The Other Side by Debutante_gurl
Summary:

 

the follow up to "Five years". 


starting with Jim's side of the story leading up to the original ending, and then following Jim and Pam, their kids, and their life in Paris. New conflict will arise, new stories will be told, and new perspectives explored. 



Categories: Jim and Pam, Present, Past, Future, Alternate Universe Characters: Ensemble, Helene Beesly, Jim, Jim/Karen, Jim/Other, Jim/Pam, Karen, Other, Pam
Genres: Angst, Drama, Fluff, Kids/Family, Married, Romance, Travel
Warnings: Adult language
Challenges: None
Series: Through the years
Chapters: 6 Completed: No Word count: 9852 Read: 1830 Published: July 20, 2021 Updated: September 23, 2021
Story Notes:
A sequel/epilogue I cooked up because, frankly, I missed “Five years”.

1. Stars by Debutante_gurl

2. Fourteen years later... by Debutante_gurl

3. Reunion by Debutante_gurl

4. Dreams by Debutante_gurl

5. I see this for what it is by Debutante_gurl

6. Sole survivor by Debutante_gurl

Stars by Debutante_gurl
Author's Notes:

Chapter one! I hope you enjoy this fic, and getting to see Jim’s side of the ending of "five years". This was a lot of fun to write, and hopefully will be equally as fun to read, lol. 

The days had blurred together. He couldn't remember if she had been gone for a day, a week, or a year. All he knew anymore was this pain, this deep, dark pit that he can't seem to escape. Everything reminds him of her, life had seemed to lose all it’s color. It's a bleak existence, and one that he would do anything to get out of.  


He dreams of running now, finding his peace amongst the lakes and trees. Slightly convinced that if he cuts himself off from society, he will stop missing her, find the light. But he is tied down, divorce proceedings and his daughter keeping him in Scranton. He hasn't seen Julia in a week, she was staying with Karen's grandma, who had decided to sweep his little girl off to the beach for a getaway. 


“She needs a break,” was Mrs Filippelli's excuse. “She's been through a lot, too much.”


“Haven't we all?” is what he told her as he kissed Julia goodbye. 


They really had been through a lot. The night that she left, he had fallen asleep on the couch, too exhausted to make it up the stairs. He had been woken up by the sound of his phone ringing, (Karen's lawyers would call him at the ass-crack of dawn most mornings), and his aching back. 


It was hell, absolute hell. 


“Sitting across from the woman who I promised to build a life with as she explained why she should get the house and full custody of our daughter is, I've decided, the worst thing I've ever had to do.” he told his mother over the phone that night. 


“I'm so sorry, honey,” Betsy Halpert told her son, “it will all be over soon.”


“Yeah, I guess.” he told her, even if he didnt believe it for a second. He truly felt as if it would never end, that this nightmare was his new reality. He just wishes that Pam was here, she would know just what to say, just how to make him feel better, even if it was just for a second. 


He had thought about calling her, but he knew that it was a dumb idea. She had made her decision, and he had made his. They weren't meant to be, and he had to live with that.  

-----------

He had a photo album open in his lap, from the year that everything fell apart. The last photos of Pam before the parking lot, the kiss, and the first goodbye of many. She was so beautiful, so radiant. He missed her light, the way that she made every room brighter just by being in it.


His breath hitched when he saw a shot of her in that blue dress, with her arm around him. They were both smiling by a poker table, (probably because she thought his brutal loss was funny, and he was just happy to be in her presence), God, he misses those days. He misses the cadence of her laugh, how her hair fell into a reddish-brown halo around her face, and how funny she was. She was his best friend, and he now doubts he'll ever see that smile again. 


The photos of Karen were equally heartbreaking. He was trying so hard to be in love with her in those early days, a fight that he ultimately lost. 


She looked so happy in the photos, laying on the couch, posing in front of skyscrapers in the city, like everything was okay. Like maybe they would be okay if she loved him enough for the both of them. He wished that was how it worked. Instead they crumbled into a million pieces, a whisper of a relationship the only thing left. All he could hope for now was that Julia would be okay, that his brokenness wouldn't hurt her too.

-----------

His cursor was hovering over the “buy now” button on the delta website. A round trip ticket to Paris, hope of getting her back, everything he had ever wanted, all one click away. He told himself that it would be okay, that even if she said no, he would have tried. Yet still, something was holding him back. It just felt wrong, going after her after she rejected him three times. This wasn't up to him anymore, she knows how he feels, and no matter how much it hurts, he has to accept her decision. He has to try and move on.

-----------

The divorce had been finalized two days ago, he was finally free of the litigation hell that had defined the last eight months of his life. His first week with Julia was starting next Monday, and in the meantime, he needed a break, a re-start. So he packed an overnight bag and hopped in the car. 


He drove through the night, until he reached the city. New York, a place where anything and everything felt possibille, even him getting over Pam.


He booked the cheapest hotel he could find and promptly fell asleep, promising to himself that he would relish in the beauty of the city tomorrow. 

-----------

The sun was on his face. “Nature's alarm clock,” as his mom used to call it. He sat up in bed, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He hadn't slept well, but he told himself that it didn't matter, because he was in the “greatest city on earth.”


He spent the day wandering around. Poking his head into bookstores only to see Karen's favorite book prominently displayed, or trying to kill time in a coffee shop only to notice that they sell Pam's go-to tea. Everything was a reminder of them, and all the things he lost.


Eventually, around midnight, when he felt like the biggest loser on earth, he made his way into a club.


EDM music was pumping through the speakers as he watched the sweaty, twenty-somethings dance under the neon lights. He hadn't been to a club in years, and he let the energy of the space pull him in. Suddenly the pain was gone, replaced with bass and the brilliant colors reflecting off of the peoples faces. He started to dance, letting the music pull his body in a thousand different directions. He was sure that he looked like a chicken on ice skates, but fuck it, he was the closet thing to happy that he had been in almost a year. 


