Status: Complete [one-shot]
Something I wrote for yankeeficswap. It's been received a lot better than I expected it to be so I'm posting this someplace else, now. ;)
When they finally get together, they find some strange delight in hiding it from everyone, including the cameras. She knows because she's in on the plan; she wants to help them as much as she can because she may not be the best practical joker but she genuinely likes both of them. She doesn't get it, though...then again, Karen Filipelli doesn't get a lot of things about Jim and Pam.
The first two clues she gets about the possibilities of a Pam-and-Jim history make her stop and rethink her entire relationship with both of them:
There's a little moment of madness when Dwight and Andy challenge each other to a swordfight involving long rulers and bits of pen refills taped together. She glances at Jim as he makes a face at the camera [one of his recent best] and subsequently glances at Pam, who stares solemnly at the scene in front of her - and she wonders if both of them played a part in bringing out the swordfighters in the office 'number three's. Then she wonders how much she must've missed if she even considered them having nothing to do with it.
He laughs differently around her. One morning she slips quietly into work and just before she opens the glass doors she realises the way he laughs sounds almost foreign as he leans over the receptionist's desk. He didn't sound the same back in Stamford. Just like how he doesn't wear his suit jacket here, how sometimes she catches him smuggle a grape soda to his desk, how he suddenly seems to love jellybeans when he claimed he doesn't really like sweets during Halloween that year.
Pam's favourite number is two. She likes that multiplying that number by itself or adding two to two makes up his favourite number, because there's some sort of strange symbolism in that that she can't really explain. Subtracting her favourite number from her favourite number gets a zero, though, and she thinks that means something, too, because that's as far away from his favourite number as she can get.
He doesn't really care about the symbolism but it amuses him how much she thinks about these things.
The first two messages on Karen's machine that come from Pam go as follows:
*beep* Karen, Mr Martin Crane from Cranes Co. & Co. would like to talk to you about - something, uhm, I'm sorry, but I have to ask you about your answering machine message: I know you probably couldn't care less about what I think, and this may come off as uh offensive, or something, but - that message is really boring. I mean, you're Italian, right? You should play around with that, or something - but you don't care. Sorry.
*beep* - right, Mr Crane would like you to call him. He's missing something from his accounts and he thinks it's something to do with the order he settled with you earlier this year. Uh, also...I'm sorry, I'm new at this, but you're a girl and I'm a girl and - wow, I feel like a twelve-year-old. Do you want to have some coffee, after work? Just...stop my desk, or something. It'd be nice to have a friend at work. A girl, especially. It's - just a suggestion. If you have better things to do...
They make it a regularly scheduled thing - every Monday and Friday after work, coffee or a trip to an apartment to watch a movie. He knows because he accidentally called her instead of his friend James [in his hurry he scrolled more than he should've while finding the number and it fell to the Ks] and as he was apologising he heard the tinkle of her laugh in the background. He likes that they get along because he genuinely likes both of them. He doesn't really get what they can do so long, though, because he thinks they've got less things in common than he thought they did [or made himself believe they did, at least], back in Stamford. But they're friends, and he doesn't really complain.
The first two e-mails in Jim's inbox that come from Pam since after their conversation in the car park read as follows:
Alright, Halpert, your pranks are brilliant,but I'm ashamed you slipped up so much: the Stamford fax machine may be high-tech and everything, but our old machine always came with another page behind the fax with the details of the fax machine it was sent from, etc., etc. You're lucky I got rid of those. How could you forget that?
Great stuff, though. [In theory.] Are you keeping that up? If you aren't, I've got a few under my sleeve. And I worked a couple on him, too.
And...OK, let's admit it, we've started off on entirely the wrong foot. I haven't stopped thinking about it in weeks.
Can we start over?
Except we'll keep the hug. If you want.
I'm glad you find me worthy of being your partner.
In crime, that is. Partner-in-crime.
I'll wait for your call.
The call is short. The dinner is longer.
They always knew each other well, even before they got together:
Whenever Pam gets angry his attention's drawn to her nose. Her face is stone set and she doesn't really give things away, but he knows her nose turns pink or red and she becomes a lot quieter than usual. He likes that he's able to notice. He hasn't seen it often, because it takes a lot more than Dwight to anger her, but he's noticed the few times it happens, like the day Katy sets up shop in the office, or the day he questions why she isn't taking the art internship.
