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Story Notes:
I do not own the Office or any of its IP, nor do I own the movie Groundhog Day or its IP, nor do I own a time-travel or other looping-of-time device. Credit where credit is due instead.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is just my version of the in-universe, non-AU Booze Cruise (except that, as usual in my fics, there is no documentary crew).

Pam’s eyes snapped open, as they did every morning, five seconds before her alarm clock went off. She waited for it to blare, slapped the snooze button before Roy could complain, and got up to turn the alarm off properly. Her morning routine was a constant: brush teeth, shower (two options: wash hair or not; today was a wash hair day), put on whichever from her nicely consistent set of work outfits she had chosen the night before, go downstairs, cook breakfast.



Because the one variable in her mornings was engaged to her, and its--his--name was Roy Anderson. Today he’d apparently decided that the lack of a snoozed and blaring alarm meant not that his loving fiancee had gotten up (as she did every morning) and started preparing for a new day, and that he should join her, but that he got to keep on sleeping. Finally she had to go up and prod him awake, which she would swear took longer every time she did it, and he grumbled and rolled out of bed into the bathroom significantly later than normal, if there even was a normal.

Normal or not, this was not a good morning to be running so far behind. Michael had planned some kind of unknown camaraderie event for this afternoon and evening--unknown as in secret, intentionally unknown, as opposed to most of Michael’s plans, which were unknown because he didn’t actually plan them. At least she assumed so, since he’d been making such a big deal of this one, rubbing his hands together and cackling in the office at odd times. Although Michael was quite capable of doing that with nothing to back it up, or just because it was Thursday. Still, she believed there was something coming, and she wanted to make sure she (and Roy) were able to get through a full day’s work before Michael Michaeled his way into messing up any chance they might have of being productive.

Not that she really wanted to be productive, of course, but she didn’t want to have to double up a day’s work on Friday either. 

And this was a weird event, or at least Michael had strongly implied it was. He’d sent out a memo a week before insisting they bring a bag packed with a swimsuit, a toothbrush, rubber-soled shoes, and a ski mask. She and Jim had had a fun week trying to guess what they might be doing. Jim’s best suggestion had been “rob a bank, and then escape through the sewers,” which she thought was clever: it explained the ski mask, the swimsuit, and the toothbrush (after all, he’d pointed out, there wasn’t a snorkle, so you’d get sewer water in your mouth). That last point always cracked her up--”and brush our teeth” indeed. Her own best effort paled in comparison--he was so funny!--but she was still partial to the suggestion that they were going to go to a retreat in the Poconos or somewhere else with skiing, hot tubs, and a dance floor (for the shoes). It would obviously be overnight, hence the toothbrush, but she was a little concerned that Michael hadn’t specified extra clothing. It wasn’t as clever as Jim’s, and sadly she was pretty sure Michael wasn’t thoughtful enough to put together something like that that they’d all actually enjoy, but she felt good that she’d covered all the items. 

Since it was a camaraderie event, which was to say a party, they were also welcome to bring plus ones. This wasn’t an issue for her anyway, because her eternal plus one was right now occupying the shower and supposed to have been driving her to work fifteen minutes ago, but it would be interesting to see who other people brought. Would Dwight and Angela show up as a couple? Though, she supposed, just like her and Roy, it wouldn’t be that easy to tell if they did.

Not that she and Roy were like Dwight and Angela! They’d been together ten years, and engaged three, and they had none of the ridiculous sneaking around going on that Dwangela (their celebrity couple name, thanks to Kelly, with whom she’d shared her suspicions but who was sure that “ew no” they were not actually a couple) had been doing. She was proud of being with Roy for ten years. 

One time Jim had brought his sister Larissa as his plus one. She’d been like a little mini-Jim, minus the slacker attitude, a slim buzzing waif of an architecture student at Marywood. Pam wondered if he’d bring her again. It would be cool to hang out with her, and hey, if they were going to rob a bank maybe an architect would have some kind of skills in helping them get into or out of the vault. Or the sewers.

