A/N: So this is it, folks. Thanks for sticking with it.
Angela Martin feared the worst.
She made a tenth checkmark in the margins of the reimbursement request on her desk.
Normally she wouldn't deface company documents, but there was absolutely no chance in Hades that Michael's request to be repaid for the purchase of a dozen novelty hats would be approved, even with his justification that, "they totally killed at the Dundies."
But back to the matter at hand.
Jim had been to reception ten times and it wasn't even eleven o'clock yet. It was a new Pam Pong record.
Angela had half a mind to ban Jim from his latest foray into the jellybean dish. As safety officer she knew that eating that much sugar was dangerous to one's health. Just as indulging in that much unashamed licentiousness was dangerous to one's eternal soul.
Gritting her teeth, Angela pressed down so hard that the tip of her pencil broke. She sighed angrily and tried to put Pam and Jim and whatever seedy dealings had undoubtedly transpired last Friday night far from her mind.
But then the sound of Jim's voice floated over the partition between their desks, and she could not avoid hearing their brief exchange. Although Jim was whispering pretty softly and Angela may have discreetly crept directly next to the cubicle divider and tilted her ear upwards. Possibly.
"So I know we've been avoiding talking about this, but I gotta know. How'd it go yesterday?"
"It was fine," Pam replied after a brief pause.
"Fine?" Jim prompted.
Angela heard Pam sigh.
"It was horrible. But it's done," she said finally.
There was another pause. Angela could here the sound of Pam's chair shifting. What was horrible but done? The creases in her forehead doubled in intensity as she imagined the possibilities.
"Hey," Jim said in a comforting tone.
"Not here," Pam whispered.
"How'd it go for you?" she continued.
"You were right," Jim replied. "She was a cheerleader in high school."
Angela frowned. Who was a cheerleader?
"Oh my god, you did not ask her!"
"I had to know!"
"But anyway, I powered through and ended it. I just had to be aggressive."
"Jim." Pam's voice had a warning tone.
"Be. Be. Aggressive," Jim added, as if doing his own cheer.
Angela rolled her eyes.
"You're terrible," Pam retorted, but she sounded amused.
"I was very nice about it."
"You're out of jellybeans."
"Well maybe if someone wasn't wolfing them down like a hyperactive eight-year-old we wouldn't have this problem."
"There you go calling me an eight-year-old again. And by the way, I demand more coloring tonight."
Coloring? Angela shuddered to think what that could be a euphemism for.
"Fine. Go back and do some work. I'll refill the candy dish."
"Byeeeeeee," he replied, drawing the word out in a childish way that made Angela nauseous.
"Bye," Pam replied sweetly.
Angela slipped back into her desk chair just as Jim reappeared on the other side of the partition.
It was at this point that Angela decided that she absolutely had to determine conclusively what happened on Friday night.
However disgusting the conversation she had just overheard was, it had only added to her suspicions. If she was partly responsible for marital infidelity, she had to know, if only so that she could pray for her own forgiveness and for her coworkers souls.
On second thought, their souls were pretty much a lost cause so it would pretty much be just for forgiveness.
And so it was that the next time Jim wandered off to use the restroom, Angela darted to the kitchen. And when Jim reemerged from the men's room, she blocked him before he could exit.
"Um, hi Angela," he said, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
She eyed him with extreme distaste, unable to keep her nostrils from flaring with an irritated sniff. She realized after a moment that she was just glaring in the direction of his chest, huffing angrily, but not asking him anything.
"Hey, so I'm just gonna go back to my desk now," Jim said awkwardly, gesturing toward his destination.
"Did you honor our agreement?" Angela managed to whisper urgently.
Jim frowned and tilted his head to the side slightly.
"I'm sorry, we had an agreement?" he asked, a smirk teasing his lips.
"Don't be coy, Jim. Not every woman in this office finds the deviant boyish act charming," she hissed.
Jim seemed taken aback, but quickly recovered and threw the camera an amused glance.
He hadn't given her an answer, so she decided to be more direct.
"Did you convince Pam to engage in acts unbefitting a married woman?"
Jim's eyes flew to the camera again, but this time he looked slightly panicked.
"Angela, you wanna keep it down?" he bit out, trying to regain his composure.
"Did you sleep with her?" Angela demanded, keeping her voice at a whisper.
She pinned him with a stare that oozed disapproval. He looked back toward his desk and then somewhere in the vicinity of the kitchen counter.
