Title: the hate allows the delight
Fandom / Pairing: The Office (US), Jim/Pam-ish, Jim/Karen-ish, Pam
Rating: T, for innuendo?
Disclaimer: All waitresses look the same. (Just like disclaimers.)
Summary: How will any comedy arrive?
Notes: For Katie.
It's self-loathing, really. It's why she's here, why she's stuck in this place with these people and these thoughts, driving her insane inch by inch. Nails on a chalkboard and she's contemplating aspirin and maybe alcohol, not for the first time.

It's laughable, but there's no comedy in it.

&&&

She's changed, she can feel it.

Blue dress in the middle of her closet, shoes to match in the corner. Sunflowers in her room, fabric petals gathering dust in water staler than the bread in her fridge - this is the new her. Daring, bold, not her. It feels as right as it does wrong. There are long streaks of colors she would never associate with herself - royal blues stunning in their intensity and neon greens abrasive in their garishness.

She is everything in and of and about herself, and she suddenly feels like a thousand times what she has felt herself before. Wide bands of sunshine yellow, bright and intense against the people who turn to her - she is elemental. Fire, wind, water, and earth color her thoughts, a painting against the canvas a dew-dropped tree against the background of a day long-shadowed and the healthy green of waxy cuticles.

She thinks about shadows - under her eyes and under her nails and under under under. It makes her feel three dimensional.

It makes her wonder if she's in a two-dimensional world.

&&&

He stops wearing the blazer and she starts sketching his shoulders.

She's almost glad of the new view she gets, his back to her. The first week all she could think of was how her hands must have curled to tangle in his hair the way she remembers they did, the curve his back must have made as he folded himself to her, all in and going for bust.

(She wonders which of them flinched first.)

She does a self-portrait over the weekend in oils and feels herself study her body closely. She doesn't like the way the oils smear, the way she feels smaller in oil paints and shifts canvases and mediums, flattening and altering her image until she has five noses and seven eyes and she's synthetic cubism across the taut material, three shoulders bumping against her twelve chins adorned by eight lips. The even numbers make her bite her lip when her art teacher points out the few odd-numbered parts against the multitude of evens, make her think of frozen cartons of dinners, enough for two but too much for one, make her think of old class rings and pre-engagement rings on fine necklaces of delicate almost-gold hidden under higher collars and brighter colors.

His lines were cleaner in the jacket, she thinks to herself as she idly sketches in the corner of a letterhead that's set to be shredded anyway. She can see the outline of his shoulder blade through the shirt, remembers the press of vertebrae against her fingers and the feeling of solid male through the sweater and the shirt and wonders when she forgot how male Jim was (is). How he was different from her.

He makes to turn to her and she slips papers over the sketch, but he just shares a look with Karen.

She feels small.

&&&

There are small scratches in the middle of her palms from when she broke a candy jar in her new apartment, hard tile floors resistant to bouncing glass.

Jellybeans skittered to the corners of the earth. She sketched it for hours before realizing that her hands stung. The sun was almost below the horizon by the time she had swept up the mess and dried off her face.

&&&

She tries to hate Karen. She really does.

(She has no claim to Jim, no means, method, or reason. Six months and a move and dead air she can claim - him, no.)

Except it's Christmas and she realizes that there's no point. So they plot against Angela, who she hates, but she feels something inside her lurch as Dwight unwraps walkie-talkies against the fallen, broken look in Angela's eyes. They're just lonely souls, except Angela's (probably) dating Dwight and she dumped her fiancee in spite of a decade of mediocrity.

She laughs with Karen in the breakroom as Kevin sings (butchers) something in the background and she can't help but see Jim's white shirt in the corner of her eye and the way Karen's eyes sometimes flick over to him with something like warmth and affection and a glimmer of gold and it makes her wonder. She sees them hug after buying each other the same movie and can't remember who she was calling.

She has vacation time aplenty and calls her mother - that's who it was - and tells her that she'll drive to her parent's house in a day or two and would they like her to bring anything? Her mother just smiles (she can hear it in her voice) and tells her to just come home safe.

&&&

There's a mix tape on her desk one day. Karen's got her hand in Jim's coat pocket and they're walking out the door together, but the tape is in her hands and she wonders what's on it.

She hears Regina Spektor and thinks about wide bands of color and wine and the rustle of cotton against crape until the tape moves to Iron and Wine and she hears herself promising the devastated reflection in her mirror that it ends tonight.

She opens her eyes to Ed Calle and presses on the gas until the engine groans.

&&&

It's all relative, she realizes, performing two-point perspective on a spherical object. A flick of her pen and suddenly it's three points and she's humming along to the Dandy Warhols breathing into the mic breathing into her stereo.

She breathes.


This was written right after A Benihana Christmas and definitely inspired by a little lack of Jim/Pam love. But I do love Karen, and I'll be sad when Rashida's stint on the show is over. I gotta say, I almost miss Andy. Almost. (Except for the part where I don't.)

As for the strange summary - I went through a phase where I wrote based off a random sentence generator. Tons of fun, that. I think every writer should try that at least once.