Speaking of sewers, Roy must be clogging one because he was still in the bathroom even after she’d finished eating, cleaning up her plate, and finally putting his breakfast in a Tupperware for him to take to work, which she thoughtfully slipped into his bag for the camaraderie event. Finally she heard a flush and...yes, thank god, the actual sound of running water that indicated he’d chosen to wash his hands this time. He barreled out of the bathroom at a full run, uniform for the warehouse already on, scooped up the bags (with Michael’s weird requests included--though she was sure in retrospect at least one of them was a red herring) and headed for the truck, not even looking to see if she was following. She was, of course. It was time for work. Past time, really.

They got to the office a bit late--by a miracle not actually late, Pam thought, though late enough that Dwight would usually yell at her, and today just late enough that Jim had already started the morning’s prank without her. She’d forgotten about it, really, in the rush to get out of the house (or rather, the wait that Roy had forced her into instead of the rush she had wanted). But in addition to the mysterious camaraderie activity, whatever that was, Jim had planned the payoff to a longstanding prank preparation. Years ago (or maybe months, but it felt like years in the Scranton Business Park) he’d befriended Steve, the guy who filled their vending machine. It had been a convenient friendship; Steve was really into scrapbooking, so Jim had gotten him some great cardstock on the downlow, and Jim (and Pam) were really into certain candies (100 Grand) and really not into certain other (ugh, circus peanuts), so it was nice to have some input into what went into the machine. But all along Jim had promised her there was a megapayoff coming someday, and today was that day.

Today, Dwight’s stuff was going in the machine.

She couldn’t believe she’d forgotten, even for a moment. Yesterday she and Jim had found excuses to work later than Dwight (in his case, she had no idea; in hers, unfortunately, the completely legitimate excuse that Roy had been playing Michael-face-darts with the warehouse boys and forgotten about her). After Dwight had left they’d carefully scooped up everything on his desk (and somehow--she had no idea how--Jim had made sure that had magically included his wallet) and left it in a carefully marked box for Steve to find when he did his 5am restocking run that morning. And here she was running late!

Hurrying up the steps into the office, she saw Dwight standing in front of the machine, talking angrily and animatedly to Jim. She spotted an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, getting in on the prank while distracting Dwight from her tardiness. Barely pausing to drop her bag at her desk, she headed straight into the break room.

“Sorry.” She brushed past Dwight, making sure he knew she was present and accounted for at work that morning. “What do I want? What do I want..” She decided not to go too hard in the first round, after all, he might get really angry if she grabbed, say, his wallet. “Oh, it's a pencil cup!”

“Nononono, that’s my pencil cup.” Dwight was glaring at her, and she was really glad she hadn’t chosen something bigger--or something explicitly tied to him. The pencil cup was generic anyway. She’d ordered them for the office by the dozen, but apparently Dwight was attached.

Still, it was key to keep up the spirit of the prank after all the work that had gone into it. “Um, I don't think so, I just bought it.”

“Uh, I think so, and you're going to hand it over to me.” Classic Dwight. There was no way she was giving up on Jim’s masterpiece that easily.

“I love these,” she bubbled, smiling at Jim and feeling her face stretch wide as he met her eyes. She wasn’t even sure if she meant the pencil cup--though she brandished it to make sure Dwight registered that no, she was definitely not giving it to him--or the prank itself. Because she loved the pencil cup in that it was part of the prank, but she loved the prank for itself all the more. He was so pissed, and they hadn’t even gotten to the good stuff yet. She let her eyes drop from Jim’s; there was too much danger that he’d make her giggle or laugh, and that would set Dwight off without getting to the best part of the prank.

Speaking of which…he was about to try to buy his stuff back before she could get it, and he’d only just noticed he didn’t have his wallet. How had he gotten home last night, or back this morning? Oh my god, Angela must have driven him! She kept this revelation to herself, though, as Jim was busy telling Dwight that his wallet was right there in J-1. She smiled up at him. How was he keeping a straight face through all this? He was so brilliant.

And then the masterstroke. Just as Dwight realized he couldn’t buy the stuff without money, Jim handed him a giant bag of nickels--the exact same bag he’d once used to make Dwight smack himself in the face with his phone. A prank callback! See?

So brilliant.

