Jim and Pam, going through the motions - from the night of to six months after.
Status: Complete [one-shot]
Spoilers: Spoilers up to The Job.
Oh, the fluff, it hurts my teeth. And the cheese - you'd better not be lactose-intolerant.
I started writing this some time in the week following my euphoria after The Job, and the last time I wrote something for this was roughly four days ago. I'm still not convinced it's the best, but I gave myself a deadline, and - hey, it's not dreadful.
Extreme amounts of love who offered to read it through during its early stages, especially to rachel_lupin who stuck to it till the end. Without her this would definitely not have been here.
just the stirring in my soul
i rent a room
and i fill the spaces
with wood in places
to make it feel like home
[but all i feel's alone]
it may be a quarter-life crisis
or just the stirring in my soul
He shrugs and she smiles, opens the door, and pulls him inside.
They stand there for minutes - him leaning against the door, her leaning against him. Her fingers trace patterns into the back of his hand, tickling slightly the sides of his wrist, and he wonders if she'll let him see any of her drawings. He asks, and she smiles, again, and he can feel it to his toes, his knees, his ears; and he hasn't seen her smile like that in a long time - or it's not just in a long time, it's never, and it hurts and heals to know that it may just be because it's him.
She tells him to make himself at home as she runs into her room - and it's easy, slipping off his shoes to rest next to hers, putting his coat next to her pink one, throwing his messenger bag next to her small black bag - it's easy, peeking at framed photographs, looking at sketches taped to a marked portion on one wall, running his fingers over a large sketchbook with jagged edges and coloured papers jutting out - it's easy, listening to the shower run, leaning back in the couch, stretching his feet out and hitting the legs of the coffee table -
When she reappears her tee-shirt is large and worn and her hair is wet and messy but she's grinning and almost skipping and he loves her.
She points at things and laughs at compliments traced with teasing and nudges his shoulder when it comes to the page of fiery colours and strong lines and two silhouettes further away, in the background, away from the fire; heads bent, shoulders touching.
He's proud of her for more things than he can even begin to say.
She tells him things, like how she wants a little shelf on the side of the living room [he tells her it's their summer project], how the broken lock in Dwight's drawer would be useful, about the creaky floorboard on the third step of the office stairwell that she discovered the day after he left, how she hated how his hair looked for a while after Phyllis' wedding and she couldn't sketch anything of him.
She also tells him things, like how she sleeps on top of the covers in bed because she's tired of waking and moving over and feeling [ice] cold, like how he makes her laugh and he makes her cry -
- how everything happens for a reason and maybe it's a good thing that he had Karen and that four people came to her art show and that she had to burn her feet to make a point, and how she can see, how she can believe, how she knows she loves him, now. And how she's starting to see that he may love her, too.
The next time Dwight complains about driving too much on Sundays, Jim's gaze lingers too long at the accountants' area of the office and she jumps in realisation.
She looks offended and it makes him laugh as he offers her a packet of chips in truce. They discuss moments they've seen them together, things they've noticed about them, and she's delighted when he tells her about the office convention in September. It's when their fingers brush [on top of the table, near her wrist], reaching for the same handful of chips, that she has an idea and squeezes his hand [under the table, on his knee].
The next week they try to gauge just when Angela comes in - they slip in at eight, seven, six-thirty, and finally figure out she comes in at six on the day they get in at five. [They didn't mind waiting, they had things to do - but maybe they shouldn't have been found in the office that early in the morning, shirts buttoned wrong and hair just a bit messy, by the office prude.]
The next Monday Pam comes in with full-sleeved cardigans, shirts buttoned to her neck, in dull colours, her lips set tight, at five-forty-five. She glares at Angela when she enters. She glares at Dwight when he enters. She glares at Jim when he enters [and is very close to breaking].
Jim observes with his [calculator] watch that Angela and Dwight time their breaks to be at 11:12 and 11:14 respectively. Pam and Jim enter the breakroom at 11:13 and 11:15 respectively. She faces the cupboards with the tea and he fiddles with the leaves of the plant as she tells him she's baking cookies for him later that night, their conversation in hushed whispers, just loud enough for the other two to hear them. He tells her he may have to help Michael with a magic camp tomorrow. She tells him it's Michael or cookies.
Gibbon! he exclaims, as she brushes past him. She glares at him and stalks out of the room.
Dwight does not think this is funny.
Confrontation isn't their forte. But it's a slip of tongue, and then maybe-forgotten grievances, and they confront.
Somehow they're throwing their words before they think them, each a little puncture in the bubbles [shields] they've been living in for five years. They're tough bubbles, hardened with age - then again, the words are sharp. They know each other well enough to know what hurts them.
