They’d stared at one another for a few seconds, eyes locked, glazed….mesmerized.
And then she’d leaned forward without warning, hands on the back of his head as she guided his mouth down to hers. He pulled her deliciously close to him, arms all the way around her, hands roaming her back as hers sank into his hair.
When they pulled back, they were both having a hard time catching their breath.
And then he spoke, his voice low and husky, almost startlingly intimate.
It occurred to her rather randomly that this must be what his voice would sound like if they were in bed, if his lips were close to her ear, body covering hers.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.” There was a smile pulling at his lips – hers, too.
“Me, too.” She said softly.
His whole body seemed to relax, then tense again as he took in the expression on her face.
She was starting to feel that pull toward him again when suddenly she noticed something out of the corner of her eye -- a brief flash of light, reflection illuminating the window beside her for barely a second.
And then she realized: the cameras.
So she said, “Maybe we’re drunk.”
Please, Jim – get the hint; see what I’m trying to do here and just go with me…..
The slight thread of panic in his eyes clearly indicated that he wasn’t catching the subtext.
“I’m not drunk.” He said softly, then asked, “Are you drunk?”
“No.” She answered, eyes holding his purposefully.
But he misinterpreted the look as her way of encouraging him, of telling him that she wasn’t running anymore.
Without giving it a second thought, he leaned in for another kiss.
She forced herself to stop him just before his lips touched hers, saying gently, “Jim.”
Her eyes met his and she squeezed his hands, trying desperately to communicate to him, Not here – the cameras.
But he didn’t catch it, only looked a little confused at her sudden reticence.
Because five seconds before, she’d completely given in to him.
And then it had hit him: the cameras.
She knew immediately that he’d figured it out, had to struggle to keep the smile from her face.
He stifled the huge grin that threatened, working not to give away the almost irrepressible joy and excitement that were looming in him.
Then he forced himself to whisper, “Are you going to marry him?”
Even though she was fairly certain he knew this was all for the benefit of the cameras, it killed her somehow to answer, “Yes.”
“Okay.” He said, lips pursing for a second.
She tilted her head slightly – almost imperceptibly – giving him yet another warning look. She gleaned from the expression on his face that he knew what was going on.
“I have to go.” She said then, backing away from him, turning to pick up her purse, casting him one last glance before she walked out the doors, praying the cameras wouldn’t follow her.
He waited a few seconds before he, too, turned and left, heading instinctively toward the stairwell.
Because he knew in his gut she’d be waiting there.
As soon as he opened the doors and she’d seen that the camera hadn’t followed him, she was in his arms, lips on his as he backed her against the wall.
“I didn’t mean it.” She gasped between kisses. “The cameraman was in Michael’s office….”
“I know.” He whispered back.
“Why did I transfer to the Stamford branch?” He repeated. “Well I think that’s obvious.”
He waited a moment, then gave a mischievous smile, indicating the jacket he wore as he added, “I got a promotion.”
He knew it wasn’t what the cameraman was hoping to hear, but he didn’t much give a damn.
There was no way he was going to blow this.
“I just had to get out of that relationship.” She said, as if it were the simplest thing in the world….knowing full well that it had been anything but.
Was still anything but – Roy bringing her lunch every single day, thirty pounds lighter, eyes following her the way Jim’s always had.
It was unnerving, saddening….but not at all tempting.
She knew the cameraman didn’t believe her when she claimed to have broken up with Roy “a few days” before the wedding because of “cold feet,” but she didn’t really give a damn.
There was no way she was going to risk giving anything away.
Her eyes lowered to her desk when Dwight got his package from Jim, the ache in her chest tightening.
She still hadn’t grown used to not having him there with her every day, even after all these months; she occasionally caught herself trying to somehow make Ryan fill the void at least of the friend she’d lost.
But he never found the same things funny; more often than not, when she glanced at him to exchange a secret grin or laugh, he looked positively mortified.
It only made her miss Jim more.
Rick wasn’t buying it – from either of them.
He’d tried to explain it to the other two cameramen in the office, and they’d looked at him as if he were being ridiculous.
“I’m telling you, there’s more to this.” He insisted.
They always ribbed him about it, laughed at him for what they called his “emotional investment” in Jim and Pam.
It had been enough to make him cross the line.
Of course, they’d all signed releases giving the cameras the right to follow them – hell, Tom had been in Stamford filming Jim – but Rick had always been careful to respect Jim and Pam’s privacy as much as he could.
He had always seized the opportunities to catch them in a tender moment whenever possible, of course, but he’d also been able to sense when the moment was simply too….sacred to be preserved on film, witnessed by others’ eyes.
Like the time she’d cried in his arms in the stairwell that day. Or the countless times that they’d shared a moment on the roof.
They’d taken a hiatus for the summer, allowing the production company to review the footage from the previous year, eventually sending it to the editors.
Today had been the first day that the cameras returned.
When Rick found himself sitting in his car outside Pam’s apartment that Friday evening, he blamed it on curiosity, on the impulse to just prove his buddies wrong.
But the truth was that he needed to know that these two were together. Because it just didn’t seem….right, much less possible, that they weren’t.
He’d been sitting there for two hours and twenty-seven minutes, thinking he was an idiot, preparing to leave, when suddenly, a car pulled into the spot outside her apartment.
A maroon Carolla.
The relief and exultation he’d felt caught him off guard.
Just doing my job – getting the good stuff.
But he’d never use whatever footage he got tonight, and he knew it.
He’d miked her front stoop, just as he’d miked everyone else in the office’s; he’d even come out of the brief hiatus one day over the summer just to film her here when she first moved in, documenting her first brave steps toward freedom.
So it wasn’t wrong, he told himself, to capture whatever was about to happen here.
He’d smiled to see the dozen roses in Jim’s hand when he got out of the car, looking so handsome in his suit….older, more sophisticated somehow.
But still the same astonishingly kind guy who’d been in love with her for years.
There had been a light in his eyes lately that was almost startlingly noticeable on camera; the darkness that had hovered over his last few talking heads at the Scranton branch seemed to have just dissipated.
She’d opened the door, exclaimed at the roses (“Oh my god, Jim!”), then stood on her toes, throwing her arms around him.
“God, I missed you so much.” She whispered in his ear.
He’d pulled back to gaze down at her, his eyes roving over her face hungrily.
“You have no idea how much I’ve been waiting for tonight.” He said, his voice rough, a little hoarse.
Their lips met then, bodies melding together, the roses in his hand resting against her back.
Rick turned off the camera then, cranked his car, and slowly backed out of the parking spot.
He smiled all the way home.
Good for them, he thought.
Good for them.