Here is some more delicious JimPam fluff (motivated in part, I must say, by threat of torture)! They are chronologically scattered, though by sheer accident I noticed that they alternate between the Roy and Jim eras of Pam's life; that is to say, the first one takes place during season 4, the second during season 2/3, the third during season 4, the fourth during 2/3 and the last during season 4 (or maybe even 5). Other than general placement, they aren't related to any particular episodes or anything.
Jim knew that Pam loved snow, but hated winter.
Every year, around the last week of December, Pam caught a nasty cold or some mild strain of flu and came into the office looking exquisitely disheveled despite the neatness of her clothes and hair; Jim spent a large part of the colder months each year gnawing on his pencil, unduly distracted by her coughing and sniffling, her quiet misery.
(And when he wasn't mangling the pencil, he occupied himself by feeling guilty, because he couldn't help thinking that the bright glint of fever in her eyes and the high color in her cheeks made her more beautiful than ever.)
The winter was long and torturous for both of them; Angela and Dwight growled their snide comments at Pam as insult added to injury, and Jim was forced to sit and watch from his desk, unhappy because Pam was unhappy. (Between December and February, Angela's Pam-Pong scores nearly tripled.) The only perfect moments to be found during those cold stale-air-conditioning days were when Pam lingered at her desk after hours, moving stiffly, and Jim took too long gathering up his things, and they stood together in the silence of the dark office and looked out at the bright silence of the falling snow.
Every winter, Pam got sick (and in the second year of their friendship Jim had started slipping her little things, Dayquil and roses left on her desk, a ploy to make her smile). But every day through those bitter months she showed up to work in the morning, no matter how falling-apart and exhausted she looked, no matter how terrible she felt. Every year, Jim scolded her, told her to sneak out and go home and get some sleep (he would be more than happy to trick Dwight into creating a diversion). And every year she laughed, and coughed, and made up some excuse about not wanting to get behind on faxes, and shouldn't he get back to his desk? (And Jim would never admit it, but he was secretly half-relieved when she decided to stay.)
Then came January of 2008, when they had been dating for six months, and on the first day back from their long weekend, Pam wasn't sitting at her desk when Jim walked into the office. He managed to ignore the glaring emptiness behind him for about twenty minutes, but then he was restless and worried and he couldn't sit still anymore. He unfolded himself from his chair and prowled the office, asked Michael if Pam had called in, haunted the break room until Angela chased him out.
An hour later, Michael called the office staff into the conference room for some ridiculous presentation; and while normally Jim would have been a model employee, attentive and inquisitive and laughing to himself when Michael wasn't looking, without his co-conspirator he couldn't concentrate, couldn't move past his faint disquiet to come up with a single serviceable jibe.
"And that," Michael announced, "is why Switzerland, like Toby, should be banned from the Earth. Any questions?"
But Jim wasn't listening. Out in the office, filtering through the glass door and the blinds, came the sounds of the door opening and closing; sliding down in his chair and craning his neck, Jim was able to catch sight of Pam, an hour and a half late for work, collapsing into her chair and resting her head on her arms.
The office was freezing, outside the sky was bleak and the earth was cracked and dry, but suddenly Jim couldn't keep the smile from his face and his heart filled up and grew, overflowed until he could hardly breathe. Without a thought, he stood and strode to the door of the conference room, not even slowing down as Michael's gabbling got higher and higher pitched and finally bordered on a hysterical shriek.
"Jim! Where are you going? This is vital information – we are learning a valuable lesson here today!"
Jim looked over his shoulder, vaguely surprised at the interruption, but didn't stop. "Yeah, sorry about that," he called. "I have better things to do." Then the door of the conference room swung shut, and Michael turned immediately back to his presentation, grinning and stuttering like nothing had happened at all. What would have been desertion from anyone else was, from Jim, only an endearing quirk.
Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, twiddled its thumbs and adjusted its ties and dreamed vaguely about duct taping Michael's mouth shut. The camera, abandoning the stagnant tableau of the conference room, turned instead to peer out through the glass at the defector.
Jim made a beeline for the receptionist's desk, not even bothering with the pretenses he usually made such a great show of putting on. Instead, he touched Pam gently on the shoulder, and when she raised her head he brushed her hair back behind her ears, letting his fingers linger on her too-hot cheek; then he kissed her on the forehead, and moved to stand behind her, gently rubbing her shoulders as she swiveled around and buried her flushed face in his shirt.
The camera captured the movements of their lips. It could not hear them, not through the distance and the glass and the door.
What it did not hear was Jim saying, softly and with the habitual warm humor back in his voice, "I should have known you'd come in eventually. You're just too dedicated to selling paper. Nothing can keep you away." She mumbled something inaudible, and he sighed, running one hand through her hair as the other caressed the back of her neck. "Seriously, though," he continued, "you should go home. Get some rest. You aren't missing much, I promise. We go through this every year – haven't you learned anything by now?"
