Is It Just Me by nicemorningtoo
Summary:

I know it's cruel

But I kind of hope you're tortured too

 

Some of Pam's feelings throughout Season 3.  


Categories: Jim and Pam, Present Characters: None
Genres: Angst
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 5770 Read: 749 Published: April 09, 2020 Updated: April 09, 2020
Chapter 1 by nicemorningtoo

How many fics will I write before I start my multi-chapter fic? The world may never know. I’m going to really try to start the multi-chapter fic after this one, but I couldn’t get this out of my head. I love a good angsty song that I can relate to Jim and Pam, and this one reminded me of their season 3 problems, so that’s when this takes place. I had to change a few details in the song so that it would fit within The Office universe, but whatever. Takes place throughout Season 3, up until Beach Games. Pam’s POV.

 

Song – Is It Just Me by Emily Burns

 

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything. All characters, plotlines, references, songs, etc belong to their rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended.

 

*-*-*-*-*

 

It's been way too long for me to find it this hard

Sitting alone, my fingers picking the sofa apart

In attempt to distract from the fact that I miss you

 

Some days, Pam comes home happy. Well, at least content. She’s able to get her work done without too many interruptions and maybe even sneak out a little early. Most days, she comes home annoyed and a little sad. Whether it was Angela’s snarky remarks or Kelly eating her lunch, she comes home upset that she no longer has an outlet for her frustrations. But she eats dinner and takes a bath and by the time she’s in bed, she can usually get herself into a better mood.

 

And then some days, like today, she comes home and just cries. Michael was being a little too Michael and Dwight was being a little too Dwight, and she can’t handle it. She used to have no problems with her coworkers. Yes, she found most of them to be annoying and weird, but she used to be able to laugh about it. Sometimes Michael’s antics would even be the highlight of her day. But that was months ago. Back when Jim sat five feet away from her and would make faces and tell jokes in order to see her smile. Now that he’s in Stamford, she finds very little humor in her coworkers’ doings.

 

On days like today, she sits on her sofa, a glass of wine in her hand as she stares at the tv that isn’t even on. Tears stream down her face and she doesn’t even bother to wipe them away, knowing now that it’s no use, they won’t be stopping anytime soon. She should be better at this by now, missing him. It shouldn’t affect her the way it does. But if she’s honest with herself, these nights where she drinks a little too much wine and picks at the sofa while silently crying alone are the times she feels the most alive anymore. These nights are the nights where she’s reminded that he did exist, and that they were best friends. He wasn’t just a figment of her imagination that decided not to appear one day and never come back. He was real, and everything she ever wanted or needed him to be. Which makes her heart hurt even more and the tears fall a little faster, because she realizes that missing him will never get easier, no matter how much time goes by.

 

I wonder if your friends have had to carry you home

And stay for the night because they don't want to leave you alone

Way before it was fun, it's becoming an issue

I know it's cruel

But I kind of hope you're tortured too

 

Much later, she finally convinces herself to get up and get ready for bed. She has to be awake again in just a few hours and does not want to deal with her workplace on such little sleep. She’s learned from experience that it never works out well. As she undresses and changes into sweats and a t-shirt, she considers asking her coworkers if anyone wants to go to Poor Richard’s tomorrow. It’ll be a Friday, and she can drink her night away until she can’t even remember her own name, let alone the name of the shaggy-haired salesman that she’s in love with.

 

But then she remembers the last time she got that wasted. It was shortly after Jim had transferred and Pam had come to the realization that she did, in fact, love him. But it was too late, he was gone. So, she asked Isabel and Penny to go out drinking with her, and she didn’t stop. Couldn’t stop. Every drink burned her throat, but she ignored the pain because the pain of the alcohol was better than the pain of him not being there. Isabel and Penny quickly realized what was going on, and so they nursed one beer each while making sure Pam didn’t throw up. When the bartender finally cut her off, they brought her home, where she spent most of the night in front of the toilet. Penny and Isabel stayed by her side as Pam cried until she passed out on the couch.

 

So, she decided she wouldn’t go out tomorrow. She didn’t want her coworkers to see her like that. Didn’t want them to know how badly Jim leaving affected her. They all knew she missed him, she was quieter now and not as engaged as she used to be. But they also knew they were best friends, so they just chalked it up to that.

