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Story Notes:

I enjoyed writing this immensely. Bit of an experiment with tone. Let me know what doesn't work!

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:

Self-destructive Pam

She wasn’t in therapy. She wasn't seeing a therapist. Okay yeah, so she saw a therapist once, but that's not the same thing. The only reason she didn't turn and walk out was because it was free. His name was Doctor Peppercorn, Doctor Pepper for short—yeah, he seriously said that.

She should have. Turned and walked out, that is. Unsolicited, Toby'd handed her a sheet of paper titled "Employee Assistance Plan" the day after Dwight had stumbled across her crying in the stairwell—and oh god she didn't even want to think how that conversation came about. He said Doctor Peppercorn had helped him through his divorce. She had no idea how. The guy was freaking useless. Also, she was pretty sure anything she said could and would be held against her.

She tried not to roll her eyes through the 30-minute session, his hackneyed suggestions not inviting much in the way of confidence. Not inviting much of a response at all, really. She'd always kinda thought the point of therapy would be talking through your own problems, not having someone talk at you. What was the deal with that?

In the end, she supposed you got what you paid for. Because talk about a waste of time. About the only thing she took away from the "counseling session" was that writing angry letters without sending them might be some kind of an idea. She spent half her days playing Sudoku and Minesweeper anyway. What was fifteen minutes here or there to craft an email and save it as a draft? It was nothing. Just like what she was to him. He'd made that perfectly clear at the soda machine on his first day back, abundantly clearer in the parking lot that evening, and reinforced it with pretty much every action since.

Inaction, she guessed, would probably be a more appropriate word for it though. Not just his, but hers too. There was a shockingly low amount of action when it came to her and Jim. Not that she didn't want any action—that's what she said—but she completely sucked at this whole introspection thing. And just, even the merest thought of any kind of confrontation was enough to totally paralyze her. What did it say about her if blubbering and sniveling would be an improvement? As much as she tried to think about it, analyze her inactions and his inactions until she was blue in the face (or fingers--thank god for modern technology right?), she inevitably ran in mental circles until she ended up at the same freezing standstill where she always ended up.

If only she had a crystal ball. Or the ability to read minds. Any kind of superpower, really. It would be pretty great if she could shrink down super small you know, like the Magic Schoolbus or something. She could drive into Jim's ear and see how he really felt. Then she'd know whether he still loved her (and magically be infused with bravery, that was kinda key). Or she'd know he was totally over her and she could totally get over him. Right? Right.

One time she'd had a drunken epiphany she thought, but as she read the words she'd written the next morning, she realized it was more drunk than epiphanic. Like, borderline retarded, honestly. Some kind of rambling about a dream about making and having his babies. Ugh, seriously? It's not like she was good with kids. She didn't think so anyway. And she wasn't completely sure she even liked the idea of having kids. Although she'd have his if he wanted them, which was kind of the central point of the epiphany. And so far from romantic that she kinda wanted to die just thinking about it.

She was doing a pretty good job of single-handedly keeping Kleenex stock in the black these days, though, and wasn't that something? Maybe she could add that to her resume under Accomplishments, alongside 'Participated in the longest engagement in history that failed to end in marriage' and 'Managed to lose the friendship of the only person who ever really mattered to me. Also his love' and '2005 Dundie Award winner: Whitest Sneakers.' She still carried the trophy--not to mention the memory of their first kiss--to prove the last one. The former stowed safely away in a shoebox in her closet, the latter tucked eternally into her heart.

Why couldn't she just move on when he so clearly had? Really it was her own fault probably. She knew what she wanted kinda, but she had no idea how to cross the yawning chasm between them. She guessed she couldn't keep from holding out the tiniest sliver of hope that maybe something would just... change. Even though she herself had never been a changer (which, in the middle of all the nothing she knew about herself or Jim or Them, was the one thing she would always be sure of). The only thing that moved and shook in her life were her shoulders, as she mourned all that could have been between them if she weren't such a massive fuckup. But really, what was she supposed to do, knock down the Great Wall of China armed with basically a teaspoon?

Why didn't she call him after she called off her wedding, anyway? Seriously, what was that all about? What kind of friend even was she? Why did she ramble about kitchens and Sandra Bullock instead of mentioning it when he'd accidentally reached her on the office phone? What really was stopping her from picking up the phone right now and calling him?

She guessed she just wasn't brave. And anyway, even if she were, she didn't really know what she could or would even say to him at this point.

"I'm in love with you, do you still love me? Probably not because I was a huge scaredy cat and also a liar and an asshole. Wanna hang out?"

"Just thought I'd let you know you never misinterpreted anything. I called my wedding off because you kissed me and the earth tilted and nothing's felt right since. Cugino's, you and me?"

"You can dump Karen for me any day now. What do you say we pretend the last twelve months never happened?"

"Do you remember that line from V for Vendetta? 'I knew I never wanted to kiss any other lips but hers again'? Well that's me, except... you know, you're not a her. Welp, smell ya later!"

Sigh. Maybe she should be in therapy.

Hell, she'd even settle for some mellow friend-on-friend action at this point. Although the action she kind of wanted--scratch that, really wanted--was more than that.

More than that.

More than that.

Those words pretty much haunted her, like every night really. Almost as much as his kisses.

Maybe she'd take up smoking. Why not? Picasso smoked, and look what he accomplished. It would fit right in with the other self-destructive habits she'd developed over the past several months. And hey, who ever got a hangover from cigarettes? In a fit of determination, she bought a pack of Marlboro Lights on the way home from work on a random Friday.

She wondered if Karen smoked. Maybe. She could see it. She sort of sounded like a smoker, in that young Lauren Bacall way. Probably only after sex though, she figured dispassionately. Just enough to get that kinda sultry voice without stinking up the place or risking the whiteness of her teeth. But like, outside, in a classy robe, on some kind of terrace or balcony. Definitely not in bed. Jim would never stand for that.

She had no idea what she was doing as she held the lighter to the tip and puffed her cheeks delicately. Still, she had to smile. How disappointed would he be if he could see her now? Very, she mused delightedly, secretively, vindictively as she took a drag, feeling heady with rebelliousness and the fire in her lungs.

As she exhaled, she coughed so hard she nearly vomited. With a heavy sigh, she doused the tip under running water and threw the pack into her junk drawer. So much for that little experiment. Maybe she'd try again next week. Practice makes perfect, right? Right. For now, she forcefully twisted the top off a bottle of whiskey and poured herself a double, contemplating how much she was a fuckup. Even when it came to fucking herself up.

Speaking of Picasso… she dug out her charcoals and sketchpad. Thinking better of it, she poured herself a double-double. She'd never drawn drunk before. Drawing while intoxicated. Drawing under the influence. Why not, right? She giggled raspily as she turned on all the lamps in the living room, triggering another coughing fit. 

She dug the cigarettes out of the drawer and broke each one in half. She really was a complete idiot sometimes.

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