The Christmas party was loud and the company ... well, consisted of her co-workers. Pam sipped at some questionable concoction of about five different kinds of liquor and a splash of Diet Coke that Michael had whipped up in the makeshift bar in the conference room and perched on the edge of Jim's desk. She was already feeling a little buzzed, and she wished Jim weren't down in the warehouse playing basketball with Darryl.
Kelly suddenly appeared at her side.
"Isn't this party great? I mean it's so much better than last year's when Michael brought that boom box from like 1982 and Meredith got so drunk she puked in the recycle bin. I think Ryan's having a good time; he keeps looking down my dress. Do you think I'm showing too much cleavage? I mean, it's good to give them a little eye candy, but if you show too much it's like where's the mystery, right? I guess you don't really have that problem, though," she said, eyeing Pam's chest appraisingly.
Pam opened her mouth to speak, but Kelly was on autopilot and there was no getting a word in edgewise. And then suddenly she broke off midsentence, her mouth actually falling open. "Ohmygod. Pam, ohmygod!"
Pam followed Kelly's gaze toward the entrance and almost dropped the cup she was holding. Some of the brown liquid splashed onto Jim's computer keyboard, but she didn't notice.
Roy was standing in the doorway, holding a box wrapped in shiny green Christmas paper and scanning the crowd.
She hadn't seen him in two months, since right after she broke up with him and started dating Jim. He'd come up that day, dressed in his warehouse uniform, and approached the reception desk, his expression tense, his eyes direct and somehow lost.
"Well that's it, I'm done here," he'd said.
She had frozen in her chair, eyes locked on his, wishing like hell that Jim weren't out of the office on a sales call.
"I just thought you'd like to know. I won't be around anymore. I've had it with this place, all the bullshit and, you know ..."
"So listen, Pammy, I was thinking we could go grab a drink or something after you get off work. I have some things I'd like to talk to you about."
"Oh," she'd repeated, still staring, dumbfounded and at a complete loss for words.
"Would that be okay? You know, just a drink, we don't have to ... I mean, it doesn't have to be ..."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Roy," she said, finally finding her tongue.
Something ugly flickered across his face. "Why not? Halpert keeping a tight leash on you these days? Come on, Pammy."
"My name is Pam," she snapped. "And I think I already answered your question."
"I see how it is," he huffed. "Whatever. You always were a bitch."
And he'd stormed out.
And now here he was, standing there with a Christmas gift in his hands, dressed in a neatly ironed blue button-down and khakis, looking almost nervous in a way she hadn't seen since ... well, ever.
Kelly's eyes were still so wide it looked like they might actually fall out of her head. "You want me to get Ryan?" she offered. "He's small, but he's all man, if you know what I mean." Pam knew Kelly was thinking about the time Roy had tried to attack Jim and Dwight had sprayed him with pepper spray. She had no idea about everything that had gone on with Roy since. No one did. No one but Jim.
"No, thanks, Kelly, I've got this."
Pam took a huge gulp of her drink and handed it to Kelly, who gawked openly as Pam made her way among her co-workers straight to Roy.
"What are you doing here?" she asked him brusquely.
He smiled slightly, a crooked, weak little twitch of the lips. "Hey," he said.
"Did someone invite you, or—"
He blinked at her, as if he'd expected something more than the cold tone and scowl she was currently giving him. "Nah, I just ... Darryl said something about the party and I thought ... well. I just kind of wanted to see you."
She let that sink in for a moment. Her tongue felt thick and fuzzy. She didn't know if it was because of the alcohol or because of Roy. "Well I don't want to see you," she said finally. "I think you need to leave."
"Pammy, can't we just talk? Just for a minute, and then I promise I'll go away and you'll never have to hear from me again. Can we go down to the lobby? Look, I'm not here to start anything, I swear. I've done a lot of thinking over the past few weeks, and ... I know what an asshole I was. I hate myself for it, for what I put you through, how I treated you. I know it's my fault I lost you, and I don't blame you for leaving me. I just ... just give me a chance to apologize, Pammy. After all we've been through, don't you owe me that much?"
"Owe you?" she scoffed. "I don't owe you anything, Roy. At least nothing that wouldn't get me arrested."
"I have a present for you. It ... it's kind of stupid, I know, but ... I saw it and thought of you."
"I don't want anything from you."
"Please. Pam, please."
Something in his expression made her pause. She saw a softness in his eyes that had never been there before, something that made him look very young, like when they were in high school. He looked vulnerable, standing there holding the box and pleading like that.
