Author Notes: The first episode of The Office that I watched was Branch Closing. A bunch of us went back to Tom's apartment after a rec-league floor hockey game because they wanted to watch the show and I had nothing better to do. I sort of had some idea about what was going on with the whole Jim/Pam thing, but didn't really care. When one of my teammates asked if Jim was still in love with Pam after his scene with Karen, my reaction was to say that, if I were Jim, I'd be like "Pam who?" Karen is so much hotter. Of course that was without me knowing about the long, tortuous love-saga that they have, which would cloud Jim's judgement.

So where was I? Oh yes. What if Jim thought the way I did (you're probably lucky he doesn't) and I took it and ran to the obvious extreme...

It has always been my dream to become the Salman Rushdie of fanfiction.


Okay, so it's actually a fatwa calling for his assassination, but I just wanted to write that.

That was one of their better cooking experiments, Jim thought to himself as he scrubbed the skillet. The kitchen air was filled with the hearty aroma of tomatoes and basil - Karen was trying to get closer in touch with her cultural heritage, and the great Italian food was an awesome side effect of that (they still made time for Chinese take-out every week). Of course, with all the pasta carbohydrates, he was starting to get a little pudgy. Then again, who was he trying to impress?

The phone rang from over by the kitchen door. He contemplated letting the machine take it, but it was kind of late, so it probably wasn't a telemarketer. He put the pan down into the sink and went get the phone, wet fingers dribbling onto the tiles.

"Hey, slacker," Karen complained, "You're getting my nice clean floor all dirty. Are you really going to abandon me to do this mountain of dishes by myself?"

"Yes, you'll really miss my pre-washing."

She pouted at him adorably. "What kind of husband lets his poor wife do all the cleaning herself?"

"A traditional one?" he retorted, sticking his tongue out at her. "Hello," Jim said, picking the receiver up to his ear.

"Jim?" said the woman's voice on the other end of the line. "It's Pam."

Whoops, he'd picked up the phone with his wet hand. Blech. He wiped the soapy water from his hand onto his pantleg. "Pam who?" he asked, not really paying attention as he tried to dry the handset with it still against his head. Karen was giggling at his antics. He never got tired of hearing her laugh, even if it was at his expense.

There was an uncomfortable pause from the caller. He was about to ask if the woman was still there when her broken voice came over the line again. "Pam?" she said, like she was unsure of her own name. Strange, her voice seemed so familiar. If he wasn't so distracted he'd probably remember who it was. "Pam from Dunder-Mifflin Pam." Duh!Well now he felt like an idiot.

"Oh, Pam! Hey... Long time no see. How are you?" He shook his head in wonder. "Sorry. I haven't heard from you in ages. Karen, it's Pam. Say 'hi'."

"Hi Pam!" Karen shouted into the phone, getting a muffled "Hi Karen," in response. "Umm... do I have to actually talk to her?" Karen asked him in a whisper. Jim shook his head 'no', so she gave him a little kiss on the cheek and went back to finish doing the dishes.

"It's good to hear from you again, Pam," he said. "What have been up to?"

"Oh, you know... Living the life of the struggling artist and doing graphic design to pay the bills."

"That's awesome. Finally living the dream."

She grumbled something. "More like nightmare sometimes."

"Yeah, I get that. It's tough starting a new career. I'm still freaked out about what I'm doing these days. Would you have guessed a few years ago that I'd actually be doing something important? It boggles the mind!"

Jim heard the fumbling of the phone on the other end. "Yeah," Pam said a few seconds later. "It's actually not going too well for me right now. Kind of stumped on the career thing and it's not exactly the most lucrative career."

"Aww... that's too bad, Pam. You know what you really should do is -" Jim's advice was interrupted.

"Jim! Jim!" Karen whisper-yelled. "Feel this! The baby is kicking!" she practically squealed.

The phone temporarily forgotten, Jim put his hand on his wife's belly, feeling his child move for the first time. "Wow, feel the little guy go," he marvelled at the acrobatics of First-name-to-be-decided-later 'Danger' Halpert, as he'd already taken to calling the baby. And Karen hadn't hit him yet for referring to their baby by that name (how cool was that?).

He couldn't stop from gushing and blurting into the phone. "Pam, I'm going to be a father in a few months!" Yeah, he was still mostly blissed-out from that.

"That's so great, Jim. Congratulations. I'm so happy for you and Karen," Pam said, though in his younger days he would have noticed that she didn't really enunciate his wife's name. "Um. I'm going to let you get back to what you were doing. Bye Jim."

"Hey, take care Pam. Don't be a stranger now." Jim hung up the phone and rejoined his wife. "Well, that was nice."

"Yeah," Karen agreed. "She's a sweet gal."

"Not as sweet as you." He kissed her on the nose and she gave him a playful swat before kissing him properly.

Pam hung up her phone despondently. Her legs felt numb and she wasn't sure she could stand again tonight - or ever. Just dialing his number had taken the last ounce of courage that she had. Now she was out of courage and out of hope. That was pretty much gone the moment he had said "Pam who?"

She had prepared herself for rejection. She had prepared herself for anger and hate. She had hoped to get her best friend back. (She'd prayed for a declaration of love, but knew that wasn't likely - not that God would listen to a green-shirt-wearing heathen like herself). She hadn't prepared herself for being forgotten. Was Jim Halpert's love really so fleeting? Didn't even know who she was? The tears fell from her chin to her lap. Never had Pam imagined that they'd ever be reduced to this... this awkward small-talk and phoney conversation.

She'd lost him. Forever.

Never once had he called her 'Beesly'.

At the very least, she'd needed a shoulder to cry on - even if it was a hundred miles away and bounced over a communications satellite. The truth was that this past year had been harder on her than she'd let on; not to her friends, her therapist, not even to her mom. In the past it was always Jim who had been there for her. But Jim just wasn't opening up enough to her to hear it. She wasn't about to pour her heart out to someone who didn't care about her.

And why should he? After all, she was just the plain, dull receptionist who turned him down. What did she have to offer a man that sexy, stylish, sophisticated Karen couldn't? They sounded so happy...

She lay down on her bed. The tears didn't stop that night. Pam could only think of one way to make them stop for good.

Since neither worked for Dunder-Mifflin anymore, the news of Pam's death never reached him. So he continued to live his happy little life with his perfect family - the metaphorical 2.3 kids, his beautiful wife Karen, and a little fluffy dog named Poncho.