"Yes," Pam said suddenly, and was forced to turn away from him as a fit of coughing overtook her; when she swiveled back her voice was hoarse, almost gone. "I've learned that it always feels much worse when I don't get to see you." She was too tired to be embarrassed, too sick to be ashamed; Jim felt his own face reddening (because it was odd, but he had been thinking the exact same thing).
Jim had always known that Pam hated winter; and because of that, he had hated it as well. But the first winter they spent together, he learned something new; that in the midst of the darkest months of the year, more than the snow could be perfect, and sometimes the frigid unheated office was warmer and sunnier than the brightest days of spring.
ii. April Fools' Day
Jim knew that Pam liked roses, but that lilacs were her favorite flower.
They were the office's own merry band of pranksters, and April Fools' Day was like their Christmas; under the pretense of pre-tax-filing meetings for the company, they stayed after hours as often as three times a week all through March, drawing stick-figure-diagrams on sheets of paper pinned to the conference room walls, planning. (No one pointed out that filing the branch's taxes was a job for Accounting and had nothing to do with either of them.)
And what could be a better source of inspiration for two resourceful tricksters like themselves, but a box of old hand-drawn comics discovered under Dwight's desk?
"Ooh, here's a good one," Pam announced, pulling out a paperclip-bound sheaf of the company's best cardstock. "'The Adventures of Schwight J. Drute on the Plains of Peril'. He must have had this since he was, like, twelve." She leafed through it, a slow smile spreading across her face. "Oh my God, is that a unicorn?"
"Let me see." Jim, sprawled out over a wheeled chair he had dragged over from his desk, held out a hand imperiously; Pam tossed the comic to him from her perch on the table next to the weather-beaten box. Jim caught the folder effortlessly, ruffled the pages between his fingers, and tossed it away with hardly a glance. "Next."
"What do you mean, 'next'? You barely even looked at it!"
Jim shrugged, swiveling around in his chair to show his disdain. "I'm just not feeling unicorns this year. I want to be inspired. I want this to be our best caper yet." He smiled his lazy Jim smile, but there was a hint of roguishness to it, something in the way he threw out his arms to encompass the whole office and beyond. A challenge. "Come on, Beesly, pick up the pace. Impress me."
Pam raised an eyebrow at him. "Someone sounds a little full of themselves tonight."
Jim's smile grew a little wider. "What can I say? I told you to keep that ego in check. It's not my fault you can't listen to good advice."
Pam gasped in mock outrage; she plunged her hand into the box and threw the first thing she touched, which turned out to be a box full of paper clips. Jim spun his chair and caught it easily, letting the momentum of the movement carry him around and around, laughing; when he slowed down again Pam had crossed her arms over her chest and was pinning him with a half-smile, half-glare.
"Shall I just call you the Prankster King from now on, then?" she teased; Jim leaned his chin on his fist, adopting his most thoughtful pose.
"No, I don't think that will be necessary," he concluded finally. "'Your Radiant Resplendent Majesty' will do just fine."
Pam, at a loss for words, stuck her tongue out at him and pulled the next folder out of the box. "Fine, O Most Annoying One. What about 'The Chlorophyll Menace'?"
"That sounds interesting." Jim held out his hand again, and Pam tossed it to him for another easy catch (he was so lanky and long, something she forgot sometimes when the suffocating sameness of the office made him seem rigid and small).
"Oh, this does look nice," Jim said approvingly, flipping through the pages. "Plants coming to life and devouring Scranton, only to be defeated by the heroic intervention of one Schwight J. Drute… and behind it all is Drute's nemesis, the nefarious Dr. Weed. I think Dwight must have had a bad run-in with poison ivy or something and this is his revenge… oh, here's something interesting. Dr. Weed's evil plot? To turn all of humanity into flowers."
The smile on Pam's face was only a pale shadow of Jim's wicked smirk, but it betokened greater things to come. "You know," she said thoughtfully, "The weather's getting warmer and the first flowers are starting to grow in the park. It wouldn't be too hard…"
"I like the way you think, Beesly," Jim chortled, closing the last page of the folder and tossing it onto the conference table. "Evil plants it is, then. I've got some green carpet left over from Mark's redecorating spree, and we can steal the potted plants from Vance Refrigeration… I'm sure Bob wouldn't mind. So all that leaves is the flowers." He paused for a moment, and reached for the comic again. "Do you think the type matters? Dwight's illustrations are usually pretty specific."
"Scary specific," Pam confirmed.
