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Story Notes:

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.

My take on how things could have gone after that phone call at the end of the episode The Initiation.

Story and chapter titles are all courtesy of the Regina Spektor album Begin to Hope. 

Suppose I never ever met you
Suppose we never fell in love
Suppose I never ever let you
Kiss me so sweet and so soft
-Fidelity

Pam had always hated Thursdays. Okay so she didn’t hate them like she hated Mondays but she certainly didn’t love them like she did Saturdays either. It was a useless day of the week as far as she was concerned. Wednesdays at least gave her hope because they signaled the halfway point of the week which was great, but then Thursday had to come along and ruin things.

It didn’t help that more often than not, she would wake up thinking it was Friday only to realize by mid-morning that it was actually Thursday. That was a slap in the face, is what that was. Like now she had to suffer through an extra day of the week; of Michael telling her he was bringing Sexy Back (no, he wasn’t), of Kelly asking her if she thought Kevin Federline was good enough for Britney (did anybody really think that?), and of Dwight well, just being Dwight (last week he taught her that she was not equipped to survive a zombie apocalypse and honestly, that was fine by her).

It was an extra day of being in that office without Jim.

Thursdays were rude. This one was no different.

Pam looked down at the phone cradled in her hands. She had been so dazed after their call had abruptly ended that she didn’t even remember how she got from her desk to her car in the parking lot but here she was, still sitting there. Still staring at her phone, wondering if he still had her number. Wondering if he would ever think of calling.

She thought about calling him all of time.

“This is stupid.” She turned the phone over and found his name. She wasn’t going to call him; that would be weird considering they had just hung up with each other about fifteen minutes ago but she wasn’t going to let go of the moment without at least throwing out the tiniest of lines. Maybe she really was fancy and new.

Maybe. Maybe not. Her first three attempts at a casual text message were most definitely not breezy. She hit the backspace key until the screen was blank and tried again. This was getting ridiculous. It was getting darker and she was starving. She hadn’t even left the parking lot yet.

Turns out, I really missed talking to you. Don’t be a stranger?

Pam changed the question mark to a period but didn’t like the way that looked at all so she made it a question again and with shaky fingers, hit the send button.

She tossed the phone into the passenger seat and finally backed her car out of the parking spot and headed for home. She really was hungry.

There was no response when she got home. And none while she made dinner. She checked her phone after the dishes were done, once her pajamas were on and then again while she waited for Scrubs to start. Nothing.

She was being silly. She knew better than to expect anything. She just needed to be grateful that she had gotten to talk to him earlier that day and let that be it. She didn’t need to sit there and worry that she wasn’t ever going to hear his voice again because that was a little more dramatic than she cared to be.

Oh God, but what if she never heard his voice again? What if he hadn’t been as excited as she was to talk to him and had been happy to get her off the phone and back to his life in Connecticut?

Pam pushed herself off the couch and headed for the kitchen. She didn’t care that it was a work night; she suddenly needed a very large glass of wine.

There wasn’t any wine in her fridge and she decided to blame Thursday for that too because why not? The fifth day of the week was being extra jerky today and that was all there was to it. Thankfully there were two bottles of beer hiding behind the Brita pitcher and she snagged one of them because she was in no shape to be choosy.

She was halfway through the show she was watching and a third of the way through her beer when her phone beeped and she nearly jumped across the couch to answer it.

The message wasn’t from Jim, it was from Danny. Who the hell was Danny? Pam frowned at her phone until she remembered that he was the sales guy Oscar had introduced her to when they had gone out for happy hour on Monday. He wanted to confirm that she was still interested in having dinner with him on Saturday.

Was she? She wasn’t sure. She was tapping her fingers against the keys as she debated her response when there was another beep and this time the message was from Jim and instead of jumping, she almost fell off the couch.

Sure, she might be fancy and new but she was still just as ungraceful as ever.

Can I still be strange?

She smiled. Not because it was a hilarious response to her text but because it was Jim. Pam didn’t have to think, her fingers spelled out a reply all on their own.

Why stop now?

