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Author's Chapter Notes:
Pam's art has more meaning than we think. It’s going to be a five-chapter story.

Also, spoilers for Pilot and Business School. And I own nothing. Unforunately.

“So I need something good for the cameras. I can’t be upstaged by Michael or anything.” Jim says the afternoon before the camera crew arrives. He needed something to make Dwight miserable on the first day of filming. And Pam was his muse when it came to pulling pranks. This was a plausible excuse to spend more time at her desk, so he took it while it lasted.

“You should totally do the stapler in Jell-o again.”

“Again, Beesley? I’ve already done it two times. You are really starting to lose your edge.”

“Come on, it’s my favorite!” She sounds like a girl in preschool the way she’s whining in a high voice. Her cheeks start to flush, and her eyes are growing wide with excitement. He wants nothing more than to make her happy.

“I guess if you’re going to whine about it...” He stops with laughter as she fiddles around with her sweater some more. Their eyes lock for a second, and Jim is instantly scared. It’s little glances like these that the cameras are going to pick up on. Roy was terrifying, especially when he threatened violence. Flirting with his fiancée would certainly inspire something bad like that.

He had to take advantage of them while he could.

< 3 < 3 < 3

As Dwight pulls his stapler out of its yellow gelatin coffin, she feels pangs of inspiration. She uncovers the sketchpad Jim had given to her for her birthday last year), and a pencil. She looks up every once and a while to see what the stapler looked like, and to catch a glimpse at Jim. He is beaming with pride as Dwight struggles with his sticky stapler. He shoots her a glance that says more than anything he could with words.

If only he could tell her the truth.

The metal handle is long and black, with specks of yellow jell-o that he just couldn’t get. She is especially proud of this sketch. She almost frames it, but Roy comes in at lunch and says it’s just a stapler.

He never really understood art.

“That is amazing.” Jim fawns as she tries to hide the sketch underneath a folder. He insists on checking out her art, and she’s almost embarrassed. She turns an awkward shade of red as he continues to stare at her artwork. She doesn’t want to admit it, but she likes the attention he gives towards the sketch. All of her sketches in general. “You really have a lot of talent.”

“Thanks.” She says meekly, wishing her fiancée would say something that sweet towards her.

In her first interview with the camera, it slips out that Jim likes her art. She feels content as she says it, like she’s telling some kind of secret. But he thinks she has talent.

Maybe she will frame it after all.

< 3 < 3 < 3

She’s giving him the tour of her new apartment. He’s with a group of coworkers, and he isn’t quite sure what he’s doing in her apartment. But when she told everybody she was having a small Christmas party slash housewarming party, he couldn’t resist. He was going to pretend things were different, and they were giving the tour together. That they were hosting the party as a couple, and when everybody else left, it would just be the two of them sitting together.

Karen tightens her grip on his hands as they make their way into the living room. He isn’t sure if holding her hand is as comforting as it used to be.

The stapler is hanging on the wall, just above her white couch, big enough for two people to sit cozily in each other’s arms, and watch cheesy movies together. He wishes he could have a groove in that couch just big enough for them to fit together.

The frame has thick black borders that accentuate the gray watercolors that she’s filled in the sketch with. She has still kept the tiny specks of Jell-o, but only the two of them notice it. Everybody else wonders why she has a painting of a stapler on her walls.

It was, by far, one of her favorite pranks he had ever pulled.


***


The day before the art show, Roy is at her place. She’s taken the stapler sketch out of its frame (which has been on her wall ever since she’s drawn it.) It’s sitting alone on the table, as he’s sipping coffee with a content grin on his face. He sets the mug down on the table, and she walks out of the bathroom.

He’s trying to pull her in for a kiss when he knocks over the coffee mug.

The black spreads like a river on the sketch. It’s completely ruined.

She feels like crying on the inside.

“I’m sorry, babe.” He says, trying not to laugh. He has a half-grin on his face. She can tell he’s not really sorry about it. He pecks her on the cheek, getting ready if he needs to tickle her to lift her spirits.

She wonders if getting back together with Roy was such a good idea.

That morning, she panics all the way to work. That was one of her favorite pieces she’d done. He had fawned over it for so long, it was important to include.

She tries to recreate the painting at work.

She even borrows Dwight’s stapler as inspiration.

It’s not quite the same as it used to be.


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