"No," he muttered.
"Look at me when you say that," she ordered.
"What?" Jim balked.
"You looked past me when you said 'no.' If you were telling the truth you would meet my eyes," Angela explained shortly.
Jim met her eyes this time, and he gave a heated reply.
"This is ridiculous. I don't need the third degree."
He started to move past her, when Angela felt her heart speed up. She had to know! She had to know if she had been the facilitator for something as horrible as adultery. Guilt had been eating away at her all weekend.
She should have shoved Pam out of her car and left her comatose body in Roy's driveway. Or she should have driven Pam to her own place, feline conjunctivitis be damned, and let Pam sleep on her couch. She should have done anything but what she actually did.
Dear lord! She left a drunk and clearly amorous woman on the doorstep of an untrustworthy doe-eyed rogue!
Her panic overtook her, and she heard hysterical words begin leaking from her lips.
"If you did anything, I am—I am partially responsible!" she started tremulously. "I can't be responsible for breaking up an engagement, Jim! I can't!"
And then to her horror, Angela felt her face crumple. She barely noticed when Jim put his hands on her shoulders, and she barely heard his own panicked attempts to quell her emotional display.
"Shhhh, shhh, shhh. It's fine, Angela. Look at me. Angela?"
Finally, a light shake from him brought her back to the present, and she realized that she was behaving very unprofessionally. And that Jim had his hands on her shoulders.
"Don't touch me," she spat.
Jim sighed angrily but let go. When she met his eyes again, she saw a level of concern and sincerity there that she had never seen before.
"We did not sleep together," he whispered, determinedly maintaining her gaze.
Angela just nodded, still blinking back tears. She stayed in the kitchen when Jim left; she had to be sure that she was completely poised when she returned to her desk.
Everything was okay. She would regain her composure, take those three minutes of unprofessional behavior out of her lunch break, and make it through the rest of the day without further incident.
At that very moment, Dwight entered the kitchen. He pulled a Baby Ruth bar from a bag in the refrigerator, and tore the wrapper off and tossed it in the garbage. It wasn't until he was about to leave that he saw her and stopped short.
"Who did this? Tell me the name, and I will make them disappear."
"What?" Angela muttered in confusion.
Then she realized that her nose was probably red and her eyes a little puffy, giving her away. Dwight continued to look determined and deadly.
"I'm going to get Mr. A. Knife," he said.
Angela frowned. What was he going on about?
"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped.
Dwight looked so hurt that she actually faltered.
"I mean, that won't be necessary," she amended. "But thank you, Dwight."
When he smiled at her he revealed bits of Baby Ruth in his teeth, and all she could think about was how gentlemanly he was being.
"You're welcome. If you reconsider, I will be back at my desk, sharpening my nunchucks with my whittling tools."
Angela nodded. Dwight nodded back. It wasn't until he was back at his desk that she realized she was smiling.
Frowning immediately, she entered the ladies room to check her appearance. She did not want anyone else to find out she had an emotional outburst.
When she exited the restroom, Pam was in the kitchen waiting for her.
"Angela, Jim told me about what just happened between the two of you," she said. "I just wanted you to know that I'm really sorry I dragged you into this whole mess. And, uh, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep this between us."
Then Pam threw a nervous glance at the cameras and brought her left hand up to tug at the charm on her necklace.
And that was when Angela saw it—the bare skin that should have been covered by a band of gold.
"Oh dear lord in heaven. You didn't!" she exclaimed.
"Didn't what?" Pam asked, bewildered.
"Where is the symbol of your commitment to Roy?" Angela demanded.
"What?" Pam asked dumbly.
"Your ring! Where is your ring?" Angela barked.
The camera zoomed in on Pam's left hand and Pam glanced around the room uncomfortably.
"Um, Angela, I don't really want to do this here," she murmured.
"I can't believe that you would throw away everything away for that scruffy-haired, juvenile, irresponsible…" Angela trailed off, unable to come up with an appropriate derogatory label for Jim.
"Nerfherder?" Pam suggested.
"What?" Angela snapped.
"Nothing. Angela, look, let's… let's grab a coffee or something. I can explain," Pam pleaded.
"I don't think so, Pam. This concludes our friendship," Angela replied curtly.
"We… had a friendship?" Pam asked.
Well, of all the ungrateful things to say.
Angela spun around and prepared to march back to her desk when Pam spoke up again.