Her phone lit up again immediately. Nice Beesly. Maybe I don’t miss you as much as I thought I did.

Danny was quickly forgotten as she took another drink and settled deeper into the cushions. But you do right? Miss me, I mean. Wow, that was bold of her.

His response was not as quick this time but it was still worth the wait. Yeah, I do. What are you doing right now?

Watching tv. You?

Calling you. Give me five minutes.

Five minutes. That was equal parts frustratingly long and no time at all. What did he need five minutes to do? Was she supposed to be doing something other than stare blankly at the tv to pass the time? Pam was tempted to get up and brush her hair and maybe throw on some lip gloss but she knew how ridiculous that was.

The phone rang and while her brain screamed at her to maybe just once in her life, please just once, play it cool and let it ring two or three times, she answered it before the first ring was finished. “Hey.”

“So you have still had my number this whole time. You know, I wasn’t sure.”

Oh. She slugged back the rest of her beer, ignoring the slight burn at the back of her throat. “I guess you must have lost mine in the move, huh?” She fought to keep her tone light and friendly but it sounded slightly thin to her ears.

“I…” Jim sighed and she closed her eyes, tipping her head back against the couch. “I couldn’t call you, Pam. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.”

“Yeah,” she breathed. “I couldn’t either.” She sighed too. “I tried a couple of times.” Forty-three times.

Jim laughed, but it sounded rough. “I guess it’s a good thing I forgot Kevin’s extension earlier then. What were we so afraid of?”

Pam had been afraid of a lot of things but she didn’t know that ten at night on a Thursday of all days was the time and place to get into them. They’d only been on the phone for ninety seconds and it already felt so much more forced and awkward than their unplanned call at the office.

Maybe the office was their safe space. It would make sense considering they had almost never had a real conversation outside of that building. They knew how to navigate the waters of talking to each other there, how to keep things light and frivolous.

But tonight they weren’t at Dunder Mifflin and she couldn’t hide behind her receptionist voice and he couldn’t pretend that he hadn’t bothered to even pack up his desk when he left. Now that they were outside of the office they had to deal with everything that they had been avoiding for almost four months.

“Pam?”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, what?”

He laughed and it sounded enough like him this time that she felt herself relax the tiniest bit. “Am I boring you already?”

“No! God no, of course not. I’m sorry, I just got distracted. I’m here now. I’m listening. What did you say?”

“I asked if this felt as weird to you as it did to me. It didn’t feel so weird this afternoon.”

“Yeah.” She didn’t know what else to say. “I have your things,” she blurted out.

“What things?”

“From work, from your desk,” she clarified. “When you first didn’t come in, we all thought you were sick. It took Michael three days to tell us you had gone to Stamford.”

“He took it that hard, huh?”

“There was a day of mourning when we all had to wear black. He kept memorial candles lit on your desk and Kelly had to recite a poem he wrote.”

“Okay, none of that happened.”

“It was in iambic pentameter, I can send you a copy tomorrow.” She cleared her throat. “Anyways, it was about a week later when Ryan took over your desk and you know I couldn’t let him have your rubber band ball or your umbrella. He wouldn’t have appreciated them.”

“You did the right thing. I love that umbrella.”

“I know; you were very proud of it every time it rained.”

“It’s not my fault you always forgot yours in your car.”

"Oh Jim.” She laughed so softly that it was almost a giggle. “I guess it’s okay for me to tell you this now.”

“What?”

“I’ve never once forgotten my umbrella for as long as I’ve worked there. And even if I had, there’s been a spare one in the bottom drawer of my desk for like, the last year.” She kept talking before he could interrupt her. “I just really liked that you would share yours with me.” There had always been something oddly comforting about standing under his umbrella with him as they sprinted across the parking lot to their cars. If she closed her eyes she could still remember the way his fingers would brush against her lower back and how the humidity and wind would float the scent of cologne and fabric softener around her.

Okay, so there was nothing comforting and everything romantic about it. She could at least admit that much to herself right now.

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’s a super cute one too.” She was still laughing. “Black with pink polka dots.”

He was laughing with her. “I see how you are. So what else was in there?”