 

She lays down in bed and wonders if Jim still thinks about her. If he thinks about their times together and all the fun they had. Wonders if he misses her, if he still loves her. Wonders if sometimes he gets a little too drunk because of her and needs someone to keep an eye on him. She doubts it, but deep down she kind of hope he does. She kind of hopes that he is feeling even a fraction of the pain she goes through everyday when she looks up from her desk and Ryan is sitting where he used to sit. She hopes that he hurts when it’s someone else’s voice answering the receptionist’s phone. She hopes that he has to walk away for a minute when it’s not her who he gets to joke around with. She closes her eyes, willing her brain to be quiet and to stop thinking about him. She knows she should be happy for him, proud of him, but on nights like tonight, she can’t help but hope that he’s hurting just like she is.

 

 Tell me does your heart stop, at the party, when my name drops

Like you stood at the platform when the trains cross

Are you hurting? Yeah, you must be

Or is it just me?

Tongue-tied, screaming on the inside

When I say that we broke up and they ask why

Are you crying in the shower like a freak?

Or is it just me?

 

She hangs up the phone and puts her face in her hands. She really hopes that Michael didn’t literally give Jim her message of “um.” She leans back in her chair, staring up at the ceiling. She wonders what Jim thought when Michael said it was her on the phone. Did he care? Did he wish he could talk to her? Did his heart stop, even if only for a second? She laughs quietly to herself. Yeah, right. He left for another state 24 hours after confessing he loved her, he probably wants nothing to do with her now. But… you can’t just stop loving someone that fast right? Like, if he really did love her like he said he did. That doesn’t just disappear overnight. She quickly busies herself with paperwork, not allowing herself to get too deep into her thoughts. She can’t think about him like this at work, otherwise she will become a mess and she doesn’t want her coworkers to question her.

 

It’s not until she gets to lunch that she lets her mind wander a little bit. This way, if she gets too upset, she can leave for a while and then come back once she’s composed herself. She picks at her salad, wishing she told Michael to tell Jim she says “hi” or “I miss you” or “I’m in love with you, please come back.” Well, she wouldn’t want Michael to tell him that, but she wishes he would hear it anyway. She wants to call him, say that Michael won’t pick up his phone and it’s an emergency, so she had to call someone to get in touch with him. But then the emergency would magically solve itself before she spoke to Michael, so they could talk for a while. She could see how he’s doing, listen for any clues that he misses her like she misses him. That he thinks of her all the time like she thinks of him. That there’s any part of him, even if it’s a miniscule part, that still loves her like he said he did back in May. She hopes that she would be able to tell him that she misses him, misses his jokes and his smile and his presence. That the office isn’t the same without him in it. She hopes he would be able to read in between the lines and be able to tell that she’s trying to say that she loves him, just as much or possibly even more than he loved her.

 

“Hey, Pam.” Toby walks into the break room holding his own lunch and sits down across from her.

“Hey, Toby.” Her voice is a little shakier than she would have liked, she hopes he doesn’t notice.

He pulls out his sandwich and chips, very similar to what Jim would eat every day. “The office is a lot quieter without Michael and Dwight here, huh?”

She chuckles quietly, “Yeah. Much quieter without certain people.”

He nods, taking a bite of his sandwich. “I bet Michael is happy to see Jim, though. I’m sure Dwight is too, though he would never admit it. I know they both miss him in their own ways.”

She really doesn’t want to talk about Jim. She only wants to think about him. That way she won’t slip up and spill any of her thoughts. “Yeah,” she mutters.

“Do you and Jim still talk? I know you guys were pretty close.”

“No, not much.”

“Really? I’m kind of surprised. Why not?”

“I’m sure he’s busy with his new job and everything and with me starting school soon, we just haven’t gotten around to it,” she lies. They could be talking if either one of them were brave enough to cross that line first.

“Yeah, I guess. Stamford is bigger than us so I’m sure he has more work to do. It’s nice not having to do so much paperwork here, though. Not having Jim around means Dwight complains less and there’s no pranks, so everyone complains a little less. Makes my job easier.”