A woman with the most platinum blonde hair he had ever seen came over to him. 


“I'm Alyssa,” she told him.


“I'm Jim,” he said, his voice slightly stuttering. 


“I saw you dancing and I just had to come say hi.” she said, yelling over the noise of the club.

She was beautiful, he realized, and he wanted to kiss her. 


“Cool,” he told her, even if he knew that it was the wrong response. After years of marriage, he'd forgotten how to flirt. 


They danced together for a little while, letting the music fill the gaps that conversation couldn't. Eventually he found himself up against a wall, his face not an inch from hers. 


She leaned in, her lips meeting his. She tasted like vodka and cigarettes, like a stranger. He put his hand on her hips, even if it all felt wrong. The fabric beneath his fingertips should be of a soft cardigan, the hand in his hair should be stained with ink. Hell, he should be able to remember her name. He pulled away, leaving Alyssa with nothing more than a, “Sorry,” he left the club.


It was raining as he walked back to his hotel. Heavy drops soaking him to the bone. He just felt so dirty, like he had just cheated on her. But that's the thing, Pam wasn't his, she never had been. So why did this feeling linger, the idea that he still owes his love to her. He wondered if he would ever shake the feeling, or if she would hold his broken heart in her hands forever.

-----------

He escaped the city earlier than he expected, sightseeing lost its appeal quickly. By the time he got home he was exhausted, the toll of the weekend, and the club catching up to him quickly. He fell asleep almost immediately, crashing onto his bed with a grunt. 


He woke up the next morning early, and cursed himself for it, (later on he would tell Pam about that morning, and she would tell him the same thing every time, “It was a cosmic thing, that day. And who are we to fight what's written in the stars?”)


He showered and ate the stale cereal he found in the back of the cabinet. The box told him that it was a “breakfast of champions,” he just laughed and said, “we'll see about that,”


He was laying on the couch, watching reruns of “Seinfeld” when the door rang. He got up to answer it, confused as to who it would be. He couldn't remember ordering a pizza, and the mail had already come, god, he just hoped that it wasn't someone trying to get him to sign a petition or something. 


The door swung open, and there, standing on his doorstep, was Pam. She took his breath away, her almost supernatural beauty never failing to make him feel like he was just struck by lighting. 


“Pam,” he struggled to get the words out, he was still so amazed that she was standing in front of him, “what are you doing here?”


“I um…” she mumbled, clearly at a loss for words too.


But then, she took a step forward. And suddenly his lips were on hers. Stars were all he could see as he kissed her back, his hands in her hair. It was magic, pure, sweet, beautiful, magic. His hands didn't leave her waist as she pulled away, he couldn't let her go.


“I came to do that.” she told him, a shy smile on her face.


She came back for him, she really came back for him. This couldn't be real, he had to be dreaming, Right? 


“But I thought…” he blurted out, the doubt that was running through his mind spilling out of his mouth. 


“I love you, Jim.” she said it with so much confidence, like it was the only true thing she knew. It was enough to make his doubt fall away, enough to let him soak in a moment that he had been dreaming about for the past six years. 


“Wow,” he breathed out. “I can't believe this is real.” 


“Believe it.” she told him with a laugh. He let out a laugh as well, his face now wearing a huge grin. 


And believe it he would. The woman of his dreams loved him, and that was enough to make him believe in anything.  

-----------

She had her arms wrapped around his chest when he woke up. The weight of her body next to him, it was a feeling that he could get used to. 


“Good morning,” he breathed out as she stirred awake.


“Hey,” she said, “I haven't slept that well in…”


“Six years,” they said in unison. He waited for her to say “jinx!” but instead, he was met with a comfortable silence and the feeling of her burrowing her head into his chest. 


“You're not going to jinx me?” he asked her as he leaned down to plant a kiss on the crown of her head. 


“I spent a year not being able to hear your voice, and now that I have it back, I'm not giving it up for anything. Especially not a coke.” she told him, and they left it at that. 

-----------

They spent the day together, both of them unable to stop smiling. They were together, after years of heartache and pain, they were together, and that was a truly divine thing. 


“I love you,” he told her as they drove home that night, a song that they once listened to on a drive home from work filling the car. 


“I love you too, and I'm not afraid to admit it anymore.” she said.


It was one of the best nights of his life, just his love, the radio, and all the stars in the night sky. 

End Notes:
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a review or/and a jellybean, I would really appreciate it.
Fourteen years later... by Debutante_gurl
Author's Notes:

Chapter two! I'm so excited for you guys to finally see where Jim and Pam wound up, and meet their family! Hopefully you love them as much as I do.

 

thank you to my beta! you are my favorite person.  

Fourteen years later...


The bed was cold. She could hear the shower running as she stirred awake. The clock on her nightstand read six am, he had probably been up for half an hour already, and he would be gone before the kids were up. 


Things had been like this for a while now.  It was the price they had to pay for his new job, new opportunities, and a better future for their family. But it had begun to take a toll on her. Three kids is no joke, and she felt bone tired at the end of every day. Yet, she pushes on. Because she loves him, and she loves their kids. 


Cecelia is twelve, and the spitting image of her mom. Her and Jim affectionately call her their little “spitfire”, due to the fact that she inherited her parent’s wit. 

Phillip is nine, and a little ball of energy. Jim swears weekly that he's trying to give him a heart attack. But at least he's old enough for team sports, because those sure do help him channel his boundless energy into something productive. Pam proudly displays his soccer trophies in the living room, next to her and Jim's Dundies. 

Eloise is four, and was born shortly after her parents celebrated ten years together. She is the sweetest little girl, and Pam just adores her. 

Her kids, they are her world, and she is so grateful that she gets to be their mom. 


She rolled over, facing the bathroom door. She stared at the fogged glass door, waiting for him to emerge all steamy and clean, for him to kiss her goodbye and make a promise to be home early, a promise that he will probably break. 