“Oh.” She thought about the box, carefully packed away in her linen closet. “Some pictures, like four phone chargers, and a list of pranks you were preparing to pull.” She paused. “I’m sorry, I meant to mail that out to you and then…” she faltered. “Things got a little crazy here and I forgot.”

“Don’t worry about it.” There was a heavy pause and she tried to brace herself for what she knew was coming. “So uh, a little crazy, you said?” And there it was.

“Mmhmm.” She was on her feet and moving toward that lone beer sitting in her fridge. She opened it and sent the bottle cap skittering across the countertop. “But you know that, right? I’m sure someone must have told you.”

“Told me what? Oh, that you didn’t get married?” She flinched at the sudden hardness of his voice. “Yeah, everyone told me, Pam. Everyone but you.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I couldn’t.”

“You really could have.”

“No, I couldn’t.” She stood in the center of her kitchen, shaking her head back and for the so hard that her curls whipped either side of her face. “I wanted to but you made it so that I couldn’t tell you.”

His tone turned incredulous. “How is this my fault?”

“You left, Jim! You didn’t like that I couldn’t ride off into the sunset with you that night and you just left without a second thought. You didn’t even say goodbye.”

“I had to—“

“It’s fine, you did what you had to do. But you didn’t give me that same consideration. I needed time. Maybe I could have handled things better in that moment but you could have too. I was caught completely unaware. You’ve known me for a long time, Jim, so you know damn well that I’m not the type of person who just says fuck it and acts on impulse. I’m a planner and an over-analyzer and you were just standing there waiting for me to throw away every single plan I’d made for myself over the last ten years. If you really thought I could do that...”

“Were you?” He challenged. “Completely unaware of what was happening? Can you really tell me that you had no idea where that moment was leading to? Come on, Pam.”

“It doesn’t matter! I still needed time,” she argued. “And then you just disappeared. How was I supposed to handle that, Jim? What was I supposed to do?”

“I was afraid.” He sounded defeated.

“Yeah well, so was I.” The silence stretched on for so long that Pam got restless and started pacing between the living room and kitchen. She put the bottles in the recycling bin and straightened the dishtowel hanging from the stove before turning the lights off and heading for her bedroom.

“It’s not even that I’m really mad at you or anything.” She snorted and he shushed her without pausing. “I thought I would be. Maybe I should have been but I don’t think I was actually angry with you. I think I was just—“

“Sad,” she finished quietly. “I wanted to be furious at you for leaving but I was too sad.”

“Hey Pam?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you okay? I mean…” he sighed and she pictured him running his hand through his hair. “Because of the wedding. Are you okay?”

“I am,” she said easily. She shut the bedroom light off and crawled into bed. “Mostly.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Sure it was rough at first. I felt horrible for what I was doing to Roy and that I had waited until almost the last minute to call the whole thing off, but here’s the thing. After it all happened, I didn’t have a single regret. Once I said the words out loud to him and once the ring was off of my finger, I knew that I was making the right choice. It didn’t make it easier to hurt someone that I cared about and our families definitely took it harder than I thought they would, but I think if you asked any of them now, they’d agree that I did the right thing. I know I did the right thing. So yeah, I’m okay.”

“But only mostly?”

She smiled into her pillow. “It’s weird. This whole being on my own thing wasn’t something I’d really ever done before. Sometimes it’s really hard.”

“That’s what she said.”

Pam laughed as she tried to talk over him. “But it’s still better than being where I was.”

“Well, I’m glad.” He paused. “So maybe spontaneity isn’t our thing.”

She snickered. “It hasn’t really worked out for either of us, has it?”

“Not so much. So what if we stopped with the surprises for a little while?”

He had her interest. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, a little planning never hurt anyone. For instance, what are you doing tomorrow night?”

“Nothing. Believe it or not, I have no plans tomorrow night.”

“What a coincidence, neither do I. What if I call you again, say, around seven and we watch a movie together? I’ll even let you pick the movie, but I’ll go on the record and say I’d rather it not be anything starring Sandra Bullock.”

“You’re never going to let me live that down are you?”

