A/N: I don't even know where this came from. I had a song in my head, not like my last fic, though. I'm not going to say the name of the song because it fits in no way, but... I don't know. Enjoy, or not, 'tevs!
Winter actually doesn't start until just a few days before Christmas, she knew that. But she lived in the Northeast and winter was always early. Stepping out of her car and into the crisp air of October was cruel. It had taken her fifteen minutes to get the office, to stop shivering, and to let the car get warm. She shook in the cold as it spread from her toes to her cheeks and walked briskly to the front door.
She met him there, at the door, as she did sometimes. Jim, who greeted her with a smile and a very quiet "Hi" that left his mouth with a visible breath. Above her scarf, her eyes smiled some.
They walked side by side, but she didn't talk. He looked tired, and she was, and they were both cold, thawing bodies under flourescent lights. It was like every other October day at nine in the morning. And even though he was right there, she had been lacking sleep lately and her thoughts were lazy. She fell in love with his smile like she did everyday, and enjoyed the short walk to the elevator with him. Then the ride up, then he opened the door for her, and then he put his coat on the rack. He smiled, and sighed like everyday and walked to his desk.
The little ache when they separated seemed to wake her up just a bit. But it was just like every other day at work.
It was a funny feeling to let your fingers go from cold to warm. It was like watching someone else nimbly remove her scarf and coat and place it on the rack next to his. The fingers barely touched the wool of his coat, but not on purpose or anything.
When she sat back into her chair, and her hands -- warm enough to be hers now -- pressed against the desk, she noticed the ring on her finger. The one that she didn't even know if she wanted anymore. But when she talked to Roy about that, he had been angry and hurt. She didn't see Roy hurt often, and that had led the conversation to a dead end, and really, nothing had come out of it.
At that moment in thought she looked at Jim, while she ran one finger over the diamond on her ring. He had his head bowed over shuffling papers in his hand, his lips just slightly parted in exhausted concentration. She thought about a lot of things when she saw him like that, and felt a little guilt if she focused on it for too long.
She really didn't want to be lonely, but that wasn't all of it. And she wasn't sure about what she felt about him, but when she looked at him, she knew enough about Roy to just know.
The thoughts made her blush and she logged onto her computer. Most of her days would be difficult for a while, she knew that. Because she was there for eight hours, and with someone else for the other sixteen. She briefly thought about taking a long drive somewhere. Only to just think, maybe to talk out loud and clear some things up. But just thinking that was a little weird, and her words would get tied up explaining that, so she picked up her phone instead and listened to messages. There were a lot today.
She did flirt. It was the first time she had let herself think that, and even then she had kind of smiled at it like it was nothing. Her head knew her better than that.
Because when Jim was in front of her desk with his tall body bent over it and his hands dangling in front of her, she liked it. She would cock her head to the side and smile with her teeth showing. She'd shake her head once in a while and let the curls slide around her shoulders. Of course, instantly, she felt self-conscious and awkward, but he was always still smiling at her. And he always looked perfect just sitting right there, leaned over her desk, joking about something completely irrelevant.
She was just giggling and quirking her lips a lot before she realized that he was talking about Dwight, and nodding in his direction.
"He speaks fluent German, Pam," Jim said with a smirk. "And he speaks it all day to his mom, and German is... well, it's not a pretty language, and I'm sure all of my clients are wondering what kind of business we're running. I mean, they have to hear it in the background when they're on the phone."
He said the last bit with a chuckle that made his shoulders bob as he twisted his hands together. She felt like pushing those fingers against her, everywhere, so he'd know it was okay.
The ring on her hand felt heavy, and her thumbnail flicked the back of it with an unsettling feeling, but Jim didn't notice, and went on. His voice got so low sometimes, and just that alone made her wonder why the guy was single.
She had to answer the phone, and she caught herself apologetically batting her eyelashes at him. It was a call for him anyway, just a client, so he took it back at his desk. When he walked away, there was an ache again that had to be absorbed because the phone rang again.
And she was just working again, and he was so far away across the carpet, and her mind thought of all the places they could be together. Places that were so small that they'd have to be pressed up against each other in someway.
By eleven, she was almost angry with herself. She had looked at him almost as much as she had looked at her ring that day. She felt like twisting it off now and then, but she couldn't. Not there.
She felt like a mess when she sat there. She was staring at Jim in front of her and contemplating just removing her engagement ring.
It hadn't been off that finger very many times since it'd been on. She remembered taking it off once when she dipped her hands in paint. A couple weeks ago, when she first started really thinking, she'd taken it off in the bathroom next to the full-length mirror. She let her hands fall to her side and stood naturally, her eyes on her empty hand for what seemed like hours. She had cried a little, but only because it felt kind of right and it was a strange feeling after ten years.
But when she looked at Jim it was another strange feeling. She couldn't even articulate it in her mind, which was disappointing on a level. If Jim didn't exist, she figured she'd still be at this point with Roy eventually. She knew that, somewhere in her head. But Jim gave her a push.