Sure enough, a few moments later, he walked out of the bathroom, and over to the dresser. She watched him pick out a tie and pants, curating his image for the day. They used to have so many of these mornings, back when they first started dating. Making up for lost time by trying to memorize every last inch of one-another. She knew every curve of his body, the way he made his coffee, what dish soap he bought, and now, well now, now he feels like a stranger sometimes. He was gone so much now, it made her feel like she was married to a ghost sometimes. 


“Hey,” she breathed out as he began to buckle his belt.


“Hey.” he said, “I didn't realize you were up.” He turned away from her, buttoning up his shirt. 


“Let me tie your tie.'' she said, crossing the room to get to him. 


“Remember when I used to do this every morning?” she asked him, as she made quick work of the tie. It was the one she bought him when he got this new job, back when they didn't know that they were celebrating the thing that would threaten to break them.  


“Yeah,” he said, a laugh escaping his lips, “back at our old place in Scranton.”


“God, that place was tiny. Remember how you could barely even take a shower because of how small it was.”


“Yes, Pam. I most definitely remember that.”


They left it at that. 

-----------

She showered after he left, trying to savor the last bits of the morning before the kids got up. The mornings were her time in the summer, the calm before her storm of a life. She just wishes that she got to share them with him more. He was gone so much now, her time with him few and far between. It makes little things like reminiscing about the beginning of their relationship or getting ready feel like grand gestures. A love language so quiet it was almost mute. 


She dressed in a pair of soft cotton shorts and a t-shirt. She called it her “Summer mom uniform.” Even if it's comfortable and appropriate for caring for three kids, she misses her sundresses and nice sandals of previous summers. Now they sit in the back of her closet, reminders of days spent wandering museums, and the pain of missing him. That's the only thing that she doesn't miss from her young life, living without him. That pain was so unbearable, she would happily never dress up again to avoid it.  


As she was pulling her hair back she heard a voice in the hall calling for her.


“Mama!” Eloise cried as she made her way into her mom’s room.


“Yes, sweetheart,” Pam said to her daughter, “what is it?” 


“I’m hungry.” she told her, her little arms crossed over her chest. 


“Alright, let's get Cece and Phill up and then I'll make breakfast.” she told her daughter, who was holding her arms up to be held. She was currently in a major “carry me” phase and Pam was powerless against it, especially in the morning when her pajama clad baby girl is looking up at her with those big green eyes. So she lifted her up, her little arms around her neck. 


She went to Phillip’s room first, knocking on the door before letting herself in.


“Time to get up, sleepyhead.” she said from the doorway, watchin the little boy stir. When he rolled over, trying to resist waking up she told him that they were “having pancakes.” That did the trick to get him out of bed.  


Cece was already awake when she knocked on the door of the room she shares with Eloise. She was sitting up in bed, a book in her hands, and a pair of headphones covering her ears. Lately all Cece wanted to do was listen to her mom's “old music” and read whatever book she could get her hands on. Currently she is making her way through the Harry Potter books. It’s adorable to watch.


“Cece, it's time for breakfast,” Pam told her from the doorway. When she didn't turn to acknowledge her mom, she walked over to the bed and took her headphones off. The Killers “Mr. Brightside” playing loudly through the headphones that were now in her hands. Cece looked at her mom, surprised.


“Breakfast,” she told her for the second time. “We're having pancakes.”

-----------

The kids spent the day engrossed in their activities of choice, while Pam got together the house for Karen and Julia. Julia would be coming down to spend the rest of the summer with them, (two months), starting tomorrow, and per tradition, Karen would be joining her for the first week. Their house is a three bedroom, so in order for Julia to have her own room (Karen INSISTS that she has one, even if Julia doesn't really seem to care), Pam has to move Phillip's things into the girl’s room, and set up his bed in there. It's a massive undertaking, and one that Jim would normally help her with, but he's working late tonight, so it's all on her this year. 


After clearing out most of Philip's toys and clothes from his room, Pam brought in the cot for Julia. She tried to make the room as nice as possible, wanting her now sixteen year old step daughter to feel as comfortable as possible. She put the new sheets she bought for her on the bed, and a book that she had liked at Julia's age on the nightstand. She made sure that there were enough drawers cleaned out for her, and that she would have a place to charge her phone. It was her little way of reminding her that no matter what, she was here for her, and ready to give her anything that she needs.


For Karen, Pam made up the living room. They have a sofa bed specifically so she will have a place to sleep, a peace offering from the first time that she came to visit with Julia. Sure, it's not Pam's favorite thing, the fact that her husband's ex-wife stays with them, but it is what it is. So why not make the best out of a bad situation and try to be nice? 


Once everything was ready, Pam got to work on dinner. Before his new Job, Jim used to be home early enough to help her cook. Hell, they even have his and hers aprons. But now his just sits in the cupboard, waiting for the day when he's able to dust it off and once again join her in the kitchen. 


Per Phil’s request, she made spaghetti that night. He had been asking for it for weeks now, and nothing matched the look of delight on his face when she served it to him. 


“Wow!” he exclaimed, “Thank you, Mom!” 


“Your welcome, baby,” she told him, kissing him on the top of his head. 


They ate in peace for a while before Cece asked the question that she dreads hearing every night. 


“When is dad going to be home?”


“I don't know, soon.” she told her, telling the truth even if it hurt to do.


“He's been gone every night this week,” Cece said, “how many more late nights are there going to be?”


“Hopefully this is the last one for a while. Now, finish your food so we can get you guys off to bed. We're going to the airport early tomorrow to get Karen and Julia.”


“Yay! Julia’s coming home!” Eloise yelled from her place at the end of the table. 


