The Other Pam by OfficeWriter
Summary:

Different take on the Jim/Pam/Roy triangle and how Jim helps Pam leave Roy finally.

Domestic abuse, trigger warning.

Several recommends to share story here from fanfiction net.


Categories: Jim and Pam Characters: Pam/Roy
Genres: Angst
Warnings: Possible Triggers
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 42 Completed: Yes Word count: 86294 Read: 33292 Published: September 10, 2020 Updated: September 16, 2020

1. Chapter 1 by OfficeWriter

2. Chapter 2 by OfficeWriter

3. Chapter 3 by OfficeWriter

4. Chapter 4 by OfficeWriter

5. Chapter 5 by OfficeWriter

6. Chapter 6 by OfficeWriter

7. Chapter 7 by OfficeWriter

8. Chapter 8 by OfficeWriter

9. Chapter 9 by OfficeWriter

10. Chapter 10 by OfficeWriter

11. Chapter 11 by OfficeWriter

12. Chapter 12 by OfficeWriter

13. Chapter 13 by OfficeWriter

14. Chapter 14 by OfficeWriter

15. Chapter 15 by OfficeWriter

16. Chapter 16 by OfficeWriter

17. Chapter 17 by OfficeWriter

18. Chapter 18 by OfficeWriter

19. Chapter 19 by OfficeWriter

20. Chapter 20 by OfficeWriter

21. Chapter 21 by OfficeWriter

22. Chapter 22 by OfficeWriter

23. Chapter 23 by OfficeWriter

24. Chapter 24 by OfficeWriter

25. Chapter 25 by OfficeWriter

26. Chapter 26 by OfficeWriter

27. Chapter 27 by OfficeWriter

28. Chapter 28 by OfficeWriter

29. Chapter 29 by OfficeWriter

30. Chapter 30 by OfficeWriter

31. Chapter 31 by OfficeWriter

32. Chapter 32 by OfficeWriter

33. Chapter 33 by OfficeWriter

34. Chapter 34 by OfficeWriter

35. Chapter 35 by OfficeWriter

36. Chapter 36 by OfficeWriter

37. Chapter 37 by OfficeWriter

38. Chapter 38 by OfficeWriter

39. Chapter 39 by OfficeWriter

40. Chapter 40 by OfficeWriter

41. Chapter 41 by OfficeWriter

42. Chapter 42 by OfficeWriter

Chapter 1 by OfficeWriter

It was a day like every other day. She watched her co-workers putting their jackets on, throwing mugs of coffee waywardly in the sink and filing past her without a glance as they left the office for the day. She sat behind her desk, feeling like a little girl at the side of the road while the cars rushed noisily by her unknowingly. Lately, an unfamiliar sense of unreality had been taking over her. Who was she? Why had she made the choices she had? She was responsible. For everything. She knew that.

"Hey."

She blinked rapidly and shook her head slightly, feeling a twinge above her left eyebrow. Squinting, she looked up at the warm green eyes in front of her.

"Hey, Jim." She smiled back at him. There was a moment of quietness between them as he studied her face, noticing her drawn, stretched skin and purple smudges under her eyes.

"So, uh…. as it turns out, I may not have done so hot on my customer reviews this year."

Pam raised an eyebrow in mock sympathy. "Maybe, that's because-"

"Halpert!" Pam's fiance appeared, rather ungracefully, swaggering over to the reception desk and playfully punching Jim in the arm. Pam flinched involuntarily, but remained quiet. "Let's go, Pam, I'm sure Halpert here has a hot date waiting for him, right?" Roy laughed derisively, catching hold of Pam by the wrist. She stood up quickly, feeling her head swim and allowed Roy to tug impatiently at her, silently signalling to her she was being too slow.

"Yeah, um, see you tomorrow Pam." Jim called out after them, as Roy led the small brunette out of the office. He leaned against her desk a few minutes longer, breathing in the lingering scent of perfume and staring wistfully at the door she had just exited through.

-TO-

Pam quietly set about laying the table for dinner. Roy hadn't said anything since they'd come in and that worried her. She long ago had learned to notice the subtle flickers in the atmosphere around him when a storm was approaching. His being quiet was far from comforting. It always shocked her, and alarmed her, those sudden changes of temper in Roy. He could switch moods like someone flipping a switch. She had really given up trying to figure out what would cause these white to black transformations to his character. There were just too many variables. She sighed quietly, looking down at the unclothed table.

The TV wasn't on. That was definitely a warning sign. He always came home and plonked in front of the 'game', or whatever football or rugby or basketball was on. He didn't care what sport it was. He only cared about the winning and losing. Roy saw the world split in two; winners and losers. Right and wrong. His right and his wrong. His own commandments were set in stone. Any change to the routine was a harbinger of a Roy shaped rage.

She finished absently setting the table, and went over to the fridge. She looked inside for the blue cans, and routinely counted them. 8. He had put 12 in there just yesterday. He was drinking more than usual lately. She knew the signs.

Dinner was a quiet and uncomfortable affair. Normally this would fill her with some relief, to be free of his usual battering ram of questions about her day. Who did you speak to, Pam? Why were you not there when I came by your desk? Do you love me? Do you?

After picking at her meal, but not really eating, she got up to clear the table. She thought if she got on with the dishes and then headed to the bath she might be able to get off his radar tonight enough to let whatever he was stewing over cool off a little. He just stared at her, moving in and out of the kitchen in nervous little movements.

Starting the dishes now, she submerged her hands into the warm soapy water, comforted in the smooth predictability of the task. Washing dishes would never change. The dishes would never tell her she was dumb as dog and twice as dirty. Her hands shook as she washed, scrubbed, stacked in the drainer. She would head for the bath next and stay there a while. It was a plan.

But a familiar shadow befell her. She tensely carried on washing, now extremely uncomfortable and nervous. She could feel the heat radiating off the angry man standing behind her. She didn't have to turn around to see him, she knew his face was a hard mask of pent up fury. She closed her eyes tightly and waited.

He simply stood there behind her, scarily silent, not moving.

Pam stacked the last plate as quietly as she could. It's fine, it's fine, it's fine everything's normal she chanted over and over in her head. He stood behind her so long she felt the beginnings of a fear she had not felt in a long time. This was bad.

She hesitated, unsure of the best thing to do. How could she avoid stepping on a mine when there was no way around it? She decided the wisest option was to head to the bathroom and get out of his sight for the night.

She made it as far as the stairs before he sprung at her and roughly seized her wrist. She had heard his feet thumping along behind her and had tried to go faster without actually running but she knew she was beat.

Realistically, she'd known that before they sat down to dinner and as always, allowed herself to lull into a false sense of safety. It had been only a matter of time. It always was.

"What were you doing with Halpert earlier?" Roy burst out in sudden fury. She flinched backwards and tried to stammer out an apology. Dropping her eyes to the ground, she cried out as he angrily took hold of her other arm.

"Answer me!" He demanded, gripping her so tightly that red hot pain shot up both her arms into her neck.

He shook her like she was a rag doll, back and forth. Stammering, Pam cried out that he was hurting her, but Roy's rage had overtaken him and he heard nothing, shaking her again and again. Squeezing her eyes shut, the world swam away from her in muted sequences. She was not here. She was looking through the windows of the other Pam, the Pam who said yes and no and I'm sorry and please at all the right moments and didn't forget the mines he laid were armed. The Pam who had made her large fiance so enraged, Pam the deserter,Pam who did question her choices and who maybe did think a little more about Jim Halpert than a committed woman should – that Pam did as she almost always did. She ran away. Snivelling, pleading Pam was left again. She despised her.

The room shrank before her eyes. Breathless and unable to get a coherent word out as the inevitable tears came, she gasped in small breaths and silently pleaded with him to stop it, stop it now. He demanded over and over again to know whether she had seen other men – Halpert – his particular obsession and Pam shook her head vigorously, tears flying from her face.

"If I catch you with Halpert-" he spat out the word in disgust like spoiled meat and then, uncharacteristically, he spat in her face. She flinched back in horror and revulsion as saliva mixed with tears and slipped over her nose and down her chin.

"You'll know about it, Pam. You. Will. Know. You will only do it the once." His voice was low and icy. He shook her again, hard, her head snapping back on her neck and then violently shoved her backwards. Her lower back slammed into the stairs before she realised what was happening and slumped down on to the floor. She lay, the wind completely knocked out of her, moaning quietly. Roy leaned down and gripped tightly a handful of her hair, pulling her face up off the floor towards him.

"Do you understand me?" he breathed icily into her ear. Panting and unable to speak, she jerked her head up and down in assent. Bolts of pain shot through her neck. Roy huffed and viciously pushed her head down into the carpet, the rough fabric searing her skin and temporarily blinding her before she heard the heavy thud of his footsteps growing distant.

She lay there dazed by the impact of her head hitting the floor, paralysed by shock and sufficiently winded enough to make moving not an option for her.

There was no one in the world but her and Roy. She knew this as surely as she knew the earth revolves around the sun. She could not recall when she felt so alone. Roy's rages were metastasizing. A broken finger a month ago. A rib nine weeks ago.

Loud commentary floated out of the living room. The TV was on. She heard it gratefully. That almost always heralded the end of the storm. She knew his patterns and routines. Silently she supposed she should thank fate this hadn't been any worse. She lay there a long time before slowly hauling herself up and shuffling her sore and trembling body to their bedroom.

Crawling under the cool sheets, her tears quickly soaked the pillow. Frightening images, memories plagued her mind and her body shook. She remained there, unmoving until she heard Roy thuggishly come into the room and climb into the bed beside her. She felt him kiss her on the cheek tenderly before rolling over, bloated from beer and exalted by his sense of righteousness that evening.

She thanked god for the beers. They had made him too drowsy to demand anything from her tonight. Soon, she heard loud, familiarly piggish sounds emanating from Roy and knew he was asleep.

She lay awake a long, long time. Finally, as the sun was starting to come up she drifted off mercifully, Jim Halpert's kind green eyes flashing through her mind like a security blanket.

Chapter 2 by OfficeWriter

She didn't recognize the woman she was looking at. The woman who wore Pam's same light blue shirt and soft grey cardigan. The woman with the slightly mussed hair who stared back at Pam questioningly, confusion deep in her eyes. Pam lifted her finger slowly to her mouth. The woman did the same.

The woman in the mirror had thin red lips sunk back in her pallid skin. The bags under her eyes had bags.

Inwardly, Pam felt airy and light. The woman in the mirror, that bore all the outward signs of emotional weariness, that woman was somebody else. Pam was numb. All she felt was exhausted.

"Okay, Snow White, two eyes, two ears, it's all still there." huffed Angela impatiently bristling over to the sink next to Pam.

She gave Angela a questioning look, but chose not to respond.

"If you and Roy were married, Pam, you'd get a good night sleep." Angela spoke condescendingly. "But if you will live in sin…" her words echoed as she slunk out of the bathroom, almost walking on her toes, her blonde hair flipping behind her.

Pam sighed audibly and turned off the faucet. Holding the door open, she glanced back at the mirror. The woman looked back at her in reverse, holding the door open to an opposite world.

Pam glared at her with sheer loathing in her eyes and, turning her back on the woman, left the bathroom.

-TO-

The morning was a dismal affair. Jim was out on a sales call, and Michael was sequestered in his office avoiding the very real possibility of running into Toby accidentally. Office ethics, again. Pam knew she'd end up being the buffer between them. She always was.

The afternoon was a little easier. Jim came back with a twinkle in his eye and beamed at her mischievously.

"Hey Beesly." He tugged her sleeve playfully. "You might want to take your break now. I think you need some fresh air."

She stood up, gently carried away on his boyish excitement. He followed her outside and laughed as she stopped and stared.

"Ohhhh!" She laughed out genuinely. Dwight's car, no longer maroon, was gloriously shining in the sun in its new yellow and black dressing. Pam giggled in awe and moved closer, up against the hazard tape cordoning off the area around the pontiac trans am.

She looked over the vehicle and smirked. "You covered the whole car!" She turned to Jim in amazement. Wonders never cease. They laughed together and comfortably discussed what crime Dwight would think had been committed with his car when he left the office for the day.

"You know," she said thoughtfully, "You should get one of those warrant papers and attach it to the windshield. That would really do it."

Jim raised an eyebrow in approval. He was sure he could find something online and print something off. He was enjoying the smile he'd brought to Pam's drawn face, and being in her company at moments like this. When they were a team. Not a couple, no, but definitely a team. She was, after all, his best friend.

Unfortunately for Jim, his coup de maître, the icing on his prank-cake was halted when Dwight found Creed hurriedly stashing contents of his own car up in the ceiling in the kitchen area. When he enquired as to why Creed was shoving bags of mung beans into the ceiling, Creed had told him in suspiciously hushed tones that there was a shakedown in the car park. Dwight had snatched his volunteers sheriff badge and flown downstairs.

He was still scraping the yellow crime scene tape off his windows when Pam left the office. Roy had gone out with his brother, so she was solo. Noticing Dwight muttering and torn pieces of yellow dancing around him in the cool breeze, she paused. She did feel a little guilty.

"Um, see you tomorrow, Dwight?" She called over uncertainly.

"See you tomorrow, drone." He said derisively, without turning around. She shook her head slowly and walked to her own car.

"Pam?"

She turned back around. "Yeah?" She said absently.

"Hey, are you busy? I was just going to grab a drink. Wanna come?" Jim asked, a little nervous playfulness in his voice.

Pam hesitated. She wasn't sure when Roy would be home. He liked her to be home when he got in. She weighed in indecision, wanting to go but unable to commit. She really wanted a hot bath. Her lower back muscles ached dreadfully and she needed to soak for a while. She didn't feel that she would be good company for him. And there was RoyRoy wouldn't like it. And last night, she had fallen down the stairs-

"Maybe another time?" He saw her struggle to make a decision. Pam stood still, not answering him. She simply shook her head slowly, her lips pressed together tightly.

"Another time." She said quietly.

"Pam?"

Turning back again, she looked up and saw Jim's concerned face scrutinizing her. His brow was furrowed in concern, his eyes kind and caring.

"I just wanted to say, you know…." he trailed off. His hands were shoved deep into his pocket. He looked down at the ground dejectedley and kicked at the gravel.

"If you ever wanted to just, you know-"

She cut him off quickly. "I know Jim, I know." She mustered up a smile and waved at him, scurrying to her car.

-TO-

Pam lay back in the sunshine spilling through the lounge windows. Roy still wasn't home, and that was okay. Dinner was in the oven and the table was set. She lay, head up on the armrest, eyes closed, breathing in the cool, clean quiet around her. Little by little the aching muscles in her back were slowly easing off.

Roy would be home, and undoubtedly he would have flowers or chocolates or some tiny peace offering. Of course, she would accept them with a smile and an apology of her own. She always did. She shouldn't have flaunted her friendship with Jim in his face. She knew how that made Roy feel. He'd called her a tease more than once. Maybe he was right. She did encourage Jim, she did enjoy their friendly banter and the easy fun they had between them. Roy wasn't often a fun guy. He didn't have much of a sense of humour.

She thought more and more about the fall she'd taken on the stairs last night. It was an accident, not like last time. This time, she slipped. He grabbed her, and she slipped as she was standing backwards on the stairs after all. Roy would come home with a peace offering. Things would be good for a little while.

She wondered whether Jim had ever hit a woman. Or pushed her down stairs, or called her a tease.

Staring hazily up at the ceiling, the blind hot tears that found her so frequently these days stung her eyes. She thought about Roy. She thought of Jim.

She turned her head and sobbed uncontrollably into the sofa cushion.

Chapter 3 by OfficeWriter

Jim, for his part, didn't feel rejected by Pam's curt refusal of his offer of a drink. There were no hidden overtures to the gesture. He had simply offered and she had simply refused. He didn't need to see the dark purple circles under her eyes or the lightning of her complexion to note that she was tired. He also thought she might possibly be feeling unwell.

He only hoped it was the kind of sickness a lady got in the afternoon, perhaps after a dodgy burrito or something. Definitely he hoped not anything that would make her sick in the morning or anything that might have lifelong repercussions.

She was his friend. His best friend. No question about that. He wanted her to be happy. She knew she could talk to him, he didn't need to tell her that, although he almost had. He thought, feeling rather small, that the next forty to fifty years as Mrs Roy Anderson was something Pam herself might be feeling a little sick over. Roy? The guy who left her behind at a game because he forgot she was there? The guy who, three years after he proposed still hadn't set a date for their wedding?

It was all conjecture on his part of course. And yes, a probable amount of wishing too.

He drove home, deep in his thoughts. As he was settling down in the armchair in his lounge, his eye caught the yellow and red box coveting his gift for his niece he still had to wrap. He grinned devilishly, an idea forming. Tomorrow was another day after all.

His good humour returned with the gleam of mischief in his near future. He was looking forward to work in the morning.

After all, he thought Pam would like this one.

Plan in motion, he whistled as he set off to his room to set his alarm early for the next day.

-TO-

She couldn't remember the name of the restaurant. Roy had picked it out because he said it was quiet and she had liked it there before. Pam couldn't remember ever being in this particular restaurant before, but Roy insisted they visited some time ago. It was a nice place, she agreed with him.

She'd worried him, when he had come home and found her lying on the couch limply like that. He'd asked her tentatively if there was anything wrong, or if she needed anything. Feigning cramps, she had winced and shook her head, apologising to him.

Roy had clapped his hands together and told her about the reservation. At his suggestion, she'd gone to clean up her face and put on something nicer than that old shirt and cardigan she wore. She complied, slipping a simple long sleeved black dressed over her head and reapplying make up to her ruined face.

They were tucked away in a corner of the restaurant. Roy ate with gusto, clearing his plate far too fast for Pam's liking. She was only a third of the way through her pasta, and the cream sauce was sticking to her throat as it was.

She would have to put away a little more before they left, sick as it might make her. Roy was paying the bill tonight.

"Cramps?"

She looked up, twirling her fork in the pasta. Roy raised his eyebrows at her. She forced down another mouthful and gave him a wan smile.

"Yeah."

"Oh." He leaned back in his chair. "Where's the waiter? I want the dessert menu." Waving his hand, he signalled the waiter over. When Roy was comfortably perusing the options for afters, Pam quickly motioned for her plate to be taken away, with an apologetic shake of her head to the server. Truth being told, she wanted to go home. She was inexplicably tired and the hard wooden chair she was sitting in had a strong, inflexible back rest that was playing on her muscles. Roy, for once, had no complaints.

"I said, what do you want for dessert?" he huffed impatiently, with the air of someone repeating themselves to an errant child who just doesn't listen.

"Oh, I've had enough tonight." She replied casually as she could and after a pause, added "I'm pretty tired." To compound her point she yawned wearily and covered her mouth.

Roy snorted loudly. "Right, you've had enough. I don't want you looking like one of those this is us girls." He eyed her up and down critically. Pam felt her face flush and she lowered her eyes. She was so tired. She never used to feel so tired. She doubted she could even count to ten correctly this evening. Thank goodness Roy was handling the cheque.

"Pam?" Roy started again. She looked back at him wearily, seeing the tightening of the lines around his jaw and the deepening of the creases in his forehead as his facial muscles started to work. He sighed loudly, aggressively.

"I've been at work all day. The least you can do is be interesting company, Pam." Roy frowned at her.

"I'm sorry. I'm just really beat." she tried to soothe him in her best imitation of his mom's smooth as chocolate voice. Roy was constantly complaining about his mom, but he never talked back to her.

"Ah, screw it." He flipped the menu on to the table with attitude. "Let's go."

A little unnerved by his sudden mood swing but also relieved he wanted to go, Pam waited while he handled the cheque and stood up when he did. She glanced at the waiter apologetically again, noting with shame the meagre tip Roy had left.

The ride home was quiet and Pam sunk wearily into herself, half dozing in the passenger seat. She was hoping to go to bed right away when home. Feigning cramps had the added bonus that he would probably leave her alone tonight and not bother her once she had gone to sleep. Not that she didn't enjoy sex with Roy. She did. They were compatible in that way. But lately a quiet apathy had stolen over her whenever Roy wanted her. And tonight, she had serious doubts she could make it up the stairs fully awake let alone put on any kind of effort for Roy, real or feigned. Her thoughts ran together in the shapeshifting dream like sequences of the sleep deprived and she started to drift off.

"Hey!" Roy burst out suddenly, startling her greatly. "Isn't that Halpert's car?" He snaked out his right arm and poked her in the side sharply to make her move. He looked at her expectantly.

"What? Oh, no it wasn't." She replied, following the direction his finger was waggling in and seeing the black saab up ahead. "I mean, I don't think so." she amended quickly, seeing a familiar suspicious expression fixed on Roy's face.

Silence again. As they drove up the driveway and parked up, Roy looked at Pam, not speaking. She opened the car door and looked back.

"Thanks for dinner?" She said tentatively, looking at the burly man still gripping the steering wheel. After a pause, they climbed out of the car. Pam hurried to get the door open.

"Pam?" Roy called from behind her. She turned around, key in hand.

"Yes?"

"Shut up." he said irritably and marched past her to the door.

Chapter 4 by OfficeWriter

Her laughter felt good. Pam rolled back in her chair, almost approaching tears as she shook with mirth. It was just so funny the complete and utter expression of bewilderment on Dwight's face as he stood looking down at the tiny blue and yellow plastic desk situated right on the very spot where his own workstation should be. And Jim! Jim had kept a poker face- he always did –as he sat at his own regular sized desk in front of the fisher price miniature, and for some reason she wasn't aware of, this made Pam laugh even harder. Not for the first time, she wondered in awe at the sheer effort Jim put into messing with Dwight. For a moment or two she remembered other things Jim had done over the years to everyone's amusement - except Dwight's – and seriously started to consider she might never stop laughing. Her laughter pealed out over the reception area infectiously. Phyllis was smirking on her left, as Dwight picked up the mini red telephone off of the little desk.

Just as her giggles were mercifully tapering off a little, Dwight gave a pompous turn on his heel and screeched for Michael, stomping off towards the office. Pam rocked back on her chair, tears now streaming down her face.

"Please, no more." She gasped between heaving giggles. Her abdomen was aching. It was obviously true, the old adage about laughing until your sides split. She pulled a tissue out of the box on her desk and attempted to compose herself, a task made all the more difficult while she was still in earshot of Dwight's indignant whining behind her in the office and Michael's half assed placating attempts at humoring the situation.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks and straightening up in her chair, she dropped her tissue into the bin below her desk. She threw Jim a quick smile of appreciation, hoping to convey her approval of this morning's entertainment, but something she saw on his face caused her to freeze briefly.

Jim was gazing at her in wonder, looking sightly bemused and at the same time, confusion set in his expression.

"It was just… really funny…." she said, a little embarrassed. Jim smiled warmly at her, leaning back nonchalantly in his chair, looking as innocent as only a young man sitting beside a thirty inch low plastic play desk could look.

"Wait until he finds out where the desk really is." he said mischievously, tipping his head to the window on the right. Pam's mouth flew open in silent glee, her eyebrows raised.

"Oh noooo!" She laughed out. Dwight would not like that at all. She smiled to herself. Laughter was good.

"Oh, no not Toby!" Michael groaned from inside his office.

-TO-

"Ro-oyyy!" Pam chuckled, flushing slightly. She lifted his hand up off her thigh gently and placed it on his own knee. She was embarrassed and more than a little wary that someone could well walk into the lunch area and see Roy with his hands flirtatiously under the table, groping his way up to third base.

"What? We're married."

Pam raised her eyebrows at him. He simply shrugged his shoulders at her and waved dismissively. "In their eyes, we are." he stated matter of factly, thumbing carelessly towards the office. Pam opened her mouth to tell him it wouldn't make a difference if they were married or not, they were still in public, in the office no less, but held her tongue as the door clunked open and Angela slid delicately into the kitchen behind them.

Pam looked up at the wall clock, averting her eyes from Roy. It always embarrassed her, the way Roy fooled around in public, especially in the office she worked in. He tended to get carried away and on several past occasions she had had to physically remove fingers from various less subtle parts of her body, uncomfortable with being pawed at in full view of strangers, or worse family and friends. It wasn't that she didn't feel good when Roy was openly showing he was still attracted to her, she did, and it felt special in a way she couldn't describe. But the other side of that was the unshakeable intuition that it was less and less about attraction for Roy and increasingly a territorial play. He liked people – men – to know she was his. She also was under no illusion that at some point in their future there would be yet another discussion about displays of affection between them.

Both Roy and Pam were startled out of their thoughts by the impatient thumps and metallic clinks of cup and cutlery hitting on the sideboard as Angela literally threw her lunch together. Pam and Roy looked at each other with near identical expressions of knowing between them.

"Hey, Angela?" Pam said carefully, watching the petite woman throw nuts into a bowl with surprising aggression. Angela turned around.

"I'm having family problems." she said with the air of someone who is carrying an enormous load. "I don't know what to do. Ember and Mr Ash had a fight, and now the others have taken sides against her. There's bad blood, jealousies, cliques. Ember can't even eat breakfast with us anymore, she has to eat alone in her bedroom."

"Your cats?"

"Yes, Roy, and I'm out of vacation days so I can't be there to break it up if they fight. Ember was so close to Mr Ash, and now," she said, with real hurt in quivering in her voice. "Now, she's being ostracized! Have any of your cats ever fallen out?"

"Oh.. um.. well I'm-"

"We don't like cats." Roy said, somewhat harshly. Angela stopped and stared at both of them, a burning condescension glowing fiercely in her eyes. She gathered up her lunch off of the sideboard and stalked out of the room without another word. Roy winced at Pam.

"Her cats are her kids, Roy." She said unconvincingly.

"Whatever." He was dismissive.

"I just think it means she really-"

"You don't need to worry about it, do you?" He said, suddenly reaching out and pinching the flesh on her hip hard between his fingers.

"Ow, Roy!" His fingers were sharp and bit painfully into the sensitive skin above her hip joint. She lifted her arm and used her wrist to push him away.

"You've got the post baby body already, what's the difference?" He said scathingly. "Too much baggage there already."

She stared at him with a hurt expression, her cheeks reddening. She slumped back into her chair, and looked away from him, feeling that she was drowning in a powerful wave of emotion.

-TO-

Jim was angry. Yes, angry, and he let the desk have it, tapping his fingers in frustration on the surface. But more than angry, he was worried.

Neither Pam nor Roy had seen him at the door. At first he saw them sitting together at the table, intimately close and the ever too familiar stab of hurt ran through his chest. The sight of them together sent him spinning in a new way that he did not expect. Realistically he wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to be in such close proximity with the future Mr and Mrs Anderson without screaming at them to stop flaunting their relationship, stop acting like his feelings didn't matter.

He knew he was being unreasonable. He wanted her to be happy, he really, really did. But he didn't want to hang around and witness it. He also wanted to make her happy. Was she really that oblivious to him, and how he felt? He certainly wasn't going to sit with them and play along. Lunch would wait.

But before he'd turned around, he'd seen it happen. He was trying to make sense of what he had seen. Pam and Roy had looked comfortable, normal, like they did every day. But something had happened then. He couldn't see Roy's face – not that Roy was the one he wanted to look at – but he saw Pam's face change from her normal calm, although lately she did look drawn, to what he would swear was an expression of pain. Her mouth stretched and she winced noticeably. He saw that.

He didn't know what happened. But he heard her, heard the pain in her voice as she cried out Roy's name. He'd come back to his desk feeling like a traitor. He was overwhelmed with feelings.

She wasn't back at her desk. He didn't think her break was over yet. Part of him had wanted to go back and barge in there and demand to know what was going on. Part of him – the more rational part – was thinking back over his own memories of Pam and the things she had said to him in the past, and her interactions with Roy.

Why hadn't he seen this before? He glanced at her empty desk again. He felt shaken, he felt like he couldn't believe it either. He couldn't understand how Roy – or anyone - could ever hurt such a sweet, beautiful person as Pam.

He couldn't let it go. He would find a way to check on her, talk to her. She didn't have to love him, he would still be there for her. He knew there was a likelihood he was wrong, but he didn't think so… it felt like something that had been gnawing at him was falling into place and he was just beginning to see the bigger picture.

And if he was right, and Roy was doing anything to hurt Pam, he knew he wouldn't be able to sit quietly by and watch it continue. No. Not the girl he loved.

Chapter 5 by OfficeWriter

Subtlety and basic etiquette were two things that were definitely off the menu tonight at the Scranton branch of Chili's. Usually Jim took in Michael's well meaning – yet offensive more often than not – efforts at emceeing the 'Dundies' with a bemused and slightly forced good humour. He saw it like a trip to the dentist, something to be tolerated and avoided if possible and then forgotten for another year. Of course, there was the added bonus of another opportunity for entertainment at Dwight's expense, which meant that the evening would pay for itself in spades.

Tonight was different, though. And it wasn't just the increasing passive offensiveness of Michael's presentation speeches, that was to be expected after all. It wasn't Dwight's obnoxious presence as DJ, that was also to be expected.

Pam and Roy had turned up, together. Casually they had walked into the reserved area and seated themselves at Jim's table, an outward picture perfect eventual bride and groom to be. Jim didn't like it. He wasn't used to the feelings that were taking him over, frustration, jealousy, worry. And anger. He hated the feeling of anger, hated feeling helpless against it. He didn't like being even mildly vexed at any given situation, it went in complete polar opposite to his boyish, warm hearted nature.

He no longer felt comfortable around Pam. And that was different. Maybe he was imagining it, but he sensed a hostile line had been drawn between them. There were so many emotional darts at play. Throughout the evening as Michael continued on blissfully self unaware, Roy seemed to set about making a point of showing his displeasure with the whole thing, bristling about being brought to the Dundies under duress and reiterating what a jackass Michael was several times. It made for an uncomfortable evening.

Pam looked lovely tonight, Jim had noticed silently. Her hair was gleaming under the soft lighting, her spiral curls bouncing gently around her cheekbones. She was still wearing her office skirt and cardigan. He suspected it was the out-of-office environment that was favouring her all the more this evening, the same way a rose could look beautiful standing in a pot of dirt of a window, but a rose in the wild was exquisite.

Around half an hour had passed before Roy had decided they had had enough of the dumb and dumber Michael-Dwight combination and then he and Pam stood up and left.

She had barely said a few words to Jim in the short time she had been at his table. Roy hadn't acknowledged Jim's presence after an initial grunt and nod when they first sat down. Several times though, Jim had felt Roy's hard brown eyes focusing on himself and turned, catching a glare on the boorish mans face. He'd really hoped Pam would come solo this evening. Last night he had lain awake, thinking of Pam, of what happened in the lunch room the other day.

He'd suspected for some time that things weren't going right for her. Hell, he'd even tried to offer her his time the other day, to offer her a chance to talk to him. To offer her a friend. She had brushed him off dismissively – she had run. She was changing, withering away in plain sight. Her crazy laughter that same day at his office hijinks, how she had laughed and laughed as though she wouldn't never stop, when anyone who really took the time to look could see the sad eyes above her laughing mouth. It was concerning. He knew her better than anyone in the office – except Roy, of course – he knew that something essentially Pam was dying, Pam with her kind heart and love of fun, Pam that he thought of as his best friend.

Then, he had been surprised to see her come back to the restaurant alone. Taking his beer, she again sat at his table and they talked about simple things, the beer, Michael's attraction to Ryan and whether Dwight could be fooled into believing that Oscar is his secret admirer. Jim thought he could pull it off. Pam nodded at him agreeably, her thoughts far away.

-TO-

Jim offered Pam a ride home that night. She had had a little too much to drink and while she wasn't falling down drunk, she hadn't eaten and she was tipsy. Pam climbed into the small car, giggling at the sight of the backseat strewn with styrofoam cups and straws and a few stray fast food wrappers.

"You are a slob, Jim Halpert." She said, pleasantly mocking him. He rolled his eyes in jest and pointed to the back seat.

"Gives my Mom something to do when she comes to visit." he grinned playfully. Pam looked at him in astonishment.

"Huh?"

Jim smiled and pointed at the mess. After a moments silence between them, Pam started giggling merrily and he joined her.

They drove back in relative good humour. When they reached Pam's street, Jim suddenly slowed the car and carefully came to a stop before her turn.

"So, are you driving me home then, Halpert?" Pam asked him, nodding towards the turn. Jim rested his hands on the steering wheel and glanced at her.

"Um, yes. But hey," he began. "Have you got a minute? I kind of wanted to talk to you about something."

"Ohhh so serious." She said, sitting up straight and giving Jim her best full mock-attention.

Jim looked at her delicate face – a face he considered the prettiest he'd ever see - and his resolve almost fell to pieces. He was a patient man, obviously he'd sat through years of watching Pam and Roy play happily Mr and Mrs to be. He'd thought this through the last few days. The very last thing he wanted to ever do was hurt her. But he felt like he was really seeing her for the first time in a long time. She looked so small and vulnerable in the passenger seat. Her eyes were cast downwards now, the tips of her fingers nervously tracing around the buttons on her coat. When did she get so thin? Jim frowned.

"Are you okay, Pam?" He said softly, looking at her. Instantly she stiffened against the chair, keeping her head down, not answering him.

"I mean," he prodded gently. "Really okay?"

The silence between them was awkward, and Jim would swear the temperature in the car had just dropped several degrees. Pam was still playing with the buttons of her coat, her eyes focused on her feet. She still wasn't saying anything and he grew worried. He was lost here, he felt so torn between desperately wanting to help her, and fear that he may hurt her in trying to help her. Any illusions he had had about her had flown away. He had thought she was unhappy. He was wrong, completely wrong. Seeing her now, unmoving, looking so subdued, so defeated – he was wrong. This ran deeper than just unhappiness. Pam was in pain, she was hurting deeply. How could he have been so blind as to not have seen this before? He saw her everyday for goodness sake. And here she was, she needed a friend. Whatever he had expected, it wasn't this. Something was very wrong.

Slowly and as gently as he could Jim reached out and laid his hand on top her of hers. Immediately she stopped her circling of the buttons and became still.

"Oh, Pam. Your fingers are like ice." Jim said sadly. He heard the short, sharp and hushed in and out of her breathing.

Pam didn't move her hand out from under his. Nor did she lift her head. Jim sat patiently, letting her feel secure enough to stay with him, letting her know in his silence he was ready to listen to her. All night if she needed.

Tenderly he rubbed her hand, feeling her pain move into his own heart. He then saw that she was trembling and he looked at her with genuine sympathy and care.

"It's okay." He soothed kindly. He heard a faint sniffle and his heart broke for her. Unplugging his seatbelt, he leaned over to take her in his arms, to comfort her. Pam sat up, shrugging him off. Undoing her own seatbelt, she stepped out of the car quickly. Jim climbed out of the other side and made his way over to her, stopping when she raised her hands up.

"Please, Jim." her voice quivered. He could see the shine of tears on her cheeks in the moonlight. "Please." She said in a small voice and turned around, walking away.

"Pam?" Jim pleaded. She turned around.

"I'm here." He told her, his chest throbbing. He could see the muscles of her face and throat working, desperately trying to hold back tears. She blinked at him and turned back towards her street.

"Pam?" He called, making her turn back again. Now there were fat tears falling down her cheeks.

"Please, Jim." She repeated, shooting a desperate glance towards her house. "Please, go."

"Night or day. Pam." he said. "I'm here, night or day."

She looked like a desolate child lost in the darkness, so small and alone. He stood split with indecision. Finally he made to step towards her, when he heard her whisper a thank you as she spun around and briskly walked herself home.

Jim stood for a second and then followed her quietly, wanting to see she got indoors safely. He watched the tiny shaking silhouette of the woman he loved so much unlock her front door and step inside, shutting him out.

Chapter 6 by OfficeWriter

On the other side of the small kitchen, a six-foot-four storm was angrily stalking towards her, his jaw clenched tight, his face flushed and eyes bloodshot. Under other circumstances she might even have laughed – Roy was so awkward in his gait, and the hangover only served to exaggerate his usual less than graceful movements – and wild images of Elmer Fudd flashed comically through her mind.

"Aspirin."

Wordlessly Pam got up from her seat at the table and retrieved the small white pills for him, handing him a glass of water at the same time. Roy grunted out a thanks and sat down, stormy eyed and red-faced. Pam, who was suffering a minor hangover herself, wasn't feeling all that sympathetic to her stricken fiancee.

She normally looked forward to Saturdays. Roy usually took off in the afternoons with his brother for basketball and generally returned in good, if not pleasant, humor some hours later. Pam used this time for sketching or painting, absorbing herself in her brush strokes and enjoying the unpredictability of creating something out of nothing. Looking over at the groaning man, she was willing to bet that basketball – and painting – would be out of the question this weekend.

She was also wanting to call her Mom this weekend and when Roy was out of the house was always preferable. She missed telling her about the minor details of her day – to her Mom everything that happened in Pam's life was important. She would tell her the little things, office pranks, the new boots she bought and about her artwork. Her Moms cheerful attentiveness to even the most mundane details of Pam's day always buoyed her spirits and left her feeling a little special. It had been a while since she had found more than a few minutes of time to do little more than check in with her before having to rush off the phone. It was often hard, her parents living such a distance away. Aside from Jim, she didn't really have any other close friends anymore.

Thinking about Jim made her stomach sink. She was unbelievably embarrassed by what she could remember of their drive last night. She had been a little drunk, yes and was reaping the paycheck on that job well done currently. As much as her humiliation, she had a terrible anxiety that she had made things awkward between them and ruined their easy going friendship. She'd never really imagined that he wouldn't be in her life in some way, he was her best friend, sometimes he felt like her only friend. Trust her to go and mess it all up in the space of fifteen minutes. She didn't know why she had gotten so upset, partly her imbibed condition and probably as, Roy told her extremely often, you women always cry stupid tears over nothing.

Maybe she was reading more into it than just simple drunk tears… or maybe it was the fact that he had tried.. he wore so much concern and genuine sympathy in his eyes last night. He obviously saw how tired she was, she hadn't been sleeping well and he was concerned for her and she had acted like a hysterical fool.

She didn't want to be without his friendship. Sometimes he brought the only sunshine into her day, with his playfulness and his ability to make her laugh. Thinking that things wouldn't be the same brought the fresh sting of tears to her eyes.

-TO-

Jim himself was lounging around his bedroom, too distracted by Pam-centric thoughts to notice it was almost afternoon.

His was eyeing his cell phone for what was possibly the hundredth time and weighing up what he wanted to do, and what he wanted to do was call her.

He had been unable to sleep until near dawn, when he finally slipped lightly into a thin, restless slumber. He didn't know what to make of what happened in his car last night. Whatever it was, it had only deepened his concerns for her. The way she had shied away from him when he went to touch her – he only wanted to comfort her, the woman was weeping, for goodness sake – they way she reacted stirred up a pang of fear in him. She had pushed him away.

He didn't know what to do for the best. If he called her, would it be overstepping his bounds, as a co-worker, as a friend? Would it be careless, heartless if he waited until Monday? What if his true feelings were clouding his reasoning of the situation? What if he had a slight hope – or more – that she was unhappy with Roy and he was pushing that along in his mind, hoping that maybe one day… well he knew he was digressing. He needed to make sure that she was okay. For sure he wasn't going to get a moment of sleep until then.

Oh, Pam. He thought. Why do you have so much control over me?

-TO-

Pam saw her chances of a peaceful, Roy free Saturday diminishing rapidly before her eyes. The mans mood was darkening rapidly and he was angrily muttering to himself as he slumped into his chair in the lounge and reached for his beer. Taking a long swig, he looked around the room with displeasure.

"Where's the remote?" He snapped in a harsh, clipped tone. Pam looked up at him, pausing, her hand resting on the duster she was using to polish their little coffee table with. She looked around, not spotting the remote anywhere.

"I'm getting it, Roy." she said placatingly and circuited around the room. Roy snorted loudly.

"Perhaps if you kept this place clean and neat then you wouldn't be wasting your time looking for it now, would you?" he bit back at her. Pam chose wisely not to respond, and eyeing the little black rectangle under a magazine – one of Roy's magazines no less – she retrieved it and then held it out to him. He looked at her, a disdainful expression on his face. After a minute of Pam standing in front of him looking like a penitent woman holding an olive branch, he took it.

She went in the kitchen and fixed his lunch. The bacon was overcooked and stringy, he said. She hadn't cut his sandwich the way he wanted it cut. He then wanted a burger, because he wasn't going to eat that sandwich and what kind of idiot doesn't know how to cut a sandwich? Roy ate his burger with less complaint but still with the expression of displeasure on his face. Somewhat full and definitely still suffering the effects of his many beers last night, Roy grudgingly settled back into his chair and dozed off.

Pam turned the sound off on the TV and went upstairs to take another bath and get out of the way until his mood calmed down. It usually did if she just left him alone. She loved bathing, it was her private time, she was alone in the bathroom and her muscles seemed to hurt so often lately. The hot water soothed her body and she could relax a little.

She was adjusting the bathmat – she would really have to get a new one, what good is a slippery bathmat after all – when she was shocked into standing up straight by a loud shout. A hot flash of anxiety swept from her stomach and up into her chest.

"Goddammit!"

She drew in a breath and froze, fleetingly considering pretending she hadn't heard and climbing in the bath, feigning ignorance. He would just come up there though, she knew and he hated coming upstairs when he didn't have to.

"Ugghhh!" She heard as she climbed downstairs and tiptoed into the room.

Roy was standing in the corner by the coffee table. She was drawn to the silver object clenched in his fist, and realisation dawned on her.

"Oh Roy, I'm sorry, I forgot to take it with me – did it wake you?" she said, as pleasantly as she could, her eyes never leaving the big mans hand.

"Wake me?" Roy thundered, waving the cell phone in the air. "Wake me? Imagine, Pam, when you are sick and you just want a little goddamn peace on your Saturday and you can't do a simple thing like keep quiet and let me sleep?"

"I'm sorry, Roy, I'll take it upstairs with me, now. I really forgot it was there, I put it there when I polished the table." She explained tiredly.

"You did a shit job of that and all, too." He snarled at her. "Honestly I don't ask you for anything, Pam and this is how you treat me? You can't keep our home clean, you can't cook and you can't KEEP THE HELL QUIET!" He fumed. "What the hell do I keep you around for?"

Pam flinched back at the burst of aggression, her heart thumping heavily in her chest. "Roy, I-"

"AND you have to go waking me up, when you know I'm not well and how many times, Pam, how many times have I told you how I feel about your friends phoning you here? You think I want to listen to you prattle on about your little doodles while you're pretending to be Picasso and REAL important shit like who wore what to what award show? It's like you don't love me at all." he raged at her, balling his fists at his hips, still gripping the phone tightly.

"I'm sorry!" She cried out, shocked at his vehemence. "Roy, please!" She pleaded, feeling actual fear at the quickness of his fury. It had happened so fast. His face contorted with anger as he waved at her dismissively.

"All I do for you," He muttered, scowling ferociously.

Pam was frightened by the anger he was radiating. It wasn't often she saw him in this full blown state of naked fury. The night when she arrived home later than expected from visiting her Mom; the night she finished up with a broken rib that had left her sleeping upright for a few nights straight and holding an ice pack to her right side daily for weeks, only then had she seen him as mad as this and that time what had she done? She had… she didn't know what she had done that time. She wasn't sure what she had done this time. Rage made him appear even bigger, stronger and she felt as though she were shrinking in front of him. He waved her phone at her again.

"Halpert? Halpert, Pam?" he roughly shoved her phone under her chin and pushed her head up with it.

"Why is Halpert," he spat. "Calling you? Why?" A horrified look crept over Pam's face. Last night. Of course. He was calling because of her. Because of how behaved last night. Oh, everything was her fault, it was, it was, she cried inwardly, flinching as Roy whipped his arm back quick as lightning and threw the phone full force at the wall. Pieces of silver shattered to the floor, the screen of her recently brand new Apple spiderwebbed with cracks.

Before she had time to fully take in the damage, to the phone, the wall… and damage between her and Roy, she was roughly seized by her left wrist, big hard callused fingers digging sharply into her flesh.

Roy hurtled her towards the broken shards on the floor. She felt herself falling towards the ground, a sharp pain shooting through her wrist before his grip loosened and let go. There was a sickening thump as her forehead bounced off the wall, sadistically directly below the dark smudge the phone had left on the paintwork. She didn't feel the impact, later all she would remember was being on the floor, not how she got down there.

"Clean it up!" Roy barked and stormed out of the room.

Chapter 7 by OfficeWriter

It surprised her how normal she felt that morning. Sitting behind the big reception desk as she did everyday, doing her job; babysitting Michael, tolerating Dwight. This was her life. This was predictable. In some odd way, she felt safe behind her desk, in her role as Pam the receptionist. No one expected anything of her there. All she had to do was answer phones and handle papers and be the woman behind Michael. Nothing changed. A stable, predictable environment. No upheaval. No frosty silences or angry shouting.

Sure Roy was downstairs in the warehouse, it kept him pretty busy down there. She usually only saw him once or twice a day in the office; those occasions when he didn't have lunch with the other guys downstairs and came up to eat with her or when they left together for the day. He had kissed her goodbye this morning with a promise he'd check on her later in the morning, a promise she thought there was a good chance he would forget.

She'd woken up nauseated this morning. It had taken a monumental effort for her to not vomit her orange juice up on the kitchen floor, only by soothing sips of cool water had she held back the violent retches trying to escape her body. Roy had suggested she stay home, despite her protestations that she was indeed fine. She couldn't look him in the eye. She knew what Roy had been thinking.

She floated vacantly through the morning, wrapped in a cloud of weariness and nausea until midday, when she slowly got up for her lunch break. Purposely keeping her eyes fixed downwards and attempting to look busy, she hurried out of the main office and into the lunch area.

Things had been awkward with Jim this morning, as she had feared they would be. She'd brushed him off, assuring him she probably shouldn't have drunk so much on an empty stomach and that an evening out with an unrestrained Michael was enough to drive a nun to drink, of course. She'd then gone into a meeting with Michael, effectively ending their brief conversation. She was surprised to see a glimmer of hurt in his eyes as she walked away.

The lunch room was empty and she sank into a chair gratefully. Another wave of nausea rushed over her and she leaned on the table, resting her forehead on her palm. She lifted her left hand absent mindedly and lightly rubbed her stomach. It didn't feel any different from normal, although she supposed that would come later, if she really was, if this was indeed morning sickness. A cold sweat broke over her. She knew that's what Roy had been thinking this morning, when Pam had suffered a bout of sickness yesterday too. Oddly enough, he hadn't seemed to be very put out by the idea. He'd never seemed interested in being around children but, she supposed, he had never actually said he didn't want them someday. She rubbed a clammy hand against her forehead and pulled in a deep breath.

"Pam?"

Slowly she lifted her head and a rushing sensation sounded into her ears. Her vision blurred.

"Pam?"

Pam blinked and tried to focus. Jim was kneeling down beside her, a concerned hand gently resting on her shoulder. "What's wrong, Pam? Are you sick?"

She nodded weakly, turning her head back slightly. The room was now moving around her; the tables and chairs becoming hazy and unstable. Before she knew it Jim was gently prising a cool glass of water in her hand. She took small sips gratefully.

"Better?"

She put the glass down."Everything's in watercolor." she said, closing her eyes again. She could hear voices in the room now, mixed together in a blur of wooshing sounds through her ears.

"Pam?" Jim repeated, more urgently this time. She shook her head and swayed in her seat. He frowned "Try to keep your eyes open, okay?"

"Dizzy." she murmured, before slumping towards the table.

-TO-

She didn't remember much of the journey to the hospital. She had simply let herself become a child, and was led out to a car and buckled in; a bottle of water placed in her hand and she had been driven to the emergency room. There were various distant words, questions directed at her in attempt to keep her awake. She was just so tired and her body was heavy.

Some hours later, Jim was still in the waiting room. His attention was divided. He was watching the door which the doctor had wheeled Pam through. Every few minutes though, he would catch himself eyeing the entrance way. No sign of Roy still.

After another half hour or so, the doctor appeared and beckoned Jim into the room. He was surprised to see Pam perched on the edge of the small hospital bed, looking blankly out of the small window on the other side of the room. She didn't turn around or acknowledge his entrance. The doctor, a small, busy man with bushy eyebrows and a stern demeanour spoke a few words to Jim and pushed some information sheets into his hand. Jim thanked him with a confused smile, watching as the man left the room with cold eyes glinting angrily. Jim shook his head, puzzled and looked at the information he had been handed.

A flush of furious embarrassment came over him as he looked down in realisation; the man knew exactly what had happened. The man had thought he was RoyHe shook his head again, walked towards Pam and sat down beside her. They sat in silence for a few moments.

"I thought I was pregnant." She finally spoke, not looking away from the window.

Jim felt an overwhelming rush of sympathy towards her. "What happened, Pam?" he asked her softly.

"I'm not pregnant." She repeated dully. He remained quiet, wanting her to feel secure enough to talk. Finally, she spoke again.

"Roy left me behind at a basketball game once, you know? Just forgot I was even there."

Jim was confused, taking in the small, skeletal figure next to him that was now his best friend and kicked himself hard. All this time. He was right there, he had seen. How had he been so blind when he had seen the signs; the long sleeved cardigans, the extra makeup. But mostly how could he not have seen what was right now as blatant as if it has been written in the sky in twenty foot letters? Her kind green eyes, stripped of the joyful light he had found so beautiful when he was first introduced to her, her whole being, the way she had cried in his car, had stopped spending time with him outside of the office, had stopped being Pam. Pam who laughed all the time, who at heart was an artist and the most perfect soul he'd ever meet.

Jim cleared his throat. "I'm so sorry." He whispered, ashamed. For the first time since he had entered the room, she turned around to face him.

"What?"

"I saw… I should have done something." he sighed. Pam looked down at her lap and didn't comment.

"How many times?" he said blankly. She shrugged her shoulders by way of a response, not looking up at him.

"I bumped my head." She whispered.

Jim shook his head at her. "You've got concussion."

"It was an accident." She said to her lap.

"Right," he smirked, pointing to her left wrist, wrapped in a white bandage. "That too?"

Again she shrugged. "Same accident."

Jim shook his head and after a pause, moved closer to her on the bed. "Pam," he hesitated. He was struggling to find the right words. "Can I do anything for you? Maybe I could call your Mom? Or -" She was briskly shaking her head. "Your Mom?" He repeated.

She hung her head low. The silence between them was overpowering. Slow tears had begun to build from the corners of her eyes. She sniffed quietly and raised a shaking hand to her nose.

"My Mom…" her small voice quivered. "Wants to fix everything for me." Without further warning she burst into tears, covering her face with her hands. Her body shook with the force of her sobbing, as all the anguish and hurt she had been holding in came bursting out. Jim put a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Oh, Pam." He sighed carefully. She leaned into Jim, her face streaming with tears.

"This…. isn't... fixable." She sobbed. In that moment he really saw how frightened and alone she was feeling and his body ached to be able to help her. He leaned over carefully and pulled her close to his chest, wrapping his arms around her gently. "It's going to be okay." He whispered, hugging her closer.

This time, she didn't pull away.