A knock on the conference room door startled them both; they shared a wild-eyed panicked glance, and then they were both moving, with the ease of long teamwork and practice. Pam jumped off the table and shoved back the chairs she had displaced; Jim leaped up, kicking his own chair back into a corner, seized the box of incriminating evidence and shoved it under the table just as the doorknob began to turn. By the time Roy had the door open wide enough to stick his head in, Jim and Pam were sitting at the conference table, talking seriously over a sheaf of papers that very well could have been tax reports (Roy didn't look too closely).
He shoved the door open all the way and stepped inside, one hand concealed behind his back, the wrinkling of cellophane accompanying his steps. "Hey, Pam," he greeted her a little too harshly (Jim didn't miss the pointed glance Roy managed to dart out of the corner of his eye).
"Hey," Pam replied, all smirks and smiles gone; she was pale and quiet again, nothing more than a receptionist stuck late in the office (and Jim's heart ached to see the real Pam disappear). She stood up and moved to kiss Roy, but before she could, he held out his hidden hand, revealing a bouquet of blood-red roses.
"Here you go," he rumbled, shoving them into her hands, as her face lit up in surprise. "For our engagement anniversary." It was clear from the way he said "engagement" that he wished it could be another word; but he didn't press the issue, and he moved aside to let Pam out into the dark office as she muttered something about water.
She returned a tense, uncomfortable moment later, this time with empty hands; it was the work of a moment to grab her coat off the back of a chair and shove the "tax reports" into Jim's unresisting grip. Then Roy had her by the upper arm and was pulling her away, out the door into the dark spring night, talking about dinner at the new bar that had just opened up down the street. Jim sat and watched her, feeling unaccountably stupid, his big clumsy hands flat on the table and his mouth shut.
Just before she took the final step out the door, though, Pam turned to look back at him over her shoulder, and the twinkle in her eye caught his attention like nothing else could. "Lilacs," she told him, in the carrying prankster's voice and not the receptionist's muted mumble. "I think lilacs would look perfect around the office. Don't you?"
"Enough with the girly decorating stuff," Roy said brusquely, taking her arm and escorting her out into the night.
Jim stood slowly and gathered up his things; he replaced the box under Dwight's desk, short one folder, which he tucked surreptitiously into a drawer of his own desk. His brain was filled with flowers; daisies and dandelions he'd noticed growing in the pavement-cracks in the parking lot, blue blossoms he'd seen in the park. Lilacs. Where could he find lilacs? Maybe they sold them at that florist on Main Street…
As he was leaving the office, he noticed a bunch of cellophane-wrapped roses abandoned in the trash. The scent of them wafted up in a halo around the receptionist's desk, sweet as a single forbidden kiss, and even in the dark they were as red as a broken heart.
iii. June 10th
Jim knew all about Pam's dream wedding, down to the very bells.
On the morning of June tenth, 2008, Jim Halpert was half an hour late for work. He had overslept, and almost injured himself several times in the haste to shave and change and get out his door; then his car had refused to start, and he had spent a very tense and oil-stained few minutes tinkering hopelessly with the myriad things under the hood, and by the time he finally made it to downtown Scranton he was more than ready for a day of quiet boredom punctuated by stolen glances at Pam (and stolen kisses in the break room).
Those hopes, however, were quickly dashed. The first thing he saw upon entering was Michael, standing on a stack of boxes in the front of the office, dressed in a ballroom-style tuxedo, fiddling with a lilac paper flower pinned to the front of his tie. A wisp of quiet panic touched the corner of Jim's soul; what incredible idiocy was this? What sort of mind-boggling events had he missed in those lost thirty minutes?
Then Michael looked up, alerted by the sound of the door closing, and there was no more time for musing. "Jim!" Michael cried, overjoyed; the flurry of frantic activity in the office stilled for a moment, and Jim found himself the focus of five wide-eyed stares. Then Kelly and Kevin descended upon him, both babbling at once, and Jim barely managed to drop his coat before he was swept away into Michael's office and the door slammed shut behind him.
"Oh my God!" Kelly squealed, manhandling Jim into Michael's chair with surprising strength (Jim was too startled, and then too wise, to resist). "I knew you'd come! Michael and Dwight were worried because you were late, well actually not Dwight because he's such a party pooper, he doesn't know how to have fun at all, but Michael was all freaked out and I told him, no way, he will so show up, he's not a jerk like Roy was, he wouldn't leave her at the altar, or actually the copier, but whatever and now you're here!"
All of this in one breath; and at the same time she was unknotting and reknotting Jim's tie, straightening his collar, mussing up his hair ("It looks so much sexier like that, all scruffy and adorable,") and Kevin was hovering over his shoulder, muttering unintelligible protests.