“That's right, she's coming home.” Pam knew that to Julia, Paris is far from her home, but she had no intention of squashing Eloise's belief that it is. She's the only one of her kids who still thinks that their blended family is “special”, and not a complicated mess of heartbreak and new beginnings. It's refreshing, her pure view of the love that holds their family together.

-----------

It was midnight when he came home. She could hear him lock the door, his footsteps quiet so as to not wake the kids. 


He laid down next to her, still in his work shirt and pants. She heard him let out a sigh, and opened her eyes to see him looking at her. 


“Hey,” he breathed out. The same greeting from this morning, except now it was hollow and tired. The tender love of the morning was replaced with the cold reality of their life. 


“Your dinners in the fridge,” she told him, rolling over. She couldn't look at him like this anymore, exhausted and broken. 


“Thanks,” he said, standing up to change into his pajamas. 


“Will you be home tomorrow?” she asked, hoping that the answer she was anticipating was wrong.


“Yes,” he said, “but I'll have to work overtime for the rest of the week.”


Pam sighed, she was right. 


“Well at least we get tomorrow together, the kids really need it, they miss you.”


“I miss them,” he said. He didn't sound like himself.


“Are you okay?” she questioned him.


“Just had a hard day,” he told her, turning to meet her eyes in the dark, “that's all.”


She didn't believe him, but it was almost one am, and she didn't have the energy to push him on this. He crawled into bed, laying so that he was facing her still turned away back. He was asleep before she got a chance to tell him goodnight. So, for the fifth time that week, she whispered it to his sleeping form.


“Goodnight, Jim. I love you.”

End Notes:
thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please feel free to leave a review or a jellybean, I would really appreciate it. 
Reunion by Debutante_gurl
Author's Notes:

Julias back! the family reunion is here, and it is full of, joy, snark, and maybe a bit of drama. Long story short, Karen is living up to her name. 

 

thank you to my beta! you are the best. 

Eloise woke her up before the alarm, yelling about how, “Sister is coming home today!” It was adorable, if not a little loud at five am. 


“I know, baby.” Pam told the energetic little girl when she came into their room. 


After a minute she wound up crawling into bed with her parents, it being the only thing that Pam could use to coax her back to sleep, however... by the time the alarm really went off at seven thirty, Eloise was ready to resume her earlier activities. 


“I can't wait to see her!” she exclaimed while Pam tried to get her dressed, her arms flailing around wildly in all her excitement. 


“I'm excited to see her too, but we can't go get her until you get dressed,” she said to her daughter, using her best no-nonsense voice. “So can you help me by getting dressed?”


“Yes, Mama,” Eloise said, suddenly determined to get her outfit on. 


Once everyone was dressed, bathed, and fed, Jim and Pam got to work on the last minute cleaning that was needed before Karen and Julia arrived. Jim tackled folding the load of laundry that she had done up last night but had never folded, while Pam cleaned up after breakfast. Even with all his help, she still feels like their home will never be up to Karen's standards. 


Since moving to their home just outside of Paris, Karen has been very hesitant to let Julia visit. At first it was complaints about how “unsafe” it was so close to the city, and then it was how they don't have enough space, or, “wouldn't you rather spend time with YOUR kids?”


She’s always told herself that it probably isn't about her, that it’s about having Julia so far away, but it still stings. Her and Jim have always worked so hard to be good parents to Julia, so it feels like a slap in the face when Karen keeps her from them.


“It's time to go!” she heard Jim call to her, breaking her train of though. 


She helped him corral the kids into the car and they strapped in for the hour-long drive to the airport. 


“Are you excited to see your sister?” Jim asked the kids from the front seat. He got a quiet “Yes,” from the older kids and what can only be described as a shriek of joy from Eloise. 


“What about you?” Pam asked him with a smile, knowing the answer already.


“Me?” he jokingly asked, “I’m thrilled.”

-----------

They spotted them right away. Julia was standing next to her massive suitcase, wearing a pair of shorts that seemed to be three sizes too big, and a t-shirt with a band logo Pam didn't recognize. Karen was next to her, her immaculate floral sundress blowing in the wind. 


“Dad!” Julia cried as soon as Jim got out of the car, running to get a hug from him. He scooped her up, holding her like she was a little girl again. To see the unconditional love between father and daughter, it never fails to take her breath away. 


Karen just got in the car, taking Pam's place in the front seat without so much as a hello. But she didn't let it bother her, because as soon as Jim let go of Julia, she was in Pam's arms. 


“I missed you,” she said, her voice muffled against Pam's hair. Julia was as tall as she is now, a hallmark of her dad's side of the family shining through. 


“I missed you too; it's good to have you back.” she told her, letting her go so that her siblings could hug her as well. All her kids, back together again. There's never been a more beautiful sight.   

-----------

“How was the flight?” Jim asked them once they were all back in the car, heading home. 


“Fine,” Karen told him, her eyes fixed out the window. She was acting completely disinterested in any conversation, never once looking up when any of them spoke.


“It was nice,” Julia chimed in, “I slept through most of it.” she was still beaming, riding the high of seeing her dad again.  


“That's my girl!” Jim told her with a laugh, reaching back to give her a high five.


“Two hands on the wheel please, Jim” Karen scolded him, hitting him on the arm ever so lightly. She was in rare form today, on a mission to suck any and all fun out of the day. And luckily for her, she managed to make the rest of the drive a joy-less, silent, affair. 



When they got home, Jim started to work on getting everyone lunch while Pam showed Julia and Karen where to put their luggage. 


“Wow!” was all Julia could say when Pam showed her her room. “I love it!”.


She sighed a sigh of relief, grateful that her hard work had paid off, that Julia felt welcome in their home. 


“It'll do,” Karen said from the doorway, eyeing the room like a hawk. 


Pam just ignored it, trying to tell herself that Karen just wants the best for her daughter, and it has nothing to do with her. Even if deep down, she knew, it definitely has something to do with her.  


She was just as judgmental when Pam had her put her stuff in the living room. 