It was only mildly wasted in that Dwight didn’t seem to realize. She grimaced lightly. Time to go clean up her workspace before Dwight remembered she’d been late. She skipped out with Jim, who had apparently also decided the fireworks were over, and booted up her computer, reveling in the sound of nickels plunking into the vending machine in the background. It was almost as good as the fwip-fwip-fwip of a victorious game of solitaire.

She and Jim didn’t actually talk about the success of the prank. They didn’t need to. They’d both been there, and more to the point their friendship bond was strong enough that they could communicate perfectly well without the mundanity of words. She twinkled her eyes across the gap between their desks, he waggled his eyebrows back, and they both knew they’d congratulated each other on a job well done.

About half an hour later, Michael showed up. Phyllis asked him the eminently sensible question of where they were going this afternoon, bringing Pam back to the reality of the unknown nature of the camaraderie event, but he just cackled weirdly and went back to his office. 

About an hour later, she and Jim conspired to convince Stanley to go in and dig out of Michael what the camaraderie event actually was. Why Stanley? Because Michael was, as she had noticed over time, slightly afraid of him, or at least of annoying him, and so he would probably actually tell him. Usually the difficulty would have been motivating Stanley to actually get up and deal with Michael, since he’d turned avoiding him into an art form, but Pam had reminded him sweetly that the toothbrush might imply an overnight, and his wife Teri would not appreciate a surprise overnight with work the next morning. 

Stanley reported back that it was going to be a “Booze Cruise” on Lake Waullenpaupack, “in January because apparently it’s cheaper.” He rolled his eyes, accepted the newly printed New York Times crossword puzzle Pam had prepared as a thank-you offering for bearding Michael in the lion’s den, and settled down to work on it.

So, now they knew. 

Fortunately, knowing already what the party was going to be meant that they weren’t too disappointed when Michael called them all into the conference room and made his stupid announcement. Dwight, being the brown noser that he was, cheered. Everyone else was silent, because the news had already traveled all around the office. Michael did confirm it was a booze cruise, so at least one more person was happy, Meredith, but otherwise they were all busy contemplating the lake in January weather. Ugh.

She watched Ryan try to get out of it, pleading business school, which usually worked, but apparently this stupid cruise was important enough to Michael (or Ryan’s presence at it was--Michael did seem oddly obsessed with Ryan) that he got shot down. She and Jim exchanged a little glance at that--or rather, Jim twitched his head slightly and she noticed, because she was sitting right behind him, but she knew what he meant--followed by another when Kelly piped up to object to the red herring of the bathing suit. Pam would have felt worse for Kelly having bought a suit for this if she hadn’t known her friend had five suits, and had bought this one “because it’s cute for Ryan” on impulse last week. 

Michael introduced “Brenda something” from corporate and Pam felt a flash of sympathy. What must it be like to come from corporate, where as far as she could tell actual work got done by actual professionals, and then have to deal with Michael Scott out of the blue? It was almost unfair. No one should have to do that. Michael said something ridiculous about how Brenda was there to learn from him, but Pam was pretty sure that she was there to rein in whatever excesses he was planning. She shared another “glance” with Jim, or at least she thought she did. They’d have to make sure Brenda didn’t get thrown totally to the...well, Michael really wasn’t a wolf, per se, but to the overly enthusiastic dogs with no idea what they were doing. She felt they had a duty, as the most normal people in the office, to help someone like Brenda who had no idea what she was getting into.

Not that Jim was normal as in ordinary or boring. She might be--she hoped she wasn’t, but she had to admit the possibility--but he was definitely well above average in most departments. Including (she almost blushed, though thankfully she didn’t since they were still sitting in the conference room and her fiance was right next to her) looks. But he was--they were--normal in the sense that they still knew Michael was crazy. They hadn’t become institutionalized yet. And so they owed Brenda some help.

Not that there was much they could do as Michael started his terrible teamwork lecture about ships. He clearly hadn’t prepared at all. Darryl tried to help, but Michael of course didn’t understand what sails were, and was apparently incapable of recognizing someone else’s play on words.

