Karen has her heart broken by Jim and then... KaPAM!
As one of the very few men who follow this fandom, I am truly astounded by the number of (nominally straight) women who are obsessed about this 'ship. I don't understand it, I don't pretend to understand it, but I believe I speak on behalf of all the guys when I say "Niiiiiice". Keep up the good work, ladies.
Pam tried to concentrate on her FreeCell, despite the tiff going on behind her that was rapidly escalating into an argument (maybe even a mêlée). She always cringed whenever the two of them erupted into a fight - she couldn't even take sides, she felt so awful for both of them. It was a real struggle to keep her eyes on the computer monitor when Karen went storming past the reception desk on the verge of tears. Pam didn't have to feign discretion for long though, because, before she even reached the door, Karen turned and marched right up to her, practically spitting at her with rage, "I've had it! If you want him, you can have the bastard!" She was flushed deep red in anger, no mean feat considering her dusky complexion. She gave Jim one final death glare before turning on her heel and leaving.
Pam looked to Jim for his response, expecting anger or sadness or maybe frustration. He was always so good at communicating with his eyes, she almost assumed that when she gazed into them she would be able to read his explanation and feel his remorse. Instead she stared at Jim, seeing his face no concern at all that Karen was running away in tears. She did see something she had no trouble interpreting: he did that little apathetic shrug/smirk of his. She'd never felt so sick to her stomach.
"Karen, wait," Pam pleaded, running out the door after her while fixing Jim with an angry glower of her own.
She caught up to Karen in the stairwell, leaning over the railing, sobbing quietly to herself. Pam slowed her furiously pounding feet as she closed distance on the broken-hearted woman. Karen didn't acknowledge her arrival, but Pam held her around the shoulders anyway, feeling the sobs shudder through her hands (and the raging heat radiating from her body). When Pam softly spoke, it was just as much to herself as it was to Karen. "I've never seen him be so callous before. I can't believe he could be so insensitive... He's being an ass."
At that, Karen let out a bark, or was it a laugh? Probably not a bark (it had been a long time since Pam had thought of her like that). "Why are you here?" Karen asked, scoffing, "Why aren't you in there with him finally requiting that big unrequited love of yours?"
Pam gave her a hug. "I told you, he's being an ass. And you could use a friend right now." She coughed a little to herself as Karen choked out another labored breath, whispering, "I've spent a little too much time crying in this stairwell myself, and it made all the difference when I had someone there to help me through it."
Karen looked at her with her red-rimmed eyes and smiled. "Thanks. You're a good friend, Pam. You've always been a good friend." Karen held her too, but chuckled to herself. "When you all finally clued me in to the, uh... situation... I couldn't for the life of me figure out why, though. I think the guys were expecting more catfight."
"They're probably disappointed. We would make good TV." She playfully clawed at Karen's shoulder a bit.
"Yeah, but why no mrrreowww?..." she mirrored Pam's lame scratch.
It's difficult to shrug while hugging someone, Pam discovered. "Just because the same guy is making us both miserable doesn't mean we have to be enemies."
The enemies thing reminded Pam of something that, at the time had been horrible and painful, but now just made her grin. She thought that sharing this piece of nostalgia might cheer Karen up a bit. "Actually, when I first met you I wanted to stab you in the neck with my Pilot® Dr. Grip® ballpoint pen."
"That's awfully specific of you."
"Well, it's thicker than your average pen, so I thought it would hurt more."
Karen sniffed, wiping the tears from her cheeks and smudging her already ruined makeup some more. "Very meticulous planning. You think of everything. So thoughtful..."
Pam just held her like this for a while, a few minutes really, and slowly felt Karen sink into her embrace. Her tears dried up, maybe sooner, maybe later - neither had been keeping time - her weeping replaced with a tranquil sorrow.
"I'm not usually like this, you know," Karen finally said. "I don't want you to think that I'm the kind of gal who'll just start bawling over every little thing."
"I know. You're so strong. It's just... this isn't a small thing. Lord, how I know."
"Yeah." Karen found Pam's hand wrapped around her shoulder, and covered it tenderly with her own.
"You've just been so miserable all the time," whispered Pam.
"Not all the time..." Karen replied, her voice equally low.
"Well, most of the time. When I've seen you with other people. With Jim. I can't bear to see you frown anymore." Just the thought of it made Pam frown herself. "I hardly ever see you smile. I just want to see you smile..."
"I smile when I'm with you."
"Yeah," Pam smiled, reminiscing of girl talk, pranks, and Christmas parties past. "We've had some fun... despite the tension, haven't we, Karen? Though sometimes I do wish I had stabbed you with my pen."
"Right back at ya."
Karen's eyes became unfocused, a thousand-yard stare down the stairwell. "I can't go back in there. Not today. If I do, there's no accounting for what I might do. I mean it, Pam - I could stab him with your pen, or stab me with your pen for that matter. Or Michael, just because he's pissing me off."