Chapter 8 by OfficeWriter

Half an hour later, the two of them were sitting in the corner of the small coffee shop on the hospital ground floor.

"Thanks." Pam said quietly, wrapping her hands around the hot coffee he'd bought her.

Jim nodded, looking at her worriedly. "If it's somewhere to stay-"

"It isn't." She traced her finger around the top of her mug, watching the steam rise and disappear. Jim frowned and leaned back in his chair.

"Well, what is it then?" he asked, trying to keep his frustration out of his tone.

Pam refused to meet his eyes. "It's…" she faltered, slipping her hands into her lap. Sadness engraved her features and she dropped her head down wearily, worn out emotionally and physically. Jim wore a look of genuine sympathy as he waited for her to speak, wanting to show her he was willing to listen to her without pressuring her.

"Have you ever felt as though you don't exist?" She spoke slowly, not looking up. Her breaths were lifting her chest in short shallow movements. "Like you're wearing someone else's clothes?" she shook her head gently, closing her eyes briefly.

"What if you go on, feeling like you don't exist," she continued tentatively. "And then you think you can't feel any worse. And you realize you're living in someone else's body, and that person thinks your thoughts and makes your decisions. You're nothing."

Warm tears crept up into her eyes again, she blinked hard and fought them back. She'd done enough crying in front of Jim. "I can't do it." She said, glancing up at him quickly.

"Yes you can." Jim replied firmly, but kindly.

"I don't know how to do any of it!" she spat out suddenly. "Roy does everything, I even mess up trying to order pizza for goodness sake!" she said, sounding appalled at herself.

Jim smiled sadly at her outburst, slightly relieved she was at least talking to him and not sitting in silence. She lifted her head, allowing him to see just how pale she was, her eyes red rimmed and the hair around her face damp.

"Hey," he leaned towards her. "You can do it, Pam. You can leave. You have family, friends, a job. You can take care of yourself." For the first time since they had sat down, she looked up at him and held his gaze. "You know what you have to do, don't you?" he said.

Pam dropped her eyes again, her chest rising and falling heavily. She was wringing her hands tight together under the table, feeling like a caged animal.

"I don't…" She trailed off and sniffed quietly.

"Don't what, Pam?"

She looked up again, her green eyes filled with shame. "I don't want to hurt him." she said in a voice that was almost a whisper. Jim started for a moment, forgetting everything momentarily in his disbelief.

"What!" he angered loudly. He instantly regretted it, wild fear began to cloud in her eyes as she flinched back from him a little. Mortified, he rested his hand on her arm reassuringly and apologized.

"You're trembling." he observed. He ran his hand through his hair and sighed. He was struggling to straddle a balance between the anger building up inside him, anger at Roy for making her believe she was so weak – for hurting her – and frustration at Pam for not seeing the danger she was in and for still loving the man who did this to her. For caring about Roy's feelings!

"Pam." he tried again, carefully choosing his words. "The first thing you have to do is very simple and you can do it right now. You have to admit to yourself out loud that Roy hurt you."

Her eyes flew open wide and her mouth worked nervously, her lips clamping together. Her forehead scrunched and she shook her head again.

"No," she said. "Roy didn't hurt me." her eyes were pleading with him to believe her.

"Look around you, Pam. This is a hospital." Jim rubbed her arm soothingly. "Hey," he leaned close, looking her in the eye. "Look at me. Right in the eye. Tell me Roy doesn't hurt you and I'll believe you. If you can do that, I'll believe you. I'll even drive you home myself."

She froze, split in pain and shame. Pam raised her head and looked at Jim, fearful of what she might see in his expression. She met his eyes, expecting to find disgust, or even anger there but to her surprise all that was there was worry and concern. His eyes were soft, kind.

"Roy," She started. Faltered. Her eyes dropped again.

"It was an accident." She whispered, hating herself.

"You're in hos-"

"An accident" she repeated again dully.

"Will the next time be an accident too?" he asked her. "You know when it's something worse than a concussion-"

"Stop it!" she cried out.

"Maybe some broken bones, maybe you'll be in here a-"

"Stop!"

"And then, one day he'll go too far, Pam, and then it will be too late."

"Shut up, Jim, just stop! Leave me alone!" She cried out, tears coating her cheeks again. Jim sat back, vaguely aware people at other tables were staring at them now.

"Oh, God." she groaned loudly. "Jim, I'm not…" She dropped her face into her hands. "It's….so ashamed." She whispered.

"Ashamed?" He repeated, gently.

"He didn't mean to." she muffled from behind her hands.

"Which time?" he said simply, moving over to her. He rubbed her shoulder comfortingly. She looked at him defeatedly. She was tired, so tired. She was worn out from a tussle with conflicting thoughts and emotions and from carrying it all around with her for so long.

"Pam," Jim said, taking hold of her hands. "Listen to me, please, please. I do understand somewhat. I'm going to tell you something." he sighed.

"I got punched by a girl once, and it was a girl I really cared about and I didn't see it coming. And you know what I did?"

She looked up at him questioningly, confusion playing over her face.

"I made up a story that it happened in a bar; a stranger, a drunk. Hell I even convinced myself this was what happened after a while. And you know why?" He had her attention now, that was a start.

"I was ashamed. Yes, she only did it the once; we had pretty much broken up by that point anyway," he continued.

"What I'm saying is, I know how it hurts so much it becomes unbearable, that a person that you trust and love could do that to you. How much it hurts to admit it to yourself. And you – you've been with Roy years. How long can you keep pretending to yourself that you fell or bumped into a door or that you bruise easily?"

Pam didn't answer. She didn't need to. It was all over her face. Gone were the earlier stubborn expressions of denial, of anger. All he saw was hurt and deep sadness there.

"Come with me, Pam. Don't go home with him. I'm worried about you, you're not safe there. You know that, right?"

"Jim-"

"If it's Roy, I'll talk to him. I'll tell him you're leaving. I'll be there. AnythingHe won't hurt you."

Panicked, she shot up out of her seat, pulling her hands away from Jim. "No! No, you can't!" She sputtered. "Jim, please."

Jim looked at her in disbelief. She opened her mouth to tell him to go, that she would be okay, but stopped, distracted. Dimly she could hear someone calling her name, and she turned away from Jim.

Roy was standing by the door of the coffee shop, looking over at them, beckoning her to him with a wave.

"Halpert?" Roy said confused, noticing Jim behind her.

Jim stood up, as Roy made his way around the tables to Pam. Leaning down Roy wrapped his arms around her in a quick hug. Pam stood still as a statue and didn't reciprocate.

"Michael told me you were here, and that Halpert here brought you. I was worried." he said, observing her tear stained cheeks, pale color and horribly red eyes. "Guess you been pretty sick today, huh?" his tone was relaxed, cheerful even. He turned to Jim.

"Thanks for staying with her, man" Roy said, incredulously. Jim stood up tall and drew level with Roy, his normally dancing eyes icy and hard. Roy fixed a grim expression and met Jim's eyes with a hostile gleam of his own.

Pam looked at them anxiously, unsure what to do about the two men standing eye to eye, looking like animals of prey. Finally, she tugged at Roy's sleeve and forced a smile.

"Let's go home." She tugged again, nudging him towards the door. Jim grunted in response and she looked around at him with pleading eyes. He frowned and bit his lip. It was taking all his effort to not go and confront Roy. If Pam hadn't begged… well with the way he felt right then, Roy should be glad he was already in the hospital.

He watched with growing terror as Pam walked out the door with Roy.

"Pam." he pleaded.

She turned back and shook her head slowly, following Roy out of sight. Jim slumped down onto his chair, angry and frustrated. He stewed for a few minutes. He wanted to run after them and yank Pam away from Roy. How could she go back with him?

He jumped up, deciding to hell be damned, he was going to go out there and make her listen. Roy would not put so much as a toe near her in anger. He would see to it.

He made his way out of the hospital quickly, and ran to the parking lot. He flicked his eyes over the parked cars, looking for Roy's dodge ram. He huffed a loud angry breath as, looking up, an angry red blur zoomed out of the exit, taking Pam out of his sight.

Chapter 9 by OfficeWriter

Pam woke up from a thin sleep to the tinkling sound of raindrops falling above her. She blinked, startled for a moment at the sudden noise around her. Something bumped her elbow lightly and she sat up, a familiar shadow moving over her.

"Okay, there we go," said Roy, taking hold of her hand and helping her carefully out of the car. "Thought you were going to stay in there all night." he mused. She only looked at him in response, unsure of what was happening.

"How long was I asleep?" she mumbled tiredly. It was dark out now. Her neck twinged as she stood up and she rubbed at it absently.

"You needed sleep." Roy shrugged. "I didn't want to wake you." He closed the car door behind her and led her through the rain into the house.

Pam was astounded at the sight in front of her. It was incredible. Every table top, shelf, even the TV shone with all the pride of objects that have been scrubbed within an inch of oblivion. She lifted her head, catching the lemony scent of Febreze.

"You bought Orchids?" Bewilderedly she pointed to the delicate purple flowers soaking up the sunlight from the table by the couch. Her heart fluttered in wonder as she took in his efforts. "You did all this today?" she murmured, more to herself than Roy.

He shrugged. "It's why I wasn't at the hospital right away."

She turned back to him, drawing a slightly shy smile. "It's lovely Roy." her voice quivered as she spoke.

"Hey now, none of that." Roy put an arm around her. "I wanted to make up for our fight this weekend. I wanted to do something nice for you." he said charitably, eyeing her for a response. She blinked rapidly, feeling completely engulfed by everything. Looking around the room; the room she had hurt herself in – more than once - she felt a deep sadness well up inside of her. She swayed on her feet. She was hurt. She was so tired. And confusedRoy was being so gentle and kind to her, part of her wanted to fling her arms around him and thank him profusely over and over. But somewhere much deeper – and darker than she'd ever admit to – somewhere in her quarrelling emotions, an intense feeling of disgust was forming. She was so weak. So easily placated. So damn grateful for every inch of affection or tenderness he bestowed to her. She was disgusting.

"You did this for me, Roy?" She said as something inside of her clicked. Roy looked back at her incredulously.

"Who else, Pam?" he said, his voice low and cool.

"I just… after our fight…" she trailed off, looking at her shoes. Roy tensed and shot her a glare.

"Don't make this into something else, Pam. I felt badly that you were in the hospital. So I did something nice for you." He sighed heavily. "If you wouldn't make me so mad. I'm sorry you fell, but you know how much it hurts me when you do things you know I don't like. I can't help getting angry."

"I know." she mumbled quietly. Roy's fingers were now in her hair, softly stroking her smooth curls down. He pulled her close to him and lightly kissed her forehead.

"I love you." Roy kissed her again. "If you would just try harder to be more considerate of me in future, okay? Can you try?" he drew back and looked at her expectantly. She stared up at him a moment, her expression uncertain before focusing and nodding her agreement. Roy beamed down at her.

"When I'm sleeping, turn your cell off." he instructed with a kind tone. Pam thought it prudent not to remind Roy she no longer had a cell phone – after all the man probably swept pieces of plastic out of the carpet when he was cleaning earlier. An often expressed saying of her Moms slipped into her head. Fools are blind, Pam. She would often remind her of this. She thought about Jim, and how kind he had been to her earlier. He surprised her. He didn't do it out of obligation or responsibility. He could have left her alone in the hospital to wait for Roy, but he didn't. Jim was a good friend, a nice guy. The best.

"-much I need you," Roy was still talking. He released her from his arms and put his hands on her shoulders. "I think you should go to bed. You are exhausted and it's getting late. You look like Morticia dug up twice." he nodded towards the hallway.

Gratefully Pam made her way to the stairs. She really was exhausted. She wasn't sure when it had started but she had begun feeling like there were weights attached to her arms and legs that dragged behind her wherever she went. She wanted to go upstairs, she wanted away from Roy.

She was feeling too much, too much of everything.

"Oh, and Pam?" Roy called as she started the climb up to the bedroom. He followed her to the end of the hallway. "I don't want Halpert calling here again. Okay?" He said simply and sternly. Pam flinched but chose not to respond.

She dropped onto their shared bed. The tears she had found so readily all day did not come now that she was alone. Her head ached. She was empty, emotionally spun out and shattered. She lay on her side, careful to avoid the raised knot just above her forehead, Roy's gift to her on Saturday. She thought about the orchids downstairs. The kind way Roy had of caressing her when she was upset – hurt, her mind whispered –and how nice he was to her Mom. He had been trying to make things right with her.

She thought about the day of Michael's birthday. Nearly four years ago. More than twelve hundred days. That day had been the first. It had been a normal, usual Michael-centric office day…..everything in it's place and space. The warehouse were in and out of the office a lot, she couldn't remember why though. Everything was usual.

Until they got home.

She had not known what hit her. Literally. Roy's fist flew out of the dark, just like his anger did. He flashed fire and ice, like a tropical storm. He didn't brood. A punch here, a kick there, his rage satiated for the time being. That evening had set a precedent as far as their relationship went. She closed her eyes and heard his yelling again. The ghost of Roy past. "He was trying to cop a FEEL!" Over and over he had yelled that night. She heard herself crying and pleading with him, telling him Jim hadn't been hitting on her or doing anything wrong, they were just messing with Dwight but the man was in a rage too great to listen that night.

That was the first time.

She lay in her bed a long time, eyes closed but awake. When Roy came up she pressed her face into the pillow and steadied her breathing. Jim's earlier words drifted back to her.

He won't hurt you. Jim had told her. She'd been angry when he said that. She didn't want Jim to see how pathetic she was. But in the darkness of the bedroom, with Roy's presence sucking all the air up, a little warmth crept over her. I'll be thereHe won't hurt you.

She lifted her head out of the pillow and rested herself comfortably. It was a strange realization for her to admit, perhaps she wasn't so alone after all.

Chapter 10 by OfficeWriter

Jim Halpert was a good man. Most people would agree that he was a kind natured man with a real sense of humour. His easy going character was fun to be around and he often displayed a knack of making unpredictable or tedious situations enjoyable. For the most part, Jim presented a playful and boyish, if rather unmotivated persona to those around him.

The people that saw Jim on a daily basis would not have described him as anxious or troubled. He was cheerfully laid back and naturally charming, a fact he didn't seem particularly aware of. He was simply put, an all-round kind of guy.

He cared deeply about those he considered friends. He had had few girlfriends over the last years; nothing serious. Jim had long ago accepted that love didn't come easily to him.

And then, he'd been introduced to the lady who would become his best friend. They had clicked instantly, their personalities sliding together like two halves of the same heart. And then Jim had come to an unexpected understanding.

He discovered that love, for him, was whole and complete. He loved with his whole heart, he loved Pam with everything he had.

Unfortunately, what Pam had; was Roy.

He'd been respectful of Pam throughout their friendship. He'd never once overstepped any boundaries with her, never tried to break up her relationship with Roy. And there had been opportunities, many of them. He knew he wasn't crazy – he and Pam definitely had chemistry together. Instead, he had spent copious time building a solid friendship with her, noticing, but rarely commenting on, the spiderweb of cracks in the relationship between Pam and Roy.

He'd known their relationship was rocky, and in his own way he had taken advantage of that – being Pam's confidante and futilely flirting with her regularly, although not really expecting her to change her mind. He just hadn't known how rocky things actually were; and now he was suffering a major guilt hangover.

He didn't know her as well as he thought he had – she was able to hide so much from him; from everyone. He resolved to do whatever he could now to help her.

So, it was with that he was sitting bleary eyed in his car at eight in the morning, watching over a certain turn in the road.

His plan was simple. Once he had seen Roy's dodge drive out for the day, he could ascertain whether Pam was in the car with him. He hoped that she wouldn't be. He suspected she would stay at home due to her head injury, and he didn't expect Roy would feel obliged to stay with her somehow. Unless he had hurt her again – worse, he feared – since last night.

Watching her leave with Roy yesterday had been agonizing for him. He hated himself for his hesitance in the hospital shop, which had allowed them to exit and drive out before he could catch up to them in the parking lot. That was his mistake.

One he intended to address before Roy ever so much as laid a shadow of a finger on her again.

-TO-

"Come on Pam!" Roy vented, slapping his hand down on the kitchen table. "You know exactly what they are going to think when you don't show up at work today."

"The doctor said I should stay home." She repeated in a small voice. Roy smirked at her.

"There's nothing wrong with you." he glared at her in growing frustration. "Your head doesn't even hurt anymore, does it? You said so."

"It's not-"

"It didn't even hurt much to begin with, did it? You're such a drama queen, honestly." Roy picked up his keys and threw her a withering glance. He stalked to the front door.

"Sometimes, I really wonder why I keep you around, Pam. No one else will ever want you." Roy ran his eye up and down her scornfully. Pam shrunk under his scrutiny and stepped back, closing her eyes. Fully expecting a physical retort, she startled as a rush of cool air hit her, gently pushing her curls back from her face. Opening her eyes again, she saw that Roy had opened the door.

He was laughing. He was actually laughing at her. A wave of fury washed up inside of her like a powerful ocean. He was laughing. At her. Of all the things he had done, all the shame, humiliation… the pain and he was laughing. Somehow, this fact struck her deeply, of all the things Roy had done to strip her of her dignity, her pride… more than all the sprains, the bruises, the lies… nothing could have stripped her bare more than that. It wasn't a sudden burst of anger, a runaway fist flying, something he could plead loss of control over. Laughter was cold, cruel.

She scowled back at him, refusing to rise to his bait. Pam was praying he'd just turn around and go for work. He wanted her to cry and trouble was, if he didn't leave in the next minute she was pretty sure she'd make his day.

Roy stared her down with a warning in his eyes.

"God, you are so pathetic." he uttered, completely disgusted. "I expect to see you in work today. End of."

With that, he stomped outside, crashing the door shut behind him.

-TO-

Pam stood a moment, staring incredulously after him. Her anger dissipated rapidly, as it always did, like a sudden gust of hot air, in and out. The same familiar exhaustion swept over her and the tears she had been forcing back in front of Roy fell down her face relentlessly. She slumped down on to the carpet, her arms wrapped around herself. She rocked back and forth, her sobbing only interrupted by her short shaky breaths.

She was drowning, being dragged down into the blackest ocean by vice-like waves of pain. This was imprisonment. She was trapped- her lungs, her mind, her heart was being dragged to the cold hard floor of darkness. Alone.

A moving shadow fell over the hallway floor. She sat up quickly, scrubbing her face furiously with her hands. Scuffling sounds came from outside. Panic broke over her and she hitched her breath.

Roy was back for round two.

Pam stood up on legs that were weak and shaky. She turned to flee up the stairs, intending to put on her office clothes before there were any further scenes between her and Roy. For she could take no more sudden rages, they had attacked her like a disease and she was depleted by years of wariness and by being the sole target of unbound fits of fury. However, she stopped her ascent of the stairs at the sound of the doorbell. Pam looked round cautiously.

Her body relaxed in recognition, she hurried down the stairs and flung the front door open.

"Jim." she croaked, her face flushed and streaming.

He only had a moment to take in the shivering, vulnerable state of her; wild with emotion, sobs pounding through her limbs and muscles before she took a step towards him. Then suddenly, she was falling.

Jim caught hold of her, lifting her upright. Utterly drained, Pam leaned forward and pressed her head into his chest, tears bursting out of her as the walls around her collapsed.

Chapter 11 by OfficeWriter

He was sure he had heard wrong.

She was perched on the edge of the couch, shivering, despite the warm woolen blanket he had retrieved from his car to wrap securely around her. She hadn't said a word since he had taken her back into the house, arm around her waist and led her to her seat. Pam had cried long and hard, great heaving sobs wracking her body as he held her against his chest. When she had finally raised her head and her tears appearing to be slowing, Jim had fetched the blanket and a glass of water.

They had sat in silence, Pam's short, shaky breaths punctuating the quiet between them. Jim was softly rubbing her back, wanting to let her speak first. What he hadn't anticipated, was that the first thing out of her mouth would be an apology.

Jim looked at her with genuine surprise. "What are you sorry for?" he asked, speaking quietly.

"Just..for this." She sniffed, huddling into herself like a frightened rabbit, her eyes unfocused and blank.

"You don't have anything to apologize for." Jim told her firmly, keeping his tone patient. He gently lifted his hand and smoothed her damp curls away from her forehead, not missing her subtly flinch at the contact. He hesitated a moment. "Did he hurt you?" he said, looking at her kindly.

"Roy doesn't hurt me," she spoke automatically.

Jim bit his lower lip. "He gets mad though, right?"

Pam paused, then nodded slowly. It was a start, he thought. He couldn't keep his eyes from looking at her face, her skin drawn and stretched over her cheekbones, her nose red, stray teardrops caught in her eyelashes.

"What are you afraid of, Pam?" he asked.

She shook her head. "I'm not." She lapsed into silence again, blankly looking down at her hands.

"You're not happy." he replied. Pam looked up at him, her expression pained. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have-"

"It's okay." she whispered. "It's…" she lost the words and dropped her head despondently. Jim couldn't bear seeing her so lifeless the way she was. He was beginning to realize how desperate the situation actually was – not just that she was being abused – not only that she was denying it with her life, literally, but seeing her now looking like a tiny doll who's lost all of her stuffing; he seriously considered the real possibility she might not make it out of this at all if she wasn't able to seek help.

"Let me tell you what I'm afraid of." he said calmly. "Okay?" Seeing no reaction, he ventured ahead.

"I have a horrible certainty that my best friend is in a dangerous place. I'm afraid for her safety. I'm not sure she's ready to accept her situation; and that scares me, as I don't think I could live with myself if something happened to her and I couldn't help her." he said, honestly. "I'm afraid that she thinks this is all her fault, when it couldn't possibly be." Jim heard a sniffle, and then Pam was burying her face in hands.

"And," he continued, looking directly at her. "I'm terrified that she will get hurt and it will be too late."

Pam mumbled something from behind her hands.

Jim frowned. "What, Pam?"

"What if she did try to get out?" she asked in a small voice, putting her hands down. Calmer now, she looked briefly over at him. "What if she did, but he found her and brought her back?"

There was an agonizing silence for a moment. "That doesn't mean she failed, or did anything wrong," Jim told her kindly. "My best friend, she has such a big heart. She doesn't want to hurt anyone. What if she put herself first, for once? Perhaps she trusts someone, maybe her best friend, to help her get out this time. Maybe I should tell her that she isn't as alone as she feels."

Pam raised her head hesitantly. He could tell that she desperately wanted to talk but something was still holding her back. Wanting to make her feel secure as possible, he tilted his head and smiled a little, trying to validate how she was feeling. "Feels pretty shit doesn't it?" he said.

She nodded. "Pretty shit."

"I could call your Mom?" he offered, but she shook her head fiercely. "No?"

"No."

Jim looked thoughtful. "Okay, we won't do that then."

"My Mom… I haven't spoken to her in a while. This would kill her. It would be like it was happening to her." Pam rubbed her face. Jim handed her another tissue from the box beside them. She accepted it gratefully and dabbed at her eyes.

"It's… Roy… he doesn't mean to get so angry," she said. "But Jim, what he's been through… his Mom and Dad… It will kill him if I hurt him too."

"I'm afraid it might kill you if you don't."

She looked at him, eyes wide. "Roy is, well, sensitive and he's hurting. And yes, he gets angry at times."

Jim raised an eyebrow. "Angry?"

"I do things sometimes without thinking. I don't always try hard enough. I know how he is." She was gazing at the floor again, hands twisting tightly together.

"So you deserve to be beaten?" he said gently. She blinked rapidly. "Because Roy was hurt by someone else, and because you annoy him sometimes?"

"It's not like that."

"It's exactly like that." he said. They both fell silent again. Jim offered to make her a coffee, she declined, settling for another glass of water. Jim came back handing her the water and some aspirin he'd found in the kitchen. She accepted both with brief thanks.

"You know," he said as he sat down next to her and adjusted the blanket around her shoulders. "My best friend, she is such a bright, warm person – she has a great sense of humor too." he nudged her playfully. "One day I noticed she wasn't smiling anymore. She always seemed like she was somewhere else. She used to enter all these art competitions and she's really talented but I haven't seen her interested in any artwork lately. It makes me sad, because I know her life can be better, that she doesn't have to live this way, thinking – very mistakenly – that she is worth nothing or that she deserves to be treated as a punchball. She is worth so much more than that."

Tears dripped down her face again at his words. It had been so long since she'd felt genuine kindness like that directed at her from anyone. Jim leaned over and draped an arm around her, patting her shoulder comfortingly.

"I'm so empty," she cried, leaning into his chest. "So numb. But I feel everything at the same time. I don't know what to do anymore. I can't hurt Roy. He needs me."

"Pam," he sighed. "Listen to me. Roy is an anchor. He will take you down with him. You don't have to live in fear of him." She lay quietly against him, her breathing shaky and uneven, emotionally wrung out. "I could go to Toby with you – there are procedures they can help you with to keep you safe. I could help you go to a shelter, a hotel, the police – I know you don't want to think about it – your parents – you can stay in Marks old bedroom at my place, even. You have options."

Jim took her non response as a positive sign. She wasn't objecting or disagreeing. More and more he wanted to just go smash Roy's face in and then kick the crap out of the rest of him. Last night, Jim had driven by here, debating on knocking on the door. The place had been deathly quiet and lights were off except a small light coming from the front room downstairs. Then, he'd gone home and called the NDV number he'd gotten online. He'd come prepared for this, Pam's safety and happiness was too important to him to go in half assed and make things worse.

"Roy's not home until after work tonight, right?" he continued. "What if, just if... think about this as an idea. You go away temporarily – to your parents, a friends, even your sister – and see how you feel then, if you want to come back to Roy or not. Or even," he said, not wanting to push her too hard on it. "You could stay, as I said, at my place and we won't say that's where you are. You'll be safe. That's a promise."

Pam pulled out of his hold and leaned back, looking him in the eye tiredly. She was in no real condition to argue anything, although her eyes were wide and pleading. "What if… you're not?" she mumbled, swallowing hard.

"Not what?"

"Safe." she whispered. "If… if… I'm being hurt… then no one else is."

Jim's heart broke at that. He looked back at her with such a look of pity and sympathy Pam was nearly brought back to tears. "This is about keeping you safe now, Pam." He said firmly. "Will you think about it?"

She sighed heavily. "I'm tired, Jim. I'm just so tired. I don't want to fight anymore. Most days I get up and everything is just dark and empty and I can't see anything through it. It feels like I'll never feel any better than this, things will never get better. " She dropped her eyes. "I'm scared I'll always feel like this, without hope."

Jim grasped her chin softly and lifted her head up.

"Hey. There's always hope. If you'll let me, I can and will help." He meant every word.

She nodded weakly.

"And, if you doubt yourself at any time, doubt getting yourself help – I want you to think about what you just told me, how you feel. Because things will get better. Think about how you felt whenever things got the worst and how you can move away from it. You have every right to be happy." He rubbed her arm reassuringly.

She looked up at him still. "When things got the worst," she whispered quietly. He lifted her hair away from her face, seeing a new determined look harden in her eyes. She reached for Jim's hand.

"I prayed he would stop. I prayed for him to stop."

Chapter 12 by OfficeWriter

Pam Beesly had never been the type of woman who would take a stand on anything.

Typically described as mousy by most people who knew her, it might not be seen as a large surprise that she would tolerate so much abuse in her life without complaint. She was a woman who put up with things. She had the tedious job she considered temporary despite having done it for years without question or other prospects. She had the long engagement. She had Roy.

She had her life, the way it was, and she hadn't expected it to change. Pam was not about change. She couldn't begin to know exactly how to go after anything she wanted; on those rare occasions that she admitted there was something she wanted she would let it go by her without much more than a glance behind her.

She had options.

That was what Jim had told her. She rested her hot forehead against the cool porcelain of the bathtub, feeling a slight relief. She had options. She could leave. Somehow Jim had made it feel a real possibility. But her heart reminded her that Jim was a great salesman, he could sell wings to an angel if he wanted to.

But Jim didn't know Roy. Not really. He'd not seen the hulking, rage-fueled explosive that was Roy when he felt he'd been lied to or betrayed, or sometimes even just slighted. He hadn't seen Roy put his fist clear through a kitchen cupboard door, or seen his face contort into a terrifying living fury, burning wild and taking out everything in its path.

Jim wasn't there the night of Michael's birthday. He hadn't witnessed Roy's two angry hands, clutching savagely at her throat. Jim did not know what he was dealing with.

Jim couldn't know what it felt like to be threatened in that way.

But he was here. And he wanted to help, genuinely. She retched, and leaned over the toilet again. Her empty stomach heaved and throbbed. Jim was downstairs, waiting for her to finish fetching up anything left inside of her. Jim was expecting her to leave. Leave Roy.

He was standing in by the window, next to the purple orchids Roy had bought yesterday, when she arrived back in the lounge. Her face was blotchy and drawn. Jim turned and asked her how she was feeling.

She shrugged a little. "My eyes hurt." She said tiredly. Jim walked over to her and put a comforting hand on on her shoulder, frowning when she winced at the contact.

"Pam, please think about this." he knew it was wrong to push her, to make her feel he was trying to force her into making a decision. The advisor on the domestic abuse line had been very clear on this point; it was her decision. To stay or go must be decided when Pam is ready to. That was hard for him to understand.

He didn't want to cause Pam any harm at all, but he didn't want to see her harmed either. He was getting desperate, he had to get her out of this house before she really got hurt, physically or traumatically.

"You should go." she said offhandedly, her arms crossed over her stomach. Jim raised an eyebrow at her. "I mean… this isn't your problem." She shrugged.

"Too bad, Beesly. I'm involved now. And," he glared. "You are not a 'problem.'" he said.

She gazed at him tiredly and slowly sat down on the couch. Jim strode over and kneeled down in front of her.

"I'm sorry, Pam. I am. But I think you're wrong. You came to the door earlier and you were pretty desperate. You were scared, sobbing and you told me after that you were being hurt by Roy. You wanted help then. What changed?"

No answer.

"Do you agree that this is a dangerous situation?" Jim was losing patience and trying hard to keep his frustration out of his voice. He didn't want to scare her any further, or break the very thin thread of trust he had managed to forge with her.

Slowly, she nodded her head, looking down at her hands.

"It's alright," he soothed. "We can talk to the police about a restraining order or-" he broke off as the door opened in the hallway behind him.

Roy strode into the room. "What the hell is this?" he cried out in annoyance. He glared between the two of them. Pam visibly shrunk back in her seat. Jim stood up tall and stared defiantly back at Roy.

"This," he said fiercely. "This is your-"

"Jim." Pam said quietly. She was now standing behind him, eerily calm. She turned to Roy. "Jim came to see how I was, now he's leaving."

"Are you kidding me?" Jim groaned.

Roy strode over and roughly seized Pam by the arm. "You're not well. Go lie down. I'll see Halpert out."

His tone was strict and authoritative. She stood still between the two men, frozen in hesitation. Sensing the atmosphere, and seeing that neither Jim or Pam were making any effort to move, Roy's indignation grew.

"What's been going on here?" he snapped out. He leaned down to Pam, putting his face close enough to hers that their noses were almost touching.

"You," he growled. "You got something you wanna tell me?" he said, motioning angrily to Jim. Pam recoiled a little, as Roy towered over her. "You think I'm an idiot? You been laughing behind my back the two of you? I knew there was something going on!"

"There's nothing going on Roy!" Pam pleaded, shooting Jim a desperate look. "Jim, please go back to work. We'll talk tomorrow."

Roy's hostile eyes burned into her, his grip on her arm tightened painfully. Without turning round he spoke tersely at Jim. "Go on Halpert. The two of you are done." Pam leaned her shoulders backwards away from the enraged man's face. "Go Halpert. I mean it. Get out of here." his eyes locked on her.

"Roy." Jim said, a cool warning in his voice.

"You bring him here, to our home?" Roy persisted, voice raising. "Look at me!" he spat, shaking her arm roughly.

"Roy, I-"

The next thing she knew, she was falling into the couch, her neck snapping back against the backrest.

Hot anger boiled up in Jim. Roy, who had nearly a foot on Pam, and at least 80 pounds advantage, had towered threateningly over her. In that moment, that was what angered Jim the most – more so than the shove he had just witnessed. He saw it, Roy, shadowing over her, smaller, weaker, knowing she won't stand up to him, Roy standing there like some high school bully, Pam appearing smaller than ever saying nothing, doing nothing. Just accepting it.

Jim stalked up to Roy.

"Jim, please. Roy!" Pam begged, terrified.

"You know, Halpert," Roy said furiously. "People think you're into meat, but I knew you had it out for her. Well guess what, finally the joke is on you, funnyman. The joke is on you. You thought you were getting a real prime rib. Now you know. She's a cheap lay, and not much else."

Pam squeezed her eyes shut, frightened and humiliated. A loud thump followed by a soft flopping sound startled her already hyper anxious body and she jumped violently. She looked down, blinking hard, to see Roy, rubbing his jaw, half sitting, half lying on the floor.

Jim stood, feeling rather satisfied, noting Pam hadn't immediately rushed to Roy's side.

He couldn't swear to it but he was sure he saw, or a fleeting moment, a hint of satisfaction on her face too.

Chapter 13 by OfficeWriter

Everyone in the room froze. Pam held her breath, looking between the two men, a jumble of terror and anger quarrelling inside her.

Jim had hit Roy. He had punched him. Okay, it wasn't the hardest of blows – hard enough to knock Roy on his ass, not that Roy was the most co-ordinated man to begin with – but not hard enough to do any real damage. Jim had hit Roy. Roy hit people. She was surrounded by anger and testosterone. An intense wave of unreality rushed upwards through her.

The world muted. Everything went blank inside of her. She couldn't hear the words bounding around her, two bitter voices tangling together in the small room. Somebody roughly caught hold of her wrist and somebody was shouting and she wanted to move but her legs were stuck, they wouldn't bend, they wouldn't move. The walls shook up and down and in horror she saw the lounge – the lounge she had so carefully and lovingly furnished, the knick knacks that Roy hated and the fake flowers she so regularly moved around, the TV, the chairs – it was all unfamiliar at that moment. She didn't know where she was.

Before Pam understood what was happening, her hand was grasping the door handle, she had moved, was moving, only it wasn't really her, a stranger had somehow inhabited inside her and she was stepping out of the door, out of the house, straight out into some sort of illusory world with bare feet and no idea where she was headed.

-TO-

It was only after Roy turned to order Pam upstairs that the two arguing men noticed she was no longer in the room. Of course, they both had seen her moving across the lounge, but it was with the peripheral vision of those intensely embroiled in a quarrel, they had simply seen her, a figure in the background.

Roy was furious. He'd been assaulted by Halpert, that scrawny girlfriend stealing idiot. Roy had looked like a fool, falling on his ass like that, Halpert's intention no doubt. And Pam had stood there – useless as always and doing absolutely nothing to restore the honor of the man she supposedly cared for. She hadn't spoken a word, she had stood in silent approval of Halperts actions. And then the bitch had walked out. Roy shouted at Halpert to get the hell out of his house and he would see him in court for assault. Roy was no idiot. He knew Halpert would be foolish enough to fight back if he got up and struck him in retaliation. Oh, no. He had come close, extremely close to knocking that smug look right out of his eyes and them giving him a few more lessons to think on. However, a strong feeling had come over him that Pam would side with Halpert in the matter – he had seen the looks that flit between the two when he arrived. Guilty, shifting glances. He knew what was going on. He would pay Halpert back later, after a certain brunette had come to her senses and got her ass home, if he didn't find her himself first.

Jim left the fuming man behind and stamped out. He ran up and down the sidewalks in search of Pam. It was like she had just vanished. He was furious with himself for letting her go like that, in the state she was in. He wasn't particularly sorry about hitting Roy – that had been kind of a pleasurable moment – but he remembered how she had reacted when he suggested he talk to Roy with her; she had been petrified. It was the only thing she had asked of him; begged even.

But what was he supposed to do? Roy got rough with her, he abused herhe humiliated her and right in front of him. Was he supposed to let Roy beat her? And she had walked out without a word to either of them.

Oh sure, Roy hadn't hit back – bullies picked on smaller or weaker people in theory, Roy was probably intending to pay that debt back to Pam in spadesand Jim, having taken the first step now was not going to back off and watch her being at risk. Jim saw how Roy could easily beat her senseless without even using his fists – such disgusting, degrading things he had said about her. He roiled, feeling like he was boiling in hot water.

As for Roy calling the cops on him, Jim almost laughed. The man was so deluded.

He headed back and got in his car, desperately worried for her. Where would she have gone? He tried to think; she was upset; emotional. She wouldn't have gone to the office. She didn't want to go to her Mom. She was far away anyway and Pam had taken nothing with her. He didn't know if she had any friends outside of himself. Sometimes she seemed to have a somewhat friendship with Angela, but he quickly dismissed that idea.

He drove around the area, frustrated and worried, looking out everywhere for her.

-TO-

Pam lay on her side, her head resting comfortably in the feathery grass. She twitched occasionally, shaking out the sting in her blistered feet.

She'd been there hours. She'd walked and walked on, detached from her surroundings, disconnected from her body. She wasn't real. She just was.

She'd floated into the park, gravitated to the shelter of the trees and hidden herself away. There were, surprisingly, no tears. She felt nothing. As she rested, exhausted, confused, numb – things began to slowly swim back into focus. She recalled the events of the day hazily – if pressed she couldn't describe exactly what had happened; what had been said and she certainly couldn't remember clearly leaving the house as she had.

She had been angry at Jim. He had knocked Roy down. Her stomach swirled sickly as she thought of Roy. She knew he would be absolutely livid. What if he had hurt Jim? Jim who never really done anything to hurt anyone, not intentionally. She imagined all kinds of dreadful outcomes – blood, ambulances, hospital, body casts. Her mind overworked. It would be all her fault.

But anger had been the first emotion swelling up in her when Roy was on the floor. Not at Roy, but at Jim. Was that right, or fair? Because Jim had used violence. She would never have thought that of easy going, kind Jim. It took a lot to get him really worked up about something. Now it seemed he was no better than all the other men. All that testosterone. Jim had acted like Roy. She wanted to hate him for that, she really did.

But as she slowly came back to herself, her mind reconnected and focused as the hours wore on, she realized she was being unfair. She was so mixed up. Jim and Roy were not the same, far, far from the same. She couldn't blame him. Jim had punched Roy when he insulted her and shoved her. Jim's outrage was on her behalf. He didn't just go off half cocked smacking people. Jim had done it for her. He was a good man.

Roy hit… she admitted it, she good as admitted it to Jim earlier. But it was true. Somehow a smokescreen was being blown away from her life and she could see the cold, ugly truths laid out dead in front of her. She had to make a decision. Jim had been right. She had to admit it. She had to change. She would die, if she didn't.

Shakily, she stumbled up on her aching, bloody feet and walked out of the park, determination set in her stride.

Chapter 14 by OfficeWriter

The house was empty when she returned; limping on bloodied feet and shivering from the cool evening air and exhaustion.

The front door was unlocked. The lights were off. Cautiously she stood in the hall listening for signs of anyone else in the house.

Then Pam made her way upstairs quickly, half-fearful she would find Roy at the top or in the bedroom. She set to work. Grabbing a box of band aids from the bathroom cabinet, she cleaned up her feet as best as she could, applying bandages before pulling some socks from the laundry over the top.

She slunk into the bedroom like a ghost. A vague odour of sweat hung in the dry and musty air. She had never been able to rid the room of it, despite vigorous cleaning and humidifying, it always smelt stale, like the window hadn't been opened in a long time. She slipped her stinging feet into an old pair of Keds and picked up her purse. Making her way over to the dresser with short wincing steps; she briskly snatched up a handful of lingerie and stuffed them into her purse. Chaotically she threw items on top of the underwear; contact solution, a sweater, socks. She tossed the box of band aids in as an afterthought.

Then, she picked up the smartphone off the bedside table on Roy's side. Roy always kept a second phone by the bed. Quickly, she turned the phone on and waited agonizingly for it to set up.

She called for a cab. Fifteen minutes, the bored operator told her. Pam put the phone back and smoothed out Roy's pillow automatically.

This was the room she had shared with Roy for over four years. The carpet, grey and rough, where she had more than once found herself branded with a carpet burn on her forearm and other areas from being pulled across the floor in a fit of fury. How many times had he dragged her around this room? How many times had she woken up in this bed with his fingers in her, on her, always demanding of her? Memories flashed in front of her, a phantasmagoria of soiled and savage souvenirs of her relationship with Roy.

This was it. So many, many times she had thought about leaving. She fingered the band on her left hand, picked her purse up off the bed and walked unevenly away. At the doorway, Pam stopped. Hesitated. Biting her lip she turned back to face the room again.

As if moved by force, she yanked the simple diamond cluster ring she wore off and dropped it carelessly onto the pillow that Roy slept on. She didn't look back.

Hurrying down the stairs, her purse bouncing irritatingly against her hip, she pulled her trench coat off the hook in the hallway. Slinging it over her arm, she felt the pockets for her keys. Opening the door, a fresh burst of cool night air brushed over her.

Later on, she would wonder how he had managed to stay so silent – Roy, who had all the grace and poise of a fit bull, Roy, who's thundering stride could be heard, under any other circumstance, from a distance too far away for easy comfort.

It happened so quickly. She had stepped only halfway out the door before being roughly seized and dragged back inside. Before she could utter so much as a squeak, she was slammed into the wall at a numbing pace, gruff fingers pulling tightly on her hair. Pam wriggled and yelped against the fiery sting of her scalp. She collapsed to the floor, her heart punching wildly.

"Get away from that door!" Roy bellowed, dragging her along the carpet. Pam moaned, her head exploding with sharp pain. Roy's eyes were bright, wild with fury. He dropped his grip on her hair and stomped over to the door, kicking it shut.

Pam groaned and pulled herself up achingly, leaning against the wall for support.

"What the hell is this?" Roy stormed, thrusting her bag up in the air. Furiously he ripped it open, growling through the contents Pam had so hastily tossed inside. Flipping the bag upside down; coins, purse, lipsticks – her underwear rained out on to the floor. Roy seemed to swell with rage. He reached out and nudged her underwear with a booted toe. "You whore." He spat at her. "I knew it. You think you're just gonna leave here and go to him?"

Pushing herself away from the wall, Pam looked at Roy with disgust. Everything, every punch, kick, bite, every accusation, all the humiliation- only yesterday she was being treated for concussion – every indignity Roy had ever forced upon her swelled up painfully inside her. Concussion. Broken bones. Lies. Emotional blackmail. Accusations. The bare fact that his first instinct was to blame Jim for her leaving. Her resolve strengthened.

"I'm leaving. I'm done." She said simply, trying to keep the quiver from her voice. She wasn't going to debate the issue of Jim – or anything else with him – she had come back to the house with one purpose, to end things and leave.

Roy was walking towards her slowly. "Oh, is that right?" he growled. His face was hard, incensed, focused on her. It was a look she had seen often in the past; yet there was a wild intensity set in his features that she was not familiar with. Roy looked like a feral bear, rising up to his full height over her menacingly. Pam flinched back against the wall, scanning the room for anything she could use against him.

"Yes." she tried to edge away slowly. "You don't love me, Roy. I think you love the person you expect me to be. You hit me-"

"You make me! If you would just do what I ask I wouldn't react that way! It's your fault we're in this mess now!" Roy slammed his hand furiously against the wall, his open palm inches from her head.

"You hit me." She repeated as calmly as she could. "You hurt me when you are faced with me, not the fantasy woman who does everything right that you think I should be."

Roy looked taken aback.

"I am leaving Roy. I-I don't want to fight now. Please let me go." She stood firm, her shaking voice betraying her fear.

"You are not going anywhere." his voice deathly quiet and low, moving towards her.

"Yes, I-" His palm smashed round in a circular motion, landing sharply on her cheek. Pam's eyes watered as she thudded back against the wall. Roy stood in front of her, hands balled into fists, looking as furious as she had ever seen him.

"I'm going." She repeated, yelping as Roy yanked her roughly away from the wall and pushed her down on to the carpet.

He hit her many times, during their struggle. Roy usually worked on her lower body, but this night it was apparent he didn't care what marks he left visible on her. Pam put up a defence, something she had never ever done. She slapped him, something she definitely had never ever done before. Roy spewed out an extensive string of expletives at her, his rage unrelenting.

"No one else would ever want you. Remember." he snarled down at her. She gasped up at him, colorful spots dancing before her eyes. A burning pain seared red hot across her left shoulder and a low moan escaped her lips. Pam rolled her aching head to her left. Little raindrops of blood were glistening on the carpet. For a blind moment she panicked more so– she would have to clean that up, Roy hated stains on the carpet – when she suddenly snorted a crazy laugh. The rules are simple and set in stone, she thought hysterically.

Roy gaped at her.

Pam took advantage of his moment of distraction and shoved at him forcefully, which in all truth was not that hard, every movement she made caused a muscle or bone to cry out in pain. However she was also, by this point, doubting that she was any less than fighting for her life.

Roy stumbled backwards, his face contorting with naked anger. His left foot came down on her bottle of contact solution, lying in the debris of bag items Roy had scattered around the hall. He slipped and momentarily he caught hold of the wall to stop himself landing on the floor.

Pam fled away from him, not looking back. She flung open the front door, dimly aware of the thunderous footsteps threateningly behind her. She ran down the street, her nose bloodied, cheek swelling and her shirt ripped clear at the shoulder.

She ran, mindless of the burst of pain in her heels and toes, mindless of the tears coursing down her face, pink with blood. She ran and ran until she stopped, doubled over and vomited spontaneously over the sidewalk.

She limped on, and on, until eventually, relief drove up in a shiny grey taxi. She hailed it, gratefully.

Chapter 15 by OfficeWriter

The guy sitting next to Pam was young, likely not long on the right side of his driving license, and he was good-looking. He asked few questions of the bruised and breathless mess of a woman who had hailed him off the street in the dark, picking her up hesitantly – he was new on the job and she did look like she might up chuck at any moment.

He had offered to take her to a hospital. She refused profusely, giving him the address she wanted to go to.

"Lady, you sure look like you went a round or two with Mike Tyson." he said blithely, side-eyeing her. "Are you sure you don't want me to drive to the emergency room?"

Pam shook her head firmly, pursing her swollen lips together tightly. The driver leaned back with a frown.

"Police station?"

"Just the address I gave you." she mumbled into her chest. It was a dark night that night, she was grateful for that. Her skin burned and stung in many places, from top to toe, and she could feel the right side of her face ballooning out. The dark night spared her the added self humiliation of staring at her scratched and bloodied face in the wing mirror throughout the drive.

"Ma'am, I think I'm required to-"

"No." She exhaled loudly, rubbing her hands together. A numbing cold was creeping over her, the tips of her fingers tingling. "No." She repeated, softly this time.

They drove on in silence after that. She was cold, so cold. Her bones were turning to ice, her aching body felt like marble under her torn and spattered clothes. She shoved her fingers tightly between her thighs. Thoughts darkened in her head. What was she doing? This was crazy. Of course Roy would know where to look to find her. They worked in the same building. She knew the first place Roy would look for her. She would always be watching over her shoulder for him. She tensed, visualising Roy's dodge ramming up the road beside them, dragging her out of the cab. She looked out at the passing traffic, shivering heavily. The night had taken on a hazy, dream-like quality of shifting shapes and blurs, moving faces without sounds. Fleeting fragments of the confrontation she had barely escaped from floated around her worn out mind. The natural calm and quiet evening stood in stark, welcome context to the cacophony of rage that had exploded around her. Pam rested her head back against the seat, her eyes distant.

Roy had never beaten her like this before. She had pushed him right over the that edge he had been precariously teetering on for some time. The way he'd come at her on the floor, fists pounding, a violent fury so great she knew, knew in that moment his rage was quite capable of killing her. The wild, uncontrolled – and, utterly terrifying -madness she saw in his eyes set aflame into her, burned in her memory.

"This it?" the young, good-looking drivers voice echoed, startling her. The cab had come to a stop.

Pam looked out at the small row of houses and nodded in reply. She had only been here a couple of times before. She opened her door.

"Um," she mumbled to the driver. "Could you wait here? I've got to get the fare." She muttered sheepishly, lifted herself carefully out of the cab.

"Lady?" the driver called out to her. She turned back. His expression was pensive, he was nervously biting his lip. "Er, I've not taken you back to the place where-" he gestured towards her face. "that happened, have I?"

Pam shuffled backwards a few steps before speaking quietly. "No. No you haven't."

She headed blearily up the quiet drive towards the house. Distantly a dog was barking inside a house further up, otherwise the street was peaceful, empty. At the front door, she lifted an icy finger to the bell, but hesitated. She didn't know if she was doing the right thing or not. Was there a right thing? She was tired and desperate. What if no one was home? What would she do then – she was terrified – it would be such an easy answer to just get in the cab and go back to Roy, life as she knew it, where she wouldn't be an inconvenience to anyone other than Roy. At home she knew what to expect, when to expect him, she had some control over him – she could successfully soothe his anger when she tried hard enough, she knew she could.

A cold wash of panic swelled over her. She was insane to think she could do this and start her life over. Her paper thin resolve so easily crumbled. She was weak, she knew this too.

"Pam? Pam?"

Footsteps scraped up the drive behind her. She panicked, closed her eyes. Roy was coming for her, he had found her already and he would make her go back with him and… and… her heart was striking painfully against her rib cage, her breathing short and ragged. She braced, rooted to the spot in front of the doorway, finger still tentatively brushing the doorbell.

"Pam?" The voice behind her was kind, yet anxious. Most of all, it was familiar and it was friendly. After a pause, she turned back.

"Oh my god," Jim breathed out loudly taking in the woman shivering violently in front of him. "Oh my god, what happened?"

Pam stood in front of him weakly, looking down at her sneakers, shoulders slumped.

"Roy did this." Jim said. It wasn't a question.

Behind them, a cab horn beeped impatiently into the night.

- TO-

Jim took charge, seeing Pam safely inside first and then dashing back down to pay the cab driver, handing over a huge tip to the young man, whose eyes lit up greedily at the money.

"Thanks, guy!" he exclaimed happily. Jim shrugged. It was a small price to part with for the driver who had brought Pam there safely

Inside, Pam was shivering in the hallway, huddled into herself with her arms folded. Jim hurried through the door over to her. Gently he put a hand on her back and led her over to the couch in the living room, sitting her down. Kneeling down beside her, he took hold of her hand.

"How badly are you hurt?" he asked. He glanced down, rubbing her hand. "God, Pam, you're freezing!" Jim got up and dashed out of the room. Returning seconds later he carried his black sweater over to her. Pam lifted her arms, letting out a strangled cry as pain seized her shoulder. Jim grimaced.

"Beesly, we need to get you to the hospital." he said, keeping his tone light. "Not to mention getting the police." Her eyes flew wide open, she jerked her hands away from him dismissively. Jim studied her indecisively, her chest heaving up and down, head hung low. She was a mess. The sight of her, clothes torn, face bloodied, swollen, her fingernails ripped down to the quick filled him with a furious rage unlike anything he'd experienced before, but it was her, Pam sitting so defeated, so broken that brought the sudden sting of tears to his eyes. What the hell had Roy done to her? Nobody deserved to be left sitting desolately on a friend's couch, dried blood under her nose and on her lips, ashen faced, cuts, scrapes and gashes of the beating she had received littered over her skin like chicken pox.