She likes Toby, really, she does. But she doesn’t want to sympathize with him if it means agreeing that not having Jim around is nice. She stands up, gathering her mostly uneaten lunch and throwing it away. “Toby, I’m actually not feeling well. I’ll set the phone to voicemail but then I’m gonna head out. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

She doesn’t wait for his response before she’s walking out of the breakroom, to her desk, and then out of the main doors. Her mind is numb as she drives home, she’s surprised she makes it back alive since she barely remembers turning on the car let alone driving. She just took a shower this morning, but she starts one up again as soon as she’s inside. She turns on the water as hot as she can take it before undressing and stepping in. As the scalding hot water runs over her, she allows the tears to fall once more.

 

I heard a rumour you've been spending some time

With that blonde girl you work with and I know she's exactly your type

And my miserable mind's running wild with the picture

Or are you there by yourself, dialing, redialing my number?

And I'm calling your mother, spilling tears on my jumper again

The way I am

 

She didn’t think it could be possible, but having Jim back is somehow worse than when he was three hours away. Sure, she’s glad to see him again. But now he basically only ignores her. At least when he was in Stamford, she could pretend he was just too busy to talk. He had a new position in a new place, and he was trying to get situated. He lived in a bigger city with much more to do so it totally made sense that he didn’t have time to reach out to her, even after they talked on the phone when he tried to call Kevin but never called again or when she texted him during Kelly’s Diwali party and he never replied. He was just too busy.

 

But now he’s here, literally sitting right in front of her, and she knows he’s not too busy anymore. She can see his computer screen, see him playing games of minesweeper and solitaire. She can see him playing small, subtle pranks on Dwight. She can see him stare blankly ahead, with nothing to do except make sure he doesn’t turn around and talk to her.

 

She can see him talking to Karen, though. See him smile when he turns slightly to look at the pretty brunette who she has no reason to dislike besides for the fact that she has Jim and Pam doesn’t. She can see them eat lunch together as she grabs her own before turning the opposite way and eating at her desk. She can see him put his hand on her shoulder, gently rubbing his thumb back and forth, while he looks at something on her computer. She remembers when he would lean over her shoulder when she showed him a funny video or a drawing she did. She remembers hoping their fingers would brush against each other’s when she handed her sketchpad over for him to inspect or that he would grab her arm as he laughed at her impression of Dwight. She would have done anything to get him to touch her the way she catches him touch Karen.

 

She gets home that night, ready for a drink and some bad TV. As she’s flipping through the channels, she can’t help but wonder what he’s doing. She can’t recall him and Karen making any plans for tonight. She usually knows when they do, since Karen likes to talk about their plans at his desk, as if she knows it drives Pam crazy to think of Jim going home with another girl. She thinks Jim likes that Pam can overhear them, to let her know that he’s over her and with someone newer and better. She wonders if they made plans after leaving work, if Karen is at his place and they’re having dinner. Or if they’re at her hotel, laying in bed, kissing and—

 

No, she won’t think about that. She’s limiting herself to one glass of wine tonight, and those thoughts are only worthy of at least 3 glasses, if not a whole bottle. Once she finally settles on TLC, her phone flashes. It’s her mom, checking up on her. She does that a lot these days, ever since Penny told her about the night she got really drunk and cried about Jim until the sun was coming up. She responds quickly that she’s fine, she’s eating and watching TV, nothing to be worried about. After she hits send, her mind considers texting Jim and asking if he wants to hang out. But then she realizes how crazy that thought is. If he didn’t want to get coffee with her when he got back and has barely muttered a dozen words to her since then, she doubts he wants to go get a drink or play a board game. She wishes he would call her, ask her to hang out, to go for a walk or just sit on a curb and talk. Anything to show that he still cares about her, even if only as a friend. But she knows he won’t.

 

Because things were different now. They don’t hang out at work, and they certainly no longer hang out outside of work. The only times she sees him past five p.m. now is when the whole office goes out to Poor Richard’s, and even then, she doesn’t tag along half the time. If seeing Jim and Karen interact within the walls of Dunder Mifflin was bad, seeing them out in the real world was torture. His arm around her waist, him whispering things in her ear that made her giggle, them sneaking off from the crowd for a moment alone, it all broke her heart. It reminds her too much of when they used to do those things, though without the romantic aspect behind it.

