Chapter Two: Suspicion
Her skirt was getting damp, and not just from the constant drizzle of tears down her face. The last remnants of snow clinging to the building's edge in the shadow behind the building were melting beneath her. She had been sitting against the wall, crying, for several minutes and was beginning to worry that someone would find her. She knew her pale pink coat would be dirty and soaked through, but she couldn't bring herself to get off the ground. Not just yet. If someone found her out here, they'd probably just leave her alone. NO one in the office would insert themselves in her business. Unless it was Jim. Or maybe Michael. But Michael wouldn’t come down here without a reason.
Jim really might find her. That'd be just like him, to go look for her, make sure she was okay. Smile and tease her into telling him what happened. And then he'd look at her with those big worried eyes and his eyebrows all scrunched up in concern and she just couldn't take that. Pity. Poor Pammy. She hated that look. He didn't know her life enough to judge. Didn't know Roy enough. Didn't understand how much good there was in Roy. How good to her he could be. Maybe that was her own fault, never showing Jim all the good in Roy. A small, traitorous part of her wanted him, Jim, to find her crying, wanted his pity and sympathy and concern. To hug her and comfort her and tell her how much Roy sucked. But that wasn't fair to Roy. Roy was a good man and she really truly loved him.
Roy really was a good man, Pam repeated to herself as she cried out in the cold. Roy was a good man, but he'd been so mad. And at work too. In public. It was beyond frustrating. But Roy was a good man, so he must have had a good reason. She didn't think it was that big a deal, leaning a bit against a friend, but it clearly was. She knew Roy was jealous and had a bit of a temper, but he wasn't irrational. Maybe she could show him the video. He might get a kick out of it. Just a kick. It wasn't that funny. She was just feeling so giddy after half a gallon of coffee and a morning of struggling to keep her head off her desk. She almost regretted staying up to finish reading that book the night before. Almost. The complete and utter exhaustion had her acting a bit out of character.
If she really thought about it, she saw how she was acting inappropriately. She liked how Jim's arm felt behind her. How their legs had bumped under the table as he moved closer to make room for Kelly. How he had teased her, bringing up the last Dundies. She chose to lean on him, to give him attention. Roy had thought she had been cheating on him, he was almost right. But Jim was her friend, her best friend, and she should be able to interact with him without having to watch her every action. She'd just have to be more careful for Roy. So he didn't get the wrong idea. It was lucky, really, that he had blamed her and not Jim. He wouldn't have a problem hitting Jim, but Roy never hit her. He could be jealous and grumpy, but he was never abusive, she reminded herself. He was a good man. He'd forgiven her too. Or nearly anyway.
Pam leaned her head back against the stone and dried her eyes. She was dreading facing the office, facing Jim. And she knew what tonight meant. Roy coming home, drunk and handsy and her owing him and all. She breathed deep, let the coldness of the air surround her and stopped feeling. It was easier in the cold. Red eyes cleared faster with cold air and no one, she hoped, especially Jim, would know she'd been crying.
Oscar, aside: "Roy is definitely the jealous type. I couldn't put up with someone like that, but if it works for Pam… You know what, it's her business. I don’t want to get involved."
Kelly, aside: "It was so romantic. I wish someone would get jealous over me like that. It's just like Edward in Twilight. I bet Roy is SUPER protective. Like he’s always nearby just in case she needs him, or like he’s always watching her to make sure creeps don’t try anything. Not that Jim is a creep. He’s really cool. We’re like bffs. Roy’s just really protective. It's so sweet. You can really tell that he cares about their relationship, you know? OH MY GOD HAVE YOU NEVER READ TWILIGHT?!?!"
When Pam entered the office the room fell silent, all but for the crunch of potato chips back in Kevin's corner. She knew everyone was talking about the whole thing with Roy and Jim. That Roy had stormed in and caused a scene, again. She put her head down and got right back to work. A few minutes passed and everything seemed to be calming down, so she stole a few glances over at Jim, hoping to make eye contact, hoping he'd brush it off with that 'Woah- Things just got crazy' look he has. She loves that look.
But Jim didn't make eye contact. Instead he seemed to be looking everywhere but at her. An intentional lack of eye contact. Around 2:00, Michael got back from his "very important secret lunch meeting," which Pam expected was nothing more than an excuse to treat himself to lunch and a nap back at his condo, and checked in with everyone around the office, seeing what he'd missed. Pam almost groaned when he left the Annex and made a beeline straight to her desk.
"Pamalamadingdong!" he greeted her, drumming his fingers on her desk. "I heard that someone had a lover's spat!"
"Oh, no. I mean, it was nothing."
"I heard he was pretty jealous when he saw you sitting close with Jim." Michael leaned closer, taking immense pleasure in Pam’s pain.
Her first instinct was to be upset or angry with Michael, but she stayed a placid ocean. Calm. If Michael wanted to play this game, she could play. Embarrass me and I’ll embarrass you.
