Author's Notes: I. Am. Obsessed.

So many delightfully awkward characters! So many dysfunctional relationships! Have I died and gone to heaven?

come to the window

1. as i was going to st. ives

". . .The cleaning services found your stash of jell-O powder in the storage room, we finally got the internet situation straightened out, and Andy smashed a chair again." Karen pauses to breathe and then adds curiously, "Oh, and some girl named Pam left you like a million messages."

Jim straightens, hand automatically going to his hair as if to cover the recent cut. He still feels half-naked without the shaggy ends hanging over his ears. "Pam? Really?" He asks, semi-casually. "Okay."

Karen raises her eyebrows and perches on the edge of his desk. "So who's the stalker?" And he sort of can't help the little grin that steals across his mouth, because only Pam could call a hundred million times and still not be some sort of desperate freak.

"Never heard of her," he deadpans, and twirls a pen around his forefinger and thumb; it's a skill he picked up from Andy and he kind of can't wait to show it off. "Must be another one of those damn supermodels."

She rolls her eyes at him but laughs anyway, and maybe that's what he likes best about her; like some sort of crazy evolution of attraction, where he started with Katy never understanding any of his jokes but was sort of just there all the time, and then Pam getting all of his jokes and half the time topping them with her own, and now Karen who gets it and thinks he's funny but is way too cool to actually participate.

She tweaks his cheek with a little grin. "Well, I'll leave you to Giselle," she teases and he comes back just as quickly with, "What, she called again, too?"

The joke ends there, though, punctuated with a not-quite-laugh from Karen and an affectionate over-the-shoulder glance. It's nice and precise and over. With Pam it might have carried on for days, even after the last vestiges of actual comedy had been sucked into Dwight's coffee mug.

They'd have kept laughing anyway.

2. how does your garden grow?

He thought falling back into place with Pam would take more than a minor breakdown; he'd imagined at least a year of furtive glances and awkward silences, but she manages-- in her typical fashion-- to show him up with one, decisive explosion.

And, okay, so things with Karen get a little strained, but he doesn't know how to explain that even though Pam is-- well, Pam, they've been good friends for years, best friends even, and while the unacknowledged sexual tension doesn't exactly make for good dinner conversation he's fairly sure the two women could really get along.

They are watching The Apprentice and fighting over popcorn (they made two bags but he eats quickly and Karen likes to savor and now won't share) when she finally brings it up. "What did you say to Pam after the Beach Day fiasco?"

She doesn't get that before Pam was Pam, she was the interesting new receptionist and with focus he can usually sometimes almost keep her there. He tries to explain this. "It's-- look, she's-- Pam is-- and we're just . . . and I think you two could really . . . you know . . . you know?"

She gives him one of those ten-minute looks that say you are the biggest idiot in the world. But it's sort of sad, too, like maybe she knows he didn't answer the question on purpose and his idiocy can be less then harmless, sometimes.

So he smiles apologetically and uses a kiss to try and sneak his hand into her bowl of popcorn.

Karen is faster than he is, and smarter, and she raps his knuckles with her fingers and pulls away with a smug grin. "You can't beat me, Halpert. You just can't."

She's one hundred-percent-right, although then again he could never beat Pam either.

The difference is, see, that Pam would have let him win-- at least once in a while.

3. rats and mice

"Okay," Michael crows, sweeping down to fling his arm around Jim's shoulder. It puts Jim on his guard, as this is almost always a bad thing. "Marry/boff/kill: Carol, Jan, Ryan."

Jim stares.

Sometimes that's all you can do.

"All right, all right, I'll go first," Michael concedes, laughing modestly as if giving in. "Marry Jan." His smile turns vicious. "Kill Carol." Jim watches with horrified fascination as his boss's eyes slide across the floor to the doorway, where Ryan paces back and forth with one hand in his ear and the other clutching his cell phone. "Boff Ryan. Oh yeah." His voice takes on an eerily husky tone and Jim can't help but scoot a little farther away.

Ryan looks up, his Michael-Scott-alert kicking in, and shies further out into the hallway, mouth moving fast into the speaker of his phone.

Michael bounces back, smiling again and laughing at nothing. "Your turn! Man, I love these boss-employee bonding sessions we have together, Jimmy. I really do."

And he's even almost sort of fond of Michael right then, even though he's called him Jimmy, because it's not like you can find people like this anywhere else on the planet. "Well," he says contemplatively, "Okay. Marry Ryan. Boff Jan. Kill Carol."

Everyone knows you kill Carol, or risk a complete and total breakdown of the Michael Scott variety.

Michael smiles widely and then elbows Jim's side suggestively. "Karen. Pam. Get your cute little booties over here for a second, will ya?"

The two women are huddled at Pam's computer, whispering furtively over whatever is on the screen. Pam tries to catch Karen's head but she's too late; the new employee has looked up and acknowledged Michael's existence, thereby sentencing both receptionist and salesperson to participation.

"Well, what's your opinion on the matter?" Michael asks as they grimly approach Jim's desk.

Pam sighs. "What matter, Michael?" She asks flatly.

"Marry/boff/kill: Carol, Jan, Ryan." Dwight explains helpfully, appearing out of nowhere and leaving Jim absolutely certain he has been gauging the conversation for several minutes, waiting for the perfect moment to integrate.

Welcome back to Scranton, Jim Halpert.

"Marry Ryan. Boff Jan. Kill Carol," Pam answers instantly.

Karen considers. "Marry Jan-- I can't stand to be with Ryan for more than a few minutes, much less my whole life. So I'll say kill Ryan and boff Carol. She's very elegant."

Jim closes his eyes slowly as Dwight remarks scathingly, "Yeah, if by 'elegant' you mean closely resembles a feces."

He doesn't have to look to know the other man used air quotes over the word "elegant".

Michael inhales sharply and announces tearfully, "I'm going back to my office. Don't disturb me ever again! Just-- just let me die in there!" He marches away, already warbling the notes of "Goodbye my Lover".

Karen watches with mild curiosity and then returns to her desk, pursued closely by an irate Dwight.

Pam says conversationally, "Everyone knows you kill Carol," and rolls her eyes.

And she's right, you know, they do, so even though he shouldn't Jim turns back to his computer and sort of pretends he doesn't hear Dwight threatening Karen with his numchucks.