Title: Bright Lights, Small City

Author: Mike Pulgoni, Prince of Wales

Disclaimer: You know the drill.

Rating: T

In the days since Ryan's shocking arrest, Dwight had done a lot of thinking about The Beard.

Like Spider-Man's black alien costume, it seemed to be a living parasite of some kind: jumping from host to host and forcing them to do the unthinkable. Was it any coincidence that Roy grew a remarkably similar beard before his ultimate dismissal?

If this was true (and Dwight had every reason to believe it was), then the next man to sport a beard could be in terrible danger. Dwight would have to keep his eyes even more open than usual.

"Hey, Big Dog," Andy crooned, letting Dwight see for the first time the other salesman's thick growth of facial hair. "I was wondering... with all the help you've given me with the whole Angela Initiative, how would you like to be my Numero Uno Man on the Big Day."

Dwight smiled with unmistakable evil. "Nothing would make me haappier."

Andy smiled, missing the joke as usual.

--

Andy: What, this?

He points to his beard.

Andy: I grew this over the weekend... Bernard men have a natural wealth of hair.

He gets in close to the camera.

Andy: Under this shirt, it looks like I'm wearing a sweater-vest, if you know what I'm saying...

--

"As you all know," Michael began, "I am about to be a father."

"Well, not technically," Dwight pointed out.

"Jan's having a baby," Michael replied shakily.

"It's not really yours, though," Dwight continued, completely ignorant to his boss's rage. "It's Jan's and the test-tubes."

"Shhhhove it," Michael snarled.

--

Michael: Jan is having a baby.

He laughs with forced delight.

Michael: This is really amazing. I am going to be a father... kind of.

Pause.

Michael: This is my first child that I know of, so this is all new to me... but I was a baby myself not too long ago, and I think I remember most of it.

Pause.

Michael: Also, I sent a sketch into Saturday Night Live a few years ago called "Preg Nancy: the Pregnant Teenager"... they didn't use it for some reason, but I think put me in the right frame of mind.

Awkward smile.

Michael, half-singing: Having my baby... what a beautiful way to... something something... take you care...

--

"But," Michael continued, "as we learned from Murphy Brown, it takes a village to raise a child, so I'm expecting all of you to pitch in."

His assorted employees were understandably uncomfortable with this demand.

"I'm not asking any of you change little Napoleon Dynamite Scott's diapers," Michael clarified. "Although..."

"I thought Jan was giving the child her name," Dwight chimed in.

"Well, I..." Michael stumbled.

Jim jumped in, feeling the occasional nagging need to help his boss save as much face as possible. "Um, what were you hoping we could help you with, Michael?" he asked, dreading the answer.

"I am a first-time father," Michael explained. "And since my father died winning the Korean War..." out of pity, no one voiced the obvious anachronism "...I'm going to need all of your experience if I'm going to as great a parent as I am a boss, so..."

"Hey, I would love to help you, cap'n," Andy stepped up. "But this seems like the kind of job for someone that's been down that road before, and Andrew Bernard will do it without the fez on."

Kevin nodded in agreement.

--

Kevin: Stacy would never have unprotected sex. She said she just wasn't ready to be a mother.

Pause.

Kevin: Which was weird... because she already had a daughter.

--

Creed: I have never fathered a child.

Pause.

Creed: And since I've been legally dead for the last ten years and have had my DNA changed three times since then, anyone trying to prove otherwise would be wasting their time.

--

"Then I guess the only father here is..." Michael sadly turned his eyes to Stanley.

Stanley raised an eyebrow cautiously. "You don't want to have to send everyone home again... now do you?"

Michael nodded dejectedly and instantly deflated as he began to sulk off to his office.

Seeing his boss at such an all-time low and disregarding for a second the possible long-term damage to a young life, Jim offered one last, sparkling brittle hope for Michael's insane "fatherhood" plan. "Hey, doesn't Darryl have a daughter?"

Michael seemed to come back to life incrementally. "He does?"

Phyllis nodded. "Yes, he does."

"I've seen her," Kelly exclaimed, happy as always to jump on the bandwagon.

"Then, Darryl's my new daddy-buddy," Michael said decisively, already planning the playdates in his head. He turned on his heels to head to the warehouse, and nearly bumped into Holly.

"Hi," she said nervously.

"Um..." Michael stuttered. He looked to Jim for help, and the younger man mouthed a helpful "hey," which Michael dutifully parroted.

"So, you're going to be a father?" Holly said shyly.

"Um... no," Michael replied, trying to seem completely lost. "What gave you that idea."

--

Michael: I don't really know where things are going with Holly or Jan... and I kind of feel it might ruin my chances with Holly if she found out Jan let a robot get her pregnant while we were still dating.

Pause.

Michael: I know I haven't always been too good at keeping women secret from each other, but I took last week off to watch every episode of "Cheers,"

so...

Knowing smile.

Michael: I think I'm okay.

--

"Hey, Dwight," Jim began cautiously, "did you hear they're making a movie about Captain Planet and the Planeteers?"

--

Jim: For those of you who might have bigger lives than that... Captain Planet was an environmentalist superhero.

Jim brings a picture of Captain Planet on his computer. You can wiki it yourself.

Jim: Note that he has both a flattop and a mullet.

He shakes his head.

Jim: Now that was the early nineties at its most aggressive.

--

Dwight raised an eyebrow. "Impossible, I would have heard of it already."

"No, it's true," Jim assured him. "They're doing a big-screen remake of Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Hayden Panettierre is going to be the head Planeteer."

--

Jim: This is "Heroes" star Hayden Panettierre.

Jim likewise brings up a picture Hayden Panettierre on his screen. Once again, wiki it yourself.

Jim: Things can't possibly end well for her.

--

"You're making this up," Dwight spat angrily.

"Be a pretty strange thing to make up," Jim argued.

"Why am I only hearing about this now?" Dwight demanded.

"You're behind the times?" Jim offered.

"I'm going to go online right now and prove you're lying," Dwight snapped.

"Go right ahead," Jim smiled.

--

Jim: And this is the entry for Captain Planet I edited on wikipedia.

Once again, he gestures to his computer proudly.

Jim: I've had a lot of time on my hands since Pam went to New York.

--

Dwight's eyes went wide. Wikipedia confirmed everything that Jim had just said, and his faith in Wikipedia was nearly a religion unto itself. "My god..."

"What?" Jim facilitated.

"They're filming the movie here in Scranton," Dwight gasped in disbelief.

"I'll cover for you," Jim assured.

Dwight nodded and turned to leave, following Michael's lead by bumping into Holly.

"What's the rush?" she asked warmly.

"Hayden Planeteer!" Dwight exclaimed insanely as he pushed past her.

Holly looked to Jim for help, but he could only offer a baffled shrug.

Internally, though, Jim smiled, phase one of his horrible plan was officially in effect.