him in the kitchen. Jim and Pam looked at each other.

"I know you're always up for a challenge, Beesly," he mused.

"You want me to add drinking games to the list of things I beat you at?" she laughed.

He shrugged. "If you think you can," he said, rolling his eyes toward her.

Andy game seemed terribly complicated, and Michael insisted on adapting nearly each rule given, so Jim and Pam grabbed the tequila and stood in the corner of the kitchen, away from the ongoing festivities and arguments. Putting two shot glasses in front of them on the counter, Jim filled each up.

He handed one to Pam, then picked up the other one. "Happy New Year," he toasted, and the both drank it back. Pam made her usual disgusted face when she drank shots, and he laughed.

"More?" he asked.

"If you are, I am," she nodded, a look of competitiveness on her face.

He smiled broadly and poured two more. "If you say so, Beesly."

"To a better 2007," she said, suddenly serious.

"I'll drink to that," he replied, clinking his shot glass to hers. Another swallow, another disgusted Pam face, another chortle of amusement from Jim.

"I think we should take a short break," Jim said, pushing her glass away. "I don't want to be spot cleaning puke off that dress in an hour."

She leaned against the kitchen counter, bumping up against him. "I appreciate your concern," she smiled. She noticed he didn't step back.

"Well I did say I'd look after you," he replied.

Pam noticed that the arguing had stopped and the group on the other side of the kitchen had actually started playing something. "Come upstairs with me," she whispered to Jim.

He raised his eyebrows but took her proffered hand and followed her up the stairs. Pam put her ear against one of the bedroom doors for a minute, then opened the door. "We're good in here," she told him, ushering him in. She pushed to door behind her closed, and locked it.

Jim heard the click of the lock. "Beesly, what are you up to?" he asked. He was aware that his heart was beginning to beat faster, and he was pretty sure it wasn't from the alcohol.

She walked over to him and pushed him back so he sat on the bed. It was clearly a guest room, which made Jim feel somewhat better. He had no desire to be locked in Andy's bedroom, even if it was with Pam. She kicked off her shoes and knelt behind him on the bed, putting her arms down around his shoulders, and kissing his neck. Her hands roved slowly and purposefully across his chest, pausing to fondle his nipples through the woven material. She began to unbutton his shirt, while her mouth began to nuzzle his left ear, tasting and pulling at his earlobe.

Jim closed his eyes. It felt so good, better than anything in recent memory, but his brain refused to just switch off and go with it. "What are you doing?" he asked, his breathing heavy and his erection already hard against zipper of his jeans.

"Why, Jim Halpert," she teased, her breath hot in his ear, "I thought you'd recognize a seduction when you saw one." She scooted back on the bed, and pulled him back with her, until he was lying down. She slid over to his right side, and leaned over him, still kneeling. One hair move upwards and entangled her fingers through his hair, while the other went back to unbuttoning his shirt. In the middle her lips found his, and she tried to express through her kisses everything she'd ever meant to say and didn't. He couldn't resist kissing her back, but when she had succeeded in opening his shirt, he pulled back. "Pam, you're drunk."

"No more than you are," she replied, her hand stroking the hair she'd found on his chest and belly.

"We, we shouldn't do this - not like this."

"Why not," she sighed, still placing kisses on his neck and starting down his collarbone. "I'm not so drunk that I don't know what I'm doing. I don't think you are, either."

Jim gently pushed her away, and sat up, his back against the headboard. He ran his fingers through his hair. "Pam, we've barely talked since I've come back, and now out of nowhere you're just springing this on me?"

Pam sat up, facing him. "Don't you want me anymore?" She asked softly.

He couldn't look at her. He just couldn't. If he looked at her, he'd be lost. "Yes, I do," he admitted tightly. "But not like this."

She moved closer to him, and put her hand alongside his jaw, moving his face to hers. "Like how then," she said in a low voice. "I want you, Jim. Now. Tell me what you want and I do it. Anything." He could barely comprehend the look of need and hunger in her voice, in her face. His head was a mess but he could not doubt for a moment that she was telling him the truth. She wanted him, and just the thought of that made the fire in his blood burn hotter.

The warmth of the tequila was still suppressing her fear of rejection and before he could answer her she grabbed his shirt and straddled his lap. She pushed his shirt down off his shoulders and began to kiss him again. First with more soft, tender kisses, expressing her love and sorrow for everything that had happened between them in 2006. With each kiss she felt his resistance wear down a little more, until at last his mouth opened slightly and he began to kiss her back, deep, long kisses where they both forgot to breathe. She raised herself up on to her knees and pushed his back against the headboard, pressing her body into his.