It was time to derail him before he spent the next hour regaling them with terrible ship metaphors. Fortunately, Jim was apparently on the same page, because he chose that moment to object to the reality of the movie “Titanic.” Which was fair, because seriously, who used a ship metaphor from the most famous shipwreck in history? She was right behind him metaphorically as well as literally, suggesting “Hunt for Red October” as the movie Michael might have meant. Derailment achieved, as Phyllis joined in by pointing out that the engine room people all died, and Michael said something offensive about the warehouse staff and Darryl took the opportunity to get offended (not really--he was close with Roy so Pam knew he wasn’t that touchy, he was just smart enough to manage upwards) and that was that. Out they were.

As they boarded the boat (ship? She was never sure about the difference) Michael was once again on his terribly-inappropriate-ship theme, this time singing the lyrics to Gilligan’s Island. More shipwrecking, naturally. He said something about Jim being “the Professor and Ginger” and Pam glanced back and realized that he’d been joined by Katy. Purse-Katy, Pam 6.0. She was disappointed it wasn’t Larissa--just because Larissa was so cool, of course. She waved as she and Roy turned into the cabin, but wasn’t sure they’d been seen.

Michael did the “king of the world” thing from Titanic (what was with him and bad omens today?) and she saw Jim tap his watch and note that it had taken only about five minutes. She wondered what there was to wait for in the remaining two hours fifty-five...assuming the Gilligan’s Island reference had been a real time estimate, of course.

More Michael, of course. He inserted himself into the captain’s safety speech, which was doubly awkward because while most of the people on the cruise were Dunder Mifflin employees, he’d been too cheap to buy the whole cruise out so there were people there (like Brenda, back in the conference room) getting their first, awful taste of Michael Scott. And no, she decided, that was definitively not what she said.

She and Roy found themselves sharing a booth in the cabin with Katy and Jim. Normally that would have been ideal--sitting with Jim was about 90% of how she got through her day, at least the parts where she was sitting with anyone--but Katy made a joke about sitting at the cool table in high school, Roy followed it up by saying she was “little miss artsy-fartsy in high school” and she was flashing back to how Roy had never wanted to hang out with her friends in high school, only his, and how that had meant she’d gradually shed friends until now basically all of her friends were actually his. Well, except the one sitting across from her, so she supposed she shouldn’t be too grumpy. After all, now they were sitting with her friends, and not Roy’s, and it was still the cool kids table, right?

Oh my god, of course Katy was a cheerleader. Of. Freaking. Course. At least she still had one friend at the table, right? Though maybe that was unfair to Katy, who did seem genuinely nice when guys weren’t slobbering all over her--she assumed, given that she’d literally never seen it, since her fiance was currently staring at her doing her little cheer with barely disguised lust. God, Roy...at least she had Jim, who was clearly surprised at Katy’s revelation and who was looking at her with the same embarrassed mirth she knew was radiating from her eyes. She couldn’t help herself--while Roy nattered on about high school football (eight or more years ago, Roy, she thought) she did a little headbob to mimic Katy’s cheer and grinned at Jim’s discomfiture. Serves him right for not bringing Larissa. Not that it was her business who he brought, of course.

Before the conversation could turn to...wherever it would have gone after that moment, Michael was back, and starting his presentation. She could see Brenda trailing behind him, clearly uncomfortable. Oh God, please tell her he hadn’t been hitting on her...but no, it wasn’t disgust in her eyes, just normal awkwardness. So far.

And Captain Jack’s limbo couldn’t come soon enough, even if he and Michael did seem to be fighting--and then Michael was dancing and no one really needed to see that. Well, other than Jim, who was staring over at Michael with a face full of wonder and then glanced back at her--not at Katy, not at Roy, at her--and raised an eyebrow, conveying with just that little twitch the sense of sheer ridiculousness that made life livable at work. It let her get through most days, and now it let her get through watching her boss do the worm. Valuable, that.

But this was not an evening to be survived, apparently, without alcohol. It was a booze cruise, after all, and Captain Jack and his crew were very conscientious about that. She missed the first offer of alcohol because she was absolutely certain she’d seen Angela go out to Dwight who was steering the ship, but everyone else was so distracted no one could confirm it. By the time she got a beer (two, one for her, one intended for Roy) her fiance was doing shots down a snorkel while the cheerleader and Darryl yelled...well, “Snorkel shots.” Not the most original cheer, but then neither was the “A-W-E-S-O-M-E” one from before. At least Katy could spell. And identify snorkels, she supposed.