They don't know who slams the door but now they fume in separate rooms.
As the shards that hit them sink in, they pierce, cut, tear, and it hurts. There's a rush of air into their faces that they aren't used to and it suffocates.
Perhaps they should have gotten used to change by now, but this feels completely foreign.
They're convinced now, of course, that they are good and broken, doomed.
The thing is, though: an hour passes, and he waits outside her room, and when she finally leaves he tugs her into his embrace quietly.
Afterwards, after it settles: there's something strangely freer about the way that they are. Something is released, and there's less between them; scabs peel for new skin, new hope, and they can breathe now, finally.
There's a layer less between them, chipped away and burned. The scars will heal. The feelings remain.
They're at the neighbourhood laundromat when they meet Roy. They're arguing over the finer points of fabric softener, her wearing an old tee-shirt of his, him tossing his whites in with hers [because she's particular about that sort of thing], and they hear someone clearing his throat behind them.
The two of them think he's the same - but with a cleaner face, and he's lost some weight. He looks happy, too, which is a marked difference from how he looked the last time they saw him, so maybe that means he has changed - still, he raises his eyebrows at them when they start accusing the other of losing the quarters, and he gets defensive when Pam offers some laundry tips, so maybe he hasn't, really.
He smiles when he shakes Jim's hand, though, and wishes the two of them 'luck', because, he says, either of you with anyone else would have driven them crazy. He has a point - they agree that it looks like Roy is nicer when he can put Pam behind him.
Jim asks him how things are, for him, work-wise especially, and apologises because he's part of the reason he lost his place in Dunder-Mifflin, but he shakes it off, laughs. Anything's better than seeing Michael everyday. Jim smiles in agreement. It's not like they're best friends, but they're friendly, and the conversation is smooth.
When Jim's putting their things into a dryer, Roy and Pam talk some more. He tells her he can't decide if she's changed or not. She laughs - she thinks she knows. She has a theory - she's the best of what she was, then, and the best of what she chooses to be, now, and the imperfections of the result she gets are old and new, too, so it's a mix of things. She'd tell him this, but she thinks the old-Roy in Roy won't try to understand it, or he'll just say he does.
He's glad, he says, that they're happy, because he's found someone who loves it when he talks football, someone he's willing to do things for even if they're out-of-the-way, and [no offense, Pam, but] he's happier with her than he'd ever have been with Pam. She's glad that he found someone, too.
He tells her he'll give his mother her new number, and she says she'd like that.
They're on good terms, which is more than she'd thought they'd be.
She likes it.
There are things about him that bug her, of course. He's kind of a wuss - overly cautious, too soft. He loves her, so much, it makes her feel strange, like she doesn't deserve it. There's always a part of her that feels insecure, that maybe he'll realise that she's not the same person he was hoping she'd be, and that scares her. His lips still tighten when he hears something about how she's not used to the attention, because he's reminded of Roy. Sometimes she feels like he can't believe how much time she wasted with Roy, how much she took from him, because he doesn't understand that - they were happ - that maybe they were hap - he just doesn't understand.
She was engaged, dammit, what did he expect?
He leaves his towels on the bathroom floor. He tells her to go to take up an art course, even though it's in New York, even though it's every weekend, even though she tells him she likes where she is now [and she likes spending her weekend with him]. He sings too loud in the shower. He's more limbs than skin but he's graceful and she's a klutz [and she's jealous].
He's sometimes too serious, sometimes too not. He's sometimes too lazy, sometimes too active. Sometimes he burns the eggs. Sometimes he forgets to shave, and he looks fine, but the skin around her mouth hurts [because she can't help it]. Sometimes he goofs off at work more than he really needs to. [He can't preach about taking a chance on something sometime when he can do so much better.]
She gets a little scared, sometimes, that the person he fell in love with was different from Fancy New Beesly, that maybe he loved her then more than he does now. But then those times he looks at her and smiles and whispers, low. Maybe he loved her then because of who she is now, which...means something.
They're mostly quiet around the office - they know everyone knows, but they don't push it into their faces.
It doesn't always work. Sometimes some people walk into the breakroom when they're discussing things in muffled laughs and hushed voices, sometimes some people catch Pam wearing turtlenecks in June, sometimes some people hear more than they have to when they're using the photocopying machine.
It's mostly for some people, this effort to keep quiet.
Sometimes they can't help it, though, like when Pam stumbles into work wearing what she was wearing the day before, or when they disappear during lunch together occasionally, or the time they tried being Dwight and Angela, but otherwise they think they're doing an okay job.