She finally felt his hands on her hips, tentatively resting there at first, then holding tighter as he pulled her even closer towards him. She felt his fingers trail down to the hem of her short skirt, and she gasped when he pushed his hands under her skirt, caressing her ass and hooking his fingers through the waistbands of her nylons and her panties.

He heard her reaction and tugged both items harder until they were down around her knees. He continued to kiss her as he slipped a hand between her legs; he felt her dig her fingers into his shoulder as his fingers explored her. Jim closed his eyes again so he could focus solely on the sensation of touch: of how wet and warm she was beneath his fingers, how she bore down on his hand as he slipped a few fingers inside her, her hips already moving against him. Combined with the touch of her lips and tongue along his neck and jaw, he thought it wouldn't take much more to lose control right then.

Pam still had other things in mind, however, and he felt her hands wander down his torso and begin to work on freeing him from his jeans. She undid the button easily, but getting the zipper down was a little more difficult in his position, especially as her touch was just making him harder. She stopped kissing him for a moment so she could see more clearly what she was doing, and when there eyes met, Pam couldn't help but giggle a little at her struggle, and Jim gave her one of those lopsided smiles that only served to make her fall further in love with him. As if in unspoken agreement Pam moved back from his lap, pulling the stockings and panties off her legs and onto the floor, while Jim laid back, unzipped his jeans and pulled them and his briefs off. His shirt, already half off, soon followed.

Jim intended to lay Pam back down on the bed, but she resisted. Instead she pushed him back against the headboard and climbed into his lap again. Resting on her knees she rocked her hips low against him, feeling his hands grasp her thighs in an attempt to hold her still.

"Pam," he said, his voice hoarse.

"Shh," she replied, kissing him in the soft spot under his ear. "No words. Not now." It was his turn to gasp as she reached down and stroked him a few times.

Before he was really aware of what she was doing, she'd leaned up and guided him into her. He couldn't stop from moaning as she rocked against him, bearing her weight down onto him. "Pam," he moaned again, but it was more of an acknowledgment to himself that it was really happening, that it was really her. It didn't take very long before the pleasure built, and too soon he was climaxing, his hands tightening against her waist and hips as the waves hits. As she felt him relax she removed one of her arms from around his neck and brought herself to orgasm, the effort being minimal as she could still feel him both inside, as she tightened against him, and outside, his hands stroking her thighs.

When they both were finished, Jim tightened his arms around Pam's back and brought his knees up slightly into a bent position, cradling her in his lap. Pam leaned forward, hugging him tightly, her head against his shoulder. They remained still for some time, Pam lifted her head and placed gentle kisses on his cheek.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," she said in a soft voice between kisses. He turned his head toward her, and saw her eyes shining glassy with unshed tears. He rested his forehead against hers for a moment.

"I love you, too." he finally said. "I love you, too."

He leaned in and kissed her gently. "We probably should get back downstairs before they've noticed we've gone."

This made Pam laugh, the tears spilling out and down her eyes. "I'm afraid it's going to be hard for them not to have noticed."

Jim smiled, and wiped the tears from her cheeks. "So what excuse do we give?"

"Suicide attempt," Pam laughed. "We can say I was distraught over having to spend New Year's Eve at Andy's and you talked me down off the ledge."

He laughed. "Yeah, that'll work." His smile faded as she gazed at her, and he found he needed to kiss her again.

"Okay, we gotta get dressed," he finally said, more to himself than her. She slid off his lap, and sat at the edge of the bed. He moved and sat next to her, leaving down to pick up his clothes. As he put his briefs and jeans back on, he looked over at her pulling up her pantyhose.

"Wait a minute," he said, accusingly. "How did that work out?"

"What?"

"You managed to pretty much stay dressed while I ended up completely naked!"

Pam grinned. "I have my ways," she said, standing up to put on her shoes.

Pam had Jim head downstairs while she slipped into the bathroom to check her hair. One look in the mirror told her what she'd already guessed. Her hair looked fine, albeit slightly messy, but the red splotches on her face and around her neck were the telltale signs of a woman who had just spent some serious quality time getting some action with a man with a face full of stubble.

