Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Tension had been high in the office that Friday. Pam had snapped at Kevin when he spilled her jellybeans, and began to beat up on the copier when it jammed on her. Michael was watching her through his shades, trying to determine whether it was safe to ask her to re-fax the order forms that he had mistakenly sent to the wrong customers.
After she spent twenty minutes angrily slamming paper around the supply closet in an attempt to restock it, Jim decided something had to be done. They hadn’t talked much in the past two months, but someone had to talk to her, and everyone else was scared.
“Hey Pam. Feel like taking a trip with me to Abe’s for a sandwich at lunchtime?”
“I’m not really hungry.”
By now, Jim was used to being rebuffed by Pam. “Okay, well…just let me know if you want to talk or anything.” Jim rushed through the last part. He knew she wouldn’t want to talk. Ever since the wedding had been called off, she had been pretty unfriendly towards everyone. It was understandable, he told himself, she was going through a lot, but it seemed as though she had just been flat-out ignoring him.
Deciding that Abe’s did sound good, he headed out at 12:15. While ordering his hoagie, he spied a bag of French Onion Sunchips. It couldn’t hurt, right?
When he got back to the office, Pam was on the phone. He tried to catch her eye, but she seemed to be avoiding his glance. Why did he even try? He sighed, and tossed the chips onto her counter. He hated French Onion, anyway? Jim headed back to the lunchroom, and joined Oscar and Kevin.
After a few minutes, Oscar and Kevin returned to their desks, and Jim finished his sandwich in silence. He was just about done when Pam came in.
“Hey.” Pam said, barely looking at him.
“Thanks for the chips. It was nice of you.”
“No problem. You looked hungry.”
“Yeah. I guess I am. Want to split them with me?”
Jim looked at her with surprise. She hadn’t eaten with him in a long time. “Sure.”
They ate in silence. Jim knew Pam was trying to get up the courage to say something, so he just let her take her time.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so…awful lately.”
“That’s okay. I know it’s been a rough couple of months.”
“Yeah. It’s been, um, hard. We’ve been trying to work things out since . . . but last night, we had a big talk.” She paused, not looking at Jim. “Roy’s moving out this weekend.”
Jim raised his eyebrows in surprise. Pam hadn’t told anyone in the office the exact circumstances surrounding the “postponement” of the wedding, but Jim had just assumed that things would just revert to the way they had always been—Pam and Roy, in a dysfunctional, but permanent, relationship.
“Wow. Um…” Jim picked his words carefully. “I know you tried to work things out, but sometimes…things just aren’t meant to be.” It was lame, he knew, but what else could he say? He was trying to suppress the feeling that was building in his chest.
What did this mean? He didn’t even know who had called off the wedding, or why. Had Roy gotten cold feet, and Pam decided that she couldn’t be with him anymore? Or had Pam been the instigator—maybe because she had feelings for someone else? No, do not even let yourself think that, Halpert. Do not let yourself drag those feelings up again.
Pam nodded, but said nothing. Instead, she had a few more chips. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry, again. For the way I’ve been treating you.” She was concentrating on the bag of chips. “I’ve just been very tense lately, but that’s no excuse. I’m sorry.”
Jim wanted to reach out for her hand, but avoided the temptation. She had been ignoring him for the past two months, but he had been equally as cold to her. Part of it, he knew, was his bitterness towards her. He couldn’t believe she would stay with Roy after the wedding was postponed, and he had lost a lot of respect for her.
“It’s okay. So, you’re going to stay in the apartment?”
“Yeah, I guess it’s good that I don’t have to look for a new place. It’s not going to be a pleasant weekend, though, with Roy packing up his stuff. He’s not happy about how everything ended, but …” she shrugged.
So, it wasn’t his choice to end things? Interesting. The hope that had been building in his chest was getting hard to ignore. A crazy thought entered his mind, and before he knew what he was doing, his mouth was open, and an idea that wasn’t even fully formulated was coming out.
“Well, maybe you should get out of town this weekend, and avoid the whole scene. It’s the Fourth of July, and I was planning on going to my family’s cottage on the beach in Delaware. It’s nothing fancy, but you’re welcome to come. It’ll be relaxing.” Jim stopped, and immediately regretted every word. Why had he just said that? He had no plans to go to the beach that weekend. He and his family avoided the beach like the plague on holiday weekends. He didn’t think anyone in his family would be there, but what if they were? A weekend with the Halperts wasn’t exactly relaxing. Plus, Pam had barely talked to him in two months. As soon as she said two words to him, he offered to take her away for the weekend? Jesus. He really thought he had gotten over her.
“That actually sounds great.”
Jim couldn’t believe what he had just heard. “Really?”