“You probably shouldn’t have told me about it, no.”

“A movie, huh?”

“Unless you can think of something better?” He hesitated. “I know how this is going to sound but I’m going to say it anyways so please don’t overreact.” His next words tumbled out so quickly that she barely heard them. “I’m not ready to see you, Pam. Not yet. I’m happy we’re talking tonight and I want to keep talking but I can’t see you. Not right now.”

“No,” she said quickly. “No, I completely get that. I… same, Jim. Just everything you just said… same. I think we need to get back to being Jim and Pam before we even start to think about being Jim and Pam. Ampersand.”

“Ampersand,” he repeated slowly. “What does that even mean?”

She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from grinning too hard. “It means that yeah, we’re a little off our game right now. I want my best friend back first. Before…” She snapped her mouth shut as soon as she realized that maybe she was really jumping the gun here. “Never mind.”

“No, go on.” He was full on teasing her now. “Before what?”

“Nothing. Forget I said anything. You suck.”

Jim laughed and she could actually hear the tension lifting out of his voice. “Would it make you feel better if I told you that I think you’re right?”

“That does help actually, thanks.”

“You’re welcome. So, a phone call and a movie. We can catch each other up on everything that’s been going on in our lives the last few months. Sound good?”

“Sounds great. Can I email you with my movie pick tomorrow afternoon?”

”Of course, I’ll be buried in expense reports all day tomorrow. I’ll welcome any distraction you can provide.”

“Good to know.” She yawned and instinctively turned toward the alarm clock next to her bed. “Speaking of tomorrow, it’s getting late.”

“Yeah. I guess I should let you get some sleep.”

“Mmhmm.” There was another stretch of silence. “Hey Jim?”

“Yeah?”

“We could talk for a few more minutes, right?”

He chuckled and she began to think that maybe Thursday wasn’t such a bad day after all. “Yes Beesly, we can talk for a few more minutes.”

 

&&&

JIM9334: Heard a rumor about you today…

Pam’s eyes shot open when her instant messenger alert went off. It was mid-morning on Friday and truth be told, she was struggling to stay awake.

There hadn’t been much sleep happening the night before. Even after they’d said good night to each other, she’d been unable to close her eyes as she went over their conversation over and over again.

Receptionitis15: Which one? Ooh, is it the one where I sent in an audition tape for America’s Next Top Model? Because that’s wrong, it was actually for The Bachelorette.

JIM9334: No, but tell me more about that.

Receptionitis15: Maybe later. So what have you heard about me?

Pam saw that he was typing his response but her phone rang and she answered it because well, that was her job. Plus, she was trying (and failing) at not letting thoughts of Jim interrupt her work day. You know, any more than they had for the last three months. She was taking a sip of her tea when she looked back at the screen and she almost choked.

JIM9334: You’re going on a date with Danny Cordray?

Oops. Somehow that hadn’t come up during their talk last night. She ghosted her fingers over the keyboard while she tried to come up with something to say.

Receptionitis15: How does that even come up in Stamford? Is there some sort of Paper Salesguy Cabal that I don’t know about?

JIM9334: You know it. One of those men’s club things with scotch and cocktail waitresses and cigars. The membership fees are insane, but the complementary bathrobe is totally worth it.

Receptionitis15: Mmhm.

JIM9334: Okay. My boss is friends with him. Josh came in this morning and asked me if I knew anything about the receptionist in Scranton because Cordray was taking her out this weekend.

Receptionitis15: Wow. Talk about a loaded question.

JIM9334: Indeed.

He didn’t say anything else and she wondered if he was mad at her. Then she wondered if he had any right to be mad at her. And then she realized that she felt guilty. She didn’t know how to react to any of it.

So she downplayed the entire thing.

Receptionitis15: It’s not even a date, really. We’re just going out for drinks.

JIM9334: Hate to break it to you, but that counts as a date these days.

Receptionitis15: Ugh, does it? It’s been so long, I guess I didn’t pick up on that.

Even through chatting, she was the worst at lying.

JIM9334: Time to get you back in the game, Beesly.