"No, wait. Angela, please. Just, let me explain something to you."
Angela closed her eyes and counted to ten.
"Fine," she replied when she was finished.
After all, if Pam could just get whatever it was off her chest, then she could stop trying to talk to Angela, and they could sever their ties completely.
"You did not cause anything to happen that wouldn't have eventually happened anyway," Pam said earnestly. "If you had any part in this, it was just speeding up the inevitable. It was probably more painless that it happened now than it would have been if I'd waited until a month before my wedding."
Pam took a deep breath before continuing.
"So, thank you. And please don't feel guilty or anything. Honestly, you did nothing wrong."
Pam looked at Angela imploringly. Angela was almost touched that Pam was so concerned about how she felt.
"I don't need morality lessons from a tramp, Pam."
Because really, who did she think she was, trying to be touching?
Pam's eyes widened, but then she nodded, as if she hadn't really expected a different outcome.
"But thank you," Angela added begrudgingly.
Once they had both returned to their desks, Angela managed to put the whole debacle from her mind for the rest of the day. It wasn't until five o'clock that she overheard another conversation between Jim and Pam that caused her to panic.
"Hey, Pam. You ready?" Jim asked.
"Uh, yeah. Just let me switch the phones over," Pam replied.
Angela hurried over to Pam and grabbed her arm.
"Please tell me that you are not leaving with him!" she whispered.
"Well, I don't have a car anymore. The truck is Roy's. Jim is sort of my ride," Pam explained.
"I will take you home. Where are you staying now?" Angela asked.
Pam floundered for a moment, unable to reply. Finally she smiled sheepishly and managed to spit out a half sentence.
Angela tried to maintain her cool.
"Donot tell me that you are living with him!" she exclaimed.
Pam looked around to see if anyone had heard this outburst. Kevin glanced briefly in their direction, but was soon distracted by Michael, who put an arm around him as they walked out the door, regaling him with backstage tales from the Dundies.
"It's just until I find a place!" Pam replied quietly.
"Ugh. Unbelievable," Angela muttered.
"Look, Angela, I really have to switch these phones over so we can go," Pam said gently, tugging her arm out of Angela's grasp.
"Why? What are you in such a hurry for?" Angela asked accusatorily.
"We have a lot to do," Jim interrupted, smiling widely.
"I don't want to know," Angela said, repulsed.
Pam shot Jim a warning glance.
"No, nothing like that," she interjected defensively.
"No. Just the usual Monday night activities: blaspheme, worship an idol or two, covet our neighbor's ass," Jim added, ticking the activities off on his fingers.
Pam rolled her eyes, but couldn't keep the smile off her face. Then she seemed to remember something.
"Oh! And buy a futon to replace your couch," she told Jim.
"Yes. And then off to the futon emporium," he confirmed happily.
Angela refused to dignify their irreverent banter with a response. Instead she sent them off with a very stern and disapproving glower. As they disappeared out the door, Angela returned to her desk to pack up her things.
"Some people do not understand the concept of professionalism in the workplace."
She jumped, unsure of who just spoke. Then she realized that Dwight was sitting at his desk, still packing up his things.
"No, they don't," she responded. "It's disgusting."
"I agree," Dwight replied.
"And it should be punished," Angela added pointedly.
Slowly, a smile crept across Dwight's face.
"Maybe it will be punished. Tomorrow. Perhaps the assistant regional manager will dole out a few demerits for unprofessional workplace ogling and hanging about," he suggested.
Angela straightened up and nodded approvingly.
"That would be very responsible of the assistant regional manager," she said, not bothering to insert the 'to the' that he forgot.
"Have a pleasant evening, Angela," Dwight said, nodding politely before he stood to exit the office.
"You as well, Dwight," she replied.
As Angela logged off her computer and slid into her jacket, she considered the concept of office romances. Surely they had the potential to be sinful displays of obscene wanton behavior, as Jim and Pam had proven. But…
Perhaps if the two individuals involved were responsible, hardworking adults instead of depraved, immature deviants… perhaps a secret office romance might be okay after all.
The next morning Dwight came in the office to find a Baby Ruth sitting on his desk.
End Notes: Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it (and I hope you did) please leave me a review. I do so love reviews. I collect them and give them names and invent little personalities for them. Okay, I don't. But wouldn't it be creepy if I did?
Also, bonus points to any reviewers who can spot the nerdy reference in this chapter!