Roy did notice her after the shot, but only to offer up the snorkel to her, which...no. She was still holding both beers, which meant one was going to waste (no way she could doublefist and stay upright) so she tried to get Roy away from the shots to a quieter place where they could maybe hang out, talk, drink the beers--like a couple. Also, she figured, she knew exactly how much shots (as opposed to beer) went straight to Roy’s head, and that was not a good idea in the confined space of a boat. Ship. Whatever. 

But of course he shrugged her off to go watch Darryl (“Darryl, Darryl,” again with the originality) do his shot with the cheerleader. So she put down the beers and grabbed her coat--Roy might not want to go somewhere quieter, but she wasn’t going to just watch people drink shots all evening, and she knew “just watching Darryl do his” was going to turn into more for Roy, and she didn’t want to be the nag who kept him from his fun. Even if, she thought, he should know himself well enough by not to be his own damn nag.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Jim, who had apparently had the same idea as her and was also shrugging into his coat and headed out the door with her. “It's getting kind of rowdy down there” she said, trying to avoid letting her frustration with Roy color her enjoyment of the evening.

“Yeah,” he replied, chanting in imitation. “Darryl! Darryl! Darryl!” It was nice to see that he could laugh at his girlfriend’s foibles (was that what they were? She’d never actually asked him to label his...whatever with Katy and he’d never volunteered. She really didn’t want to know, actually, if she was honest with herself, but she was avoiding being honest with herself right now). The thought made her realize that she couldn’t laugh at Roy’s foibles right now. If she was honest with herself, again. 

“Sometimes, I just don’t get Roy.” Did she actually say that out loud?

“Well…” She could tell Jim was uncomfortable. But he didn’t finish the thought, and now she was the one uncomfortable with the silence around what she’d said. “I mean, I don’t know…” She tried to get them back on track.What had they been talking about? Oh, the Darryl chant. “So... what's it like dating a cheerleader?” And there she was, asking him to put labels on the thing she had so emphatically been avoiding labeling. 

It worked for a moment, though. He laughed, she giggled. He started to say something, but all that came out was “oh, um…”
And then he looked at her, a smile on his face, and she could feel another stretching across her lips. But neither of them spoke. And as they didn’t speak and didn’t speak it became harder to break the silence. Because there wasn’t any other topic to go back to. She wasn’t going to talk to him about Roy, and apparently he wasn’t going to talk to her about Katy. And why not?

It occurred to her suddenly (or perhaps not so suddenly) that she knew why not.

She knew why they never really talked about Roy, why even though he’d been with Katy (off and on? Consistently? She hadn’t been at his barbecue after all) for months, she had no idea what they called their whatever it was. She looked into Jim’s eyes for what felt like an eternity and she discovered something about herself. Well, two things about herself, but one that she was capable of and willing to accept, even if it hurt: she was a coward. She wasn’t going to break the silence with anything meaningful, anything that answered the light shining in his eyes and the corresponding brightness she knew it triggered in hers. She was going to break this silence by walking away, by wimping out, by saying

“I’m cold.”

And with a shrug that even she knew looked pathetic, she went back into the cabin. It was time for two beers, and to hell with whether Roy was doing shots. They had a couple of hours of cruise left (oh God). She’d sober up, or he would (she would) and they’d be fine. They’d be fine.

Most of two drinks later, Katy wasn’t any more fun to be around, but the alcohol was making it take longer for Pam to process her words and that helped. “I’d like to be engaged. How did you pull that off?” Pam scoffed in response. “How did you pull that off?” Three years ago she’d have said “by finding the right man.” Now? She’d ‘pulled it off’ by not getting married for three years. It was like the old saying about gambling: how do you make a small fortune in Vegas? Start with a large fortune. How was she engaged? Because they still weren’t married. “Uh, I've been engaged for three years, and there's no end in sight. So... you don't wanna ask my advice.” Especially you, Katy, she thought. Especially Jim’s...whatever you are. Do not ask me how you get Jim Halpert to propose. 

Apparently that was enough answer, though, because Katy turned the subject to Legally Blonde, which they both apparently loved--they’d found that out at the office the day Katy had been there during the fire, which Pam was desperately not thinking about because of a certain game of Who Would You Do--and Katy was doing a spot-on Elle Woods. Maybe, like Elle, there was more than her than met the eye. “Yeah, like it’s hard?” Classic comedy.