When Jim gets angry he comes up with his best pranks. His first Jell-O prank came the day after Dwight irritated him to his limit for the first time; he stole a box of Dwight's stationery a day after the Casino Night event, and it was the day after his first talk with Pam in the parking lot [the day of the merger] that he switched Andy and Dwight's phone lines. It used to unsettle her than she knows and notices these things - now she thinks it follows after the sky is blue and the grass is green.
"OK, so do you know what I realised while I was picking my mom up from the airport yesterday?"
"Those black spots on the floor? Those really small dots? You know what they are?"
"No...I don't think I've ever been to that part of the airport."
"Oh. Come on, guess."
"Tar? Little specks of dust from outer space? Something to do with Dwight?"
"Nope, not tar. Definitely not anything extra-terrestrial, not even Dwight. Guess."
"All gum. Thousands and thousands and thousands of pieces of gum, strewn across the floor, trampled upon so many times that they've gone black."
"The pleasure was mine."
Two of the bravest things Pam does as Fancy New Beesly make her always feel a little bit braver as she looks back at them.
She does it. She doesn't consider the hug or the offer for coffee anything that she wouldn't have done for any of her closest friends, not really: and before anything else, Jim was her closest friend, and had been that way for years.
It's when the office is nearly empty, granted, but she doesn't think her voice can do anything but carry a basic tune, so doing it in front of everyone wouldn't be brave, just incredibly stupid.
He's putting papers in his bag and there's a lag in their conversation and as she watches him to leave together, the familiarity in the moment causes something in her to burst.
So she hums. And she finally sings. She stumbles over a couple of words, but she doesn't care. She busies herself, putting papers aside, boarding the phones, switching off her computer, and then she realises it's not for him, it's for herself. She's breaking free.
He doesn't really say anything but later recognises it as the song from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. [That surprises her because she didn't think he cared enough to watch that movie, let alone watch it properly.]
In a week of unbidden confrontation she's feeling crankier than usual and she tells off a handful of people: Creed for looking down her blouse, Michael for not signing the expense reports, Roy for coming in and giving her flowers [although this she does a little gently], Ryan for being a little meaner than usual [and because she does this on behalf of Kelly she doesn't have to face her wrath], and at the end of the week, when Jim leaves, she tells him to wait, and in the empty office, she tackles and confronts.
it was my turn to decide
i knew this was our time
no one else will have me like you do
no one else will have me: only you
you'll sit alone forever if you wait for the right time
what are you hoping for?
The first two pranks she takes part in when both of them are together are highly successful:
Their very first one involves getting Dwight Schrute to yell for the Pedo file across the office [in the presence of both Jan and an important client] [that among other things] - they need Angela to infiltrate his guards because he wouldn't accept things from anyone else, and to get Angela in to switch the files, Andy's involvement is necessary, and the only way to convince Andy to do anything would require Pam, and as much as she doesn't want to admit it, poor Karen knows much more about him than she would ever let on, and she is instrumental in the plan. It's very complicated.
The results are much more satisfactory than expected, clinching Karen a little place in the tight prank-playing team. [She always gets the feeling her position was given out of pity more than actual admiration or qualifications but for some reason she's honoured anyway to be part of it all.]
The second prank is aimed at no one in particular but it reduces all three of them to laughter everytime they think about it - unfortunately no one is allowed to speak about it in the office anymore.
Both Jim and Pam are convinced, however, that everyone present laugh about it in private.
It figures: his hands are large, but the one time he needs to use them, he can't. They don't reach around his back that way, and it's getting intolerable. It really, really itches.
She finds him standing in the kitchen using one of the spoons as a back-scratcher and she can't stifle her laughter as she reaches to help him. She scratches, then she stops, realising this is closer to him than she's been in weeks. Heat travels, and he feels warm.
In silence, she leaves, taking the itch with her.
The tingle - well, the tingle is something he's gotten used to.
They find out a lot more when they first start going out, and even more as their relationship progresses.
