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Story Notes:

disclaimer: Everything belongs to NBC and not to me.

I started this hoping to get it done before the finale, but I didn't, oh well. We have a whole summer to get through. This will be 5 chapters, for sure.

Story title from Semisonic's "Closing Time."

Author's Chapter Notes:
It's the first workday after Dunder Mifflin's the day at the beach . . .

Pam flipped to the next page in her notebook and cracked her knuckles. It turned out when Michael asked her to type up her notes from Beach Day "in a way that's helpful," he was serious. She typed furiously for a minute before glancing over her monitor. Jim and Karen were in the conference room, so Pam let her eyes linger on Jim's desk. The blue Dunder Mifflin screen-saver and the old picture of Jim and his brother stared back at her.

Her mind flashed to last Friday, wading around the shallow end of Lake Scranton, the mud squishing between her toes and cooling the balls of her feet. She remembered looking up at the moon and feeling so light. Ten yards behind her, her co-workers sat in silence, surely stunned by the words the shy receptionist had just delivered. Pam didn't care; in that moment it was her, the water, and the sky. For the first time in her life, she felt tall.

That tall feeling diminished when Michael called out that it was time to go. She couldn't help but keep her eyes lowered as she walked to the bus and took a seat towards the back; her courage had been tapped out for the day. Once they reached the Scranton Office Park, she was slow to exit the bus, Jim's silver Saab passing her as she made her way to her car. She allowed herself to glance into the car window, and could see Jim quickly glance back. She knew all too well that he needed some time; that she said all she could say for now and would have to wait for him to come to her before saying any more.

The high-pitched ringing of the phone brought Pam back from last Friday and she lifted the receiver. She glanced at the phone display and saw Corporate was calling.

"Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam," she said flatly.

"Yes, James Halpert, please."

Pam felt a slight dryness in her throat. "He's in a meeting right now. I can take a message, or forward you to his voice-mail."

"This is David Wallace's assistant. Could you please tell him his interview has been pushed back to 11am on Thursday?"

Pam glanced at Jim's desk again.


Pam shook her head, "Yes, sorry, 11am Thursday, I will let him know." She hung up the receiver, grabbed her note pad, and started writing the message, cursing her shaking hand.

Jim twirled his pen between his fingers as Michael gave a presentation entitled, 'The Scott Era: An Age of Integration.' Every slide started with Michael saying, "When corporate chooses me over certain other candidates," and glancing obviously at Jim.

Karen sat across from Jim, and Jim looked at her whenever Michael said something ridiculous, hoping Karen would meet his gaze so he could smile, or shrug, or roll his eyes. However, Karen would not comply; she kept her eyes firmly on the presentation.

This was actually the closest Jim had been to Karen in three days. Friday evening, she told Jim to drop her off at her apartment, not saying a word when she got out of his car, then no calls or messages on Saturday. Jim reluctantly called yesterday, and Karen answered in a low and emotionless voice.

"Do you want to come over?" Jim asked, his leg shaking nervously.

"Not really," Karen answered.

Jim drew in his breath, "I just want you to know that I'm – I'm still interviewing with Wallace on Thursday."

When Karen didn't respond, Jim continued.

"I don't want Friday to change ..." The thought was too ridiculous for Jim to finish.

Jim could only hear breathing before Karen quietly said, "Yeah." More silence. "We both have a lot of things to think about, Jim."

Jim tried to swallow the lump in his throat before suggesting they should talk, and couldn't tell if Karen scoffed or chuckled. He wanted to laugh at his own suggestion as well; they both knew how effective "talking about it" had been in the past. Karen said she'd see him at work and hung up. Jim kept his cell phone to his ear for several seconds before closing it.

Michael flipped to his last slide, a soft-focus picture of himself sitting with his chin on his hand and the word "Fin" underneath. Karen didn't so much as glance sideways at Jim and was the first to exit the conference room. When Jim returned to his desk, he looked at the clock to see it was a quarter to five, and noticed Karen was preparing to leave. He pulled up Messenger on his screen, saw she was still logged in, and double-clicked her username.

jhalpert: dinner later?

He watched her notice the new window on her screen. She looked over at him for the first time all day, and he smiled, or attempted to. She bit her lip and typed quickly.

kfilippelli: okay

Jim breathed out in relief, and smiled more fully when she walked by on her way to the door. She smiled slightly before shifting her eyes straight ahead.

After 15 more minutes of form signing and quick phone calls, Jim logged off his computer, stood up, and slipped the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder. He started towards the door when the voice he had been trying to ignore all day called to him.

"You have a message."

Jim kept his focus on the jelly bean dispenser and grabbed the piece of paper that came into his view. He didn't stop, just uttered "Thanks" and continued to the door. He started to turn the door handle when he glanced to the note and froze. His mind returned to the blur that was Friday night and he remembered Pam was still up at the coal walk when he announced he was interviewing with Wallace. He turned towards Pam and found she was looking back, as if she'd been watching and waiting for his reaction.

"You took this call?"

A puzzled look crossed Pam's face, and she laughed a nervous laugh, "Um, yes."

Jim let out a soft laugh and scratched the back of his neck, "Of course, that was . . . stupid question." His hand returned to the door handle.

"Is that the job Michael is also interviewing for?"

Jim's head snapped over to Pam, this time he started to walk towards her desk. "Yeah, it is."

Pam nodded, and cast her eyes down, "Oh."

Jim reached her desk, and lowered his voice. "Pam, this isn't…" He stopped when Pam looked up with slightly glassy eyes.

"It's not what?" Her voice was surprisingly steady.

"I arranged this interview before you . . . before the coal walk." Jim looked down, not knowing where he was going with this. "It's just an interview, you know, no guarantees."

"But you gotta take a chance on something sometime, right?"

Jim's looked up at Pam and couldn't help but smirked a little, "That's good advice."

Pam nodded, "Someone gave me that advice last year." She kept her eyes squarely on Jim and took a deep breath, "I wish I had taken it sooner."

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