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Story Notes:
So many different little things fed into the creation of this story...it's a weird little AU of Season 2's Christmas. A little gift for anybody who loves little Christmas one-shots as much as I do. Hope you guys like it! -s*
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.

Because of money issues and Corporate and Michael’s refusal to let a year go by without some ridiculous party at the holidays, the Dunder Mifflin Christmas Party (now a potluck) is being held--instead of at the office--at Phyllis’ house. Michael had originally asked Jim, but after the last party he just wasn’t into having everybody over again--Plus, Mark was so weirded out by Dwight and Angela and swore he caught them making out on the patio and that was a mental image Jim wanted to push as far from his mind as possible, much less inviting the possibility of a repeat.

Things had been great lately for him, though--he got Pam as his Secret Santa (something he’d been hoping for for years, literally years, having always gotten someone weird like Stanley or Meredith or, one year, Michael), and they’d been spending plenty of time together lately. He’d been so simultaneously pained and thrilled to have her in his bedroom at the party at his house (which, he supposed, might have been another reason for why he resisted offering up his place for another party...maybe.), and when she left, so afraid that things would be awkward, now. But she’d loved his room, loved looking through his yearbook, and by the time Mark came looking for them they’d been stretched out on his bed--him against the headboard, her propped up on her elbows at the end of the bed, feet by his head--talking for close to an hour. And to him, at least, they’d seemed even closer since then.

He brings some cheese and crackers with him, thinking some of the more experienced chefs in the office might have brought some actual food, and as it turns out, everybody else thought the exact same thing. Phyllis’ dining room table is lousy with Cheddars and Goudas and water crackers and triscuits. Angela is off in a corner mumbling about party planning and sign-up sheets and how this never would have happened on her watch, Dwight standing several feet in front of her pretending he’s not listening intently. Jim and Pam are hidden nearby, eavesdropping and laughing, leaning in to whisper jokes and it just seems so fucking easy with her smile that wide and her eyes that bright and the look she’s giving him, that look he likes to think is reserved only for him; he leans in and kisses her.

Just once.

“Sorry,” is the first thing he says the second he pulls back and he’s expecting to lift his eyes to hers and have them look huge and terrified, her face fallen and her laugh gone--and her laugh is gone, and her face has changed, but her eyes are not on her shoes where he expects them to be, but trained on his lips and they are dark with desire.

“Don’t be,” she breathes, and leans into him, crushing her lips to his.

His brain goes blank. All that exists in the whole entire world is Pam and her lips and they’re moving so frantically against his that he can’t think--wouldn’t be able to solve a simple math equation or answer an easy question about American History, or hell, even remember his own name; it’s as if any thoughts going through his mind are just suspended in the air around his head, waiting for time to pick up again so they can go back to their usual habit of darting around his brain, waiting to be fully realized as a joke or a prank or something deliciously tragic about his feelings for this woman before him; this woman whose fingers are so cold that he can feel them through his shirt, through his thin Christmas sweater; this woman who is kissing him like he’s the only thing in the world that made sense to her.

And just like that, it all speeds back into motion.

This is Pam. Beautiful, sweet, engaged Pam. Jim has no idea how he’s gotten into a situation where beautiful, sweet, engaged Pam is fiercely kissing him in a dark corner at a party at Phyllis Lappin’s house at Christmas, but he knows that there are only a handful of possible outcomes, and while they range from one end of the spectrum to the other, there’s only one good one he can think of, and it seemed the least likely. Amid visions of tears, bruises, and Ryan covering reception while Michael holds interviews, Jim gently puts his hands on her shoulders (her beautiful, sweet, engaged shoulders) and pushes her away.

Her eyes search his, swimming with confusion. Her lips are still parted and she slowly presses them together, her eyes not wavering from his. Her hands, once rested on his chest, now hang awkwardly at her sides. “What--why?” She asks quietly, and again, it is exactly not what he’d been expecting out of her.

“Pam.” He recognizes the finality in his voice before he knows what he means by it, and he’s pressing his lips together, shaking his head and saying the words before he even knows he’s thinking them: “It’s..it’s just...self preservation.” He gazes into her beautiful, sweet, engaged face, hoping for any look of recognition, of understanding.

Her eyes, now glazed with helpless tears, widen with realization. She nods, then looks at her feet. “I’m sorry,” her voice is barely loud enough to qualify as a whisper and it makes his heart shatter and his hands move apparently of their own accord. His fingers find her chin and tilt it up so her face is lifted towards his again. When she finally makes eye contact with him, tears threatening to spill down her flushed cheeks, he says the only words that he can think of, that would mean anything right now:

Don’t be.”

***

Later, in her bedroom, Roy snoring away in the bed (after a night of drinking and poker playing with the guys, because why would he ever want to go to another stupid work party?), her fingers carefully open a present that she found when she was getting in her car, having decided to leave the party early.

Inside the medium sized white box, she finds a simple but beautiful green-blue teapot that she remembers pointing out to Jim one day after lunch. The top is taped shut, and upon inspection, is holding a handful of small, seemingly insignificant treasures: a hot sauce packet, a boggle timer, a mixed tape, a golf pencil, his yearbook photo. He kept all of those things, she can’t help but realize as her fingers absently reach for the card carefully slid between the teapot and the side of the box, her name scrawled across the back in blue pen. Shakily, she opens it and reads.

Dear Pam,

I know how much you wanted this, and I hope you like it. It seems like just the right thing to get you--seemingly simple but perfect and beautiful, just like you; I filled it with things that will hopefully make you smile as much as you make me smile every day.

I want you to know how much I appreciate you--that sounds a little lame, but I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t in my life; you have made me laugh when I wanted to cry, revived me from death-by-boredom, and made days that would normally drag fly by effortlessly. You’ve actually made me want to come to work in the morning.

The truth is, Pam, you are the best person I have ever known. I hope you believe that.

With love,
Jim


Her already damp eyes fill again with tears, but this time, she cannot help but give a little smile. She traces her finger over the word “love” and takes in the words behind the words in Jim’s card. Answers to questions she wasn’t aware of ever asking flood her mind, and she closes the card carefully, tips her head back and gazes out the window at the stars. Something that feels like relief pours over her as moonlight pours through the window, illuminating her face. Some kind of joke about “finally seeing the light” occurs to her and she smiles more widely.

In the back of her mind, she hears herself think, I’m sorry, Roy.

And then, she hears a louder, stronger voice say words that she knows will give her the strength to take the first steps towards being happy that she’s been able to be in years:

Don’t be.
Chapter End Notes:
Hope you guys enjoyed it! Let me know what you think :) Happy Christmas! -s*


watchthesky84 is the author of 9 other stories.
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