But Pam, she was so special – she had such a good heart, underneath all the walls around it – walls that Roy had undoubtedly helped build. She was kind, and funny and she would hurt herself first before she would ever hurt another person. Jim felt such a rush of affection for her at that moment, he resolved to do his very best to help her from ever feeling one more moment of pain at another persons hand. He touched her shoulder lightly, mirroring her as she winced.

"It's okay," he carefully rubbed her shoulder. "Let me help you." he lifted himself off the floor and disappeared out into the hallway. He came back a few moments later, a fluffy blue blanket thrown over his arm, loaded down with towels. He draped the blanket around her shivering shoulders uncertainly, unsure exactly where she was injured and not wanting to cause her any further pain. He headed out again, this time to the kitchen.

Jim carried a glass of water over to her and put it on the side next to her. He picked up the towels and held one out to her.

"Ice." he explained. "For your cheek." Obediently Pam held the towel to her face, gratefully feeling the cool refresh of the ice inside. Jim picked up the other towel and began to dab at the dried blood under her nose.

The situation was surreal. What was he supposed to do here – was there a blueprint for how to help a friend who comes to your doorstep looking like they had been thrown bare knuckled into a boxing ring? Her refusal to get the police, or to see a doctor concerned him.

"I was so worried about you, earlier when you disappeared." he told her, gently patting away the red streaks on her face. He cupped the side of her neck gently to hold her head still. Pam flinched, but didn't object. "I'm sorry, so sorry." He said quietly, with such genuine feeling that Pam looked up.

Jim lowered his hand and began to work on removing the blood from her lips, when he felt light, thin fingers grip tentatively on his wrist, pulling his arm down.

"Sorry?" Pam's forehead creased, her green eyes questioning. Jim sighed and got up from the floor, sitting next to her.

He shook his head. "I'm sorry I didn't find you earlier. I looked everywhere. If I had, this wouldn't have happened."

"This is not your fault, Jim."

"It's not yours either." he said firmly, looking at her directly. Pam shrugged a little. An unpleasant feeling swept through her, causing her to shudder.

"What if- What if … he… comes here?" she gestured to the front door. Jim sat up straight, feeling her tense even tighter next to him.

"What if he does?" he said carelessly. "We'll call the police. I'll go out there with my baseball bat or I'll get you away from here, to somewhere safe if it comes to it, but I swear, we will handle it. It will be okay, I promise. He isn't coming in here, and he isn't going to so much as breathe near you again. Okay?" She nodded, but he could see she didn't feel very reassured.

He didn't feel too assured himself - truthfully her refusal to get police involved so far was weighing on his mind. Especially if she thought Roy might come looking for her.

"Where is Roy?" he questioned. "What happened-how did you get away?" for the first time that evening a flush brought a small amount of color into her face.

"It was my fault-" she began. Jim put a hand up, raising his eyebrows.

"Stop." he said firmly. "I don't want to hear you say that. We've been friends for years, Pam. I knew something was going on, I just knew. I blame myself for that. But you know, deep down, that the responsibility lies with Roy, and Roy alone. For every single time he ever caused you any physical pain. It is not your fault."

"I just.. he was mad that I was leaving. I was so stupid!" she cried out. "I was so stupid I went back to the house to get my things and to end it… I was so dumb ! I shouldn't have gone back, I should have just left!"

"It wasn't your fault!" he repeated, frustrated. "Yeah he was mad. Roy's a mad guy! That doctor in england – that one that killed all those patients? He said he killed some of them because they annoyed him! Is that their fault that they were murdered by someone they held in a position of trust?"

Pam exhaled shakily. "I just…. I don't know. I don't know. Roy was furious, more furious than I've ever seen him. I- I managed to get away from him…. I'm not sure he would have… stopped if I hadn't." she said, her breath hitching. Jim's stomach clenched at the meaning in her words. He felt such a burning hatred for Roy, realizing that Pam had escaped with nothing but literally her life. Rubbing her back gently, unsure of what to say, he again began whispering apologies to her, and reassuring her she would be okay.

"Are you sure you won't go to the hospital? Or...police?" he asked her. She sniffed and close her eyes wearily.

"I can't." her voice broke. "I can't take any more tonight. Please, Jim."

She fell against him, letting her tears fall. Jim held her against his chest a long time, her small, wrecked body racked with heart wrenching sobs. Jim comforted her, as best as he could, wrapping the blanket around her, rubbing her back. She was clinging to him so desperately, he hated seeing her so vulnerable. He would have to get her to the hospital tomorrow. She was exhausted, shaking with emotion and fear. He repeated reassuringly that she was safe, and she wouldn't be hurt any more. Mostly, he let her cry it out, extremely grateful to have her safe in front of him.

After a while her sobbing tapered off and she lay quietly with her head on his chest, neither of them speaking.

He was deciding to offer her something to eat, and as he moved to nudge her slightly he noticed she had closed her eyes. Her breathing was steady and regular. Jim smiled a little with relief at seeing her peaceful after all that she had gone through that night.

He stayed there with her, his arm wrapped around her shoulders as the woman he loved- more than a friend should- slept on, her head nuzzled into his chest, just over his heartbeat. He would willingly stay there all night if he had to. She was there, and safe. She had come to him for help, she trusted him, she was safe and that was all that mattered.

Chapter 16 by OfficeWriter

Pam woke to a freshness in the air that she was not familiar with. Blinking back sleep, she lifted her head, slightly disoriented. A dull ache throbbed across her shoulder as her surroundings began to come into focus. Soft silvery light hung over the room, a room that she had not woken up in before. She squinted, a throbbing pain settling behind her temple and attempted to recall the events of the day before. Letting her head fall back again, she burrowed herself into the warm blanket, her cheek resting softly on the snug pillow.

Sleep began to leave her as fragments of the night before came floating back. Her bones ached, her neck muscles stiff and sore. Unyielding images swarmed her mind; rough, callused hands clutching at her neck, glass scattered on the bedroom carpet, drops of blood in the sink, cold, hard, mad eyesShe squeezed her own eyes tightly shut, trying to force the visions away. Already the pangs of fear were growling at her stomach, sending neurons around her body, warning, danger, danger. Yet her head was gently rising up and down of its own volition, a rhythmic movement she was finding strangely comforting. A calm pulse was beneath her; she heard it not through her ears, but through the rising and falling of the heartbeat inside the chest she had been asleep on.

The heartbeat.

A warmth crept through her she hadn't felt in a long time. Jim, she was in Jim's home. There was something sweetly primitive, nostalgic in the rhythm of his chest movements, harking her back to the safety of her parents arms as a child. His heart was strong, vibrant. A long forgotten feeling swelled up through her, she was there, she was real. It was an intimate sensation she had thought she would never feel again. She was alone with Jim's heartbeat.

She was glad she had woken up.

-TO-

She was a mess. The mirror reflected a myriad of bruises, telling fingermarks and swellings. A rather nasty amethyst colored swelling covered the most of her left cheek, she had an open cut on her lower lip and scrape marks mottling around her neck. She looked down at her blood spattered shirt; she didn't want to take her clothes off and see what damages were lurking hidden under them. Not to mention that she had no clothes there to change into. She glared blankly back at the mirror.

She'd left the couch about an hour back. She wanted to do something, anything to keep her mind from stumbling over everything – she wasn't ready to face it - so she busied herself fixing breakfast for Jim. Then, she'd come up to the bathroom and vomited, causing a sharp slash of pain to spread across her side and through her tender shoulder. Jim was still asleep on the couch. She had got up quietly, careful to not wake him – she knew from experience men did not like being woken – before she gently adjusted a seat cushion under his head and pulled the blue blanket over him.

She supposed she could have been embarrassed, having slept on his chest all night – and that he had given her one hundred per cent of the blanket and didn't try to move her for his own comfort – but then she supposed it was just one of a lot of things she should feel embarrassed about in the last twenty four hours.

She shuffled downstairs to the kitchen and busied her shaking hands in making coffee and flipping pancakes. It was as she was setting a plate on the table that Jim strolled into the kitchen, tousle haired and bleary eyed.

"Hey, Beesly." he grinned, rubbing his hands through his hair.

She turned to him sheepishly, and returned a small smile. "Morning."

He studied her a moment, then excused himself. Some minutes later he was back, looking more awake. He had changed his clothes. He quietly looked over the table and at Pam, pouring coffee.

"You didn't have to make breakfast," he gestured to the table.

"I wanted to." she wasn't looking at him. After a moments hesitation, he sat down at the small table. Pam put down a small stack of pancakes in front of him and his coffee, and leaned against the counter, sipping at her own coffee.

"You're not eating?" Jim looked up at her.

She shook her head. "I don't… not hungry." she shrugged. He watched her, hovering over the counter, a heavy awkwardness between them.

"At least come and sit with me," he tried. She hesitated. Jim had the distinct impression she was trying not to get too physically close to him. He suspected her new timidness was just another trait to thank Roy for.

Once she was seated beside him, he asked her how she was doing.

Pam lowered her eyes. "I'm okay. A bit… sore." she confessed.

"I'm not surprised." he said kindly. "So, Beesly. What are we going to do today?"

Pam coughed loudly, turning to the side, wincing. "Well, you have to go get dressed for work." she said in a hoarse voice.

Jim shook his head, fixing a solemn gaze towards her. "I'm not leaving you here alone."

"Jim…."

He waved her off. "Forget it. We'll both call in." Jim leaned back. "Do you think Roy will be in today?"

She hung her head and shrugged again.

"You need to call the police." Jim watched as she stiffened at the suggestion. Feeling lost over his head, he wasn't sure what to do. "Will you at least let me take you to the hospital?"

No answer, except a deepening frown. Jim reached forward towards her.

"You know you can't go back to him, right?"

Pam finally raised her head. She nodded. "I know." she agreed, her voice small and sad.

This was progress, as far as Jim was concerned, at least. At least she wasn't attempting to defend Roy's actions. Truthfully he was very worried over the extremely real likelihood that Roy would show up here, and the last thing Jim wanted to was see her assaulted by him again.

"What do you think you should do?" he asked.

She felt foolish now, it seemed so easy, in a way, because she had already done it, taken the first step, the biggest step. She had walked. Roy must be furious, and probably hurt as well. She thought about him finding her engagement ring that she so harshly left on the pillow for him. He would be mad about that.

"I… still care about him." she admitted, blinking hard.

Jim stared at her with disbelief playing over his features. She bit her cheek, and then winced.

"I was with him for 5 years, Jim." she offered as a way of explanation. Still, even to her it sounded weak, under the circumstances. "But….now I'm here.. something has changed." she fidgeted. "I can't go back anymore."

They both fell quiet for a moment, before Pam stood up stiffly, shaking her head. "I don't want to talk about Roy right now." Tears stung her eyes.

Jim was overwhelmed with pity for her, what her life must have been like the last few years with Roy. He couldn't bear to think about it himself. "I know it's really, really difficult for you," he began.

"Do you? Do you really?" she snapped at him. A look of remorse fell over her face and she apologized quickly. Jim waved it off, knowing it wasn't him she was angry with.

"Do you want to see Roy again?"

She looked pensive. "No." she replied after a pause. "No, I don't."

"Are you worried about him coming here?" he persisted. She was pacing anxiously behind the chair she had just vacated.

She held her breath. "I…" exhaling she said, "I think he'll find me here, yes."

Jim stood up carefully at his side of the table. "Then let's go to the police. Get a restraining order. We'll call Toby. He can get protections in place for you at the office."

"I don't want Roy to lose his job." she protested weakly.

"Stuff his job!" Jim said with no small degree of outrage coating his words. Pam went rigid, shocked at his outburst. Jim mentally flayed himself; Pam was quivering – of course she would be jumpy and on edge. He felt like an ass. "Hey," he spoke with a much softer tone of voice, wandering over to her. "I'm sorry."

Pam looked away from him, the familiar tears building up again.

"It's gonna take some time, huh?"

She wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand and sniffed, giving him a quick nod. Jim rubbed her shoulder kindly and stepped away. "I'll go call Toby." he said. He started his way into the living room.

"Jim?"

He turned back, looking at the black and blue woman. Somehow from afar the damage to her face, skin, body looked even worse.

She looked directly at him. "I want to go to the police."

He nodded, not wanting to do anything to change her mind. "Okay, Pam."

"Jim?" Pam moved forward a few steps. "Thanks… for everything. I mean it… you're the best friend I could ever ask for."

With that, her tears were falling again and before she knew it Jim was hugging her, holding her up in the middle of the kitchen, as she buried her face into his shoulder. He rubbed her back as she sobbed into him, and uttered kind words to soothe her. He felt Pam lean into the hug, her arms gripping tightly around his back. They stood there, entwined together for a long time, until Pam's breathing slowed down and her crying had tapered off.

Friend, it was a double edged word, he thought. Best friend. He mulled over her characterisation of their friendship as he comforted her. Maybe later… he felt guilty for having the thought. But there was always a later.

Right now, she was right. He understood. Right now she needed a friend.

Chapter 17 by OfficeWriter

Sharp pains lanced across her chest as she struggled to push herself up into a sitting position. Caught in the fog of a heavy sleep she closed her eyes, leaning back on the pillow, a half sitting, half slumped figure in the dim room. Pam took a deep breath which turned into a cough, then morphed into searing pains which had her clutching at her side. It was definitely time for another painkiller.

Lethargically Pam lifted herself out of the small bed and made her way to the staircase. In the cramped hallway she looked over at Jim's door, hanging slightly open. Walking over, she slowly opened the door and took a quick glance around the room. Jim's room was fascinating to her, it was like a peek into his brain waiting to be unwrapped. He surprisingly had some funky artwork on the walls, a wallboard pinned with cards and pictures and he actually had some books. Taking it all in, for the second time on seeing his room, Pam remarked to herself that there was a lot more to learn about Jim Halpert than he typically showed people. She wanted to look at the cards on the wallboard but the growing screams of pain in her side and chest made her turn around and slowly descend downstairs.

Jim was sitting on the couch – the same couch they had fallen asleep on last night – with a comic book in his hand. Pam smirked at the sight. It struck her as amusing that Jim would be into something so boyish and more so, something so Dwighin nature. He looked really into it, too. His eyes held that far away look of one who has drifted out of their own surroundings. She smiled at what seemed to her to be an intimate moment, Jim relaxed and lost in a world of superheroes. Altogether, it was rather cute to watch.

"Beesly!" he called good naturedly as she walked in. She nodded at him, feeling badly about disturbing him. Retrieving her painkillers from the side-table, she moved to the kitchen behind them and got some water.

She sat down beside him. "Batman, eh?" she pointed at the comic. Jim grinned at her sheepishly, closing the book and putting it on the table. He coughed.

"My nephews birthday." he grinned a little awkwardly.

Pam chuckled, then winced. "And you just had to read it first, right?" she joked, rubbing her side.

"Hey, I had to screen it, to check for decapitations or graphic nudity etc etc. So it doesn't warp his little mind, you know and he grows up mean."

"Decapitations?" she laughed. Jim observed her for a moment, then raised an eyebrow appreciatively.

"It's good to see you smiling, Beesly." He snickered. "I hope the stink in Mark's room didn't keep you from sleeping."

"The stink?" She said. She hadn't noticed any real odor, other than that intangible musky smell boys seemed to exude. Nothing unpleasant.

Jim looked mischievous. "Believe me, he could clear a room in seconds. When he really got going, he'd leave a stench so powerful that even his shadow went out for air."

Pam laughed again, then groaned as another coughing fit took her over. Jim got up and handed her the glass of water.

The couch dipped as he sat back down next to her. He turned to her with a less humorous expression.

"You doing okay?"

Pam smiled awkwardly back at him, idly fiddling with the hem of Jim's old Eagles shirt. She wasn't sure how to meet the elephant in the room head on. Jim had been so kind to her, but she wasn't sure she was doing the right thing imposing on him the way she was. He had done so much for her already.

Pam shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Thanks for coming with me today." she said, looking downcast.

Jim rubbed his palms against his thighs and smiled warmly. "No need, Beesly. Although I really, really feel terrible about missing the safety training with Dwight today. I might have to hate you a little for that." he teased.

"End of the world, huh?" she mused.

"Suicidal. I feel I can't fully appreciate the value of my life without a near death experience every six months." he rolled his eyes in jest, remembering the chaos of the last safety demonstration Dwight had arranged.

"We've only just finished untangling the file cabinets from the last one." Pam reminisced.

"Yes." Jim chuckled. "Are you okay about tomorrow?" he asked, leaning over to lift a piece of paper from the table. Passing it to Pam, he sat back and surveyed her. "The domestic violence advocate called as well."

Pam took the paper with shaking fingers, briefly glancing at the details written on it and put it down beside her on the couch.

Jim watched her curiously. She was looking down at the back of her hands which were nervously resting on her stomach, her mouth pursed and eyes distant. The pallid, unhealthy complexion of her skin only served to make the spreading purple bruises and discoloration much more vivid. She hadn't said much to him about Roy's treatment of her since she had arrived the night before, but it was obvious he only knew a small fraction of what she'd been through. He hadn't been allowed in the room with her when she made her statement to the police, but what she had told them had clearly been enough to put out an arrest warrant.

"Once we get word that they've got him, I'll drive you to your place to get whatever you need." Jim said, mulling over their visit to the police station that morning. He had bristled regarding the protective order, it was his point of view Pam needed something in place legally right away, something he had argued with the officer profusely over, but process being followed correctly was higher on the list of priorities. She needed some ID to file the order, but, as Jim maintained vigorously, it was too dangerous for Pam to go back to her house if there was a chance Roy might be there. He found it frustrating – the officer appeared to have two working eyes and a sympathetic smile, in his mind all he had to do was look at Pam's tormented face for all the proof they needed.

"About tomorrow-"

She cut him off briskly. "Jim, you need to go back to work tomorrow." she said. Jim frowned.

"No way, Beesly." he said fiercely. "Not until he's been picked up, I don't want you here alone."

"He knows I'm here." She said bluntly. Jim looked over at the quizzically. "I mean, you're not at work, he's not stupid, Jim. He'll know where I am."

"And hopefully by tomorrow, Roy will have been picked up, you'll have your things from home, the protective order will be filed and you'll have spoken to Toby about the office situation. Then I'll go back to work." he determined.

"It's just that," she practically whispered, still staring at the back of her hands. "I'm messing up your life. I hate that. I'm not your responsibility.

Jim balked. "Don't give me that, Beesly. We've been friends a long time."

She nodded. "You've been amazing, letting me stay here and going to the police and hospital with me this morning. That's above and beyond."

Eyebrows raised, Jim threw a look of somewhat mock indignation toward her. "Above and beyond? What would you have had me do instead? Say hey and walk you home?" Instantly he regretted his words as hurt tore through her face. He lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said, ashamed. "That didn't come out the way I meant it."

"It's okay." She exhaled, wincing once more.

"How bad is it?" Jim asked kindly. Pam chewed her lip a moment, taking slow breaths inward.

"Like a tiger is eating away at my left side." She was looking very pale. Jim stood up and stretched upwards.

"I'll get you some ice." he said as he retreated into the kitchen area.

Pam picked up the piece of paper he had given her. Geraldine Howell was the name scrawled across the note in Jim's neat handwriting. She blinked. The name sounded kind of daunting to her, the kind of name you'd find on the door of any strict prinicipals' office. She hoped the woman wouldn't be dour in person when they met.

"You know, Beesly, just in case you were thinking of taking off 'cause you think you've inconvenienced me enough, you should know you're actually doing me a favor."

Pam took the ice pack from him and rolled her eyes. "Oh, really? She drawled in amusement.

"Yeah. My maid quit last week."

Pam stared at him in amazement. Jim burst out laughing at her expression before she softened and pushed him playfully in the arm.

"You're an idiot." she said affectionately.

"Seriously, though," he sobered up. "I don't expect you to leave because you think you're a problem. You're not and I'm really happy you are here and that you trusted me enough to come to me. You stay here as long as you need, please don't think otherwise. I'm not gonna kick you out."

Pam was quiet, he could see she was mulling things over. He wished she wasn't so insecure about accepting help, not thinking she was worth a dime. If he could just make things easier for her somehow.

"Of course, if it helps, there are rules here. No Dwight."

Pam gave a small snort and signed a cross over her chest. "Dwight free zone."

They fell into in a fairly comfortable silence, each mired in their own thoughts. Pam was nervous. Roy would be absolutely enraged when the police approached him. Then the protective order. Two strikes. Roy liked baseball metaphors. He'd deny it of course. Not because he didn't want to be caught, but because Roy truly believed he hadn't done anything wrong. She knew that. Did she think he would come after her? The thought terrified her beyond words. His voice echoed back to her on the couch. I don't really want to be here without you, Pam. You're a dumb bitch. It didn't hurt that much. I'll kill myself if you leave.

You made me do it.

That was the mother voice. She shook her head, trying to shove the voices out.

"Shall we get a pizza, Beesly?" Jim put a hand on her arm, bringing her back to the present.

Without warning Pam bolted up from the couch, cowering away across the room, looking around wildly. Tears welled up in her eyes. Jim was stunned by her reaction. She breathed hard, groaning at the icicles of pain in her side and chest.

She had panicked, stuck in the memories of Roy. For a moment she thought…. It wasn't even that he had touched her. It was his shadow she had noticed first, creeping up on her threateningly. Roy was right, she was a dumb bitch. Was she going to be jumping at Roy-shaped shadows every where she went?

Roy wasn't here, no one was going to hurt her here. She knew that. Getting herself under control she spoke with as much calm as she could muster and looked apologetically at Jim, who was looking at her intensely with concern all over his face.

"I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I just… wasn't expecting you to – no that's not what I mean, I mean -"

"Forget it Beesly," he dismissed her antics with a cavalier wave. He didn't want her to see this kind of thing as a big deal or problem, hoping she would understand this was most likely a natural reaction of the abuse she had suffered. Still, his heart was breaking with pity for her, and burning with anger at Roy. "It's really okay. You're bound to be a bit jumpy. Don't worry about it."

"Jim?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm scared." She said hesitantly. Jim crossed the room to her, carefully as not to startle her again. Very gently he laid a hand on her upper arm comfortingly.

"That's okay." he said. "I'm sure anyone who's been through what you have would be scared."

Pam nodded gratefully, wiping the stray tears from her eyes. They both turned at the sound of Jim's cell phone.

Jim listened quietly, speaking little and thanked the caller. He turned back to Pam with no small amount of triumph on his face.

"They've got him."

Pam didn't know whether to laugh or cry. In the end what came out was a mix of both.

Chapter 18 by OfficeWriter

Pam awoke to find herself face down in the bed, practically lying on her cheek. An unpleasantly heavy sensation was pressing down urgently on her back. She panicked, flailed, unable to move out from under the weight on top of her.

It felt like a man on top of her, a large man, a full grown man, laying on top of her crushing her against the mattress and sheets. She was trapped, worse than trapped – she couldn't breathe. He was trying to smother her, he was so heavy and her mouth was full of pillow when she attempted to scream. Terror overwhelmed her, her body set as stiff as rigor mortis. Icy lips kissed the back of her neck. Pam opened her mouth again to scream yet frantically her lips wouldn't move, her lungs were shrinking, filling up with panic leaving no room for oxygen. She was as good as gone, dead, all she could do was wait to be destroyed, wait to become just another mass of splintered bones and soulless, stale eyes.

Soon, though, without warning or reason, the weight lifted. There was no gradual parting – it was just gone. Pam reclaimed the use of her limbs and flipped over in the bed, breathing hard and shakily. She sat up and looked around, only partially able to see the bedroom. Her heart pounded dangerously, feeling like a timer on an armed bomb.

Shadows made sinister shapes on the walls in the dim room. The little bedroom had only one resident; her but she knew, without a doubt that she was not alone. With all her strength she blindly fought against the horrendous panic falling over her like an ice cold blanket. A shuffling sound drifted out into the blackness from somewhere opposite. Trying to adjust her eyes, Pam blinked away the darkness. And then she saw.

A shadowy looking figure was standing ominously still in the corner of the room, adjacent to the closed door.

Dread flew into her like an invisible gust of wind. The figure was abstract, undefined in the nights darkness; a menacing shape that terrified her down into her bones. Then she heard a voice, distorted, whispering from the corner simultaneously sounding like it was speaking into her ear from beside her but also through the walls from another room.

Pam flipped the switch on the lamp next to her. Like a magician, the figure was gone, no trace of ever having been there. She closed her eyes, breathing deep and hard, trying hard to fight the wave of hysteria overtaking her. She had a wild urge to run out of the room, wake Jim, wake her mother – wake someone – so she wasn't alone with this thing that had been in the room with her.

Instead she settled back uneasily, trying to stave off the aftermath of the nightmare and visualizing her mothers arms wrapped comfortingly around her, rocking her back to sleep as she had done when she was a child. She lay in the darkness, eyes squeezed shut. However, the minute semblance of peace she had managed to foster was immediately shattered when an icy finger ran up and down her neck.

Pam violently flung herself out of the bed, falling to the floor. The light went out, plunging her back into the night. She crawled towards the center of the room, fully intending to leave, but without warning she fell onto her side. A faint, ghostly aroma misted around her, a musky scent very familiar to her from her years of sharing a bed with Roy. She screamed frantically, but her voice was powerless. Pam curled up fetally as she saw the arms, thick black dead arms snaking out of the walls all around her, coming at her from all directions. She wound into herself, waiting fearfully.

Something rough and scratchy brushed her cheek. Pam's eyes slowly opened and she looked out warily. She was alone in the room. She was awake. Her face was wet, tears had streaked her skin, wetting her t-shirt and even the carpet under her cheek. She lay, confused and shaking until the world began to come back to her in full. It was some time before she moved from the floor in the center of the room, but when she did – she anxiously tip toed down the stairs and checked the locks on the two entrances to the house. Then she checked the windows. Shivering, she took herself back upstairs and huddled under the covers, lying awake until morning.

-TO -

Jim noticed the pale, waxy skin tight around her face when he came downstairs hours later. Pam was sitting on the couch, her feet curled up underneath her. The room was intensely quiet as he walked in.

He bid her a cautious good morning and moved to the kitchen area. Within five minutes he was back and handing her a steaming hot cup of coffee.

"You look like you could use that." he said, half teasing. She didn't look well, but it was her eyes that were bothering him, they didn't look right somehow. Nor was the way she was just sitting, vacantly, as though she were only in the room in physical body, her mind far far away.

He flopped down next to her. "You don't look so well this morning." he said.

She shrugged. "Couldn't sleep much."

Truthfully she did feel grateful he hadn't heard her theatrics overnight, she didn't want to give him any more cause to think she was neurotic or something, after the last few days she supposed he must be getting a little fed up with her. She was fed up with herself. Mixed up.

"I'll take you over to the courthouse this morning before you see Toby, alright?" he said. Pam thought for a moment, and then nodded her agreement. She couldn't argue any further, if last night was any kind of tangible sign she probably would feel better with an order of protection in place.

"Do you – do you think he'll get bail?" she said hesitantly.

Jim pulled a face at that, and shook his head. "I don't know. We'll know more today. But with the two charges-"

"He hasn't been charged with anything yet." she interjected.

Jim had angered internally the previous night after the phone call that explained Roy had been arrested. Jim's relief at the arrest was short lived when he was informed that Roy initially had not been arrested for what he had done to Pam. He had been picked up while driving, speeding carelessly through a semi-busy residential area, the arresting officer unaware of the outstanding warrant taking him in after a breath test confirmed Roy was at least twice over the limit. The warrant hadn't come into question until later.

However, Jim had little doubt of Roy's intended destination that evening, drunk or not, and he knew that Pam understood this too.

"They have to charge him, look at what he did to you!" Jim started, looking at the still vivid purple-yellow bruising and swelling of her face.

"Yeah." She said absently, her mind elsewhere. Remembering something she spoke again. "Kenny will fix it for him if he does get bail. He always does."

"Kenny?"

"His brother. Sometimes the third person in our relationship. Kenny will get him out of this if he can." she said morosely. "They are a bad influence on each other a lot of the time, honestly." Something else was bothering her.

"Do you think Roy will be at the courthouse?"

Jim shook his head. "The officer said he doesn't have to be for a temporary order, remember?"

"Oh."

"But, speaking of…" Jim started, hoping not to upset her but since she had brought up the possibility of seeing Roy, it would be a good time to bring up a concern of his own. "You understand the protection order works both ways, right? He won't be allowed to contact you, or come near you – and – you also won't be allowed to contact him either." he said, bracing himself for her reaction.

She was surprisingly calm. "Yeah, I know."

Jim smiled at her acceptance of the fact. He had harbored some concerns over the possibility that she might actually try to contact Roy herself. He didn't think it was totally out of the question, she clearly felt some loyalty, very much misplaced in his opinion, and some sort of obligation, maybe even ownership towards Roy. God knew Jim himself couldn't hold her down and stop her going back if she made up her mind to. Fortunately it seemed his fear was more likely baseless, but he would keep it in his mind.

"Also, Pam, I really think it would be a good idea to get a safety plan together."

She turned to him with a frown. "What?"

"I know it's horrible to think about, but a plan in case Roy does show up somewhere with the intention of harming you." Jim watched feeling slightly guilty as she flinched at the thought. "For a start, you need to get a new cell phone. Emergency contacts. Select people only who know where you are, whether you are at work or here or anywhere – in case Roy approaches someone else about you. A safe place to go if you have to; like even my parents house - somewhere Roy wouldn't find you." Seeing her face tighten with tension, he hurriedly tried to reassure her. "It's all precautionary of course, Pam. Better safe, right? Just for now, at least."

She shrugged again, not giving anything away. "I guess."

He sighed. "Well, talk it over with the advocate, Geraldine or whatever her name is. But it is important."

"Jim?" Pam straightened her legs, rubbing at her jeans with her palms. Jim thought it was nice to see her in her own clothes again – not that he didn't mind her in his old t-shirts – but she always looked good in her own clothes. He'd been silently worrying over the possibility Roy might have trashed her things since she'd left, but fortunately everything had been pretty much untouched and they had been able to pick up some of her clothes and other items last night after Roy was safely at the police station.

"Yeah?"

"If Roy wants to find me, he will find me." She said matter of factly.

"No need to make it easy for him though." he replied. She didn't reply.

Jim stood up.

"Thank you." She said suddenly from behind him. "For caring." her tone was gentler now.

His heart froze. Oh, if only she knew. He turned and smiled at her, unable to hide the sadness he felt in that moment.

Then, the boyish, upbeat Jim was back and he rubbed his hands together.

"So, Beesly, pancakes, then we'll go?" Not giving her a chance to change her mind, he quickly went into the kitchen area. Silently he cursed Roy with everything he had. This was going to be a long, long road, he thought.

Chapter 19 by OfficeWriter

Pam and Jim had only been back indoors around ten minutes when the doorbell rang, heralding Toby's prompt arrival. Jim opened the door, bemused on seeing at the man's appearance. Toby was carrying a thick folder and a somewhat dismayed expression, clearly having not expected Jim to be there.

Pam stood up when Toby came into the lounge, smiling nervously at him. Her hair was loose and curls framed her face, hiding some of the damage imparted by Roy. However in spite of her effort to conceal the tell tale signs that were now turning a distinct bluish-purple shade, Toby stopped sharply, obviously startled by her appearance. Pam flushed a deep red and sat down on the couch.

"Oh, wow." Toby muttered with alarm, openly staring at her. "Uh…" The sight of Pam's bruised and mottled skin had thrown him off balance. He rubbed his neck, sitting down on the adjacent chair and putting his folder on his lap.

"You can see why Pam wanted you to come here," Jim started quickly, wanting to turn Toby's attention away and stop him gawking at her like she had grown an extra head. "Rather than her go to the office."

"Oh, yeah.. I see." Toby looked back at Jim expectantly. "Uh, I, I think it might be better if," he drawled in a low voice, lowering his gaze to the floor. "Pam and I did this alone."

Pam spoke up with surprise. "Oh, no, it's okay. I want him to stay." she nodded, her expression serious. Jim only stared back at Toby, perplexed by the mans nervousness.

"I just thought," Toby mumbled, looking down sheepishly, "It might be better if…" he trailed off. "That's a great view." he said, tilting his head towards the garden quickly before lowering it again.

Jim raised an eyebrow, moving to sit on the couch beside Pam. Toby regarded them quizzically, glancing back and forth between the two.

"So you're living here?" he asked, looking at the folder on his lap. Both Pam and Jim shook their heads.

"It's just temporary." Pam said. Toby's face broke into his first smile since he'd arrived, causing another look of confusion from Jim.

"Oh. It's just these… forms. Lotta forms to fill out." Toby mumbled, catching Jim's eye. "Change of address….."

All in all under the circumstances, it was an uncomfortable meeting. Toby knew the basic details – he was already aware that Roy had been arrested, but for drink driving. Assuring Pam that Roy was suspended already, he practically tripped over himself trying to guarantee that the security team would put extra measures in place to prevent any 'unauthorised' access, including Pam notifying them if Roy tried to contact her in the office. He assured her she would be agreed any time off she needed for court or medical appointments and gave her a copy of office policy. Toby asked her what she was doing to keep herself safe.

"Oh...uh…well I have a temporary order now. He isn't allowed to try to contact me, and he's not allowed to go back to our house while the order is in place." She said, caught off guard by the question.

Toby eyes drooped a little. "So… you can go home?" he said hesitantly. "I mean…. you staying with Jim… one might think…" he added, sensing Jim's impatience with his questioning. Pam frowned and dropped her head low.

"I don't really want to go back there, um, right now." She stumbled, thrown by the insinuation. Jim shook his head.

"We're talking about what Roy did to her. " Jim reminded him gruffly. Toby looked ruffled, quickly skimming through his paperwork. A moment later he was standing, saying he had everything he needed and would be in touch. Pam reminded him he could reach her on Jim's cell.

"Jim's cell." Toby said, more to himself than the two of them. "I can see myself out." he said. Turning back at the doorway, he looked at Pam longingly.

She was uncomfortable. "Um, thank you, Toby." Unexpected tears sprang into her eyes. For the second time that day she had had to rehash the details – intimate details – of the relationship between her and Roy, and having the same looks of pity and worry cast at her. Talking about it was reliving it. She had already lived it once. She knew it would not be the last time either.

"You know, there's no shame in getting beaten up. My ex wife used to demolish me." he said glibly. Jim threw him a look of pure contempt, seeing Pam's weary expression and tell tale watery eyes. "Not that it's the same.. she was very good verbally… " Toby flinched and bid an hurried goodbye.

Both of them stared after him, wearing identical expressions of astonishment.

-TO-

Later that afternoon, Jim and Pam were having a different kind of discussion.

"You'll be okay? You're sure?" Jim said, pacing around the room. Pam hurried to assure him, feeling guilty for being the cause of his indecision.

She nodded confidently. "This is your biggest sale of the year. Don't mess it up because of me."

It was his biggest sale this year. She encouraged him towards the door guiltily, knowing she was the reason he had almost forgotten the meeting. He'd given up his time, his space, his home to her and she was damned if she was going to watch him lose a sale that would add up to twenty five percent of his commission for the whole year.

"I need to call my mom and then I want to take a nap. Don't disturb me when you get back." She joked half heartedly.

Jim lifted his jacket off the hook by the door. "I just don't like to leave you alone, Beesly."

"I'm okay, really." she was persistent. Jim frowned, but didn't say anything further. He smiled at her.

Pam felt the silence thicken around her once he had left. Still standing by the door, she looked longingly after him with all the vulnerability of a woman who is really alone for the first time in her life. She hadn't really wanted him to go, even though he was only going to be an hour or two; just the thought of being alone had touched her with an exposed feeling that was alien to her. There was a certain kind of comfort about Jim's unmistakeable presence, a rare quality that made her feel secure around him. People noticed him when he walked into a room. She found herself struck with a desperate aloneness, the silence around her filled with the noise of her screaming thoughts eating her up from the inside.

Pam abruptly turned and near ran into the living room. Without hesitation she seized Jim's cell phone and called her mom.

-TO-

Hearing her mom's kind voice in her ear, sounding so close, filled her with a great relief. She hadn't registered how much she had missed her. She almost felt normal again. They had made usual mother daughter jokes and stories for the first few minutes, Pam enjoying the comfort of talking about something other than Roy, talking to her Mom who didn't know about everything that had happened and wasn't treating Pam like she felt, broken. She was a little sad her father was not home. Then, of course, Helene Beesly brought up the inevitable.

"How's that handsome man of yours?" She trilled casually into Pam's ear. Pam shuddered a moment.

"Oh er… he's.. not… I'm actually not at home right now, Mom." she said, losing her nerve.

Helene laughed. "Don't tell me he's got a hot date, now!"

"What! No!" Pam was vehement.

Silence on the line. "Okay, okay." Helene replied. "Are you okay? You sound a little funny."

Pam paused, her breath hitching. "I was just thinking, Mom. Maybe I would come out and visit you and Dad for a week."

More silence followed before Helene spoke again. "Pam? Are you okay?"

The kindness radiating from her Mom's far away voice touched Pam in a way she didn't expect. Emotion welled up through her.

"I just haven't seen you in a while." Pam said with a voice that wasn't quite steady.

"Is Roy there?"

Hesitating, Pam took several quiet breaths, attempting to keep herself calm.

"Pam?"

Pam started. "I'm here, Mom." Her voice cracked. "Roy and I are over."

Helene let out a surprised gasp. "Oh, honey, no? I'm so sorry."

"It's for the best." Pam said briefly, a rebellious tear slipping down her face. She hated disappointing her Mom, she hated the whole situation.

"Roy's such a great guy. What happened?" Helene was genuinely confused. Pam flinched.

She rubbed at her eyes wearily, exhausted. "Oh you know… things… I was thinking I could come visit you in a couple of weeks? I just figured...I'm kinda tired right now."

"Say the word and your Dad will meet you." Helene said. "Or… would you like me to come stay with you there first and come back with you?"

Pam shook her head to herself. "Oh, um… no.. it's kinda awkward. I'll let you know when I'm coming."

Helene sighed. "What aren't you telling me?"

Sniffing back tears, she closed her eyes. "Everything's okay, Mom." she said with a fair degree of guilt. She almost never lied to her Mom. But if she was seeing her soon she wasn't really lying, she thought. She wasn't going to have this conversation on the phone, where she knew her Mom would be frantic and feeling utterly helpless and she didn't want to leave things that that way, before she drove up there to visit.

"You said you and Roy-"

"It's over. I'll talk to you when I see you." She hoped her Mom would take her not so subtle hint.

Helene wasn't convinced, but reluctantly accepted her daughters refusal to talk. "Okay. As long as you're alright."

Pam felt warm tears running down her face, she couldn't hold back any longer.

"I gotta go, Mom." She said softly.

Helene's voice was kind and warm. "I'll call you tomorrow."

"Thanks. I love you."

"Love you too, Pammy. So much."

The heartfelt words wrapped around Pam like a comfort blanket. One thing in her life she'd always been able to count on was her Mom and her unwavering love for her.

"See you soon, Mom."

"Sooner, please." Helene responded, then added. "It's a shame, really."

"What is?"

"Roy. He's such a great guy."

Pam squeezed her eyes shut, feeling a sharp pain stab her forehead.

"Yeah, Mom. Roy's a great guy." She said disingenuously.

-TO-

The phone call with her Mom had left her drained. As the call ended, she let the tears she had been holding back free. She was miserable. She was alone. She actually missed Jim and he'd only been gone a short while. She didn't want to go back to her own house. She'd never feel safe there. She'd knew she'd flinch at every corner, memories, terrible emotions would haunt her every breath. She was very grateful to Jim for letting her stay. He had truly been a harbor in her storm. She felt an incredible neediness inside of her, she didn't want to be alone, couldn't be alone. Suffice it to say, Jim's friendship meant a great deal to her, at that moment he was feeling like the most important person in her life, simply due to his being the one person who had given her some hope and had truly been there with wide open arms. Thoughts pummelled her as she climbed up the stairs and into the little bedroom. Dejectedly she eased down on to the bed and curled up in a ball, feeling heavy with exhaustion. She drifted off.

A short while later, she was lifted unwillingly out of her slumber to the harsh tones of the doorbell. Pam hesitated, unsure, then forcing herself up, she wandered downstairs sleepily to the kitchen window, which overlooked the front drive. Leaning forward she couldn't see anyone. She was beginning to think she had dreamed the bell when it rang again. She leaned forward again, trying to see the path to the door.

It didn't take her long to recognize the scratchy beard on the man's face, or the light brown jacket – after all she had bought that jacket herself as a gift. Before she had time to recoil, he was at the kitchen window.

Roy didn't look angry, or upset. He wore a kicked puppy expression, looking like he'd last slept a decade ago.

"Pam," she heard him say calmly through the window. "We need to talk."

Pam stood frozen for several moments, face to face with Roy. Then she abruptly turned her back and fetched Jim's phone from the living room.

Chapter 20 by OfficeWriter

Pam felt panic strike her like a bolt of electricity. She was caught, as trapped as a bird in a cage. Images flashed before her eyes; sensations, her thrown on her back pinned against the rugged carpet, cold crazed eyes flashing dangerously above her; fists recoiling fast hard hard hard blows. Screams rang in her ears. Curling her fingers up, nails prodding into her palm, she trembled in the middle of the living room. In that moment she saw the situation unfolding before her without doubt; she had fled, run for her life and here he was – smashing the restraining order less than 12 hours after it was invoked.

She quickly hit three numbers on Jim's phone.

She was not going to go back into the kitchen. She was not going to see Roy's face, his calm face, the face she had genuinely cared for before but now- she feared if she went out there she'd end up opening the door. She didn't want to hear what he had come to say. It didn't matter.

A harried phone voice spoke in her ear. Pam asked for the police. After what was in reality only a few seconds later but felt like an eternity, another lady spoke. Pam gave her the address and the circumstances. The lady asked if she needed an ambulance and told her not to hang up.

Outside, Roy had begun to shout, loud, garbled words she couldn't separate. Her shoulders sagged. The minutes went by in a rushing blur. Pam choked out breaths that were coming in quick sharp bursts and the operator kindly encouraged her to stay calm.

But, hearing his voice grow in pitch through the window, through the walls, through her – she was swept away in dual panic and anger. Moving fast, she pulled the blinds shut in the living room. She ran upstairs, shutting all the curtains and windows, and fled back down the hall, taking a sharp right into Jim's bedroom. Dropping down onto the floor and falling against the bed, Pam drew her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. Her name called out of the phone anxiously.

All she could hear was his voice, still calling her, louder, louder, fiercer. She'd known he would come to Jim's, she'd known he would have been waiting. She was a damn idiot to think a restraining order would stop him. She wasn't safe anywhere. Roy wasn't calm anymore, as he had been when he appeared at the window. Great bellows of rage penetrated the walls, flew up the stairs and assaulted her. She shuffled backwards, into the right angle of the bed against the wall. Laying her head back down on top of her arms, she left the phone down by her side, the operators worried tone pleading with her to talk to her.

Abruptly, the yells outside ceased. A loud knock on the door startled her, and instinctively she curled herself further against the bed, sinking her face into the deep feathery warmth of the blanket. A strong comforting petrichor filled her senses, vibrant and grounded, evoking a memory of the green piney scent of the fresh cut Christmas tree her dad would bring home each December. It was something in that scent that drew her back to focus, something so essentially human that brought her back to herself, a deep comforting feeling that swelled up and settled in her. She would be okay. The police were coming. She had to hang on, not lose her head.

She squeezed her eyes closed, holding her head against the comforter, waiting, praying she wouldn't hear the tell tale footsteps stamping up to the second floor, praying he wouldn't get up here and hurt her again, praying her heart wouldn't explode out of her chest… praying, inhaling the woodsy, earthy scent of Jim's sheets into her like a calming elixir.

She counted her breaths, deep and soothing, over and over again. There were voices downstairs now, voices overlapping, voices calling her name. Pam kept up her count, breathing steadily. Her mind was being pushed into blackness, she began to fear she would pass out. The voices were coming closer and closer, louder, on the stairs, in the hallway and then finally, in the room with her.

"Oh, thank god!" Jim exhaled in obvious relief at seeing her apparently unharmed. He rushed over to her and gently caught hold of her chin, lifting her head towards him.

"Are you okay, are you hurt?" he questioned frantically, observing her quivering, pale face and deep, raspy breathing.

Opening her eyes, Pam saw Jim's concerned expression leaning over her as the room unblurred. Two policemen were standing behind him.

"Ma'am? Were you hurt?" One of them – a tall lean man demanded abruptly. Jim turned and put up a hand, signalling to the officer to stay back.

"Hey," Jim lightly rubbed her shoulder. "You're okay, Beesly. Deep breaths." Seeing the woman was close to a full on panic attack, Jim picked up her hand from on top of her knee and held it safely in his own warm hand, cajoling her to breathe. After a few moments she raised her head and Jim again asked her if she was okay.

"He didn't come inside." She said, with a quick shake of her head.

"Roy was here?" Jim said dully. Pam gazed at him with a knowing look in her eye. Jim closed his eyes, red hot anger burning up in him. Behind her reception desk, Pam was lively and just a little shy. Jim loved the sweetness that was so natural to her, her kindness towards others, her love of mischief, the way she kept her true passions hidden to herself, yet coming alive with them in small moments when she was encouraged.

The woman cowering in front of him now was drawn, drained. Beautiful, yes – he didn't think he'd ever see her as anything but – but haunted, her eyes faded and dull like dry pools sunk back into her head. Beneath her tired expression hurt and fear flashed; the price for loving Roy Anderson, Jim thought bitterly.

"Ma'am?" the more assertive of the two police officers spoke up again. "It looks like someone hit you; can you tell us what happened?"

Pam only looked at Jim pleadingly, and then began to cry.

-TO-

At six-thirty that evening Jim's phone rang.

Pam, who had been laying on the couch, sat wearily up out of a thick dark sleep. Jim walked out of the kitchen, glancing at her apologetically as he reached for the phone. Pam yawned and rubbed her face.

"Hello?"

Lifting the cushion her head had been on moments ago and positioning it behind her, Pam noticed she was covered under the blue throw blanket again and looked over at Jim, realizing he must have put it there. She had a full view of his back as he stood with the phone to his ear, and as she watched she saw his posture stiffen, little muscles in his torso flexing and turning rigid.

"Hey!" Jim said tightly. "Don't you even-"

He broke off and was silent. Pam watched uncomfortably, a heavy feeling descending in her abdomen.

"That," his voice brooked no room for negotiation. "is not going to happen."

He was angry, about as angry as she had ever witnessed of him – Jim, the most mild tempered person she knew – was even deeper in rage at that point than he was at the moment he had punched Roy. She heard him respond furiously, uttering a colorful exclamation on realizing the caller was gone.

Jim did not turn around right away. Pam wanted to ask what had happened on the call – who was calling, although she was positive she knew, yet she kept quiet choosing to let him cool down a little, if that was indeed what he was doing.

When he did turn back to her, his face was flushed red, his jaw hard and set in restrained ire. Pam sat forward, shocked and unnerved by the change in him.

"Jim?" she asked with a nervous tone. She did not meet his eyes.

Jim seemed to grow angrier on the back of the slight question, his face muscles drawing tight and deepening in shade. Pam froze in place on the couch, anticipating an explosion of fury. Instead she felt herself being wrapped in a strong hug, Jim dipping down beside her on the couch.

Involuntarily she stiffened against him, but if he noticed he didn't let go. Pam inched a little closer, breathing in his scent which was so different from Roys, who always had a slight ripe cheese aroma hanging around him. The woody, natural scent of Jim was comforting, Jim always smelled so fresh- she didn't know why but it almost felt like a drug to her and she once again found herself feeling a calming sensation because of it. She relaxed and leaned into him.

"Was it Roy?" her words came out muffled against his shoulder. Jim drew back, looking anguished.

"Yeah. But don't worry about it." he said quickly, seeing her tense up again. He met her eyes. "I'm sorry Beesly, I think I might have scared you a bit there."

Pam emphatically shook her head. "No, no you didn't. What did he say?" she pleaded.

He bristled, flashing her a sad smile. "He just wanted to talk to you, that's all."

"Is that all he said?"

Jim flinched. "He was mad that I wasn't going to put you on and then he hung up. That's all Pam. It just made me angry."

She was thoughtful. "The other day, at home…. I'd never seen you really angry before. And then you punched Roy. Really punched him.she stopped and pulled back out of his arms, looking down at her knees. "I-I was… a little mad at you for that." she said, her cheeks reddening.

Jim looked at her incredulously, frowning.

"It's not what you think," she quickly added. "I don't remember really what happened. I mean, I was there and then I left. But I was… terrified… and I don't know what happened. I shut down. After I left I felt numb, upset that you of all people were just another violent man, quick to punch and anger."

'Me of all people?' Jim thought, utterly confused and not understanding at all what she was trying to say.

"Let me finish," she said softly, seeing Jim preparing to interrupt her. "This is really… hard. It's….do you know... it's a terrible thing to not feel safe in your own home. Your home is the one place you should always be safe. He took that from me." Pam hunched into herself, leaning forward slightly on the seat.

"I wasn't being fair." sheepishly she met Jim's eye, and just as quickly dropped her gaze to her lap again.

"Fair?" he asked in bewilderment.

"Roy gets mad at little things. A dirty glass, not finding the remote where he expected it, me being a minute late… Sometimes he's just mad and you will never know why. I guess he doesn't always have a reason." she added, a touch of bitterness lacing her words.

Jim studied her thoughtfully, saying nothing.

"When you punched him…. It was like you were just another Roy. That wasn't fair." Pam looked up, expecting to see disgust in his eyes. To her surprise, the same warm, kind and ever familiar friendly light twinkled at her. She drew in a breath.

"That's the reason I left."

Jim's looked so perplexed that she managed a small, sly grin.

"You left because Roy was hurting you-" she waved a hand, shushing him.

"No. Well, yes. That was why I wanted to leave… but not why I did it. Do you understand?"

Jim nodded, still not really understanding though.

"You were angry, not for the sake of being angry, not because of something small that amounts to nothing, not because I'd done anything to make you angry…. But simply… because he was threatening me. Roy has only ever used his anger against me, never for me. He's never stood up for me, or been outraged on my behalf. He says what he does is to protect me.. he says he does it because he loves me and I disappoint him… but," she broke off, choking back emotion. "But that's not protection or love, is it?"

Jim smiled back at her with a sad expression. He really didn't know what he should say, but what he wanted to say was how much he loved her and how he would never hurt her, physically or otherwise. What he wanted more than anything was to plead with her to give him a chance to show her what love really was, and that men weren't all like Roy. He held his tongue, knowing without a doubt that expressing how he felt at that moment would be the worst thing he could possibly do. He would be taking advantage of her, she would undoubtedly leave. She needed a friend, he had to respect that.