Guilty as charged, she smiled contentedly to herself. What the hell?

She splashed some cold water around her face, and patted it dry. It made absolutely no difference, but she didn't care. It had been more than worth it.

She walked down the stairs intent on getting a few more tequila shots into her system. That way she'd care even less when the whispering started. She walked into the kitchen, completely avoiding most of the people congregated in the living room. She could hear the television blaring, and a glance at the clock in the kitchen said it was just after 11:30pm. 2006 would be officially over in less than thirty minutes, but she had fulfilled her promise to herself. Now she wondered how the beginning of 2007 would turn out.

Ryan was the only one in the kitchen when she walked in, and as usual a doleful stare was the only communication attempt he made. He picked up two filled glasses and walked back toward the living room. Pam had grabbed a fresh shot glass and the bottle of Jose Cuervo when she heard someone walk in. Before she could turn around familiar arms wrapped around her waist.

"Drinking alone is never a good sign, Beesly," he said, leaning into her.

"I'm sorry, have we been introduced?" she asked, turning around in his embrace. "Oh! It's you, Jim." She lowered her voice to a false whisper "I didn't recognize you with your clothes on."

"Funny, very funny," he smiled. "That's the last time we play without a level field."

"Are you implying that we'll be 'playing' again?"

"Yeah," he said, a slight challenge in his eyes, "I think I am."

"And how do you know it wasn't just something I wanted to do before 2006 ended?"

He didn't answer her at first, just kept looking into her eyes. "Because you love me,"

She dipped her head down and rested it against his chest. She simply nodded and put her arms around him.

He kissed the top of her head, then grabbed her shot glass and the tequila bottle. "Come on, we want to grab a seat in the living room while no one's paying attention to the television. We'll miss the countdown if we don't hurry."

The living room was already filled with people wanting to catch the ball drop in Times Square. There was still 20 minutes to go, so people were chatting while they kept one eye on the television to mark the time passing. No one seemed to notice when Jim and Pam walked into the room, which made Pam feel slightly deflated. She was sort of looking forward people noticing she'd been up to something with Jim. Sighing, she followed Jim as he lead over to a free patch of carpet along the wall, taking her hand to help her sit, then joining her, sprawling his long legs out in front of him. She took a moment to appreciate the view he unintentionally presented, and fought the urge to crawl onto his lap again.

"Did you want that shot now?" he asked.

"Sure." She threw it back and made The Face, causing Jim to laugh at her yet again. When he put the bottle down, she asked why he wasn't having one.

"Because I want to be able to drive home later," he explained. "Do you want to be stuck here at Andy's overnight? There's no way you'll find a taxi on this night."

"That's a shame," she said. "I didn't drive here."

"How did you get here?"

"I took a taxi."

"You did not," he said, smirking at her.

"I did!" she insisted.

"Well I guess you're shit out of luck now," he grinned, leaning back against the wall. "How in the world are you going to get home?"

"It wasn't my plan to go home," she said, watching his eyebrows raise at her statement. She leaned back against the wall, too. "My plan was to go to your house," she confided with a wink.

"Wow, Beesly," Jim marveled, sliding down a little closer to her. "You really did have tonight planned, didn't you?"

"Yeah, well, it didn't exactly go as expected," she said airily, pretending to watch the television.

"No?"

"No." She glanced briefly up at him, then turned back to the tv. "It was better."

He nudged her with his shoulder and they shared a secret smile as Andy started shouting about it being the last two minutes of the New Year. They both turned their attention to the television and listened while Andy started counting down the last fifty-nine second of 2006. Kevin chimed in when it hit thirty seconds remaining, while the rest of the guests waited until the final ten seconds. When midnight officially hit, Jim and Pam turned toward each other.

"Happy New Year, Pam," Jim said, pulling her into his arms.

"Happy New Year, Jim," she replied, smiling.

While everyone around them was busy placing random drunken kisses, Jim kissed Pam tenderly, keeping her in his embrace long enough that everyone else in the room noticed.

"Tuna!" Andy shouted, "Get a room already!"

Jim and Pam separated, and they both blushed slightly at all the attention they were now getting. "You want to get out of here?" Jim whispered in her ear.

"Yes. Please."

Jim got up to get their coats and Pam pretended not to see the winks and smiles from both Kevin and Michael. She knew things at work were going to be painfully embarrassing for some time to come. Then Jim walked back in with her coat she decided it would all be worth it.