Pam laughed at this obviously incredulous reaction. “Did you invite me just to be nice, thinking that I would say no?”
Jim had to laugh, too. “No, but I was sure you were going to shoot the idea down.”
“Well, my new life is starting. I’m going to be like George Costanza, and do everything the opposite of what I would normally do. It’s going to be the Summer of George!”
“You just confused two different episodes of Seinfeld, Beesley.”
They both laughed again, but Jim’s laugh was a bit more uneasy. Holy shit. A long weekend with Pam. He had a lot to do.
“Okay. It’s a five hour drive. Did I mention that?”
She threw her hands up. “Whatever. I am a great passenger. I’ll keep you awake—I never fall sleep in the car. I’ll hold your coffee for you and bring my Dolly Parton CDs for your musical enjoyment. I already know you love ‘Islands in the Stream.’ This time, you can sing the man’s part.”
Jim continued, trying to suppress the panic that was beginning to creep into his voice. “And I know the term ‘Beach House’ usually brings up visions of Muffy and Buffy drinking cocktails in the hot tub on the deck, so don’t get your hopes up. My grandfather built the cottage forty years ago, and he wasn’t exactly a professional carpenter. Or architect. The floor kind of slopes. You’ll roll out of bed and wake up on the floor if you aren’t careful. And we don’t really have an indoor shower.”
“What? Are you trying to get me to stay home?” She was laughing again. Jim had forgotten how nice it was to see her smile. Why was he saying all these things? He had to admit to himself that he was trying to lower her expectations—he didn’t want her to be disappointed by what he could offer her.
“Of course not! I need an official coffee holder. I’m going to leave work a little early to pack. I’ll pick you up at 6:00 sharp. All you need is a bathing suit, sunglasses, and some bug spray. We don’t have screens for the windows, and there are huge mosquitoes that will come in and bite you while you are sleep.”
Pam playfully smacked his arm. “You can’t get rid of me that easy!”
I wouldn’t even try to, Jim thought to himself.
Taking a deep breath, Jim pulled into Pam’s driveway. To his relief, Roy’s truck was nowhere to be found. That would’ve been awkward. The past two hours had been a blur. He had raced home, threw some clothes in a bag, and called his friends to cancel his plans with them for the Fourth. He called the Cottage to check and see if anyone else had spontaneously decided to visit the shore, but got no answer. Good. The last thing he needed was his Mom hanging around. He ran to the grocery store to pick up some supplies, knowing that the stores would be crazy at the beach. Beer, hamburgers, bagels, fruit, anything else? Sunchips. French Onion.
Taking a deep breath, she saw Jim pull into the driveway. She had asked Roy to leave and come back tomorrow. She hadn’t told him where she was going, but she guessed he had a suspicion. She threw a few items in a duffel bag, and took a last look around. She felt a surprising lack of nostalgia, looking at the life she and Roy had built together. It wasn’t her life anymore, and she was happy about that. She was scared, but she knew the fear was good. Without fear, she wouldn’t have any proof that she was making changes. And she needed a change.
The first three hours of the trip was a comedy of errors. While Pam was performing her expert coffee holding duties, she spilled the liquid all over her pants. Luckily, the Dunkin’ Donuts they had stopped at supplied them with the worst service they had ever received, so the coffee was only lukewarm. Jim realized he had forgotten his EZ-Pass, which he figured would add 25 minutes to their trip, and then he missed the exit to the highway, despite the fact that he had driven between Scranton and Delaware dozens of times. They narrowly avoided an accident when the tourists in front of them lost one of their twenty suitcases jerry-rigged on top of their minivan, and the car radio was on the fritz. Pam did bring her Dolly Parton CDs, and Jim was forced to sing along with several songs. Forced to. He did not do so voluntarily. At all.
Despite these minor disasters, they had a great time. It was so simple, just the two of them riding in a car together, but Jim couldn’t get over how right it felt. They talked about a lot of things, but steered clear of any mention of Roy or the wedding. They played various versions of Desert Island, including who would you bring? and who would you eat first? They laughed when Pam interrupted their game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the announcement that she had forgotten her bug spray. She was just going to have to fight them mano-a-mosquitoe.
After the sun set and the road began to cut straight through farmland, Jim could see that Pam was fighting to stay awake. “Who knew Delaware was so…uninteresting?” She yawned.
“Hi. I’m in Delaware.” Jim gave his best Wayne’s World impression. He got a giggle out of Pam, but she was well on her way to dreamland. He let her sleep, still trying to get his head around the fact that this morning, they were barely on speaking terms, and now she was know in his car with him, traveling to the exotic locale of…Delaware.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This takes place post-Conflict Resolution, and does not take Casino Night into account.