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Story Notes:
Title is from “Sing” by Travis. Yup, that one. 
Author's Chapter Notes:
The first time they meet. 

Whoever came up with the idea of timed homework assignments needed to be shot, Jim Halpert decided as he stared blankly at the screen of his laptop. It was 11:43 on a Tuesday night, and he was in the campus library, tucked into a cubicle in the far corner next to the autobiographies. His math lab required this 25-question assignment to be completed by midnight tonight, and he needed at least a 90 percent in order to take the next quiz, or else risk a zero for that quiz grade, which would seriously throw his grading curve.

Literally, the worst system he'd ever heard of for math homework. Frustrated and exhausted, he sat back and ran his hands through his hair, causing it to stick up in a way he was sure made him look insane. He needed a haircut. The other day, his friend Karen had informed him that he looked "homeless." Charming.

He glanced around. Apparently he wasn't the only one with the studying blues: a few stacks away he could see another cubicle with its individual desk lamp illuminated, the yellow light gleaming off a head of curly light brown hair. The owner of said hair had her head ducked low, too low to make out her face. Jim shook himself, momentarily entranced by the play of the light that brought out reddish strands in the stranger's tumultuous curls.

He straightened and attempted to focus his bleary eyes on the questions, stifling a yawn. He had less than fifteen minutes to complete five more questions, ones that he frankly did not remember ever learning about in class. That was one thing, he reflected mournfully, that he had been surprised to discover about college classes. There was a lot less hands-on teaching, and lot more mindless lectures, followed by ultimately teaching himself the material, while only using a few sections of his grossly expensive textbook.

Alright, got two down. Whether the answers were right, he didn't know, but at least he wouldn't fail for lack of effort. Three to go.

Almost unconsciously, he glanced back over at the other occupied desk. The stranger appeared to have put her head down on her desk completely -- he could only make out the very top of her hair over the low partition wall, and her shoulders were slack, a bookbag and coat carelessly slung over the back of the chair she occupied. He wondered momentarily if she was asleep-- god knows he was struggling to remain conscious. Doing his work in the quiet library, as opposed to his dorm room, had seemed like a great idea until it hit eleven and the overhead lights had automatically dimmed. The dark and quiet made Jim feel like he was almost in another world, removed from the loud and bright bustle of the campus.

Ten minutes left. Jim quickly banged out answers to the last three questions, making his best possible guesses but knowing that he was probably not going to make the required 90%.

He clicked to submit the assignment and was surprised to see that he'd gotten a 92%. How that had worked out, he didn't know, but he wasn't going to question it. Later, he could go over the missed answers and maybe figure out what he was going to need to work on in order to pass the next quiz. But that wasn't due until the end of the week, so he had plenty of time.

Jim sat back in his chair and stretched his arms out, a slight groan escaping as he felt the tension in his shoulders release. He quickly chanced a look at the occupied desk, making sure he hadn't disturbed her.

A frown crossed his face. As weird as it might be to wake her up, he was uncomfortable with the idea of leaving her alone and asleep in the library this late at night. Before he could change his mind, he stood and approached her cubicle.

"Hey," he half-whispered, hoping to avoid scaring her.

Nothing, not even a twitch. From his new vantage point at her side, he could finally make out her face, although her hair was partially covering it. He could see a pert nose, rounded cheeks. Small, pink lips that were slightly parted as she dozed, her breathing slow and even. He felt an odd, swooping flutter in his stomach. Okay, she was cute. Really cute.

Ignoring that weird reaction --seriously, had he never seen a girl before? -- he leaned forward and gently shook her shoulder. The girl awoke with a start, sitting up so quickly that he jumped back a step, raising both his hands in front of him.

She looked adorably flustered, a few curls stuck to her eyelashes as she looked around wildly for the source of the disturbance to her sleep.

"Hey, sorry," said Jim cautiously. "It's like midnight and you were asleep so..."

The girl blew out a short breath, brushing the errant hair from her face. "No, no, it's okay. I'm -- I'm good. You just kinda startled me, that's all."

She looked up into Jim's face and his breath caught in his throat. She had round, hazel-green eyes, gorgeous even when bleary with sleep, and he could feel himself staring.

Making this really weird, Halpert. Say something.