"You've got five minutes."
He held the door for her and she allowed him to lead her to the elevator, feeling like she was in a dream. What the hell was she doing? What on earth would possess her to give him a second glance, much less five minutes of alone time? It must be the alcohol. Damn Michael's heavy-handed bartending.
Once in the lobby, she turned to him, folding her arms across her chest, feeling suddenly too exposed in her red V-neck sweater.
He handed her the box, smiling awkwardly. "Open it."
She took it and sat down on the bench by the double glass doors. He'd obviously painstakingly wrapped it, boy-style, with lots of tape and crooked corners. She took the paper off slowly, part of her mind still wondering why, why she was doing this.
Inside, nestled in a wad of white tissue paper, was a fancy artist's sketch pad and a package of charcoal pencils, the good kind. She stared at them.
"I thought you could use it," he muttered. "You were always drawing stuff on the back of napkins and notebook paper, and I thought..." he trailed off.
"Thank you," she said softly. "I love it." And then for some strange reason, tears sprang to her eyes.
"I'm sorry for everything, Pam," he said. "I'll never forgive myself for what I did to you, for how I treated you. You were the only good thing in my life, and I let you get away, and now I don't have anything."
"I love you, Pam. I fucking love you."
"Give me another chance."
"Why not? Because of him?"
She swiped at the corners of her eyes, trying not to smear the mascara she was wearing for the special occasion. "Because of him," she agreed softly. "Because I love him."
Jim's eyes swept the office, seeking her out. He was a little bit sweaty, a little bit rumpled from his two-on-two game with the warehouse guys, and still slightly out of breath. Someone grabbed his arm. He turned to see Kelly. Great. She'd talk his ear off and he would never find Pam.
"She left with Roy," Kelly blurted out, and Jim's heart stopped for a full two beats.
"What?" he demanded, louder than he'd intended.
"A few minutes ago, he came up here and she talked to him for a minute and then she left with him. I think he was—"
But Jim was already gone, shoving his way past people and toward the door, the sound of blood rushing in his ears in time to his heartbeat. Not wanting to wait for the elevator, he took the stairs two at a time. He burst through the door at the bottom of the stairwell and saw them.
Roy was standing over her as she stared down at a box in her hands, and both of them were silent.
"What the hell!" Jim demanded, his voice sounding trembly and strange to his own ears. "Get away from her."
Pam looked up, surprise written all over her face. "Jim, it's okay, he was just leaving."
Roy didn't even spare Jim a glance. "I'll always be here, Pammy," he said. "When this guy lets you down, you remember that. You remember that it's always been you and me."
With that, he threw open the doors and disappeared into the night.
Jim stared at Pam, breathing hard, his hair disheveled, his tie askew. "What was that?" he asked sharply. Then he forced his tone to soften. "Are you okay?"
"I'm okay," she said. "He didn't do anything. He was actually really ... sweet."
Now he looked at her like she'd sprouted a second head. "Sweet?" he spat. "Pam, you've got to be kidding me. Please tell me you're not serious. This is Roy."
"I know," she said in a near-whisper. "I know."
"Why did you leave the party with him? Why didn't you come and find me? I would've—"
"I know what you would've done, Jim."
"Well can you blame me? This guy beat the shit out of you, and you just wander off by yourself to have a little chat with him? I can't believe you, Pam!"
"Jim. Please don't be mad. I can't handle you being mad at me right now."
"Well I am," he snapped. "You're lucky he didn't try anything. He's lucky he didn't try anything."
She stood up, placing the box on the bench, and went to Jim. She wrapped her arms around his waist and placed her head against his chest, listening to the steady, strong, familiar beat of his heart. She waited five seconds, six, seven, and then finally his own arms slipped around her and his lips pressed roughly against the top of her head.
"I needed to hear him out," she said, her words muffled against his shirt. "I needed closure. I never really had it."
He didn't say anything for a while. Then he said, gruffly, "And now?"
She sighed. "Now I can let go of all of it. The memories, the good and the bad. Because there was some good, Jim. I know you don't like to hear that, but there was. I needed to say goodbye to that Roy. And now I have."
"So it's over."
"It's been over," she said. "I'm head over heels in love with someone else."
Jim's hands slid down her back and he pulled away slightly so he could kiss her. It was a long, soft, lingering kiss that sent warmth throughout her body.
"God, I love you," he whispered into her ear.
She leaned her head to the side as he began trailing soft kisses along her neck.
"I love you more," she said. "Let's get out of here."