The Cure for Frostbite
By Denise (kdsch123)
Rating: PG (could go higher if I continue it.)
Spoilers: The Return
Acknowledgements: I do not own "The Office". It is owned by NBC, Gervais/Merchant and their creative team. If I owned "The Office" I would probably break it.
Summary: Pam cried in the hallway, Karen while she was cleaning her car.
Karen Fillipelli rarely cried, but today was definitely the day for it. The wind bit at her wet cheeks, but the tears kept coming. Stupid for moving to Scranton. STUPID. Karen opened her trunk and searched for something to clean her windows off with and found the crappy plastic broom-scraper combo her father insisted on buying her every Christmas since she got her first car, still bedecked with a twist of curly red ribbon. STUPID for believing that Jim Halpert might actually be worth the relocation away from EVERYTHING. STUPID for trusting him when he first told her about his feelings for Pam. And, frustrated because try as she might, Karen could not find a reason to be angry with Pam, too. The receptionist was only passively involved here. Karen had never seen her act with anything other than friendship toward Jim, and Pam had even encouraged Jim to stop being an ass about the apartment Karen had finally found in Scranton. The fact that she might very well lose her one female friend in the new town over this made Karen cry harder, the tears and snow mixing together to nearly blind her. She heard the rumble of a diesel engine and shook her head, turning away. This whole situation was her own STUPID fault.
"You're not getting out of that spot in that thing." The voice behind her made Karen jump in surprise. She dropped the broom and turned around. Roy, from the warehouse, had gotten out of his truck walked around to study the snow under Karen's little SUV. "Nah, these look good, but they're just like a big car. No real power."
"Thanks." She huffed, wiping her face on her snowy jacket. Her brothers had told her the same thing, but Karen dismissed it at the time. Now, with the burly dock worker saying it, Karen just groaned. "That's just great. How am I supposed to get home now?"
"Michael let everyone leave early?" Roy looked up at the windows of Dunder Mifflin's sales office. "I thought they were having a party or something." He thrust his hands into his pockets and pulled out heavy gloves. "Mexican something, right?"
"They are. I'm," Karen looked up at her companion and sighed. "Not feeling all that great so I wanted to go home." She sniffled pitiably, and looked up at Roy. He was cute in that big lug sort of way, the kind of guy her mother would never get tired of feeding. Jim (JIM!) was always politely full after his first helping of anything Marianna Fillipelli had tried to feed him. "I just want to go home."
"Okay." Roy nodded. "I've got a shovel in the back of my truck. I'll clear the snow for you, and spread some sand under your tires. That'll get you out."
"Thanks." Karen smiled. "I can help you if you have another shovel."
"No. Get in your girly truck and get warm." Roy waved, turning to get his shovel. "You're too little for this."
"Too little, did you say?" Karen frowned, and Roy nodded, digging through the contents of the flatbed until he found a large, rusted shovel. He eyed her, measuring her and then nodded.
"Yeah." He replied amicably, slicing into the heavy snow with his shovel easily. "It'll take me a half hour, tops."
"A half hour?" Karen wailed, looking up at the sky. She held out a hand. "Give me a shovel."
"Okay." Roy reached into the back of his truck again and produced another shovel, smaller, and just as used. "I hope you remember you asked for it."
"I have to get out of here." She took the shovel and started digging. "You have no idea how badly I want to get out of here."
Roy shrugged and set to work in near silence, whistling some tune Karen could not identify. In twenty nine minutes, ten seconds, they were finished and Karen handed Roy back his shovel.
"There." Karen nodded with satisfaction. "Now I can go home." She rubbed her hands together and stomped her feet. "I can't feel my hands or feet though."
"I tried to warn you. Did you even try to start up your truck?" He set the shovels in the back of the truck and held out his hand for her keys. "Here, gimme."
"I can do it myself." Karen shot back and Roy shrugged.
"Hey, suit yourself, slick." He leaned against his beat up pickup and folded his arms over his chest. "I'll just wait right here."
Karen rolled her eyes and walked to her door. "There's really no reason to, I mean, it should start…." She opened the door, leaned in and put the key in the ignition. With a quick turn of her wrist, she blinked in shock. "OH I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!!"
"Won't start, huh?" Roy shook his head. "I knew it. Come on, slick, I'll drop you off."
"No, I couldn't ask you to do that." Karen said, and Roy opened the passenger door.
"Get in." He smiled, and Karen remembered she had once suggested to Pam that Roy might be nice to date. He was cute. "It's no big deal. I'll probably pick up a few bucks after I drop you off plowing people's driveways."
"Oh. An entrepreneur." Karen smiled back, and Roy shrugged.
"It's beer money." He said, helping her into the truck. "Speaking of which, how are your hands and feet? You said you couldn't feel them. You could have frostbite. Those shoes really aren't blizzard friendly."
"Still numb." Karen pulled off her gloves when Roy closed the truck door and blew on her hands. "That's all I need. Break up with the guy I was seeing, car won't start, now this. My nieces will call me Auntie No Fingers."
"Cute." Roy grinned. "My nephews call me Uncle No Neck, so it's nice to meet you." He held out a large hand, and Karen shook it. "Look, before I take you home, let's go someplace and get you something to cure your frostbite. Ever been to Poor Richards?"
"I thought you needed to raise beer money." Karen looked up at him and Roy smiled. "You sure you can swing it?"
"Hey, no big deal. Besides, I can plow driveways tomorrow. It's still snowing, anyway." He put the truck in gear. "Okay, Poor Richards it is."
Three rounds and halfway into an air hockey tournament later, Karen realized that her fingers and toes were thawed out and feeling fine. She hadn't given Jim Halpert a passing thought until she heard someone call out, "Hey Jim!" but it was some other Jim, red nosed from the cold, so Karen let herself relax. She'd already beaten Roy at air hockey twice and had laughed when he professed to be an expert at "Call of Duty". Somewhere between the second and third round, Roy mentioned his ex-girlfriend was Pam, and Karen found herself laughing at the irony. When Roy dropped her off, Karen wasn't at all surprised when the invitation to play "Call of Duty" and pizza came up, in conjunction with taking her back to Dunder Mifflin to get her SUV going again. Karen grinned to discover that she surprised Roy by saying yes and brushing his cheek with a kiss before getting out of the truck. He'd blushed a little, and waited for her to get into the apartment before pulling away with a quick blast of the truck's horn.
There were six messages waiting for her, but Karen didn't bother checking them. There had been something easy and comforting being around Roy, and Karen didn't want to blow it by listening to Jim be all concerned. It was much more appealing to get bundled up in cozy pajamas and think about beating Roy at "Call of Duty" tomorrow. Karen smiled, feeling her toes and fingers get a little tingly at the thought of that. Definitely no chance of frostbite now. In spite of the horrible day, Karen Fillipelli was smiling when she fell asleep. And, when she dreamed, Karen dreamed of large St. Bernard dogs that drove beat up pick up trucks and sucked at air hockey.