“But what if the kids get into it? I don't want them ruining my clothes!” she questioned, her arms crossed over her chest. 


“They won't, trust me.” she said, trying to assure Karen that the kids are good, and they have no interest in destroying her clothes.  


In the end, her victory came in a scoff and a “fine,” from the other woman as she reluctantly sat down on the sofa bed.  

-----------

It was barely noon, and she was already exhausted. The idea of having to deal with four kids, and an annoyed ex-wife was daunting, and the fact that she would have to do it alone tomorrow was even more terrifying. So she sought comfort the only way she knew how, through Jim. 


He was in the kitchen, making stacks of sandwiches at a snail's pace. She could tell that he was tired as well, he had tossed and turned for most of the night before. He never sleeps the night before seeing Julia, the anticipation making him as restless as a kid on Christmas. 


“Hey,” she said, standing behind him, her arms snaking around his waist. 


“Hey,” he sighed, turning around to fully embrace her. “How are you holding up?” 


“I’m okay,” she told him, burying her head into his chest. “It's so great to have Julia back.”


“Yeah,” he agreed, pulling away. He turned back to making the sandwiches, instructing her to tell everyone that lunch was ready. 



She did, while he brought out the platter of sandwiches and plates. It was a simple lunch, and she hoped that Karen wouldn't have any snarky comments to make about it. Her capacity to deal with them was growing thin. 


The kids sat at the end of the table, talking Julias ears off. They were all speaking over each other, the conversational equivalent of a dogpile. She didn't seem to mind though, a smile on her face as she listened to each of her siblings rapid chatter. 


Jim caught her staring at them, and he couldn't help but reach under the table and squeeze her hand. His little way of saying, “look at that, we made that.” 


Karen just ate her ham and cheese in silence, ignoring Pam's attempts at conversation.

-----------

They were all bone tired at the end of the day, the kids all falling asleep around nine, the adults not far behind.


She wanted nothing more than to stay awake though, trying to bask in what would surely be her last full day with him for a while. After lunch he began receiving call after call. Some huge client backed out at work, yet he still refused to go into the office, to leave his family on the one day he promised he would be with them. The kids were extremely grateful for that, soaking up every last minute of their dad. It was all so beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. 


She snuggled closer to him, wanting to tell him in a million different words how much she loves him and their children, and grateful she is for him, but for some reason, she couldn't. So she just laid there, listening to him fall asleep, preparing for the next day, to lose him to the week once again.

End Notes:
thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave a review or a jellybean, I would really appreciate it.
Dreams by Debutante_gurl
Author's Notes:

Its chapter four, and time to tell Karens side of the story. Thats right, this a two POV chapter! I hope you enjoy it, and possibly hate Karen a little less after reading it. lol. 

 

thank you to my beta, you are amazing.  

She woke up to an empty bed again. 


When he first started working early mornings he would leave her notes. Messages taped to the mirror or fridge, reminding her that he loved her, and would try to be home early. Those days were long gone, replaced with “I'm sorry, I'll be home around midnight, don't wait up” texts sent hastily between meetings and bouquets of flowers with apology notes taped to them. She never thought her relationship with him would get to this point, but here she was. Too used to it to feel heartbroken anymore, numb to the feeling of missing him.



The kids were up early that morning, all three of them knocking on her door while she was getting dressed, demanding breakfast. When she finally answered the door, her three pajama clad kids all started rattling off orders, acting as if they didn't get cereal, toast, orange juice and pancakes, they would die. 


So, she made her way into the kitchen. Making Phillip and Eloise their toast, (she was too tired to give into Eloise's request for blueberry pancakes), and pouring Cece her cereal and juice. She also cut up some fruit and made some eggs for herself. Deciding that it was best to eat before Karen woke up, wanting to be at her best for the incredibly judgemental woman. 


Julia came wandering in a few minutes later, still in her pajamas. Pam helped her fix a plate, making sure that she had everything that she needed. Her deep need to care for Juila always surprised her, the mothering instinct not any less strong for her step daughter. 


“What are we going to do today, Mom?” Phillip asked through a mouth full of food. 


“Well,” Pam told him, “I thought that we could go into the city and do some sightseeing. Maybe go to a few museums, get something to eat. How does that sound to you Julia?”


Julia simply beamed at her, telling her everything that she needed to know about their plans for the day. 


“Alright then, once Karen's up and ready we'll get going!”

-----------

Karen was still doing her whole “silent treatment” thing when they all piled into the car. Pam tried to ignore it by turning up the radio and chatting with the kids, but it was hard when she was in the passenger seat, refusing to interact at all. 


They arrived around lunchtime so their first stop was at one of the Halpert's favorite cafes. The staff knew the kids pretty well at this point, a fact that Pam blamed on Eloise's need to talk the ear off everyone she came into contact with. She swears that the kid could give a TED talk if she wanted. 


Cece wanted to order for everyone, showing off her ability to properly pronounce all the foods in French to Julia and Karen. It was so sweet, she just wishes that Jim was there to share the moment with her. Their kids are something special, and he’s been gone so much lately that he's been missing out on all the little things, the things that they value most 


Julia was sitting across from her, enjoying her food with a smile. She was glowing, basking in the joy of spending time with her siblings. It's magic when they're all together. Karen, on the other hand, was staring off into space, hardly touching her food. She was debating whether or not to try and talk with her, but frankly, she wanted to save her energy for the task of taking four kids and one mad ex-wife through the streets of Paris. 



After the cafe they began what Phillip called “their grand adventure!”, (they watched the Hobbit a few months ago and he hasn't stopped calling every little thing an “adventure” since then). 


First they went to a little gallery that Pam had a piece up in. It was exciting for the kids to show off that their mom is “a big deal!” to Julia and Karen, even if the gallery was a tiny one, and she was in the back, almost completely hidden from view. The kids didn't seem to notice that dinginess of the venue though, pointing to the watercolor of their little house with pride. 


