"Come on, Pam. It's time you do something different. You've been here for a year already, and you've yet to go to one Shit House party? They're like, totally awesome!"
Pam sighed and pushed aside the curls that had come loose from her pony tail. "Kelly, I don't know. I'm sure they're fun, but...I just don't know."
Across the table, her roommate sighed. Sometimes, she felt she had been better off living with Rachel, her roommate during freshman and sophomore years. Not that she didn't love Kelly--they had become extremely good friends in a matter of weeks. It's just that Kelly was...a lot of things. A lot of things that very different than Pam. She was outgoing, flirty, gossip-y, gorgeous, and was always at the center of attention at every party on campus. Despite all of that, though, the two had quickly become inseparable...except, Pam didn't really like parties.
"Pam! Come on! You broke up with WhatsHisFace--"
"Yeah, whatever, like, two months ago. And from what I've heard, you didn't even like him that much."
"Okay, maybe you're right, Kel, but really? The Shit House?"
Located about a mile from campus, the Shit House was notorious for throwing ridiculous parties for a very small cover charge. Three dollars bought all you could drink, from jello shots to flaming Dr. Peppers (which Pam had only heard rumors of), to various types of shots (Kelly had once come home talking about...Pink Panty Droppers?), to the standard beer and mixed drinks. Apparently, they were amazing.
The clattering of a tray being set down next to her shook Pam from her thoughts. Pam looked over to see Angela, a friend from high school. "Pam! Please tell me you're not going to"--she lowered her voice to a whisper--"a Shit House party?" Pam had to laugh at the horrified expression on her face.
"Angie. You know how I feel about parties. They just remind me of high school. And Roy. And...ugh."
Angela looked appeased, but across the table Kelly was furious.
"Pamela Morgan Beesly. You will go to this party. You will get your mind of stupid Roy, and if he calls you tonight? You will not answer. And I promise, as God as my freaking witness, that you will have a good time." Kelly looked pointedly over at Angela. "You should come too, Angie. Maybe it would help to get that stick out of your ass."
Pam giggled at the shocked look on Angela's face, but her laughter died when Kelly's eyes were back on her. She raised one eyebrow and started staring Pam down. Pam sighed, feeling her defenses start to break. Maybe Kelly was right. Maybe getting out and going to a party was what she needed. She'd been so wrapped up in Roy last year--driving two hours every weekend to go see him at the state university, waiting around for his phone call at night, telling herself that it was okay if he blew her off to hang out with his football buddies--that she never got the chance to meet very many people. And according to Kelly? "Like, everybody will be there!"
She got up to refill her drink, telling Kelly that she would think about it. It might be fun. And it might be a chance to get to meet some more people. You're a different person, now, Pam. You're done with Roy, you're done with high school, you're...yeah. Maybe. She sighed, indecision clouding her brain. Then again...any party you've ever gone to has been pretty lame. Lukewarm beer and a bon fire? Yeah, the Shit House will probably be different, but do you really want to go and get wasted with a bunch of strangers?
Suddenly, Pam pitched forward. What was left of her drink went flying, almost landing in the hair of a notoriously ill-tempered professor. What was more important, however, is that her foot caught on the lip of the rug underneath the drink machine, and in about half a second she was going to whack her head on the metal rack holding the cups.
A pair of strong hand caught her around her upper arms. She blinked, staring at the sharp edges of the metal that were just millimeters away from her face. Her feet found solid ground and she whipped around, a bitchy comment bubbling up in her throat.
"Oh, my God. OhMyGod. Are you okay? I'm so sorry, Andy tripped me and I lost my balance and I'm really sorry..." Somewhere, way above her head, a deep voice was frantically apologizing for almost impaling her. She looked up and found typical college boy stubble, paired with wide green eyes and messy hair shoved under a baseball cap. His eyes told her that he was genuinely sorry, though, so whatever mean thing Pam had planned on saying died on her lips.
"Um, it's okay."
He seemed relieved. "Are you sure? Really, though, I'm sorry. Here, I'll refill your drink for you. Not like that makes up for almost killing you, but it's a start, right?" He grabbed a new cup and stuck it under the ice dispenser. "Coke? Diet Coke? Sprite?"
"Oh, um, no, grape soda."
"Really? Me too." He raised his other arm, motioning with his head to his own half-empty glass. As he moved her cup from the ice dispenser to the grape soda tab, he smiled at her. It was cute, she thought. Kind of crooked and goofy, but it seemed to fit his personality. He looked familiar, and she knew she'd heard his voice somewhere before, but before she could ask if they'd met she heard his voice again.
"Hey, aren't you in my sociology class? Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 3:10 to 4:00, right?"
Pam nodded. That was her least favorite class, mainly because she didn't know anybody. It was quite a departure from all of her art classes, where she knew literally everyone. In Sociology 101, though, she in the back corner of the class room, too scared to sit amid the clusters of anthropology, sociology, and psychology majors that talked about self-fulfilling prophecies and multitudes of other things that she didn't really understand. She was surprised that he'd even noticed her--she usually kept to herself and didn't really speak up in class. Hm. Interesting.