Pam raised an eyebrow at her computer screen. This whole thing was too weird for her liking and she didn’t even know how to respond.

JIM9334: Gotta run, I’ve got a lunch meeting to get to. Don’t forget to email me your movie pick for tonight. Bye.

He signed out before she could say anything else but she wasn’t any less confused. Jim couldn’t be that mad at her, considering he was still planning on calling her later that night. And what did he mean by getting her back in the game? Did he mean anything by it at all?

She was saved from further self-examination when Michael screamed at her from his office. She pushed her chair back and stood up, for once grateful for the distraction that was her insane boss.

It was almost four that afternoon before she checked her instant messages again. She tried not to react when she saw that Jim was back but she couldn’t quite bite back a grin as he messaged her almost immediately after she signed in.

JIM9334: It’s almost quittin’ time and I still don’t know what movie I need to pick up tonight.

Receptionitis15: Showgirls.

JIM9334: Would you believe I just watched that this morning?

Receptionitis15: It doesn’t have Sandra Bullock in it. That was your only requirement.

JIM9334: I thought this one went without saying.

Receptionitis15: Spoilsport. Um, give me a minute. To be honest, I haven’t had any time to think about it. I was so busy this afternoon that I skipped lunch and now deciding what I should have for dinner is more important than anything else.

JIM9334: What if I pick the movie?

Receptionitis15: No way. I never get to pick the movie.

JIM9334: You’ve got thirty minutes or I’m picking. And I’m feeling a need for speed.

Receptionitis15: ugh fine! Can we please just watch Dazed and Confused?

JIM9334: We’d be a lot cooler if we did. Dazed and Confused it is. Does seven still work?

Receptionitis15: Seven is perfect. But Jim…

JIM9334: Yes Pam?

Receptionitis15: I still don’t know what I want for dinner.

JIM9334: You’ll figure it out. Get back to work, slacker.

Receptionitis15: You’re no help at all. Bye.

 

&&&

 

“And what did you decide on for dinner?”

“Nothing yet.” Pam’s voice was muffled as she held the phone between her ear and shoulder while staring into an empty fridge. “Does cheese and crackers count as dinner?”

“Not if you’ve already skipped lunch.”

“Ugh. What are you having then?”

“Pizza. Bet you wish you had thought of that, huh?”

“Damn it.” Pizza did sound good now that he mentioned it. “Maybe I’ve got one of those hiding in the back of the freezer. If not, I’m probably going to end up with pop-tarts and ice cream.”

“Are you going to crumble the pop-tarts on top of the ice cream?”

“Now there’s an idea.” Her doorbell rang and she jumped, almost dropping the phone. “Hang on, someone’s at the door.”

“Expecting company? I’m hurt, Pam.”

“Oh shush.” She took a quick peek out the window next to the door before opening it. “What do you know about this, Halpert?” she asked before greeting the bored looking pizza delivery guy standing on her front step.

Jim’s laugh was warm in her ear. “Just say thank you and take the pizza.”

“Hang on,” she said, more to the pizza guy but directly into the phone. “I just need to find my purse—“

“It’s taken care of. Just take it and say thank you,” Jim said again. She thanked the guy who looked like he wanted to be anywhere else on a Friday night and took the box from him before closing the door.

“I hope you tipped him well because he hates his life tonight. Explain yourself.”

“We both know you weren’t going to come up with anything on your own. This way we won’t waste the whole evening playing ‘what is Pam having for dinner’.”

She set the box down on her coffee table and headed back toward the kitchen for a plate and something to drink. “It’s even my favorite toppings. How have I survived the last three months without you?” She cringed as the question fell from her lips but there wasn’t a way for her to take it back.

“I’m honestly not sure. Talk about timing, my pizza just got here as well. Give me a couple of minutes.” The phone clattered as he set it down and she moved around her place, getting things set up for the evening.

It was comforting to hear Jim doing the same thing in his own place. She tried not to think too much about it, but she liked the familiarity; she liked being able to picture him with his paper plates and beer while she opted for Fiestaware and wine.

“Okay, are you ready over there?”