"No," he said, a little choked up.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is, that you made me open my eyes."

Jim stared at her, his mouth slightly open, completely taken aback. "Well… that's alright then Beesly… I'm glad to have done my part…" he mumbled, half teasing. He simply did not know how to react. He was touched at the core by her declaration of him being the reason she left that day.

"You know what my Mom would tell me when I was a kid and I woke up from a bad dream?"

Jim shook his head..

"The nightmare stops when you open your eyes. So, I guess I'm saying thank you. For, well…. Everything." she said quietly.

"You're welcome, Beesly." Jim said, meaning it. His expression turned mischievous. "I think I like this new assertive Pam Beesly. I hope she hangs around."

She managed a small laugh, flinching at a stab of pain in her side. She was overdue her painkiller.

"Where did Roy call from?" she was tentative again.

"I don't know… " he pondered. "The police picked him up, he must be in custody. It needs to be reported to them. Phone calls are a breach of the order too, even if it was my number he called." He could see she wasn't convinced. He put a hand on her wrist. "You're safe here, you know that, right?"

Pam thought about it. She did feel okay about being there. In the end, all things considered she supposed that in the big picture, she was actually pretty fortunate after all.

Chapter 21 by OfficeWriter

Pam wasn't sleeping that night.

Forward the hours moved and different shades of darkness came and went. The pain was bad tonight. Every time she began to drift away into the hazy regions of sleep, the throbbing ache in her left side roared to life as though a hot brand was being applied to her ribcage.

Normally she slept curled up on her side, more often than not her right side, with her knees drawn up to her stomach and one hand under the pillow; however tonight when she laid on her right side she was faced with a pressing need to cough. She tried holding one of her pillows against her chest as she coughed, pushing her face into the pillow still under her head to stifle the noise.

She tried to sleep on her injured side which only provoked the stabbing pains into a full on attack, and re-awoke the dull ache from the bruising around the left side of her face. Lying flat on her back caused a similar discomfort, along with the added bonus of slow, shallow breaths pulling waves of pain in and out.

She settled upright, as she also had on the night Roy had expressed his horror at her late return from the visit to her mom and dad. In between harsh coughing fits, now using her blanket to muffle the sounds, reruns of the last few years played through a movie screen in her head. Every bruise, every cut, every time she was dragged across a carpet, every hurtful thing he had ever said to her played out unremorsefully. But the night she escaped, she had left the meek, subservient Pam behind in that house with him, the Pam who was so deluded and dumb that she had no idea of the depths of his darkness until she was on the floor under him, punch after punch coming, with wild, furious eyes boring into her.

She truly believed he might have killed her that night.

She didn't know when she would see him next. The police had him, but what happened when they let him out? Of course they would let him out! He would come for her. Again and again. It didn't matter if she was the feeble, submissive Pam, or the Pam who had actually dared to fight back that night and leave, he would come for them both.

She lay, absorbed in these thoughts and images around her as the dawn drew close. The morning began to open up and the darkness was fading to a shimmery silver shade, and Pam was so far away in her mind and memories that she failed to notice the bedroom door slowly slide open and the heavy thump thump thump of footsteps shuffling across the floor towards her. She did not see the long, dark arms stretching out over her, thick black shadows falling across her face.

The large, callused hands wound around her throat like a hangman's noose, crushing her windpipe with rage, snapping her hyoid bone. Pam struggled against her attacker, letting out a raw, visceral scream that opened up an entire new world of agony in her left side.

She spluttered and choked, stinging tears raining down her cheeks as she tried to push herself back into a sitting position.

Before she knew what was happening, the door to the bedroom flew open, the room burst into light and Jim was running across the floor.

"God!" He exclaimed. "What on… are you alright?"

She was a mess, coughing harshly, shivering violently. Frantically she batted away his hand as he reached out to her.

"Hey," he whispered, not wanting to frighten her further. "Hey, Pam, it's just me." He heard the thin, raspy breathing coming from her, saw the way she was leaned over on her left side, her face a picture of agony.

"It was a dream, Pam, wake up. There's no one here but me." he said, reaching out to her again.

"He was…" she gasped out. "here." Jim frowned, and shook his head emphatically.

"No, no, there's no one here but me. We're safe, I promise." he said, catching hold of her hand. "Let me get you some water." he said, frowning at her coughing and shot off downstairs. Within a minute he was back with a full glass, which he set down on the night table.

Kneeling down beside the bed, Jim reached out and very gently lifted her chin. In his hand was a small towel. "You've got a little…" he said, motioning to her face with the towel. At some point in the night, her split lip had opened up and dripped to her chin. Pam sat shaking, breathing hard but didn't move and allowed him to clean away the blood under her mouth.

Jim worked quietly, wondering at her disorientation. He didn't have much experience with nightmares or night terrors, whatever this was. Job done, he handed her the glass. She swallowed small gulps of the water with another painkiller, nearly choking again in the process. She turned to Jim, face flushed with embarrassment.

"I'm really sorry." she groaned at him, closing her eyes and scrunching her forehead.

Jim sighed. Here we go again, he was thinking. "You're not the one who should be sorry." he spat, a little more forcefully than he intended. He got up off the floor and then sat himself down on the edge of the bed. "You're a mess, Beesly." He said with as much kindness as he could. "You want me to stay?"

Pam looked troubled, fully awake now. "Oh, uh… I'll be okay.." she mumbled, clutching the blanket around her. Jim wasn't convinced.

"You sure?" he frowned, observing her shining eyes and tear stained cheeks. "Maybe I'll just sit here for a bit."

Pam settled back somewhat agreeably. With shaking hands she placed the glass back on the night table.

"Want to talk about it?" Jim said, referring to her nightmare.

Pam thought a moment. "You're a great shoulder to lean on, Jim. You are. But… you can't carry my problems for me."

"I can help you carry them though."

She looked pensive. "Things are kind of dark in my head right now. You're not about that. You're all about fun stuff and jokes and doing nice things for other people. All the times you've bailed Michael out or gone along with his wacky ideas just so his feelings don't get too hurt. You'd even help Dwight out if he needed it, annoying as he is."

Jim laughed. "Yeah, I am pretty great."

"You don't need this drama in your life. I've already overburdened you enough."

"Pam," Jim warned, turning serious again. "We went through this. Why is it so hard for you to believe that I want to help you?"

"It doesn't feel right. I'm taking advantage."

"Cut the crap, Beesly." He said amiably enough. "If it makes you feel better you can do all my copies for the next year. And on that thing Michael calls a copier, it will take you a year to finish."

"I do that anyway!" she exclaimed. Jim blanched, remembering. It was an effective flirting technique, teasing each other over the office facilities.

"Remember when Dwight thought he'd been cloned?" Jim said, smirking.

Pam smiled at the memory. "I still can't believe you pulled that off."

"He ran round the building at least 6 times, looking for himself." He said, relieved to see her much more relaxed."Remind me to ask security if there's a tape of that."

"You're doing a pretty good job of distracting me, Halpert." Pam said with a small smile.

"I told you, I'm pretty great."

Pam was actually enjoying the easy, comfortable banter between them. Just a short while ago she was screaming, believing she was dying and now she wanted to laugh… she knew what Jim was doing, playing the fool, making her giggle and relax. Really, he always seemed to know what best to do to handle her when she was upset. She loved that about their friendship, that they instinctively knew exactly how to help each other when needed. He was right though, even though he'd been joking. He was great. Actually, he was pretty amazing, all things considered.

"I am sorry I woke you up, though." She said.

"Don't be sorry about that, Beesly." he said mischievously. "I was having a bad dream myself. A couple more minutes and I might have screamed too."

Pam raised her eyebrows and drawled in amusement. "Really?"

"Oh yeah." Jim was trying his best to look sincere. "Michael was trying to recreate the end of dirty dancing in the office. I just missed the big lift."

She grimaced. "Who was he lifting?"

"He was the one being lifted. Now that is a nightmare."

They both laughed.

"Jim?"

"Yeah?"

She was nervous again. "Um, once the next court hearing is done, I was thinking I'd go visit my parents."

She sensed a change in the atmosphere that she couldn't quite pinpoint. Jim was looking at her sadly, a touching expression that confused her. She did feel a little guilty about the idea she would be somewhat up and abandoning him after everything he had done for her. She was worried he didn't know how appreciative she was for everything. He had after all, been there every step of the road. Plus, since Mark had gone and he'd not found another roommate yet, he probably enjoyed the company.

She rushed to reassure him. "I mean, I would only go for one or two weeks. Then I might be ready to come back to work."

Privately, Jim suspected that might be a long way off, but kept quiet.

"I just don't want you to think-"

"It's okay Pam. Some time with your mom will probably do you good."

"Yeah." She said awkwardly, looking downward.

"Aww, Beesly. It's almost six am." Jim said, getting up from the bed. "If you're doing okay, I'll go catch another hour or two of sleep." He turned to leave the room.

Pam climbed out of bed, wincing at the throbbing in her side. She shuffled over to him, moving slow as an elderly woman. Jim turned back, his face questioning.

Pam walked up to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Even as she was doing it, she didn't know why other than in that moment she had felt an uncontrollable urge to hug him. Jim relaxed and she felt his gentle hands rubbing her back.

"Thank you." She whispered, closing her eyes and holding on tight. "For everything."

Chapter 22 by OfficeWriter

As it so happened, neither Jim nor Pam got any more sleep that morning. Pam, although drowsy from the painkiller, was still filled with nervous adrenaline and moved about restlessly in the bed before giving up and lifting herself slowly up to wander downstairs and make some coffee.

Up in his bedroom, Jim was fidgeting constantly in bed. Not unlike Pam, he couldn't find a position that was comfortable enough to rest in. His shoulders ached when he rolled over. A dull pain had taken residence in the right side of his neck. Quarrelsome thoughts were overtaking him.

Jim was troubledDespite the awful circumstances that had brought Pam to his door, he was undeniably happy that she was there, always a footstep away. Not just that she was safe now, and after seeing the lingering mementos of Roy's rage engraved over her body, he was inexpressibly relieved that she was away from that. Relieved that she came to him; where she was protected, where she was out of harm's way.

He had encouraged her thoughts of going to visit her parents. He knew it was true, it would definitely be a good thing for her. He thought about her Mom. he had only seen her that one time in the office, when she'd hugged Roy like he was the son she never had and Jim had almost vomited up his ham and cheese. Pam had never actually introduced them to each other, although he had really wanted to meet her because Pam talked about her so much and with such genuine fondness. He wanted to hear stories about Pam as a child and Pam's life outside of Scranton and ask some fun questions of his own of her mother. But he couldn't, not with Roy there, sucking up all the space.

It all came back to that one fact, again. He wanted Pam to be happy. He agreed that visiting her parents would be something she should do. That didn't change the fact that a serious bone of contention within his emotions was tormenting him. He also did not want her to go. His affection for her had only deepened in the days they had spent together. For that he felt a complete jerk; no decent person would take advantage of a woman as vulnerable as Pam was right now. And yet, he'd almost told her how he felt, twice he had bitten his feelings away and said nothing. She needed a friend. Nothing else right now.

He did love her, as a best friend should, and also more than a best friend should. It was exhausting, the chaotic balancing act he was performing. One day he would tell her, one day he had to tell her. It just couldn't be now.

Jim turned over again, dispirited and sighed heavily. It was hard being the good guy sometimes.

-TO-

Some time later, Jim trundled downstairs to the smell of fresh coffee. He hadn't heard Pam get up, but there she was in the living room, a mug of hot coffee in her hand. Unlike Jim, she was still wearing the t-shirt and sweatpants she had worn to bed. She smiled up at him when he came into the room.

"Coffee, Beesly? You're getting good at this." he teased. It did smell especially good after such little sleep. He watched as she got up and moved to the kitchen.

"You didn't have to." he said, as she handed him a steaming mug. She just shrugged. He guessed that she had not had any more sleep either after he had left her room.

"Of course I did. You're dangerous without your coffee first thing. Didn't want to take the risk." Pam said with a sly grin. Jim gaped at her for a moment, then laughed, happy on seeing her playful mood.

"Besides, you need the fix for the office later." She said pointedly. "I'm counting on you to keep Michael off our backs."

Jim put his mug down quickly on the counter. "The office?"

"Yeah. You need to go back to work."

Jim studied her serious expression, unsure what to make of this turn of character.

"The advocate called just before you came down." She said. For some reason she couldn't bring herself to call the woman by her name, preferring to stick with a less personal method of reference. "Appointment with a therapist at two this afternoon. Two hours." she said offhandedly.

"This is a good thing," Jim said encouragingly, sensing her earlier cheerfulness had been an act. Pam nodded sadly.

"I just didn't think it would happen this quickly." Pam bit her lip.

Jim reached out and rubbed her shoulder affectionately. "Hey, she did say it would be fairly soon. And the fact that you're seeing a therapist adds weight to the case against Roy."

Pam shuddered and crossed her arms over her chest. Looking up at Jim with hurt eyes she stepped back, turned around and walked to the window. She stared out at the empty road, her eyes wide and didn't speak.

Jim observed her actions quietly, worrying about her. After a few moments of silence he spoke again.

"Pam?" he cleared his throat nervously. Still she didn't turn around, or give any indication she was even listening.

"Hey," he said, again. "It's okay if you don't want to do this. I don't think it's meant to be easy. That's why you should take the appointment. Get the hard parts done."

She exhaled a shaky breath. "I… don't want to relive it… have someone looking at me while I tell them that Roy…" she broke off, swallowing repeatedly. "I'm not strong like you. I can't keep going through it."

Jim made no move towards her, thinking better of any sudden motions that might frighten her further, wanting to let her turn around at her own comfort. He spoke to her back.

"What? You are the strongest person I know. You survived this for years. You stood up to a madman and you came out alive." At that, Pam swung back around slowly, throwing Jim a small, appreciative smile. "Besides I don't think there are any rules… just talk about what you feel okay to talk about and leave the rest for another day."

"I just…"

"Scared?"

She gripped the hem of her shirt, twisting it in her hands. "Yeah."

It was practically a whisper. She looked like she'd break down again any minute, her eyes were shiny with unshed tears, her fingers shaking and her skin was waxy and pale.

"This is good, Beesly. You've come a long way so far. I'm-" he stopped suddenly, hesitating. She tilted her head, mildly puzzled.

"I'm proud of you." Jim muttered self-consciously, averting his eyes to the floor.

Pam looked away, studying the kitchen counter as a sudden rush of emotion overtook her. Hopeless tears pricked at her eyes. She couldn't remember a time when someone had said anything as remotely nice to her as that, and with such sincerity. She blinked sharply and swallowed hard.

"Well," she said, with a voice that wasn't quite steady. "I guess you deserve a special breakfast this morning. Sit down." she pointed at the small table.

Jim made a move to object, but looking at her, he kept quiet. He felt sad, seeing the look on her face when he had said he was proud of her; like a puppy kicked for simply sitting still. He hadn't meant it to upset her, of course, he was just saying how he felt, but something was wrong in that – it hadn't made her happy. He watched her, scurrying around the kitchen getting milk out of the fridge and picking up plates and so on. He knew her well and he saw how she was fighting her emotions and he sensed she wanted to be doing something rather than sitting and allowing everything to overwhelm her.

Soon they were both sitting at the small table, breakfast and fresh coffee in front of them. Jim took a bite and smiled warmly at her.

"This is really good Beesly." he said. "I might have to just keep you around here in case I get too used to this, eating stuff that tastes like actual food."

"You're not bad at cooking." she replied truthfully.

He shrugged. "Thanks anyway." She was only picking at her breakfast, he saw, taking small bites sporadically and pushing egg around her plate with her fork. "Seriously, though, you know I don't expect you to cook for me."

"Suck it, Halpert." She said absent mindedly.

"You don't have do anything around here-"

"Jim." Pam interrupted. "It's just breakfast. This isn't a quid pro quo thing. You've done a lot for me, you're still doing a lot for me. I don't think you'll ever know what you've done for me through this. And what you said just now," she lowered her eyes.

"Yeah?"

"Thank you." she whispered, not meeting his eyes. "Just… thank you."

Jim grinned at her, a little shyly. "I meant it. Although I thought it might have upset you."

"No, no you didn't upset me. I mean, I just haven't done anything to deserve it, that's all, I'm a lousy house guest – all I do is sit around and cry and wake you up and run up your cell phone bills, waste your time-"

"This is good, let's get all of this rubbish out now so we can put it behind us." he frowned.

"Huh?"

He half smiled at her, then rolled his eyes. "House rule number one. You can't trash yourself like that. Don't do Roy's work for him. Whatever he said, whatever he made you feel, get it out right now. Only good things from now on, okay?"

Pam was thoughtful. Then, she closed her eyes and nodded. "Good things."

"Okay, then, Beesly." he said amiably.

"Jim?"

"Yeah?"

"I am so grateful to you, though. For everything."

He looked up at her, his expression serious. "House rule number two, Pam. And this one is non negotiable, non optional."

"What is it?" she said.

"Remember that you have people in your life that love you a lot." Jim said, a little guiltily.

-to-

The outside of the building looked clinical, formal. It reminded Pam of her old school building – stiff and a little old fashioned. She hoped it was less daunting inside. She climbed out of the car, feeling great butterfly wings flutter around her stomach.

"Are you sure you want to take a cab?" Jim leaned over to the passenger side, rolling down the window. Pam turned around.

"I'll be alright. You go to work, okay? I'll see you later."

She wasn't fooling him, he noticed her body quivering and the quick, sharp in out motions of her chest. Inwardly he felt a little nervous for her, which was stupid really, Roy was in custody still, and Pam was going into a Doctors office, for goodness sake, for a therapist appointment. She'd be fine.

Still he couldn't stop worrying about her.

"At least call when you get home and let me know you're okay." He said, mentally reminding himself to mention to her about going to get her a new cell phone this evening.

Home. He couldn't help that, either. He thought of his home as hers as well. It just came naturally to him, he was so comfortable with having her there.

"I will, I promise." she said. "Have a good afternoon, and remember, your job is to keep Michael distracted if he asks questions about me. I'm definitely not ready for sessions with Michael and everyone else on this."

"Got it, Beesly. Give 'em hell." He said fondly, watching her enter the building. He waited a moment, and then, with knots in his stomach, turned around and drove toward the Dunder Mifflin Scranton office.

Chapter 23 by OfficeWriter

It wasn't going well so far.

Pam didn't know how long they had been there, sitting opposite each other like bookends, the silence a thick and heavy road block between them.

At first, it had all been routine, as expected. Rosie – call-me-Rosie – had gone through the basics with her. Pam had responded politely to the fundamental information asked, emergency contact (Jim) should Pam get sick or pass out mid-session etc etc. They had gone through confidentiality and expectations, the time and days of sessions and Pam's level of comfort. It all seemed very clinical and sterile to Pam. The room was fresh and clean with a faint bleach scent in the air. She was already uncomfortable, feeling herself at contrast with the immaculate order of the office.

Then Rosie had asked what had brought her there.

For Pam, time stopped. She dried up, her words abandoned her and she could only sit looking at the floor helplessly as the gaps between the ticks and tocks of the clock that was turned away from her stretched out longer and longer. Her breath was stuck in her throat. She was an absolute failure, even at this.

"What would you like me to help you with?" Rosie asked cordially.

Silence.

"I understand that you have had a relationship breakdown recently?" she said kindly.

Pam swallowed.

"Yeah." she responded dryly.

"Were you married?"

"No. Engaged."

"Long term?"

Pam shrugged. "Three years or so."

"Live together?"

"Yes we did." It was starting to feel like a relay to her, the passing back and forth of an ice cube. She shivered involuntarily, wishing she could turn the clock on the table around to face her.

"Were things good between you and your partner, Pam?" Rosie asked.

Pam hesitated, biting down on her lip. "Yeah… pretty good… mostly." she said, feeling her cheeks flush.

"Any children?"

"No… Roy didn't seem interested." she said, remembering his indifference towards any conversation about their future family. And marriage, she recalled. "We never really discussed it." she added.

"Had that been an issue between you? You wanted children and he didn't?"

Pam shrugged again. "No, not really. We really didn't talk about it much."

Rosie was scrawling casually on the notepad on her lap. "Communication problems?"

"Sometimes." Pam was feeling irritated. She had a chapter and verse about her relationship problems written on her face, in bluish-turning-green coloring spread out over her left cheekbone, why did she need to go through this? Was this Rosie blind?

"How do you feel about how things ended with Roy?"

Pam was quiet again, wondering at the question. She hadn't really confronted her feelings yet.

"Confused, I guess."

"Confused. That's okay." the woman told her. Rosie's tone was gentle and her voice was soft and pretty, with a lilting harmony to it. It was really a voice that belonged to a twenty something, early twenties at least, although Pam would guess that Rosie was nearer to midlife than her small frame, and youthful visage would indicate. The lines around the eyes could always tell you a womans true age, her mom often said.

"I don't know how I feel. About Roy. About anything."

Rosie smiled at her. "Do you feel the issues between you were your fault?"

Pam lifted her head and stared back at her, a flash of hurt in her eyes. "Yes. No. Some of it. I feel… ashamed." she said, and burst into tears unexpectedly. Rosie casually passed over a box of kleenex to her.

Pam sobbed into a tissue for several minutes. Finally when she looked up to begin her apologies, Rosie was placing a glass of water in front of her and smiling warmly.

"Don't apologize." Rosie said, pre-empting her reaction. She waited a moment. "What do you feel ashamed about, Pam?"

Pam sniffed. "I feel ashamed… I wasn't good enough. I couldn't be what he needed me to be. I made him angry." A great sob escaped her. "I stayed. He was so nice to me at first. But I couldn't stop him and I should have!" She said, her voice thick with tears.

"He hurt you." Rosie said seriously.

Pam nodded. "He hurt me."

"Physically."

Another nod.

"Violently." Rosie added firmly.

Pam nodded again. It was all she could manage.

Rosie smiled at her again and held her gaze meaningfully. "I hope you're hearing what you're saying, Pam." She waited a moment. "You said "He hurt me." Roy hurt you. Do you think a person should be be ashamed that another person has chosen to use physical violence against them?"

"I- uh- couldn't help him… be what he wanted…" she mumbled. "I loved him."

Rosie leaned forward, resting her forearms on her notepad. "Being in love with someone is perfectly natural. But abuse is motivated by a desire to control and not by love." she said earnestly.

Pam dabbed at her eyes with a fresh tissue. "I left him." she said.

"You were very brave."

Pam looked up, her eyes narrowing. Rosie nodded her approval.

"It takes enormous courage to leave a situation like that. " Rosie's expression was kind, sympathetic.

"I left before… I-I always went back." she said. "Pretty stupid, huh."

"Many women do. Going back to an abusive relationship does not mean there is something wrong with you. It's the situation that's wrong. Do you see the distinction?"

"I was afraid no one would believe me." Pam mumbled, twisting a tissue between her fingers.

"People who are abused often struggle to admit it to themselves. It is a natural reaction to a traumatic situation. We are agreed on the fact that Roy was abusive to you. There's no question about that." Rosie gently motioned to Pam's face.

"Yeah."

"Tell me about your other relationships. What support do you have in your life?"

Pam bit her cheek. "My mom and dad, they live a couple hours away from me. They know things are over, but not anything more." she smiled wanly, thinking of her mom. "I'm going to see my mom in a few weeks though."

"And here, who's here for you?"

Pam blinked, looking down. "When I left Roy… he… attacked me" she said quickly. "I got away and I went to my friend, Jim. He's let me stay there in his house. We work together." she added.

"How is it, for you, being in a house with a man? How do you feel?"

Pam smiled, her first genuine smile since she'd entered the office. "Jim's very laid back… he doesn't pressure me or ask me too many questions. He's been really great, actually, considering how much I've disrupted his life."

"Are you safe there?" It was a direct question.

Pam straightened in her seat. "I feel...safe. ..with Jim around.. yes. Not on my own, I guess. Jim is kind of… protective over me. We've been good friends for so long. He helped me to leave, really."

Rosie scribbled again on her notepad, waiting for Pam to continue.

"I mean…after all that time….. It's… like all the lights had gone out. Roy stole my reflection, he made it his own." And there it was again, the tears running down her cheeks relentlessly. She didn't bother trying to wipe them off this time.

"It was like Roy was pushing me off a cliff, and Jim was there at the bottom, waiting to catch me." she tore the tissue in her hand into two, looking down at it.

"I really believed I was going to die." She sobbed.

-TO-

Pam had been dozing on the couch when Jim arrived home. She sat up quickly, picking up the remotes and putting the cushions up straight, before catching herself. This wasn't Roy's house. Jim wouldn't care if a pillow was on the floor or dinner wasn't on. Still, she felt a nervous weight drop into her stomach.

"Hey," he came into the room, holding out a brown box.

"You got pizza?" she asked. It smelt amazing. Jim beamed at her.

"Seemed like a pizza kind of day. You hungry?"

Pam turned her head towards him gratefully. "It smells really good. Pizza cafe right?"

"Definitely not by Alfredo." he grinned. She heard the clatter of dishes being moved about and silverware being collected. Jim came back and put everything down on the coffee table. Excusing himself, he made his way upstairs.

Pam rubbed at her face, taking the moment to ensure that there were no errant tears left to tell on her cheeks. Soon he bounded back into the room, now wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. He sat down next to her on the couch.

"Michael was kinda busy this afternoon." Jim told her, a devious look in his eye. "He really didn't have time to ask me any questions."

She raised her eyebrows at him, intrigued.

"Yeah. Someone might have confided to Dwight that they were concerned that Michael was a little depressed and needed a friend. So you know, that's what they were doing all afternoon."

"On no!" She laughed. "Poor Michael."

Jim chuckled in response. "Yeah, he stuck to him like a second skin."

"I'm sorry I missed it."

"Getting Michael to show me his fake crying from acting class really convinced him. Dwight was removing all the sharp objects from the office when we left."

She giggled, almost choking on a mouthful of pizza and took a long drink. Her throat tickled, she ended up coughing loudly, grimacing at the hot pain that shot through the left side of her body.

Jim flinched. "You okay Beesly?" he said, relaxing as she nodded at him. "I actually think I felt that one."

Pam cleared her throat. "Hurts when I cough." she said, a little shakily. "Hey…. there's pineapple on the pizza?"

"Well, you like pineapple don't you?"

"Yeah, but you hate it on a pizza." she exclaimed.

He grinned sheepishly. "Just eat it, Beesly." he said with a chuckle. Pam went red, somewhat embarrassed.

"Roy would only order the chicken barbecue. Steak fries." She said morosely.

Jim looked at her, unsure of what to say. She had still said very little to him about Roy, other than what he could piece together from the marks on her face and neck, her emotional state – he knew he was a long way off from having any real clue of exactly what Roy had done to her over the period of their long relationship; old scars and wounds he was only stumbling over accidentally.

"I don't think I'm supposed to ask about it…. But it went okay earlier?" he picked up the pizza box and shovelled another slice on to her plate. "Got to keep your strength up." he said at her questioning glance. "Especially if you wanna hold up against me during Dazed and Confused tonight."

Pam visibly perked up at the suggestion.

"Beer?"

"What else?" Jim raised his hands.

"No bathroom breaks."

"Nope."

"Every time the kid touches his nose?"

"If the aim is to get blasted, yes." he laughed. He turned thoughtful for a moment. "But of course, you can't have alcohol… we could pick up some some non alcoholic somewhere."

"We can't watch it otherwise." She said somberly.

"Nope. You feel up to coming to the store?" he said. Pam looked anxious at the prospect of going out, but nodded anyway.

Jim was pleased. "Great." The pizza was almost gone. "So… uh… when do you have the next appointment?" he tried again.

Pam averted her eyes to the floor. "Next week. Same day and time. Only an hour though."

"It went okay-"

She cut him off. "I don't want to talk about it tonight…" she hesitated, weighing up his expression for a reaction. "Is… is that okay?"

He hated how uncertain she sounded, how insecure abut even simple things. He wondered if she felt she might get jumped if she said something she felt was wrong, or such… it was sad. Her wonder at someone doing something for her that was so normal, like ordering pineapple on a pizza simply because she liked it that way, how she thought that was something special that owed a wave of gratitude. Damn that Roy. This wasn't right.

"Yeah you're probably right," he joked. "I might be traumatized by the inner perceptions of Pam Beesly, artist extraordinaire, solitaire queen, the Michael Scott moral compass-"

Pam nudged Jim good naturedly, smiling at his antics. "Fool." she said fondly, feeling decidedly cheered up at that moment.

Jim's intention, of course.

-TO-

They returned an hour or so later that evening, non alcoholic beer and a brand new cell phone in hand. Settling down on the couch again, they went on for the rest of the night, enjoying the movie, following their own drinking rules and playfully teasing each other, Pam pointing out if Jim's floppy hair grew much longer he could pass himself off as the guy who played Pink, which sent him into a fit of laughter so hard Pam ending up putting the movie on pause.

It was all in all a relaxing evening for them both. Pam hadn't been so comfortable in a long time; considering the week she had been through, she felt surprisingly okay right then. She sent her mom a text with her new cell number and took her medication on time.

In some way, she yearned for the simpler seventies the movie presented. High schoolers with no real problems other than drinking and smoking dope without getting busted and not pissing each other off too much. No one like Roy Anderson. No broken ribs or fingers or telling strangle marks on their necks. She sighed a little. Jim was a real lifeline. She left her appointment feeling so lifeless and empty, getting in and laying on the couch back at Jims, her body so heavy she almost couldn't move. And then in comes Jim, all light and jokes and fun and not treating her like she was a house of cards. He wasn't treating her like she was damaged or someone else because of Roy… he was just treating her like he always did, like she was Pam… he really was an amazing friend.

Overwhelming emotion washed over her, gratitude and something she couldn't quite define. A single tear slipped out and rolled away from her face. Jim smiled at her. Suddenly feeling lost, Pam leaned over slowly and rested her cheek on his upper arm. Jim was momentarily taken aback, but then recognizing she needed the comfort, lifted his arm, allowing her to shift her head on to his chest. Dropping his arm around her, he rubbed her shoulder up and down carefully, feeling her body trembling slightly.

He knew. She would be okay, she was working through it. She was relaxing, trusting him enough to let him help her, comfort her when she needed. All in all, he felt he was pretty lucky.

Chapter 24 by OfficeWriter

Pam slowly opened her eyes, drifting out of a thick sleep. The dawn sky was glowing, spinning shiny orange-gold pearls of light over her person and through the room. There was stillness in the world she'd woken up to. No birdsong punctuated the silence. No engines came or went. No breeze whispered through the leaves of the trees.

She was nestled snugly in the warmth of the covers, feeling more fully awake than she had ever been.

She had slept through the whole night. No waking up desperate for her painkiller. No boogeyman or bad dreams. She smiled a little to herself as she lay almost comfortably, observing only a slight twinge of pain in her left side that morning. It was her fourth night in Jim's house, the first night she had slept straight through; not only in Jim's house but in months.

She burrowed down deeper under the covers, hoping for a little more sleep, but found herself unable to close her eyes. After a while of tossing and turning, Roy's image floated up in front of the darkness in her mind, his face twisted with rage, his hands balled into thick, heavy fists. Words, sharp as talons stabbed at back of her brain. You can't look after yourself Pam. Why do you make me hurt you, Pam? I have to shout at you as you don't hear me otherwise because you're so stupid, stupid stupid!

She sat up, trying to bat the thoughts out of her mind. The harder she tried the more vivid the images became. Soon she was surrounded by taunting hallucinations that were as real to her as the bed she was shivering in, malicious ghosts with fists of iron and hard, angry eyes. Frustrated, Pam turned over and squeezed her eyes shut. She was being irrational, she was safe in this house, she knew that, had to know that. Just having Jim down the hallway was comforting, it made her feel safer.

Frustration pricked at her, and with memories darkening her mind Pam wearily shuffled out of bed. Armed with her medication, fresh clothes and her new cell phone – just in case – she snuck into the bathroom and filled the tub with steaming water, to once again vigorously attempt to scrub herself clean of any lingering traces of Roy Anderson.

-TO-

Soon nine o'clock had passed and Jim was still asleep. Pam rattled around, not wanting to wake him but unsure of what to do with herself. What did one do who had lost almost everything? She fidgeted around the downstairs rooms, tidying up magazines and washing up the dishes from the day before. She sat silently on the couch for a little while, nervously tapping her heel on the floor. On the table lay a small yellow pencil. Pam got up and hunted around. Finally she found some plain notebooks in a drawer near the kitchen area. Settling down at the table, she began to sketch, her mind disappearing into her work.

She worked attentively, observing the images forming under her hands. Minutes vanished unnoticed, until she was mercilessly pulled out of her picture by the harsh ring of her cell. Apprehensively, she picked it up, letting out a relieved breath at the familiar sequence of numbers.

"Hi Mom." She said, forcing an energetic beat into her voice.

"Pam? Hello."

"Hey."

"How are you?"

Pam frowned, there was a hard edge to her mothers voice she wasn't really used to, the kind of voice that her mother usually adopted when she was reigning in anger or annoyance.

"I'm okay, Mom." she replied cautiously, feeling the tension in waves through the air.

"Pam, where exactly are you?" Helene asked bluntly.

"What do you mean, where am I?"

A sigh. "Did you move out? Where are you staying?"

"I told you I wasn't at home, Mom. I'm staying at a friends house." Pam was defensive.

"You left Roy? I thought you said things were over between you. You left him?"

Baffled, she shook her head. "Mom, things are over. What are you talking about?"

"This friend's house, would it happen to be Jim, by any chance?"

Pam took a moment, wearily hearing the hurt leaking out of her mothers voice.

"Well, yeah, I'm staying at Jim's, what does-"

"Oh, Pammy." Helene was emotional. "What have you done?"

Pam bristled. "What do you mean what have done?" she said.

"Did you leave Roy so you could move in with Jim?" It didn't sound much like a question.

A sudden bowling ball dropped in her stomach. Pam froze. She mentally berated herself, she should have pre-empted this, she should have known.

"Roy called you."

Another heavy sigh. "He is extremely upset, Pam. I don't understand. This isn't like you at all."

"Wait, what… Mom? What are you implying? I did leave Roy, I told you that - but Jim and I, we're friends like we always have been. I'm only staying here." She was hurt. "Did you ask Roy where he was calling from?" She added coldly.

"Well, why are you staying there? What am I supposed to think?"

"Better of me, for a start!" She felt betrayed. "I told you I'd talk to you when I got up there to see you. You listened to Roy over me!"

"Pammy-"

"Don't call me Pammy!"

"Calm down, stop being dramatic. Okay, tell me what's happened."

"No, I'm not being dramatic, you are being crazy!" She spat out, her voice beginning to quiver.

"Well, tell me the truth, Pam. I feel like I'm pulling teeth here." Helene said.

"I told you, I want to see you and Dad in person. It's hard for me-"

"Am I just supposed to worry about you until then? Roy is devastated, Pam, he's really hurt. Why would you throw it all away like this?" Helene was insistent.

"You don't have to worry, and as for Roy, Mom, why don't you arrange a visit with him, you're such good friends." Her voice was raised.

Silence on the other end.

"You know what, Mom? Forget about the visit. Maybe another time."

"Pam, we need to talk."

Pam closed her eyes, thinking of all the times Roy had said those words to her and what they inevitably led to. She was angry, angrier than she had been in a long time, angry at her mom, at Roy, at everything. At herself! Now Roy was calling her mom, isolating her from her family further. Her mom thought she was some kind of cheat, running away on her fiance with her best friend. It wasn't fair, none of it was fair!

"Forget it!" her voice came out high and emotional. "Forget it, mom. Do me a favor, don't talk to Roy again. It's over. I don't know why I ever thought you'd be on my side!"

With that, Pam's voice cracked and she ended the call. She slammed the phone on the table uncharacteristically and took a deep breath. She was shaking hard.

"Hey." Jim said from behind her. She spun round, furiously, realizing sickeningly her shouting probably had woken him up. He was dressed in rumpled shorts and t-shirt and still had tousled hair.

"I woke you up." she said guiltily, after staring at him awkwardly. He was standing near the doorway, arms folded, a confused expression on his face.

"It's okay-" he started.

Pam exploded. "Stop saying that! Stop saying it's okay! None of it is okay! None of it!" She shouted angrily.

Jim looked at her sympathetically, which only served to make her angrier. "Hey, hey…" he said, crossing the room to her. She immediately pushed away from him. Her face was flushed red, her hair falling in furious waves and curls around her cheeks.

"Stop it! Stop being so nice!" Pam backed up against the wall.

"Okay." Jim mumbled, walking around the other side of the table, trying to make her feel at ease by putting something solid between them. Even from there he could see her body trembling.

"No, it's not!" She yelled. "It's not! After everything he's got my mom thinking I just ran off and left him for you! She's angry at me!"

Jim smirked sadly. "I'm sorry." He'd never seen her like this before. He really didn't know what to say. "Ummm...Pam… after what Roy did-"

"After what he did," she repeated furiously. "What he did was hurt me, hit me, break my bones, abuse me for almost five YEARS!" She paced frantically back and forth in front of him, looking like she was going to flee out the door one second and turn back and punch a hole in the wall the next.

"He said no one would believe me! He said so! How could he… he was going to kill me…" She broke off, dropping on to the floor, all her energy used up. She doubled over, coughing madly, holding on to her side.

Alarmed, Jim moved over towards her and knelt down by her on the floor. "Pam, it's okay that you're angry. Don't fight it, don't you think you're in enough pain already?" He reached his arm out to her, feeling a terrible dismay when she cowered away from him, curling into a ball and hiding her face in her knees.

"Hey," he said gently. "I'm not going to hurt you, I'll never hurt you. You're okay, Pam. You're okay, you're okay here. Roy is far away and can't hurt you any more."

She sobbed and coughed into her knees. Jim was dimly aware of her phone ringing on the table. He scooted round her carefully and sat next to her, crossing his legs, but leaving a small distance between them for her comfort.

"You're here and you're okay." he repeated, watching her.

"It's not okay," she sobbed. "I hate myself. Why did I let him do it to me? Why did I let him, night after night, do it? I let him make me weak and he told me no one else would want me, told me I was good for nothing. He hurt me!"

"Beesly, come on." he pleaded kindly.

"Roy's like a black hole that sucked me in. He took the best of me and it still wasn't enough! I feel like I'm dead anyway!"

Jim's heart crushed. He couldn't help himself, she was hurting so much. He shifted closer to her and put an arm around her. She stayed where she was, curled into a ball and didn't move away.

"Hey, now." he said softly. "It's bad right now… but life is going to get better for you. One day you will have everything you want, you'll be with- " his chest hitched tellingly at this. "Someone who treats you like you are the most important person in the whole world, who takes you to all the places you want to go and makes you feel amazing every single day."

Pam shook her head against her knees, and then leaned into him. Jim straightened his legs, feeling her move her head into the crook of his neck.

"My mom…" she mumbled in anguish against his skin.

"You've said yourself how manipulative Roy is. Your mom will understand when she gets the true story." he gently stroked her hair away from her tear streaked face. "And as for all that other stuff, you're not weak, and plenty of people love you."

"I let him-"

"You're the bravest person I know. You're strong. You got yourself out of there. Good things are going to happen for you, I promise."

"I don't want to be scared anymore." she whispered.

"Hey, you now have your whole life ahead of you. You are going to be okay. You can do this. I guess we'll have to work hard to remind you how special you are." he said, hugging her close.

"I'm sorry I yelled at you." she said, tears rolling into his shirt. "It wasn't you."

"Definitely think you have potential as a drill sargent," he teased, thinking over her explosion a few moments ago. He heard a small snort come from her.

"I am sorry though."

"No apologies necessary, Beesly. Would you like some ice for that?" he motioned to her side. She nodded gratefully.

He held on to her a moment longer. He hoped she hadn't noticed that he was trembling himself. Having her so close to him, needing him the way she did right then, was almost too much for him. If he didn't know it before, he was absolutely certain now – he loved her. He looked down at her, sniffling against his neck, broken and unhappy and wished he could do something, anything, to take it all away from her. He decided to go get the ice for her, but not before he lowered his head slowly and pressed a soft kiss on her head.

"You will be okay, Beesly." he rubbed her arm and forced a jovial tone of voice, getting up as normally carefree as he could, hiding the deep conflict he was feeling inside and headed toward the kitchen for some ice to help take some of her pain away.

Chapter 25 by OfficeWriter

Following the argument with her mom, and the resulting meltdown Pam had suffered she was exhausted. She had taken to the couch again, and contemplated calling her dad. Now that she was calmer – but still unwilling to discuss things with her mom – she thought of her father's kind, steady character. She missed him sometimes, being further away than she would have liked. Although she was typically closer with Helene, and generally Helene was the more involved of the two parents, she loved her dad deeply. She hadn't realized how much she really wanted to see them both until their fight that morning. She thought she might call him that evening, hoping she could catch him alone. She wanted to explain the situation and tell him why she was staying at Jim's – and not make it sound so tawdry, so dishonest, the way Roy undoubtedly had in filling in her mom. She didn't want her dad to think badly of her.

After all, her own mother seemed to have fallen for Roy's story, and had virtually accused her without even asking for the facts. That had seemed so unlike her mother. She didn't understand it at all. But then she knew how manipulative Roy was, and how much her mom already liked him.

Jim had tactfully reminded her that Pam and her mom drawing battle lines between them was exactly Roy's intention, carefully suggesting underneath the words that she call Helene and make amends with her. Inside, she knew he was right. It didn't defuse her anger any though. Her mom had no idea of what really Roy had done to her, was still doing to her. And he was still harassing her, through her parents!

She was settled fairly comfortably on the couch holding a second makeshift icepack to her side and huddled under the same blue blanket again. She had offered to make lunch, but Jim had refused her, telling her she was meant to be resting and to take advantage of his good nature now, because once she was well it was all going to change.

"Take your time and get some rest. The dishes will still be there when you are back on your feet, all piled up high in the kitchen waiting for you." he laughed as she threw him an amused smirk and rolled her eyes.

She took her painkiller, listening to Jim moving around in the kitchen and feeling drowsy. Picking up her phone, she scrolled through her messages. Three from her mom and two unanswered calls. She sighed and put the phone down deciding to deal with it later and turned to her side a little. She laid her head on the cushion above the arm rest, curling her legs up beneath her. Her mind drifted a little and she began to doze off. Barely she heard the door or Jim moving past her to answer it.

What she did hear, however, drew her eyes open again and her attention back in the present. She knew that rough, brash voice. In a way, she had been expecting this. Of course he would come see her. Hadn't she herself told Jim that he had been almost a part of her relationship with Roy?

Torn in momentary indecision, she struggled up off the couch leaning heavily on her right side to push herself to her feet. She was numb and sore under the icepack. Apprehensively she walked down the hall towards the door where Jim was standing . Apparently this Saturday was not done tormenting her yet.

"Who are you?" she heard Jim say.

Pam walked up behind him. "Kenny." she said, with a knowing look at Jim. "Roy's brother." she added meekly, seeing the look of confusion on his face.

"Hi…." Kenny began, taking in the sight of her in front of him. His eyebrows rose a notch. From his stunned expression it was obvious that he hadn't been prepared for the visual roadwork Roy had done to her face.

"Can we talk?" he coughed, putting a hand to his mouth. Pam shrugged, staring at him nervously. She turned to Jim.

"It's okay." she nodded at Jim. He sighed, looking uncertain and turned to her.

"I'll be in the kitchen." he said pointedly, with a look back at Kenny. Pam gave him a small smile and nodded again, as he turned and retreated to the kitchen.

"Pam-" Kenny stepped forward. Pam lifted her hand and shook her head briskly.

"Out here." she said firmly. The man looked down at her with a slightly betrayed expression.

"Out here? Really Pam?"

He sounded so much like Roy, she had always hated that about him. When she and Roy were just getting to know each other, Kenny often tagged along on their dates. At first she found herself unable to distinguish which one of them was speaking if they were out of sight. Later on she had unconsciously learned the subtle differences in the inflections in their two voices, the different speed of their speech – Kenny spoke a little faster than Roy – but still, it unnerved her to have that distinct reminder on the doorstep right there uninvited.

She swallowed. "Yeah."

Kenny shrugged resignedly and continued. "What happened to you? Roy said you guys had a fight. But…" he motioned to her face.

Pam raised her hands indifferently. "But what, Kenny?"

"What happened?"

Pam shot him a piercing look, watching as Kenny visibly squirmed uncomfortably, his eyes running over the colorful bruises spread over her face and ringed around her neck like a savage choker.

"Yeah, well…. You can't really blame him for being mad… but…well..." he mumbled.

"Mad." she repeated bitterly. "Yeah, he was mad alright."

Kenny shook his head briskly. "He had a right to be mad. But listen, you can't just go off making all kinds of allegations-"

Pam was stung. "What are you saying Kenny? Say it."

Kenny pointed up at her face. "Roy didn't do all that damage. Yeah he said you'd gotten into it and he was a little drunk…well, here nor there. He wants to see you."

"Does he now?" she replied coldly.

Kenny glared at her. "I don't know why either. I told him, don't go chasing someone who has done the dirty on you the way you have but that's Roy."

"This conversation is over." She said flatly, clenching her jaw and moving briskly to shut the door.

"Wait, wait, wait." Kenny reached out and lightly pushed the door back before she could close it. Pam shot him a fierce glare, suddenly angry again. "I only want two minutes of your time."

"Look, what are you here for?" she snapped.

"I told you, Roy wants to see you."

"He'll see me in court." she said bluntly. Kenny shoved his hands in his pockets and kicked at the ground.

"What you're doing just isn't fair. Maybe Roy did make an error in judgement, he was bombed after all. But you think it's right making him sit in jail?"

"Right? Fair?" she spat. "Look Kenny, just get out of here, okay?"

He sneered at her, his cheeks reddening. "Listen to me, I suggest you go to the cops and get these ridiculous charges against my brother dropped, so we can all move on. Roy, for some dumb reason wants to give you a second chance."

Anger filled up inside her belly and she wanted to cry. "I'm not talking about this with you. Two minutes are up." she forced herself to speak evenly.

Kenny glared at her, loathing burning bright in his eyes. "You are an exceptionally stupid girl, aren't you Pam?" he said heatedly.

"Look, Kenny, I'm done with-" she pushed at the door but Kenny pushed back from his side.

"You screwed around on Roy. You ran off and moved in with some other guy, you left him and then you had him thrown in jail! I had to scrape up every cent I had to get him out. We were planning to go to Mexico. I had to give it all up!"

"Please just let go of the door, I'm not talking to you about this!" she said angrily.

"You want everything to come out in court, do you? Think about it. All of your lying, cheating, whoring around will all come out, no one is going to think you're this sweet and innocent girl after that. And you know what, if that happens, if Roy has to go to court, believe me I'll make sure everybody knows exactly what you are and what you deserve."

"Get out of here!" She stepped back, holding the door in a deathly tight grip. Suddenly something icy cold clicked inside her. A discomforting pounding sensation grew in her chest and all of once it felt like there was no oxygen in the air. A cluster bomb of panic exploded in her brain.

"You paid his bail?" she said in a low voice. "Roy's out?" She shook.

Kenny was exasperated. "He didn't deserve to be in that place and you know it."

She had had enough of this. A burning urge to run, escape, was overwhelming her. She wanted to hang on to her wits; she did not want Kenny to see her panic, see her afraid.

"Leave, now." She demanded, displaying more strength than she felt. "I'll call the police. Go."

"Are you kidding me, Pam!" Kenny's voice raised in anger.

"Don't yell." She said simply. "Just let go of the door and leave. Now. I'm not talking to Roy, and I'm not talking to you. Leave!" From what sounded like a great distance, she heard Jim calling to her. She turned to him, jumping in fright to find he was actually standing next to her.

Kenny glared at them both and stepped backwards. "Remember what I said. If Roy has to get up in front of a judge, well then it's open season. I suggest you think very carefully about what you are doing."

"Oh, you're threatening her, are you?" Jim said, now also riled up. He moved towards the door. Pam, fearing a brawl or worse deliberately slammed the door shut and locked it.

"Pam, you can't let him-"

"Forget it." she snapped. Jim unlocked the door roughly. Fury as hot as lava poured out of him. Her panic doubled.

"Jim!" she cried. "Stop it, stop it, calm down!" Jim looked at her, she couldn't miss the hard angry fire burning in his eyes.

"Okay - he was threatening you!" he reminded her, in a harsh tone that sounded strange coming from him. He started to pull the door open, but she again desperately pushed it shut and locked it for the second time.

"Jim, please." she grabbed at his arm, holding on to him with both hands and trying to make him turn away from the door. "Please."

She could see the rage in her normally mild mannered, calm, steady friend – she didn't like it one bit. She held on to his arm firmly, pleading with him to turn around.

Finally, he turned back to her, studying her with red and guilt filled eyes. She was terrified, trembling, begging with wide, hurt eyes. His anger dissipated rapidly.

"Okay, okay." he said calmly. She released his arm, looking down at the floor.

"Pam-" she shrugged away his hand as he went to rest it on her shoulder. She glared at him fiercely.

"God!" she exclaimed, thoroughly vexed. With that she turned and walked away leaving Jim standing there, completely confused.

-TO-

Jim gave her some time to cool down before he followed her upstairs. He had felt dreadful watching her walk away from him like that. Worrying about her state of mind, he went to find her. At the top of the stairs the door to the room she had been sleeping in was open. He rapped on it gently and stepped inside. Rumpled sheets and some clothing stared back at him, but Pam was not there.

Worried now, he looked over at the bathroom – the door was open there also. He stood still a moment, concerned as to where she was. Walking out of the room and towards the bathroom to double check, he stopped and turned. A strange kind of sixth sense had come over him. Pushing the door of his own bedroom open gently, he spotted her, curled up in the corner by the bed, as she had been the day that Roy had come to the house, her head pushed into his blanket. Even from across the room he could see she had been crying.

Making his way over to her, he knelt down beside her. She didn't turn round to look at him or acknowledge him. His stomach dropped heavily – she was still mad at him. He didn't know what to do, he couldn't bear it if he had hurt her somehow, or worse, if she left because of him. He couldn't bear the thought that she was mad at him.

He sat down quietly next to her on the floor, pondering the best approach. He wasn't sure why she had come to his room, again either. He looked at her sympathetically.

"Pam-" He cut off in surprise as she turned around in blink of an eye, her face red and tear stained, plunging into him and wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. She pressed her face into his shoulder, struggling to control her breathing.

"I'm sorry, Jim." she cried into him. "I'm sorry."

"Hey.." he said, hugging her back. She trembled underneath his arms and he warmly gripped hold of her, relieved she was no longer angry at him.

"I yelled at you." she mumbled into his shoulder desperately. "I didn't mean it, I didn't."

Jim smiled sadly to himself. She was upset – he thought she was having some sort of Roy based flashback, which served to make him feel worse for being grateful that Pam was right where he felt she belonged; in his arms.

"No more apologies." he said kindly. "You're gonna be okay."

She sniffed and he felt her nod her head against his shoulder.

"Yeah." she whispered. "One day."