"I think we've all wanted to do that at some point, but I hear you. What do you want to do now?"
She pondered for a bit, scrunching up her freckled nose. "I'm thinking of going home and getting wasted."
Pam giggled. "As far as plans go, I've heard better. I've also heard much worse. Let's do it!"
"You're coming too?" asked Karen.
"Yup. You need me right now and, quite frankly I'm feeling a little stabby myself at the moment. You sure you're up for it though? Drinking at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning could certify us for AA. And how well stocked are you, anyway?"
"Dregs of several bottles. Most of it cheap."
Pam frowned. "Doesn't sound very good."
"You'll drink it and you'll like it. My misery, my rules."
It really didn't sound like a very good idea to go back to Karen's apartment to drink cheap, leftover booze. Granted, Karen's apartment was nicer than her own, but it was also contaminated through and through with Jim's presence (and Pam was pretty sure that the two of them had done it there), not to mention it was only two blocks away from Jim's place. It would be too close with too many reminders. There was no way for that to end well. So Pam extended an invitation. "Hey, come back to my place instead. I have some good stuff." And the place is virtually Jim-free, she added under her breath.
"I have an unopened bottle of Sour Puss," she admitted.
"Man, that's a girly drink."
"In case you haven't noticed, I am a girl, and so are you."
"You got anything else?" said Karen, rolling her eyes at her.
"Dregs of several bottles. Most of it cheap," Pam replied, smirking.
Karen grinned at that, which lifted Pam's spirits. "Fine. Let go of me so we can get out of here." Pam grudgingly obliged, giving her a fearsome pout.
"Wait," Karen interjected, stopping Pam by the arm as she tried to walk by. "My purse and jacket and things are still at my desk. We can't even drive away like that." She looked to the floor. "I can't go back in there right now," she murmured sullenly.
Pam considered for a moment (a long moment), trying to figure out what to do (with Karen still holding her arm). "I could... no, wait. I'll phone Toby, have him bring our stuff out." She trundled down the stairs with Karen in tow to call from Tate's phone in the 'lobby'. A quick chat followed, Karen fidgeting throughout, but Pam quickly wrapped up the call to give her a happy grin. "He's on his way down. See, I told you: good old reliable Toby. He's like that sweet older brother, he just never really aspires to anything."
"Tell your sweet older brother to hurry up, because I'm still sober."
"Can you be any more impatient?"
But Toby was swift after all, and no sooner had Karen resumed her fidgeting, the elevator chimed and he emerged carrying purses and jackets in his arms. Somehow Pam had the frightening thought that if she had asked Dwight instead of Toby, he'd be carrying the purses over his shoulder, seriously flaming but completely oblivious to it (had anyone filled Karen in on the details of that particular day?). Working here had warped her brain.
"I'll handle things with Michael, make up a plausible excuse for you," he said as he handed over his cargo. "No questions asked."
He looked between the two women; sad, soulful face softening as he took in their bleary eyes and spoiled makeup. "Will you be okay? I'm here for you, if you need me."
"We'll be fine... eventually. You've already done enough."
"Any time," he replied, lingering briefly before heading back up to the office.
They belted out tunes along with the All American Rejects on the drive home. Pam was driving her little Toyota; she knew that it was unsafe to drive when you were angry - both from the news and firsthand experience, sadly. Karen was angry. So Pam had her recline in the passenger's seat, hollering lyrics about breakups at the top of her lungs. She found it endearing the way Karen could stay so affable and raucous even when she was obviously crushed (her grip on the hand-hold was turning her knuckles white and the plastic looked uncomfortable with the situation, if such a thing were possible).
Pam was plenty happy when they finally arrived at her crappy apartment and spilled out into the parking lot (she just got this car and didn't want the interior damaged). Karen was still crooning away even with the car stopped and the radio turned off as she glumly extricated herself out the Yaris' undersized door. "Geez," Pam said, leading her friend to her building, "you're not supposed to keep singing until after you're drunk."
"I know that," Karen scoffed. "I just thought the bastard could use a theme song. I'm used to putting a lot of effort into things. I'm just tired of putting effort into something that can't possibly work. So now I'm putting effort into singing crappy songs off key."
"It's not that crappy. Or off key for that matter." Pam opened the door. "Come on in, make yourself comfortable. There's really only one place to sit," she said, meaning the couch in front of the TV," so have yourself a seat and I'll break open that bottle-"
"Quiet, you!" Karen was such a goof; she couldn't let a joke go. Just like Jim, really. Pam had really missed being able to just be silly and childish with someone, to relax and be free. For a while it almost seemed like she could have two people to be with in that way, but then it had just gotten weird and strained and uncomfortable, and every rare time she got to make a joke or pull a prank or just laugh with either of them, she would feel guilty seconds later for damaging their relationship, or be given the cold shoulder for the rest of the day by the forsaken party. She was tired of feeling that way, but she was worried about the awkwardness that would undoubtedly follow this incident.