The door to the office swung open with a crash and Oscar appeared in the gap, hands full of paper, tie thrown over his shoulder like a sash. "Out, Kelly," he commanded, saying the words and performing the motion in the same moment; suddenly he was inside the office and Kelly was shoved gently outside, already fleeing as the door closed behind her.
Oscar deposited his burden on Michael's desk and turned to survey the hapless Jim, arms akimbo, expression businesslike. "Don't freak out," he assured the erstwhile captive; Jim only stared at him, the same you-have-got-to-be-freaking-kidding-me stare he so often used to bait the camera.
"Look, you'll be fine. No reason to panic." Sorting through the clutter on the desk, Oscar pulled out a flower which had been painstakingly folded from several sheets of lilac-colored paper; this he affixed to Jim's collar with a safety pin. Next came a comb, which was employed to muss up Jim's hair rather than tame it ("Trust me, it's better this way").
"I don't know what Kelly thought she was doing," Oscar continued briskly, as he straightened Jim's collar and adjusted his tie. "She wasn't supposed to be in here at all; it's her job to deal with Pam."
"Pam?" Jim, who had been more or less stunned speechless, perked up at that magic name; life and emotion came back into his eyes. The nervous energy returned to his limbs, and he was struggling to stand up, restrained only by Oscar's hand on his shoulder. "Where's Pam? What's going on?" Pam would be able to explain this madness to him; Pam was a touch of sanity (she was his sanity).
"You'll see Pam soon enough. Just relax, okay? This is a big day for you. Take it slow."
"A big day?" Jim gave up, leaning back into the chair and surrendering to Oscar's ministrations. "I hadn't planned on anything more exciting than another expense report, but…"
"What? You mean you don't know what day it is?" Oscar paused and drew back a step, staring wide-eyed at Jim in utter amazement.
"What are you talking about? I know what day it is. It's Thursday, June…" Jim's own eyes widened to match Oscar's. "OhmyGod. Oh, my God. Please tell me – please tell me this isn't what I think it is…"
"Relax," Oscar said soothingly. Then came three raps on the door in quick succession, and Jim found himself being pulled out of the chair and shoved towards the outer office with no more than the dire warning hissed into his ear; "It's time!"
The door swung open, and Jim found himself staring at the faces of his assembled coworkers, all of whom were beaming, all of whom where clutching bunches and bouquets of lilac paper flowers. They parted ranks for him, miraculously, clearing a path to where a grinning Michael stood on top of a stack of paper boxes, clutching an open three-ring binder in his arms. Waiting.
It was time.
Jim took a deep breath, tugged at the paper flower nestled at his collar (for luck), and walked slowly, deliberately, down the carpeted and desk-lined aisle. He stopped in front of Michael's makeshift podium, nervously returned his boss's grin, and tucked his hands into his pockets; the office staff turned as one to look towards the break room door, and Jim turned with them, suddenly not quite able to breathe.
The door the break room swung open; and there, preceded by Kelly and Phyllis as an honor guard, wreathed by a whistling tune from Dwight's recorder, was Pam.
"Wow," Jim sighed, starstruck and dazed. They had fashioned her a veil out of paper towels stapled together, fastened liberally with lilac flowers; more of the flowers were clasped between her hands. Dangling bracelets of paper clips and brightly-colored thumbtacks adorned her wrists, while bottle caps and yogurt lids glittered like jewels on a string around her neck; but the thing that knocked Jim breathless was her smile, her blazing golden smile that rivaled the sun outside for brilliance and made his chest ache from the pressure of his swelling, pounding heart.
Pam progressed along the aisle in the wake of Kelly, who scattered liberal handfuls of Post-It notes that fluttered to the floor; the break-room bride caught Jim's gaze and held it, and Jim felt a mad grin starting to emerge on his face as well.
Then she was standing in front of him, radiant and he could almost see the laughter fighting to get past her lips; he took her hands and kissed her and he could taste it, warm and sweet as she quaked with giggles she could barely suppress.
Michael cleared his throat loudly and they broke apart (but not too far apart). "Save it for the reception, kids," he chided in a half-whisper; then, in a blaring stadium voice, he announced their purpose to the rest of the office.
"We are gathered here today," he intoned, "To witness the… miwacle of mawwaige…" he stopped, cleared his throat. "Today is June tenth!" he declared, boomingly. "I know we all thought we'd see a wedding on June tenth, so here we are! I mean, of course, we all thought there'd be a different groom, but the show must go on, right? And as the wise man said; 'First comes love, then comes marriage'… and we all know Jim and Pam are in looove!"
Stanley's voice, low and rumbling across Michael's boundless enthusiasm; "Get to the good part already."
"Oh, right. Sure." Michael cleared his throat again, ruffled the pages of his binder noisily, and finally found what he was looking for. "Pam Beesly, receptionist of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton," he trumpeted, "do you henceforth take Jim Halpert –"
"Big Tuna!" howled Andy, from somewhere in the back; Phyllis shushed him.