The last thing she wanted everyone at work to see was her busy fingers sliding the ring on and off her finger, but it was the theme today. She stood in front of the vending machine in the breakroom, and reached up with both hands to fit the dollar bill into it. But that ring was there again.
She fit the dollar bill into the palm of her right hand while she pulled the ring completely off. She tucked it, too, back into her palm and laid her hand onto the front of the machine.
It was a weird kind of heartbreak to want to end a ten-year relationship. She knew it had been over for a while, but it was so much time. She was attached to Roy, she knew so much about him, and to think that maybe she didn't love him right now in front of the vending machine...
That thought was kind of intense, and she focused hard on her left hand, then glanced to her right that rubbed the ring back and forth. Her conscience was sour when she suddenly felt like both Jim and Roy should know about this moment.
Her whole life felt like it needed a push.
She was looking at the ring with a furrowed brow when she noticed him. She jumped a little, then quickly glanced at the door, wondering how he'd seemingly passed through it without a noise.
"Oh," she said, balling both of the ring and the bill into a fist.
He had watched her looking at the ring, and then when she tucked it out of view. She knew this by the expression on his face. The blush climbed up her face like mercury and she bit the inside of her cheek.
"Sorry, just--" He gestured towards the vending machine simply.
She gave an exaggerated "Oh!" and shook her head while she moved away. She waited there, and she wasn't sure why. She was waiting for a reaction, she wanted one. She felt a pang of guilt in her chest when she shoved the ring into her pocket, but she didn't want to slip it back on in front of him.
And she knew he was watching her out of the corner of his eye. And even while she stood there, toes curling in and out in her shoes, he stole a quick glance to her hand, back to her face, then away.
His arm, all the way to his hand, braced against the machine was the only thing between them. It made her stomach flop, and she tried to gain just some composure.
The breakroom was kind of a small space, but.
There was a rattling and Jim bent down to reach for his soda. When the arm that was held against the machine slipped down as his body lowered, she had an urge to grab his wrist.
She suddenly felt very warm, with Jim right in front of her, the engagement ring from another man burning in her pocket, the one he'd watched her take off and study just moments before this one.
He raised his eyebrows with a smile that really wasn't there, and glanced at her hand again.
Did he have to do that so much?
When he passed her, she turned slightly to watch him leave, thinking a million thoughts again. She didn't expect him to turn around and give her a look, and it surprised them both when their eyes met. Then he was really walking away and she turned to the vending machine again with a sweaty dollar bill.
There was an ache again and she sighed in frustration as she jammed the bill into the slot. When the soda fell into the bottom, she pulled it out and took a drink immediately.
If she sat a certain way, the ring pressed against her thigh, and she rolled her eyes every time at the irony. Jim wouldn't look at her, the soda didn't quench her thirst, and it was only two.
She said "Dunder-Mifflin, this is Pam" countless times during the day. Before they'd met in the breakroom, she'd been saying it as sweetly as possible. Because he was right there, and so close, and he heard her voice all day. Now, she said it like she would normally, impatiently waiting for five o'clock.
When the phone rang again, it was a call from Michael's office. She picked up the phone, and sighed, "Yeah?"
"Pam, there's just so much I need from you today, I have an entire list... I'll email it to you."
"I'll just come get it, Michael--" She went to set the phone on the hook before he was protesting.
"No no no! No, Pam wait," he was insisting and Pam shut her eyes against her hand. "Okay, sent it."
She'd expected a dirty email, a picture, something other than just a list. But it was just a list of things to do, and she was pleasantly surprised. She grinned approvingly and glanced to Jim, but he didn't look back. Wow, that really was a habit, she'd realized.
"Okay, thanks, Michael."
The list was nothing out of the ordinary for him, really. iAlert me immediately for work-related messages. Alert me sooner for Jan-related messages. Find out how much it would cost to get a Sebring's tires rotated, and if I qualify for any kind of special as a manager of a company. Sometimes Tires Plus has good specials. Get me more clicky pens, with black ink, the smooth kind./i
It went on, but the pens were easy. She pulled open a desk drawer and took out a few she'd stored there for herself and held them in her hand before she stopped.
She looked at Jim, deep in concentration, his chin pressed against his fist as he stared at the computer monitor.
It was so stupid, but she knew she was going to do it. She swallowed and sighed before she got up and out of her chair.
She brushed by him the first time, knocked gently on Michael's door. He was talking to someone absently on the phone, waving and motioning for her to put the pens on his desk. She set them down and let a warm feeling run through her.
This time, as she passed Jim, her fingers did what they always wanted to. In the space right above his collar on the back of his neck, she stroked the ends of his hair downward, until her fingers met skin. They dragged across skin and in the moment that Jim turned in quiet surprise, they skimmed his lips.