He practically inhales books [he can't remember, though, if he loves reading because he took Literature as his major, or if he took Literature as his major because he loves reading]. His dad passed away in his late teens [and taking care of his mother and sister, as well as other women who are extremely close to him, is something like second nature to him]. He can be a bit irrational [but that's only because sometimes his heart thinks for him instead of his mind]. And he loves her, fully, completely, deeply.
She is not a morning person [she can stay in bed just fine, he knows, but getting out of the covers and everything after that just puts her in a bad mood]. She can't stand drinks when they're warm [she firmly believes all drinks are supposed to be either cold or hot - they have ice for the cold, and the stove for the hot, but the reason there's nothing for the warm, she thinks, is that the warm isn't supposed to be there]. Her best friend from high school's name is Jennifer and she calls her on a weekly basis [and because of the phone calls Jenny knows a lot more about Jim than Roy ever would]. And she loves him, incomprehensibly, unbelievably, unstoppably.
The only thing Pam really regrets [after breaking off her engagement to Roy] is not telling Jim sooner: she could've avoided Karen, and a bunch of heartbreaks, and it makes her feel queasy and a little sad.
But even for that she's got a way to look at things positively; it's only fair that she suffered even a little bit of the pain that he did for the past few years, and the fact that Karen is genuinely nice doesn't help things.
And she's always thought that she needs to know how much she deserves him, how much they're meant for each other, how much she's missing or she's missed by not being with him, so she goes on a handful of dates [that end up being horrible because she does a little mental checklist where she thinks of him all the time, comparing and contrasting, and that doesn't help things, either; not at all.].
And finally Karen forces her to make her move, and that works. Very well.
Their first guiltless, completely sober kiss is raw and passionate and long; the culmination of a thousand missed chances.
Their second guiltless, completely sober kiss is soft and quiet and full of promise; i'll never break your heart [again].
They stumble and jerk and fumble around the issue: they're back to their carefully constructed facade, and they try hard to keep it that way. They're just friends. [The one thing wrong with that is they don't really believe it.]
It's the week after a hopeless date [for her] and two weeks after a mutual break-up [for him] when they finally look at each other, their eyes meeting for the first time in a while, and they smile.
She surprises him a lot, and catches him in attempts to surprise her, so it makes the few times when he's able to make her completely speechless very worth the effort.
She manages to make him agree to a just-friends date, the night before Valentines'; they go out to dinner, first [and he hands her three or four flowers - yellow, he tells her swiftly (before she protests), at the risk of sounding cheesy, the colour of friendship], and then go to his apartment to watch the most anti-Valentines' Day flicks they can think of. It's during the middle of Star Wars when they get a little carried away.
He pulls away from their embrace and slips into his bedroom, coming out holding more flowers.
In the flickering light from the muted television, he confesses. I was holding out hope that you'd still prefer the red.
He finds Post-It notes against his computer monitor one evening, as he's packing his things after talking to Michael.
That question you were planning on asking me tonight?
Don't let it stop you, though: maybe it's more fun if you know the answer.
[Although truthfully, Halpert, I was hoping this would help us skip the dinner.]
He goes through with his plans but doesn't ask her that night, and decides to do it the next morning instead, in a way he hadn't really thought through, quick and swift but sweet and memorable. He really catches her unawares this time and he's glad, even though she screams a little bit, because he thinks she deserves it for ruining his intended surprise.
Their first fight is quick, like pulling off a Band-Aid. It hurts, though; even if both know it's necessary, even if both know they're really forever.
Their first wedding is beautiful but simple, personal but a declaration. It doesn't take place in June.
Their first house is large, with a terrace. The fridge has a shelf reserved for cans of coke.
Their first child is red-haired and hazel-eyed and has a thing for mischief. Sometimes they wish he didn't inherit their criminal genius.
Their second fight lasts a little longer than it should: the make-up, though, is very good.
Their second wedding is a bigger one, fifteen years after their first.
Their second house is larger, two floors, an attic, a terrace.
Their second child teams up with her older brother whenever she can.
He sort of gets her obsession with two, now; second drinks, second rounds, second tries, second chances. Without her twos, he can't really be sure where they'd end up being.
His favourite number is four. He likes that dividing that by her favourite number gets her favourite number: it makes him feel like he's made up of her: like he is who she is.
He gets it: he is who she is.