“I’m ready.” He counted down and they both pressed play at the same time. She could hear the faint sounds of Aerosmith through the phone as she watched the same scene play out on her tv. “How old were you the first time you watched this?”

“I know I was in high school, but I couldn’t tell you what year. Pete was big into this movie and so we watched it a lot when my mom wasn’t home.”

Pam laughed. “My Aunt Diane was the one who let me watch it. I thought I was so cool. Then she started telling me how she graduated the same year that the movie took place and pointed out who of her friends was like the characters and then I just thought she was cool.”

“Which one was she?”

“You know, she kept that to herself. She was a redhead though, so, draw your own conclusions.”

“Nice.” Jim tried out his best Matthew McConaughey impression which turned out not to be very good at all but she still laughed.

They spent the next ninety minutes finishing off slices of pizza and reciting their favorite lines of the movie to each other. Then the credits were rolling and she was making her way into the kitchen for a refill of her wine.

“Just admit it, I picked the best possible movie we could have watched tonight.”

“You did okay.”

“I did more than okay. I should be in charge of picking every movie we watch from now on forever.”

Jim chuckled. “So you think we’re going to do this again?”

Oops. There she went making assumptions again. Pam tilted the rest of the contents of her wine glass into her mouth and then nodded, even though no one was around to see it. “I do actually. Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?”

“I would never. Who knows, maybe next time we’ll be in the same room.”

“Maybe.” She settled back into her couch and tucked her feet underneath her. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“As long as it’s not about a dead body you’ve buried anywhere. I know too many of those kinds of secrets already.”

She frowned. “Who buries a live body, Jim? Of course they’d be dead.”

“Even if I knew differently, I couldn’t tell you because it would be a secret.”

“Right. Anyways no, it’s nothing like that.”

“Okay then shoot. Tell me your secret.”

“When the doorbell rang earlier and it was the pizza guy?” She hesitated. “For like, two seconds I thought that maybe it was going to be you standing there.”

There was a long pause between her words and when he finally spoke. “As long as we’re telling secrets, I can tell you that for like two seconds, I definitely thought about it.”

“Only two?”

“Two seconds, an hour, all of last night and then most of today. Time has no meaning anymore.” He paused. “Would you have wanted me to be there?”

She exhaled slowly, unsure if that was an admission she wanted to make. “What stopped you?” she asked instead.

“How many times do you think we can answer a question with a question?”

“I wouldn’t have minded you being here,” she said carefully. “But I still agree with what you said last night. It might have been too soon.”

“Like I said, the whole being spontaneous thing hasn’t worked for me before. I didn’t want to show up and have you be upset. Or not live up to any expectations either of us might or might not have right now.”

“What kind of expectations might either of us have? Hypothetically speaking.”

“Hypothetically speaking, that is a dangerous question to ask.”

“Danger is my middle name,” she teased.

“Sure it is. Anyway, just know that I thought about surprising you tonight but ultimately, I think that this was the best way for our first date to go.”

“First date?” Her voice came out a little higher than she meant for it to. “This wasn’t a date!”

He sighed dramatically. “I’m beginning to think you’ve never been on a real date before. Look, I’ll concede that the night on the roof wasn’t our first date, but only under protest and only because it works out in our best interests moving forward.”

“It was a phone call!”

“Let’s go to the scoreboard. I bought you dinner. There was a movie, which I let you pick. And now we’re having a drink. That is one hundred percent a date and you can’t make me believe otherwise.”

Pam was flustered as she tried to form a counterpoint but she couldn’t come up with anything. “Well I wish you would have told me, I’d have worn something a little fancier than yoga pants.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll let you know if there’s ever a dress code to worry about. And I'm sure you look great.”

She honestly didn’t know what to say. Was he serious right now? Or was this just him giving her a hard time? “Do you ever let a girl know she’s on a date with you or do you just clue us all in after the fact?”

Jim laughed. “While this is fun, believe it or not, it’s usually pretty obvious what my intentions are. But I can see where they might have been a little murky this time around. Next time, you’ll know.”

“Next time,” she repeated.