 

She shakes her head to erase the thought and wipes the lone tear that fell onto her cheek. Maybe she would limit herself to two glasses of wine tonight.

 

I know it's cruel

But I kind of hope you're tortured too

Tell me does your heart stop, at the party, when my name drops

Like you stood at the platform when the trains cross

Are you hurting? Yeah, you must be

Or is it just me?

Tongue-tied, screaming on the inside

When I say that we broke up and they ask why

Are you crying in the shower like a freak?

Or is it just me?

 

She almost called out sick today. The last thing she wanted to do was go to work and attend the Christmas party and pretend to be happy. The only thing that kept her going as she got dressed this morning was imagining Jim’s face when she would give him her Christmas present. They’ve been on slightly better terms recently. They’re still no where near where they used to be, but they’re talking a little bit more and even making some faces at each other during Michael’s meetings. She’s hoping her gift will bring them one step closer to where they were. She’s been working on this for months, since before she even knew that he was coming back to Scranton. She thought she could email him her present, and if he doesn’t respond, then she knows it’s really over. But if he did, then maybe they could be friends again. And then she found out he was coming back and she was so happy to find out she’d be able to see his reaction instead of just imagine it.

 

And then he turned her gift down. “I really don’t think I should be doing this stuff anymore.” Yeah, okay. He must really think she’s stupid or something if he thinks she’s gonna believe that. Even if she couldn’t read his face like a book to tell that he’s lying, she’s seen the pranks he’s done since his promotion. She’s seen the faxes from “Future Dwight.” She knows that Jim is the one who sent the gaydar. She was even a victim of one of his pranks, when he made Andy ask her out in the worst way possible. But, she goes along with his excuse, not even calling him out on it when she finds out later that day that he pranked Dwight while out at lunch. He just doesn’t want to do pranks with her, which is fine.

 

She kind of hopes it hurts him too much to spend time with her. Then she could excuse his behavior. Maybe it hurts too much to do pranks with her, like they used to. Maybe he can’t stand being around her, whispering their plans to each other, like they used to. Maybe he’s afraid Karen will get jealous if she sees them conspiring against Dwight, like they used to.

 

She tries to get used to that phrase, “like they used to.” Because now everything is in the past. There is no present with them, no future. She sticks the red folder into her top drawer, where she keeps everything that reminds her of him, but she can’t look at because it hurts too much. That drawer stays closed unless she’s adding something to it. She hopes that one day, maybe, she will be able to empty it and not care about any of its contents. But today is not that day. Today her heart breaks a little more, just like it did yesterday and the day before that, and just like it will for the foreseeable future.

 

“Hey, Pam. What did Roy get you?” Kelly comes up at her desk while Kevin is singing karaoke. “I saw you two in the conference room, you two aren’t back together are you? I mean he has cleaned up pretty nicely. Not that I’m into him, or anything. I have Ryan and we’re super happy together. But wouldn’t it be awkward to get back together with your ex fiancé? I could never have an on again off again relationship. Well, except with Ryan, but that’s because I know he’s the one. Is Roy the one? Is that why you’re getting back together?”

Pam rolls her eyes. “Roy and I are not back together. He just got me this art book that I talked about a couple years ago. We’re trying to be friends, that’s all.”

“Oh, okay, if you say so. Hey, what did Jim get you this year? You two always get the best gifts for each other. Like, I don’t get them, I mean, I know you like tea so I understand why he got you a teapot last year, but why did he fill it with junk? Who wants a stupid pencil and a timer? He must have just been trying to be funny and prank you, fill it up with stuff from his junk drawer. But you seemed to like it, I guess. I mean you gave up an ipod for it. I would never have done that. And I know he was so happy when you gave him that drawing last year, he loved it. You guys just, like, get each other. Like how Ryan and I get each other. He’s the best. He didn’t get me a present yet, but he said it’s coming. I can’t wait.”

She looks down, no longer able to keep eye contact. “We didn’t get each other presents this year.”