"Yeah, I mean, we were watching that video of you, on the snowboard," Pam grinned as the blood drained from Michael's face. "But yeah, I was just laughing so hard at you wiping out and making a fool of yourself and Jim stopped me from falling out of my chair. Roy saw and just misunderstood. Everything's fine now." She smiled sweetly at Michael, knowing he would drop the subject now that the video had been brought up.
"Yes. Well. Very Good, Pam." Michael drummed on her desk a bit more, awkward as ever. "Carry on."
With that Michael exited swiftly to his office, Dwight following swiftly behind.
Kevin, red-faced from laughter, aside: "Oscar showed me that video (he he) the one where Michael (Ha!) falls off his snowboard, (ha ha ha) and down a hill, (heh) where a bunch of girls (snort) make fun of him!"
Dwight listened intently when Pam described the events from earlier that day, ‘Roy misunderstood; everything is fine.’ just as he had listened to the gossip around the office about the event itself. Pam was lying to Michael, clearly trying to save face not just for herself, but for Roy, too. But why? Cheating was one thing, but this was nothing. t seemed like nothing at least. The conversation, the berating, he heard earlier bothered him even more. Roy was clearly out of hand, being mean to Pam like that. A red flag. It reminded him of what his sister had been talking about over Christmas. The Epidemic of Intimate Partner Abuse. Fannie had said it just like that. Intimate Partner Abuse. Domestic Abuse. Wife beating. He had to talk this out with Michael.
Tight on his Michael’s heals, Dwight followed him into his office and drew the blinds before peeking out to make sure no one was looking. Michael just stared at him suspiciously as Dwight fiddled with the blinds and door, trying to insure complete privacy. As Dwight checked all the blinds again, double checking that Pam in particular was not acting suspiciously and no one was listening at the door, Michael interrupted, "Dwight! What are you-"
"We can't be overheard," Dwight whispered loudly, pulling up close to Michael's desk. "I saw something today. Something big." That got Michael interested. He, of course, being the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, deserved to know all the goings on in the office. It was their duty, as Regional Manager and Assistant Regional Manager, to insure the safety and health of all those in their protection, especially the weaker women folk.
"What was it?" Michael leaned forward, definitely interested. "This is gonna be so good! Let me guess! Angela's secretly dating… Oscar! No, no! Pam and Ryan! No wait, she's engaged. Tell me!"
"This is not frivolous gossip, Michael. It is serious." Dwight hissed, trying to convey the importance of such a subject. "I think," he whispered with wide eyes, "one of our members may be the victim of … domestic violence." He looked around again, making sure he was not heard, especially not by Pam.
"Wow, wow." Michael leaned back in is chair bringing his hand over his mouth and down to his chin. His serious thinking pose, Dwight noted to himself. "This is serious." Michael sat up in his chair after a moment. "Well…"
"I know." Dwight nodded wide eyed. Another long moment of heavy eye contact passed.
"Who is it?" Michael asked, interrupting their eye contact and wordless communication of shock, exasperated for some reason. "Is it Meredith? I bet it's Meredith. Or Toby. But he probably deserves it."
"It's not Toby." Dwight leaned in and whispered, wide eyed, "Pam."
"Pam?" Michael dismisses. "Roy and Pam? Do you have any proof Dwight? Have you seen Roy hit Pam?"
Dwight hated it when Michael said his name like that. Like it had two syllables. It just has one. Dwight. "No," he explained carefully, seeing that Michael was losing interest by the second, "but I did see their fight. Just words, but it was… upsetting. Unreasonable."
"So what? Couples fight. But you'd have to be in a relationship to know about that. Women don't have to do what men say anymore Dwight. Women can fight back. Ugh."
"I know Michael. I told you, I do have a girlfriend." Dwight ignored Michael's skeptical looks and moved on. "But that's not what was wrong. Pam didn't fight back, at all, and Roy was way out of line. Fact: 1 in 4 women are abused. Fact: there are 5 women in this office. 6 if you count Jan. The statistics are against us, Michael."
"Yeah, but Pam?"
"Think about it. She's kind of quiet, easy to manipulate. A follower. And plain, so she probably doesn't feel like she had other options."
"She's kinda hot." Michael offered in a weak counterargument.
"Hmm..." Dwight considered peaking out at her from behinds the blinds. "I don't see it. But think about it, Michael. He never comes with her to work events, despite her loyalty to the office and him being a warehouse worker. And he's always jealous of Jim, I mean, who could be less attractive to women than Jim? He’s lazy, he has no skill in combat, I doubt he even brushes his hair in the morning."
"I don't know… Shouldn't HR… " Michael was coming around, but he just needed that final push
"Do you really want to leave this to Toby. TOBY, Michael." Dwight slammed his hands on the desk in frustration.
"Ecch. No, no, you're right. Toby is the worst. We need to at least look into it."