She felt a blush creep up again, but she was walking away from him now. She sat down at her desk and bit her lip, as she felt his eyes on her.
Of course, she thought, as she looked up to Michael's doorway where he stood, holding up the three pens she'd deposited on his desk.
"Blue ink, blue ink?"
"That's not blue ink, it's black--"
"I know, and what I need is blue, Pam," he said, cocking his head to the side seriously. "I need the blue ink?"
She heaved her shoulders in a sigh and pointed to her computer, "Okay, sorry, in your email you said black, so--"
"Simple miscommunication, I need blue ink, please."
"Okay," she said, putting her hands up in the air before bending down a bit to look through her drawers.
"You know what would be great?" he said with his eyes wide. "The ones that you have to turn to click? Remember the ones that we gave to clients last month? Oh, and those stress balls that have the logo on it?"
"All that's down in the supply room, Michael, I have pens right here."
He said something else, but she was already getting up and out of her chair, knowing she wasn't going to win that. He gave her a profound thanks and when she gave him a look, she felt Jim watch her. And she knew she shouldn't, but her eyes met Jim's. She took a deep breath while she looked at him, and honestly, that wasn't intentional.
She was swift when she turned around, pressing through the doorway and deciding to take the stairs. Her eyes were closed when she thought about what she'd done, and she reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ears. There were fingers gripping her wrist when she whirled around and saw him there.
"Hey," he said, holding her wrist in one hand next to her head. His head was turned away from her slightly, and he looked at her that way, just like a question.
"Hey," she said cautiously, her head dipping a bit.
He looked at her, raised his eyebrows and she knew he was waiting for something.
"What was that?" he said, his voice quiet against the walls. Usually voices carried, but his was so low and soft, she was the only person who could hear it right now...
"Oh, um," she said, closing her eyes and shaking her head a little. When she opened them he hadn't changed, and he was still holding her wrist. Pam twisted her head a little, her glance shifting between his gaze and the fingers around her wrist, but he wouldn't let go.
He swallowed a knot in his throat. "Why aren't you wearing your ring?"
Life was weird. Today started with her being unbelievably cold and she could see her breath on the way to work. She remembered her fingers being tough to work because they were so cold. And she was engaged. Now her palms were sweaty, her breathing was just a little labored, her lips were parted begging for a lot, and the ring was somewhere near her hip. Far from the finger it started out on.
"I don't know, it's in my pocket."
"That's... not the same." He'd looked at her hand in his grip when he said this. A smile formed but disappeared quickly, and he looked a little breathless.
"I know," she said, trying to sound as strong as she could.
He slowly let her hand out of his, but didn't move his gaze from her. He studied her and she felt like he could probably see everything about her in just that second.
"I guess I've just been thinking, I don't really know, actually," she said, looking down at the floor. She had the urge to tuck the hair behind her ear, because it hadn't been done, but she didn't. "I've taken it off a lot, lately, it's kind of hard to explain... to you, I... well, to anyone."
She bit the inside of her cheek again, hard. "I'm... Actually, I don't want to talk about that, it's hard to explain, so..." She distractedly pointed toward the stairs, and the only thing she saw when she did so was his bottom lip. Her eyes swept upward and she didn't hide anything this time with her stare. She wouldn't say it out loud or do it herself, and she knew that, and it was disappointing. She needed a push, she always needed a push.
Jim gave her one that day.
He licked his lips, stepped down to her stair, and turned toward her, pressing her against the wall. She gasped, but there wasn't a noise, just a quick inhale. Her chest heaved up and down against his slightly, and his head was hung so low that his nose touched her forehead. She closed her eyes and breathed in again, slowly, because she knew it was coming, and it felt good.
There was a hand on her hip, then the other on her neck with fingers through her hair. As soon as she felt that she tilted her head back and his lips came onto hers. They were still against hers, until she opened her mouth under his. He gripped the back of her neck, parted his lips and kissed her.
Her palms ran up his shirt, over his shoulders, then played with the hair at his neck. It was such a slow kiss, and it felt amazing, so she just let her hands linger against his skin like that. She traced lines down his neck, and his hands went to her back, pulling her close.
There was a spark going through her when she fisted the fabric of his shirt and came closer to him. She felt her eyebrows bunch up and her eyes squeeze shut when she kissed him harder.
His hands took hers, placed them back by her side. She let out a whimper of disappointed into his mouth. His hands came up again, both framing her face, then one dropped down. The other lingered again as the kiss started to trail away. One finger drew a line down her jaw, then gripped her chin with his thumb before finally parting.
She opened her eyes and breathed hard, looking at him, nodding almost imperceptibly.
He studied her, then looked to the wall next to her, leaned in and kissed her softly on the cheek. He turned, and he was walking away from her.
Her head fell back against the wall, blinking heavily, while her hands ran over her skirt as she steadied herself. She felt the tiny shape of the ring in her pocket.
Feedback? You know it's what I live for. ;)