“Why not? Is it because he transferred without telling anyone? I was mad at him for a while too, I mean I thought we were friends. And you two were, like, best friends. So, I don’t blame you if you were mad. You were a lot quieter after he left, which I didn’t think was possible since you barely talked before then. But I forgave him because he likes talking about celebrities with me, Ryan doesn’t do that. But Jim will just sit there and let me talk and it’s great, so I forgave him. You should forgive him too, you know.”

“I’m not mad at him, Kelly. We were just busy this year, that’s all. Didn’t have time to do a lot of shopping.”

“I totally could have taken you out shopping, Pam. All you had to do was ask. I go like every other day, it’s a lot of fun.”

 

Pam tunes Kelly out from that point. She looks across the office, watching everyone talk to each other and a couple people exchange gifts. Her eyes land on Jim near the front door talking to Oscar. She wonders if he even thought about buying her a present this year. If he was out shopping for his mom or sister and saw something that reminded him of her, but decided she wasn’t worth spending money on. She would like to think he wasn’t that mean, that he would have gotten her something if he saw the perfect thing, but that the opportunity never came. It’s not possible that he cared for her so little that the thought of buying her even some chocolate never crossed his mind, right? It just hurt him too much to buy her something, right?

 

That’s what she tells herself as she watches him cross the room and exchange gifts with Karen. Kelly has left her alone, she’s not sure when she walked away. She doesn’t care, though, she keeps her eyes on Jim. He got her some movie, and she’s pretty sure she got him the same thing. The little voice in her head tells her that he probably went to Walmart or Target to get her that movie, and that he didn’t see anything there to pick up for her. She ignores the voice, though, turning back to her desk as Karen and Jim hug, the sight too hard to bear.

 

She was finishing up her work, the party coming to a close. Everyone was slowly filing out, ready to start their Christmas vacation. She was ready to go home herself, as soon as she finished today’s faxes. She can see Jim coming up from the corner of her eye, but she forces herself not to look at him until he says goodnight. Only then does she allow herself to look, say goodnight herself, then look back down.

 

And then her heart simultaneously swells and breaks at the same time when he tells her that he intercepted a transmission, giving her the details on Dwight’s final CIA mission. She wants to believe that he’s taking a step towards their old friendship. Wants to believe that he wants to joke around with her again, wants to plan pranks with her again. Wants to do anything that resembles the old Jim and Pam again. Her heart swells with those thoughts. But it also breaks as they look up bus tickets, because as much as she wants to wish and hope and dream, she knows this is only temporary. Somewhere, deep down, she knows he’s doing this because it’s Christmas, this is his present to her. When they come back to work next week, it will be timid smiles and forced hellos, maybe a brief conversation about the copier thrown in there if she’s lucky.

 

So, as she gets home and gets into the shower, she cries. But, for the first time in a very long time, there are a few happy tears mixed in with the sad ones. She knows they’re not the same as they were before, but as hopeless as she knows it is to think this, she thinks tonight was a very small step in the right direction. She hopes that he’s feeling the same way.

 

'Cause this would be one whole lot easier

God, I know that's selfish but it's true

If underneath some calm exterior

You're all f*cked up too

 

She can’t believe his attitude towards this. He acts as if this has been just like any other workday. If some guy off the street walked in right now and looked around, he would have no idea that Jim was almost beaten to a bloody pulp less than 24 hours ago. That guy would have no idea that Roy had come barreling in, screaming Jim’s name, and was mere inches from having his fist collide with Jim’s nose before Dwight stopped him. He would have no idea because Jim was acting as if everything was normal.

 

She felt horrible, though. She had no idea Roy would do that, or even think about doing that. He had never been violent towards another person before, no matter how drunk or angry he got. To think that she was the one who sent him over the edge makes her stomach churn. She wanted to explain to Jim what happened, make him understand that she was the one to blame, not Roy. But if she thought he ignored her before, she thinks he’s trying to will her out of existence now.

 

The first chance she gets to talk to him is in the break room while he’s at the vending machine. He makes sure not to look at her, maybe he really can’t see her anymore. She tries to apologize, tries to make light of a heavy situation, something they would have done a year ago. They would have been handling this a lot differently back then. He would have teased her about almost getting him killed, trying to make sure that he didn’t push too far and make her think that he hated her. He would probably try to apologize himself, saying he was asking for it. But now he just blows her off, and then stabs her in the gut by making a comment about how she and Roy will probably get back together.