"—Big Jim Tuna Halpert to be your lawfully wedded paper salesman? By the power invested in me…"
"I do," Pam whispered to Jim; Michael had moved on to the next part of the obviously improvised ceremony and didn't hear her. She glanced over at him, then stood up on her toes to whisper in Jim's ear, "You know, this means you can't call me Beesly anymore."
Jim raised his hand, waving it to get Michael's attention. "Wait, you didn't ask me yet," he protested. Michael sighed, but flipped back a page in the binder (there was no way he was actually reading).
"Do you, Big Jim Tuna Halpert, take Pam –"
Jim didn't wait for him to finish; instead he stared down into Pam's eyes and pronounced, in a voice like bells ringing, "Absolutely I do."
Pam instantly blushed a deep scarlet and swatted him on the arm; he grinned even wider and kissed her again, as the entire office exploded into cheers around them and the phones started ringing, chiming out in celebration, announcing the union of receptionist and paper salesman to all of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton.
"Ah, summer love," Michael sighed, giving up on his ceremony and closing his eyes to listen to the ringing of the phones. "Summer lovin'… happened so fast…"
When Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly got married for real, a year and a day later, he bribed several friends and relatives to set their cell phones off at the very moment of their first kiss as man and wife; and when asked which was more beautiful, the huge bronze songs from the belfry or the tinny tingling chimes of the phones, neither one of the happy couple could say.
Jim knew that Pam hated country music.
"Okay, time to get serious. Cowboy hats?"
"Check – wait, why would we need rope?"
Jim looked up from his clipboard, furrowing his brows in consternation. "Pam, don't you remember? Dwight gave very specific instructions that this rodeo party is to be as lifelike as possible."
"Oh, I get it; lassoes for the rocking horse. Check."
But instead of moving on to the next item on the list, Jim tapped his chin with his pencil, looking pensive. "Lassoes," he said thoughtfully. "You know, Pam, that is a great idea. See, I was just going to use the rope to tie Dwight up and stash him in the stairwell, but I think lassoes fit more into the spirit of the party. Genius, Beesly, genius." Pam snorted with laughter; Jim only gave her a solemn look, that said I can't believe you aren't taking this as seriously as I am. "Next item," he announced, "is… a hunting rifle? Dear God, what movies has Michael been watching?"
"Did cowboys even use hunting rifles?" Pam asked thoughtfully. "I mean, I haven't seen a lot of Westerns. Roy loves those movies, but I think they're kind of stupid, so I don't really know." She shrugged, rummaging idly through a stack of child-sized cowboy hats which lay abandoned in the corner of the costume store. "And where does Michael expect us to get a gun, anyway?"
"Right," Jim announced, checking off another item on the list. "Water pistol it is, then." He ambled over to the next aisle, poking around through the scattered detritus of Halloween. Pam lost sight of him for a moment among the vampire cloaks and samurai swords; then his head appeared over the top of the partition. "Hey, Pam!" he hissed, as though sharing a secret; Pam moved closer, curious despite herself. "What do you think of these?" he asked, stepping out into view again; only now he was wearing the largest, clumsiest boots Pam had ever seen, sand-brown, complete with three-inch-long golden spurs.
"Wow," Pam breathed, feigning a swoon. "Jim Halpert, you are simplydashing."
Jim only chuckled, sweeping the ten-gallon hat she'd been holding out of her grip and settling it on his head. "You really don't watch any cowboy movies, do you?"
"I kind of gave up on that whole genre after the seventh grade," Pam confessed; she tried to snatch the hat back, pricked by his mischievous grin, but he was too tall and she was forced to pick another one. "Why?"
"Because – dashing is the word you use for the knights in shining armor who ride in on the big white horses to say the day. We cowboys are more – rugged. Manly." He struck what he obviously thought to be a manly pose, showing his biceps for emphasis; Pam burst out laughing and stumbled back against the wall, almost knocking over a life-size Frankenstein in the process.
"Steady on thar, little missy," Jim cautioned in his best Texan drawl; Pam doubled over, gasping for breath, as tears of mirth welled up in her eyes. They were starting to get strange looks from the other Halloween store patrons, but Jim wasn't deterred in the least. He took a step closer, sweeping off his hat and bowing low (a gesture oddly suited to his long, lanky frame), then straightened up again and offered his arm. A few twanging strains of guitar (or was it banjo?) music drifted out of the store's PA.
Years later, Jim would point to this as evidence that the universe wanted them to be together; that at the very moment he had donned the ridiculous costume and had Pam laughing hysterically at his mercy, the radio turned to country music.