Karen wanted to do some shopping after that, meaning that they wound up wandering from shop to shop, the kids begging for anything and everything they could get their hands on. In the end Karen wound up with some candles, a few postcards, and a new blouse. The kids on the other hand left with a new toy each, bought out of desperation for them to just be quiet. 


The final stop of their adventure was to get ice cream. Each kid got back in the car with sticky fingers and a sizable sugar high. It was the cherry on-top for the kids' perfect summer day, even if it felt like the nail in the coffin to her. Karen had been on her since the morning, refusing to let her make a single slip up without some judgemental glance or snide comment. She was tired.



She started dinner as soon as they got in the door, telling the kids to go watch a movie. 


“They’re seeing Julia for the first time in months and you're letting them go watch TV” Karen said with a scoff as she walked into the kitchen, in search of a glass of water. 


It would be a rude comment on any day, but normally she has the ability to let it roll off her back. But she was tired, and already dealing with a million other things, that it just pushed her over the edge, and she lost control.


“What's your problem with me!” Pam exclaimed, turning away from the vegetables she was chopping to look at Karen. 


Karen just stared at her blankly, before finding her words. 


“What's my problem with you? God, Pam, maybe it's that you're married to my ex husband!”


“Karen, it's been YEARS! I thought we had moved past this,”


“I wish I could, Pam. But it's not as easy as you think it is.” 


“I know, but…”


“No, you don't know! You don't know what this is like for me!”


Pam looked at her, her cheeks burning with rage, completely unsure of what to do next.


“You know what, I dont think I'm hungry anymore. I'm going to bed.”


As she watched Karen make her way out of the kitchen and into the living room, Pam felt herself break. She just wished that Jim was with her, to put her back together, because the kids came running in not seconds later. Asking her if they could watch TV on her laptop in one of their rooms. She was holding back tears as she told them yes, forcing herself to put up a front for them. The last thing she wanted to do was spoil they’re fun. 


She tried her best to keep it together as she cooked dinner, only allowing a few tears to fall. All she could think about is how she is to Karen, the living embodiment of the life she never had. She felt a familiar guilt, the guilt that had been with her since her and Jim first started seeing each other. Lies that she once told herself coming back to her full force.


“I broke up a family, I ruined Karen's life, I am the problem,” repeating over and over in her head. Demons she couldn't ever seem to defeat, slowly chipping away at her. 

-----------

After the kids were all in bed and dinner was cleaned up, Pam called Jim. She just needed to hear his voice, for him to tell her that it would be okay. She listened to the phone ring, and ring, and ring. Finally, right when the call was about to go voicemail, he picked up.


“Hey, I really can't talk right now, love you.” he said, hanging up the phone before she even had a chance to get the words out. 


She suddenly felt like she couldn't breathe. The weight of everything crushing her. It’s too much for her to carry, the pain of the day. Yet there is nowhere for it to go, so she just has to live with it. To swallow her pride and move forward.


She wasn't sure when she fell asleep, but she did know that when she woke up to use the bathroom, she was on his side of the bed, his pillow soaked with tears.  

-----------

Karen's POV

----

She was woken up by the sound of one of their kids running down the hall to the kitchen. It's one of the many reasons she hates waking up at their house, among other things.


In the beginning, when she was still finding herself in the rubble of their relationship, watching Jim and Pam flourish was too much. But over the years she learned how to tolerate it, how to survive the time that she spends with Julia in Paris. 


She knows that it's a bit much to stay for the first week, but a part of her needs to see that Julia will be okay, that she's not miserable with him. Even if she had been reassuring her for years, it still felt necessary. 


“I won't go next year,” has become her mantra in a way, a promise she makes year after year, only to be broken when she books her ticket come summertime. 


But maybe this time it will stick, because watching Jim and Pam hurts more and more with each passing year. She's the love of his life, and staying in the home they built together, surrounded by reminders that she was never his first choice, was eating her alive. 


Their marriage had not been a successful one, but it was still some of the best years of her life. Before they began to fall apart, she was happy. In the months after it ended she would curse herself for ever getting caught up in it, for letting her love for him overshadow his obvious issues. He never truly loved her, and every day she wishes she saw it sooner.

-----------

Seeing Pam's work in that gallery, her dream realized, felt like a cruel form of punishment.


She had once had a  dream too, of becoming a singer, but had given it up after highschool. Opting instead to go to college for business, and to start her career. She viewed it as a necessary sacrifice, the smart choice that would allow her to have a nice life. But sometimes, she still pines for the nights where she layed on her bed, writing lyrics for songs that no one but her would ever hear. Pam on the other hand, does not have to go into her past to find creative fulfillment, she's allowed to do it now. 

-----------

Her fight with Pam came not from a place of malice, but from a place of longing. She wanted to move on, to find love again, to find herself. Yet, she feels stuck. It’s as if time froze the day she left, leaving her stunted, unable to heal. If only she had the words to tell Pam that, to bridge the gap between them. Maybe it would give her the strength to be her own person again, become the woman she's always wanted to be.

End Notes:
thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! feel free to leave a review or a jellybean, I would love to hear from you!
I see this for what it is by Debutante_gurl
Author's Notes:

Hey everybody, glad to be back updating this story. I hope you enjoy this chapter, and don't wind up hating me too much for putting Jim and Pam THROUGH IT, (I promise it will get better for them...in a few chapters). 

thank you to my beta, and of course, I OWN NOTHING! 

also, yes, this chapter title is a line from Taylor swifts "Happiness", no-one is surprised.  

She remembers it all. The mindless trips to the grocery store, her toothbrush in his bathroom, the way they clung to one another, so convinced that if they separated the dream would end. The early days, so clumsy and perfect, when she was sure it would be a honeymoon that would never end. Her own personal slice of heaven. 


If only she knew, if only...