He cleared his throat quickly. "Uh, yeah, sorry about that. You were really out, there."

Real smooth, man.

She didn't seem to notice his awkwardness and laughed lightly, looking around. "Wow, are we the last ones here?"

Jim nodded in assent. "Yeah, I had a math assignment due by midnight, just barely made it. I guess it's too early in the week for most people to really start cramming."

She groaned, beginning to pack up her papers. "Yeah, I guess I'm just a slacker. I'm still trying to catch up from last week. My design project is due this Friday, but I really should have been further along by now."

"What's your major?" Jim thought it was funny how many conversations began with that question lately. They hadn't even exchanged names yet.

"Art history," she offered, her head ducked low as she dug in her bag for something.

"Oh, nice. I'm a business major, for now. Kinda boring."

He paused. "I'm Jim, by the way."

The girl raised her head and smiled. "I'm Pam-- Pam Beesly."

He returned the smile. "Halpert." He offered his hand to her for a shake, cringing slightly.

She didn't seem to mind the odd formality of the gesture, slipping her small warm hand into his and shaking firmly, twice. "Nice to meet you, Jim Halpert. Are you a freshman?"

"Yup, you?"

She nodded, returning her attention to her overstuffed bag. "Yeah, but I'm from the area so it's a little different. My mom went to school here at Marywood, so it was kind of a given."

"Cool. I'm from Hazleton, so not too far. It was this, or the Penn State commonwealth campus, but--" he shrugged, "I didn't really want to stay at home for school."

"I get that. I could live with my parents if I wanted to, I guess, but I wanted the full experience."

"Yeah," he laughed. "Those dorm rooms are just irresistible, right?"

"Definitely," she grinned. Jim looked down at her smile and felt another swooshing sensation. He was struck by a strong urge to make her laugh again.

"So," he drawled teasingly. "You come here often?"

Pam choked on a laugh. "Seriously?" She tucked her hair behind her ear, her eyes sparkling in mirth. "That's...really lame."

Jim chuckled. "I know. That was a test, Beesly. Now I know that you're cool enough to know a joke when you hear one."

"Ah, I see. Well, smooth guy, I should probably get going. Thanks for not letting me sleep here. I would have been really ticked off in the morning."

Jim paused. He didn't like the idea of her walking through campus alone.

"Not to be weird, but what dorms are you in? I could walk you back?" he offered hesitantly.

Pam smirked up at him as she stood, her bag slung on her shoulder and coat under her arm. "Wow, Jim. I thought we were done with the pick up lines?"

Jim stammered, his face reddening. Pam laughed again.

"God, I'm kidding. I'm in Loughran Hall. Aren't you?"

"Yeah, I don't know why I even asked actually. All freshman are in Loughran, right?"

Pam nodded. "Yeah, all the other residence halls are for sophomores and up."

"Well then, since we are actually going the same direction-- is it okay if I walk back with you?"

"Totally," she said cheerfully. "But if I fall asleep on the way, you have to catch me."

Jim grinned down at her. "Deal. Let me just grab my computer." He quickly returned to his desk, shoving his laptop into his bag and picking up his coat from where it had slid to the ground.

When he turned back around, she was standing quietly under one of the dimmed overhead lights, chewing absently on a hangnail and looking with vague interest at the spines of the books above her. Jim stood silently for a moment, admiring the way her hair caught the light, like a slightly frizzy halo. She turned, and he averted his eyes before he could be caught staring.

"Ready?" she asked with a smile, and he gestured towards the exit.

"After you, Beesly."

Chapter End Notes:


I’ve been dying to do a college AU. Marywood College is indeed in Scranton, and that really is the name of the freshman dorms. Pam’s parents being in town would technically allow her to opt out of on-campus housing as a freshman (it’s pretty normal for colleges to require unmarried first year students to live in the dorms). I picked Hazleton for Jim’s hometown because it’s about an hour away from the college—short enough to have visitors from home but long enough that they wouldn’t have gone to high school together. 

Let me know your thoughts! I honestly haven’t decided how/IF Roy will fit in here, but I have ideas for most of the other cast!

Here's my inspiration for young Jim:



And young Pam (it's hard to find good pictures of young Jenna Fischer!): 

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