 

She doesn’t want to believe this is the new Jim. She was Fancy New Beesly now, and she liked that. Liked who she was becoming. But she did not like Fancy New Jim. Because Fancy New Jim was cold and mean and didn’t smile like old Jim did. Fancy New Jim didn’t let her know about his pranks anymore. Fancy New Jim didn’t visit her desk and steal jellybeans. Fancy New Jim wouldn’t look her in the eye when she tried to apologize for her ex almost sending him to the hospital.

 

Maybe he’s in shock. Maybe this calm, nonchalant attitude of his is really his mind blocking out a traumatic event and so he can’t be anything but indifferent otherwise he will panic. So, he ignores her, because if he talks to her, looks at her, thinks of her, does anything relating to her at all, he will freak out. That’s why he acts as if she doesn’t exist.

 

That’s what she tells herself, anyway, in order to make the ache in her heart go away just a little bit.

 

Tell me does your heart stop, at the party, when my name drops

Like you stood at the platform when the trains cross

Are you hurting? Yeah, you must be

Or is it just me?

Tongue-tied, screaming on the inside

When I say that we broke up and they ask why

Are you crying in the shower like a freak

With only cigarettes for company?

Are you crying in the shower like a freak

Or is it just me?

 

Her feet are on fire. Her heart is racing, and she feels exhilarated, but she knows she can’t be long because otherwise she will collapse. No good, dramatic speeches end with the speaker collapsing in pain. So, she runs to the circle, interrupting whatever Michael is talking about.

 

“Why didn’t any of you come to my art show?”

 

She starts off with something that has been bugging her, that really did hurt her, but she doesn’t really care about the answer to, either.

 

“It’s like sometimes some of you act like I don’t even exist.”

 

She turns to Jim after that statement, because he was the only one who ever acknowledged her existence. He was the only one who made her feel welcome when she walked through the doors of Dunder Mifflin. While everyone else would mutter “hello” and give a quick wave as they walked past her desk, Jim would stop by and lean as close as the desk would allow him, ask her how her evening was, ask if she had any plans for lunch. Maybe that’s why she gets the courage to go on.

 

“Jim, I called off my wedding because of you. And now we’re not even friends.”

 

She continues with her speech, but she doesn’t remember everything she says. She’s too focused on his face, trying so hard to get a glimpse that he feels the same way. That he misses her. That he wants to talk to her again, wants to look at her again. That maybe, just maybe, he still loves her.

 

“The thing that I’m just trying to say to you, Jim… and to everyone else in this circle I guess, is that I miss having fun with you. Just you, not everyone in the circle.”

 

There’s something on his face as she turns and walks away. Guilt? Embarrassment? Love? No, not love. But there’s something, more than she’s seen since Christmas. Her feet hit the cool water, giving her much needed relief. She doesn’t even realize that he’s coming up behind her until he’s beside her.

 

“How are your feet?”

“Medium rare, thanks.” They laugh and for a moment she forgets that there’s so much distance between them.

“The real reason that I went to Stamford… was because… I wanted to be… not here.”

“I know.”

“And even though… I came back, I just, I feel like I’ve never really… come back.”

He’s finally saying what she’s been thinking ever since he turned her down for coffee. Now she knows that he’s been feeling what she’s been feeling, if only just a little bit. Knows that he’s felt the distance and how no matter how hard either one of them tried, they weren’t making any progress to get back to how they used to be.

“Well, I wish you would.”

 

She wants to say so much more. Wants to scream at him, let him know what he’s put her through the past year. How he has made her cry so many times because he wouldn’t even look at her. But instead she returns his hug and walks back with him to the circle. Because even though she has felt like she’s been dying inside ever since he kissed her and then left, knowing that he has felt even just a fraction of her pain makes her think maybe they can get past this.

 

Because now she knows it’s not just her.

 

*-*-*-*-*

 

How’s that for some Pam Angst? I didn’t really know how to end this, so hopefully I ended it well. I hope you all enjoyed it! Reviews make my day!

This story archived at http://mtt.just-once.net/fanfiction/viewstory.php?sid=5753