Chapter 26 by OfficeWriter

The footpath stretched out in front of them, draped in shadows that were grey and somewhat translucent. The two of them ambled along the track, weaving in and out of the darkness that lay between the rays of light. It felt magical to Pam, to be outdoors breathing pure, clean air, strolling underneath god like trees standing high and smug. They looked so strong; after all they had probably stood there about a hundred years or so and had withstood who knew what. She looked up at them in awe as she walked, suddenly feeling very fragile. The shadows dangled over them like black veils, formless and impossible. She decided she was going to walk in the sunlight as much as she could from that point on. She had wasted too much time in the dark.

Jim smiled warmly at the contented way she was meandering leisurely along the path. She was looking more relaxed than he had seen her in a long time. It was giving him a wonderful feeling to watch her casually pointing out the peeling bark of the birch trees, lamenting that they hadn't brought any nuts or dried fruit for the squirrels.

It had been a spur of the moment idea to come this far out, but definitely worthwhile, he thought.

"You know, Beesly, I think we're gonna get wet." He looked up at the sky thoughtfully.

"S'okay." she replied, seemingly unconcerned. Jim laughed. She turned to him with an amused expression.

"Yes, Halpert?"

"Oh, nothing." he said, still chuckling.

"You always laugh at nothing?" She replied cheerfully. "Teach me that, I'll be amused forever."

To her growing confusion, he laughed even harder.

"Well? Are you seeing something funny out here that I'm not, Halpert?" she said. Jim nodded merrily.

"I might just be, Pam. Might just be."

Pam stared at him for a moment in amazement. "Suck it, Halpert." she waved him off with a quick giggle. Jim ambled along beside her, deeper into the woods.

"It's just that," he said, turning serious. He kicked at an array of dead leaves on the path. "Well… um… it's you, actually."

"Me?"

He wore a sheepish grin. "It's just that I haven't seen you enjoying yourself…. acting so …..free in a really long time."

She was unperturbed. "I feel like a different person out here. This was a good idea."

Truthfully she hadn't wanted to leave the house, when Jim suggested going for a walk her impulse reaction had been one of terror. The thought of leaving the house frightened her, and on foot no less – meaning that if Roy – or Kenny – approached them, they couldn't just get in a car and drive away. And Pam knew that with the injuries she was still healing, there was no way she could out run Roy if it came to it.
But Jim had coaxed her out the door with him, reminding her she wasn't out alone and that both Roy and Kenny seemed to back off when she wasn't alone. While she didn't believe this fully – she knew Roy in a full state of fury after all, she went anyway. It was wonderful being somewhere else, somewhere fresh and new.

"I was thinking about Roy." she said suddenly. Jim turned to her questioningly.

"Yeah?"

"I'm his prisoner." she said sadly. "Wherever I am I'm looking out for him. He could call me, maybe he'd even break into your house to get to me. If he's drunk enough." she added bitterly.

"Of course you're afraid." he said kindly. "Maybe though he'll never come near you again."

Pam stopped walking and turned to face Jim. "You're a great salesman, Jim." she said despondently. "But I'm not buying that. You know better than that."

Jim did know better. Of course he had noticed her glancing out the window at every opportunity where she thought he might not notice. Noticed her flinching whenever one of their phones rang. This behaviour had only increased since Kenny's unscheduled drop by yesterday. And of course he worried about Roy getting to her somehow. Roy somehow getting to her and hurting her again was an agonizing prospect that kept him awake until early hours.

"Sorry." he said genuinely, cursing himself for being so glib towards her. "I just meant we can always hope for the best. You have the safety plan, and you won't stay alone while he's any kind of a threat to you. I… uh.. didn't mean it in any… well you know."

"Yeah." she mumbled, feeling the first sprinkles of fine rain fall over her. "He could be anywhere. Anywhere. Out here. At home. The office." she hung her head helplessly.

"Hey." Jim said calmly. "Pam, he won't touch you again."

"He…..umm… really scared me." she admitted, her eyes wide. "He still scares me." she crossed her arms over her chest, shivering slightly. "That bastard." she added, uncharacteristically. She looked at Jim with a pleading, somewhat guilty expression. Jim grinned wisely.

"That's it Beesly." he cheered. "Go on."

Pam raised her eyes level to Jim, as if seeking approval. He smiled and nodded to her.

"Bastard." She said, much more confidently. "He should know how it feels."

"Go for it, Beesly." he encouraged.

"Bastard!" she was loud. "He should know how it feels to be terrified every day, in his own home. To be isolated from everyone. To be beaten-"

Pam cut her words off sharply, kicking at the ground.

"You're angry." Jim said simply. "Anger is good. You've been keeping it all inside. Better to let it out now and again, Pam."

Pam shook her head. The rain around them was now beginning to fall in great fat teardrops that splashed over her arms and left tiny pools in her curls.

"You are devious, Jim Halpert." she admonished lightly.

"Feel better?" he asked.

"Actually… yeah, a little." she said softly. "Thank you."

"Come on Beesly," Jim wrapped an arm around her shoulders and began to lead her back along the footpath. "Let's walk home, before we have to swim there." He said as the rain began to splatter down at a blinding pace.

Together they navigated the way through the woods and back on to the path and towards Jim's house, occasionally yelling to one another over the downpour. The rain was now coming down so hard it was difficult to see, and neither of them wore a jacket. Pam caught hold of Jim's arm gratefully as he led the way home.

By the time they had reached the house, they were both drenched and laughing at the wet state of each other. Pam stumbled upstairs and at Jim's insistence, took a quick bath first. While she was struggling to dry her hair with one hand – she still couldn't lift her left arm up high enough – she heard the rain-like sound of the shower running, which made her chuckle a little, realising the downpour had stopped already. She stood up and looked out of the little window in the bedroom, scanning the back end of the outside of the house.

Then she went downstairs to put on some hot coffee and check the front windows.

-TO-

Jim came downstairs a short while later, dry and smiling.

"Remember when Michael drove his car into the lake?" he said, with a laugh.

Pam nodded, thinking back. "Yeah."

"A machine told me to drive into a lake." they said in unison and laughed.

"Jinx!" they both cried out.

After a few minutes back and forth of exactly who was jinxed, they agreed to settle it later with a bet.

"Bring it Beesly." Jim dared amiably, stretching. Pam frowned at him.

"Hey, what's wrong with your back, or is it your neck?" she said, spotting the grimace of pain that flashed across his face.

"Slept weird." he said nonchalantly. Pam pointed out his coffee, and took her own into the other room. She motioned to the floor in front of the couch.

"Sit down." she said.

"On the floor, Beesly? What do I make the couch look messy?"

"Yes, actually." she teased. "Sit down."

Perplexed, he complied and sat down. Pam positioned herself behind him on the couch and then reached out to him. Tilting his head slightly, she began to massage his neck carefully.

"My mom taught me and my sister how to do this." she said, working slowly. It was easier with Jim on the floor, lower down, with her having to work one handed and not lifting her arms too high. "Feel better?"

Jim smiled carefully. "Yeah. Thanks." he said, a little tension creeping over his words.

Pam worked quietly after that, turning herself to the side to compensate for not being able to use her left arm.

Jim sat, bewilderment overwhelming him. He wanted to tell her to stop, to get up and leave the room. He also did not want her to stop. He loved having her living there with him, loved that she trusted him but he could not deny any longer the quarreling feelings inside him were becoming unbearable at times. He sat there, as she worked wonders on his neck muscles, quietly absorbed in his own inner conflict and ruminations of what could have been.

Chapter 27 by OfficeWriter

Her dad never changed. Light hearted yet so caring, fiercely protective yet so often completely oblivious to the wavering emotions of those closest to him. His natural ignorance to human feelings and sentiments was frequently mistaken for a cavalier attitude. He was a jovial man in most regards and generally saw the best in everyone.

Pam knew how fond her dad had grown of Roy over the years, and while she was tip toeing strenuously around the subject to not cause him any distress, the conversation wasn't going how she had planned at all.

"I'll come and get you and bring you back." William was saying. Pam's eyes closed in frustration.

"Dad, I'm still not sure I'm coming." she said tentatively. "Mom and I…"

"You had a fight, you'll work it out. I haven't seen you in a while."

"It's not just that Dad." she said. Pam paused. "D-Did Roy call you too?"

A silence hung over the air. "He was crying when he spoke to your mom." William's voice softened. "We haven't got the full picture here yet, have we, Pam?"

Wounded, she turned her eyes to the ceiling and pressed her lips together.

"It's Roy isn't it?" Her dad continued. "I can't believe that my Pam would do that – run off with someone else. Your mom says you're living at a man's house – the man you work with, the man you taught to drive stick shift all that time, right?"

Pam dropped into a chair at the table off the kitchen and rested her forehead on her hand miserably.

"It's not like that, dad." she said tiredly.

"So this is what I don't understand. I am certain my Pam wouldn't do something like that. So I'm left to ask myself what exactly happened between you and Roy. If you did not leave Roy for that reason, then something else happened, right?"

The love and concern seeped out of her dad's words. Pam was so flabbergasted at his speech she didn't know what to say. She closed her eyes again, gripping her cell to her ear so tightly that little inflections of pain were shooting through the heel of her hand and up through her fingers..

"Pam?" William called. "Your mom didn't mean to take sides against you. Roy was very upset when he called us. She feels badly about it."

"I love you, Dad." Pam said, her eyes watery. "I'll come and see you soon, I promise. I'll tell you everything."

"I love you back." he replied with feeling. "Please tell me who you're living with and why, Pam. Put the old man's mind at ease."

She sucked in her breath. "Jim. A friend."

"The friend you taught to drive stick?"

"Jim who I taught to drive stick." she repeated.

"Whose yearbook photo you showed us?"

"That's him. But I'm not living with him, I'm only staying here temporarily." She quickly pointed out.

William whistled softly into the phone. "That's what I want to clear up. Why did you leave your home, why did you leave Roy? I'm not talking about you running off to live with another man – what really happened?"

Pam managed a watery smile. If her dad had been there with her at that moment she would have hugged the man until he couldn't breathe. "I just want to see you, Dad. It's complicated right now."

"Can you come up at the weekend, Pam?" he asked.

Pam shook her head, forgetting they were long distance. "Uh… I don't think so, Dad. Ummm… I will let you know when I'm coming."

"Do you need any money? I'll send you whatever you need."

"Oh, Dad I'm fine, really." she insisted. "I need to get off the phone now, okay." From her seat at the table she heard the loud bang of a door that was two hours away and her mother's voice penetrate the distance as she greeted her husband.

"Well, I won't keep you – as long as you're okay and you know you can ask me for anything, alright?" William told her reassuringly.

"I know Dad."

"And Pam. One thing, and be honest with me, won't you?"

"Ummm ….yeah?"

"Did Roy hurt you?" The question was sharp, cutting through the space between them like a knife, slicing her resistance clear in half. Her chest rose and fell briskly and she buried her eyes in her hand.

"Yeah, Dad, he did." she said, feeling very tired.

-TO-

The house felt strange and unwelcoming. The house that she had lived in for five years, painted in the front room, sketched cartoons in the back yard. None of it felt familiar to her anymore. It was simply a pile of wood and bricks. A house, never a home.

A home was warm and friendly, like the home she and her sister grew up in. She had been surrounded by her family of four, with more than enough love than she would ever need. Her parents, Penny and herself, they lived together in their home and their family made it special. It was a place that felt good, where she could always go without question. A piece of her had mourned greatly when her parents had sold the home of her childhood and moved away.

She had had such hope when she and Roy accepted the lease on this house. She had found her independence, she had Roy, she had a job and her art. She was energetic and enjoying her life for the most part.

Roy had never really been violent towards her before they lived there. Sure he had a quick temper, fast with a sharp elbow or nudge, swift to catch hold of her arm, thick, callused fingers leaving purple rings around her flesh. Nothing she didn't explain away as a heat of the moment thing, Roy was a strong guy. Now that she was apart from him, she was starting to see the warning signs she'd been so happy to condone at the start.

No. It hadn't gotten terrible until they were living here. The night of Michael's birthday. Jim's prank on Dwight. Roy's jealousy. His rage.

She looked around the hallway – the hallway where she'd made her final escape, feeling nothing but shadows falling over her. Jim's strong hand fell on her shoulder.

"Okay?"

Pam turned to him. "Yeah." she said, a little breathily. She just wanted to get some more of her things and then go. Walking into the kitchen, she glanced at the window, seeing the comforting light gray of the patrol car sitting outside keeping watch. Jim's idea, of course.

She moved here and there around the house, setting a fast pace. Jim waited downstairs while she raced back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom, filling up two bags. Most of her things had been untouched by Roy – surprisingly to her, however her pile of sketchbooks and stack of watercolor works in progress along with her art supplies were nowhere to be found. Missing was also, frustratingly her little notebook where she had written numbers and addresses. The thought that Roy had taken that turned her blood to ice. All the details for her family and friends, friends she hadn't seen for years but still maintained a weak contact with were inside. Her sisters address and work details. Mee-maw's emergency contacts. She groaned, thinking of the possibilities in Roy's impulsive and angry hands.

She stood indecisively in the bedroom that had been hers and Roy's. Old ghosts began to howl around her, taunting and teasing her with memories of thick suffocating silences, dangerous moods, wild fists and boots. She snatched up her bags and fled downstairs again.

Jim was standing in the hall, looking down at the carpet. Following his gaze she could see dull poppy blooms of blood in the carpet, the twisted badges of the war she had unwittingly been enlisted in. Jim looked up, meeting her eyes regretfully. Unbeknown to either, they were both remembering the night that Pam had fled to Jim's home, bloody and battered.

"Hey," he said, lightly rubbing her shoulders. She nodded and moved to the front room. Jim followed behind her, watching as she picked up a limp looking plant in a small white pot.

"Cactus." she said, a little embarrassed.

Jim wandered into the room further.

"Roy?" he said, pointing out a fairly large misshapen hole in the plaster wall over by the window.

Pam simply nodded, not looking at him.

"How long…." he trailed off, looking down at the carpet.

"Long enough." Pam said, feeling tenser by the second. She studied Jim's face, unusually pale and thin looking. He looked exhausted. She suddenly felt herself hit with an unrelenting guilt for dropping everything on his shoulders. Clearly it was taking a toll on him too.

"I'm sorry." she mumbled before she realized she had opened her mouth. Jim looked at her questioningly. "You've been dragged into this." Jim shook his head, clearly going to object, yet she carried on speaking. "I hate this house. I really do. I'm going to find a really nice place far away from here, that's safe and secure and happy and only good things will happen there. One day."

Jim turned his eyes back to the wall. Pam could see the stiffness in his upper body, how tense he was. It was all too real here. It felt like a scene of a crime that had left all it's ghosts behind.

"Roy punched that wall." she mused unhappily. "He was angry and he just put his fist clear into it."

"He certainly was mad." Jim said, fingering the loose edges of the plaster. He still didn't turn around. "That time- ages ago – when you were out sick for a week… was that him too?" He heard a weak whisper in agreement from behind him.

"Roy… has always been a bit… careless… it was a weekend and he was a little blitzed." she sad softly, her eyes far away. "He came in angry and half drunk…. He just, he kicked a chair across the room and he grabbed my arm behind me a bit too hard. Sprained my wrist. Black eye." she said, a pained expression over her face as she sat down on the couch.

Jim finally turned around and Pam gasped a little on seeing his pale cheeks, red, slightly watery eyes, and slumped shoulders. He was seeing first hand the small but vivid shards of her abusive life with Roy and he was hurt by it. A despair overtook her at seeing what was happening to him. This was all her fault. She just made everything bad for everyone, like Roy said.

"What made him so angry?" Jim asked, his voice tight.

Pam spoke warily. "That day?" she was tired. "Nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing made him so angry, nothing particular. He just was. It would just build up in him and explode sometimes."

"I'm really sorry you went through all of this." Jim turned back to the wall. "Wish I'd known." he mumbled bitterly.

Pam rose, walking to stand beside him. "I didn't want anyone to know, Jim. Still don't." she added. "I was ashamed. I didn't want pity or anything."

"I'm sorry anyway." he said, turning his head to the side. He looked so guilty and so dejected that she genuinely felt heartbreak. He was a good guy, he cared so much about the people around him. She really hadn't thought far enough how she had impacted his whole life, his mood, his feelings.

"Jim." she said, reaching out and pulling on his arm gently to make him turn back to her. His hazel eyes were shiny with tears and he looked at her helplessly. Almost in tandem they opened their arms up, each wanting to comfort the other. Pam pressed her chin on to his shoulder, clenching her arms tightly around his warm neck. She felt his stronger arms course around her back, his hands rubbing soothing circles.

"I'm okay." she whispered into his ear. "Don't be sad, it's over now."

"I'm very glad you're okay." he mumbled back, pushing his face gently into her hair.

Pam was feeling strangely comfortable against Jim, feeling very right at the moment. His body was warm and strong and secure. She felt protected in a way she hadn't felt before. Quietly small overwhelming tears rolled out of her eyes and onto his shoulder.

The sound of a scratchy throat being cleared broke them apart minutes later. The police officer on watch had come into the house.

"We've got an emergency. Can we ask you to leave now?"

Quickly Pam picked up her cactus plant and saw Jim lift the two bags she had packed from upstairs. Thanking the officer for keeping watch, they left and climbed into Jim's car.

Jim reached to turn on the engine, but stopped as Pam laid her hand on his arm.

"Jim." she began. "I'm going back to work with you tomorrow." she said with determination.

Jim looked at her in disbelief. "Pam, I really don't think-"

She shook her head fiercely. "I want to. You'll be there, and there's security… it's safe and I'll be okay."

"But you're injured." he said.

Her eyes were hard and set. "I can't sit around. I need distraction."

"You need rest."

"It's my decision." she said matter of factly.

"Why?" he asked.

She held up her hands. "Everything feels so hopeless. I just want to be normal again."

"Beesly," he turned to her. "I know you don't feel as though you have a lot of hope right now. I get it." he looked at her meaningfully.

"So?"

"So let me hold onto it. Let me hold onto hope for you."

Pam nodded at him emotionally, eyes watering, completely overwhelmed by his devotion to their friendship.

"I have so much hope for you." he said, smiling at her.

Chapter 28 by OfficeWriter
Author's Notes:

a/n

I think I messed up the other characters. I can't write Michael very well. If there are any suggestions feel free to let me know. The walls are building :(

Jim admired her courage. It was a part of her character that she rarely showed, languishing under a meek and shy demeanor, but in the past week following her departure from Roy it had coming blazing through. It took enormous bravery to leave such a dangerous situation the way Pam had. He had witnessed an unexpected resource of strength that she, he suspected, had not known was within her.

He couldn't dare to think what she must have felt in that moment – or indeed, during the long years she had spent with Roy in that house, alone. And she had turned up at his own door, her face already swelling, her ribs broken, beaten down to the bone, not only physically but emotionally. It was a horrifying sight he wouldn't ever forget. Coming up the driveway and seeing her, so small and so bloodied; it was an ironic moment that exactly what he feared happening- visions of exaggerated bruises and wounds that had been flashing in his mind as he drove streets hoping to find her first- had become a reality. What he had convinced himself would not happen – not to that extent at least, was exactly what did happen.

She hadn't lied to him, except by omission. He knew things were bad, he just had had no idea exactly how bad things could get with Roy. And when she'd turned around in front of him that night on his doorstep, his immediate thought had been that she must have been in an accident, car perhaps. It was unthinkable to him that another person had done that to her, coldly, deliberately. Viciously. A person who was supposed to marry her, to love her, to keep her safe. To be an equal to her.

Roy Anderson had been none of those things. Instead of realizing Pam as the love of his life, he had damn near taken her life. In more ways than just physically. In the direct face of that, Pam had managed to find the courage to walk away. She was vulnerable, terrified but somehow she had found the strength to stand up to him and leave in spite of everything. It was a remarkably brave act on her part, he thought, looking at her sitting rigidly beside him in the passenger seat.

He hadn't objected too much - as much as he would have liked to – to her decision to come in to work. He had started to explain his concern, but bit his tongue. He and Pam were not a couple. He had no right to try to convince her one way or another. He was conscious of the lines he saw that were being blurred between him and Pam – lines that he had always done his best to be respectful of and god knew now was not the time for him to be making moves. But when people are as close as he and Pam were, and sharing a house, however temporarily, there was always a potential for misinterpretations. Especially when one of the two was emotionally cycling through a myriad of feelings and reactions; and the other was firmly in love.

It was a quiet drive, Pam hunched into herself on his right, looking nervous but determined, while he was mired deeply in his own contemplations.

-TO-

They had gotten in a little earlier than they normally would, so that Pam could establish herself back at her desk with minimal attention as possible and able to quietly to seek out Toby. She figured she'd slip over to his desk discreetly and let him know she was back in the office.

She was glad of being there, of distracting herself. Soon her colleagues were passing by her desk with little more than a stretched good morning or grunt in her direction. So far so good.

"Sheeee's hee-eere…."

Pam startled, then slowly turned her head to the entrance, foreseeing Michael as he stood by the door, grinning maniacally towards the desk.

She stared nervously at him, standing still with his hands loosely folded at his front.

"Sheeee's hee-eere…." he drawled in falsetto again.

Pam watched him in wonder, before flicking a knowing glance in Jim's direction. Then Michael was slapping his hands on the desk excitedly.

"Oh… um.. hey Michael." she said.

"Pam, Pam, Pam." he chanted. "Good you're back."

"It's good to see you too." she pacified with a slight smile.

He slapped his hand down on the desk again. "It's good to see me too, Pam." he said playfully, turning to his office. "Back to the beach then, Pamela Anderson."

Pam flinched involuntarily and buried herself into catching up with the messages on her desk.

-TO-

All morning Pam had a curious feeling that she was being watched in some way. She would glance at Jim occasionally but he was occupied by Dwight, who seemed to be confiding something. She smiled at the mischievous look on Jim's face and reached for her painkillers.

"Oh...hey.. Angela." she said, noticing the petite head staring over at her.

"Pam."

"What?" she said, unnerved that Angela was still staring at her.

"Nothing." she said glibly. "You have something on your shirt."

Pam looked down frowning. "Oh?" She brushed at her front vigorously. "Is it gone?"

Angela stared at her, unblinking. "No, it's still there." She stood, leaning on one hip slightly, coffee in hand, her face hard and judgemental. She observed Pam running her hands over her shirt, looking for any mark or stain or fluff.

"Let me help you." she said, glaring at Pam. "It's on your chest, it's big, and it's red and it looks like the letter 'A'."

Pam blinked nervously. Angela stared her down a minute longer and then slunk back to her own desk. Pam's cheeks were hot. Her head buzzed. She had taken care and pain that morning to cover up tell tale injuries and bruises as much as possible. She looked over at Angela, who had her head down, then at Jim who had his back turned. She frowned, feeling a headache growing.

Pam intended to go ask Angela what she meant, waiting for a moment when Kevin and Oscar weren't nearby, or when Angela left the office so they would be alone. She tilted her head wearily and rested it on the palm of her hand.

The noise in the office grew around her. Kevin's eating, Dwight thumping his keyboard, even Jim's pen clicking began to overwhelm her. She bent her head low, feeling nauseous.

"Pamela." Michael sang as he bounded out of his office. "Tell me why I don't like Mondays."

She looked up at him as he went by. "Me neither." she whispered.

-TO-

Soon it was break time, and Pam studied Angela, getting up when she did and following her out to the kitchen, feeling a flicker of irritation to see Kevin and Phyllis sitting at one of the tables.

"Hey. What were you talking about earlier?" she whispered to Angela's back as she closed the fridge door. Turning round gracefully, Angela looked at her.

"It's an office, Pam, not a nineteen seventies key party."

"Um… what?" Pam shook her head in confusion.

"We know, Pam." Phyllis' voice piped up from behind them. "We know what you did to Roy." she said in her calm, motherly manner. Kevin began to snigger, his shoulders bouncing up and down.

Pam looked at the three of them in disbelief; at Angela's scornful glare, Kevin's childlike giggling, Phyllis' serious, matronly attitude.

"I knew Jim was hot for you." said Kevin, laughing cluelessly.

"That's the wrong way to make a man jealous, sweetie." Phyllis said passively, looking Pam over.

Pam's eyes narrowed. "What – I didn't- what do-"

"We saw Roy." Angela said. "I'm not surprised. Whorish is your color."

Her mouth fell open. The only noise from the kitchen was Kevin's incessant chuckling. Pam stared round all of them, her face red and her eyes bright.

"I'm not seeing anyone." she said, emphasizing herself.

"I only flirt with guys to get Bob's attention. Then he beats them up." Phyllis smiled smugly. "If you need to do more than flirt, something is very wrong."

"Right." Angela said.

Pam felt close to screaming. "Umm, okay." She mumbled weakly and went back to her desk, feeling pain flare up in her left side again. She sat down sullenly, taking a sip of water. She was hot and weary and she longed for a nap. It was beginning to seem like her entire world was against her. Her mom, her friends, Kenny. Roy had told her so many, many times that no one would believe her, that they saw the real Pam, the lying, useless Pam who needed a man to do everything for her. Roy had made sure of that now, she thought bitterly. Whatever he had told them, they just believed. Of course. She felt sick.

The phone on her desk was ringing, the tone blurry and far away in her muddled, anxious mind. She lifted the receiver with a clammy hand, assuring the caller with her greeting that they had reached Dunder Mifflin.

"Don't hang up." the gruff voice said in reply.

Anxiety flowed into her body, driving away the last of any patience she had left.

"This is over, Roy." she said sharply, determined that she would not fall back to the familiar patterns of being submissive, weak and appeasing to his temper and every swing of mood. No more. She banged the phone down.

The she got up and went to the bathroom to throw up.

-TO-

When she came out of the bathroom some time later, the ground was still heaving beneath her feet and she was shaking with emotion and fatigue. She slumped down on the top stair to the lower floor and dropped her head into her hands. She cried, quietly and controlled, holding herself back at great force. It was a moment before she registered that she was not alone, that someone had an arm around her, a warm body was pressed against her.

She looked up gratefully, not even caring at that point who it was.

"It's okay." Dwight said awkwardly, patting her shoulder. To a spectator it might have seemed amusing, a sobbing lady hunched over with her head in her hands with a big, ill prepared man uneasily trying to offer comfort sitting stiff as a rock neck to her.

He sat with her for a while, saying little. Despite her emotional state, thinking back on that moment later on, Pam would find herself touched by his gesture. He was not by nature a sympathetic or caring man. You just never knew what people were really made of, she realized.

After Dwight had gone back to the office, Pam went to find Toby. After a brief conversation with Toby, in which he profusely apologised for the entire office and Roy she headed off to find an empty room and waited until it was time for Jim to finish.

-TO-

"I'm sorry." She said for about the twentieth time that night.

"That word is banned from this house." Jim said, reaching over and playfully pushing her arm.

"I'm no fun to be around." Pam said, honestly. "I shouldn't be dragging you into one disaster after another. You know what they are saying about us." she rubbed her eyes. Once Jim had driven them back to his house, they'd made yet another phone call to the police regarding Roy. Then Pam had taken a three hour nap, which had felt more like passing out than sleeping.

"Pam," Jim started, tired of this same argument. "Quit crucifying yourself. Okay?"

"I just don't like that they are thinking those things about you, because of me." she said.

Jim laughed. "Hey, I'll live. Forget it, Beesly. That stuff is not important."

"Roy is following me wherever I am." she said guiltily. "He's in my head, and in my sleep. He's not going to leave me alone."

"It seems like that now, but it won't be forever." Jim said, feeling useless and not knowing what to say to comfort her. He knew as well as she did there was no promising Roy or the situation would end soon.

Pam sniffled. "I can't go back to him. He'll kill me."

Jim went rigid at her words. "You want to-"

"No!" she spat vehemently. "No I don't. But that's what he wants."

"Have a little faith." he said. "We'll keep you safe, Beesly." he said with feeling.

"It's just-" Pam broke off as the room plunged into darkness. The tv dropped out and there was a resounding silence.

"Oh boy." Jim said. "I think we've got a blackout." From her seat against the connecting wall, Pam shuddered.

"It's really dark." she said. The whole of the downstairs was pitch black. Fifteen minutes went by and there was still no power. Pam shifted out of her seat uneasily and made her way over to the couch where Jim sat.

"Jim, do you have any candles?" she asked.

"Errr… I don't think so." he replied. "Scared?"

"A little." She said honestly. She shifted close to him on the couch, feeling comforted by his touch, reassured by the feel of another person. Jim's arm dropped round her warmly and she pressed against him gratefully.

They sat together, in the blackness waiting for the light to come back. Pam was anxious, it unnerved her being in stuck in a thick darkness like that. There was a claustrophobic panic squirming in her stomach. She shivered again and laid her head on Jim's shoulder. Minutes later, she could feel the soft pressure of his cheek resting against her hair.

"Jim." she said into the night.

"Yeah?"

"How come whenever the lights go out, you're always there?"

She couldn't see his expression in the darkness, nor the nervous swallowing of his throat which had suddenly gone dry.

"Just lucky I guess." he said softly.

Chapter 29 by OfficeWriter

"Can you try to tell me about it?"

Rosie's eyes were kind and sympathetic. Somehow this made it harder for Pam. She didn't want pity, she didn't want sympathy; she didn't want this woman to be on her side before she'd heard the whole story. And what if she did tell Rosie everything and those eyes turned cold and hard with disgust? What if she listened to Pam and sympathised with her, but her eyes told the truth, that Pam was a hopeless case, hopeless and useless –that maybe Roy had nailed the flaws in her character, that Pam was dishonest and had made a mess of her own life? Maybe she'd decide she couldn't help her and send her out on her way, to go find another man to be useless to and mess up his life as well?

"I know it's hard." Rosie said, breaking the silence between them. "I would really like you to try. From the beginning."

Pam shuffled uncomfortably in her seat, her hands pressed between her knees. She was resisting the growing urge to run from the claustrophobic room, run, run, run.

"It's like…" she contemplated, her eyes narrowed into slits. "Like it wasn't really happening to me. Like I was somebody else."

Pam's eyes fell involuntarily to the floor. She didn't want to see expressions on the other woman's face as she talked. She already felt there was a line stretching from her to Rosie-call-me-Rosie, as if a string phone had formed between them; the woman would hear every sound she uttered. That her words would become the bounty in a sonic war. There were things Pam wanted no one to ever hear.

"It was… four years ago. March 15. The first time. Michael's birthday. My boss." she added. "Roy and I had a fight."

She could feel Rosie watching her intensely. Pam leaned forward and rested her forearms on her knees.

"It got physical." she said, her voice strained. "And what really got to me... I didn't see it coming. Roy was quiet on the way home, nothing really unusual. But once we were inside-" she stopped. Hesitated.

"It was as though a switch was flipped. He didn't say anything. Nothing. He just…. you know…." she mumbled towards the floor.

"What did you think about that when it happened?"

Pam breathed deeply, squeezing her lips together. "I…. didn't know what had happened. At first….my head was empty. Cloudy." she said.

"That must have hurt immensely for you." Rosie replied.

"I-I felt like it wasn't me. I often felt like that when Roy and I would fight. I'd go away somewhere inside myself and someone else would take over my body until it was over."

Rosie tilted her head. "When we are in a frightening situation, when we feel physically threatened and can't escape, sometimes to protect ourselves we find a way to distance ourselves psychologically from the situation."

"I don't always remember afterwards." Pam murmured.

"We are at our most ingenious when we are truly in a traumatic situation. Often we create a mental block between awareness and the trauma, allowing us to step outside of it. Does that make sense?"

"Yeah." she said softly.

"What were the things that made Roy angry at you?"

Pam mulled over the question. "At first….. at first he was often jealous. The night of Michael's birthday, after we got home and he….. hurt me…. He was shouting a lot." Pam looked up guiltily. "Just before we had left to go home, Jim and I were laughing together about a prank he had done. Roy saw us. He didn't say much to Jim, but he was very angry about it when we got home."

"Angry because you were laughing with someone else?"

Pam shivered, thinking over that night. "He kept shouting that Jim was trying to make moves on me. Because Jim was standing next to me at my desk and whispering to me."

"What did you think about Roy being so angry at the time?" Rosie shifted in her chair.

Pam bit her cheek. "I… I was surprised. He'd never really had any problem with Jim before. He encouraged me to talk to Jim about stuff usually. I didn't think he was as angry as he was though, until we got home. And," she added. "I was kind of hurt."

"You thought Roy trusted you."

Rolling her lips together Pam turned her head to the side, still gazing down at the floor, a faraway look masking her face. She breathed in deeply through her nose, her shoulders lifting. "No… no… not that." she said, her eyebrows drawing together. "It was the implication that Jim's friendship wasn't genuine. That wasn't fair."

"That night was the first time Roy hit you." Rosie clarified.

Tears pricked at Pam's eyes. "Yes." Her breath was stuck in her throat. She closed her eyes tightly, pushing away the memories and breathed out through her nose, trying to hold herself together. The room fell silent.

"I'm sorry," Pam spoke after a few minutes had gone by. "I'm not sure I'm ready to say… Jim said I needed to say it all out loud. It's… s-scary."

"Scary because it hurts?"

Pam nodded slowly. "With Roy…. It was like I lost my voice. My mouth wouldn't work. I'd try to say things to him and no words would come out."

"What things couldn't you say to Roy?"

Pam brushed at her eyes, wiping away tears. "I wanted to ask why. Not because of things Roy yelled about me and Jim or about the house or how I looked or acted…. But really why. A real reason."

"Knowing why is very powerful. It allows us to control situations better. To predict what might happen next, to lift blame away from ourselves. Tell me what Roy would say to you."

Pam shivered again, it was cold in the little office. She opened her mouth and closed it again. Her mind emptied completely. Struggling to focus on the question, she was frustrated with herself.

"You find it very hard to talk about Roy." Rosie observed. Pam looked up, a knowing expression on her face.

"Jim said that too." she blinked rapidly, turning her head to the side again.

Rosie smiled at her. "You talk about Jim a lot."

"We've been friends a long time."

"You feel comfortable with him." Rosie commented.

For the first time in the session, a small smile lifted Pam's expression. "Yes. He's a good guy."

"Jim was the person you went to when you left Roy. You consider him a safe place."

Pam looked up at the therapist. "I… I think so." she said, nodding as she spoke.

"In what ways? What makes Jim safe to you? Tell me what ways he's different from Roy."

Pam paused, taking care to choose her words. "Jim is…. He's different…. He's let me stay at his house this last week without asking for anything back. He is really calm…. He hates being angry and it doesn't show often when he is. I feel safer having him around."

"Jim is calm and even tempered, where Roy is quick to anger and violent." Rosie stated.

"Yes." she replied slowly, thinking. "Jim suspected that it was happening. He… reached out to me. He's not judgemental or condescending in any way." She looked directly at the therapist, catching her eye. "Jim cares without judging. He hasn't ever said I could have done anything differently or even blamed me in any way. I'm not blameless." she said, the trace of a smile vanishing from her lips.

"A person who has been abused is never responsible for the abuse. Abuse is about control. There is a pattern.
Someone who is abusive will almost always convince their partner that they are to blame for the abuse. It is a part of how they control their partners."

Brushing at her eyes again, Pam started to feel a weight lifting off of her chest a little. Like maybe one by one the bricks were lifting.

"Tell me what you think you could have done differently." Rosie asked.

Pam didn't think long on it. "I could have loved him better." she said, remembering countless times when Roy had screamed that in her face.

-TO-

It was past five. Pam stood on the steps outside the building, fishing in her pocket for her phone. She felt surprisingly good that late afternoon. The fresh air breathed into her, clean and pure. She almost felt purged. Her fingers finally found the cool plastic of the phone. She pulled it out of her pocket and looked up the number for a cab. She pushed the phone to her ear and listened for the ring. Her eyes wandered automatically over the street, nervously scanning for any sign of Roy – or Kenny – which was now a routine for her.

"Jim?" She called out, spotting his car on the street. She hung up and went over. Through the window she could see him grinning as she approached. Jim leaned over and opened the passenger door.

"Hey Beesly." he said cheerfully. "Just in the area of course. Wanna ride back?"

"Pam smiled at him, feeling a million emotions at once. She climbed in next to him carefully.

"Thanks." she said, feeling a little guilty. "You'll be glad to have me out of your hair soon, I'll bet." she said, only half-joking. Jim shot her a confused expression as he pulled the car out. "When I go to my parents." she clarified.

"Oh. Oh yeah." he said, his smile gone. He looked thoughtful.

Pam stared at him with worry. "You'll be glad I'm gone?"

Jim blinked and shook his head. "What? No. Of course not." he said, embarrassed. "I meant oh yeah you're going…. Doesn't matter." he said, shaking his head again. "You look happy." he said.

"I feel okay. I really do." she said. Good days and bad days. That's what they said. Monday was a terrible day. Yesterday she hadn't done much of anything other than sleep and feel frustrated about the events of Monday and ask herself why she ever thought she could handle the office so soon.

She was still gripping her phone in her hand. Noticing the little green light blinking she looked at the screen. Missed call from her Mom. Mumbling to herself, she dialled voicemail to listen to the message.

Jim watched her curiously as he drove, flashing little glances at her. She had paled and her mouth was twitching in an odd way – like she couldn't choose between pressing her lips together and pouting. Finally she put her hand down and unceremoniously shoved her phone into her pocket.

"My mom." she said after a moment, crossing her arm over herself and bringing her fingers to her mouth. Jim waited quietly for her to go on. Soon they reached his house and he pulled up the car. Pam turned to him but made no move to get out of the car.

"Roy." She spitting the name out, like a nasty tasting pill. "Is going to take everyone from me."

Jim rested his arms on the steering wheel and regarded her with concern. "Oh, boy." he said. "What's he done?"

"Talked to my mom again. Threatening suicide. Because of me. Because I left him." she said, very agitated.

"Hey, take a breath, okay?" Jim said calmly, not liking the grey hue of her face or her sudden lack of ability to speak in full sentences.

Pam continued as if he hadn't spoken. "She begged me to call him. To apologize. To apologize!" She snorted. "She was so worried about him. What about me, Jim? I'm her daughter." she cried.

"This is exactly what Roy wants, Pam, you know that. He wants you to have no one left. He wants everyone to believe him."

"Yeah." she said quietly.

"I know you said you wanted to wait until you saw them, but don't you think now's the time to tell your parents the truth? Tell them what Roy has done to you." he said earnestly.

"It's too late for that. I was a coward. I should have done it right away. I'm so stupid." she slapped her knee in frustration. "I'll call my dad in the morning. I can't do it tonight. I can't." she said simply.

Jim started to object, but snapped his mouth shut quickly. Instead he opened his door and turned to her.

"Well, Beesly, let's go indoors then." he said.

-TO-

Jim felt like he had been yanked out of deep, heavy sleep. Blinking and trying to keep his eyes open he sat up. He heard the shout ring out in the darkness again, the same muffled shout that had woken him. Blearily he got up and headed towards Pam's room.

Once inside he saw her twisted form, jerking and spasming, her struggling legs tangled in the sheets.

"Pam?" he whispered quietly. He knelt down beside her, observing her flushed, terrified face and gently wiped off the tears on her cheeks. She whimpered and cowered away but did not wake up. Jim quietly laid his hand on her head and lovingly stroked her hair.

"You're okay." he whispered to her, noticing her body was relaxing a little. He turned and painstakingly untangled her from the bedsheets and pulled the covers up over her. She let out another small, pitiful whimper that made his heart shrink. She looked so tiny and so broken. Unwavering anger roiled up inside him against Roy for doing this to her. He had so much to answer for.

He carefully sat down on the edge of the bed and stroked her hair again, whispering comforting words to her until her breath had evened out and fallen into a rhythm and the jerks had stopped. Jim sat with her until dawn, watching her sleeping soundly, his anger being overpowered by the strong feelings of love towards her. He allowed himself to imagine – again – how things could have been if they were different and Pam had never gone for that first date with Roy, where she could have dated Jim instead and never had to go through this. He wondered again why it couldn't have been that way, Pam with a kind, fun loving husband who would die first before ever hurting her and a happy future ahead of them both.

When the first silvery signs of dawn began to peak through the dark night, Jim silently got up and crept out of the room to crawl back into his own bed, alone.

Chapter 30 by OfficeWriter

Pam sat looking at the phone. Nervous snakes were slithering and coiling through her stomach. She could not concentrate; her hands kept travelling away from the arm of the chair where the phone lay to pull the hem of her too loose shirt up and twist it around her fingers. She was losing weight, her shirt and pants hung off her noticeably. Jim's advice from last night fluttered through her brain. It's only your parents Pam. Not Roy. It's only your mom and dad.

She dialed.

After an excruciatingly long minute, her dad's cheerful voice was bouncing into the room. Hands fussing anxiously with her shirt again she greeted the man, keeping her voice low and cool.

"Hello Pam. How are you?" William sounded relaxed, this was good. Pam immediately felt her shoulders loosen a little.

"Hi dad. I'm okay. How are you?"

"Me? The air is good up here Pam. You'll see. But how are you? Really?" he asked.

"Is Mom there?"

"Yes she is, do you want her?"

She sighed. "Can you put me on speaker, Dad?"

There was rustling down the line, some mumbling between her parents. "It's the icon that says 'speaker' Dad." she nudged. More back and forth went on in the background.

"Okay, the speaker is on now. What's going on?"

"Hi Mom." Pam said quietly.

"Hello Pam. What's wrong, are you okay?" Pam swallowed dryly at the tone of genuine concern she heard in her mom's voice.

"I just…. I wanna say something to you. I want to be honest -"

"What's the matter, what's wrong?" William repeated.

"Dad – please just let me talk. I want you to hear me out. Please?" she said wearily.

"William." Helene warned.

Pam waited a moment. "I want to tell you, because… I think you should know." she stopped and pulled in a large breath. "I left Roy because he hit me."

"He did what?" Helene's voice went from loving concern to true shock.

Pam recoiled. "Roy hit me. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."

William cut in loudly. "Pam, are you alright? When did this happen?"

Her parents voices became jumbled and mismatched as both talked over one another at her.

"Mom, dad, please." she pleaded. "I'm okay, at least I think I am."

"When?" William repeated angrily.

Pam closed her eyes. "Four years ago."

Silence from her parents end. She lowered her head, her hands shaking.

"Four years ago?" they were speaking over each other again. Pam cursed at herself. She couldn't get her story straight, her words seemed like they were coming out upside down. She shook her head, trying to clear away the haze she felt.

"The first time." she clarified. "Four years ago, the first time."

"I can't believe this." she could hear her dad's angry footsteps stomping over the floor. "If Roy put his hands on you, Pam, I'm going to see to it that it doesn't happen again." he vowed, his voice growing louder.

"Dad-"

"I'm coming down there, and I'm going to kill him when I see him." he shouted. Pam drew back.

"Dad, please." she pleaded tearfully. "Don't come here, don't do anything. There's a restraining order-"

"A restraining order?" Helene interrupted.

"I have to go to court soon to make it permanent. I'll come and stay with you afterwards."

William responded adamantly. "I'm coming down there, today. I'm coming and I'm going to have it out with Roy."

"Dad, no." Pam begged. "Listen. I didn't want to tell you; I knew how upset you both would be. I knew how you felt about Roy. Please - " she said as her Dad started to object. "Please. Hear me out. This is really hard. Mom, it really sucked that you thought that I left Roy for Jim. It's like you don't even know me. But I can deal with it. It sucks but I can deal with it. Okay? I shouldn't have been with Roy. Should never have been with Roy. I can't change that. But this is the truth and I just want to know that you believe me now."

"Pam." Helene was using her kind, loving 'Mom' voice, the voice that Pam loved best, that as a child would make her feel comforted and happy, like she had been wrapped in a warm blanket just with her words. "Pam. It's not a question. All I want to know is if you are okay. Are you hurt? Did he hurt you?"

"I'm fine Mom." She lied guiltily.

"Is there anything I can do? Please, let me come over there to see you. I can stay in a hotel or-"

Pam cut her off quickly. "I really want to see you both, too, Mom. But please, please, don't come here. I just need to get the court date out of the way and then I'll see you."

"Are you still at this...Jim's house?" her dad added, still sounding angry.

Pam bit down hard on her lip. "Yes." she said simply.

"Oh, Pam, I just can't believe this. We all liked Roy so much. And the other day he was so upset, threatening to harm himself and I felt sorry for him and all the time it was you he was hurting." Helene began to cry.

Her stomach did a double flip. One the one hand she felt unbelievably relieved to have her mom back, but there she was, the same mom – crying because of her. Pam could never bear to hear her mom cry. She always managed to mess things up, no matter her intentions.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. It's all my fault." she told them.

"It's all Roy's fault." William was outraged. "I treated that man like a son!" there was a loud slapping sound, like he'd banged his palm down on a table or counter.

"Why did you go to Jim? Why didn't you just come here?" Helene said, her voice watery.

Pam thought about it sadly. "Because… because he was there, Mom."

"We're here." her dad grunted.

"That's not what I mean…" Pam's words were getting tangled up again. "Jim got… worried…. and he stepped in and offered me his place to stay if I needed it."

"It must have been terrible with Roy if you had to leave your home." Helene was crying still.

"I'm really sorry Mom. I didn't want to upset you." said Pam, beginning to cry herself. "Uh, I've gotta go now, but I'll call again soon, I promise. Please, please stay home and please don't talk to Roy. If I want this restraining order permanent, we need to leave him alone." Pam added, hoping that would ensure that her parents did not try to contact him, upset as they were.

"I'm so sorry." Helene cried again.

"If you had told us the truth from the start, Pam, then this would have gone a lot differently." William pointed out.

Pam closed her eyes, frowning. "Yeah, Dad, I know." she said with anguish. "I know."

-TO-

Pam paced around the house, not knowing what to do with herself. She found herself glancing at the clock every so often, wishing the day would go away and then Jim would be home from work. Geraldine, the domestic violence advocate came at the agreed hour and sailed off merrily after a few more hours had passed. Pam was worn out completely, with her parents, going through court preparations and other possible avenues of support and help with Geraldine, and then, a mad cleaning spree she had undertaken in hope to pass the time. Eventually she stopped and sat down, having wildly exacerbated the injury to her ribs while vigorously – angrily – vacuuming and scrubbing.

She sat on the couch, thought after thought, memory after memory flying at her like arrows until she felt like every wound was re opened and filled with stinging salt. Without thinking about anything, she got to her feet slowly and went upstairs for a nap.

She stopped outside Jim's door, contemplating. Two and a half hours he finished work yet. Gently pushing the door open wide, she wandered inside. Across the room she stole, like a prowler, and carefully laid herself down on Jim's bed. She curled her knees up to her stomach, ignoring the ache in her side and turned her head into his pillow. Inhaling the comforting, fresh rain aroma that always hung about his person, she let herself drift away into a peaceful slumber.

-TO-

Jim laughed in wonder. "I can't believe you cleaned this place up."

Pam rolled her eyes at him. "Next time I'm bored I'll just play hide and seek with the mess then. All those cans and wrappers, instead of throwing them out I'll make an art project out of it. A diet pepsi robot."

Jim chuckled at her. "Dressed in a yellow shirt of course."

"And glasses."

"And a Bobble head."

"FALSE!" they said in unison. They looked at each other a moment and both burst with laughter.

"Hey," Jim said, abruptly quietening down. "You're giving me ideas, Beesly."

Pam laughed and went into the kitchen for some water.

"Jim," she started, once she had returned and sat down. "I just want to say…. Thanks, again. For letting me stay here and…. Well, everything."

Jim smiled sheepishly. "You don't have to keep saying thanks. It's okay. It's all paid back knowing you're safe." he said simply.

"I just don't want you to think I'm not grateful, because I really am. You're a good guy to know, Halpert." she said honestly.

Jim chose not to reply, only grinning at her and giving her a playful nudge. He lapsed into a deep silence. He was increasingly feeling like a fraud. With all the feelings he had for Pam overwhelming him – how could he possibly tell her without making her feel like he'd done all of this for her with an ulterior motive. Without making her feel like she was worth nothing, that he only helped her because he liked her – more than a friend – no, he didn't want that. He'd genuinely done everything for her to help keep her safe, he had acted with honest intentions, he was sure of that. But would she see it that way? Would she accuse him of lying, if one day she realized how he felt? But how long could he hide it? Again he tried hard to squash his feelings down and carry on acting the fool for her as always. That's what she needed. A good friend.

"Fargo's on." she said.

"Bring it, Beesly." he replied. She grinned back at him. Her skin was waxy and pale; she was exhausted. He wondered if she'd last out the movie.

"Here." he said, leaning down and retrieving a paper bag from the floor next to him.

Pam took it curiously.

"Mixed berry?" she said joyfully, opening the bag. "Jim, you're a saint."

Sadness fell over him, thinking of his inner feelings towards her. He forced a laugh and thought again about how complicated life was.

Chapter 31 by OfficeWriter

Sleep. Too much or too little. The more sleep she got only deepened her feelings of fatigue. When she shared a bed with Roy, his overlarge form denting the mattress beside her she had barely slept; sometimes existing on two, three hours a night. She would get up and ride to work every morning in a perpetual auto pilot, lasting out the day in a bleary haze, doing everything she should and being where she was supposed to be.

Since Jim had gone back to the office and she was now alone for a good part of her day, it seemed she had done little else but sleep. She slept on the couch. She slept in her given room. Increasingly, she slept in Jim's room; a fact she hoped with all her heart he was not aware of. She would last out the morning some days before going up for a nap on his large, comfortable bed. She liked the feeling of security his room provided, with the smells and fragrances that swaddled around her. There was a comforting familiarity in being there, safe against his sheets. She never felt alone in there.

Despite the frequency of her naps, despite having more sleep the last week and a half than she ever had in a month with Roy, despite this – she was growing increasingly exhausted. She was falling asleep unexpectedly. She would wake up on the couch, at the table, slumped over the arm of a chair. Her new found freedom came with many devils, it seemed. She wasn't clock watching any more, wasn't worried about small puerile infractions such as not remembering to count the beers in the fridge or the house being too hot, because no one was going to explode with fury over such things. No one was going to be angry if she came home five minutes after she said would be.

Still. Learned behaviour at the hands of trauma dies hard. Pam found herself compulsively straightening cushions, checking for toaster crumbs – a particular red flag to the quick bull of Roy's rage. It was all so draining.

She had woken up from her second nap barely five minutes before she heard Jim at the door. She straightened out the blue and green striped cover expertly – after all she'd had much practice at getting things perfectly done in a rush - and hurried down the stairs just in time to hear two voices at the door.

"I was just passing by and I thought I'd stop in." she heard.

"Passing by." Jim sounded skeptical. "Yes. Out here."

"I pass and I, er stay." Pam heard through the door.

"Just happened to pass by right here." Jim replied.

"You would not believe how many times this has happened to me. I'm out driving around and then I'm like, hey, there's Ryan out there and the next thing I know we're sitting out there like bro's you know, Batman and the Hoff, if they hung out and the Hoff ever got off of the island…."