-----------

He was gone before dawn on the day that Karen left, unable to take a step back to properly say goodbye to her. Karen had attempted to be  kinder during the later half of her trip, and even if it felt hollow and cold, Pam could tell that she was trying. She left them with a “thank you,” and a kiss for Julia, more unchanged than not. Pam was just grateful that now she just has four kids to take care of by herself, not four kids and one bitter ex wife.


She took the kids to see a movie after they got back from that airport. It was the same theater her and Jim used to go on dates to, sharing popcorn kisses in the back row. She misses it more than he will ever know, the simplicity of a film and his love. 


Eloise started crying halfway through so she took the kids home. An empty house greeting her, it's other inhabitant now just a whisper in that hall, unable to join them for dinner once again. 


“Will Dad get tomorrow off?” Julia asked as Pam worked on dinner, the girl's face hiding nothing. She misses her dad like crazy.


“I don't know, sweetheart. Sorry.” she told her a white lie, an attempt to save face. “But hey, we can go into the city again instead, look at that bookstore you like.”


“Okay,” Julia said, perking up a bit.



She gave the kids dinner and tucked them in, two stories for each of them, making up for his absence in every little way she could. “I love you, Mama” Cece whispered after Phillip had already fallen asleep, her last sentence before she drifted off.


Pam changed into her pajamas, and decided to wait for him. She brewed a cup of coffee and settled on the couch with a good book. It would be hours, and she wants to stay sharp. He needs to know what's going on, before it's too late for both of them. 

-----------

She was standing in the entryway when Jim opened the door. He shook off his coat without saying anything, just giving her a simple glance. It was stange, how boyish he seemed, so stripped down and empty.


“I need to talk to you.” she told him, following him as he walked into the kitchen.


“Okay,” he said simply, meeting her gaze. “Shoot.” 


“I can't keep doing this. All the waiting up and not seeing you for days. It's not fair to me, and it's not fair to the kids.” Her voice was already shaking, words that she had kept tucked away for so long finally able to come tumbling out.


He sighed, running his hand over his face. He was exhausted. “Do we really have to do this tonight?” he asked. 


“Yes, we do.” She stood up a little straighter, trying to adjust her body language to the seriousness of her statements. “Because I'm tired of putting up with this.” 


“It's my job, Pam. what do you want me to do, quit?” he was becoming exacerbated, his voice slowly but surely growing louder.. 

  

“Yes! If that's what you have to do to be in your kids' lives, in MY life, then yes, I want you to quit your job.” she threw her hands up, the heat on her neck rising. 


“You know you sound crazy right now, right?! I can't just quit my job, we need that money to stay afloat, Pam!”


“You don't think I know that?!” they were in each other's faces now, noses just inches apart. It's the closest shes been to him in days.


“I just, I guess I'm trying to understand how you can be okay with being away from your family so often. How you just expect us to be okay with it.” She sighed, arms crossed over her chest, her eyes falling from his face to the floor. 


“I'm not,” he admitted, “I hate it, but I understand that it's what I have to do to take care of my family.”


“How did we let this happen?” she asked, more to herself than to him. What were they doing? This isn't them, they don't fight in the kitchen, they don't let things get this bad. 


“I don't know,” he breathed out, looking at her. “I really dont.”


They lapsed into silence, the air thick with all the things said and unsaid, the hurt they had caused holding them captive. 


She was so tired, the exhaustion creeping into every part of her body. She doesn't want to be mad at him anymore, she just wants to be with him, to be husband and wife once again. 


“Jim,” she said. He looked at her, red faced, leaning against the counter, “come here.”


He crossed the room to get to her, his hands wasting no time, slipping around her waist, folding himself into her. They fit against each other like they were two halves of the same whole. She used to think that was how this all worked, love, marriage. That you are given a person on this earth and when you find them, it will be easy. Love was supposed to be a never ending resource, but what felt like a bottomless well went dry, leaving her with nothing left to turn to.


She buried her face in his chest, listening to his heart beat. It had been so long since they were together, really together, that it all felt forgien. In so many ways he's a stranger now, a ghost of the man she loves. 


“I can't lose you,” he whispered into her hair, fresh tears falling from her face. She let herself cry, the damn she had built up breaking. They wouldn't be washed out by the flood, not tonight. Tonight, they will survive.



After he had gone to bed, she found herself in front of the bathroom mirror, struggling to make sense of it all. 


She's done some of the hardest things she's ever had to do for him, and he can't even be bothered to look up from his work and notice that she's drowning. He's been her everything for over two decades now, yet he's still choosing her over a job. She sighed, searching the reflection like she did all those years ago, trying to find her flaw, the thing that makes her so disposable, lovable only to a point. 


She looked at her ring, the one that he had for a year before giving it to her, and imagined taking it off. Kissing him goodbye, excepting that the love they once had is gone. That he's gone.

End Notes:
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a review or a jellybean, I would love to hear from you!
Sole survivor by Debutante_gurl
Author's Notes:

this chapter is a lot, so, heavy angst warning for anyone who isn't feeling up to reading that right now, I will let you know when things start to get better.

thank you to my beta, you'r a hero.

NBC owns everything, including my heart.   

Pam called Karen the morning after the fight, telling her as much as she could without breaking, trying to explain with as few details as possible that Julia needed to go home. That they couldn't handle it right now. To her surprise Karen had been okay with it, understanding even. She knew what it was like, to watch her life slip through her fingers, and she didn't have the heart to add to that pain. 


Julia understood as well, and did not seem to mind the idea of returning in the Fall, after things had settled down. The person it really broke was Jim, who took the time to see Julia off on her early morning flight. He couldn't stop apologizing for everything on the drive to the airport, even if she was having none of it. 


“I know it's not about me, Dad,'' she told him, “hell, I know it wasn't about me last time, with Mom.


God, there's a “last time.” He's ruined everything twice now, burning the life he's built so carefully to the ground, twice. 