"Oh, yeah. With Dr. Kapstfield, right?"
He laughed. "Don't forget, he likes for us to call him Jodie. That guy is such a creep, right?"
Creep was an understatement. Her professor came to class dripping with sweat and his long hair braided into pigtails. She didn't quite know what to think about him, but what could she expect? She was at a liberal arts school, after all. People were kind of quirky here.
"Yeah, what is it with him?" she replied. She noticed that his green eyes were actually kind of beautiful. They had kind of a boyish light to them, and she felt like if she got to know this guy at all, he would have a wonderful sense of humor. And probably a well developed sense of adventure. He would probably be able to make her laugh, too. But the chance of getting to know somebody like him was pretty slim, because she was Pam the Art Major, and judging by the skinny redhead that had just latched onto him, he was out of her league.
"Jim!! You did amazing at the game a few nights ago. Did you hear me cheer for you?" Ugh. This girl was annoying. Pam vaguely wondered if she meant for her boobs to be popping out of the top of her shirt like that, but then the girl leaned forward and seemed to make sure that they brushed against Jim's arm. Definitely on purpose. Ugh.
She made a move to walk away, but Jim called after her. "Hey, wait!" He detached himself from the hyper redhead with a "See you later, Katy," and caught up with Pam. "Sorry. I just feel bad not knowing your name. Especially since I almost, you know, killed you."
She giggled. What the hell? Did I just giggle? She shook her head slightly, banishing the voice in her head telling her that she never giggled. "Oh. It's Pam. Beesly. Pam Beesly."
He grinned. "Jim Halpert. It's very nice to meet you, Pam Beesly." The way his warm voice wrapped around her name made her smile. It was nice. And new. And so very unlike Roy, that she almost forgot all about him and his incessant calling and texting and generally being annoying. "So, I guess I'll see you in sociology, right?"
She nodded. "Sure. I'll see you later, then."
He looked like he was going to say something else, but a group of guys sitting at a table behind them got his attention. "Hey, Tuna! Are you comin' or what?" He rolled his eyes but turned to meet his friends. "Bye, Pam," he called over his shoulder.
A tiny little "bye, Jim," caught in her throat. He probably wouldn't have heard her anyway, he was already sitting with his friends, his back to her. Whatever. No biggie.
When she got back to the table, it took her a minute to notice that both Kelly and Angela were staring at her. "This is weird. Do I have something on my face?"
Angela cocked an eyebrow. "Who was that tall boy you were talking to?"
Pam felt her cheeks begin to flush. "Oh. Just a guy in my sociology class. He almost killed me, then filled up my cup." She motioned to her grape soda, then took a sip. For some weird reason, she thought it tasted better than normal. "Jim? Jim Halpert?"
Kelly gawked. "Jim Halpert? Oh my GOD, Pam, he is TOTALLY on my list!"
Angela's head whipped around so that she could glare at Kelly. "That list makes you out to be a hussy, Kelly. I do wish you wouldn't talk about it in public. Or at all."
Kelly didn't pay any attention to Angela's judgments. "Seriously, he's like number two or three on my 'Guys I Would Totally Bang' list. Pam, he's like a superstar. Basketball team? Newspaper editor? Um, hello, he's totally a catch, and he was TALKING to you! He even totally ignored Katy Smith, and everybody knows that she's a sure thing."
Her cheeks felt hotter than before. "Oh, well, I don't know. It was no big deal, really." She didn't want to think about the fact that she was secretly pleased that he was apparently such a catch, and he had dismissed some hot cheerleader to continue speaking with her. Suddenly, she was really looking forward to sociology with creepy Jodie Kapstfield. Maybe, now that they'd met, she could muster up the courage to go sit by him. Then she remembered--he was usually flanked by two girls, one of them Katy Smith and another dark and exotic looking girl that she thought was named Karen. She inwardly sighed. "Really, guys, it was nothing. I've gotta go, though. I've got ceramics in fifteen minutes, and the art building is all the way across campus."
"Well, if you want to skip class with me to go shopping, you know where to find me!" Kelly said. "And don't think I'm letting you out of going to the Shit House tonight!"
"Right, Kelly. I'll see you guys later." Picking up her tray, she made her way across the cafeteria and threw her trash away. As she made her way to the door, she realized that she would have to walk right past the table where Jim was sitting what with she assumed were the rest of the basketball team. Wait, why does that even matter? Come on, Pam, get a grip.
Jim looked up at her as she walked past his table. He smiled at her, and she noticed again how crooked his grin was. It was actually kind of adorable. The guy sitting next to him glanced up and saw him looking at Pam, then stuck out an elbow and poked Jim in the ribs, whispering something that Pam couldn't hear. Pam was pleased to see Jim blush and immediately land a punch on the guy's arm, saying something that sounded like "Hey, why don't you shut the hell up, David?"
For the first time that semester, Pam realized that she was actually looking forward to Sociology 101.