Pam heard the metallic scratching of the key being pushed into the lock and briefly considered fleeing back upstairs and feigning sleep. Jim would cover for her, she knew that. But studying the distance between the stairs, the door and the living room she saw she wouldn't make it up there without being seen and so she resignedly sidled into the living room and sat down.

Jim followed her in to the room a moment later, throwing her a semi-amused shrug.

"Oooohhh what is going on here?" Michael grinned with mock sternness, playfully flicking his eyes between the two. "Some sort of secret…" Michael trailed off, noticing the fading bruises on the left of Pam's face.

"I had an accident." Pam said quickly.

"Michael was passing by, Pam." Jim said by way of an explanation.

"Right." She replied.

"It's good to see you, Pam." Michael said. Groaning he sat down in the corner chair, adjacent from Pam. He grinned devilishly at the two of them. "Well, wow I had no idea…. How long has this been happening?"

Jim glanced at him with concern. "No, Michael… no – there is nothing happening." he assured.

"Jim is just letting me stay here while I look for another place." Pam explained nervously.

Michael laughed. "Well okay then. Is Roy here too?"

"Um, no, Michael, Roy and I broke up." Pam said placidly.

An awkward silence thickened between the three of them. "Well, Pamela…. You know what they say… there's fish in the sea. Of course there are sea worms and fungus too in the sea so you gotta be careful what you fish for."

"Oh… um… okay." Pam nodded at him, wide eyed.

"So were you in an accident?" Michael asked. Jim looked on apprehensively.

Pam shrugged blithely. "Yeah."

"That's unfortunate.. what happened? Was it bad, you know like the time I burned my foot on my grill? Did you burn yourself?"

"She didn't burn her head." Jim said pointedly.

"It was just an accident." Pam maintained.

"Oh… okay…" Michael laughed again. "I was picturing something completely different. Those fools in the office." he smirked.

Pam stared at him in horror, before turning to Jim with a frown of confusion.

"What exactly were you picturing, Michael?" she sad.

"Oh you know, crazy stuff."

Pam was blunt. "What did they say, Michael?" she asked, throwing a glare at Jim who shrugged at her and averted his eyes to Michael.

"Michael?" Jim pressed.

Michael's anxious gaze ping ponged between the two of them. "Okay, okay… here's the thing. We are like a big family and I'm like the boss of that family, Phyllis is the grandmother who smells like mothballs and Creed is that creepy uncle that comes to thanksgiving dinner every year but you never remember his name and Meredith-"

"Say it, Michael." Pam said sharply.

"Michael…." Jim added.

Michael squirmed noticeably in his seat. "Pam, you are like the mother in our family…. You take care of everyone in the office and you leave candy on the desk for all of us and you are great at getting Toby out of my hair…"

"Michael, don't." Jim waved a hand at him in frustration.

"It's office gossip, Jim, honestly I don't even listen to any of that crap."

Pam shook her head at him furiously. "What crap, Michael?"

"Well…"

"Say it."

"You know they are… idiots and I just think we shouldn't listen to them. Like Kevin. You love him because he's big and goofy and you want to hold his hand when he crosses the street, but he is so clueless."

"And?"

"People talk… that's it. You have people like Angela who throw wind into the caution and everyone gets scared… but they are idiots, Pam." Michael said dismissively. "But here's the thing…."

Pam listened to Michael with growing frustration, feeling helplessly as though everyone in her world was turning round on her. She heard words, snippets of Michael's explanations – Kevin, cheating, Angela, obviously, Phyllisengagement, Kelly, obviously, Jim, affair, obviously.

She grew angry. People were dumb – and blind. It was obvious to them she had had an affair with Jim and had broken up her own relationship and smashed the heart of a good man like Roy. The only thing that wasn't obvious to her colleagues was the truth. She gritted her teeth, swallowing down waves of anger.

Michael continued to speak, but she was no longer listening. She was far away in the depths of the most despairing emotions of all, hopelessness and despondency.

-TO-

Jim finally managed to encourage Michael out the door half an hour later. Pam didn't really blame Michael for any of it. Michael was Michael and he didn't have any harmful intentions. His visit had unwittingly brought a new cloud of despair, and she was fed up with everything. She rounded on Jim.

He held his hands up in front of him. "Pam, I didn't know. Honestly."

She studied him angrily, observing the worried lines tightening over his features, his honest hazel eyes looking straight at her, clear and sincere. Her resolve fell to pieces, her shoulders dropped and she stared miserably at the floor.

"I'm so tired of it all." she said heavily. He laid a hand on her shoulder awkwardly.

"Come on, Beesly." he said kindly, leading her towards the kitchen. They were stepping through the living room and into the kitchen when Jim audibly groaned at the sound of knocking on the front door.

"I'll get rid of him." he said automatically, making his way out of the room. Pam closed her eyes wearily. She was thinking of how good another nap would feel when she heard a familiar voice.

"Mom?" she called out in surprise, walking up the hallway behind Jim.

"Pammy." she said warmly. Helene's arms were stretched wide, open and inviting. Pam fell into her gratefully, feeling inexplicably happy to see her. A shape moved behind Helene and Pam felt a second pair of arms, stronger than her mothers, reach around her lovingly and hold her in a tight embrace. Emotion rose up wave-like through her body, she desperately wanted to cry.

"There now." Her father brushed a kiss over her forehead.

"I know you didn't want us to come," Helene began apologetically. "But we couldn't get a second of sleep without seeing you, Pam."

Pam smiled at her. "It's okay Mom. I'm glad you're here."

After the introductions were over with – with Pam, still stinging from her colleagues betrayal, putting a careful emphasis on the word friend – the four adults settled in the living room.

Jim offered Helene and William his room if they wanted to stay. William assured both him and Pam they had a very nice reservation nearby and had already checked in. Helene was looking over her daughter nervously.

"Roy did that?" She looked dangerously close to breaking down into tears again and Pam, ever attentive to her Mother's feelings hurried to reassure her.

"I'm okay Mom, it's not as bad as it looks." Helene took hold of Pam's hand and held it close to her chest. Any anger Pam had left at her melted away.

After rehashing various parts of the last week and a half yet again, this time for her worried parents, Pam was completely drained. Words began to run together and she started to think of nothing but going to bed.

"Pam," Helene was saying, then her soft fingers were under Pam's chin, pressing her head upwards to face her. "I am so, so sorry for what I said to you. I didn't know."

"It's okay Mom." she said tiredly.

"Jim," William turned to him, clearly trying to send the younger man a message. "How about we go out and grab a beer?"

"Uh.. sure." Jim said, catching on. He stood up and grinned at Pam and Helene. The two men left the house, promising not to be too long.

The room was quiet once Jim and her father had gone. Pam and Helene sat side by side on the couch like bookends, unspoken words festering between them.

"I feel terrible." Helene said.

"Don't, Mom."

"Pam, I have to apologize to you. I truly did not mean to take Roy's side over yours. But I knew you weren't telling me something. Your dad was right, we treated Roy like a son, and we trusted him too. When he called and I heard him in tears, I felt so sorry for him. I didn't know. It was wrong of me. I know you don't have a cruel bone in your body; I know you wouldn't have cheated on Roy. I'm sorry I allowed myself to listen to him."

Pam sniffed. "He can be very persuasive."

"He can be but it's not an excuse. None of this is your fault, okay? I hope you will forgive me." Helene said, patting her daughters hand.

"It's okay Mom." she stressed.

Helene stroked back her daughters hair from her forehead. "You look so tired." she observed. "You're not sleeping well, are you?"

Pam shook her head a little. "Not too much, no."

Without a word, Helene stood up and gently tugged at Pam's wrist. "Come on, get up. Upstairs."

"What?" Pam narrowed her eyes at her mother, but allowed herself to be lifted to her feet.

Helene led Pam out of the room and up the stairs, her hand on her lower back. Pam's face was pale and twice Helene steadied her as she stumbled on the stairs. Pam pointed out the room she was staying in. Briskly Helene led her across the room and gently pushed her down on the bed. She hunted around, eventually turning up some sweatpants and a t-shirt. Handing these to Pam, she told her daughter to get changed.

"Mom.. I'm sorry." Pam whispered to her, gratefully slipping under the covers.

"Ssshhhh." Helene said simply. "We can talk about everything tomorrow. Get some rest. We'll sort everything out after." Helene sat down on the edge of the bed and took her daughters hand.

"It's all okay Pam, you just rest now. I'll be back to visit you tomorrow and we can have a real long talk then. I just needed to see for myself tonight that you're okay."

Pam sniffed a little, already beginning to drift off. "Love you Mom." she mumbled.

"Love you Pammy. Sleep well."

Once Helene was sure Pam was sleeping soundly she fussily rearranged the comforter over her daughter, stroked back the hair from her face and leaned forward to press a soft kiss onto her forehead.

Then Helene Beesly made her way back downstairs to wait for the men to return.

Chapter 32 by OfficeWriter

Jim was tired. He was tired a lot lately. He'd gone up to bed around half past eleven last night, despite the fact that it was early for a Friday night, despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Beesly had only left not fifteen minutes before. He'd checked in on Pam, and feeling much relieved at seeing her sleeping soundly, had gone straight to his own room. He had not slept though. The hours morphed seamlessly from one hour to the next, his thoughts twisting, turning, chasing each other around his brain, avoiding the drowsy relief of sleep.

Somewhere past three o'clock he got up, stepped lightly down the hallway, and peered round the door into Pam's room.

She had not moved much during the night. A faint shimmer of early morning light fell over the bed, creating soft shadows around her. A small smile played across Jim's face; she was sleeping so soundly, the blanket drawn up protectively against her chin, obscuring the lower section of her face from view. Stretching himself up, Jim leaned forward slightly, hanging on to the door. Observing her quietly, he could see the same pinched and exhausted look about her face, her too thin limbs protruding keenly against the blankets. Satisfied that she was indeed sleeping peacefully, he went back to bed to finish another restless night.

-TO-

If Jim had had any unconscious anxieties about going to a bar with a man he had only been introduced to within the hour, he had found himself surprisingly at ease. Pam's dad was the kind of man who was welcoming and friendly, without any overt attempt of ingratiating himself. He possessed a rare quality that screamed all round good guy from across a room and Jim had found himself at ease almost immediately.

"We know you're not to blame here." William Beesly had said almost straight away. Jim had simply nodded in surprise and swallowed a large mouthful of his beer. The man sighed softly. "I gotta say, I feel like a real jerk."

Jim hadn't expected that at all.

"I can't help feeling that I let her down." William had said. Jim was quiet, sensing the man had wanted to unload. "Pam was our first. You're really cautious with the first child, especially a daughter. We were overprotective. I was overprotective." he corrected himself. When William had looked up after a moment, his eyes had been wide and dull with a deep hurt. "Why didn't she come to me, Jim?" he had croaked out miserably.

Jim had to think. "Because… because she loves you." he had said simply, a little embarrassed. William had only tilted his head, drawing his eyebrows together questioningly. "She was ashamed." he had added. "She just got caught in this… horrible situation. She thought you'd be hurt by it, and she didn't want that."

William had dropped his head at that. "That's my Pam." he said, choked up. "Loves everyone else more than herself."

Jim knew it to be true. Now, as he lay restlessly in his bed recalling the conversation, he thought about how she had been willing to let herself be physically hurt by Roy. What had she said… something like, If I'm being hurt, no one else is. She didn't want to tell her mom because it would have hurt her.

Jim had had a good talk with William.

"I gotta say, I want to go tear Roy's head off." William had told him. Jim, of course, understood. Thinking about that small punch to the jaw he himself had laid on Roy still brought a slight joy to him.

"She told us you got her out of there." William had said, looking him square in the face.

He had been modest. It wasn't exactly true – he hadn't made her leave, or been there – he was the one she came to.

"No, not really. I just-"

"Said you got worried and told her she could stay with you."

That was when Jim had noticed the man's hands, tracing round the ring of his glass, something he had often seen Pam do. They had the same hands, graceful and smooth with long, slender fingers. Artist fingers.

He had hedged. "Roy… got along with everyone." he'd said. "After a while I got a sense that something was going on. I thought I saw him…." he had stopped, noting the flush on the mans face. "Well, I just asked her. A few times, actually. I offered her my place if she ever needed somewhere to go." he'd decided to spare him the details. Pam would make up her own mind about what she wanted her parents to know, or not know.

William had looked absolutely miserable. Jim recalled the look on the older mans face with pity.

"There's a lot she's not telling us, Jim." he had said. William was treating Jim like a confidante, like an old friend. Jim had been quite touched the man had been able to trust him so quickly. Difficult words climbed up in his throat and stuck there. Unable to spit them out, he'd settled for an agreeable nod and another mouthful of beer.

"As a father, you're supposed to stop this crap from happening." William had growled. "You're supposed to keep your kids safe." he cupped his beer. "What kind of man are you if you can't do that." he muttered angrily.

"Pam doesn't blame you." was all Jim could think to say at the time. It was true. Jim himself didn't think her father was at fault in anyway. Pam had hid everything from everyone.

"If you are at all responsible for what happened to her, in any way, then so am I." he'd said. "And so is Helene and everyone who ever knew Pam these last years. Nobody saw anything wrong. Nobody."

"You did."

Pam's father was wallowing up in guilt. Jim felt pity for the man. Hadn't he himself apologized to Pam enough times for not seeing sooner what was happening? Her father though, seemed to be mentally tearing himself up for every time he believed he had ever failed her. It wasn't fair.

Jim rolled over and lightly punched his pillow. It was gone four o'clock now. His mind just would not settle.

"She said you were a good guy." William had later said, shaking Jim's hand as he prepared to leave with Helene for the hotel.

"Thank you." Helene had said, becoming overwhelmed. She grasped Jim's hand tightly.

"We'll be seeing you tomorrow, then." William replied.

"I've written our cell phone numbers out and left them on the table in there." Helene had said, pointing. "Just please call if you need to. Any time."

Of course he would.

Jim turned over again in bed. Finally drifting into sleep, he took the parting words of Pam's father with him, echoing through the darkness as it pulled him down.

"Helene, don't worry. She'll be okay here."

-TO-

It felt like her head was rattling. There was a loud buzzing sound, repetitive and constant. Slowly, Pam's eyes opened and she lifted her head. She followed the sound, her senses beginning to wake and reached for her phone off the night table. The clock on the screen told her it was nearly five in the morning.

Her phone continued to ring. Number withheld. Given the hour, she felt a stir of panic inside of her. Very few people had her new cell number; Jim, her mom, dad and Penny, Toby. And Geraldine, of course.

She sat up, alarmed. What if… her mom and dad were driving to their hotel late last night. What if there had been an accident?

"Hello?" she answered quickly.

"What have you done to me?" she heard. Pam sat up, shocked and leaned forward.

"What have you done?" he slurred again.

Pam closed her eyes a moment, feeling the small room sway a little in front of her.

"Roy, you're drunk and this is not a good idea." she finally said, with as much calm as she could muster.

"Listen to what you done to me." he barked loudly.

Pam drew back. "I didn't do anything to you. Don't call me again." she said forcefully. "And I'm calling the police."

"Wait, Pam, wait…." he said, softer now. "Don't hang up. I can get over there in minutes. Just listen to me."

Her stomach lurched. The phone slipped out of her sweaty grip and bounced to the carpet. She could hear Roy's voice rising, ranting, growing infuriated, as always. She leaned over and snatched the phone back up. With a certain amount of satisfaction, she disconnected the call, cutting his complaints off in mid-air.

Falling back against the pillows, she gulped several deep breaths down. Like an omen, the cell phone began to vibrant again. Grabbing the bed cover, she pulled it up to her chest tightly, feeling her limbs liquify and quiver. She huddled in the bed, hating Roy, hating herself. The sound of his voice, invading her ears, so close to her and she had turned to jello right away.

The phone rang and rang and rang. The answer machine icon was blinking. Then the messages started coming.

In tandem. The phone rang out, a text message or two beeped in, the phone rang out again.

The messages were awful. Rambling, drunk and full of accusations and insults. Roy sure had a way with drunken words.

Dam. I thought you killed yourself. LIAR.

Nice seeing Helene and William today. I bet. They know that you are a lyin cheatin bitch

Dont piss me off I can get over there in 10 mins

the bitch lives, dam

Pick up the phone

You dont get to decide you dont get to treat me this way answer or I'm coming down there right now

Pam stopped reading after the first six messages. Emotions exploded inside of her; panic, fear, anger. Anger. Her chest throbbed painfully, her breath was hoarse and rasping. She didn't hesitate. Pam dialed nine one one.

She was promised an officer would be out as soon as possible. She wasn't going to hold her breath.

Angry. She was so Angry.

Pam lurched forward sickeningly, throwing her hand over her mouth; and sprinted across the hall into the bathroom; barely making it. She vomited over and over, until there was nothing left but dry heaves and her stomach lurched painfully. Her left side was on fire. Everything was spinning so fast. She couldn't think properly. The police were coming. Roy was coming.

She staggered to her feet, and slouched down the hall to Jim's room. She didn't waste time knocking.

Chapter 33 by OfficeWriter

"Please come away from the window." he coaxed, for the third time. She nodded her head slightly, only half hearing him, her vigil taking precedence over everything else.

"Pam." he said quietly, lightly catching her elbow in attempt to nudge her to face him. Shrugging herself out of his hold, she turned her head back to the street again, her still expression betraying her cool demeanor. Jim watched her worriedly. To say she had been calm about Roy's threatened arrival was a massive miscalculation. She simply stood, silhouette like against the daylight, a facade of self-possession bound to fool any bystander. But Jim knew her, knew her well. He was familiar with the small motions of her pupils surreptitiously darting left and right, checking for signs of danger. He saw behind those pupils, the heavy sadness and shock preparing to overwhelm her with all the strength of a rogue wave.

"It's been over an hour now." he stated weakly. Like it mattered. It could have been a minute or an hour, neither would change the situation. "Please come sit down." He didn't know what else to do. She had slipped into a void, some kind of empty space where she was resigned to a life spent looking over her shoulder.

"Pam," he said. "Chances are Roy's passed out drunk somewhere. It's daylight. It was hours ago he called."

"Hope that's what it is." she said absently, gazing over the street. "The police wouldn't have been any use." she muttered.

"I'll go call them again." Jim offered. Pam shuddered, blinked slowly, a frown creasing her forehead. Like a sleepwalker she turned to him.

"Don't." she said shortly. She crossed her arms over her chest, her eyes wandering erratically over the kitchen.

"Pam, I think-"

"Don't."

"Okay, so-"

"Shut it." she snapped.

Jim stared at her, taken aback. He watched her, now pacing agitatedly in front of the window.

"All this time." she muttered to herself. "I was an idiot to think I could get away."

"Roy's the idiot." he reminded her. "Not you."

Pam threw him a stormy glare. "What do you know? You never got locked in a bathroom for hours because you wanted to visit your family. You never had beer bottles thrown at you. No one choked you in anger! You didn't wake up night after night with someone climbing all over you and going along with it to keep them happy! You didn't let it all happen!"

She stopped, deep breaths shuddering her body, her face furiously flushing. Jim struggled for words, feeling an intense hatred for Roy burning up inside him.

"Listen to me, it is not your fault!" he said earnestly, reaching for her. Only then he realized his mistake. They had been here before. She shied away from him, unspeakably annoyed. He had learned from experience that touching her when she was angry or frightened usually only served to make her retreat further – he had a feeling that any act of kindness at that moment was indistinguishable from a kick to the head to her. He had simply forgotten; his first impulse being to offer comfort to her. He was a man who naturally often used physical contact in lieu of words, he was freely expressive with comfort and emotions with people he felt close to.

"Sorry." he mumbled, looking down at the floor.

This was the curtain raiser. Before either of them realized what was happening, Pam had pushed away from the window, looking angrier than Jim had seen her before and then she was yelling, yelling things he wished he hadn't heard, things he wished had never happened, things truly he wanted to kill Roy over.

"He's in my head all the time!" she shouted. Her hair was wild, her eyes blazing brightly. "I have to get out of here. I shouldn't even have come here. Roy will hurt you because of me, I know it! I'm so damn stupid!"

"Pam, wait-"

"I've got to go! Don't you see?! Because of me you're in danger. I don't want him to hurt you, I couldn't-" she broke off.

A loud banging was coming from the front door. She stopped still in the middle of the room, frightened.

"Jim, don't!" she cried as he turned towards the door. "Don't go out there!"

He faced her again, trying hard to keep his calm. "Pam, it's okay. Let me just-"

"No!" She caught hold of his arm, tugging him backwards. As the noise from the front of the house grew, Pam furiously panicked. They could hear loud, forceful shouting outside. Jim studied her a moment, then carefully pressed his free hand on her back in attempt to encourage her into the living room and away from the door. She began to cry helplessly and allowed him to lead her out of the kitchen.

Into the midst of the chaos came loud and harsh cracking and splintering sounds followed by a rush of warm morning air.

"Step away from her, sir!"

Both of them swung around, shocked. Jim looked at the cracked mess of his door, the angry faces of the two police officers. Realisation hit him like a bullet and he quickly stepped back and put his hands up in the air.

"Hey," he grimaced weakly as his arms were wrapped painfully behind him. All too quickly his cheek connected with the opposite wall and two strong hands held him in place. From somewhere else in the hall he heard Pam emotionally pleading with the police, this was Jim's house, he lived here, not him, not him, not him. And eventually they did let go of him, if not rather begrudgingly. He stood rubbing his wrists, words having evaded him.

"Not him" Pam said firmly, stepping up to Jim's side.

She half thought the officers weren't convinced. "Roy, Roy Anderson." She stated clearly.

"We called over an hour ago." Jim complained, not hiding his annoyance. "Thanks for showing up, but the real Roy is out there breaking restraining orders and harassing and threatening her with a free pass. He needs picking up before he decides to come over here for real."

Finally the two officers left, the little use they had been. Pam lifted her head towards Jim anxiously. She watched him clenching his jaw, before dropping his hands to his side and walking into the living room, not looking back.

"I'm sorry."

She had followed him into the room. When he didn't respond, she began to feel her barely contained panic overwhelming her again. Jim was mad at her. He wasn't speaking. He would hate her now. It all came flying out of her, every molecule of hurt she felt. She cried silently behind him, crying for what had happened, for the last two weeks, crying over Roy, crying over her sad pathetic existence. Crying for Jim and the good man that he was.

She reached out to him, catching hold of his wrist and turning it over in her hand.

"Did they hurt you?" she asked, noticing, but not really seeing a tear glide off of her chin and drop neatly into his open palm.

Jim turned to face her. She was a pitiable sight, with large wide eyes that were pleading with him almost desperately, tremors rocking her small body. Thin, much too thin. Tears coursing over fading bruises on her cheek. He frowned slightly, and pulled his wrist out of her ice cold fingers.

What she had yelled a short while ago in the kitchen would haunt him. Harsh truths abut her life with Roy rushed out in her rage, bare and naked and ugly, and his stomach had turned roughly. That man was not fit to live. He felt overwhelming sadness at the life she had lived with him, Pam who was such a kind and decent person, it was beyond reasoning.

"Jim, I'm-" Pam started. Jim lifted his arms up around her, pulling her towards his chest, effectively muffling the rest of her words. He gently rubbed her back, the lightness and fragility of her quivering body awakening a primitive instinct in him, his heart slipping on to the edge of his tongue. He wanted to keep her safe. He wanted to tell her the truth about how he felt. He wanted her to know so badly. Needed her to know.

Pam for her part, simply sobbed into his shoulder, exhausted. "I'm really sorry." she mumbled again. Jim chose not to answer, instead lowering his head helplessly towards the crook of her neck where her soft curls were clumped together.

"Pam." Jim said quietly, so softly she almost didn't hear.

"Mmmm." Pam murmured, turning her head a little, almost brushing his cheek. His head was so close to hers; she could smell the fresh earth and rain scent about him that so comforted her when she took her illicit naps in his bedroom.

"Oh, Pam." Helene's voice jumped in between them, breaking them apart. They both turned round to see her moving across the room to her daughter, her features drawn tight with worry.

"What's happened, honey?" she asked pitifully, taking in the mess of tears, curls and emotional open wounds that had consumed her daughter. William was just a step behind his wife.

"What happened?" William addressed Jim. "The lock is broken on the door. Is she hurt?" he demanded.

Jim thought their entrance at the very moment to be a blessing. And a curse. He pondered on it.

Guess you could take your pick, he thought.

-TO-

"Roy said he was coming here?" William questioned again. He seemed to be having trouble understanding it. Pam was now seated on the couch, next to Helene.

"We called the cops." Jim explained. "They weren't much good." he added ruefully, remembering being pushed up against the wall. He didn't elaborate, a strong part of him not wanting to explain the misunderstanding to Pam's parents.

"I almost wish he would come here, right now." William growled in a low voice.

"Calm down." Helene told him, motioning to Pam.

"Let me call you a locksmith, at least." William said to Jim, wanting to be doing something practical to help – not to mention he certainly didn't want Pam staying in a house without adequate security.

Pam hadn't said much since her parents had arrived, she simply sat down next to her mother on the couch, pale faced and quivering still. Helene was softly studying Jim with a thoughtful expression playing over her features.

He suspected she was thinking about her and her husband walking in anxiously after seeing the door ajar and lock broken; seeing Jim and Pam standing in the middle of the room comforting each other the way they did. Often people misunderstood the friendship he had with Pam. The two of them were close in most ways but one – the obvious, primal way that men and women bond themselves to one another – yet nobody could deny that they did have an unusually close bond between them already, for non sexual partners. It was hard for an outsider to understand their friendship without attributing more sordid elements to satisfy their own curiosity.

Still, he understood what the scene must have looked like to Pam's parents, the same way he understood how things must have sounded between him and Pam to the police outside the house. Fortunately both Helene and William had saved everyone the embarrassment and not brought it up. Yet.

"Come on, son, let's go see if we can't fix up that door a little for today. Make everyone feel a little better all round." William motioned to Jim.

The room was quieter without the men, although only at the other end of the house, in the hall, the absence was noticeable.

"Can I get you a drink?" Helene asked kindly.

Pam was sitting forward with her elbows on her knees and resting her chin on top of her clasped hands, looking about as downcast as Helene had seen her.

"Jim's put up with so much." she said miserably. Helene looked at her questioningly. "I'm scared Roy is going to do something to him, if the police don't arrest him again."

"They will." Helene reached up and caught hold of Pam's hand. "He broke bail."

Pam slouched, shoulders slumped, looking unhappily down at the carpet. "I think I'm outstaying my welcome here. All this craziness. Now this."

Helene smiled at her. A nice, warm motherly smile. "Oh, I really doubt you are wearing out your welcome in this house." she said knowingly, patting Pam's hand.

"If Roy had turned up….. If the police hadn't…." she left it unsaid, remembering her brief but full terror when the officer was so rough with Jim that morning.

"You're very fond of Jim, aren't you?" Helene said, her voice sweet and kind. Pam lifted her head, a hint of a smile playing on her lips.

"He's been a good friend." she said.

"He certainly has."

They lapsed into silence. Pan leaned her head comfortably against her mother's shoulder, grateful to have her there. Despite her telling her parents not to come, she couldn't deny how touched and relieved she was that they came anyway.

"Would you want to go stay at another place?" Helene asked curiously. "If, say, you really believed you had outstayed your welcome here?"

Pam mused for a moment before answering. "Not really… no… it's nice here and it feels safe. I worry sometimes though."

"That you might be taking too much advantage of Jim's good nature?"

"Something like that, Mom."

"You worry he'll think you've been here too long, and want you to leave?"

"I guess." she rubbed her eyes tiredly. "I don't know, Mom."

Helene smiled sympathetically at Pam. "You know, one day, everything is going to work out for you, Pammy."

Nodding against her Mother's shoulder, Pam said she hoped so too.

"Everything will be okay." Helene enveloped her in a warm hug. "And Pammy?"

"Yeah?"

"About Jim." Helene gently kissed Pam's head.

"Yes?"

Helene laughed. "I'm not worried."

Chapter 34 by OfficeWriter

Pam woke to a dense, salty smell loitering over her. She wrinkled her nose sleepily and turned over in the bed. It was dark, very dark still, and very quiet.

Closing her eyes, she was conscious of the short staccato rhythm of her breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Small, sharp full stops. Her heart contracted almost painfully, and she lifted her hand to her chest, grimacing as it came away sticky. Tentatively she touched the sheets, her fingers draping nervously over the cool damp underneath her. As she slept, her t-shirt had molded to her as if overnight it had sunk into her upper half, forming a second skin. She kicked out at the blankets, irked, allowing them to drape off the bed to the carpet.

She'd been in the dream again, only she couldn't remember; something was different somehow. But she knew it was the same nightmare again, the same hands crushing her windpipe furiously, and she screamed and screamed but the dark, angry hands had stolen her sounds and swallowed her cries for help. The same nightmare; her and him, abandoned alone in an unfamiliar world together, the sole occupants of this particular hell. And there they were, destined to repeated the same hideous scene over and over again, alone together forever.

She lay awake until long after the sun rose.

-TO-

Pam was quite overwhelmed at the overabundance of pink and white and red petals in front of her. Her parents had outdone themselves, it was truly a sight to savour. Pam ran her finger over an especially delicate looking pink petal in wonder. They carried a sweet, natural fragrance into the room. She couldn't help the smile that came to her face.

"They're beautiful Mom, Dad." she said. She gently put them down on the table, not wanting to disturb the arrangement of the flowers. "Oh, a vase too?" she exclaimed happily, peeling off the brown paper at the bottom of the bouquet.

"We thought Jim might not have one." Helene smiled.

"It's… perfect. Thank you." Pam said again, and seated herself in the armchair nearest the couch.

William lounged over by the wall, looking down at his daughter. "You look beat. You getting enough sleep?" he said.

Pam simply nodded. "How's Penny?"

Helene laughed. "Same old Penny, everything here and there. She's enjoying these modern dance classes she's taking. I think it's doing her some good. She is worried about you though. She wants you to know she is going to call you later."

William groaned audibly. "And by 'going to call', you can expect to find her on the doorstep at some ungodly hour, wondering why you haven't got the coffee brewing all ready for her."

Helene turned. "Now William. That only happened once." she said.

"Once? Have you forgotten the morning after the superbowl? And there was the time when she wanted to pick up that soup from you or whatever it was? The birds weren't even up." he started loudly.

"You're making such a fuss." Helene rolled her eyes.

Pam laughed, despite herself. She was always amused by these little battles. Penny and her father were as opposite as night and day. Pam, like her father had never been a morning person, and she too had found Penny's unwavering energy at the break of dawn to be somewhat irritating at times.

"A fuss. Did I make a fuss when I fell over that umbrella stand you insisted we just had to have, at god knows what stupid o'clock trying to open the door in the dark?"

"It wasn't that early, really." Helene smirked at Pam.

"Not that early?" William said, outraged.

"I was up." Helene replied.

"Didn't get the door though did you?" William pointed out.

"I wanted you up before noon." Helene said, and turned to Pam. "Penny is a godsend."

"You got that alright. Might I remind you I had to drive her back home that morning, and with a busted foot!"

"It was hardly bruised." Helene said to Pam in amusement. "It was only a stumble, but you know what men are like when it comes to a little pain. Imagine if they had to give birth. The world would come to an end."

"A little pain?" William exclaimed, enjoying the sight of Pam laughing. "Perhaps you ought to remember that Penny also dropped that two ton purse of hers on my foot that morning as well. I'm lucky I'm not in a cast."

Pam couldn't help herself any longer, and burst into peals of laughter. Her parents smiled at her lovingly.

"Have you heard anything from the police?" Helene wanted to know. Pam started to reply, wincing at the red hot pain in her side that her laughter had brought on, and stopped at Jim coming into the room, laden with bags.

"Groceries." he said. Taking the bags over to the kitchen. "Hey." he said to Pam's parents on coming back into the room.

"We were just asking if there had been any contact from the police?" Helene asked.

Pam pulled a face. "No, Mom. Not really." Her parents stared at her questioningly.

"They haven't found Roy yet." Jim supplied helpfully, and sat down on the couch by the armchair Pam was sitting in.

William shook his head angrily. "That's ridiculous. Where's he going to go? Where's that brother of his? I'm sure they'll find him there."

"He got fired." Pam said quietly.

"From your work?" William looked delighted. Pam nodded slowly.

"Well, that's a relief, isn't it?" Helene said kindly. "At least he won't be there when you go back to work."

"Yeah." Pam looked down at the carpet.

"Toby told us yesterday afternoon, that Roy's gone." Jim answered, casting a worried eye over Pam. "Under the circumstances they couldn't keep him on."

"And the police?" William pushed.

"Pam called them, and then I called them, they are just going round in circles. They say they don't know where Roy is but they are looking." Jim frowned. "They really aren't the most proactive of forces."

"Or sympathetic." Pam added, thinking back in disgust over how ruthless they had been with Jim, how quick to employ methods of violence against him and, just like Roy, they hadn't bothered to apologize to Jim, or Pam. The smaller policeman of the two, the dark haired one had looked positively disappointed to have to let such an easy apprehension go, lawful or not.

"But how are they planning to keep you safe, Pam?" Helene said, worried.

"Really easily." Jim said sarcastically.

"Yeah. They have a three step plan." Pam agreed bitterly. Her parents looked confused, flitting their eyes between the two of them.

"It's called 911." Pam and Jim said in unison. William brought his hand to his forehead and shook his head unbelievably.

"I oughta get down there and have some words with the boys in blue." he muttered. Pam threw her mother a look, and Helene simply shook her head in return.

Jim broke the silence. "I promise you she'll be safe here." he said earnestly.

"I know, Jim, I know." William replied, suddenly looking very tired.

Helene offered to help Jim put the groceries away, imploring Pam to stay seated with her father.

Without the two of them in the room, a tension grew between Pam and William. She felt uncomfortable, anticipating her father had something on his mind he wished to unload. Suddenly she felt very young. William was fighting nervously on the couch, tapping his finger up and down on his knee.

"Dad?" she tilted her head up at him tentatively. The man remained quiet, downcast.

"How did this happen, Pam?" he finally said, his voice thin and unfamiliar. Pam was startled.

"I'm sorry." she said quietly. Somewhere in the kitchen she could hear Jim and her mother talking together as they emptied the bags Jim had brought home.

William sighed. "What are you sorry for?"

Her stomach turned over. "All of this. Everything."

"Oh, come now, none of this is down to you." William told her frankly. "Roy is just one of those socio… whatever who fooled all of us. When I think of what he's done to you…"

"Don't." Pam said.

"Don't what?"

"Don't think about it." she replied.

"I can't not think about it."

Outside it had started to rain, big crashing raindrops that hit the windows like pebbles.

"Jim got back just in time." Pam remarked thoughtfully, turning her head to the window on the left of her.

"I am sorry, Pam." William spoke. "I should have been there. I should have seen. I let you down."

She shook her head firmly. "No. I didn't want you to know."

William's face fell in sadness. "Do you not trust me?"

Pam groaned inwardly and cursed herself, she certainly hadn't meant to imply that at all. "I just didn't want you to know. I'm sorry. You're my dad. But there are some battles you just can't fight for me. I…. I think I was in denial a long time. How could I tell you when I couldn't admit it to myself…." she said, her voice heavy with emotion. "I knew you'd be hurt." she added.

"If he does one more thing to hurt you…." William faltered angrily.

"I'm not going back to the house." Pam said, changing the subject. True, she still had to speak to the landlord but it was already a fait accompli as far as she was concerned. "Not ever." She clarified on seeing her fathers' skeptical expression.

"Why don't you stay here?" William asked dismissively. "I think that young man over there wouldn't be too put out about having you as a permanent houseguest. Might even crack a smile or two." he joked.

Behind them Helene and Jim were busy.

"What's this?" Helene lifted out a brightly colored box from one of the few bags left unpacked. Jim looked back and smiled.

"Watercolor?" Helene said, an amused grin coming to her lips.

"Oh, yes." Jim took the watercolor set from her and went in the living room with his. Reaching out in front of him, he handed the set to Pam. She stared at the set, hardly believing it.

"What…"

"Wow, that's a good one." William said, leaning over to look closely.

Jim smiled. "Saw it while I was out." he said by way of explanation. "Least now you have no excuse." Pam looked up at him with wide eyes. Jim and her father laughed at her expression.

"Thirty-six colors" She she stated wondrously. "Wow."

William and Helene both looked over the set.

"Pam's own watercolors sort of… disappeared." Jim said tactfully. "When she went to pick up her things at the house, none of her art stuff was there." William grew visibly irritated again. Jim hurried to continue. "Thought of her when I saw it earlier." he shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Pam ran her hands over the art set like she was caressing an old friend. When she lifted her head, Jim saw her eyes glistening, with unshed tears. Of all the things Jim had done for her, this act of thoughtfulness was one of the most touching. She felt a little giddy. Her face burned hotly, she looked at Jim with a genuine smile of appreciation.

Helene patted Jim on the back gently and then made her way back to the kitchen.

"You guys are spoiling me." Pam said guiltily, motioning to the watercolor gift then pointing to the bouquet of flowers that her parents had given her. At that moment, she felt better than she had done in a long time. Maybe things would be okay, maybe at some point would work out, she thought.

"You're not even close to being spoiled." William replied sincerely, and stood up with his arms open wide to his daughter. Pam stood up and accepted the hug happily.

Chapter 35 by OfficeWriter

Jim leaned backwards on the chair and looked around at the darkening room. It would be an opportune time to prank Dwight, he thought with the instinctive ability to unconsciously know when to strike for maximum effect. And Dwight was really getting on his nerves, a quality he employed in abundance even before the whole breathing thing came into the makeup.

Yet after thinking on it, he came to the reluctant realization that with his usual audience of one out sick and spending the day with her sister he was ill motivated for pranking that morning. Without anyone to impress with his efforts; without her to smile and laugh with him pranking Dwight just was… less fun somehow. Of course it wouldn't be totally without mirth; and the man certainly was begging for some kind of revenge mischief to be bestowed upon him, but with Pam not there to share the joke, the main impetus Jim felt was very much diminished.

"Really?" he grumbled in Dwight's direction before leaning down to the floor and picking up his scattered sales reports off the floor again. Thinking on it, he stacked them again and dumped a mug on top as a paperweight.

"A healthy diaphragm is not a joke, Jim." Dwight stated, offended. Settling for a glare, Jim declined to say what he thought of such a joke.

"Okay, stop!" Jim exhaled a few minutes later when an irritating whistling erupted from across the desk.

Somewhat abashed, Dwight kept his eyes on the computer screen. "Every second you sit there being a slave to the demands of the body is as damaging as Meredith's fifteen minute smoking rule."

"Hey!" Meredith called over, affronted by the remark.

"Hey, twelve step, you ever hear that you only live once?" Dwight eyed her with superiority.

"Actually that's false, Buddha's live many lives." Jim said leaning back knowingly.

Dwight turned his attention back to his screen. "I do not accept the premise of reincarnation, Jim. I am training my body to be super efficient, using half the energy it takes for you to breathe." To make his point, he then drew long, exaggerated breaths in through his nose and out of his mouth. "Oh, yeah." he said. "Feel the impurities escaping."

"You mean, like hot air?" Jim said, eyebrows raised.

"False." Dwight clicked furiously at his mouse. "Hot air-"

Loud ringing filled the office, effectively silencing Dwight. The next few minutes was a mad scramble as Angela and Dwight stood and shouted overlapping instructions and Michael pelted for the exit at record speed, mowing down Oscar in the process.

"Fire's not your friend, Kevin!" Dwight called, instructing him to hurry with interpretive waving of his arms.

Soon, they were gathered outside the building.

"Okay, guys, listen up, we need a head count. We need to count off. Michael's number one. Where is he? Where is he? " Dwight shouted.

"The only thing I'm counting on is the hot firemen." Meredith said, leaning towards Kelly.

"Oh yeah." Kelly nodded happily. Angela tilted her head towards the two in annoyance.

"No." she said stubbornly.

Meredith wasn't fazed. "There ain't nothing hotter than a fireman who knows how to use his hose." she said seriously. Kevin giggled at them.

"Hey, Jim. When is Pam coming back?" Kevin said, still laughing.

Jim shook his head discreetly. "I dunno, Kev."

"Forgot to ask her when he rolled off her this morning." Meredith said to Kelly, using the side of her mouth. Kelly snickered behind her hand.

"What?"

"Yeah, man, what you doing doggin' Roy like that?" Darryl appeared. Jim suddenly felt very uncomfortable, noticing all the eyeballs on him at that moment.

"Okay, everyone. Shouldn't have to say this. But there is nothing going on between me and Pam. Okay?" he said irritably.

"That didn't work for Bill Clinton." Angela pointed out.

"Bill Clinton had sex with Pam?" Kevin said in awe. Dwight came running towards the group, knocking into Jim as he came to a stop.

"Where's Michael?" he yelled, looking around. Not waiting for an answer, he shot off towards the building.

"Hey, Dwight!" Angela shouted at his retreating back. "You can't go in."

"Dwight." Oscar protested.

"What the hell is Dwight doing? Michael stepped up behind Angela, leaning forward and squinting his eyes. She sidestepped away from him.

"There you are." Angela said, glaring at him.

Michael looked sheepish. "Here I am. Where's Dwight going?"

"Five bucks it's to his death." Stanley drawled dismissively and moved away from them as a flash of red indicated the arrival of the fire engines.

Michael groaned loudly. "He is an idiot. The man is an idiot, ladies and gentlemen." He jerked his neck round to see two firemen stepping out of the vehicle. "He went in the building? He's such an ass."

Raising her eyebrows, Angela scowled. "Hey, he was looking for you."

"He didn't go inside." Meredith cut in. "He ran off towards the back there." She pointed over in the direction of Michael's car and smiled suggestively at the firemen.

Michael looked somewhat relieved. "Oh… well… I better tell somebody anyway…. Idiot…" he mumbled looking around. "Jim, go check back there."

Jim reacted in surprise. "Uh, me, what?"

"Go check. Just yell at him to get back here." Michael said, trying to get the attention of a fireman.

"Yell at him?" Jim said in wonder.

"Excuse me, sir?" he heard Michael say as he walked off, seriously considering the sanity of the people that he worked with. He wanted to get away from any further interrogation about Pam, so perhaps Dwight had done him a favor. Michael was right, he worked with a bunch of idiots. He was more than irritated by them – fine, Darryl he understood, Darryl was friends with Roy, Roy and Darryl were warehouse, not office so his loyalties would be to Roy. But the rest of them, who saw Pam every day of the working week automatically believed she was at fault. And himself, he allowed, although with the feelings he had for Pam he supposed he deserved some of the fallout – but not Pam. Pam was blameless, she had done nothing to deserve any of this.

On he strode, his shoes slapping the ground loudly in his annoyance. Finally, he spotted Dwight, just on the side of the building, away from view of the staff. He was standing at the end corner; Jim suspected he was planning to go round the entire building. Now becoming thoroughly vexed, he decided to go back and assure Michael that Dwight was fine and coming back on his own.

Jim stood for a moment before turning back again, but before he could place more than a step forward two hands caught hold of him and forcefully shoved him back again the wall of the building.

"Halpert!" Roy growled, and immediately raised his fist, landing a punch square on his jaw. It was a fair hit, and Jim painfully collided with the wall again, briefly cursing Roy's strength. Jim was a tall man and if it wasn't for the wall he would have been on the ground – this is what he did to Pam?

Jim pushed back off the wall angrily. "You didn't deserve her. You almost killed her!" he shouted angrily, remembering the vicious red-purple fingermarks he'd left around her neck. He pushed Roy back, hard. Hands grabbed at him, pushed at him, pinned him against the wall roughly.

"You had this coming." someone laughed maliciously close to his ear. Roy stamped forward and raised his fist again. Now the hands were holding his arms and he couldn't move, couldn't struggle out of their cold grip, couldn't fight back. Roy's fist collided with his cheek, the impact temporarily sending black clouds over his vision.

Everything happened in a blur. The next he knew, he was on the ground, on his knees and his eyes were stinging viciously and worse, he couldn't see a thing. Blinking madly, he made out the groaning form of Roy rolling around on the floor. And next to him, sitting up, was Kenny.

The scene probably would have looked comical to an observer. Roy and Kenny on the ground, Jim clambering to his feet, his eyes streaming. And there Dwight stood holding out a spray can in his hand like a gun, almost daring the men to move a muscle.

Jim furiously scrubbed at his eyes. Roy was still on the ground moaning, but he had stilled now. He didn't seem to be making any effort to get up. Jim looked down at him with pure contempt.

"What you did to her." he said tightly. "You treated her like she was dirt. You hit her. You put her in the hospital."

"The police are on their way." Dwight said, not moving the arm holding the mace. Roy made no response. Kenny, on the other hand had no such qualms.

"Roy didn't do nothing she didn't ask for!" he yelled back.

As though he didn't hear, Jim once again addressed Roy. "For four or five years! You got away with it. You made her live like a slave. You deserve worse than what you gave to her. You deserve worse than jail. How could you do that to her?"

"Real fair." Kenny mumbled, starting to get to his feet and thinking better of it when Dwight stepped closer to him.

"Don't talk to me about fair!" Jim snapped. "I saw what you did to her. She's lucky to be alive. You never should have laid a finger on her!" he said, his voice raised. Roy had gone very pale on the floor. Jim looked on him without pity. "You blamed her. You told her it was all her fault that you got mad and beat her up. You told her she deserved it. Every time. You think that's fair?"

Kenny grunted something incomprehensible.

"What she deserves is someone who treats her with respect. She is an amazing person-" he said with deep feeling. "She is good, kind, selfless and so loving. You never saw any of that. You saw a punchbag. You saw a thing you could order around and control. You saw someone to use all your anger on, to bear the blame for everything wrong with you!"

Jim nudged Roy with his foot. "You're not even a man, Roy. No man would have done that to her. You're an animal. And she is worth so much more than you. Stay away from her. "

Jim stepped back, out of breath. A police car was slowly driving down into the car park. The relief he felt was indescribable. He turned towards to police and stopped on seeing Michael, standing there, a picture of horror on his face. Behind him Toby, Ryan and Darryl stood, identical looks of shock playing over their faces.

-TO-

She couldn't take her eyes away from the door. Pam wrapped her arms around herself, breathing unsteadily. She'd been sitting out there in the hall since Toby called. She hurt in a way she had never felt before. The guilt she felt was like a red hot poker twisting and turning in her stomach. She leaned against the wall miserably. She was suffocating, a deep heavy feeling in her chest fighting her for every breath. It was all her fault. She made this happen. She didn't even know what had happened, not fully. But she knew it was because of her. She would never forgive herself. She wouldn't blame Jim for not forgiving her. She had dragged him into this.

She was deeply afraid – afraid of so many things. Jim was hurt. She had got Jim hurt. Michael was driving him home. Roy would not leave them alone. She rose to her feet and traipsed down the hall lethargically, methodically walking around the downstairs, locking up all the windows and doors. She pulled the curtains shut and then climbed up the stairs like a zombie, closing and locking the windows on the second floor. The house was darker now. Somewhat satisfied now she had locked herself up in the house, she would wait for Jim to come home and leave the world outside.

Pam stepped into Jim's bedroom without a second thought. Climbing onto his bed, she buried herself in a pile of pillows and blankets, pulling his bed cover up over her head. Then the tears came, and she began to think they might never stop.

Chapter 36 by OfficeWriter

It was an agonizingly long wait for Jim to return home.

Pam shivered under his bedsheets, unmoving. She was desperately worried. All she knew was what Toby had told her, albeit briefly. Jim and Roy. There had been an altercation, Toby's words. Jim had been hurt. Toby of course was maddeningly vague. Pam took small comfort in the knowledge that Roy was now in custody, it seemed the lesser important of the events, all things considered.

This was exactly what she had been fearing, that Jim – someone – would be hurt because of her. That he had been hurt, and it was because of her somehow felt worse than everything, including her own assaults by Roy. And Jim, Jim had done nothing but be there for her, he had let her stay in his home, he had taken on her situation as if it was his own and never once complained. And over the last few weeks Jim had increasingly become the most central person in her world, in feeling if not in fact. He had been witness to some of the worst things in her life. He'd let her cry on his shoulder, stayed up with her during the nights where she'd woken up anxious and distressed, cajoled her into a good mood each morning when she woke up feeling like the darkness would swallow her whole, he'd even listened to her offload on and on for countless hours without a word of complaint.

And the only thanks he'd received was abuse and assault because of her. And herself, she'd also treated him appallingly at times- she'd yelled at him, snapped at him, she'd taken over his entire life.

Truth was though, Pam truly treasured their friendship. She was well aware of how unique it was, and it had even survived Roy's attempts to damage it. And now Jim had been hurt and she was the cause. Waiting was hard. Time ticked away, marking off the minutes as she waited for Jim to arrive home, dark feelings swirling around her like dangerous thunderheads.

-TO-

An excruciating hour later, she heard familiar footsteps scraping along the drive just outside the house. Uncurling herself on the bed, she slid to her feet and nervously tip toed downstairs. Jim came through the door, followed closely by Michael. He presented a much better picture than her imagination had led her to believe he would, not bloody and beaten and consciousness hanging by a sliver. There was a slight bruise around his left eye and an angry looking bump to the left of his chin. Relief flew into her in great waves. He was okay. Jim was okay. She let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding, her heart thumping wildly.

With Jim's safety firmly ascertained, Pam stood back hesitantly, unsure how to react. She watched him apprehensively, looking for any indications of anger or bad temper; the invisible clues of the resentment she was sure he now felt towards her. However, her fear proved groundless almost immediately as his eyes sought her out in the hallway, she was surprised and more than a little relieved to catch the same sparkle of warmth that still shined in his green eyes as they flashed around the hall, his face breaking into a genuine smile on seeing her.

"Hey." he said.

Pam chewed her lip anxiously. "Hey." she mumbled, feeling her face flush. "You okay?"

"Better than." he said firmly.

Pam worriedly eyed him up and down. "Jim," she started to stutter out.

"Don't."

"I just-"

Jim smiled sadly. "I know what, just don't." he said, not leaving any room for argument. "Not your fault."

"But-"

"Not your fault." he repeated. Michael nodded enthusiastically behind him.

Pam hesitated. "But you're…"

"Okay." He assured her earnestly. Michael stood back, looking on at the exchange with bewildered amusement.

"You two are like Elmo and Big Bird, without all the na na na, na na na." he jested.

Jim was unamused. "Big bird?"

Michael looked downwards, shuffling his feet. "It's just nice that we're all best friends here, finishing each others sentences and…." he mumbled, looking at them both expectantly.

The two of them stared back awkwardly, then Jim shrugged before leading off into the living room. Pam fluttered around nervously, wanting to ask questions that she did not want to hear the answers to.

"W-What actually happened?" she finally asked.

With constant interjections and added narrations from Michael, Jim explained from start to finish the whole encounter, noticing how drawn and pale Pam became as he spoke, flinching when she discovered Roy's brother had also been involved; wincing more than once on hearing how they had held and punched Jim.

"So, I gotta get Dwight a thank you gift." he finished, grimacing at the thought.

