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Author's Chapter Notes:
And I know I say I'll do something Pre-Casino Night....

...but this is not it.

Smooches galore to Pixel and sicokitty for telling me my idea wasn't crap, and for helping me improve it. :)
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Spring 2006

MAY

It's a misty Friday in May and she doesn't come in.

He stares at her desk and knows she's not sick. He's quite sure she doesn't really have a headache. That's not the reason she isn't here.

He is.

Every moment of last night is burned on his brain. The way she'd looked outside, panicked and understandably, incredibly freaked out. Then he remembers the way she looked here, leaning on his desk, her protests on her lips as he kissed them.

He remembers feeling her give in, just for a moment, as her hands threaded in his hair and he wanted to stop time in that instant and just hold right there forever.

He wishes he could even now as all he can remember is the way she looked right after he'd pulled away, when she'd held a hand to her mouth and run out the door.

He should do the same. Just run. He's gotten the message, loud and clear.

He should get the hell out of here already.

She's engaged. She's always been engaged. And even if 'engaged ain't married' apparently he's always been just her friend, despite the signs to the contrary.

At least it seemed that's the story she was sticking with.

He should go. Move on. Put himself out of half his misery.

He knew he would die a thousand slow deaths a day if he had to sit here and watch her live her life that way, watch her officially become Roy's wife.

He knew that he was a glutton for punishment. But he'd reached his breaking point.

He'd give her up, but not the job. He'd go to a new place, make a new start. He'd change locations, but not his "career" because, that way, at least he'd have something familiar.

He stares at his computer and the email from Jan and clicks his mouse to reply.

It's a good decision. It's the best decision.

He looks around the office and sighs. Ultimately all he really wants is for her to be happy.

If a life without him is what will make her happy…

….then that is what he'll do.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

JUNE

It's a beautiful Saturday in June and the sun shines brightly.

And her wedding dress still hangs in the closet.

She's sitting in the kitchen sipping coffee with her mom, relief washing over her.

I got off easy. Pam thinks as she stares into her half empty mug. She also knows she's kidding herself if she pretends she might not have, if pushed to, called it off herself.

It was typical of what she'd gotten used to just simply accepting. The one thing he contributed to the wedding, the one major detail. The fact that Roy booked the date for 2007 instead of 2006 was just like him.

Not paying attention at all to anything that was important to her.

She knew he'd booked his trip to escape, but even though there was no wedding, Jim left two days ago for vacation and she simply watched him go.

He wouldn't be coming back, she knew. He was leaving, truly leaving. He was moving on without her.

Despite the little voice in her head she never called out to tell him that she was wrong, that he was right.

Despite all of that, she never asked him to stay.

Because she honestly didn't know what she would do if she had. As hard as it was to watch him leave it would have been much more difficult if he'd stayed.

She had no idea how to handle this.

Even today, instead of thinking of the event that wasn't taking place, instead of being disappointed she wouldn't get married, she remembers how it felt to be in his arms, and even as she sat there, her skin prickled at the memory.

It's almost like she's there again, his hand resting on the small of her back, his breath mingling with hers. She remembers how he tasted like gin and lime and a hint of peppermint gum.

She knew she could have him, have a different type of life, if she’d just let herself. But then, there was Roy, begging and pleading her to forgive him, that he'd find some way to make it up to her.

And she felt as if she owed it to him to let him try.

So now she sits in the kitchen, with her coffee mug and her dress hanging in the closet upstairs, and thinks of staplers encased in yellow Jell-O, fabric softener and grilled cheese sandwiches, of poker chips and moonlight, and of kissing her best friend…

…and missing it.

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