"Come now, darlin'" Jim drawled, "May I have the honor of this dance?"
"Jim! Stop, please," Pam begged, laughing so hard she was gasping for breath; but he took her by the hand and twirled her around, square-dancing to the best of his ability, saying things like 'yeehaw' and 'round 'em up' at what he felt were appropriate intervals. Finally she gave in, linking her arm with his and allowing him to spin her around and around while the guitar-twangs and badly-rhymed lyrics yowled at them from the loudspeakers, until they could take it no more and they fell apart, exhausted and howling with laughter.
Pam fell into a stack of feather boas, quaking with mirth, while Jim slid down the wall to sit on the floor and kicked off the cumbersome boots. They both looked up at the same moment, and shared a lightning grin across the masks and helmets they had knocked down in their wild dance; but the moment was ruined as a menacing shadow fell across them, blocking out the fluorescent lighting from above.
"Excuse me sir, miss," the store manager said, his voice clipped and polite and freezing cold. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave…"
"Well, I think that was a pretty successful trip," Jim commented conversationally as he turned the key in the ignition, bringing to car to life with a roar. He backed up out of the store parking lot carefully, as their purchases shook and rattled in the backseat; he managed to spend several minutes looking in his various mirrors and out at the road before he was forced to meet Pam's incredulous stare. "No, I'm serious," he protested. "I mean, we bought most of the stuff Michael wanted, we wasted almost two hours that we don't have to spend working, plus I got to practice my Western accent and look completely and totally cool."
Pam snorted, shook her head and turned to look at the road again. Jim stole a sidelong glance at her, with her hair still mussed from their wild dance and her clothes covered in sparkles and pink feathers; with the adrenaline rush of her laughter still pounding in his brain, he added, "Not to mention we found our song."
She looked over at him now, surprised. "What do you mean, 'our song'?"
"The first song we danced to. That's our song." He grinned over at her, but there was dangerous emotion surfacing in her eyes – pain and confusion and terrible loneliness as (he knew the way she thought) she remembered Roy and his song, that other 'our song'. "Not like with you and Roy or anything," Jim added hurriedly, trying to forestall the disaster in the quivering of her lip. "I mean, we're not dating. Just, you know… our song. Jim and Pam. We're friends." He sounded stupid, and he knew it, but he couldn't stop himself.
She smiled again, albeit faintly, and Jim felt such an overwhelming surge of relief that for a moment he felt lightheaded. Crisis averted. "Oh, that's not our song," she declared, brushing it away with a wave of her hand. "Our song is not going to be a country song. That's just terrible. When we have a song, it should at least be a good one."
"Agreed." They pulled into the parking lot of Dunder Mifflin, too soon; Jim killed the engine and they simply sat still for a moment, neither one wanting to leave the warmth and laughter of the car for the office's subzero boredom.
Suddenly Jim had an idea; he turned to look at Pam with a wicked grin, the one that signaled the advent of full-on prankster mode. "You know," he commented casually, "We didn't get Michael any candy. It is a Halloween party, after all."
"You're right. You're right. Such a terrible mistake. What on earth has gotten into us?" Pam replied, straight-faced and solemn. "We need to remedy this right away."
"I'm glad we're on the same page." Jim turned the engine on again and backed up much quicker than was necessary. "Let's go make this an October to remember."
v. New Year's Eve
Jim knew that Pam was a hopeless romantic.
"Seventy-four… seventy-three… seventy-two…"
Jim thought that the offices of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, had never looked so festive. Paper snowflakes danged on paperclips from the ceiling, cut painstakingly from the company's best, whitest 8x11 stock (which Andy had stolen from the warehouse). Angela, as prim and cold as any one of them, sat in the corner with Dwight, whispering (Jim really had no desire to know what they were saying).
"Sixty-eight… sixty-seven… sixty-six…"
Bottles upon bottles of different types of liquor, courtesy of Michael Scott, caught the light and glistened like jewels on the main table in the conference room; Michael had also ordered pizza, and Kevin was currently engaged in sampling all the varied and mildly repulsive combinations of different toppings and flavors of alcohol. Candles fluttered and quavered on the tops of computers and windowpanes despite the fluorescent lighting; these had been at Creed's insistence, which had at first seemed like a wonderful gesture but which was now starting to seem a little creepy, as Creed himself crept around the office putting a pinch of unknown powder in each flame (after which the candles started giving off a distinctly acrid smell).
"Fifty-nine… fifty-eight… fifty-two…"
Michael himself stood on a chair in the conference room, dressed in a rather moth-eaten tux, trying the best he could to affix an old disco ball to the ceiling, and counting loudly enough to be heard in Vance Refrigeration. The pointed party hat he wore was jutting forward over his forehead and continually hit the disco ball, making it swing so that Michael couldn't tie it properly; the frustration of the struggle caused him to skip numbers, though his voice never faltered once. Jan stood below him, tugging insistently at the leg of his slacks, in danger of unbalancing him at any minute.