"I explained to corporate that it wasn't a disgruntled employee, just a personal thing." Michael added. Pam quietly thanked him, her eyes trained on Jim.

"At least we can stop worrying now." Jim tried to reassure Pam. Michael agreed happily.

"Yes we can all stop worrying." he beamed at the two of them. "You know…we…... all the worry…" he added, noting the identical frowns on their faces.

Still worried, Pam folded her arms tightly. "Are they keeping Roy inside or is he going to get bail again?"

Jim shook his head. "No bail." smiling at her obvious relief. "So it seems like they are taking this seriously at last." he said, thinking of all the dismissive missteps the police had made so far.

"Least they didn't finger the wrong guy this time." Pam murmured wryly.

Michael positively beamed. "That's what she said!"

-to-

Finally Michael left. Jim was relieved. Michael seemed to think the three of them were in on some big secret now, that he was involved personally in the Pam-Roy saga and made a point to repeatedly refer to friends, specifically Jim as his friend. Jim was busy thinking of how he would have to find a way to make it clear to Michael in the office tomorrow that he needed to keep said 'secrets' just that; secret. Not an easy task, he knew.

And there was Pam, wearing nervous holes in the floor, looking like she was about to be hanged. Abruptly she stopped the anxious jiggling up and down of her feet and turned to him.

"Want some hot chocolate?" she asked. Jim nodded, thinking perhaps she wanted a moment or two alone. He didn't like the tension between them any more than she did, tension that had been mounting since he had come home. He knew she was upset, scared. But for him, he truly thought this was the start of the end of the ordeal for her. Unquestionably now Roy could no longer come near her, nor could his brother. She had a long way to go but he really believed she could start moving in the right direction from that point on.

Out in the kitchen, Pam quietly set about making the drinks, purposely taking her time. Distractedly she filled two mugs full and lifted them into the living room, smiling at the sight in front her.

Jim had stretched out on the carpet, half sitting, half lying with his head and shoulders nestled on a large cushion he had placed against the front of the couch. Pam walked around him and carefully put down the steaming cup beside him. Stepping over his legs, she stood her own mug down and lowered herself next to him on the carpet, leaning back comfortably, resting her head next to his. Jim grinned impishly and bent forward to turn the cushion around, allowing her to lay her head on it too. Together they sat quietly, shoulder to shoulder, each thinking over the events of that day.

"Halpert." Pam spoke nervously after a minute or two.

Jim sighed. "If you're going to apologize-"

"I need to. It's all my fault. Roy came after you because of me. You could have been really hurt!" she burst out.

Jim shushed her. "Okay, first off, Roy didn't come after me because of you. Roy came after me because of Roy, because that's what he does. It wasn't your fault he that hit you, and it's not your fault he hit me either. It happened because a man who likes to punch people punched us. Nothing else to it." He said calmly, side eyeing her. "And – this is not the end of the world, Beesly, what happened today. It's a good thing even, you can start to relax now that he's away."

"I wish you didn't have to get hurt for it to happen." she frowned.

Jim nudged her light heartedly. "I'd let it happen over again to keep you safe." he said honestly, then stopping himself quickly. He worried that he was saying too much. He loved moments like this with her – she was so trusting with him, so comfortable and yet so vulnerable. It was in her trembling hands, her limbs, the damage that Roy had inflicted was nowhere near healed, yet the way she often sought him out like this for little moments of reassurance, of comfort meant more to him than anything. Once again he was lost in the world of what could have been when he heard a small sigh from beside him and felt her light head drop gently onto his shoulder. Smiling warmly at her, he wordlessly lifted his arm around her, letting her fall against his chest. She buried her head into his shirt, drained and miserable. Jim patted her shoulder kindly, feeling her small body shaking under his arm. She was so fragile, thinner than ever. He rolled his neck downwards, stealing the moment to breathe in the fresh smell of her hair that was so unmistakably hers. She was warm and comfortable against him, with a quivering arm pressed against his chest. Pam shivered, causing Jim to lift his head and look over her. Without any real surprise, he saw that she was crying, silent fat tears sliding slowly down her cheeks.

"Hey." he said gently, rubbing her shoulder. "You know everything is going to get better now, right?"

He felt her nod silently against his chest.

"He didn't have to hurt you." she mumbled. "I hate him."

"I know." he said softly. She shivered again. Jim looked at her sadly and wrapped his other arm around her. He felt her relax into the hug, and he gratefully held her tighter. Neither spoke. Soon Jim noticed her breathing evening out into a nice gentle rhythm. She had fallen asleep. He smiled fondly at her, brushing her hair away from her face.

He didn't know what tomorrow would bring, or the next day. He didn't know where they would be next year or the year after that. Anything could happen. In one second everything could be gone, him, Pam, the house, their world, who knew what the future held. All he knew was they were right there and then, safe together, even if not really together, but it was enough for him for that night, he could survive with little moments like these with her.

Jim looked down again at the sleeping woman in his arms and smiled. She was so special and she didn't even know it. She thought she was nothing, yet, she didn't know it but she was everything. He pressed his face into her hair lightly and closed his eyes.

"I love you." he whispered.

Chapter 37 by OfficeWriter

Jim froze, a half smile on his face. Hot breath caught in his throat sharply, followed by an intense tightening of his chest as realization of what he had done sank through him.

A deep stillness fell around him. Nothing moved, nothing lived. It was not a peaceful quiet, but fraught with tension and heightened emotions, an overpowering silence that settled everywhere, in the emptiness of the house, the cold of the garden, in the dark of the night sky hanging low over the house.

Inside the space between him and Pam.

His arms and legs grew rigid and stiff. Jim's head swam, not daring to risk a glance down at the sleeping woman nestled in his arms.

He hadn't meant to say it. Not out loud. It slipped out of him reflexively, so easily. So natural, as though it was something he said to her every day, had said a million times to her before.

But never out loud.

In the distant big picture he had always – subconsciously – intended to tell her. But Roy. Always Roy. He was always there, like a great barricade planted deeply between them. Jim had almost told her, several times, but then his common sense self always snapped back into place and prevailed.

How could he do that to her now though? How could he be so cruel? Yes, it would be cruel to do that to her, she was recovering from being abused for so long, she was confused and hurting. She was vulnerable. Telling her now would be tantamount to taking advantage of her. One thing he was adamantly determined to stick to; she would always come first. How could he know what her feelings truly were? Did she still love Roy? Would she feel betrayed by him if she found out he was harboring all these feelings for her?

If only he wasn't so sure that they were meant to be, meant to be the him and her, each the other half of the other. If only he could find the patience to wait. If only he was as sure that any feelings she may have for him wouldn't turn to hatred if he did tell her.

And sometimes he did think she felt the same way. There was definite chemistry there between them. Sometimes so strong he thought it impossible for her to not recognize it for what it was. But from the moment he met her, he had known, known right away there would be no one else. And then Roy. The absolute crushing devastation he had felt when introduced to Roy for the first time had been unbearable. He'd wanted to leave dunder mifflin. He'd wanted to stay, because she was there, every day. They had so quickly become a team together, he knew early on that nobody was going to get him the way Pam did and loving her became the easiest thing in the world.

He was sure she hadn't heard him. She hadn't moved at all, her eyes closed peacefully against the darkness around her. He watched her affectionately, her breathing deep and relaxed, her face beginning to lose its drawn and exhausted look. He stroked her hair gently, content for the moment in watching as she slept on, burrowed in his arms.

-TO-

She was sitting under the most beautiful sky she had ever seen; a stunning blend of shimmering blues fused with white and silver weaving through. Pam was mesmerized by the sight. A pleasant warmth gently caressed her bare limbs, lavishing on her sensations unlike any she had felt before. She reached out and touched the fresh grass around her with joy, a peaceful energy flowing through her. Breathing in deeply, a sweet fresh rain fragrance filled her lungs. This was happiness, this was a world she had only ever dreamed of.

She was safe.

Strange sensations were swelling up inside of her. She could feel herself rising out of the ground, nurtured by mother earth and opening up like rose petals. Pam felt amazing. The shadows that plagued her world were gone, swallowed up in the most final of deaths; in this universe of sunshine darkness could not survive.

She was not alone. Warm arms were wrapped securely around her – arms that were propelled by quivering feelings of love and comfort. There was nothing to fear. The person behind her meant her no harm.

Together they sat in the warm sunlight, their heartbeats becoming one. She was loved. She was happy. Whispers of declarations of love for her were repeated over and over. No longer was the world taking from her, but bestowing her with an abundance that made her heart dance.

Life surged into her, sparks of euphoria exploded in a symphony of gorgeous emotions. She was loved. She was safe.

Pam shifted with a slight groan. The grass was becoming hard beneath her. She watched in dismay as the sky turned a dark orange then faded to a pale yellow shade.

Slowly her eyes opened. She murmured, trying to recognize the surroundings. Pam pushed herself up slowly, her elbow sinking into a softness behind her.

"Well, hey."

Pam turned her head, half awake.

"Jim?" she said, with utmost embarrassment. "Oh, uh I… how long was I asleep?"

"Not long." he shrugged. "You looked way too peaceful for me to wake you up."

Pam looked at him with a strange expression. "Probably time to go up now… you've got work in the morning." she mumbled tiredly.

"You okay?" Jim asked her, getting up from the floor.

"Yeah." Pam smiled, accepting Jim's hand as he helped her to stand. "Just tired."

At the entrance to her bedroom she paused. "Jim? Did you…." she faltered. "I mean, I thought….."

Jim froze in the doorway of his own room. "Did I what..?" he replied calmly after a minute.

Pam shook her head. "I thought I…." she stopped. "I don't know what I thought. I'm more tired than I thought." She shrugged.

Jim's eyes stuttered to her face nervously. "You sure you're okay?"

Pam regarded him for a moment, then smiled again. "Yeah. Definitely." Unspoken words passed between them. "I had the most amazing dream." she said, before bidding him goodnight and shutting the door.

- TO -

It was around midday the next day when Pam made it back to the house. She let herself in, slipping the key Jim had given her back in her purse. It was dull outside, the wet damp air and grey clouds threatening more rain.

Pam moved around the rooms, going about a now familiar, almost unconscious and automatic routine. She moved slowly, a heavy black boulder of nerves festering in her stomach, draining her of adrenaline.

Once the windows and curtains were all closed, the doors checked and locked and double checked, she sat herself down.

She was confused. Her case was only a few days away now. She'd have to face Roy. And Kenny. And this was just the hearing. She was more than happy to have the protection order made permanent; she just didn't want to have to go to court and see Roy to do it. It seemed like a bit of a joke to her, she had to see Roy in person to ensure that she didn't see him again. She wasn't sure how she was going to feel about it. All morning she'd been feeling nervous and a little sick. She wished her mom was still here. Now that she was alone again, earthquakes started to shake inside her stomach. She was scared.

She'd put this out of her mind – what with Kenny showing up, her parents, the office, Roy attacking Jim – she didn't want to face this. Geraldine had brought it all to the front this morning, reminded her it was all real, she would have to face Roy in three days time. Even at a courthouse, she wasn't sure she'd feel safe. Roy was perfectly capable of delivering a beating using just his eyes, she'd withered under his anger enough to know this.

She was so tired. So confused. This morning she had sensed a small amount of tension strung between her and Jim. She couldn't understand it, whatever the invisible thing was that had slipped into the middle of them. She felt something was different. Something had changed. Problem was she wasn't sure if was her that had changed, or he had.

-TO-

"Jimmothy. Jim Bag. Jimmy Jimmy cocoa puff."

Jim narrowed his eyes at the greeting. Michael stood up from his desk and stepped across his office to stand by the younger man.

"Jimmy jimmy rock." he sang, surprisingly well in tune.

Jim stared at Michael. "Not quite sure that's…" he mumbled, shuffling his feet on the carpet hesitantly before shrugging his shoulders in a kids-will-be-kids gesture.

"About Pam… the others out there are giving her a bit of a hard time… just if you could keep everything about her and Roy secret that would be great."

"Really? Who else knows?" Michael said, interested.

Jim fidgeted awkwardly. "Well there's me and Pam. And you."

"And Ryan, and Darryl… " Michael added. Jim suddenly recalled the incident with Roy, groaning internally. Michael was right.

"And Toby." Jim said, thinking. "I'm just saying, the less we all talk about it the better it would be for Pam."

"Got it. Let's gather everyone in the conference room and tell everyone they can't talk about it." Michael said, moving to the door.

Jim reacted. "What? No!" he exclaimed. "No, Michael this is between you and me."

Michael nodded. "Right. You and me. And Ryan and Darryl. And Pam."

Jim sighed. "Yes." he said resignedly. "All I'm saying is if we could just keep the gossip to a minimum. That means you don't talk about Pam." he added quickly.

"Wow! Our secret. Got it Jimbo. No talk about the Pam-Roy deal. It's a deal."

"That would be great." Jim said.

"It's great for you, your friend is single." Michael said suggestively.

Jim winced. "Roy hurt her, you know that."

Michael folded his arms and sat back on his desk. "I'm just saying when a forest is clear you should walk through it. Roy's a jackass, always was."

Jim felt his face flush, realization dawning on him. "Oh right, we're talking about that. Yeah uh. Used to have a thing for Pam. But she's not in a good place now, Michael." he said, somewhat guiltily.

Michael grinned at him. "Come on, man…. She's your wife… whether you see it or not. De-facto. I'm just saying. You shouldn't admit defeat."

"We're just friends, Michael." Jim assured him, stung by Michael's quick perception. If it was this obvious to Michael, he thought, his mind running over everyone out on the other side of the door.

Michael never knew when to shut up. "You've seen the life Pamela Anderson has led. Pam's not an Anderson. You can't leave her future in the hands of Roy. You just can't."

Jim grinned in spite of himself. "Uh… got it Michael." he waved a hand, deciding to exit this conversation as quickly as possible. "So, uh, secret, yes… we've a deal?" he said at the doorway.

Michael was delighted. "Woo! Yeah! Yes, Jim Dandy. We absolutely do."

Jim walked out of Michael's office and re-seated himself at his desk. Somehow he thought, he might just have made a bigger mess of things. And unfortunately for him, he wasn't thinking only of the conversation he'd just had.

Jim flinched, alerting Dwight's attention. Ignore the patronizing glances Dwight was throwing his way, Jim stared at his screen and tried to look busy.

Chapter 38 by OfficeWriter

Breakfast was the last thing on anyone's mind that morning. Jim was hovering uneasily outside the bathroom door, where an unpleasant groaning was emerging from inside. Pam had been in there roughly quarter of an hour already by his own watch, emitting various retches and heaving sounds that would make even the least sensitive stomach lurch in kind. She had left the water running in a feeble attempt at disguising the noises, resulting in a sickening double suction effect. Jim was sympathetic to her plight – he knew she wasn't sick. He could quite easily guess what the problem was.

When Pam finally felt safe enough to leave the bathroom, Jim was leaning casually against the wall holding a cool glass of water out to her.

"Maybe you should get your prescription filled." he suggested, making a mental note to later mention that she might want to get something to help her sleep as well. His own stomach rolled at the sight of her, pale as paper, her skin waxy and taut with bruised purplish smudges under her eyes. Her curls, which were a part of her he loved, part of what made her her; looked like straw that had gone through the washer and dryer and barely lived to show for it.

"Okay?" he prodded gently when she didn't answer. Pam gave him a sad smile and headed towards the stairs. Jim followed her down to the kitchen.

He watched her flitter about the small room nervously, the quick, short movements of her hands as she set about wiping down the kitchen table.

"Pam." He raised an eyebrow as she began to work on a kitchen chair, scrubbing the wooden seat with a furious burst of energy.

"Pam." Jim repeated, a little more forcefully. He moved closer to her. He thought maybe he'd been wrong; she certainly didn't look well this morning, her lips pale and skin even paler under dark, puffy eyes. "Hey. Stop." he pleaded.

Pam looked up at him, scowling, her pretty green eyes momentarily shining brightly - whether with rage or anxiety he couldn't tell - before the light simply went out of them and her shoulders slumped forward miserably. By almost unconscious action, Jim moved towards her but stopped. Something, call it intuition, made him take a step backwards, wanting to give her some space.

"Friday." he said intuitively, leaning against the counter.

For a second Pam's eyes shone again, then she blinked rapidly. "Yeah."

"Feel like the walls are closing in?"

"Like I'm running out of air." Pam wrapped her arms around herself, turning away from him.

Jim checked his watch. "Hey. It's okay to be nervous. At the end of the day though, you know you have to do it. You just got to jump and trust yourself to be okay."

"I'm scared that.." she chose her words. "That I have to talk about… it…. In a room full of people. Roy will be there. I might get up there and forget how to talk."

Jim smiled at her encouragingly. "Are you kidding yourself, Beesly? You, scared? You're the bravest person I ever met, if anyone can face up to Roy and everyone else, it's you. You got to forget about being scared and forget about doubts, and remember you're finishing what you started. Life is going to be so good for you after this is over, you wait and see."

Pam swallowed, moved by his conviction in her. Jim, always her champion. Without realizing it the corners of her mouth lifted up in a small smile. "You really think so?"

"No doubt about it." he replied. Pam sat down heavily on a kitchen chair, pressing her knees together tightly. She looked so sad and drawn that Jim found himself overwhelmed with sympathy for her.

"Hey." he said reassuringly, instinctively moving to kneel down beside her. "Hey." he repeated, reaching out for her hand. Pam simply hung her head, looking away. A wave of real concern rose through him, she was sitting still and limp, like she had that night in his car after the dundies. Then her fingers relaxed, her hand turned under his, her slender fingers intertwining with his larger ones. Jim lifted his free arm upwards, lightly resting it on her upper arm.

"Beesly." he said with confidence, his face moved close to hers. "This is temporary. This will be over soon. I know you can't see way out of this right now, but trust me, it's there. What you've been through sucks, it absolutely stinks. No matter what happens, you gotta remember that after this nightmare is done, life is going to be like a dream that's so amazing you'll never want to wake up and leave it."

He spoke softly and quietly, almost whispering. Her cold fingers were beginning to thaw in his hand and she made no attempt to pull away.

Slowly lifting her head, Pam raised level and tentatively met the kind green eyes in front of her, suddenly feeling like she was going to cry. Kind, he was so kindWarmth and affection simply seeped out of him. The nervous feelings that had been plaguing her did not seem so overwhelming. Her heart moved with feeling. A different kind of tears flew into her eyes, she again wanted to cry, not because of Roy, not because of court, not even because everything was just so messed up; but because people like Jim were hard to find, people who were unconditionally loyal and so true at heart. That kind of love was so rare in the world. Leaning forward she slipped her thin arms around Jim's neck, resting her head on his shoulder miserably.

"I'm so glad we're friends." she said, her words muffled against his shirt. Surprised, Jim returned the hug warmly, more than willing to offer her the comfort she so desperately wanted.

-TO-

"Do you think it was your fault?" the pretty voice asked from across the room.

Pam sat still in one of the rooms two armchairs, facing the counselor. Absently scratching her leg, she shook her head very slowly, training her eyes on the small window on the other side of her.

"I don't know." she said honestly. "Roy would say that I deserved it, that I wasn't good enough. I can accept that. But Jim did get hurt because of me."

"Why was that your fault? Roy is an adult. You didn't press a gun to his temple." Rosie said gently.

Her voice hardened. "I might as well have."

"You're angry."

"Not really." Pam said wearily.

"Who are you angry at?"

"I'm not."

"Roy beat you."

"I know that." Pam spoke fast and too loudly. Maddeningly, the woman in front her grinned widely. Pam began to dislike her and her taxing questions. All this woman did was ask questions of her but rarely seemed satisfied with the responses Pam gave her.

"Roy beat you for almost five years. He controlled you."

"So?"

"He took care of the finances. He isolated you from your friends and family."

"It wasn't a one way street between us-" Pam defended.

"He broke your bones. He woke you up in the middle of the night for sex. He didn't care what you wanted. You're not angry?" Rosie persisted.

Pam squirmed. "What good is it being angry? It can't change anything."

"Why such a strong reaction? Are you afraid to get angry?"

Pam willed the frustration out of her voice and tried to speak calmly. "No, I just don't see any benefit in it."

"How would you feel when you woke up to Roy touching you?"

Pam glared fiercely at her. "Disgusting." she said, pressing her lips together tightly.

"Roy's disgusting or you are?"

"That's not what I meant-"

"You're as thin as a leaf. We've talked about your sleep habits. You have nightmares."

"Yes?"

"You believe your love is damaged because you couldn't love Roy enough and so he beat you."

"Sometimes I provoked him! I wasn't enough!" Pam's voice grew thick with emotion. She pulled her knees up to her chest on the armchair, burying her head in them.

"Roy abused you verbally, physically, emotionally. He left scars on your body, and on you. You don't blame him at all?"

"Roy is just like everyone else and he shows his feelings." Pam's said, her voice muffled into her jeans

Rosie nodded. "Angry, dangerous, insulting feelings."

"Sometimes." Pam replied.

"You're not angry at Jim." Rosie stated.

Pam raised her head a little. "Why would I be?"

"Because Roy hit him. After all, it was your fault Roy hit you, wasn't it?" Rosie leaned forward towards Pam.

"No, Roy hurt Jim, because of me." Pam was adamant. "It wasn't Jim's fault."

The woman spoke confidently. "So, it wasn't Jim's fault, it wasn't Roy's fault. How does that work?"

"I…" Pam lost her footing, opening and closing her mouth like a goldfish. Dropping her head back into her knees, she hugged her ankles together tightly.

"Let me tell you what I think. "Rosie said sympathetically. "You've told me you feel ashamed. Roy beat you. You feel it was your fault that he beat you and he hurt your best friend because of you. You feel disgusting. You can't sleep. You look like you don't eat. It doesn't look to me like you're done with the beatings yet, Pam."

Pam looked up at the woman, struggling to maintain her composure. Her eyes betrayed her feelings. She was transparent as glass, this woman could literally read her with a quick glance.

"Only Roy's not the one beating you anymore, Pam." Rosie continued.

Pam flinched, sudden understanding coming over her. She straightened herself up in the chair, her face dry and flushed and stared back at Rosie.

"I am angry." she admitted heavily.

Rosie smiled kindly. "Who are you angry with, Pam?

Pam blinked, but held her stare. "M-myself." she near whispered.

It was with obvious relief that the woman absorbed this. "Good. Now we can get to work." she said.

-TO-

It was pretty dark inside the house.

Jim was uneasy. Striding into the living room he frowned, noticing the drawn curtains. He stood in the center of the room and looked around. The place was empty, but the house was full of silence.

He had expected to find Pam on the couch or at the table like she usually was. A few times he had come home, pleased to see her working on a watercolor painting, looking somewhat more like the Pam he knew well. But yet, she wasn't in the room this time.

It was odd, but coming home to such emptiness took him back to the short time he had lived alone after Mark had packed up and gone; all the times he ate alone and slept alone and sat around in the nothingness in the rooms. Then Pam had come. Despite the circumstances, he really loved having her stay there. She was, even when not at her best, much fun and her company was always refreshing.

Now he began to feel a little worried about where she might be, that she may have got caught up after her appointment and hadn't wanted to burden him by calling for a ride. Or worse, that the session hadn't gone well and maybe she was somewhere by herself, upset. Or she was just asleep upstairs, he thought more rationally.

Treading carefully up the stairs, he aimed to avoid any sudden noises that might wake the sleeping woman that may be up there. He had a strange sense of foreboding, he could feel it unerringly in his bones, there was something different about that evening. Some quality or some cosmic atmosphere had changed around him. Something was definitely off here, he didn't have to be a damn seer to sense that.

He was surprised to find Pam wasn't in Mark's old room. Now he did feel the beginnings of a legitimate worry. She had not said anything to him about going out anywhere. She hadn't phoned him or sent a message after her appointment like the other times either.

He worried, he worried about her often, a fact he tried hard to keep from her – just how much he worried. But then, stepping into his own bedroom, his fretful feelings melted away.

There she was.

Curled up on his bed, sound asleep. He stood still, surprised to see her there, in his bed – the thoughts he could taunt himself with about that were endless and smarting – but he also was overcome with relief to see her there. Light brown and red strands of hair fell across her face, soft and pretty. She had showered since the morning and washed her hair too. He could smell the sweet fruity scent of her shampoo across the room. The sight of her sent pleasant warmth flying through his heart, curled up almost like a child, so small, so vulnerable, so peacefulHow young and fragile she was. How beautifulGone was the weary, unkempt Pam he saw this morning. This sleeping Pam was a joy to his eyes. Her chest moved rhythmically, with gentle breathing that was music to his ears.

He couldn't stop the huge smile stretching across his face. He loved her. He loved her so much he thought his heart couldn't hold all of the love it was burdened with- that it would simply be crushed under the weight, never to love again.

Finally, he tiptoed out of the room, returning in seconds carrying a black fleece blanket his mom had given him some years back.

Tenderly he lifted the blanket over her, fussily tucking it in around her shoulders. Turning to go downstairs, he paused, thinking for a moment. Then, stepping back, he flicked on the lamp next to his bed, so she wouldn't have to wake up in the darkness.

-TO-

He heard the soft sound of her feet stepping down the stairs a couple of hours later.

"Hey." he greeted her warmly. She was dressed in an overlarge blue sweater, which he thought looked amazing against the red of her hair.

Nervously wringing her hands, she yawned briefly, covering her mouth and tiredly sat on the couch. Jim followed her, suggesting they send out for pizza. He wanted to avoid the subject of the bedroom - for now at least. No point making things awkward, he reasoned. He had thought about why she was in his bed, not coming to any real conclusion- maybe it was too hot in Mark's room, maybe she got frightened alone and went into his own room, maybe she was tired and got confused, he didn't know. His mind did slip back to the other times he had found her in his room. She had been upset both of those times. He had thought that maybe she felt it a comforting place, or safer place for some reason. He certainly did not mind a bit her being in there – did not mind in a way that he felt increasingly guilty over, he liked that she had been sleeping in his bed.

"Jim." Pam said quietly, seemingly much more awake then. He looked up, shaken out of his thoughts. He could see there was something on her mind, something she was struggling to say. He looked at her expectantly.

"When the hearing is done, I'm going to go back with my parents." she looked downwards at her hands.

That was not what he had been expecting to hear. Certainly not what he wanted to hear, either. She hadn't spoken of going to her parents again since they had visited her, he supposed it was dumb of him to not see it coming. Dumb or deliberately dumb, take a pick. The outcome was the same either way.

"Oh. Uh… on Friday?" he spluttered.

"Saturday." she confirmed. "It's been wonderful staying here. I think if you hadn't been here for me, I'd probably still be with Roy. Or I'd be dead." she said bluntly.

"It will do you good to get away." Jim decided to brazen it out. It wouldn't do to let her see how upset he was suddenly feeling – like the contents of his stomach had been turned upside down. He suddenly felt nauseous.

She nodded sadly, but he didn't see. He didn't trust himself to look at her.

"How long will you go for?"

Pam shook her head, blissfully unaware of the heaving turmoil of the man sitting just inches away from her. "I don't know. Play it by ear I guess."

"You're welcome to come back and stay here afterwards if you need to." he said, trying to keep the pleading out of his voice. He had to get out of the room, had to be alone. He wanted to think. He wanted to brood.

She was touched by his offer. "Thanks."

Jim forced a grin to his face, nodding in response as she again thanked him for being there and everything he had done for her. He wasn't really listening though. Then they both fell quiet, an unspoken tension simmering between them.

"Jim….." Pam said, her face turning red. He looked at her, not speaking. "Ummm… about upstairs…I…" She stopped, thinking.

"You were asleep in my room?" he would have laughed at how embarrassed she was, if he hadn't been feeling so miserable inside.

Pam looked away guiltily. "Oh. Yeah…. Sorry. I just felt.. I wanted… you know… It was just… you know." she shrugged. She didn't really have a good reason, she realized. Not one she could put into words, not one she understood herself.

"Don't worry about it," he replied. "We can switch rooms if you really prefer it in there." he said, mock-seriously. The joker, the funnyman, that's what she knew of him, and he played up to it all the more, covering his feelings with fooling around, just like he always did. For her benefit, of course.

She grinned back at him; an actual honest smile that lit up her whole face. He hadn't seen that smile in a long time. He felt quite privileged.

He joked around with her, avoiding things for as long as he could stand. He was starting to feel like he couldn't breathe. What if she chose not to come back? Eventually he excused himself to the bathroom, where he immediately ran a shower and almost stepped in fully clothed in his haste to get under the water. He ran the water as hot as he could stand it, feeling somewhat self satisfied by the stinging and burning heat on his skin.

He didn't want her to go. Absolutely not. He wasn't stupid, or blinded by his own wants – he knew it would be a good thing for her to get some distance from everything. But he had already started to miss her. He had foolishly allowed himself, despite all his efforts to the contrary, to subconsciously regard Pam as – as Michael put it – his de facto wife. But something was happening to them –a bomb was building between them and he couldn't deny it or see a way to stop it. Something was going to bust – he didn't know if it was him or her but something had definitely changed.

It hurtlove hurt so much. He was fully aware that in loving her, he had in fact sacrificed himself - to love a woman unconditionally as he did, to have given everything to her for nothing but to keep his secret, unrequited love alive. He had found that to be there in her life, even as an unrequited, platonic part of that life, it was much preferable than to still being unrequited and platonic and far away.

He ran the shower until the water went cold, then freezing. He let it run even longer, standing under the icy water mindless of the chill, not caring about anything except the fact that the woman he loved was going away.

Chapter 39 by OfficeWriter
Author's Notes:

a/n - a few things - thank you for all the reviews. I have been thinking of writing this since August of last year, but accepted I would not be able to - due to various things. Ever since I can remember I've had an almost compulsive need to write things - lists, poetry, fiction - I've only ever written one real story before (total crap) which was not my plot, but I was asked to write it. I had two scenes written in my head for this story in particular right from the start - one was the mirror scene in the second chapter and the other is not too far away now. So, I've written a lot in a small space of time while lockdown happened - knowing there's a good chance now work is full time again that I will struggle  to continue.

Lot's of people have commented about Pam's mom - my feeling at the time was that I wanted to make Roy as awful as possible (so Jim looks even better) and how manipulative people like him are - therefore he twisted things with Helene who is essentially a very kind hearted woman, who knew her daughter wasn't telling her everything and had evaded telling her she was staying with Jim. I also wanted to have this world where Jim and Pam were being isolated together with some many others being manipulated by Roy (Angela, Phyllis etc)

There have been subtle hints that Pam's parents already massively like and respect Jim - and definitely wink at the idea that he might care more for their daughter - they can see it a little.

About the length - it's a weighty issue and the story is really two things - the situation with Roy and the relationship between Jim and Pam - I felt it was such a serious and sensitive topic I couldn't rush things but take it slowly and build up with Jim and Pam through it.

I might have written some things a little wrong about how things work in this chapter... but I tried. Thank you .

Pam barely slept at all the night before the hearing. She had this feeling that if she slept the morning would come quicker and she wanted the morning to never come at all. She sat up, laid on her back, rolled on her side, kicked the covers off, climbed out of bed and walked barefoot back and forth across the carpet. It wasn't happening. Nothing was happening. Except the maddening minutes moving forward unstoppably, marching her towards what she felt was akin to a very public x-ray. Every bruise, bump, scar, every cross word, every incident of abuse from Roy would be laid out like dirty underwear on the courthouse floor for all to see. And really, hadn't she been through enough?

Talking about what her life had been like with Roy in front of total strangers terrified her. Yet, having to do so in front of her parents absolutely petrified her. And then, there was Roy in the equation too. She would be facing him – her always judge, jury and sentence giver – Roy, who had spent years telling her how to think, putting his words firmly in her mouth. Now she would have to use her own voice to tell the truth, while he was there in the room. She could see his face already, cold, hard eyes set on her, angry and mean. The words would come. Bitch. Dumb. Liar. Your fault. You made me do it. Your fault your fault your fault yours

Roy had always been able to implant his unspoken thoughts and wants into her head with less than a mere glance – like osmosis the words transferred seamlessly between the two of them until they were no longer only Roy's words, but hers as well. She had to use her own voice – if she could find it, that was. But there were things that went on in a relationship that should be private, things between two people. When did that stop being a common courtesy? Embarrassing, degrading things about her life with Roy things she had told no one, less ugly things she had told the therapist. Her parents didn't know the extent of things. Jim didn't know anything more than the basic facts.

And her advocate was pushing for her to tell everything, even the most intimate of details. Bedroom things. With her dad in the room, no less. How was she supposed to do that? There were just some things she couldn't say; she knew it was a fact. And Kenny's words kept hammering at her: if Roy has to go to court, believe me I'll make sure everybody knows exactly what you are. What exactly was she? She didn't know anymore.

Dawn came and went faster than she had liked without her so much as closing her eyes. Everything was speeding up, time was going so fast, too fast. You're finishing what you started Jim's voice broke into her thoughts.

Okay. Pam resolutely got to her feet, albeit shakily. Maybe she could do this. Maybe. Gathering up her clothes into her arms, she stepped out of the bedroom and into the bathroom. As the steam from the shower rose in the small room, her tired face became obscured in the mirror and she thought how ironic things were - that she was once again in a bathroom trying to hide from Roy any way that she could.

-TO-

Pam was half heartedly poking waffles on to a plate when Jim came downstairs. She guessed he must have had about as much sleep as she did – his hair was sticking up and out and every which way and his face was blotchy with pink and reds, with thin stubble gracing his chin. Turning back to the counter to hide a slightly amused grin – the best she could manage under the circumstances – she felt more than a twinge of the guilt she was harboring over her friends new state of sleeplessness, as well as the general upheaval of his life that she had created.

They had a quiet breakfast, Pam mostly dissecting her waffles and pushing the pieces around her plate. She was nervously watching the minutes on the round kitchen clock, counting every movement of the hands. Neither of them really wanted to speak, both submerged in their own fears of how the day would end. Jim was eating without appetite, absent mindedly going through the motions but lacking any real interest in the food.

Pam was looking forward to her mom and dad arriving. Just the fact that they had wanted to come meant the earth to her; her only concern was that her dad could manage to hold on to his quick temper when faced with Roy. He had been warned, after all. She thought she had better remind Jim of this as well, before they got to the court – Jim, as one of her two witnesses would not be doing himself or her any favors if he and Roy got it into it in front of the judge.

However, she momentarily forgot about this, noticing the most peculiar expression on Jim's face as he looked back at her; an odd mix of distress and frustration she had never quite seen him wear before. There was something she couldn't quite pin down, something not Jim about him that morning.

"Are you feeling okay?" she asked, her voice soft with concern. Jim attempted a smile and then made a joke. It came out forced and unnatural, like Dwight when he told something he thought was a joke, barren and deadpan.

"You don't look well." She frowned.

Jim brushed her off easily. "I just woke up. Didn't sleep much." he shrugged. "Guess you didn't either?"

Pam nodded sadly. "No. Feels like I'm….."

"The one on trial. " he finished lithely. Pam traced a finger loosely over the table top, nodding again. She pushed her full plate away from her.

"I really don't want to see-" her words drowned in the sea of waffle and warm coffee that rushed up in her throat. Waves of nausea over came her and she hurriedly slammed a hand over her mouth and took off for the bathroom at top speed.

She thought she had never been so sick. Brushing hot tears away from her cheeks with a shaking hand, she leaned over the toilet, praying that she stopped before she vomited the lining of her stomach up as well. She sat on her knees, dizzy and warm when a cool hand laid on her back gently and began to rub in soothing circles. Jim was kneeling down beside her, whispering her all the things she wanted to hear – that everything was going to be okay, Roy wouldn't hurt her anymore, she was going to get through the day.

By the time she had stopped feeling sick, she almost believed him.

-TO-

Outside the courthouse Pam hugged her parents tightly. Helene was nervous, fussing over Pam's hair and straightening this and that on her outfit, much to the amusement of Jim and William, side-eyeing each other with wonder about the ways of women.

The four of them were soon led inside into a small room with benches to wait for Pam's case to be called. She looked perfectly calm, impeccably put together. She had left her long curls loose around her face. Jim wasn't fooled, he saw the hazy, slightly dilated hue of her eyes, the reason for her even demeanor was probably in the small purse that she carried. He was glad she had taken his advice and got her prescription filled.

"What did they call this room?" William said, puzzled.

"It's the safe area, William." Helene replied, her eyes on her daughter.

"So that means?"

"It means she gets to wait in this room away from Roy and any of Roy's family that might show up." Helene sighed. Pam simply looked at the floor at this explanation, not wanting to meet her mothers concerned eyes.

"I suppose we'll be doing this all again soon." William said thoughtlessly. He looked around awkwardly in surprise at the heavy silence that followed. Helene frowned at him.

"Actually," Pam spoke up. She hesitated, taking in the concerned expressions looking directly at her. Now was probably the best time to say something, she thought, with so much else going on and the fact they could be in the courtroom at any moment she hoped that there wouldn't be much time to get into a discussion – argument – over this. It was Jim's reaction that she was most concerned about as it would impact on his own choices and he had been so supportive of her already.

"Um, actually," she repeated nervously. "Actually, I'm dropping the charges against Roy."

She waited for the explosions to begin. Sure they wouldn't understand, she had waited until truly the last moment before she said anything. William spoke first.

"You what?" he said hotly, standing up from his seat on the bench. "You're just going to let him get away with it?"

"Calm down." Helene said automatically. Turning towards her daughter she reached out. "I don't understand Pam? What are you telling us?"

Pam bit her lip, Jim was looking as confused as her parents. She'd really managed to mess things up again. Watching Jim's expression carefully, she turned to face her mother but aware herself it was Jim she was really explaining to, Jim she wanted to understand.

"No… I… I want him to get some help. I want him to get treatment for his anger. The lawyer said we can make a deal with him."

"A deal? He walks away freely and you pay the consequences for everything?" William said sharply. Pam recoiled back.

"No, no Dad!" she cried. "No, that is not what I said! I said we can make a deal. He will have to complete different treatments – group therapy, counselling, anger management. He will have to or then I will re file the charges and he will go to jail. And he can't just show up, he has to pass them."

"Calm down, Wil." Helene said. "Are you sure about this, Pam?"

Pam nodded fiercely. "Yes. If he comes near me, if he doesn't go to every single appointment the court sets for him, he will go to jail. Dad," she turned around. "Please try to understand. Prison will destroy him. He's going to get some time inside as it is, for breaching the protection order. I'm not out to ruin his life. He wasn't always a bad guy, dad. You know that. If they can figure out why he became this way, and help him change isn't that better for everyone?"

William shook his head in exasperation. "I don't think this is a good idea at all. He'll come after you the second he's out!"

"And he'll go back inside if he does. He has to start the treatment programs immediately and they could monitor him when he does get out."

"He should get ten years!" William nearly shouted at his daughter.

"Dad – I just want to do the right thing, the fair thing." she explained with as much patience as she could gather. "I mean, Roy hurt me, so I hurt him back, is that how it works? I don't want to live my life that way."

Her dad huffed but didn't respond. Helene reached out and took her arm sympathetically, wrapping it in hers. "We aren't going to fight over this now." she said, sending her husband a warning glance. "Let's get through today and maybe things will be clearer afterwards." Helene patted Pam's hand kindly.

William sat down heavily on the bench again. "What do you think about this, then?" he said grumpily, motioning to Jim, who had remained silent throughout the whole argument.

Pam waited, watching him with a nervous expression. Jim stood still, frowning thoughtfully.

"I think," he said evenly. "I think that Pam has thought this through. She does know Roy better than any of us do. I think… it's a very noble thing she is offering. If she's sure this is how she wants to play it, then you may not like it, but I guess it's time to accept that she knows what's best for her and just be there for her." Jim looked at Pam as he finished speaking.

She was looking back at him with pure wonder, her mouth curved into a small smile, grateful tears glistening in her eyes.

-TO-

The Beesly-Anderson case was called far sooner than expected. Pam visibly tensed at the clerk who'd come into the room to call them in. Like a funeral march they followed out of the room in silence, and were led into the small courtroom. Pam took her seat at the front, sitting next to her advocate and a court lawyer. Sneaking a glance to her left, she saw with some relief that Roy's seat was empty, although she thought they would be bringing him in soon. She twisted her head anxiously behind her, reassuring herself of her family's presence right behind her. To her surprise, there was an extra person sitting in the row, on the other side of Jim. Pam's felt her face light up with a brief but genuine smile at her sister. No one had told her Penny was going to be there, or that she was even thinking about it. Her heart swelled with gratitude towards her.

"Hey Pamela." A smooth voice came from her right.

"Michael?"

"Uh look, Michael's here?" Jim said from behind them.

Michael gave a half smile. "Wow, a courtroom. Brings back so many memories." he said, oblivious to the looks that both Pam and Jim threw at him. "Here we go. Receptionist for the win. Gotta bring our A game today." Michael smiled warmly. "I am really proud of you." he said, rolling his eyes down at Pam. Her face flushed scarlet and her mouth twitched with emotion. She leaned over to thank Michael but he had become distracted.

"Oh, hey Toby. How nice of you to join us." Michael scowled, turning to the man who had appeared next to him.

"Toby is here to speak for Pam." Jim pointed out.

"Take a seat please." A stern faced judge spoke from the bench, directing his order to Michael.

Michael turned around. "Ah, yes, your honor...sir." he said, making his way around Pam.

"Come on Michael, let's just sit down." Toby murmured, leading him to a chair. Michael shrugged away from his touch.

"God, you should get out of here before you end up in front of the judge." Michael muttered, taking a seat. Toby sat down next to him.

"Well… we're not here for me…." Toby drawled in response.

"Your birth was a crime." Michael said shortly.

"Silence." The judge called out forcefully.

Michael shuffled in his seat, grumbling at being stuck in such close proximity with Toby. "Even the judge doesn't want to hear your-"

"Silence!" The judge repeated in an annoyed voice.

- TO-

The start of the hearing was taken up with so much legal speak that Pam was quite overwhelmed. The judge was very thorough in his directions, wading through the order of proceedings, terms of time and recess, evidence, witnesses and so on.

Pam sidled a glance to her left. There she took in her first full sight of Roy since the day he came to Jim's house. He had a new grungy look about him, he sat unshaven and unkempt. And somehow smaller than she remembered, she thought that maybe rage can make a person appear fuller, taller. He sat staring stonily forward at the bench, roughly rubbing at his wrists. He did not turn to look back at her.

Pam had been prepared well in the proceedings of a non-jury hearing. Therefore it was no surprise to her when her first witness was called, she had been advised the petitioner is the side that gives evidence before the opposing side.

It was a pure form of torture. Evidence was presented to the court, text messages, voicemails, written statements. The worst of it all though was the medical evidence; reports of various injuries past and present that she had been treated for. She was very well aware of the hushed silence that fell over the room when some of the injuries were described. There was an impassioned speech about why it was imperative that Pam was granted a final restraining order, and a just as enthusiastic retort from the defense counsel as to why it would be an error of grave judgement to lay such restrictions on a good-at-heart man such as Mr Anderson.

This was worse than she had imagined. It was like watching parts of herself – intimate, sensitive parts being laid out and dissected. Maybe that's what this was, an autopsy of her relationship with Roy. To conclude who did the killing – who spread the poison that took down a seven year relationship.

The first witness was called up. Despite having initially questioning the wisdom of having Toby as a witness, once he was up front speaking, she thought she understood the intention behind it.

He wasn't up front very long, he was courteous and polite, answering questions and responding with stammers and stutters. Yes, Mr Anderson had been dismissed. Yes, Pam had a number of incidents of absence through sickness. Yes, Toby did visit Ms Beesly while she was out sick with multiple injuries. Did he believe there was a significant risk to the safety of Ms Beesly from Mr Anderson?

Having seen Pam face to face with Roy's handiwork on full display, having witnessed an altercation between Roy and Jim, yes he did believe there was a risk to her safety.

Jim spent longer than Toby up front. There were a lot more questions for him. Pam watched him intently, feeling increasingly uncomfortable listening to him speak, first about simple things – how he knew her, how long he'd known her, confirming that she had been staying at his home. The questions began to take on a more intrusive nature – how did he feel about her, how long was she going to be staying in his house. Pam squirmed, feeling a sudden protectiveness over Jim – good, decent Jim who was sitting up there simply because she had asked him to. He deserved better, she thought.

"Was there ever anything physical between yourself and Ms Beesly?" Roy's counsel put to him.

From her seat not too far back Pam could easily see the scarlet flush creeping up his neck and into his cheeks.

"No, not at all." Jim said smoothly.

"Mr Anderson believes his fiancee left him for you. Can you clarify that?"

"I think it was an easy thing for Roy to believe." Jim replied.

"And didn't Mr Anderson express his concerns about your relationship with Ms Beesly previously?"

Jim flicked a glance at Roy. "Friendship. And not to me, no. To Pam, yes I guess so."

"You were aware your relationship made Mr Anderson angry?"

It was almost laughable. "No, I wasn't aware of that. Roy told me he was glad she had a friend at work that she could talk to, so she wasn't yapping at him when she got home." Jim looked at Pam apologetically.

"The night Ms Beesly left Mr Anderson, the night she came to your home, had they fought about the relationship between the two of you?"

Jim shook his head. "No, as far as I'm aware they fought because Pam wanted to leave him. Not because of our friendship."

Pam understood exactly what Roy's defense counsel was trying to do – trying to lay the blame on her shoulders and make Roy out to be a spurned victim of his easy fiancee who ran off with her best friend and his anger resulted from that. It was obvious to her that Jim realized this too.

"And Ms Beesly came to you that night, and not a family member or anyone else."

"She did."

"And you happily let her stay with you."

Jim didn't think twice before firing back a reply. "Yes, of course I wanted her to stay. I wasn't happy about seeing her coming to my door like that – I first thought she'd been in a car accident or something, she was so banged up and frightened. It's something I don't think I'll ever forget. Yes, I'm very glad she came to my house and got away from Roy, but it definitely wasn't happy circumstances."

On and on it went, torturously. Pam grew emotional as Jim spoke about finding her that night. He spoke with genuine sadness over what Roy had done to her. Guilt was absolutely swimming over her; Roy's counsel was trying so hard to discredit her by using Jim, and Jim, still he was fighting for her, he was up there not letting them get away with a single misrepresentation of her or their friendship. Every time they used words like 'relationship' or implied Pam had 'run off' to him, he naturally countered it with a friendly spin of words, not allowing a single misstep. Jim, her champion, as always.

Finally, her own counsel was back again.

"Mr Halpert, with everything you have seen and been witness to – for example the incident you have described where Ms Beesly was violently pushed down by Mr Anderson in their home – do you believe that Mr Anderson poses a physical risk to Ms Beesly?"

"Without a doubt I do." Jim said fiercely.

Jim stepped down. Pam didn't have a second to dwell on it, before she knew it, she was being called up to the front. Her mom's caring hand gently patted her shoulder as she slowly got up and walked across the small room.

Chapter 40 by OfficeWriter

It was the longest walk of her life. Conscious of the thirty odd pairs of eyes following her – and the one icy hazel pair in particular fixed furiously on her; pure hatred at her back.

Sitting down in the same chair Jim had sat in before her, the room looked smaller, darker. The amount of people that had turned up surprised her, she hadn't thought there would be so many. The courthouse had an old, knowing feel about it, it was sort of dark and hulking with a mysterious quality to the building. She wondered how many terrible things had been seen and heard in this room. How many battered women, how many angry, possessive men had sat right there before her? Pam closed her eyes, breathing in deeply. Dark shapes and patterns floated up behind her pupils, along with a horrifying few moments of nausea rising in her throat.

"Ms Beesly?" the Judge said from the bench. "Would you like a glass of water?"

Soon it was underway. Pam's counsel started off. Simple, easy questions; when did she and Mr Anderson meet? How long had they lived together, how did she feel about Mr Anderson when they first met?

Then harder questions were coming at her – why did she move in with Mr Anderson, when was the first time he abused her physically?

"So you've said the night of your boss' birthday party, four years ago, that was the first time Mr Anderson used physical violence against you?

"Yes." Pam replied quietly.

"During your relationship, how many incidents of physical abuse would you say you suffered?"

Pam visibly paled. She lowered her eyes to the grainy wooden bench in front of her. "I couldn't count." she said slowly. "Maybe once a month, sometimes twice a week. Too many to count." she added, absolutely hating that her mom was in the room able to hear every word.

Counsel nodded at her and turned, fishing out several thick piece of papers from the evidence.

"This," she said, holding the papers up high. "Was the medical report taken from the day immediately following the evening you left the home you shared with Mr Anderson. I apologize for the graphic nature." Shuffling the papers, she continued solemnly. "Multiple broken ribs, severe bruising and lacerations to the head and body. Burn marks to back and arms. Some muscle damage to left shoulder." she paraphrased from the report. "Deep bruising circling around the neck, abrasions, scratch marks covering the throat. Superficial wounds to the feet."

Her words cut through the silence like bullets, harsh and irrefutable. Shifting uncomfortably in the hard court seat, Pam nodded feebly, unable to raise her eyes. Distantly she was aware of muffled exclamations bursting in chorus from the seats in front of her.

As much as she had prepared for this, feared it; the reality was worse. It was much more difficult that she could have possibly imagined. She was slowly being stripped of her skin, layer after layer, her nerves exposed and vulnerable. Everyone in the room spectating were gifted with a front row seat of just how weak and insipid she was.

"That's quite a list." her counsel said, with a voice reserved for the utmost sympathy and sadness, bringing Pam back to the moment. "However. Not all of the injuries stated were sustained on the evening you left. Correct?"

With a quiet sniff, Pam agreed. "Yes, some of them were older ones."

"As was the concussion you were treated for on the Monday of the same week?"

"Yes."

"The report also notes some older untreated injuries, stress or hairline fractures for example." Her counsel smiled at her kindly. "The concussion, and all of these injuries were caused by Mr Anderson?"

"Yes, they were." Pam pulled her breath in deeply, slowing the rapid in and out of her chest. It was a practice she'd learned in counselling to help relieve anxiety and panic. She counted silently as the oxygen flowed in and out of her body soothingly.

"How did you sustain the concussion?"

Pam hesitated. She began to reply, but her voice had abandoned her. Her head emptied of words and sounds, her mouth stubbornly clamped shut, turning her lips white.

"I hit my head on a wall." she finally stuttered, her jaw aching.

"You had fallen?"

Pam paused for a fair amount time. "Roy pushed me." she mumbled. A somewhat loud sniffing caught her attention, jerking her head up reactively. Dismayed, she saw her mom holding a shaking tissue to her face, her eyes swollen.

They moved on to the day Pam left. Forced to repeat the painful details yet again, she spoke timidly with a higher than normal voice and not very steadily. All through her recollection she staunchly refused to look in Roy's direction. Helene's tears were flowing freely, while her father was glaring murderously at the side of Roy's head.

"What prompted you to leave, after four, five years of this abuse?" she was asked.

"Jim." she said without pause. A strange look shot over the counsel's face, causing Pam to wonder if she shouldn't have said that. She was asked to elaborate.