When they arrived he held Julia for a long time before letting her go, his baby girl, so understanding and smart, wise beyond her years. 


She pulled away, and after exchanging goodbyes and I love you’s, she looked at him and said one final thing. 


“She really does care about you, Dad, and you shouldn't just give up on that.”


And with that she was gone, leaving her father broken hearted  in the early morning light.

-----------

Ten days later:


“We need some distance, Jim.” She said it in a whisper, like if she said it any louder the words would kill her, “I just- I need a break.”


So he left, packing a bag and kissing the kids, promising to return in a few days. He knew that he was lying to them, but he just couldn't say out loud what was really happening yet. He wasn't ready to accept it. 

-----------

He's loved her for as long as he can remember, it's like breathing to him, an act so primal he's sure he would die without it. So why didn't he die when she kicked him out, when she assured him that his love wasnt enough anymore, that she couldn't continue. How was he still standing as he checked into the hotel room, crawling into the big, lonely bed. It was so huge that he was sure he could do a backstroke in the sheets. She should be beside him, her head nestled into his chest, a tangle of limbs so intricate even the greatest artist couldn't recreate it. 


He didn't realize it until the morning, but he had cried until he fell asleep, the tears refusing to stop. His face was red and puffy in the morning light. He tried to scrub it off before heading into work, but it was useless, and he knew it. There was no point, it was like trying to scrub her off of him, the last fourteen years together, and what felt like a lifetime of friendship before that, unable to just be water circling in the drain.  


The feeling wouldn't leave him the whole way to work, the familiar drive felt empty and isolated, it was of the world had ended and he was the only survivor, sadly still alive to tell the tale of what once was.   


At the office, a place that for him represented everything he is trying to build with her, it got worse. The photos were mocking him from across his desk. One of Pam smiling back at him, her holding Julia, the then toddler looking at her with the biggest smile on her face, smitten by her dad's new girlfriend. Another of them at their wedding, a thousand watt grins still glowing despite how things turned out. The worst though was the one of all of them together, as a complete family, in front of their Paris home. Julia standing tall beside them, her arm around Cece, Phil on his hip, and baby Eloise wrapped up in Pam's arms. 


He tried to avoid it, to relieve himself of the guilt, and the pain, but it was all a loss. She had given him the mug he drank out of, the tie he wore, and a purpose for being there, she was sewn into every last bit of the fabric of his life.

----------    

Everything felt foggy, an unsettling energy in the air. He was going to go pick up the kids for the day, it's been a week since he’s seen them, since she asked him to leave. A week since his life fell apart.


He pulled up, getting out and immediately being met with excitement from one of his children.


“Dad!” Eloise cried, the little girl leaping into her dad's embrace.


“Hey, baby,” he said, scooping her up and kissing her head of unruly curls, Pams curls “how's my girl?”


“Great! Mom took us to the movies yesterday..” she babbled on, telling him all about her amazing week, without him. He tried hard to fake excitement, even if he was breaking, shocked by how little his own child seemed to miss him, how used she was to his absence. 


They made their way over to the porch, where Pam was standing, arms crossed over her chest. He could see that her ring was missing, while his band still sat firmly on his finger. It had only been a week, it was too soon.


“Where are Cece and Phil?” he asked her, mettig her eyes the best he could. She looked so far away, a stranger rather than his wife. 


“They're just getting their shoes on,” she told him, coolly. Eloise squirmed in his arms, asking to be put down. He let her go, and she ran back into the house, loudly proclaiming that her siblings needed to hurry up. 


“It's good to see you,” he stepped closer to her as he said it, resisting the instinct to pull her close to him, and try to make it better with a perfect kiss, just like he did, nineteen years ago. 


“Yeah,” she breathed out, her gaze was fixed on something just beyond him, a telltale sign that she was shutting down, drifting away with no way to pull her back.  


“Can we have..um.. dinner tomorrow night?” he posed it as a question, but really it felt more like he was begging. He has to make this right, he just needs another chance. She opened her mouth to answer, but was cut off by the kids, all three of them crossing the porch and practically knocking him over with hugs.


“I missed you,” he heard Cece whisper when he took them all in his arms. He swallowed hard, trying to keep the tears at bay. 

-----------

He took the kids shopping first, letting them pick whatever they want at the toy store. Cece left with a new book, Phillips with a giant lego set, and Eloise with a new dressup dress. Eloise was the only one out of them who seemed to be unaware of what was happening, bouncing around like any kid should. Philip seemed a bit distant, but was overall himself. Cece was the one who seemed more visibly upset, clinging to Jim but staying quiet, clearly shaken by the week's events. She was the most aware that it had been so little time, yet it felt as if it had been an eternity. 


He took them to lunch, asking them questions about their week and trying to soak up every second of them. Trying to wrap his head around the idea that it's more likely than not that this will be his reality, two failed marriages, two failed attempts at not being a weekend dad. Two beautiful beginnings, and two fiery ends. 




The kids all fell asleep on the drive home, exhausted by a day full of trying to make up for what felt like a year of his absence. He looked at them in the rearview, so peaceful and innocent as they slept, his kids, his perfect kids. 



She helped him unload the kids when he dropped them off, waking up Cece as he carried Eloise and Phill inside. He told the sleeping kids goodbye, kissing them goodnight for the first time in months. 


She saw him off, walking him to his car, her eyes never leaving him as they made the silent trek across the driveway. 


“I'll see you at seven, for dinner, tomorrow.” she told him as she leaned up against his car door, stopping him from entering. He smiled despite himself, slightly horrified by how normal it all felt. 


“Okay,” he said to her, “thank you.”


“You're welcome.” she stepped away from the car, and watched him drive away.

End Notes:

thank you for reading, because, wow, that hurt. 

please feel free to leave a review or a jellybean, I would really love getting to hear from you. 

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