"Forty-nine… Ow! Jan, stoppit! Thirty-seven… forty-four…"
"Wow. Do you think we should tell him that he's supposed to be counting seconds, not minutes?"
Jim grinned down at Pam, who materialized out of the chaos with a can of soda in each hand. She held one out to Jim, who took it. "I thought it was safer than alcohol," she explained, joining Jim in leaning against his desk, sheltered from the madness in the conference room. "Creed has been emptying little plastic baggies into all the different bottles and Kelly's already passed out on the break room floor after a sip of her margarita."
"Soda it is, then," Jim agreed amiably. They stood in silence for a few minutes, watching as Michael reached the twenties and then was ordered back to the sixties again by Jan, who was keeping an eye on the office clock (which had been six hours fast for five years). Meredith was engaged in some kind of emotional argument with Oscar; Jim suddenly caught sight of Phyllis and Bob, who were in the thick of the party, swaying in each other's arms to music that didn't exist.
"Wow," Jim sighed, draping an arm around Pam and pulling her closer, smiling as she rested her head on his shoulder. "It's almost 2009. That means we'll have known each other for more than six years. Weird, huh?" She didn't answer; she was too busy laughing at Andy, who doing the chicken dance in the middle of the conference room for a reason that no one could determine.
"I think it's going to be a good year," Jim announced. Pam turned to look up at him with a roguish twinkle in her eye, and before he knew what she was doing she had vanished and returned, this time with Michael's pointed party hat in her hands.
"Oh yeah, Halpert? Why do you think that?" she asked, standing on tiptoe to place the hat on his head. Jim bent over to make it easier for her, and she stuck her tongue out at him; his response was to push the hat forward, at a rakish tilt, but that only sent Pam into fits of laughter. "You look like a unicorn!" she gasped; Jim swept her up into his arms, grinning, and kissed her.
"Come on, Pam. Don't tell me that you've never wanted a unicorn when you were little. Well, here I am, all your wishes come true!"
Pam buried her face in his shirt, shaking with laughter. A loud, splintering crash split the air and startled them apart; Michael had dropped the disco ball, which had hit the floor and shattered several of its facets.
In the storm of cursing that followed, Pam looked up at Jim again, all laughter gone, and the message in her eyes was unmistakable; let's get out of here. She was tired, it had been a long week of work, and she wanted to kiss him and laugh with him but not here, not with all their coworkers around and Michael being an idiot and Dwight or Andy capable of going crazy at any moment. She wanted something special, something real.
"Come with me," Jim whispered in her ear, conspiratorial. "I know the perfect spot." Neither one of them noticed that he'd answered a question she hadn't asked.
She moved to go steal some pizza, as per usual; but he stopped her with a hand on her arm, shaking his head. No need. He grabbed her hand (he could hold her hand whenever he wanted now! The feeling still amazed him) and led her into the stairwell, up the trembling metal ladder, through the trapdoor and into the great star-scattered openness of the roof.
Pam came after him, hand over hand up the ladder; but as she caught a glance over the lip of the trapdoor she stopped, and Jim had to pull her the rest of the way up as she stared with one hand over her mouth and her eyes bright, speechless, frozen in shock.
The roof was not the bare, bone-dry concrete plain it had always been. The snow, which was already piling several inches deep on the streets, had been shoveled away to form a wide clear space. In the center of that emptiness was a small table for two, draped with a blood-red tablecloth, crowned with two slender crimson candles that glimmered, already lit, in the midnight darkness; between them was a bottle of red wine, and long, thin glass containing a single perfect rose.
The whole ensemble looked delirious, in the center of the white and under-shadowed world; in the middle of a snowy, frigid, December Pennsylvania midnight, this little core of red romance looked like a mirage. Pam, who had spent all day dealing with paper streamers and cheap plastic party hats and greasy cardboard pizza boxes, was dumbstruck; she could only grip Jim's hand like a vice and pull him closer to the table, cautiously, as though afraid it might dissolve or blow away.
"You… you did this for me?" Her voice was soft, but full of currents of hidden laughter, wonder, joy; Jim couldn't help but smile as she touched the nearest of the two wooden chairs, checking it for solidity.
"Of course I did. It's our first New Year's Eve together; did you really think I was going to spend it watching Michael murder himself with a disco ball and getting high off Creed's candles?" He stepped beside her and pulled her chair out; the perfect gentleman. "I've seen the romantic comedies too, Pam. I know how this goes."
"You know how what goes?" she asked, curiousity piqued, as he settled into his own chair. He ignored the question, reaching instead for the slender red-rimmed bottle.