But that was a concern for another time. Now Pam was simply glad to have her friend back, and troubled only with making her feel better. She unscrewed the cap of the Sour Puss, returning with the bottle and two small glasses that she set down on the coffee table in front of Karen. "Don't start without me. I'm going to change into something more comfortable."
Pam glared at her, tried to think of something to say but came up empty after an embarrassingly long time standing there not doing anything, then retreated into her bedroom to exchange her work skirt, oxford shirt, cardigan and stockings for jeans and a baggy sweatshirt. No wait, she thought, scratch the sweatshirt, go for a sweater. When she returned, Karen had already downed a glass and was working on a second. "It's good to see that you know how to follow instructions," she deadpanned, accepting the proffered beverage.
Pam was a well-known lightweight. Karen, despite her small size, could slam back the liquor like that chick in the Indiana Jones movie. Well, at least this morning she was trying to. The Sour Puss didn't last long.
"It's 10:30 in the morning, and I'm fucking HAMMERED!" yelled Karen, and it was a good thing it was 10:30 in the morning on a Tuesday or else that mighty shout would have generated noise complaints.
"It's a good day," Pam agreed, swirling around a tumbler (She owned tumblers? Who knew? Must have been something of Roy's that she accidentally packed...) of some unidentified liquid.
"Are you out of your mind? It's a shitty day. But at least we're drunk."
She couldn't argue with that. "I'd like to propose a toast: Fuck you, Jim Halpert!"
"Fuck men! Well, you know what I mean." Even drunk and miserable she was a hoot and a half. They simultaneously downed their glasses of whatever the hell it was and slouched back into the softness of the couch. The brave front didn't last long, and Karen quickly fell into melancholy. It was painful for Pam to hear about all the great things about being with Jim that Karen had given up, but she tried to be supporting and comforting.
"You know, I'll miss the childish goofiness the most," she said, sadly.
"Hey, I can pick up that slack."
"And the semi-regular sex."
Pam's eyes flew open. "You're on your own there." Karen smirked at her, suggestively.
Pam could see just how much Karen and Jim were alike. Maybe that contributed to it not working out between them - they were just too similar to get along long term. They thought with exactly the same brain. They got each other the same Christmas present, for Chrissakes. If you ignored the height difference you could almost figure that Karen was the female version of Jim. Which might explain why Pam liked her so much.
She felt Karen's hand on her thigh, and realized that the similarities may well work both ways. The idea made her strangely elated. She found herself falling into those two-toned eyes. So pretty... I can't look away... Her too-tight shirt wasn't helping. Pam could tell that the melancholy was now fake as Karen assailed her with a steely expression and said, "You know, I have you to blame for this."
"Well, I have you to blame for this!" Pam shot back.
Pam paused, befuddled. "I think I've run out of catty insults."
"Well, I've got a few more... hooker, floozy, harpy, harlot, bimbo, shrew, cu-" Karen collapsed, laughing as Pam slapped her hand over Karen's her mouth to try to stop her derogatory rant. Not that it really helped. The muffled yelps and insults continued. In their giggly fit, they had fallen to the floor, wedged awkwardly between the couch and the coffee table. It was uncomfortable but not at all unpleasant to Pam. Maybe it was the alcohol, or just the feel of a nice, warm body next to (underneath, intertwined with) hers after so many long months, but Karen felt it too (if the giddy smile she wore was any indication) so that last one couldn't be it. Booze then. Definitely the booze.
Karen was still trying to talk through Pam's hand, though really she should have removed it by now, shouldn't she have? Nah. She liked being able to have the last word, and told her so. But then Karen got a devilish little gleam in her eye, like she was scheming something - something evil.
Karen licked the inside of Pam's palm.
And not just a little lap, but a sloppy, slobbery lick that traveled the entire length of her heart line. She shrieked and pulled her hand away like it had been touched by a blowtorch (the flamey bit) and stared agape into Karen's mischievous eyes.
"Oh, you didn't just do that." Was it so wrong that she was so turned on by that? "You're disgusting!" But Karen found her hand again, cradled into her body as it was, and exposed it once more to her mouth, first softly kissing her wrist then moving up to her palm, her fingertips, sucking on them gently. Pam's heart went aflutter as Karen's velvety lips tickled her sensitive skin.
"Ahem... I mean, uh... what are you doing?" Well that was a dumb question. It was obvious what she was doing. The real questions were 'why?' and 'what next?'
Karen answered lazily as she dragged her kisses over the side of Pam's hand. "Do (kiss)you (kiss) want (kiss) me (kiss) to (kiss) stop?" Kiss, kiss, kiss.
"Oh God no!"
She knows she shouldn't. She knows this is the worst timing ever. She knows that if she acts upon her feelings she will jeopardize their carefully nurtured friendship. That's not going to stop her though.
Pam had never before kissed someone shorter than herself. It was a novel feeling - at least for now...