“Next time,” he said firmly and she felt herself blushing. “Anyways, that’s why I’m still here and you’re there and we’re doing this on the phone. Although I’d love to see the look on your face right now.”

“You’re enjoying this entirely too much.”

“You got me there. You just make it so easy though. Here’s a tip for tomorrow. Don’t let Cordray fluster you so easily. Play it as cool as you can.”

Any warmth she had felt from their conversation was killed as quickly as if he had dumped a bucket of ice water over her head. “Oh.” She swallowed thickly. “I should…I mean, do you think I…” She felt like slamming her head against the wall. “Do I cancel that now?”

This time the silence stretched on for so long that she looked down at her phone to see if they were still connected.

“No,” he said finally. “If you’re asking me, I don’t think you need to cancel your date.”

She frowned. “Oh.” Her voice was strained. “Okay then.”

“This doesn’t mean I want you going out with this guy. I promise you that I’m not a fan of the idea and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to spend all day tomorrow wondering how it’s going.”

“Jim, I can cancel it. It’s really not that big of a deal.”

“No, I think you need to go. You said so yourself, you don’t know what dating is really like anymore. I think you need to go. You need to try a date with a guy who isn’t Roy and who isn’t, well, me.”

Pam closed her eyes, unsure if the oncoming headache she felt was due to the wine or from Jim’s twisted logic. “This is messed up, Jim.”

“It’s not my favorite mission I’ve ever sent you on,” he admitted.

“Okay,” she said finally. “I’ll go out with Danny as planned tomorrow night. Then what?”

“We’ll figure it out as we go.” She was a little annoyed by how calm he sounded about the whole thing and a spark of jealousy flared up before she could tamp it down. Was it because he himself was involved with someone else at the moment? She was just then realizing that they hadn’t actually talked much about the current state of his personal life.

“Hey Pam?”

“What?” She wasn’t sure if she missed something he had said or not.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’m placing all of my chips on the fact that tomorrow night you’ll decide that I’m clearly the superior paper salesman in every possible way.”

She smiled in spite of herself. “If you’re that sure, then let’s just call it right now.” He laughed with her but didn’t tell her that he’d changed his mind. “You really think I should do this?”

“I really think so.”

“You should know that I’m very confused by this whole thing.”

“I know. It’ll be okay. I promise”

“Mmhmm.” She wasn’t sure that she believed him.

“Well, not that this is the best place to end our evening, but it’s getting late and I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“I wonder whose fault that was.” She wasn’t ready to let the night end even if she was tired but she also didn’t trust herself not to start a fight with him if they stayed on the phone either. “Though I don’t know how much more sleep I’ll get tonight either,” she admitted.

“So. Will you call me when you get home tomorrow night?”

“Do you want me to?”

“And we’re back to answering questions with questions. Yes, I want you to.”

“Okay then.” She sighed. “I’ll call and tell you all about my date. Because that’s not weird at all.”

“It’ll be okay.” The more he said it, the more she wanted to believe it. “Good night Pam.”

“Night Jim.” She held her breath for a second but neither of them seemed ready to say anything else so she ended the call. And then she face-planted into the couch.

A text message beeped through on her phone and she groaned before rolling over and looking at it.

I almost forgot the most important question of all.

She squinted at the phone but didn’t even bother hesitating to answer. They’d just gotten off the phone, she didn’t need to play coy. Shoot.

 Do we end our first date with a kiss goodnight?

Pam shot straight up and stared down at his question. What kind of game were they even playing anymore? They were walking the weirdest fine line and she wasn’t sure which side either of them was on.

Yes. Absolutely we do. There. He probably wasn’t expecting that.

What kind of kiss? Okay. She definitely hadn’t expected that.

Short and sweet. What kind of girl do you think I am?

Hoping to find out. Short and sweet it is. But I’m going to linger. A little.

Goodnight Jim.

Shh. Still lingering. Night Beesly.

Yeah. She so wasn’t getting any sleep tonight.

Chapter End Notes:
Stay with me. I promise that Jim knows what he's doing and that it will all make sense.

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