"I don't have any food," he said instead, carefully unscrewing the cork and filling the first of two wineglasses Pam had not noticed until that moment. "Surprisingly enough, I couldn't find anyone willing to deliver to the roof of a failing paper company at midnight on New Year's Eve, and I didn't think grilled cheese sandwiches were quite auspicious enough for the occasion. But at least I got the wine, right?" He grinned at her, his most charming grin, as he filled her glass as well. "The wine is essential."
"Essential for what?" Pam pursued, but Jim only wiggled his eyebrows emphatically, his grin slipping from charming into mischievous. This was one of the unique Jim expressions that Pam had memorized (and, truth be told, it was her favorite); the message was clear. Wait, he winked at her, Just you wait. You'll find out, believe me.
"Fine," she sighed (again, neither noticed that she was responding to the unspoken). "If you won't tell me, then let's talk about something else." Her eyes roamed the rooftop for inspiration, and she turned to look out at the view of Scranton below. A large advertising screen across the street showed the huge glittering ball in New York, perched ready to fall, but other than that the streets were motionless, pristine and perfect with new-fallen snow. "It's beautiful," she sighed.
"Yes," Jim answered simply, immediately. "It is."
Then Pam thought of a silly thing – how in the movies the girl was always looking out at the view, and talking about its beauty, and the guy would agree but he wasn't looking at the view, he was looking at her. And it was a stupid thing to think about, it brought a sudden flush of shame to think that she was imagining that scene, hoping for it, someplace buried down deep past her expectations and her sense of the everyday (but she'd always wanted it, that sense of being loved, that feeling of beauty that she'd never had with Roy). She couldn't help but think of the cheesy movie scenes, not with Jim's whole ridiculous setup – but she scolded herself back into normality. Jim was better than Roy, he was unbelievably wonderful, but he was not a perfect romantic fairy-tale prince.
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, she turned to look at him, and met his eyes directly. He hadn't been looking out over the rooftop; he had been looking at her.
She was going to say something, she didn't know what – to thank him, maybe, or to make a lame joke about what a dork he was – but before she could get the words out they were both distracted by the sudden commotion from the still-open door leading down to the building. The office staff was shouting; across the street, Jim and Pam could see the one-minute countdown being on the television screen.
Pam looked over at Jim to wish him a Happy New Year, only to see that he was standing, hands in his pockets, grinning down at her with the billion-watt Jim grin that felt like sunshine in her very soul.
"Well, that's my cue," he chuckled, and she didn't have a chance to ask him what he meant. He paced three long steps until he was standing before her, and he folded his hand over hers where it rested on the tabletop. "Listen, Pam," he sighed. "I had a whole speech ready, but since we've only got a minute, I'll give you the quick version." He cleared his throat.
"I know people say that love is complicated," he began, "but this has been the simplest thing I've ever known -- a lot easier than sitting next to Dwight and dealing with Michael every day." He smiled. "Here's the truth: I love you. I have loved you ever since I met you, and I think even a little before. When I thought I could never be with you, I tried to stop loving you, and that was the worst part of my life; and I learned then that I will love you forever. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, if you dump me tomorrow and never speak to me again, I will always love you more than I know how to say."
Pam bit back a gasp, choked back tears; from the office the ten-second countdown had begun, ticking off the wild beating of her heart.
Slowly, deliberately, Jim got down on one knee. His eyes looking into hers were serious as she had never seen them before. No pranks now, no jokes, no tricks; only Jim, his entire soul, his deepest heart. Pam could hear the weight of deep truth and True Love in every single word.
"I love you," he repeated, and pulled his free hand from his pocket, revealing a tiny black box. "I'm probably not good enough for you, but I love you more than you will ever know. And because tonight is New Year's Eve, and because I want to spend this year and every other year with you, I have to ask…"
The box flipped open, and inside was a diamond ring that shone like a captured star.
"Pam Beesly," Jim asked simply, "will you marry me?"
The ball dropped.
Trumpets; singing; neon lights and fireworks. Pam couldn't speak, she couldn't see for crying; she threw herself forward and wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in his chest, sending them both sprawling backwards onto the roof with the unexpected motion. "Yes!" she cried, as he barely managed to steady them; then he overbalanced and they fell onto the concrete, trying to hold onto each other and get back to their feet all at once. "Yes, of course I will, Jim – you dork," Pam gasped, laughing and crying in the same breath; then she grabbed his head in both hands and kissed him.
A loose firework detonated just over their heads, raining down color, haloing them in light.
Their silhouettes spilled down over the edge of the roof, down into the street; the two of them, both kneeling now, locked in the first kiss of the New Year, the first kiss of their new lives together.
(The first of many, many more to come.)
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