God, where was Roy? At least he wasn’t sitting there drooling over Katy anymore. Maybe that was why Katy seemed more...tolerable now. When it was just them, when there weren’t the boys, she was pretty all right. Or maybe it was the two beers talking. Well, one and a half. She wasn’t finished with this one yet.

But here the boys came, or at least here one boy came. One man, rather, because Jim was looming over her and at first she assumed he was there to excavate Katy out of the booth where she was sitting next to her, maybe take her dancing or something, but then his eyes weren’t on Katy they were on her, and he was starting to say something...and then there was Roy, loud over the shipboard sound system and she couldn’t listen to them both so she listened to Roy.

Later, she wouldn’t be able to remember exactly what he said. It was something about what was important to him, and “enough is enough” and “how ‘bout June 10” and Katy was hugging her and she was still giggling and the whole ship/boat/thing was clapping all was right with the world. She was starting to cry as she walked across the empty dance floor and gave Roy a big kiss on the lips. He tasted of snorkel shots, but who cared? He’d set a date. There was finally, what was it, an “end in sight.” Apparently it had something to do with being on the lake, but whatever caused it she was glad he’d figured out that he ought to make the proposal real, ought to pick a date. Finally she felt really engaged.

She wasn’t quite sure what to make of the fact that Captain Jack (and maybe Michael too?) had apparently talked Roy into it somehow, but it didn’t matter. She was so happy. Again, maybe it was the alcohol speaking, but it all seemed so perfect, and she hadn’t drunk that much, had she? At least, not enough to let Captain Jack marry them right then and there. That wasn’t the “end in sight” she wanted. Sure, she was glad Roy had set a date, but she wanted to do this right, not drunk, well tipsy, on a boat without her family and friends.

Speaking of friends, Jim was making a toast, although it didn’t seem like his heart was really into it. Something about a “whirlwind courtship”--hah--and how she was his best friend and awesome (but not, she found herself thinking, A-W-E-S-O-M-E) and it was making her cry again. But then Dwight grabbed the mic and the moment was broken, and for some reason she felt oddly relieved.

The rest of the night was a blur. She slow-danced with Roy, and she didn’t even mind (too much) that Michael did something crazy and almost caused a panic. She was sorry for Brenda, obviously, but even that couldn’t put a damper on her joy.

The one thing that did stick with her a little after she got home was the scene when they finally disembarked (by which time, for better or for worse, she was totally sober--the two beers had worn off and for some reason she hadn’t had any more after their, or rather Roy’s, announcement. The same could not be said of him). While walking to the truck (having cajoled the keys from Roy) she noticed Katy walking deliberately away from Jim and getting into her own car. She wasn’t sure why it struck her that they weren’t driving together; after all, she hadn’t known Katy was there before getting on the boat, so she’d clearly come separately from Jim as he had come directly from Dunder Mifflin. But there was something about it...and then, halfway home in the truck, it clicked. They hadn’t said goodbye to each other. She wondered what was up with that. Maybe Katy was following him home, so they didn’t need to say goodbye, but then why didn’t they even make eye contact? It was strange. 

She tried to put it out of her mind as she rolled Roy into bed. She wasn’t sure whether she should be glad or unhappy that he was so out of his mind on snorkel shots and whatever else that there was definitely going to be no celebratory sex. Well, she knew she ought to be annoyed with him, but with tomorrow being a workday anyway she was glad to get into bed and have a chance to sleep. She made him take painkillers and drink a glass of water before letting him snore away, in the hopes that tomorrow wouldn’t be a big hangover day for him, although Roy always bounced back better than he had any right to. She herself was bone-tired for some reason. Maybe all the excitement. Whatever it was, she slid in next to him and, despite his active snoring, fell quickly into a deep and dreamless sleep. She didn’t even remember which of her work outfits she’d chosen to put out for the next morning.

Chapter End Notes:
So there we are! We'll go into the loops next chapter. Not sure how often I'll update; depends on my work schedule and how long I decide each loop/chapter should be. Let me know what you think!

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