Disclaimer: I do not own the Office.
"Hey Erin," Pete walked up to reception, a nervous half-smile on his face. Erin grinned at him.
"Hey Pete," she said. "What's happy?"
Pete's smile faltered a bit. "Happy?"
"'Happy' – it's short for 'happening'. It's slang," Erin explained impressively. "You'll catch on eventually."
"Uh… right," Pete glanced down. "Um – I was about to grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen. Did you want me to get you anything?"
Jim, at his desk, heard this last comment made by Pete. He turned his head slightly so as to listen better.
Erin's eyes widened. "Oh… well, I could use a new pair of work heels, I guess. My last pair was ruined when I chased a big dog down the road after he stole my cheeseburger…"
Pete stared at her, "Um… I was thinking more like if you wanted a coffee, too, or something…"
Erin quickly backtracked. "Oh, I'm sorry – I thought you were offering… nevermind, I'm so sorry!"
"Oh, um, it's alright…"
Erin shook her head, "Of course, I know you can't get me shoes right now… Andy and I could probably go out tonight and buy some. That's totally fine..."
Pete's smile faded, "Right..."
There was a short pause, which Pete finally broke. "So… would you like a coffee then?"
"Oh! Sure," Erin brightened. "Straight up!"
Pete blinked, "…Straight up?"
Erin nodded. "Yeah, that's how I take my coffee. Straight up."
Pete decided not to question this, and slowly turned around. Jim watched him as he walked away toward the kitchen.
"Hey man," Jim entered through the swinging kitchen doors few seconds after Pete, an empty coffee mug in his hand. Pete was standing at the coffee machine, looking confused; he turned toward Jim.
"Hi," Pete drummed his fingers on the counter. "Um… do you, by any chance know how Erin likes her coffee?"
Jim shook his head, and Pete sighed, facing the counter again. Jim ambled slowly toward the kitchen sink, and turned the faucet on. He silently began to rinse out his mug under the tap, while Pete merely stood by the coffee machine, saying nothing. Jim watched him out of the corner of his eye.
Jim finally turned the faucet off, and Pete seemed to come out of a reverie. He quickly grabbed the handle of the carafe, but didn't do anything with it. He just stood there, looking lost.
Jim finally decided to take the kid out of his misery, "Hey."
Pete looked up, "Oh. Sorry… did you want some coffee?"
Jim smirked, holding up his dripping mug, "No. I'm good, thanks."
Pete nodded as Jim grabbed a nearby towel. "I was just going to ask… did I ever tell you how I met my wife?"
"You – your wife?" Pete looked taken aback. "Pam?"
Jim chuckled, "Yes, she is my only wife. I was just wondering if anyone told you how we met?" He calmly began to dry the mug, looking into the younger man's face. Pete stared at him.
"Uh, no, actually," he frowned, clearly wondering where this was going.
Jim smiled, looking down at his hands. "She and I worked here together – Pam was the receptionist, I was a salesman… we were both young, and stupid…" his grin faded somewhat. "And she was with someone else."
Pete froze; he stared at Jim, hardly knowing what to say. Jim continued to dry the mug, still looking down.
"… It killed me, knowing she was with this other guy, and for years I didn't say anything. There were moments where I even wondered if it was all worth it –"
"Okay," Pete quickly interrupted, and gave a very forced laugh. Jim looked up, "Okay, wh-why are you even telling me this? I mean – why do I need this information, huh?"
"No reason," Jim shrugged, casually setting the damp towel back on the counter. "Just thought maybe you'd like to know the basic history of the office around here, that's all…"
Pete's shoulders relaxed, and he immediately became less defensive. "Oh."
Jim placed his clean mug in the cabinet and smiled up at it, the words etched upon its surface gleaming under the fluorescent lights. He glanced over at Pete, who was once again staring at the coffee machine, mentally debating whether or not to use it.
Jim turned to leave, but stopped. He paused before looking over his shoulder at the new guy.
"Y'know…" he said, turning to face him, and Pete looked around. "At one point, when I considered just giving up, someone told me not to. Someone I didn't even like, and most certainly didn't trust, told me to never give up on her…" Jim glanced at his mug sitting in the cabinet, the words 'World's Greatest Dad' written across it. "…and look where it's gotten me now."
Jim glanced back at Pete, and grimaced sadly at that oh-so-familiar expression on his face. Pete nodded silently, to show he understood, and Jim turned around and walked out the door, back to his desk. Nothing more needed to be said.
Erin had only left her desk for a few minutes to talk to Toby about Nellie stealing her paper clips, so she hadn't expected anything to happen for the short period of time she was gone. However, as she was walking back to her desk, she noticed something was placed on her counter that wasn't there before.
She moved closer, and saw a cup of black coffee sitting there, two unopened packets of sugar and a half&half beside it. On the coffee's other side was a piece of paper, and on it was a crudely-drawn picture of a pretty red-haired girl in high heels. In the bottom left-hand corner an arrow pointed to the heels and said: Erin's new shoes. From, Pete.
Erin was delighted; her whole complexion lit up, and she giggled happily as she looked at the picture. No one had ever drawn a picture of her before! Well, Reed used to, but he would always add devil horns and stink lines and a Hitler mustache, which always ruined it…
Erin, smiling, looked up toward Pete, who was standing by the water cooler with Andy and Clark. Pete glanced over at Erin, who held up her picture for him, still grinning from ear to ear. Pete smiled back.
Jim obviously saw the exchange; he didn't show it, for he kept his eyes trained to his computer screen, but the half-glance he offered to the camera showed his clear satisfaction over what had just occurred.
Erin was smiling for nearly the rest of the day. No one but Pete noticed.
A/N: First Ryan/Pam, then Ryan/ Erin, now Pete/Erin… I think I've finally found my new OTP! Am I alone on this?