"Um. Jim knows me and Roy." she started. "Um, when I was living with Roy, for, you know, four or five years, it was… it was just us. It was very…. lonely. Roy had always said no one would believe me, and he always said he was sorry and made it up to me." she closed her eyes, faltering as she remembered.

"Ms Beesly?" the judge questioned after a few moments.

Pam opened her eyes to a now hazy room. She counted her breaths again, backwards and forwards, trying to control the growing panic welling up all through her. She swept her gaze across the moving painting of faces in front of her, desperately willing this to be over. She was trapped up there, trapped in front of all these onlookers, her family, her friends, her boss and co-workers… Roy. She couldn't do this. She couldn't.

Then she met a pair of warm green eyes, so comforting and so familiar, shining with life. He smiled at her encouragingly. It was a smile so reassuring in it's way, it was so essentially Jim that for a moment she wasn't in the courtroom at all, she was back in the office laughing at one of Jim's pranks, feeling happy and carefree.

Her vision cleared and the room settled down again. Pam apologized to the judge.

"I spent years alone with Roy." she continued, calmer now. "It was like there was nobody else in the world but us. He controlled the money, the bills, what we did. If I went somewhere without him, it was always like he was there anyway, he would text and call me to check up. He'd set me a time he'd want me to be home by." Pam dropped her eyes again dejectedly. "I felt useless and worthless. I didn't think I had an option to leave. Roy told me no one else would want me, he made it seem like he was doing me a big favor by being with me. He told me I needed him to take care of me." She stopped again, taking a deep breath.

"After I got the concussion, when I was at the hospital Jim asked me straight out what was happening. He was the first person to ask. He told me that I could survive on my own and that I did have options. He didn't question whether I was telling the truth or not, he knew I was."

"So you went to Mr Halpert's home the night you left?"

"I did." she said, twisting her fingers together on her lap.

"And, since you left, you've had contact from Mr Anderson?" she was asked.

"Yes." Pam sighed nervously. "Um, texts, phone calls, he showed up at the door, his brother came one day. He's left messages on my phone. He somehow got my new number which only four people had."

The counsel made mention of the evidence – copies of messages and transcripts, police logs before turning back to Pam.

"And was Mr Anderson threatening or hostile in any way that left you in further fear for your safety?"

She gripped her hands together hard, swallowing heavily. "Yeah." she said. "He would call me things, like bitch and liar and he would say he was coming over. He would say things like he wished I were dead." Her voice broke suddenly. "Or words to that effect."

All eyes were on her intently, boring into her like red hot laser beams. And there was Roy, sitting almost passively in the corner of her eye – putting on a virtually perfect display of a calm, dignified gentleman. She knew him well, she saw the slight curl of his lip, the tightness of his forehead, the flexing back and forth of his fingers. All little warning signals she had unconsciously drummed into herself over their years together – years of checking the emotional weather when he entered a room. Signs that were screaming at her in fiery exclamation points, signs that an eruption was imminent; signs that were likely invisible to everyone else who hadn't counted on them day after day like a survival manual.

"And you currently feel there is a perpetual threat from Mr Anderson to your safety?" her counsel pressed again.

Pam grimaced sadly. "Monday he attacked Jim, at work, with his brother. Roy has a problem with anger. He threatens me and has ignored the temporary order. Yes I do believe he will not leave me alone and there is a risk from him."

She hung her head, helpless tears streaming down her cheeks as her counsel looked at Roy disgustedly, with her moms quiet sobbing permeating the background as a stark reminder of the hurt that just one hand had inflicted.

-TO-

However helpless and uncomfortable as she had felt with her own counsel, Pam was unprepared for Roy's defense, a seedy looking little man with a thin mustache and a sharp, angular face. As bad as the first round was, she quickly saw that her own side had just simply laid the thunderheads in preparation for the ensuing storm she would be forced into.

The seedy looking man started off kindly, using an overly saccharine voice, apologizing for the hurt she was so obviously feeling over the ending of her relationship. He ran through the same initial questions – she suspected in attempt to catch her in a lie of some sort.

"Did you ever tell anyone about the so called abuse in all of those years, Ms Beesly?" He put to her sympathetically. Clever man; he was staying away from bringing up incidents of actual abuse, she supposed he was trying to quietly dismiss the importance of it to the judge by making it seem so irrelevant.

"No." She said carefully, not liking this man at all. Remembering how he had tried to play it with Jim, she was exceptionally nervous.

"After what, you claim, four or five years, you never told anyone that Mr Anderson treated you badly?"

"No." she repeated firmly. The counsel tutted knowingly and glanced back at Roy.

"And you are petitioning for a final restraining order, an order that will damage Mr Anderson both financially and limit his future employment options, under the basis that he poses a risk to you."

Pam bristled at the snide tone of the man. "He does pose a risk." she said simply.

"But you did not ask anyone for help. In all of that time, you never went to your parents, a family member, friend, co-worker, doctor and said, help I'm being abused by my fiance?"

Pam shook her head again. The man was making a point, alright. "No."

"Tell us, Ms Beesly, you agreed to marry Mr Anderson, a man you claim broke your ribs and gave you concussions, caused you numerous injuries, is that correct?"

Pam leaned her head forward, letting her hair fall over her face a little. "Yes, that's correct."

"And why was that Ms Beesly? Why did you agree to marry a man you were clearly unhappy with?"

"I loved him." she fired back. "He promised things would be better after we were married. He told me that, I believed him. He would tell me that no one else wanted me, that I needed him."

"You're very angry with Mr Anderson about the breakup aren't you? You are angry that despite all his promises, he didn't marry you?"

"No!" She cried, emotion pouring out of her. "No!"

"Yet you left and went to another man's home; a man Mr Anderson believes you were and are in a relationship with." he stated slyly.

This man was brutal. Pam was reeling, devastated at the harsh unfairness of it all, angry that the judge was not stopping this, furious that her family was subjected to witness this.

"Okay." she said in a wavering voice. "All I want is to be sure that Roy won't come after me any more. I went to Jim's house because he's my friend, because I trusted him. There was never any relationship between us, and even if there was, that wouldn't be the point would it, because the point is that Roy hit me, he hurt me physically, he has threatened to kill me before- that is why we are here." she stopped, crying heavily.

The judge gave her a moment, warning the counsel to restrain his line of questioning. The man silkily apologized.

"So, Ms Beesly. Did you ever physically assault your fiance at any time?"

Pam frowned. "No, never."

"Ah." The man said, gleaming. "But the night you left, your statement to the police is that you slapped, kicked and I quote 'tried to punch' your fiancee several times. Is that true, or is it true that you 'never' hit Mr Anderson?"

"What… no.. I did hit him but it was-"

"So the risk of violence is a threat from both sides? Would it be justified for Mr Anderson to seek a restraining order against yourself in that case?"

"No I-"

Pam's voice was lost in an overpowering roar of angry words from both Jim and her dad, and her own counsel. Tearfully she looked pleadingly towards the judge, who ordered silence in the room, sharply rebuking Roy's counsel.

"Lock him up!" Michael cried out from the back of the room.

"Silence!" the judge hissed.

Just like that, Roy's counsel was done with questioning her. He'd delivered what he considered was a fine parting blow, leaving enough damage to disable her case fairly effectively, without giving her the chance to respond. Pam felt hollowed out as she was bid to step down and go back to her seat.

The Judge ordered a ten minute recess. Back in the safe area, Pam quietly sobbed in her mothers arms, gently composing herself.

"Evil, the pair of them!" William was absolutely seething at the treatment of his daughter. Helene shot him a fierce glare.

"Hey, your part is over, Pam. Now let's see how Roy likes it, huh?" Jim said, forcing a cheerful tone.

She wiped her eyes, nodding tiredly. In truth, that slimy little man working for Roy had really shaken her. She saw the very real possibility of the order being denied, of her spending the rest of her future running from Roy, all the people she cared about being dragged into her miserable life. The thought terrified her more than she could readily admit.

They filed back into the courtroom, Pam grasping Helene's hand tightly before they sat back in their respective seats. As she was lowering herself into her seat, she felt someone leaning in close to her, the sensation of hot breath tickling her earlobe.

"Remember, there's more to life than this. Here you are, it's a beautiful day." Jim said into her ear. He sat back down behind her. Pam stared forward, fresh tears springing into her eyes, grateful, overwhelming tears at his words. Oh, Jim, he knew her so well – he knew the things to say that no one else would understand but meant the world to her. Damn, she was so lucky to have him in her life. A slight smile formed on her face.

Things got underway again, far too quickly. It was almost as excruciating for her watching Kenny, as Roy's witness, speak on his behalf, reiterating how Pam had lied and cheated on his brother, and how he was absolutely positive that his brother would never lay a finger on a woman he loved so much. Of course, he might have made an error in self defense but he would never have deliberately hurt Pam, no matter what she had done. Yes, Kenny loved Pam like a sister and was sorry it all had happened, but sorrier she felt she had to put everyone through this. Pam closed her eyes throughout much of Kenny's words. What did it matter. Roy was up next, and her stomach was turning inside out at the mere thought of what he might say.

And then Kenny was stepping down and shortly after that Roy was up there, in front of everyone, looking smart and tidy for once. He had lost some weight and definitely looked like he had lost more than some sleep.

Pam's counsel started first, as procedure dictated. The same questions asked of Roy that Pam endured at the start. He answered formally, politely, every part the perfect gentleman.

Counsel put it to him directly concerning the injuries that were record on Pam's medical report, was he the cause of those injuries?

Roy was confident, well rehearsed. "Not intentionally." he said. "We had a fight when she left. She grabbed me, punched at me, we fell down. It's possible she got hurt then. We did struggle."

"You never assaulted her physically? Even once?"

Roy smiled. "I don't hit women." he said smoothly.

The counsel glared at him. "How did she get the concussion?"

Roy painted a sad look on his face. "Well, I'm truly sorry about this, I didn't like to see it. It was kind of my fault that she fell and hit her head."

"Your fault, how so Mr Anderson?"

"Well, she's kind of clumsy and when she fell I think she was mad because we'd just had a fight. I'm not sure she was paying attention."

The woman shook her head. "So you're saying Ms Beesly accidentally got a concussion? That the injuries – broken bones – she suffered the night she left you were sustained by accident?"

"I'm saying I didn't hurt her. Not deliberately."

Pam was watching the exchange tiredly, but somewhere inside anger was building, hot and fiery. Roy's refusal to admit to what he did to her absolutely stung. She knew that he wasn't going to be shaken, wasn't going to admit it and tell the truth, nor apologize. Her breathing was fast and sharp, and painful. Damn him, damn him.

They had moved on to Roy's text messages and calls to Pam. She had to hand it to him, he played the part of spurned, betrayed fiance perfectly. Sad little tilts of the head, quiet sniffles, deep sympathetic pauses between his words. Oh he was out for blood. He wanted everyone to see the lying, cheating whore he believed her to be. He wanted them all to feel sorry for him.

"I had a little too much to drink when I sent several of those messages." Roy said by way of explanation.

"And that you violated the restraining order several times – by contacting Ms Beesly, her relatives – namely her parents, you contacted Mr Halpert and you also attempted to pass messages to her via her – your – colleagues. Correct."

Roy attempted a charming smile. "I admit I was reckless. I'm sorry for that, I drink too much. I don't recall doing all of those things."

"You were drunk, every time?

"I was hurt. I drink when I'm hurt. She cheated on me with him-" Roy gave a sudden vicious nod in their direction, dropping his dignified appearance momentarily. "What's a guy to do?"

"Hmmm. Are you seeking any treatment for your drinking habits?"

That caught Roy off guard. He hedged a look at his own team, flailing to find a response.

"Oh, well… not as it happens… but yes I will be." he recovered quickly, earning himself a surreptitious thumbs up from his bench.

"Mr Anderson, are you a threat to Ms Beesly's safety?" the woman counsel was direct and to the point.

Roy shook his head emphatically, eager to prove he was in no way a threat to anyone. "No, no, I'm not. She's just feeling guilty about her own affair. That's why we're here." he said.

"And what about your attack on Mr Halpert, assisted by your brother?"

"Oh well, you can't blame a man for that… my fiancee walked out on me after seven years and went to him."

"You were angry at Mr Halpert as well as your fiancee?"

"Damn right." Roy's cool composure dipped. "They made a fool of me. All the talk in the office about them. Always laughing together, with each other every second. Everybody knew. People said they would meet up in the warehouse, the same warehouse I worked in." He huffed. "That was until she got me fired. Like siamese twins they are." he muttered bitterly.

"So, in your opinion, violence can be justified?"

Roy suddenly sat up straight, anger masking over his face. "No, I'm just saying you can't blame a man for being angry at the guy who stole his girl, a guy who was actually a friend of yours, can you?"

The counsel turned. "Your honor, may I remind Mr Anderson and yourself that this purpose of this hearing is to establish whether Mr Anderson poses a significant threat to Ms Beesly, whether there was or wasn't any other relationship Ms Beesly was involved in is irrelevant."

Fortunately, the Judge agreed.

"So, Mr Anderson, you understand why we are here today?" the counsel asked.

"I understand it. I'm not accepting it. She's trying to ruin my life." he complained peevishly.

As the counsels switched over, Pam finally took a proper look at Roy. She found herself inexplicably feeling a little sorry for him. Not that he had hurt her, not that he was currently an inmate of a not so fine prison, not because she used to love him – but simply because he was there, his erratic mood swings were swimming to the shore in front of everyone, his childish, dominating nature was laid bare. She had never realized how pathetic he was before this. All the years she had cried and blamed herself. She could really see him, finally, the small, insecure, mean little man he really was. It was not a pleasant revelation.

Roy's counsel was brief. Perhaps he didn't want to run the risk of inflaming Roy's already elevated temper. Roy was sitting stiffly, a time bomb rapidly ticking.

"Mr Anderson, you love Ms Beesly, isn't that correct?"

"Yeah, I do." Roy said confidentially. His face, however, was a hard impenetrable mask of unbidden fury, no visible traces of any loving feelings on display.

"And how do you feel about all the things that have been said this afternoon – namely the alleged assaults on her?"

"Hurt." Roy said, not skipping a beat. "I could never hurt her like that. Not deliberately."

That was it. There was an impossible silence, in which the counsel looked as those he was very much weighing up whether to continue or not. After observing Roy's red, seething expression for a moment, he rescinded and retired to his seat.

Pam almost fainted with relief. That was it, it was over. She listened intently as the two sides repeated their arguments as to why or why not Mr Anderson should be subject to a permanent restraining order.

The judge retired to his chambers to prepare his ruling.

It was like waiting at the dentists office. The judge finally came out, armed with papers and fiddled around with them for excruciating minutes before calling order. He began to speak, losing Pam in a lot of legal talk. Some form of torture, she felt, sitting on tenterhooks waiting, waiting for him to get to the point.

As he spoke on and on, Pam's feeling of hope grew. He accept that Roy had been violent to her. He accepted that Roy had harassed and threatened her. He accepted that she felt reasonable fear of retaliation from Roy and a reasonable fear for her personal safety and those connected to her.

With that in mind, he was granting the order.

A three year final order.

Roy was to be photographed and fingerprinted and placed on a domestic violence registry.

Roy was to pay a civil penalty of $500.

Roy was banned from owning a firearm.

Roy must stay away from her at all times, must not contact her in anyway, must not contact her friends or family nor use a third party to attempt to contact her.

Pam smiled gratefully, warm tears appearing on her cheeks. She couldn't believe it. She nodded thankfully as the judge offered her his best wishes for this chance to heal and rebuild her life safely. He wished her all the best and thanked her for her dignity and composure throughout a difficult case.

"Are you kidding me!" Roy yelled furiously. He had been listening in mounting rage, horrified at the judge's words. He shot to his feet, spinning round to face Pam. "You filthy bitch!" he berated her loudly and lunged forward. "Don't think you'll get away with this! You won't get a single night's sleep -" he cut off as the officers waiting to take him back to prison roughly seized him, tugging him out of the room. "...kill youuuuuu…" his voice echoed in his place as he was taken away.

-TO-

"I'm so proud of you." Helene was practically smothering her with hugs. William laughed.

"Give the girl some air, woman." he said jovially, moving in for his own hug when she finally let go of their daughter.

"Hey!" Helene rolled her eyes good naturedly.

Pam smiled at her family. "Thank you for being there." She said genuinely to all four people around her.

Helene reached out and lightly caressed her cheek. "You can start getting your life back together now." she said softly, her voice full of love. Pam caught hold of her moms hand, and abruptly yawned.

"It's taken a lot out of you today." Helene said sympathetically. They were standing in the middle of Jim's living room, having all driven back from the court house. To be fair, Pam thought they all looked exhausted.

"Listen, mom, dad… thanks. What I'd really like now is to get some rest, some time to think things over. I'll see you bright and early tomorrow, ready to go." Pam said.

William groaned, shooting a perturbed glance at Penny. "How early are we talking Pam?"

The room fizzled into silence, before they all burst into relieved laughter.

Pam agreed to call Helene later on, Penny agreed to call when she had driven home safely, Pam agreed to be ready early in the morning -not too early, William stressed. After another round of hugs and thank you's Pam stepped away into the almost empty house, feeling grateful and lucky for her family.

"So, Beesly-" Jim began. Pam silenced him, throwing her arms around his neck tightly.

"Thank you." she said, her voice filling with emotion. Jim was taken aback by her sudden embrace, but happily gave in to it, circling his arms tightly around her, slightly rocking her from side to side. Pam clung on to him tiredly, soaking up his body warmth, his warm familiar arms.

"Didn't want you to miss out on the family hugs." She told him, her cheek lying against his shoulder. Jim patted her back, his hand moving up to stroke her hair. She grinned softly and pulled back from him.

"You'll always be my family." she said, catching hold of his hands.

A strange look moved across his face – she wasn't sure what it was, a sort of longing, emotional and sad combination. He didn't say anything.

"Well…." she said, unsure what came next. "Well, I think I need a nap for a few hours."

"Okay." said Jim, looking thoughtfully at her. He then playfully put an arm comfortably around her shoulders.

"You up for going out later, Beesly?"

Pam was genuinely surprised. "Going out? Where?" she said.

Jim laughed. "It's a surprise, Pam. Ask no questions. There's something I want to show you."

"A surprise?" she said suspiciously. "What are you up to, Halpert?"

"What would be the fun in me telling you now?" he laughed at her expression. "Go get your sleep. Be ready later on, we're going for a drive."

Thoroughly intrigued, but also thoroughly exhausted Pam simply shook her head with an amused smile and hurried up to her room to try to sleep the last few weeks away.

Chapter 41 by OfficeWriter

Sidewalks passed them by in a blur of monotonous colors. The night was unusually dark, the streets largely empty, lit only by the odd street light and dull sliver of waning moon. The roads ahead of them had turned raven black, stretching out broadly under a carbon sky. Despite the chill, Pam had the window down, relishing the feel of the fresh wind rushing over her hot skin and gently blowing through her curls, lifting them into the air. The night was alive with a raw energy that the empty roads could not dampen.

She was safe. She was free.

She'd done it, actually done it. There was no going back for her now, she had successfully closed the lid on the coffin of her relationship with Roy. She would not be afraid of him any longer, she promised herself this. She was going to be okay.

"Almost there." Jim said mysteriously, turning the wheel left. "Stay sharp."

Pam was stumped as to where he could be taking her. There she was, in her old jeans and a sweatshirt; she was hardly dressed for a ball. Under normal circumstances she probably wouldn't even step inside a Chili's dressed like she was. Jim hadn't gone much dressier either – although he did exude an aura of excitement about him that thoroughly piqued her curiosity. Stubbornly refusing to give her any clues as to their destination, she had noticed his eyes, brighter than usual and smiled to herself. She felt good right then.

She knew more than likely this joy she was feeling was a knee jerk reaction to her getting the final restraining order granted. Probably when the high wore off and reality sunk in the sadness would be waiting with steel claws. She knew she had a long way to go. She didn't know how she felt about Roy. A part of her had loved him. Parted of her feared him. Worst of all, she was realizing that a significant part of her hated him, had been controlled by him. There was a war inside of her, all sides attributed to Roy Anderson, she wasn't fool enough to believe one positive, bittersweet step would be enough to lay down all weapons. Tomorrow she went away. She would think no further than that; couldn't think further than that. The future was in darkness, but yet in the darkness she sensed a promise of her future.

"What you said earlier…." Jim said, drawing her out of her thoughts. "About dropping the charges."

Pam looked pointedly out the window at the passing streets, her good mood evaporating. She didn't answer him.

"I think it's really decent of you to want to do that for Roy." he said.

"You do?" she replied suspiciously, not moving her eyes from the window.

"I really do," he said truthfully. "It's what's so great about you, you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. You even have room in your heart for compassion for Roy. It's what makes you you."

Pam turned away from the window, dropping her hands into her lap morosely. "I don't feel much like me anymore." she said, her tone flat.

"I think we need to get you back to the basics, Beesly." Jim looked at her. "You've been lost in Roy's shadow for too long."

"It just doesn't seem important anymore." she slumped in her seat, her shoulders drooping forward.

"You are important." Jim said, pulling over.

Sighing heavily, she tilted her head down. "It's all meaningless. That's what keeps coming to me. When I was a kid everything was magical and exciting. I used to be happy when I was painting, or hanging out with my mom or Penny. I used to really look forward to the first cup of coffee in the morning. I looked forward to whenever it was really cold out and you'd bring me hot chocolate at my desk. The little things like that made me feel alive." she shook her head. "None of it makes any sense anymore, doesn't mean anything."

"Of course it does."

"Not really. Ten minutes ago I was feeling great." She scoffed. "Now look at me, not even thirty and I've messed everything up so badly."

"Hey." Jim frowned. "You didn't mess up. Roy did. It's not your fault."

Pam looked up at him, her inner eyebrows raised. The corners of her mouth twitched. "Then why do I feel so bad?" she croaked out helplessly.

"It's going to take time." Jim said, eyeing her sadly. "You gotta stop punishing yourself."

"What do you mean?" A vulnerable, naked look crept across her face.

Jim tilted his head forward and turned to meet her eyes. "Blaming yourself. Not taking care of yourself. Not eating, pretending you're fine and have everything under control." Jim tapped the steering wheel lightly with his index finger. "Letting Roy off the hook." he added quietly.

Pam stared back at him in horrified silence, her eyes widening. Her facial muscles flexed and tightened, her eyes furious and hurt.

"I don't mean like that," he said quickly, glancing at her expression. "He's gotta own the blame. It's not your fault."

Her hands moved to the hem of her sweatshirt, nervously clenching and twisting it around her fingers. She was no longer looking at him, her eyes resting vacantly on her lap.

He watched her quietly a moment, debating with himself whether to continue. He knew he was treading a fine line - she was certainly on fragile ground – but he knew her well enough to know that compassion was only one of her motivating factors here. Jim sighed softly. "I've been kind of worried about you. You know as well as I do – I was there after all at the police station with you – you know that you can't drop charges against Roy. That's not really what this is about, is it?"

Jim heard a hushed sniff from his right. He turned his head, hoping that she wasn't crying, but her hair had fallen over her face effectively blocking his view.

"I know that. I don't have to help them put him away." she finally replied.

"But you do understand he is going away and that's not your decision? It's up to the prosecutor to press charges."

She closed her eyes. "I know."

Jim cleared his throat, speaking as gently as he could. "I know you're not ready to accept what he's done to you yet. I know this has been really hard on you. But letting Roy off like that won't change the fact that it did happen."

The silence in the small car was heavy. Pam's right foot was bouncing up and down nervously, anxiety radiating off her in waves. She gave a small, brief nod of her head in response.

"I don't want to have to go through it all again." she mumbled.

"Have you ever stopped going through it?" he said, knowing that wasn't what she meant. "Hey. All I'm saying is Roy shouldn't get the last word. It's your turn now."

"Yeah." she said brokenly, her voice hoarse.

Jim looked straight ahead at the dark road. "Walking away from this won't validate that feeling of yours that this is all your fault. You can't make it your fault. Roy needs to accept that he's to blame, and so do you. You didn't cause the abuse and you couldn't have stopped it."

She let go of the sweatshirt, dropping her hands to her side. "Maybe you're right." she said after a pause.

It was a start.

Jim smiled. "Think it over, anyway. Won't think any less of you whatever you do, okay?" He reached for the door handle. "You ready then Beesly?"

Pam sat forward, looking around in sheer surprise. "Ready for what? Where are we?" she said in bewilderment as he climbed out of the drivers side and turned back to face her.

"Follow me." he said cheerfully, not answering her question.

-TO-

Pam trailed cautiously behind him as he led them both through a small grassy area before they were stepping on to uneven path again. The heavy darkness obscured much of her view and she looked around warily, unable to catch her bearings. It did seem a rather dubious direction Jim was leading them in, not least away from the comfort of the lit street and sidewalk.

But she did not voice her thoughts as she followed, narrowly dodging a collision with Jim as he stopped in front of her. She looked up in surprise on seeing that they had come to a door. She supposed it was the back door of the building they had walked around. Surveying the darkness around them, she had a strong feeling they were not supposed to be there. Call it intuition or just the whole mysterious atmosphere of sneaking around in the dark, it just didn't feel right. Still, she stood behind Jim, intrigued as a beam of light burst upwards through the dark, revealing Jim's features. Quickly he tapped on the cell phone in his hand.

"Jim?" She whispered. It was so dark out. She had never seen a sky so black and stark; hanging over their heads like a gothic god of darkness. She shuffled closer to stand next to Jim.

"It's-" he started, then the door to the building swung open and strong yellow light surrounded them.

"Hey, Halpert!" a friendly voice cheered. Pam blinked, the brightness of the light disorienting in contrast to the night her eyes had adjusted to. She watched on as the two men greeted each other, Jim and the man who was holding the door open, smiling widely. Jim obviously knew him well. There was some brief joking around between the pair, then Jim stepped inside the building, motioning for Pam to follow him.

The man who had opened the door was tall and dark haired and she knew him. She didn't know how she knew him, from where or why, but she knew that she knew him. Something about his face was familiar, and that messy mop of dark hair was unforgettable.

"You remember Pam, don't you?" Jim said to the man.

"Sure I do. Still looking fine, Miss Beesly." the man chuckled.

Pam blushed. "Oh, um…"

She heard Jim laugh from the other side of her and the corners of her mouth lifted in a small smile. She didn't know what the pair of them were talking about, there were few words, some laughing and a lot of pointing.

"Round the corner there, on the left. Don't go any further than that or it's my ass that gets fried. Capiche?" the man spoke cheerfully enough, despite the dire warning. Jim nodded warmly at him, thanking him again for god-knows-what. All this mystery. Completely flummoxed, she allowed Jim to lead her around the corner as the man had directed.

"Oh, Dunder Mifflin." she said thoughtfully. Jim stopped and pivoted round to face her, wearing a bemused smile.

"Huh? No, not there."

"No, I mean, that's where I know that guy from. He was our old security guard."

"Briefly." Jim replied. "He also owed me one."

It was quite a long way through the dimly lit hall area. Pam wandered behind Jim almost timidly, trying to make sense of the little she could see around her. Big square and rectangular shapes in the darkness were visible over the other side of the hall.

"Wait." She stopped walking, watching for Jim to turn around. "Is that…. This is an art gallery?"

Smiling mischievously, Jim nodded. "It is indeed. This one has something the others don't though. You gotta see it."

Taken with the realization that Jim had somehow got them into a closed art gallery, thousands of paintings and watercolors and sculptures at her fingertips, she could only stare wondrously around.

"Oh my god!" She exclaimed, throwing her shoulders up and laughing. "Guess it pays to know the man with the keys, right?"

Jim beamed, pleased with how happy it seemed to have made her. "This isn't it, yet, Pam." he said, lazily putting an arm around her shoulders and steering her forward. "This way. In here."

Jim led her into a small, softly lit room. "There's an exhibition in here that none of the other galleries have." He stepped back quietly, watching carefully.

At first she stood and said nothing. Her mouth hung slightly open as she moved her eyes around the area, looking up and down in sheer amazement. She couldn't believe it. Mounted. Framed. Brown frames, gold frames. Her flowers, her car. The tree outside her old back yard.

"Th-" she stopped herself, staring intently. "Those are mine?" she said, awe in her voice, staring at the display in front of her. "How did you….." she trailed off.

Jim had been watching her nervously, trying to gauge her reaction.

"Those," she pointed to the top row of pictures. "Were in my desk."

Jim looked sheepish. "Not anymore."

She lightly punched his arm and stepped back. She stood still, absorbing all that was in front of her. Wordlessly her pupils moved from painting to picture, her inner eyebrows raising upwards. A warmth spread across her chest, a euphoric sensation that was overwhelming and unfamiliar to her.

From top to bottom covering a whole side of a wall, her watercolors, her paintings, pictures that she had put herself into with love and dedication. To the right of those were a large handful of colored photographs. Pam cheering at the Dundies, Pam and Oscar laughing together at somebody's birthday party, Pam at her desk smiling. Picture after picture. Her paintings. Her smile. So much emotion was flooding through her with such intensity she thought she might choke. She couldn't move. No words would reach her tongue. Her art. On a gallery wall, where Starry Night was about fifty feet away gracing another wall. Warm tears sparkled in her eyelids and fluttered in her eyelashes, raw emotion stark and beautifully naked on her face. Slowly the corners of her mouth quirked upwards forming a tender, touching hint of a smile beneath the gently red rimmed eyes.

"It's… " she faltered, lump rising in her throat.

Jim was smiling as he watched quietly, her eyes wide and brimming with intense awe at the display. Her cheeks had turned pink, her expression endearing, a visible blend of swirling emotions that transformed her whole being into a beautifully sad picture.

"Pam," Jim moved next to her, taking hold of her elbow. "Look at this one." he pointed at the two of them standing beside a garish looking Christmas tree in the office, an image from a few years ago. "I wanted to give you a going away gift."

They looked happy in the color photograph, Jim holding a cup of punch with a trademark devious grin, his eyes on Pam. She looked at the photo closely, studying the younger version of herself, a whole, happier version, a girl who was captured forever in silent laughter and celebration. She tried to think how long ago the photo had been taken. Five, six years? The thin hand wrapped around a paper cup showed no signs of an engagement ring. Old school Pam, another girl long gone.

Gently Pam reached out and traced a finger around the painting left of the photo, her portrait of their office building. It was all so real, so right there. Michael's car, Jim's car, her car. Their building, nestled under the bluest sky, the same building she and Jim had been introduced to each other in.

She turned to Jim wordlessly. The tears still shimmered in her eyes, her skin blotchy and flushed red and pink.

Jim observed her silently a moment before slipping his arm around her shoulders. "See this-" he ran his index finger over a photograph of her laughing at Michael in a Santa Suit. "Roy can't take this away from you. See that smile? This is the real Pam. This is who you are. This is the way everyone who knows you really sees you, talented, funny, passionate and happy."

She still did not speak a word, however emotions flowed through her so deeply, reaching and touching Jim next to her like a fiery hot burst of wind. Her lower lip was quivering, tears threatening to spill down her face.

"You okay?" he said, both eyebrows raised in worry.

She nodded weakly, but her face broke with emotion. Jim hurried forward to her, his arms outstretched. Pam went to him without hesitation, folding herself into his chest and sliding her arms around him tightly.

"Thank you." she whispered shakily. She sunk into the warmth radiating from his body, relishing the comfort of the familiar scents and his touch, which always made her blood warm again somehow. She wrapped herself against him, feeling the steady rhythm of his heart close to hers and his strong, protective arms circled around her vulnerable, shaking body.

"Oh, Jim, please come visit me at my parents some time if I'm gone too long. I think I might miss you too much otherwise."

Jim didn't respond, but she felt his arms tighten around her. She squeezed him back, not wanting to leave the safe space she had with him.

"You've given me back a piece of myself tonight." she told him quietly.

"You're a great person, you just needed to be reminded of that." he replied.

Pam drew back a little. "What was that? She said, hearing a noise coming from the hallway. Footsteps floated past them, a metallic jangling echoed away from them.

"It's just Dan's big feet." he told her, smiling at the look on her face. She relaxed a little, until a loud crashing sound barreled into the room, causing her to jump violently, clutching at Jim in fright.

"Easy." he laughed. She looked up at him indignantly, yet unwilling to let go of him. She shuffled to the side of him, readjusting herself to put her arms around his neck.

"You," she mumbled, lifting her head back to look at him. "Give the most indestructible hugs, Jim Halpert."

Jim chuckled at her softly. She was feeling warm in the small room, with it's dry, fusty air.

"Pam?" Jim said, catching her eye. She waited, facing him yet he didn't say anything more. The heat in the room grew until she felt her skin was burning up, then the heat between them grew as something silent and unspoken but yet so loud bounced from his body to hers and then they were staring at each other, eyes dilating and suddenly her mouth found his.

Her world dropped away. It was a fiery, passionate kiss, her head tilted to the side, Jim's lips strong and demanding but never forceful. It was a kiss of equal measure, they moved in perfect sync, sparks flying all around them.

Jim's hands ventured up her back softly and into her hair, gentle, loving hands so difference from the rough, punishing hands of Roy. They moved together, going deeper and deeper together until Pam drew back from him, taking in shallow breaths. Their eyes opened, Pam's filled with confusion and fear while Jim looked back at her openly, his clear green eyes radiating nothing but love.

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that." Jim said.

Pam looked at him with uncertainty. "I'm sorry."

"I'm not." Jim moved his head forward, intending to kiss her again.

Pam put a weak hand against his chest. "Jim, stop." she said faintly, pushing him away carefully. Her head began to swim in confusion. What was happening, what had they done? A look crossed over Jim's eyes, one she did not fail to register in her disorientation.

"Pam…. You gotta know…" he said, picking up her hand off of his chest and holding it tight between his own.

She shook her head. "Jim-"

"I was just… I'm in love with you."

Pam fell quiet. "What?"

Her tone was flat, without life and completely unlike her own voice. He loved her?

"I'm really sorry if that's weird for you to hear, but I needed you to hear it. Probably not good timing, I know that. I just…" Jim said, rubbing her hand between his, noticing the prickling line of goosebumps spotting over her arms.

"What are you doing? What do you expect me to say to that?" She replied dully.

He stared at her pleadingly. "I'm in love with you. It's real."

She gazed at him, her face hard and impenetrable, then sudden fat tears splashed onto her cheeks. Jim reached up to wipe them away, but Pam caught his hand and lowered it. "Oh god, I can't… I can't…"

"Yeah." he replied flatly, looking down at the floor.

Pam breathed in heavily, her stomach turning. This was Jim. He wasn't joking with her. One look at his face told her how serious he was; contagious with pain, his eyes were unshielded in burning love and overwhelming hurt.

"You don't understand. Jim, I am so grateful for every-"

"Come on. I don't wanna do that. I wanna be more than that."

Pam eyed him with pure sadness. "I can't." she repeated. "I'm not good for anyone. I'd make you miserable and I can't do that to you. Not you."

"That's Roy talking. Don't do that." he said, shoving his hands in his pockets. It was then that she saw, glistening lines streaked down his cheeks, tears that she had caused.

"Jim….."

"Not your fault. I messed up."

Pam's head was whirling. What the hell was happening? "Jim, please. It's not you. I just need some time. Everything is happening so fast."

"I'm sorry. I just needed you to know." he said, unable to meet her eyes.

She cried openly, tears falling freely. "Jim, You gotta know how much you mean to me."

"Don't do that." he repeated. "Either you love me or you don't."

Pam understood the question between the words. Everything was hazy. It had been such a long, tormenting day. She didn't know how to answer that. She didn't want to lose him. She didn't know what she wanted. This was her fault. She'd kissed him. She pulled him in with one hand only to shove him away with the other.

"I can love you, I can love you like Roy never could." he said.

Pam looked sad. "I can be hurt by you." she said, her voice trembling.

Jim riled. "Come on. I'm not RoyI'd hurt myself a million times over before I'd ever hurt you. You know that."

"I just… I'm sorry. This is all wrong. I.. I'm sorry.. I can't.." She backed away. Instinctively Jim reached for her, wanting to comfort her but he moved too fast, she flinched away from him hurriedly, looking up at him with a betrayed look on her face.

"I'm sorry." he said quietly.

"It's not you." She repeated brokenly, desperately before turning and flying out the door, hurrying up the hall and out of his sight.

Chapter 42 by OfficeWriter
Author's Notes:
This is where this part of the story ends. Heading on next to the sequel (Beauty in Ordinary Things), all allowing and going well. Thank you everyone.

Her absence was like the air, without her living would be impossible.

She was gone. He had laid himself bare in front of her and she had rejected him. She had cried. She had run.

There was no room in his heart for any anger towards her. Yes, she had kissed him, she made the move. She had taken him by surprise, giving him something he had been dreaming of for so long and had written off as more than unrealistic. Kissing her had felt every bit as incredible as he had expected it to, and for the briefest of seconds he had allowed himself to hope, hope that the future he had only dreamed about could be a reality.

Then she had taken back what she'd given, taken everything away from him.

How could he be angry with her? She was confused, fragile and he had gone and thrown her into more turmoil, likely destroying their friendship in the process with his poor timing and impulsiveness. If he had just kept his mouth shut! He could have let her set the stage for them, let her make the decision, not rushed headlong into professing his love for her, overwhelming her, and then maybe she would be here right now, not out wandering the streets god knows where on the darkest of nights.

The image of her walking away from him at the gallery stung fiercely; it had seemed so final. He knew with a certainty that the expression of stark betrayal that had lingered on her face seconds before she walked out was a memory that would haunt him for a long time to come.

He hadn't intended to tell her that evening – not at all, he wasn't a complete jerk. Telling a woman who was nursing the open wounds of a violent relationship, a woman who only hours before had been sitting in a courtroom crying as she recalled said relationship, laying the burden of his feelings on her – that was a dick move at the very least. She deserved better.

And in a sinister twist of deja vu, he'd again ended up out looking for her – just like he was the night she left Roy and came to him. And parallel to that night, again, she had simply vanished into the ether somewhere. And yet, she kissed him. The was the stumbling block he kept falling on; the one spark of light he wanted to cling to. She had made the move. He reacted. She kissed him. And then she had apologized to him. And yet he knew he wasn't alone in the kiss – she gave as much as he did.

He needed to find her, to explain. To try to salvage their friendship. To know she was alright.

Jim considered calling Helene to find out if she had turned up there at her parents hotel but the very thought of trying to come up with an explanation for Pam walking out reddened his face with shame. Besides, he reasoned it had been a few hours since she'd disappeared at the gallery – he felt sure Helene would push Pam to call him or message him at least, if not just to say she was alright.

And he did feel a distinct protectiveness over her – she had been through so much – if something happened to her, in her emotional state she was so vulnerable – what if she got hurt somehow while she was out on the street in the night. Physically hurt. The thought was too dark for him to bear, and know it would be his own fault… he could never live with that. He was at a complete loss, it was strange new ground for him – under usual circumstances he was always so confident of his footing with Pam, with her he instinctively followed the unspoken rules, ever mindful of the invisible lines between them.

But. For that one incredible moment when their lips finally met, he had felt hope, hope that he hadn't held in the longest time. Then he'd come crashing back into his senses. She'd rejected him. He'd taken all of his long pent up feelings towards her and swept his love over her like a tidal wave and she had pushed him away.

He had smothered her. If she didn't want to speak to him again he couldn't blame her. He had taken advantage of her in the worst way, he had betrayed their friendship. There she was his best friend. He was supposed to be the one person who would never hurt her, the one person she would feel safe around.

And now where could they go from that point on?

Of all the ways he imagined that moment could go, nothing had prepared him for this. She had cried, she had run. She was gone. He was empty, he had nothing left, what good was anything when he'd put all his love on the line for her and it had been wrong, wrong wrong. And she had his heart, she had run with it and he was left there hollow, a terrible great gaping blackness where his heart used to be.

-TO-

Jim had soon fallen into a fretful sleep. Around him the cold rushed and swooped, pooled on his bones, starkly mute in the darkened room. Flopped uncomfortably on the couch – the couch Pam had often fallen asleep on – he fell deeper into sleep. He did not sense the small footsteps carefully stealing across the room, or the flicker of light as a lamp came on. He did not feel the warming comfort as a soft blanket was gently laid over him as he slept, nor the tender fingers that brushed his hair away from his face.

What did wake him, some hours later, hit him with all the subtlety of a sudden heart attack. He was deeply asleep, and then he was flying upwards towards the sad light of consciousness, his eyes springing open with a jarring impact. He didn't know if it was the familiar scent of perfume lingering in the room that woke him, or the two green eyes watching him quietly through the darkness.

"Hey." She said softly.

Jim started up in shock, trying to pull himself into a somewhat seated position, a despondent sleep still buzzing in his brain. A furious humiliation rushed through him, flushing his sleep worn face as the scene at the gallery came speeding back to him. Awkwardly shifting on the couch, his muscles half arrested with drowsiness, Jim chanced a look at her.

"Shit." he mumbled as the cushions he had been laying on tumbled to the floor. A second realization took hold of him. She had come back. She was here, sitting right in front of him. He had been so fearful he'd not see her again, that she'd even send her parents to get her things from his house to avoid the burden of an uncomfortable encounter. But. She had come back. Despite everything he was so pleased to see her – and in the deep recesses of his brain he pondered the connotations of this. Maybe. Just maybe.

"I just-" he began to make his apologies.

"Sshhh." Pam silenced him, leaning forward. "Please. Don't say anything. Just let me talk."

Jim hesitated, unnerved by her countenance, calm and inscrutable. Her eyes were wide, open and honest. They were no longer the bright, shining jade eyes that had been enough to make his heart skip a beat or two, but now a dull laurel green, with wind driven oceans of sadness that only cemented to him just how much he loved her. He nodded somewhat agreeably, lowering his head and sitting forward.

"I'm sorry."

Jim's head jerked up indignantly. She said it so simply, so casually, so honestly. The last thing he wanted was for her to think that this was her fault in any way. It was himself after all who had gone off half cocked and unloaded his feelings all over her - feelings that she was not ready to hear, not ready to feel. And then he''d practically demanded to know if she loved him or not. If there was an apology owed, well then the debt was certainly his.

"What have you got-"

"Please."

Jim shrugged nervously. "Sorry."

"I wasn't fair to you earlier." she continued sadly. "I kissed you. Then I walked away from you. What you said.. really… scared me. Not your fault. Jim, you're my best friend. I can't imagine you not being in my life." Pam bit her bottom lip. "I know you're not Roy. I know that. And there are so many differences between you. I came here that night because I trusted you. Because you weren't Roy. I need to be more honest, I know that. It's going to take time, I think. But Jim, I… know how selfish I am, but I do need you in my life."

She fell silent, frustrated. She wasn't making sense to herself, her words were tumbling over themselves. She looked at Jim warily, trying to read his thoughts, a feat both herself and Jim often unintentionally accomplished, a silent fluency in body language and gestures between them which was long established.

"Jim…." she said. "I don't want things to be weird between us. I couldn't leave in the morning with this being how we said goodbye. I can't bear knowing I hurt you like that. I didn't want to hurt you."

Jim slowly raised his eyes to meet hers. "When I said... that... I love you." he held her stare. "I meant it. What am I going to do with that? Things are gonna change with us. It's already weird. I can't change what's happened, or how I feel."

"You-you never said anything before." she said, a logic that sounded weak even to herself.

"When would have been a good time? You expect me to be that guy who tries to steal a girl away from the guy she's going to marry? When you came to stay here? Should I have told you after you woke up in tears in the night because of what he did to you? Maybe slipped you a valentines card over breakfast?"

Pam slumped her shoulders, hurt flashing beneath the surface of her weary eyes.

"I'm sorry." she said, a tear sliding down her cheek. Jim looked at her sorrowfully, his sudden bitterness subsiding as quickly as it had risen.

He sighed heavily. "No, I'm sorry." he leaned forward, clasping his hands together. "It was unbelievably bad timing. After everything you've been through, especially today. I'm sorry. I tried to pressure you. I'm an ass."

"Jim…" Pam reached out to take his hand. But the reason they were here was at the forefront of her mind and she withdrew it quickly. Jim looked up with hurt filled eyes.

"I kissed you first." she said dully.

"I know."

Pam wiped at her cheeks with her sleeve. "I'm.. confused." Jim's forehead creased into a frown. He looked back at her, not speaking.

"I… I wanted to." she said in a low voice.

An agonized expression flew over his face. "So where do we go from here?" he said after a moment.

"I'm leaving in four and a half hours." she reminded him, wincing at the sadness that filled his eyes. She wished she could take the words back, hating herself for how nonchalant she had sounded. She knew he didn't need to be told again that she was leaving.

"I'm sorry. I misinterpreted things. I feel like a such a jerk. Thinking for a second you might…." he faded out miserably.

"I-I don't know how I feel. But," she said honestly, looking down. Another tear slid down from her eyes, followed by another. "I don't want to hurt you for anything in the world."

"I'm already out on a limb. Be honest. How do you feel about…. us?" he said, gripping tightly to the arm of the chair.

She looked at the hazy form of Jim, the watery colors around him blending in to one another. Frustrated, she swiped at her eyes again, barely noticing the spreading damp spot on her sleeve. A striking chill prickled up her arms and the back of her neck.

"I'm not ready for anything." she finally said. She wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing her elbows.

"I know that." he replied helplessly.

There were so many emotions swirling and blurring around her. The despondency coming off Jim in tidal waves and her own despair was overwhelming. "I thought a lot about things tonight, before I came back here. I'm tired, I'm confused. I need a break." She stopped, her chest rising and falling heavily. "When we're together we have so much fun. It's like my soul reaches out and touches yours. You're my best friend."

She waved a hand, motioning for Jim to be quiet as she contemplated. "Don't..." Pam spoke slowly and carefully. "Don't say you're sorry for how you feel. You're.. amazing... as a friend, as a person. You really put yourself out there tonight. I know that."

"Pam," Jim leaned closer to her, speaking in a low tone. "I know how it looked, I know that, but I didn't do all of that tonight intending to tell you how I felt. I did it because wanted to make you happy, I wanted to help you."

Pam nodded slowly. "I know. Look," she said. "I don't know how to say this the right way. I don't. This is hard." she sighed heavily, bringing her hands up to her face.

"Just say it." he said carelessly. "It doesn't matter. I'll accept it whatever."

"It scared me a bit." she said. "I know you meant it."

"I do mean it."

Looking at his sincere, drawn features - knowing she was the reason for his sadness, his hurt - she reached out to him, earlier events be damned. She gripped his hand tightly. He gazed at her, eyes red with unshed tears.

"Thank you."

Jim's eyes widened in surprise. He leaned back, pulling his hand back only to feel her grip tightening.

"Thank you. For caring so much about me."

A heavy lump rose in his throat. A sudden warm tear sliding off his cheek was the only response he could give.

"I... I can't make you any promises." she said, hesitantly.

"I wouldn't ask you to." Jim rubbed his thumb over her hand gently. "I think you missed out on all the good stuff with Roy. I hope one day you'll be able to let someone show you how easy to love you are."

She was still holding his hand. It felt so good, fit so well inside his much larger hand. He was beginning to realize sparks of hope that Roy perhaps hadn't completely destroyed the love she had inside of her.

"I'd need some time to myself first before I could share myself with anyone again." she said. That was no lie. Warm, complex quarreling emotions swirled around inside of her, a tropical snowstorm of mixed tempers bubbling towards her surface. Yes, lately she had started becoming aware of little things about him, like the way he looked first thing in the morning, all mussed up and innocent looking, like every day was a fresh new chapter. Aware of how unassuming he was about his own character, his willingness to be there for her over everything else, how he would know just the right thing to say – even quoting her favorite movies like he did in the courthouse – how well he knew her.

"I'd need to take it very, very slowly in a new relationship." she said cautiously, looking away from him.

Jim nodded. "I think the guy in that relationship would understand that." he said meaningfully.

"The girl has to know she's in the relationship for the right reasons." she replied.

"Maybe the guy would be willing to wait." Jim said, hope lifting his spirit up.

Pam simply looked at him, sticky tears itching her eyes, thinking hard. For the first time in years, a little light peeked in to her world. Jim was watching her in response, carefully, nothing but love radiating from him.

Maybe, she could dare to hope.

-TO-

Pam lifted her purse onto her shoulder. She glanced around the hallway, eyes lingering on every little corner and every object as though committing it to memory. She was exhausted, eagerly anticipating a long sleep in her parents car.

"Well. My mom and dad are waiting, I guess." she said to Jim. An awkward silence pinged between them, neither knowing quite how to act with each other.

"Well then Beesly." Jim finally spoke first. "I guess I'll see you when you get back. Make the most of it, before you know it you'll be back to pushing Dwight's dead carcasses off your desk and figuring out how to survive another day of-"

"Phyllis' stinky perfumes." she finished with a small laugh. Her eyes watered as she looked up at Jim. "Oh Jim, always with a joke." she said sadly.

"Yeah." he said, scuffling his feet on the carpet.

"Well." Pam turned towards the door. "I guess I better go before my dad starts freaking out."

Jim jerked his chin up, not knowing how to handle this. She was actually leaving. Only in part though, he knew very well her presence would still be there in a way, in his house, in the office, wherever he went. Everything would remind him of her absence. He already missed her – and she hadn't even crossed out the door yet. They were so close. He didn't know how things would turn out. All he knew is that he loved her and that love wasn't going anywhere.

"Goodbye, then." she said woodenly from the open doorway.

"Look after yourself." he said. She smiled anxiously at him, and stepped outside. Jim lingered by the door as she walked up the driveway, sadness consuming him.

"Oh, this is so stupid." Pam suddenly said, swinging round again. Letting her purse fall to the ground, she stepped back inside the small house.

"Come here." she said, moving towards him and extending her arms. Jim reciprocated the hug, and she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck.

"Don't say goodbye." Jim said, stroking her back up and down gently.

"I'll be back." she promised.

"I'll be here."

All too soon she had let go of him and was walking out of the door again; Jim tried to convince himself that's all it was, she wasn't walking out of his life. But watching love leave is never easy.

"Oh Beesly?" He called out, smiling when she stopped and turned around questioningly.

"This guy, in the take-it-slowly relationship? He's gotta know he'd be the luckiest man on earth, right?"

She smiled, a real genuine smile that warmed his heart. "Maybe. I guess it would be a question of who was the luckiest out of the two."

"Pam?" he called again. She turned once more.

His stomach plummeted, seeing her there, starkly alone and small against the huge, clean driveway. He was empty of all but a little hope. He loved her. That would not change. But how he would miss her.

"Take care of yourself." he said, as cheerfully as he could.

Pam smiled and gently waved her hand. "I'm not saying goodbye." she said and quickly turned, hurrying down the driveway and climbing into her parents car.

Jim watched the car until it was out of sight, vaguely aware of a heavy dampness coating his cheeks. Abruptly he turned around, pushing the door shut and bolting up the stairs. Throwing himself on his bed, he buried his head and wished for sleep.

It was not goodbye. He clung to that thought like a rock in a murderous sea. He would see her again, soon.

He had hope, and so did she.

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