Some people are also still on the Party Planning Committee, but they're completely civil to Pam, so she returns the favour. Pam also sees that some people aren't really one of the Scrantonian Dunder Mifflinites, so she eats lunch with them sometimes. They get along well, still, when the unavoidable awkwardness is put aside, and they even entertain the idea of reviving the Committee to Plan Parties.
They plan one more party, by special request of the assistant regional manager, and disband when some people move to bigger things. In the city.
Some people leave Dunder-Mifflin with their hearts left light, and their heads held high. Karen Filippelli is one of them.
It's a little ridiculous but she thinks one of the reasons she can love him so well is the fact that he's so tall. It's especially ridiculous because Roy was taller, really. She knows that. Still - he walks into a room and everything around him and her, they look so much smaller. Like she can handle big obstacles when he's with her because he's there to help her break them into smaller pieces, so she can take them and crush them up, throw them on the floor, jump on them and flatten them, so they're gone.
She thinks another one of the reasons she can love him so much is the fact that when she confessed that to him, he confessed that one of the reasons he loves her is that she's so colourful - because she walks into a dull, lifeless room and everything around him and her, they look so much brighter, louder. Like he needs to paint, he would try to paint, but he'd be searching for the right colours.
And she loves that he says he wants to paint around her, because she always wants to paint around him.
She loves that he makes her want to dress up as much as he makes her want to stay as she is. She loves that much of his daily routine has been planned, thought-through and replayed constantly to perfection. She loves that it's in his silence that he seems to say the most.
She loves his arms, and his smile, and his sense of humour; she loves his jaw, his laughter, and his compassion; she loves his feet, his voice, and his enthusiasm; she loves his collarbone, his silences, his patience. She loves his love: she loves him for him, she loves him for her. She loves him.
She's wearing a dressy kind of dress, and he's wearing a fancy kind of suit, but even then they don't fit in at the dressy-dress-and-fancy-suit restaurant.
It may be because they're smiling entirely too wide, and it may be because they keep leaning over the table [so much that a waiter suggests pushing their chairs closer together] - they couldn't really care less. She leans against his shoulder and he plays with the ends of her hair and when they open the dancefloor to people other than those from another wedding party, she pulls him in.
It doesn't make a difference, at first - her head stays on his shoulder and his fingers are still in her hair - but then they're swaying slowly, and they're not talking - and suddenly they fit with the rest of the crowd; quiet, thoughtful. And then he presses his lips to her hair and she rubs her nose against his shoulder and they move in closer still to each other and she laughs as his fingers brush her hip and they're back to not fitting again - they're Jim and Pam. Like always.
They're more comfortable than they ever dreamed they could be now, around a year and six months since a certain confession and a certain kiss, and six months since heart-to-hearts in quiet corners of a café and in her apartment. They fit. She's shorter than him and his hands are bigger than hers but they actually fit. And they're different from what they were a year and six months ago, but they're different from what they were six months ago, too - maybe that's why they work.
They fit each other, and it doesn't matter if they don't fit anyone else.
They decide to get moderately expensive things off the menu, with names that hardly make sense so they have to squint at the words that follow to understand what exactly they'll be ordering. The dim lighting doesn't help, so finally they decide to get the things that they know how to pronounce, which makes the meal cheaper than they expected it [and a lot less filling]. She steals his carrots [which he hates but she loves] and he sneaks the snails into her napkin [which neither of them love] and they eat more dessert and drink more wine than dinner itself.
When they leave there's a rattle of shells coming from her purse and they're smiling and laughing like they may have drunk more than is liked at any dressy-dress-and-fancy-suit restaurant, but they still can't care less.
At his place, they wear his tee-shirts and sweats and they eat cold pizza. Afterwards they sway to a musicless tune, a rhythmless beat. Their movements don't fit.
They still do.
What they feel is heard in a quiet kind of loud.
She thinks that what they feel reveals itself with every smile, gesture, touch; as she reaches for his fingers, as he squeezes in return, as they exchange looks over office desks or kitchen tables. He thinks that what they feel reveals itself in words, whispers, laughs; as he whispers in her ear, as his breath tickles her ear and makes her laugh, as they discuss the mundane to the philosophical.
She likens moments between them to wind pushing through their hair, to sun warm on skin, to little bursts of electricity. He likens moments between them to rustles of pages of new books, to waves crashing against pebbles, to crackles of a small fire.
Sometimes their fingers talk and their gazes scream; sometimes their words disappear and their laughter blends into silences. His music can be the background music of a heartbeat melody or the vocalisation of what they want to say; her art pieces can be a call of attention, bold, or the silent underscoring of moments, private and untouched.
What they feel is heard in a quiet kind of loud.