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Story Notes:
I don’t own the Office. I never have. I never will. I can only dream. You can’t sue me for dreaming.

It’s not until he's gone that the tears begin to roll sideways off her cheeks to meet the cotton pillowcase.

Crying is a sign of weakness; she knows that. Being engaged to one man and sleeping with another makes her a whore; she knows that. Logic is her career, a consistency amidst the turmoil life carries with it. The numbers always add up. She can always add and carry the one, and the numbers will lay perfectly on the lines if she keeps her hand steady while she writes. Life doesn't always add up. Her feelings come and go and nothing is more frustrating than inconsistency, but with tears blurring her vision, she can convince herself that the numbers lay perfectly on the lines.

Her shirt smells like Andy's cologne, and her pillowcase smells like Dwight (a scent she's tried to but always failed in describing), and she's an awful person; she knows that. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. She thinks of opening the freezer door and Dwight's sad eyes at a restaurant miles outside of Scranton (he's always been her secret) and Andy's voice floating through the office and the expectant eyes of dozens of her coworkers and harsh endings and tender beginnings. 

Andy reminds her of Ash. Ash is clean and obedient and the kind of cat that could win awards (but she's not in it for the money) and appear on magazine covers. Ash is bold and not afraid to fight her other cats for his share of food; sometimes he'll come in with scratches on his face, but his flaws are easy to overlook. He's a good cat. 

Dwight reminds her of Ember. Ember is messy and rebellious and she hated him the first time she met him. She's not really sure why she brought him home in the first place. He doesn't get along with her other cats (especially Ash), and he's dominant and intimidating and independent. Despite his rough appearance, he's the most affectionate with her of all her cats. She shares a bond with him like that of no other cat. He's a good cat. 

Andy was a distraction, and she's not sure when he moved out from behind the curtains and onto center stage. He took her to fancy restaurants and bought her lockets (she doesn't believe in jewelry, but the gesture was admirable) and held her hand as they walked the icy streets of Scranton and then suddenly he was on one knee in the parking lot and the light of the fireworks was on the ring and his hesitant grin. She's on the threshold and she doesn't have time to add the numbers and carry the one with the entirety of Dunder Mifflin awaiting the single word that falls from her lips, barely reaching the microphone and even farther from her heart. She needs clarity and peace, and she's starting to wonder if her desk is blessed (not to be confused with magic, which is a thinly veiled synonym for witchcraft), so she goes to the only place where the numbers add up. When she finds him there, it's bittersweet. Bitter because he's the last person she wants to see at this moment and sweet because he's the only person she wants to see at this moment, bitter because she doesn't know what to say and sweet because his lips taste like cotton candy (which she's always had an affinity for, not that she approves of anything related to Phyllis' disgraceful party), bitter because she's engaged and sweet because that doesn't stop his fingers from tracing their familiar routes on her body. 

Every time with Dwight is the last and everytime with Andy is the time she'll tell him (what she'll tell him, that's the part she's unsure of). Andy is simple in an endearing way, and Dwight is complicated in a way she's forever trying to figure out. Andy takes off his shoes at the door and introduces her to his parents, and Dwight adds vegetarian recipes to his repertoire and makes her feel things she didn't know were possible. Andy sings too much and puts holes through walls, and Dwight reads Harry Potter when he thinks she's asleep and euthanizes innocent cats. She's engaged to one man and in love with another.

The Bible teaches to lead by example (it also says adultery is a sin, and she's not ignoring that part, just momentarily overlooking it), so she's spent her life doing exactly that. She keeps her image crisp and clean and casts her judgement on everyone who doesn't (she's still working on the whole 'loving everyone' thing). Reputation is everything. That's why she worked hard in school and took Bible studies and got a degree in accounting and buttons her shirts to the collar. That's why she's afraid, why she can't tell Andy that it's over, that it never should have begun. He'll want an explanation, and he deserves an explanation. She can't give an explanation, so she hints. She brushes off his wedding ideas and ignores him, and he responds with nothing but unfailing love and loyalty, and how does someone break up with a man like that? Instead, she invites him over (she has to end this) and cooks him dinner and lets him stroke her hair and kiss her forehead and tells herself tomorrow will be the day. If she can't break up with Andy, she'll break up with Dwight (the idea adds up). She can't give an explanation, so she hints. She leaves him alone in the warehouse and avoids his eyes from across the room, and he responds with nothing but attentiveness and unwavering loyalty, and how does someone break up with a man like that? Instead, she invites him over (she has to end this) and kisses him against her refrigerator and runs her fingers through his hair and takes him to her bedroom and tells herself tomorrow will be the day. 

Once you slip once, it's easy to slide.

Chapter End Notes:
I love reviews like Dwight loves beets.

dwangela is the author of 9 other stories.

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