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Disclaimer: 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.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Just a one-shot from Pam's perspective on the Booze Cruise. I was listening to Waking Ashland's "Hands on Deck" and it absolutely inspired this.

I don't own any of these things. But, I do own a caseload of Purell, so who's not getting the swine flu? ::points thumbs at self:: This girl!


He's been watching me since I got on the boat. Carefully watching, not too long here or there, most likely so I don't notice, but I do anyways because he's Jim and I notice pretty much everything he does. That probably makes me pretty pathetic, but the fact that I go to bed every night with my fiancé while thinking of him probably tops that.

I know he's watching me and I watch him right back, watching his curly, redheaded girlfriend throwing her head back and laughing at something insignificant that he's said, and it makes me want to die a little inside. Because I see the way she grabs onto his arm. I see the way his eyes light up. I watch her lean into him and how his arm encircles her waist and I picture tossing her overboard this damn ship. But I don't. Because he's not mine. And I'm not his.

I go outside because I hear the guys chanting my fiancé’s name, and I can see him at 16, 18, 20, 27 chugging a beer and it makes me wonder where the time has gone. And how, for some reason, the picture in my head of him is always the same. Maybe his hair style has changed, and maybe the color of his shirt, but always the scenario is unfluctuating. Roy, in the middle of a crowd, always the center of attention, a beer in one hand and a grin on his face, and it makes me wonder how I could have ever have fallen for that type of guy in the first place. It had to have been the dimples, right? It had to have been his temperament, it had to have been something. But right now I'm not focused on that. Right now I’m focused on the fact that Jim has his arm around a woman who has the perfect body, flawless skin, shiny, well maintained curls. Pam 2.0, as Michael had said. Wonderful.

I'm standing on the deck, staring out into the vastness of Lake Scranton, into the dark abyss of water that surrounded us, and contemplating how long it would take Roy to notice that I'd jumped before he came looking for me. It was a decision of somewhere between minutes 52 and 53 that I realized that was most likely more pathetic than even my thinking of Jim in my bed, so I stopped thinking and just stared out over the water and at the dim stars that overlooked the boat. I was so entranced in what I didn't want to be thinking about that I didn't even hear him approaching.

There was always something about Jim that made me feel warm and comfortable inside. Something about him that was sweet and calm, like falling into a bed of cotton balls. I try not to notice the adoration in his eyes as we joke around, because I know he might have a crush on me. OK, I know it’s more than a might, but I’m terrified that he might like me as much as I like him, and I’m not even supposed to like like him because I have a fiancé, and I suddenly feel like I’m 16 again, hanging out in the art room during lunch because it was what the artistic kids did, and wondering why Roy would ever be looking my direction. It’s a scary thought to wonder what life might have been like had I known Jim in high school and where my life would be today.

So I’m not paying attention as my mind goes blank until I hear the footsteps behind me, and it’s Jim, of course, and he’s looking at me like he’s dead set on telling me something, but then he just smiles and I relax because I don’t want (really, can’t) listen to what he has to say right now. Because this isn’t my life. My life is with the man who’s taking his eleventh shot out of a goddamn snorkel with Darryl cheering him on and as much as I don’t want to think about it, it’s my reality.

But there’s something in his eyes that keeps drawing me back in. So I try to joke about his dating a cheerleader, and I can tell that he’d probably be happy dating a receptionist, and he just smiles and we banter and it’s like everything is the same. But it’s not. Because I know that when I go home, I’ll probably drag Roy to bed, tearing off his shoes and socks as he mumbles into his pillow about what a great night it was, and I’ll be thinking about Jim and what he was doing with Katy at that very moment, jealous as hell and wanting more than what I have.

But what I have is real and what I have has been a constant in my life for over ten years now. How do you go from something that has been your entire life, to just nothing? I can’t do that. Besides, we’re engaged, even if we’ve changed our wedding date three times and the toaster that I got at my engagement party needs to be replaced, we’re still engaged. The rock on my hand still is the symbol that I’ve promised my life to someone who loves me. At least, I think he loves me.

Sometimes I really think that Roy is just so used to having me around, it’s why I feel unappreciated. Because he knows he doesn’t have to work for it. We live together. It’s expected that I’ll make dinner every night and he’ll cut the grass on Sundays and the guys will come over for beer and wings on Monday night because Monday night football is some kind of magical experience to him and his friends.

And that’s OK. Because that’s what I’ve signed up for.

Then I look up and Jim is staring at me with that same expression. That same look that’s telling me that I could have so much more than this, I could do so much better. I could have a guy who’d bring me breakfast in bed and run my bath water and he’d be happy to do it because I know he loves me in some kind of way, a way that I clearly don’t deserve because I’m too much of a coward to try to love him back like that. So I pull my jacket on around me a bit tighter, tell him I’m cold, and I run inside so I don’t have to see that look in his eyes anymore. So I don’t have to acknowledge that there could be something better out there for me.

I’m sitting there quietly, waiting for the boat to just dock when I see Roy take the mike and I know what he’s going to do before he even says it. When he says June 10th, I rush to him and throw my arms around him, because maybe this is going to be the start where Roy actually wants to make the commitment. And I kiss him, only tasting the alcohol on his breath, and when he looks at me his eyes are glazed over and I know he’s drunk. And I kind of laugh to myself because if this had happened at home, I doubt he’d remember it and we’d go about our lives like it never happened. But he did it in front of everyone at work, so now he’s going to have to make the date official, and this is going to be the day we get married because of it.

I’m dancing with him, smiling up through my disgust, faking my happiness because this is what I’ve done for years. Masking my disappointment with a smile and a chipper exterior when all I want to do is sit down and cry.

Later on I see Jim as I walk out of the bathroom, and Phyllis is asking me about color schemes and floral arrangements, and I see the look on his face and it’s nothing like I’d ever seen. I just want to go and hug him and kiss him and take away the hurt that he’s feeling, because I know he’s feeling it, but I can’t because I’m engaged and my fiancé has just done probably the most romantic thing he’s ever done for me – albeit his being drunk while doing so – and this is my life. Caught between the man I’ve been with for so many years, the man who I’ve shared my life with and have made every effort to be with forever, and another man who I met just a few years prior who seems to just get me, but I’m too scared to end the first relationship to see what happens with the second.

And Jim looks at me, and I can see the frown lines on his mouth, and every part of me just starts to ache. A slow, painful, radiating ache. And I want to call the whole thing off. Just go up to Roy and tell him to forget about it, I want to be with Jim, but I can’t do that. Not right now. I’m such a coward.

I want to go to Jim and tell him to wait for me, but I can’t do that either. I can’t do that because I have a fiancé and that’s definitely not appropriate right now, but I watch him leave with Katy and I want to scream and throw myself on the ground and have a huge temper tantrum because my life is so clearly fucked up. I can feel myself sliding down a deep hole with nowhere to go, and the sunlight is becoming just a dim circle above me and I’m lost in a sea of my own tragedy. My own stupid Robert Frost poem about which direction to travel. My own personal hell because I can’t make a decision to save my life and no matter what I do, someone is going to get hurt.

So I take Roy’s hand as he stumbles to the truck and I turn the key in the ignition and drive carefully home. And I try to contemplate driving into a tree to end this whole mess. Dramatic, yes. But as a means to end the pain that I feel, the burning sensation in my chest, the stiffness of my bones and the tightness of my muscles? Why the hell not?
Chapter End Notes:
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stjoespirit04 is the author of 25 other stories.
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