Title: Generally, In The Mornings
Fandom: The Office (US)
Spoilers: None whatsoever. This doesn't even have a specific time it happens in.
Summary: Normal in the office doesn't count as normal in real life. Maybe if she knew that, she'd see him for who he really was.
A/N: I'm a little baffled by this, considering I've only watched maybe three episodes of The Office in the last two years. But I do have a weakness for Toby, and his peculiar resemblance to a Shar Pei puppy. Also, this is extremely short.
Generally, In The Mornings
Toby is sure that Pam is not beautiful. Reasonably sure. Well, pretty sure. Well, kind of sure. Truth is, he has a hard time looking at her for long enough to find out. He doesn't like to worry that his mouth is going to drop open if he stares at her too long. He doesn't like the heartsink, the stomach-rise into his throat. He has a difficult time behaving normally.
What's normal, anyway? Slouching around the office, trying to do his job. Occasionally getting attacked by Michael. Resisting the adolescent temptation to stick thumbtacks on Jim Halpert's chair, because, well, that would be stupid. And Jim is a nice guy. Not his fault that the receptionist appears to be in love with him.
Normal for the office didn't count as normal in real life, though. Toby tells himself this on a regular basis, generally in the mornings, when he's buttoning his shirt and avoiding the mirror. If he has a mantra, this is his mantra: this is not who I am. Not that he minds who he is, really, or who he appears to be. Up until the point when Pam sticks her head back in his booth to tell him that there was a fresh pot of coffee on in the breakroom, or that Michael has decided to do a silent fire drill, or that the paramedics are on their way; then he minds. A little. What exactly bothers him is hard to say. He minds that he's not Jim Halpert, he guesses, and that the receptionist isn't in love with him.
If she could see him like he was at home, he thinks. If she could see him when he was completely comfortable, when the world wasn't out to get him, when the fire alarms weren't going off, when the office wasn't busily chomping on his soul. If she could see him when he was relaxed, and new, and fresh, and had found a broader smile, just for her.
If she could see him.
Toby is determined. He's going to hold out a little longer, next time. He's going to focus on who he is in the mornings, full of good intentions and a half-abashed crush. He's going to look at her until he knows the exact line of her features, and when his eyes drop at last to the worn carpet, he'll carry her image, burning, burned.